Well, to begin with, my problem with Numbers 31 is not the death
of children, it's the murder
of children with no morally sufficient reason given (not to mention the sexual exploitation of young girls). And I don't think that reading a story like that should shake one's faith in the Most High or in His goodness if one has such a faith. Rather, it should shake one's faith in the book that claims that this is an accurate portrayal of the Most High. See that's been my problem all along. I have no problem with an a priori belief in God. Some people think that such an entity is necessary to properly ground an ethical system or to make sense of the world. I don't but fair enough.
So I think it can be reasonable to take a belief
on faith but I don't think it's necessarily reasonable to take an entire belief system
on faith, especially when it's just one belief system among many that exist or have existed. When I push you for your reasoning, this is what I'm getting at. I can understand why you might believe in a creator, but I have yet to see a reason to accept Yahweh over say, Quetzalcoatl or, to use an example near and dear to many an atheist, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
So I think there is such a thing as reasonable faith. But, at some point, you do need a reason for believing some things to be true--especially if you're going to be completely devoted to those things to the point that you will kill or die for it. So no, I don't think faith is a game changer.
There is a possibility that at some point, due to human nature, I think we stopped seeking the unseen when our senses, or our five basic pleasures, were satisfied. A possibility...
Maybe. I tend to think that we just have a tendency to describe anything we don't understand as supernatural or "unseen" if you'd prefer. As our understanding grows, there's less that's considered supernatural. We figured out how lightning works, for example, and so no one believes in Thor anymore. And then there's the paranormal. I remember hearing about a scientist that believes that telepathy is possible and that quantum mechanics provides a possible mechanism (a principle called spooky action at a distance). If he were able to prove that then it would cease to be "paranormal" or "supernatural" it would just be science.
Still, the vast majority of energy and matter in the universe is described as "dark" because we don't yet understand it. So there's that. Plus, every time we figure out an answer to something, that answer inevitably raises more questions. Evolution, for example, adequately answers a lot of questions about the origins of life, but raises the question of abiogenesis or how "simple" organisms could have possibly come from chemical compounds. And questions like this have actually led some scientists and scientifically informed folks to come to accept
So I don't think that God and science are really at odds with one another. For a period of a few hundred years, the Muslim world was at the forefront of the scientific community in large part because Islamic thinkers considered science to be about revealing the beauty of Allah's creation. And for this reason, most of the stars that have names have Arabic names and a lot of mathematical terms are derived from the Arabic, like algebra and algorithm. And then there are believers today like Francis Collins, who is the Director of the NIH and one of the world's foremost geneticists.
As far as this goes:
So then, let me re-introduce this seemingly basic need to know everything, like how old is the earth and knowing that there are volcanic eruptions on one of the moons of Jupiter--Information accounted for, and so what? How does this information help the human condition, and would spending more time considering the unknown be more beneficial to man? And, when it is not beneficial to humanity, we have to consider its purpose and its vanity.
I completely disagree. Observational cosmology, in addition to being, in my opinion, an end in itself, is important to ensuring our survival. We need to know what risks there are in space. An object called Apophis, for example, gave scientists a scare when they realized that it had a chance of colliding with the earth. Now that it's got closer they think that it's very unlikely to strike. Still, it's important that we know what might be coming for us. And it's important that we have some understanding of how we might deflect such a threat, should it exist. There's just no reason for us to go the way of the dinosaurs.
That said, there is no reason that people should be starving or be denied access to medical services in the richest country in the world. I just don't know why space exploration should be singled out as wasteful. On the government level, it's a small fraction of federal spending--15 billion for NASA compared to about 500 billion for Defense or 400 billion for Medicare.
And I would think that a believer would be, if anything, more interested in scientific discovery than a non-believer. After all, it was Galileo that said that God has written two books--the Bible and creation itself. I therefore don't understand why a believer would consider scientific questions to be a matter of "vanity." After all, if God exists then He made Jupiter and its moons and He probably made them for a reason.