How Science Made Me Believe in a Creator
& Enjoy Life a Lot More Often
And I can’t believe how often I still see people doing the same— creating negative situations in the present moment by bitching about something in the past (whether it was 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago). Carrying around negativity around in your soul is like carrying a black storm cloud over your head and then wondering why you keep having more negative experiences. You create your own reality.
You can either make a bad situation worse with negative thinking and negative actions, or you can make it better with positive thinking and positive actions.
When I was a young fool, I always complained about everything, and thus I made my own experiences in life so much worse.
But ever since playing instruments taught me to try harder to stay in the flow of the present moment and SHAPE each moment through my attitude and actions, I always try to find ways to make situations better through my attitude and actions.
It’s not easy to spin every situation into a positive experience— and obviously it’s impossible during our darkest moments, which are an inescapable part of life. But it's foolish not to TRY as often as you can to spin negatives into positives, because YOU are the one experiencing each moment that you shape.
Think about this way… a movie analogy…
YOU are the writer, director, producer, star, and narrator of your own life.
YOU create your life through your decisions, attitude, and actions.
As Obi-Wan Kenobi said, "In my experience, there's no such thing as luck."
YOUR decisions and actions create YOUR own "luck" in life far more than you may realize yet.
And YOU have the power to try to mentally NARRATE every experience in your life either positively or negatively.
Again, sometimes it’s impossible to stay positive— especially if you’re dealing with extreme pain or tragedies or stresses or other heavy issues. But my point is, as human beings with conscious minds that we can direct, we have enormous potential to enjoy so many more moments in life than we tend to do. Like, thousands and thousands and thousands of more moments... rather than just deferring happiness to the future, to some big epic achievement like getting rich or whatever. Enjoy as much of the ride as you can. That is the purpose of life.
Again, it's not easy, but it's foolish not to try. I am still prone to getting depressed by succumbing to negative thoughts— especially when I’m sick or exhausted or dealing with rejection for a creative project that I poured my heart & soul into for a year. But the key is to maximize the joy / appreciation / gratitude for countless other moments in life that I used to take for granted or ruin with negative thoughts.
I used to think my brain had a mind of its own that I couldn’t control, like “yeah, I know I’m negative, but that’s just the way I am. I can’t help it.” First of all, that wasn't "just the way I am," it was just the way my thought-patterns had fallen into bad habits after a sad childhood. Second, you can control "just the way you are" in the Present moment far more than you may realize yet.
Just like you can steer a music jam away from cacophonous notes and towards better ones, you can steer your thoughts from negative to positive, from a bad attitude to a state of gratitude, from hating to appreciating, but it takes constant vigilance and effort.
When you first realize how much you shape your own life and experiences and moments and happiness, it can be overwhelming and daunting, but it’s a crucial skill to work on.
You can even make a game out of it by challenging yourself to always find ways to turn mental lemons into lemonade because YOU are the one whose soul is drinking whatever your mind is pouring into it, so you’ve really got to try your best to take more control over your thought patterns and not let them pollute your soul with negative thoughts so much.
As Jedi Qui-Gon told his apprentice Obi-Wan: “Your focus determines your reality.”
We all have our highs and lows in life, and obviously if you’re dealing with cancer or war or other extreme tragedies, then you can’t just slap a happy face on it with positive thinking. But what I’m saying is that— in everyday life aside from severe traumas and tragedies and pain — your potential to ENJOY life much more often is so much greater than most people ever realize.
For me, even something as simple as eating grapes now causes me to deeply appreciate this amazing world. With each sweet savory bite, I have thoughts like “Oh my God, these are so good… Nature didn’t have to create fruits as delicious as grapes and strawberries in order for lifeforms to survive… we could’ve evolved on blander foods…. but the world is filled with so many delicious foods straight from Nature because this whole system was built to be enjoyed in simple ways like this. Ahhhhhhhhh. What a wonderful world.”
And of course, anytime I’m jamming or grooving to good live music, my soul is not only flooded with the blissful biochemicals of "Natural Ecstasy," as I call it, but my mind experiences profound appreciation of the 4 million year-long evolution of humanity's musical instincts and innovations that are now culminating with our unprecedented ability to hear amplified music in amazing venues with masses of people happily dancing and celebrating good times in this free nation of ours! (Yeah, I know America has its problems, but our freedom to experience joy is so vast compared to oppressive cultures in some parts of the world, so you've gotta enjoy it and appreciate it.)
