I AM AGNOSTIC ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF A DEITY
I can readily imagine the time in our distant past when early Humans lifted their gaze from the ground and began to connect what they observed in the sky to the events which shaped their lives. I can also imagine that the human trait of curiosity led to questions about the reasons for what they observed and the connections to their lives. I reckon it did not take long to realize some events were good and some were bad. They learned they had no control over these events; they could not command the good or the bad. Was this the beginning of belief that deities controlled the cycles and events that shaped their lives? I believe this is so.
Once the belief that deities controlled the life shaping events of their lives took hold, I believe it was a small step to feeling the urgent need to avoid pissing the deities off. Humans had to face the question what the deities wanted and give it to them. Who did Humans consult to find answers? It is my belief Humans have always had persons within their numbers that have very active imaginations and great skills of persuasion. Today we call them shamans and prophets. The shamans and prophets provided answers, methods, and rules for appeasement of deities that evolved to become what we now call religion. I call it ignorance and superstition.
After reading the foregoing, the reader must conclude I believe religion, in all forms and varieties, is created by human imagination to suit human needs. The reader’s conclusion is the correct one. I hasten to add, my belief religion is man-made does not relieve me of the need to find answers to the same questions as the early Humans. The mystery of our Universe and Life remains for us as intractable as it was for the first Humans to lift their gaze. Only through the collective hubris of the Human race would we pretend otherwise. I am trained in Physics and I believe the Scientific Method is the only way to seek Truth. I am compelled by my Human curiosity to ask questions about our Universe and Life and hoping some bit of Truth will come my way; I am at the same time of the belief the “BIG TRUTH” will never be completely revealed to Humans. Humans will have to derive the collective satisfaction of their curiosity drive entirely from the bits and pieces of the “BIG TRUTH” employment of the Scientific Method yields from time to time.
I have thus far restrained my impulse to bash religion as the cause of much of the self-inflicted pain visited upon Humans over historical time. I realize the ignorance and superstition I see in all religions is for others the cornerstone of their belief systems. All religions were created to find answers to the same questions I have. I do not engage True Believers directly to convince them their religion is based on ignorance and superstition, even though that is my belief. I do not have the right to do so. I limit myself to exposition of my beliefs and let others make up their own minds. I can only wish the True Believers of all religions would do the same.
I do not feel any restraint in pointing out the many cruel and inhumane methods employed by most (all?) religions in defense of their particular brand of ignorance and superstition. I have in mind methods such as burning at the stake, the Crusades, throwing to the lions, various tortures, the extermination of non-believers, murder under religious sanction. In more modern times, the tenants of particular religions are used to justify bigotry, vilification of minorities, personal enrichment at the expense of True Believers, “proof” of bogus “theories”, seek political advantage, the sexual abuse of women and children, and more. What a perversion of the basic Human need to seek truth this is. Shame!
I also believe the rules of religions, as they evolved, provided the basis for development of Human civilization. Civilization benefits all Humans. As an example, I believe in and live by the Ten Commandments. I do this in the belief the Ten Commandments, when followed by Humans, make civil societies possible. It is obvious to me that living in a civil society best serves my self-interest needs. I need not be a True Believer in any religious sense to perceive the advantages that “living by the rules” brings to Human civilization. The men responsible for producing our Constitution recognized this as the Constitution, when followed, provides protection against perversion of the rules of religion and at the same time allows the free practice of any religion by any person.
I am not an atheist. An atheist is one who is certain deities do not exist; a True Believer. I do not have the certainty necessary to be a True Believer. Hence, I am agnostic about the possibility of some form of deity which knows the “BIG TRUTH” and operates our Universe accordingly. However, I strongly lean toward the belief the Universe just exists and Humans will never know the “BIG TRUTH”. Disappointing is it not?