Albert Einstein stated many times that he found the belief in a personal God a childish primitive relic of early human development whose time has long past. Nevertheless he resisted being called an atheist, saying, “Mere unbelief in a personal God is no philosophy at all.” He called himself an agnostic not because he was ambivalent about the non-existence of God, but because “I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”
It was that “attitude of humility” that struck me most when I first read Einstein’s words. I am then, like Einstein, an agnostic convinced that there is no God. I am fully aware that my conviction can never be scientifically proven because no such proof could ever exist, just as none exists for the opposite conviction that there is a God. Of the two alternatives mine is clearly less preposterous but, reasonable as it is, it still is only an opinion. When it comes to opinions it’s a good practice to express minimal doubt, even when we are convinced that we are right. Doubt goes hand in hand with humility. If nothing else, being humble about my non-belief might keep the door open for a civilized discussion with my opponents, rather than the hysterical shouting so typical of rabid atheist writers.
Unlike such writers, I believe that not questioning the rightness of one’s beliefs is a far greater menace than religious belief per-se. True, it is not easy to admit that you might be wrong when you know damn well that you are not, but it is well worth the effort. If nothing else it keeps my arrogance in check.
I only wish that true believers would add a similar caveat to their certainty.
3/5/2014 04:05:45 am
Well said. There is always the doubt. There will always be the doubt, uncomfortable to many.....believers and non believers alike.
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