Yesterday I visited my Kung Fu instructor who also works as a massage therapist. I wanted to buy some sandalwood oil for my hair from the shop adjoining his clinic. After his clients left, we sat down to talk. He asked me whether I still practiced Reiki. I said no and told him that I left my faith and became an atheist. He was surprised because he was deeply religious but also curious to know why I changed.
I started by refuting the Watchmaker Analogy. I told him in simple words that if complexity requires a designer, then that designer should be more complex than the object he designed thereby invoking the question of who designed the designer. He kind of agreed to it and asked me whether I believed that there is an edge to this universe. I told him that there are scientists who believe that there is and there are others who believe that there isn’t.
He wanted to pay his telephone bills so we walked to the payment center nearby. On our way I spoke about the various theories of life’s origin and how it evolved. He didn’t have any problem with evolution because he knows that there is ample evidence in support of it. I noticed that he believes in a God who initiated the big bang and intervenes in between to make necessary changes.
When we returned to the clinic, he brought up the subject of edge of the universe and asked me how I can say that there is no God(who happens to exist beyond space and time) when science hasn’t been able to find whether there is an edge to this universe or not. I told that if God existed, then he should in someway manifest himself in a measurable form. He countered by saying that we shouldn’t measure God by intellect.
He then quoted an incident that occurred in a district which is about 300 km from our district. There was an atheist convention going on and the speaker challenged the audience to give a proof that there is a God. A person who was passing by heard this and he came upon the stage to take up the challenge. He had some oranges in his bag. He peeled an orange and ate it and asked the speaker whether it tasted sweet or sour. The speaker said, “How can I say whether it tasted sweet or sour? You are the one who tasted it“. The orange guy said, “This applies to God as well. You can’t tell whether the orange I tasted is sweet or sour unless you have tasted it as well. Similarly unless you taste God, you will never know him.” And he left the convention.
My instructor then continued with an experience from his own life in which he prayed hard to save his sister while she had some complications during her pregnancy. And he told that some priest who did not know his family was able to see through his inner eye that his sister needed help.
Being a skeptic, it was hard for me to accept that a priest asked him to pray and that everything worked out well because of that. I was tempted to say that things would have gotten better anyway but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I held back. I proceeded in a different angle. I told him about the scientific method. I told him that unless a hypothesis put forward by a scientist is proven experimentally, it is just a hypothesis and no one would accept it as fact. When people predicted that atoms existed, there was no way to find out until Einstein came up with his results on Brownian motion. Similarly, the other predictions that have been confirmed.
I then told him that saying that a God created this universe is a scientific hypothesis and that if someone makes this hypothesis, then it has to be experimentally verified. He told that God is a being that cannot be measured by intelligence. But if he is indeed a “being” who “exists”, then his existence should be experimentally verifiable and until then it is just an untested hypothesis. I then went on and on with quark theory and string theory and all other theories and how some of these theories have been tested as true while others have not been verified and hence are just theories.
He finally said “Alright, let’s stop this discussion because it is an eternal debate.” I too agreed to him.