On the other hand, during difficult situations, I try to put things in a more positive perspective by contrasting our modern “struggles” with the much more dire struggles of our ancient ancestors who could barely survive childbirths in the jungle, or barely live beyond 40 years if they did. Recently I was tired after a long flight, and then got to my car and the battery was dead. Couldn't be jump-started. Had to be replaced. Ugh. But instead of complaining about it like I would've done before music changed me, I appreciated how lucky I was by imagining having to walk barefoot for miles in freezing temperatures 100,000 years ago just to find food for your sick infant. Thoughts like that can put your modern problems into a better perspective that is better for your soul.
The fact that we even have automated transportation at all is one of the millions of pieces of "good news" all around us each day that most people overlook and take for granted. People say to appreciate "the little things" in life but we could all do this so much more often, because so much of what we consider today to be "little things" today are actually gigantic things in the scope of human history. Think about it:
Can you imagine how much people from 1000 years ago would appreciate today's abundance of conveniences and innovations? Car travel? Air travel? Stores filled with thousands of delicious foods? Electricity? Heaters? Air conditioners? Microwaves? Showers? Phones? The ability to talk to your mom a thousand miles away on a phone is not just a "little thing" to appreciate; it would be considered a miracle by 99.9% of our ancestors who could never have imagined such technological wonders as we have today. I always try to look at things through the eyes of our ancestors to help me appreciate how lucky we are to have been born into this amazing era of convenience and innovation. If you are negative like I used to be, please stop complaining so much and try to appreciate the abundant awesomeness all around you each day. You will be amazed how much it improves the health of your soul and your relationships.
Moving on to the next point, it’s not just about shifting your thoughts from negative to positive. On a deeper level, it’s often about surrendering your conscious thoughts to the guidance of your heart, which is FAR more tapped into the “master programming code” behind the universe than your over-thinking mind is. There were millions of years of evolution before human brains eventually evolved to the level of being self-conscious minds. So what guided our ancestors through those millions of years before our minds became self-conscious enough to make conscious decisions? Our hearts. Our gut instincts. Our feelings.
In the 3.5 billion year-long timeline of evolution from microbes to modern humans, the heart is hundreds of millions of years older than self-conscious human minds are. So the heart / gut was like the Creator’s inner compass within all of our ancient ancestors, instinctively guiding our species through this giant “videogame system” from moment to moment to moment, for millions of years.
So when your gut is strongly telling you something, those instincts are coming from a much deeper place in your DNA than your over-thinking mind. Therefore, you should usually trust your gut instincts, and don’t let mental rationalizations override what your gut is telling you.
As Obi-Wan Kenobi told Luke Skywalker, "Trust your feelings."
One last analogy here…
Imagine watching a tiny grain of salt suddenly start mutating and multiplying itself and evolving into something as complex as the city of Manhattan, with all of its buildings and vehicles and technologies and millions of people and creations of art and music and so much more. You’d watch that process with amazement, like “Wow… the potential for all of this was programmed into that one tiny grain of salt? Amazing!”
You'd be in awe of how that system GUIDED ITSELF from that first little particle all the way to the ultra complex world it became. And you’d be foolish not to TRUST that program’s inner guidance system... because it’s clearly programmed well, and it’s clearly working.
Just like the universe.
It all started with an amazing formula / “recipe” / “programming code” that GUIDED ITSELF to create everything ever. The universe is formulated to create lifeforms everywhere it possibly can— even under rocks in the most seemingly “lifeless” places on Earth.
And the universe is formulated to keep advancing life forward as much as possible, on and on and on, as lifeforms grow increasingly sophisticated over time— especially us humans, and even our own increasingly sophisticated innovations today that keep progressing forward.
The system of Nature is built to create life anywhere it can, to enjoy life as much as it can, and to keep guiding its lifeforms forward and forward and forwards through its inner programming.
And that, my friend, is why you should trust your gut instincts more. It’s like your inner compass guiding you.
Trust the Force.
