Skip to main content

Fishing for Religion: a Skeptic's Journey

Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in one God. A supreme being that created our world.

Atheists believe that there is no such God or Creator.

And the popular description of Agnostics is that they don't care.

So what do you call a person who refuses to define beliefs based on insufficient evidence but who cares a lot about the questions of creation and faith?

I am not a Protestant, despite my baptism, because I don't believe that a God exists who consciously planned and created the Universe, created people for a purpose, and then bore a human son who was later killed and resurrected. I do believe that many of the teachings of the Protestant and Christian faith are laudable, but I don't think they're the teachings of a divine offspring. In fact I believe this possibility to be unlikely given the lack of evidence to support such an elaborate theory. This means that I am not a Protestant even if I was raised to be one.

In fact I think it is just as unlikely as the theory that there is no God, or purposeful Creator. Although I can't believe in a benevolent being that cares about me personally without evidence I also can't preclude that being's existence without evidence.

The tendency of the universe towards chaos (what newton's second law describes as entropy) is somehow counteracted by all observation in the organization of galaxies, solar systems, planets, and most of all life. My own observations lead me to believe that there must be some force as of yet undiscovered or undefined that counteracts chaos and creates purpose in the world, or at the very least organization. This means that despite that phase in high school I am not an atheist.

Unfortunately, I haven't heard or thought of a theory yet that explains this missing link, the counter-force to chaos, and that stands up to a healthy questioning.

We should also take a closer look at the definition of Agnostic, as well:

1. a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.

2. a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.

Although it doesn't describe someone who doesn't care, both definitions are left lacking in hope. I cannot be an agnostic because, despite the fact that I am skeptical, I do have hope that the truth is knowable. I have hope that despite a belief that human knowledge is limited to experience, our powers of observation are ever increasing and expanding and that the constant reaching for the next horizon continually provides us with a little more of the puzzle.

My spiritual journey, therefore, is one of hopeful skepticism, a journey described in great detail in the works of Carl Sagan. Although many would have called him an atheist I think it more accurate to simply call him a skeptic; a man unafraid to play devil's advocate to the theories of believers, no matter the belief, and apply skeptical scrutiny to the process by which they reach their beliefs.

Although skeptic isn't a pretty label it applies better than the alternatives. I could call myself a Saganist but I'm not sure he would approve.

Regardless of what label or names I am called I am determined to keep caring about what it means to believe in something greater than oneself and to keep searching for an organism or organization worth believing in.


Popular posts from this blog

We Can and We Will Do Better - in support of #MeToo

#MeToo is a trending hashtag today, which is being shared on social media with the following post:
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "Me too" as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Please copy/paste. #MeToo Thank you to all of the people who have shared this hashtag.  Thank you for sharing your experiences and your stories.   Your courage to speak up highlights the magnitude of the problem and I believe you.

My first thought (after feeling sadness) was to wonder whether I should add my voice to this trending story.  As a man, if I add my voice will it be distracting or supportive, patronizing or empowering, helpful or hurtful?  Is the defining characteristic of my voice that it is male, or that it is white, or heterosexual, cisgendered, middle class, educated, liberal, or privileged?  I decided to write this because the defining characteristic of my voice should be first and foremost that I am another huma…

My "thank you" to Veterans is Both an Apology and a Thank You.

Today is Veteran's Day, so prepare yourself for a social media overload of flags, pictures of statues, and quotes intended to be inspiring about the sacrifice of veterans like the one on the right.  We celebrate our Veterans for their courage, their bravery and for their sacrifice, as well we should. But is it enough?

Some people will lament the fact that the celebration is only one day, or that it doesn't change the way we honor the veterans, or fail to, on other days.  The government agency tasked with helping Veterans is plagued with scandals, and the NFL has to be paid to honor the veterans.  So it's no wonder that we've gotten cynical about how much a few "thank you" messages matter.   Is it enough to say "thank you" if we don't really try to understand what the sacrifice of a veteran is?

You've probably heard someone say before that it's not what you say but how you say it.  A flat, uninterested "thank you" from someone…

134340 Pluto, and his little brother Charon

Pluto, formally known as a Planet, has been recategorized by the International Astronomical Union on August 24, 2006 as a dwarf planet. Although no longer considered an upstanding member of the solar system (to borrow a phrase from 2 Skinnee J's), Pluto is now the largest member of the Kuiper belt. So it's not all bad for Pluto. Rather than being the smallest fish in a sea filled with giants like Jupiter, Pluto is now the largest member of a smaller sea.

But what about Charon. Charon is the largest of Pluto's moons, or rather that's what Charon used to be. Since Pluto is no longer a planet, it's inaccurate to call Charon a moon, a nickname for natural satellites such as the Earth's Moon that orbit planets.

At times Charon was even referred to as a double planet with Pluto because of its size compared to Pluto, just over half the size of Pluto. Indeed, Charon and Pluto are so close that neither actually rotates around the other. Instead they are deadloc…