Animals have instincts. Some migrate. Some hibernate. All of them search for food. They nest and they breed without question. Humans have instincts, too. What separates us from the animals is our search for meaning. We question our instincts. Animals simply live and die by them.
I have never completely understood why some scientists display such animosity towards the idea of God. These same scientists show no distain towards animal instincts. Indeed, some scientists have devoted their lives to studying such animal phenomena. However, the human instinct to search for meaning in God draws fire from them.
Humans have always been, and still are, spiritually inclined. Certainly, science has debunked many superstitions. However, the scientific method has not replaced the instinctual desire to know God. Religion is not comparable to the impotent scales on the tail of a snake that used to be functional legs. Human spirituality is still operative and functioning. In fact, science has excelled partly because humans are spiritually inclined. Many of the greatest scientists throughout history have been priests and other religiously inclined people.
Science is but one aspect of the human search for meaning. There is more than one way of “knowing.” Birds don’t fly south for the winter due to their scientific conclusions about weather patterns and food sources. Birds simply “know” to migrate, and scientists accept and study this fact. Therefore, I see nothing scientifically incongruent with accepting that humans can simply “know” that God exists. In other words, it is built into our wiring.
I had one person tell me that, eventually, science will close all the gaps in our knowledge and demonstrate how invalid religious thinking really is. But, science is basically in the business of answering the mechanistic, “how?” questions. The human search for meaning includes existential, “why?” questions. Science may tell us how we arrived on planet Earth, but not why we are here. Consequently, science can never “close all of the gaps in our knowledge.” Humans instinctively desire to know answers to the “why?” questions.
The issue we face as humans is that our instinctual desire for meaning can derail our instinctual “knowledge” of God. Doubt is an intrinsic quality of this instinct. Animals do not have this problem. Animals follow their instincts without question. Yet, doubt is not a bad thing. One does not seek and find without doubt. I don’t blame anyone for doubting the existence of God or the intentions of religious people. However, when such doubt leads to the complete elimination of one’s spiritual instinct and/or the ridicule of those who follow their spiritual instinct, doubt has become a dehumanizing element.
People “know” there is a God the way animals “know” to migrate and hibernate. I see no reason to ridicule human instinct while praising animal instinct. Both are equally real and worthy of study. Science may someday be able to decipher the mechanisms behind such knowledge. However, science will never answer the question of why such knowledge exists within us. Ultimately, we instinctively want to know why. We are scientifically and existentially inquisitive beings.