The world is predominantly good. It was built to be enjoyed. Appreciate it for the miracle that of engineering that it is. I hope this essay helps you or someone you know enjoy life more often. Thank you so much for reading. Please share. And of course...
“Is there a Grand Designer who lined up all this good fortune?"
Dr. Stephen Hawking, world's leading physicist
“The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it.”
Pope Francis, The Catholic Church, 2014
“There is much scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such.”
Pope Benedict XVI, The Catholic Church, 2007
“I am not an atheist.”
I used to be an atheist, but the more I learn about physics and evolution, the more I believe in "God," or as I prefer to call it, The Force... The Force behind Space-Time.
I was raised Catholic, but became a hardcore atheist at 18. At 25, though, I started obsessing on the God question again when the natural euphoria I began experiencing every night by jamming on instruments changed my life and landed me on Oprah, as you can read here.
During my transformation through music, I became obsessed with figuring out the most logical answers to the God question in modern ways that younger people could relate to. But instead of studying "New Age" spiritual gibberish based on wishful thinking and pseudo-science, I studied physics and skepticism--- especially the Skeptic's Dictionary at SkepDic.com, which is written by a master critical thinker. I wanted to get to the most logical conclusions about how the universe really works, for better or worse.
I began my mission with this analogy:
“If the universe were like a giant videogame system and you were a character in it, then you will get a lot better at that game if you learn how the entire system was built from the very beginning, and how it really works. Learn as much as you can about the ‘master programming code’ behind this big videogame system you’re in so that you can then tap into the best ‘algorithms’ for enjoying this system to the fullest.”
Of course, the giant system we’re in isn’t a videogame system— it’s the system of Nature. The Universe. The Cosmos. Space-Time. So I studied how this giant system we’re in was created, from the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago all the way through to the creation of sophisticated human minds, which in turn can create sophisticated technologies, artworks, and so much more.
When you get a basic understanding of how everything was created from the Big Bang all the way through to the present day, it is so amazing. In fact, a movie studio should make an Imax film that condenses it in cool ways in order to show everyone how awesome the real story of creation actually is.
Now, obviously I’m not even remotely qualified to try to explain the formation of stars and galaxies and planets and life on Earth. I only have a basic understanding of it, and you can watch science programs to learn more about that stuff.
Instead, I’m just going to focus on the essence of the “master formula” behind the universe.
To me, and to many scientists who believe in a Creator, the most amazing thing about the universe is the ultimate “formula” behind the whole thing— i.e. the master “equation” for the laws of physics that ultimately created EVERYTHING over the past 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang.
Imagine the ultimate programming code behind Google or Facebook, but a hundred trillion times more ingenious, encoded with infinite algorithms for creating infinite different possibilities in life: everything that’s ever happened or could ever possibly happen, including billions of human beings with free will.
Here’s how ingenious it is:
Imagine a chef’s recipe that starts with only a few tiny ingredients— each a trillion times smaller than a grain of salt — and only 4 ways to cook those tiny ingredients together.
But then when the chef sparks the flame to set that recipe in motion, the recipe is so ingenious that it goes on to create every food and every gourmet meal that could ever possibly exist— all starting with just a few tiny ingredients and 4 ways to cook them together.
Likewise, the entire universe essentially began with only a few elementary particles (the initial tiny “ingredients” in the “recipe”), and only 4 forces— gravity, electro-magnetism, nuclear strongforce, and nuclear weakforce (the 4 ways to “cook” those tiny ingredients together).
And yet the master “recipe” behind the universe— the master formula for the laws of physics — was so perfectly calibrated before the Big Bang set that “recipe” into motion that it ultimately went on to create EVERYTHING that’s ever existed and ever happened over the past 13.7 billion years: trillions of stars, planets, lifeforms, experiences, magnificent works of art, music, film, architecture, space travel, trillions of hours of love, joy, laughter, and everything else. But it all started with just 4 ways to cook together a few tiny particles. The POTENTIAL for everything that's ever existed and ever happened was all encoded into that formula.
That’s quite a “recipe.” Quite a “master programming code.” Quite a formula.
In my opinion, the master physics formula behind Space-Time is too well-calibrated to have begun as just a random, unwritten, unplanned accident, as atheists and adeists believe. Many scientists who believe in a Creator concur that when you really understand how this entire System of Nature was built from the very beginning and how amazingly it all works, the “master formula” behind it seems too statistically improbable to be just a random accident.
