15. When I arrived in Taiwan in 2001, I visited the famous Longshan Temple in Taipei City. My friend and I observed an old Taiwanese woman casting divination blocks in the main temple courtyard (a common practice in Taiwan). She turned to me and said, “I could never believe that!”. A quite natural thing for a foreign visitor to say! But also misleading, I think. For it compels the idea that people must satisfy themselves of the correctness of something before doing it (e.g., casting divination blocks). Did the old woman first verify claims about the existence of gods before casting her first block?
In my view, the important thing is that casting divination blocks is continuous with a way of life, custom or religious practice. One might have a logical argument against the claim that God is omnipotent. But what difference does it make to the Muslim who has prayed five times a day since childhood, and whose belief in the omnipotence of God is interwoven into the inexorable regularity of this practice?
If, as in philosophy, we disengage religious belief from its lived context and set it under the microscope, we are guilty of divesting it of the regular activities which make it meaningful, day in day out. The whole venture seems misinformed.
16.The cynic is primarily a spectator. Confined to life’s periphery, and held there by an all-consuming pessimism, he exists only for the surface of things, unable to penetrate beyond his own enduring sense of hopelessness.
17. Does science diminish value? (e.g., love as chemistry) Science may refresh human importances. I think it is often forgotten that gravitation applies not merely to this world, but to every other world we discover beyond the fringes of our solar system. The discovery of intelligent life in the universe will change human value forever, and science will take us there.