Thursday, September 14, 2006

Losing [My] Religion

My last post was a setup for this one. I hope you've had time to absorb it a bit.

With this post, I wanted to outline my own religious views, as they've been shaping up for the past few years. It's something that I've been quite up front with myself about, and increasingly so with people outside of the online arena, but because of the associations most people have with the words involved, I've been a bit hesitant to vociferously self-identify in this way. But you know what? I've decided it doesn't really matter what people think of me. I'll go into that a bit more in the next post. For now, though, on to the main event.

I consider myself a weak atheist and a strong agnostic. For those of you who don't feel like scrolling back down to the last post, here's what that means: I lack belief in a God or gods, but I don't make the positive assertion that they don't exist. That's the weak atheist part. As for the strong agnostic part, I think that it's not just unknown whether or not God exists, but that it's fundamentally unknowable, by the very definition of the word.

You may notice that I'm very careful to not say that I'm outlining my beliefs. I don't say that I disbelieve in God, because that would be strong atheism. Lack of belief is not at all the same as active disbelief, and I'd like to be very clear with that distinction.

Some strong atheists would question my weak atheism. That is, they would question why I stop short of asserting that God doesn't exist. For me, it's purely a question of logic. Just as it's illogical to assert without evidence that God exists, it's also illogical to assert without evidence that God doesn't exist. That is, both require at least a small "leap of faith" to jump from the evidence to the conclusion.

That is not to say, though, that because something's existence cannot be disproven, that is reason enough to believe in its existence. I could rattle off, literally until my dying breath, any number of concepts that could not be disproven, each more ridiculous than the last. But there would be no basis for belief in any of them simply based on the fact that they cannot be disproven. In fact, I would have constructed them specifically so that they could not be disproven by logical means, in the same way that the idea of God cannot be disproven by logical means.

This is where I get into the strong agnosticism. In fact, it's completely tied up in that place where weak atheists and strong atheists differ. As soon as you define something whose existence is fundamentally unprovable by any means that would convince somebody else absent a revelation of faith, then we've gone into the realm not just of the unknown, but of the unknowable.

* * * * *

I don't expect this to change anyone's mind or anything. Far from it. I just wanted to get it out there and see what y'all thought of it, if anything. I've been talking about posting about my convictions on the subject of religion for some time now, and I figured that time had come.