Even physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking— who understands the master formula (a.k.a. “The Theory of Everything,” as his movie is titled) better than anyone else on Earth — said the following on his Discovery Channel show in 2010:
Life does seem too unlikely to be just a coincidence. Think about it: the earth lies at exactly the right distance from the sun to allow liquid water to exist on its surface. And the sun just happens to be the right size to burn for billions of years, long enough for life to have evolved. The solar system is littered with all the elements needed for life. These elements themselves are only possible because of older stars that have burned out. These older stars only existed because of a tiny unevenness in the early primordial gas, that was itself produced by a one-in-a-billion imbalance in the sea of particles that came from the Big Bang. So, is there a Grand Designer who lined up all this good fortune? In my opinion, not necessarily. Look at this way: what if there were other universes, ones not as lucky as ours?
- Dr. Stephen Hawking
So even the smartest physicist on Earth admits that the master physics formula behind the Big Bang seems too perfectly calibrated to have been just a random, accidental formula at its inception. But then he resorts to essentially saying “but wait, what if there’s OTHER universes with failed formulas? Then that means that the perfectly-calibrated formula behind our Big Bang is just the random lucky accident out of billions of failed universes with failed formulas.”
Well, doctor, I agree that if there’s billions of failed universes out there somewhere, then we’re probably just in the “accidentally lucky” one. But there is absolutely ZERO empirical evidence of any other universes. Like a scientist, I believe in empirical evidence first and foremost, not blind faith in theories with zero evidence.
There is absolutely zero empirical evidence of these imaginary “failed universes” that adeists use to justify the statistical improbability of our universe being so well formulated by accident. This is the only universe we can prove exists, and it’s 100% successful in creating trillions of lifeforms that can experience joy every day.
First let’s discuss the joy factor, then I’ll address suffering, which adeists often use as “evidence” that there’s no Creator. (“Why would ‘God’ create a world with so much suffering?”)
The formula behind evolution is programmed so that when creatures do actions that will advance their life— like eat food, drink water, have sex to reproduce, flee from predators, chase prey, etc — Nature rewards those survival actions with the enjoyable feelings of dopamine lifeforms will keep doing those actions, over and over and over.
Dopamine is Nature’s biochemical for pleasure, reward, joy, and ultimately, the motivation to do actions that are rewarded with feelings of pleasure and joy.
Evolution, and each life itself, is driven by what FEELS good. Every creature on Earth is usually doing whatever makes itself feel better from moment to moment to moment— whether it’s eating, finding warmer areas, sleeping, mating, howling, chirping, swimming, fleeing attackers, etc.
Dopaminal enjoyment is necessarily built into the system of Nature and survival and evolution and nearly every action that every creature does, so this whole system of life we’re in is kind of like an elaborate enjoyment factory. This one planet alone has created trillions of creatures that have experienced joy regularly... from all the birds enjoying flight, to all the fish swimming through the seas, to all the dogs wagging their tails, to all the billions of parents loving their children so deeply, to all the little kids playing each day, to all the billions of laughs each day around the world, to all the musical moments enjoyed by billions of souls, and so much more.
Take it from a former ulta negative cynic like me: the truth is that there is MUCH more good in the world than bad.
Like many adeists, though, I used to look at the bad news in the world or in my own life and bitterly say, like the drunken preacher in Caddyshack, “There is no God.” But that is such an ignorant, small-minded way to assess the world. Every day on TV, news programs focus on a few of the worst things happening on Earth that day. They NEVER counter all that bad news with the FAR more ubiquitous good stuff that happens every day in life, all around the planet, such as:
“Elsewhere in the world today:
- A billion kids had fun playing.
- Billions of parents experienced deep love for their children.
- Billions of joyful laughs occurred all around the world.
- Billions of people enjoyed eating food, or listening to music, or watching sunsets, watching movies, painting artworks, reading, writing, playing instruments, playing sports, watching sports, dancing, running, designing things, building things, working on their dreams, falling in love, making love, having conversations, cooking, caring for loved ones, gazing at the beauty of Nature, and so much more.
