This I believe

In the absence of a rational explanation, what do I do with uncertainty? Suggesting a definition of belief that I hadn't heard before, Jaron Lanier's column in this month's Discover makes an unusual suggestion.

Be happy.

Read it for yourself. The rhetorical goods are in the last half of the column.   

Lanier is equally critical of the certainty found in the street shouters and those adherents to scientism, the immodest notion that natural sciences can answer - or, curiously, made as a faith statement, will answer - all the important questions.

Science can declare the approximate limits of its territorial ambitions and be stronger for it. My dearly missed old friend Stephen Jay Gould framed this possibility beautifully with his proposal for "nonoverlapping magisteria." I'll go further and suggest that scientists should not only refrain from ridiculing people who find hope on the other side of the border but should also actively delight in a cacophonous, multicultural colonization of the far frontier so that it can't be monopolized by fundamentalists. A workable definition for spirituality is "one's emotional relationship with unanswerable questions." It's possible to find joy in them.

Whether it's recognizing the increasingly clear borders of reason, mapping the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't nature of quantum physics or delighting in the deep mystery of consciousness, I believe it's what we do at the limits of knowing that for historians will characterize these immaterial times.

For other faith statements, check out Dan Gediman's session at the ideaFestival. Gediman is the executive producer of the This I Believe Series on NPR.

Have a great next couple of days.

Wayne