Monday, September 21, 2009

Signal from Noise

A "technogeek" reader of Andrew Sullivan's site lays out a . . . technogeeky case for a middle ground in the God debate:
As someone like you trying to find and hold a shrinking "middle ground" on a battlefield of true believers, one metaphor I like -- reflecting my technogeek roots -- is that of signal processing: People like you and me believe that there is something that precedes our material world, both temporally and metaphysically; and further that we can on occasion glimpse or "feel it". In other words, there is a Signal, though it can get corrupted, become "noisy" and open to many imperfect interpretations -- as it is mediated through limited human understanding, powerful egos, primate pack dynamics and political maneuvering.

The militant atheists, a la Dawkins, insist (with no real evidence) that there is no signal.

The fundamentalists and literalists insist (with poor evidence and poorer reasoning skills) that there is no noise, only their own One True Signal.

To me the most fertile ground for intellectual and spiritual exploration is the effort to recover the signal from the noise. It seems to require humility and patience, two assets largely devalued in today's culture.


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