- Meanwhile, trillions of other creatures enjoyed the natural dopamine-rushes of their daily activities like eating, swimming, flying, running, mating, and so much more.
- In fact, we’re happy to report that, once again, there was so much enjoyment experienced on Earth today by billions of human beings and trillions of other lifeforms that it is impossible to quantify. As Louis Armstrong sang in his classic song, ‘What a Wonderful World.’”
There is SO MUCH simple enjoyment in this world that is overlooked every day and taken for granted, while the worst incidents get so overly magnified by the media and politicians and negative people that it clouds our appreciation of how much good there is in this world.
Think about the lifetime hours of nearly any creature in the wild. It’s born, then spends its life driven by the rewarding good-feelings of dopamine to eat, survive, and reproduce. Then, at some point, it will probably suffer a painful death as it’s devoured by another animal or dies of old age or a severe injury or whatever.
But add up the total hours there— so many thousands and thousands of hours of enjoyment (or at least painless existence without suffering), followed by some hours of suffering at the end, or perhaps more during an injury phase, or whatever. When you see an animal killed by a predator on Discovery Channel, it’s probably the only major suffering that that lifeform ever experienced.
Nature has rewarded life-advancing actions with the good feelings of dopamine for hundreds of millions of years of evolution, so everything that every creature does today is motivated by wanting to feel better, moment to moment. As a result, Nature is filled with MUCH more enjoyment than suffering.
When it comes to us humans, though, it gets more complicated.
Our minds can lead to suffering. Our minds can view life negatively, and we suffer. Human minds can develop egos that inflict suffering on other people, from the bully at school to corrupt cops to evil dictators to greedy executives whose decisions can lead to cancer epidemics and other atrocities. Human minds can lead to massive suffering by starting wars, or genocide, or a tyrant starving entire regions of his own nation for nefarious reasons. Millions of people today suffer every day in places like North Korea and Syria. But most suffering is man-made, caused by humans with free will. (Even a natural disaster like an earthquake usually isn’t dangerous without man-made structures collapsing down on people and causing suffering.)
Most of the suffering in the world stems from the consequences of human greed, pride, and ignorance. But the fact that most suffering is man-made means that mankind can reduce it over time (as we have been doing quite well actually, as you'll see in some charts linked below). And even the suffering that is caused not by man but by Nature, such as malaria, can also be greatly reduced over time by man-made solutions.
Obviously there is bad in the world, but if you really step back and look at the big picture, the world is predominantly good, and we have the potential to fix most of the bad in the long run. Cynics who say it's a mostly rotten world overrun with evil are very misinformed. A few bad apples does mean the entire orchard is inherently rotten in its DNA.
It’s ridiculous when adeists says “If there’s a God, then why is there any suffering? Why didn’t ‘God’ create a perfect world with no suffering?” They’re assuming that there could’ve been another master formula for the laws of physics that’s even better than this one. But can they can write a better physics formula for generating an entire universe with trillions of lifeforms, including billions of humans who can experience bliss every day through love and laughter and music and so much else— but without ANY suffering along the way in their evolutionary system that creates everything out of nothing? No. They can't. I doubt a better formula was even possible.
They also say stuff like “Why couldn’t ‘God’ have created a more efficient universe? Trillions of cold dead lifeless planets just to create our planet with life? Hmmm. Seems wasteful. Seems random rather than divinely created.”
First of all, it is statistically probable that there’s billions of planets out there with life. Second, do you have a better physics formula for creating trillions of lifeforms, including ones as genius as Mozart and Einstein? No. You don’t. And do you think Michaelangelo could’ve sculpted David without discarding a lot of clay along the way while creating that masterpiece? Who cares how big God’s workshop is or if there’s trillions of particles of discarded clay along the way… it’s all part of the process of making masterpieces like Earth (and probably a billion other Earth-like planets overflowing with trillions of lifeforms enjoying life because that's how the formula works!).
The most logical answer to questions about flaws in the universe is that the master physics formula behind our universe is evidently the best one possible to create life— and probably the ONLY formula that even works at all.
In fact, even if there were indeed a billion “failed universes from failed formulas” before ours came along as a random, statistically inevitable accident that just happened to nail such an amazing recipe for creating trillions of enjoyable experiences, then so what? Just be glad we’re here in this awesome universe that creates lifeforms driven by the biochemicals of ENJOYMENT.
