Some time back, I was watching a conference on YouTube, featuring some notable high-end audio equipment designers. What does that have to do with atheism, you might well ask. Well, one of the designers present, in talking about design theory and best practices, made mention of being “skeptical” of these standards, and then he dropped the following bombshell:
In a battle between theory and the real world, the real world always wins.
-- Kevin Hayes, VAC
I don’t know whether Mr. Hayes is an atheist or not, but his statement reflects a refreshing orientation toward what works as opposed to what doesn’t. The world of high-end audio is a rather odd place at times, where small changes can make big differences and where the rules aren’t necessarily fixed and adamantine. The only real bottom line recognized is the quality of the sound, and the final arbiter is not some piece of sophisticated measurement equipment, but the human ear. That is the “real world” which Hayes and his fellows work toward satisfying.
In retrospect, high-end stereo isn’t much different from religion as it comes to the vagaries of just what constitutes “good sound,” and it has more than a couple schools of thought, even as belief systems do. There’s tube and solid state and hybrid designs, Class A, Class AB, and Class D architectures, single-ended versus push-pull and so on. All of these are striving for the same goal: to take the source material, whether it’s vinyl, CD, reel-to-reel, or digital file and recreate the original performance from it.
There are multiple differences of course. The most important of these is reflected in Kevin’s statement above. Regardless if someone is a tube or transistor partisan, there is a goal to be reached: recreation of a live sonic event. By comparison, the believer’s desire to understand or know their deity has no “real world” to refer to. Their god is in no ways in evidence, so what results may be as many different models of gods as there are people.
But there is the music to listen to, and that puts audiophiles light-years ahead of believers. When they can produce a deity to interact with, let me know!