speculation and faith


I may not truly believe atheism is a religion, but I do think it has something in common with religious beliefs that we don’t readily admit. As an atheist, I don’t believe in the gods and other supernatural beings that form the basis of the many religions that have evolved in every corner of the world. But my belief in this lack of belief is speculation, and rests firmly on my faith in a few areas.

1. I have faith in my perception of the world. Like Descartes, I know I can only be completely sure of one thing – that I exist. Unlike Descartes, I’m quite sure there’s nowhere else to take this, and certainly no amount of semantic playtime can build it into proof that a god exists. But in the absence of any evidence that my perception is totally skewed, I’m happy to have faith in what I see.

2. I have faith in scientists. I believe that all the (to me) incomprehensible discoveries about atoms and matter and galaxies and gases and swirling energy, are accurate. But I’m likely to be disinterested (or unable) to come to a full understanding myself. And in this respect, I am much like the peasant having faith in the esteemed religious expert explaining how gods created and control the world.

3. I have faith that even when our little brains and collective wisdom have exhausted their ability to explain and understand our existence, there is a reasonable, material explanation for existence that doesn’t involve any form deity requiring blood sacrifices for bad behaviour, or any god requiring its praises to be sung, or any almighty being that leaves glorified misogynistic, homophobic, genocidal texts lying around as clues to Truth.

Have faith, my friends, for we are on the right speculative road. And we shall surely die in ignorance, having experienced something that only our atoms might remember.