In my opinion, given the overwhelming empirical evidence of dopamine’s daily dose of enjoyment for trillions of lifeforms, the most logical answer to why the universe was created is that it was engineered to ultimately be ENJOYED by trillions of lifeforms. That’s how it’s wired at its highest levels, and that’s what makes the most sense to me. In my opinion, the “meaning of life”— i.e., the purpose of the universe — is that the universe was created in order to enjoy life itself, through itself, through trillions of lifeforms.
Now, I am NOT trying to minimize the immense suffering in the world. I’m just trying to maximize your appreciation for the immense capacity for enjoyment in this world because it is SO overlooked and it is FAR more common than suffering.
For example, while it’s obviously awful that the world suffered nearly 500,000 murders last year, that is 00.01% of the 7 billion people in the world, which means that 99.99% of the world’s population was NOT murdered.
But do the news shows on TV ever say stuff like that? Like, “Last year, 99.99% of humanity was NOT murdered.” No. Never. Instead, they can take a single murder trial and magnify it on TV for months and months because it gets higher TV ratings than “boring” good news does (and because good news is actually so common in our world that we take it for granted and don't even recognize it as good news). And then many people look at that murder trial on TV every day and say things like “What is the world coming to... the world is falling apart... the world is a mess.”
No. It's not. The world is awesome, for the most part.
So many people today think the world is worse than ever, but in many ways it’s actually better than ever— e.g., more education worldwide, more medicine, less polio, less smallpox, less plagues, less starvation per capita, longer lifespans, unprecedented access to online information, education, music, entertainment, social connectivity, products from all over the world, and so much more. Here's 26 charts that show ways in which the world is getting better.
(The most crucial thing in the world that actually IS getting worse, though, is the system of Nature which patiently created us over billions of years, but which has been getting poisoned over the past 200 years since the Industrial Revolution… but that’s another discussion for another essay.)
For now, let’s focus on the positive, because that’s ultimately what the goal of this essay is: to help people appreciate this amazing gift of life a lot more often. It took over 13,700,000,000 years to create our world today. You get between 0-100 years to enjoy it. Today, thanks to countless human innovations over the past thousand years, there are more ways to enjoy life than ever before. And yet so many people spend so much of their precious time on this Earth focusing on the negative and extrapolating it into unhealthy assumptions like "the whole world is a mess... I've lost faith in humanity."
Yes, there are a lot of bad incidents happening around the world, but when you think about how difficult it was for our ancient ancestors to survive each day in the wild for millions of years before civilization and agriculture and everything else we take for granted today, and then you contrast their lives with our much safer world today, you realize we’ve got it really good right now! Better than ever, in fact. And when you think about all the trillions of moments of LOVE that were crucial for survival throughout those millions of years of evolution--- especially mothers loving their children more than themselves --- you realize we couldn't have gotten this far if love weren't the strongest force between people. When people today see some terrible behavior on the Internet and things like "I've lost faith in the human race," it's absurd because the overwhelming majority of the human race is just loving their loved ones and staying out of trouble. But our culture today overly focuses on the negative.
So let's talk about negativity vs positivity.
One of the most important lessons I learned from playing musical instruments is that nearly every moment in life is whatever YOU make it with your actions and your attitude.
In a music jam, if you mess up a note, you can either stop and gripe about it and thus mess up the next moment and the next moment and the next moment... OR you can just immediately shake it off and get right back in the groove of the next moment. Furthermore, instead of letting that mistake drag you down, you can use it as motivational fuel to create something great in the next moments that never would’ve existed without that initial mishap.
Same with sports. If you miss a basketball shot during a fast-paced game, you can either stand there and whine about it and thus miss the next play and make the situation even worse, or you can just shake it off and kick ass on the next play by turning your frustration into motivation to play defense harder than you did before you missed the shot.
Same with life. The ever-flowing present moment is the only time that ever actually exists, and it will usually go positively or negatively based on YOUR attitude and actions. I can’t believe how often I used to pollute the present by complaining the past— and by “past” I mean even something that happened 5 minutes ago. Let it go, dude. Learn from it, let it go, then kick ass on the next play, the next jam, the next moment of your life.