The Truth of Religion II: Einstein’s Mouse

Einstein didn’t believe in quantum mechanics for a number of reasons; he once asked, “Is it enough that a mouse observes that the moon exists?” In other words, according to quantum mechanics, a mouse can create the universe simply by observing it. This sounds pretty ludicrous, but quantum mechanics is an extremely successful theory — the most successful in history, by some measures. Most physicists today simply ignore these issues (at least until they’ve had a few drinks), because the answers are not things you can work out in the laboratory. That doesn’t mean that they’re unresolvable in principle, though.

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The Truth of Religion (or: Yes, Virginia…)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of truth this holiday season. My oldest daughter is nine, and she still believes in Santa, bless her heart. The question is, do I?

I mean, think about it. I’m a pagan. I believe in, and have personal experience with, Apollo, Athena, Belanus, Cernunnos, Bridget, and various lesser spirit guides. Why not Santa?

ire24Well, one reason is that I know quite well who puts those presents under the Solstice tree; our credit cards have the scars to prove it. On the other hand, where does the magic of the season come from — the magic in the children’s hearts and in our own — if not from Spirit? And why not call that Spirit Santa Claus? (Have any mediums out there tried to contact him? I’m asking this seriously!)

Take another example: my second daughter, who is 7, believes quite firmly that Thor causes lightning. (I’m not sure what my 9-year-old thinks — she may be agnostic on the point.) I personally believe in Thor. But as for whether he’s out there with his hammer when lightning strikes — well, I’ve never seen him, and there seems to be quite a bit of meteorological evidence that it has something to do with charged particles in the ground and the atmosphere.

Nastier questions arise when you start mixing up pantheons like I have (e.g., do I believe in Zeus? If so, who’s really in charge of lightning here?). Then there’s the issue of angelic visitations, “aspects” of the God and Goddess of Wicca, Christians with powerful religious experiences, and all that. I mean, it can’t all be true, can it?? How do you decide? Continue reading “The Truth of Religion (or: Yes, Virginia…)”