Knowledge and Belief

I am a regular reader of the Daily Dish, a blog by the gay, British, Catholic writer Andrew Sullivan.  I love the insights that Andrew brings to his blogs.  His political and social commentary is quite astute, in my opinion, probably because he so often manages to put my thoughts and feelings into words.  Or maybe the chicken came before the egg, and my thoughts and feelings coalesce around Andrew’s writing.  But I have one serious disagreement with Mr. Sullivan – his theism.  Not that I do not sincerely believe that he is fully entitled to it, but that a person with his logic and grasp of reality somehow manages to imagine a deity when the evidence is so firmly stacked against it.

There was a recent thread on his blog written by Zack Beauchamp, entitled Arguments Against God. To his credit (and sanity, I think) Andrew often allows his blog to be a platform for other writers.  In the follow up to the original piece, Zack shares the comments from a number of readers.  Zack seems to be an atheist himself, but his says the following which troubles me:

this is precisely why I don’t think agnosticism is meaningfully different from atheism.

And I could not disagree more.  Agnosticism relates to knowledge of god.  Theism/atheism relates to ones belief in god. In a perfect world, knowledge would lead to belief.  For many theists, the beliefs to which they have been indoctrinated for their entire lives leads them to believe that they have knowledge.  The fact is they have belief and hope.

When it comes to god I am happy to say “I don’t know”.  I have no knowledge, no evidence outside of my existence.  And what does that tell me? The universe is a strange and interesting place, full of mystery to be sure.  But this does not force me to believe in a deity.  There may be a reality beyond the grave, but nothing I have seen or read leads me to believe that gods exist, except in the minds of men.

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