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September 27, 2007

Often in discussions with atheist friends about faith, I here religious people disparaged for believing what they believe because they want the world to be that way. I’ve even been caught saying (and henceforth lost a surprising amount of credibility in the argument) that I believe in something after death partly because I want it to exist.
Want doesn’t tell the whole story though. It’s not just that I want there to be a meaning to life, or some sort of understanding after death. It stems a lot from my intuition, and don’t tell me that’s not scientifically credible. I use the same sense of “how things ought to be” all the time in physics, math, and chemistry. Fundamental equations may be messy to derive, but invariably simplify into something beautiful and surprisingly not complex. Molecules arrange themselves and their motions in symmetrical patters which agree with how I want them to behave. It’s sort of my obsessive compulsive tendencies, but in this case there really does seem to be something deeper than the fact that even numbers of stairs are just better. These basic ideas in science line up with how I want them to be, and it’s the same sort of feeling as when I say I want there to be something more. I have no proof for anything supernatural, but I suppose it’s possible to find it, because when I say “That molecule will look like this because that’s how it wants to look”, it turns out I can justify it with hard science as well as with my intuition.
I wish I could explain this better. I hope it made some sense, but I’m really not happy with how it turned out. I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes when I say “want”, I mean something else, and I think perhaps other people are in a similar place.

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