False, because life generally is a lot fuzzier than our "got to be this or that" minds take it to be. Today's Dilbert comic gets it right.
I've been pondering fuzziness recently because my wife and I are preparing for an appeal hearing on a nearby proposed 217 acre subdivision. We and our neighbors are fighting the development because we don't believe there is enough groundwater for additional wells in the area.
The developer does. So there we are. We say "no." He says "yes."
What we're going to argue before the county commissioners next Wednesday is that there's also "maybe." Nobody knows for sure how much water is in the aquifer now, nor how much will be available in the future.
So let's admit our mutual uncertainty. Until we're more certain. Test wells and some hydrogeologic experiments would cast a crisper light on the current fuzzy shadows. Maybe. But it's worth a try.
When it comes to God, testing and experimenting is tougher. Real tough. I've been at it for many years. My meditation cushion, if it could speak, would testify to the countless hours I've spent searching for some sign of certainty one way or another.
God/no-God. Death/no-death. Spirit/no-spirit. Soul/no-soul. I'm still on the borderline, the land of question marks. More and more, I'm finding it a comfortable place to be.
The Oregon legislature is considering changes to Measure 37, the initiative that trashed our state's land use laws. An outline of the proposal was revealed last week. In some ways it looks good for our subdivision fight; in other ways, not so good.
We're so involved in this battle, for a while it was driving me crazy, thinking about what the final legislation would look like. "It could be this—yay! Or, oh no, it could be that—terrible!" I was oscillating between this's and that's, desperate to get a firm grasp on a political situation that was extremely fluid.
Thankfully, the ridiculousness of my mental machinations soon hit home. I was trying to put the reform proposal into a "good for us" or "bad for us" box, even though at the moment it's so malleable and changeable there's no way to predict its final form.
It felt good to relax into the reality of not-knowing. We and our neighbors will flow along and adjust to whatever happens. The future will be fuzzy until it's right here and now. And even then it may still be somewhat indistinct.
That's the nature of fuzzy logic. Which is the only way of dealing with religiosity, really. Nobody is a true 100% believer in God, or a 100% non-believer. We all have degrees of belief and disbelief in something beyond the physical.
As the Wikipedia entry says, even a question such as "Is Bob in the kitchen? Or not in the kitchen?" isn't so binarily straightforward. Bob could be in the doorway, with just one toe in the kitchen. Where is he? The Land of Fuzzy.
A fine locale, especially if you're scientifically minded. In The Science of Good & Evil Michael Shermer praises fuzziness.
Moral and political decisions are grounded in binary logic in which unambiguous yeses and noes determine Truth. Science is grounded in fuzzy logic in which ambiguous probabilities determine provisional truths.
…In science, claims are not true or false, right or wrong in any absolute sense. Instead, we accumulate evidence and assign a probability of truth to a claim. A claim is probably true or probably false, possibly right or possibly wrong.
…Stephen Jay Gould put it well: "In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent."
With all matters divine, it's perverse to do anything but just that: withhold provisional assent. Staying fuzzy until God's shape is crisp and clear.
Even if that never happens, a fuzzy truth is to be much preferred to a well-defined fiction.