The how's, the why's, and the only useful answer to the big "why"
Inspired by a letter in the RRS mailbag entitled "Science answers the HOW's, faith answers the WHY's" I feel it is time to say how I have always felt on this matter. Feel free to comment to your hearts content.
It is said that science answers the how's and Religion, or faith answers the why's.
I agree that there is an important distinction between those two words, but I fail to see how the above stament is true in either case: for both science and faith.
Take the following: HOW is the earth shaped? Science answers "Round". (There were infact a greek mathmatician, his name escapes me just now, who calculated this, long before Magellan sailed around the earth, and long before the 20th century where we flew out and took pictures).
Then: WHY is the earth round?
Science can answer this too: because of gravity (well, that's how I've understood it anyway. Something to do with centrafugal power or something. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but mind you, the point is just that you can correct me with a more accurate scientific explanation, because all I'm saying is science is prepared to answer that question, I'm not saying I know the scientific explanation in detail myself.)
Now let's try the same with Religion, or faith.
HOW is the earth shaped?
I am sure many, if not all religions have answered this question. Many have answered flat, mind. But even if some got it right, is this because of divine revalation, or because whatever profet that said it just guessed right, or because he had heard of it, from a scientist, who had calculated it (as per, the greek mathmatician)?
and: WHY is the earth round/Flat/whatever?
The answer is usually, because God he chose it to be that way, though it may sometimes not be answered at all.
And that particular answer begs the question that any child could, and indeed, often feel compelled to ask, namely why did God choose that shape? Why not a square, why not a pyramid, why not banana-shaped?
And indeed, why did he choose it? Why not she? Why not it?
And so on and so forth. For every why faith attempts to answer there is always a why not waiting to jump in.
My personal objection to faith it not what it asks, but what it answers. Faith answers questions like how old is the earth, How big is the universe, how am I supposed to behave on sundays. Notice, that all those questions begins with how, not why.
And to that one big "why", the one, that, in all fairness, the expression "Science answers how, religion answers why" is probably most commonly refering; the "Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing?", to that "why" question there is one answer that I find considerably more fullfilling and also encouraging than any I have ever heard stipulated by any faith.
Consider this: the universe was just bobbing along, minding its own business, when, by coincidence (or accident, as so many theists like to call it), on a small insignificant rock somewhere in a backwater galaxy someone popped out of the primordial ooze and started asking the heavens: "why?". Well, I can't imagine the universe minds, I mean there is more than enough room, and we're not exactly making any undue fuzz, considering our complete inability to make even the slightest dent on the universe as a whole, at least at the moment. So the more the merrier, I presume the universe would say.
What I'm trying to say is, the only useful answer to: "why is there something rather than nothing?" is, quite simply:
Well I was born an original sinner
I was spawned from original sin
And if I had a dollar bill for all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin