I am not a christian. I want to make that perfectly clear before I start delving into this subject. I am also, however, not an atheist. I thought for quite some time when I stopped believing in the Christian interpretation of God that I could rely solely on science and concrete facts as the basis for all of my beliefs. After several years of research and more than a few sleepless nights of deep thought, I now find myself residing somewhere between atheism and agnosticism.
My faith in “God” was shaken immediately following the death of my mother. Up until this point I was a devout christian. My family and I were part of a fairly large congregation, and throughout my mother’s bout with cancer, they proved to be a rock of support and love. At thirteen, I had never truly experienced the death of someone close to me, and as such was ill prepared for the final days in which cancer began to take a much heavier toll. When she finally passed, it hit me incredibly hard; not just because of the grief inherent in death, but also because up until this point, I had been under the impression that the prayers being constantly performed and the unwavering faith of our family would be sufficient to save her.
After she passed away, my brain jumped into overtime. I have always been logical, despite my Christian upbringing, and I needed to find some way to explain what had happened: Something that was contrary to everything I had ever been taught. I arrived at the conclusion that if God is all powerful and yet allows terrible things to happen, he is not benevolent. Conversely, if God is benevolent, but cannot prevent bad things from occurring, he is not all powerful.
Thus began my 7 year long relationship with atheism. Atheism was a breath of fresh air. Everything could be explained via scientific research and observation. Religious accountability was a thing of the past, and as such, so were the restrictions inherent in such beliefs. Further, I possessed a certainty that bordered on arrogance that I could explain anything away with logic. I wore my atheism like a shield, and it protected me for quite some time, but I still could never find the answer to the only question I actually cared about answering: “Why do shitty things happen?”
The answer to that question is that shitty things happen randomly to everyone, and usually for no good reason. But that’s not the important fact here. The importance lies instead in the answer I found that I wasn’t looking for, and subsequently led me to regain faith in, at the very least, something.
I want to switch gears now and talk about Socrates. Socrates was a Greek philosopher who lived from 470/469 – 399 BC. Although his apprentices acquired more fame and respect than he did following his death, he presented a method of philosophical reasoning that laid the foundation for logical systems still utilized today. Above all else, Socrates believed that he didn’t know everything, and that he could truly know anything to only a certain degree. This form of belief was mirrored by a philosopher that would emerge much later by the name of Descartes, who famously quoted, “I think, therefore I am” as a way to prove his own existence. Socrates was famous for leading arguments around in a circle, starting with one question, then refuting answers given to explain the original inquiry until he and his counterpart arrived right back where they started. Yeah, Socrates was kind of a prick, but one thing that he believed that stuck with me was that he could not believe or disbelieve in something utterly unless it could be completely proven or disproved.
Fast-forward a couple thousand years or so, and philosophy has largely been replaced with science and is now considered to be a pseudoscience. Philosophical debate has been replaced with a system of hypotheses, experimentation, observation, and subsequent testing to verify validity. I am infinitely pleased that we now have a separation between philosophy and science, as subjectivity is not something one can apply scientific method to.
Christians frequently try to evangelize and convert others to their beliefs, while atheists customarily delight in disproving the latter. I am certain that both respective sides could argue their own points of view until the end of days, but I know for a fact that no resolution may ever be reached. Frequently, criticism against Christianity is directed towards its doctrines, and not at the basis for the belief itself (The Bible). I believe that this is where most of the confusion arises from.
The Bible is historically accurate. I am a huge fan of history, and of war generals. One can not be a fan of either of those things without at some point running across biblical references. There exists, in fact, a large lump-sum of money to be rewarded to whomever can disprove the bible. This amount of money has existed for more than 50 years, and yet nobody has arisen to take it. More important than the fact that the bible is accurate historically, though, is that it actually doesn’t directly contradict science, and as such I have no idea what all the fuss is about.
The usual disagreement that has to do with the bible rather than the doctrine of the bible revolves around the first eleven chapters of Genesis. These are the chapters in the Bible that describe the creation of existence by God in the span of six days, with one day being set aside for rest. During this time, the heavens, earth, sun, stars, physics, air, and everything else is spoken into existence. Following this (And some patting of his own back) God creates the first human from clay; A man named Adam. From Adam’s rib, he creates the first woman; Eve.
Ok so clearly we know enough about evolution to disprove that entirely, but consider the following. Every human alive today can, indeed, be traced back to one, single, female ancestor who lived over 200,000 years ago in prehistoric Africa. For those of you not well versed in geology, Africa and its nearby area is where nearly all of the stories in the bible take place. I would also like to introduce two concepts. Firstly, if we are to believe that “God” Truly is as he is described in the bible, then he is an existence our brains aren’t even equipped to comprehend, and as such, things such as laws of physics or time would not apply to him. Secondly, there is a gigantic amount of imagery used in the bible.
We will come back to those points in a minute, but first let’s discuss the easy stuff. We know that the phenomenon dubbed by scientists as “The Big Bang” occurred around 13.7 billion years ago. We can measure radiation caused by stars from that time with out instruments even today (That’s why you hear static on the radio between stations). Science has, however, failed to explain or provide evidence for what happened before this time. We can explain how the universe went from what it was at that original starting point to where we are now utilizing our knowledge of the life and death of stars, and by utilizing the periodic table (Which coincidentally came from our observation of stars). Nevertheless, we simply cannot provide any insight into how the beginning came into being (My brain is starting to hurt).
If anyone is interested I can more comprehensively explain the logistics of our journey from masses of gasses and compounds in the sky to what we are today but for now, I want to draw a conclusion. We know that the laws of physics are not universal from our study of black holes, which are capable of distorting time among other things, and we also know that imagery is utilized liberally in the bible. It would stand to reason, then, that everything we have proven by science regarding our creation could possibly have been set into motion by God. If we are to support the method of scientific observation, we actually have to believe that a God is, at the very least, a possible explanation.
I know that a lot of you may cry foul at the part where it says that we were made from clay. Well, factor in these two things.
- It never outright states that God made us exclusively of clay, only that clay was used. Additionally, the word clay is purely symbolic and a more literal definition of the original text would have been dust or dirt. The chemical composition of soil consists of calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium, and traces of relatively insoluble elements such as iron and aluminum. Humans consist of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorous. A very small percentage of our bodies are also made up of potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. Oh, and the stars consist of Hydrogen, Helium, Oxygen, Carbon, Iron, Neon, Nitrogen, Silicon, Magnesium, and Sulfur.
- Given that we know that physics can be manipulated, and that God is alleged to be one to whom physics do not apply, it is entirely possible that the seven day account of creation is not literal. It would stand to reason that billions of years could pass in the blink of an eye for such a being, or that time would be viewed in such an alien fashion that we could not begin to understand it. There is also no specific information offered on Adam and Eve’s beginning other than the fact that they were created, so they very well could have been the first two apes to possess sentience. Oh, and don’t think of Ape the wrong way, I don’t mean they hunched over and waddled about, they were most likely very similar to us: We are actually still Apes today.
The conclusion to all of this, and I suppose the grander point, is that I now firmly believe that I cannot be an atheist if I cannot disprove the existence of God, or any higher power for that matter. If I were to claim something such as that, with no concrete evidence to back it up, I would become just as bad as I viewed all of those who were faithful to be. For, just as one can be blinded by faith, one can be blinded by willful ignorance. Atheism, then, is no true definition of belief in nothing. It is, in fact, belief in ignorance.
Thanks for reading.
-More to follow