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I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing.
I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing
than to have answers which might be wrong.
-Richard Feynman

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Why I Am Not An Atheist

(Please remain chill and read through to the end before deciding where I am going with all this)

The universe is a tangible and logical accumulation of scientific actions and reactions, right down to particulate matter and energy that grows perpetually smaller and larger. I honestly believe that we cannot find the end to this continuation. It is part of the "Infinity Thing" which Mankind, I also believe, cannot fully fathom in this earthly state.
Religion tries to answer Ultimate Questions. But one should not expect satisfactory explanations to the deepest core questions. Religions return verdicts regarding Reality by referencing their scriptures. Those scriptures lay out each of their own set of stories which define "what it's all about". They are usually enigmatic, vague, inconclusive, often illogical, usually fantastic and I believe, very likely contrived. They never really provide any well explained answers to real and serious core questions about our existence. When one asks questions beyond certain points and a better or more complete and definitive answer is not provided, the religious respondent, in desperation, must turn to the last bastion of best available answers:
"Because it says so in our scriptures."
That is not an answer.
That is an existential opinion, at best.

The postulations as to how scriptures, thus beliefs came to be are varied. I honestly believe that, most likely, the scriptures themselves were contrived by ignorant and thus highly superstitious early man who was making his best guesses at explaining the world he was experiencing. And IF man DID receive messages from an external source which in turn prompted the scriptures, it was probably from more advanced non-earthly or extra dimensional sources, intervening for whatever reasons. But that's a whole other topic.
Egocentric humans really love to pose that they understand what they CANNOT possibly understand. With that comes a feeling of self-importance, a feeling of security and a reduction of fear of the unknown.

I was raised in a Christian atmosphere.
I will spare anyone reading this ALL of the detailed reasons why I kept questioning my Mom's persistence in following that path and pushing us in that direction.
Let it suffice to say that what I have learned daily, to be facts, rarely coincide with what I have heard from the pulpit.
If you don't understand why I questioned it, then you are happy in the Blind Faith that turns your particular gears.
And that is not, inherently and necessarily, a totally bad thing. If religion makes someone feel good and warm and fuzzy and protected, then religion is doing SOMEthing good.

In our world, a wide variety of religions are available to mankind.
Sadly, it has always been similar to a network of street gangs, similar in way TOO many ways, complete with gang wars.
Way too often, Believers run in packs. Is it that they possibly like to have support close at hand in the event that any one of them might be swayed from conviction by a reasoning "outsider"?
Religious folks often preach universal love and even acceptance of other faiths but rarely do they truly live up to those claims. THEIR religion is the RIGHT religion.

In some ways, that is cool, too. If keeping Kosher or giving tithe or rolling in the aisles or reciting certain words at certain times of the day is what they believe their God wants them to do and they need that to feel warm and fuzzy, they should go for it, I guess.

Something I don't understand and with what I have a problem, is when those "good" people start projecting negativity toward others who aren't in their particular gang. And this, as most everyone knows, easily escalates to segregation, hatred and violence, right on up to murder and warfare.
How does shunning, hating or killing someone who wears other colors make you warm and fuzzy?
And let's not forget the imposition of laws, flimsily excused in the name of God, which restrict freedoms for all others in our society regarding individual choice and happiness. This leads to even more opposition and separation of people.

Back in the late Nineteen-Sixties and Seventies, there came an almost maniacal resurgence of Christianity on the streets of America and I had some repeated encounters with an enthusiastic faction of young people known as "Born Again Christians".
This was at the same time that various Eastern Religions were being discovered by Westerners, due greatly to the popularity of The Beatles. The Beatles had been mega-successful for several years, had tried the drug scene as did much of the youth of the day and while their minds were "expanded", they traveled to India and got a taste of some different existential perspectives.
You could almost hear rusty hinges creaking of minds opening up all across the country as Youth discovered new pathways of religious perspective.
I, too, was searching. We all want something onto which to cling. I even found myself listening to and politely debating with Jehovah's Witnesses when they arrived at my door.
I was barraged with many concepts of "what it's all about".
Which one was right?...which Path was the right path?
When it was all boiled down, most all of them say the same thing.

One morning, I awakened with some kindly and plaintive words going through my head:
"If you could just know The Joy of simply giving yourself UP... to Jesus!...".
Essentially, that was the top mantra of "The Born Agains".
I had certainly heard it enough in that recent past.
"...give yourself UP..."
I liked that! It had a comfortable sound to it. It was welcoming. It sounded protecting, cozy, warm and fuzzy.
Soulful release is a part of a lot of religions. The Born Again Christians had no patent on the concept.
And since I was rather familiar with Christianity, having been fed it since birth, I guess that is why the sound of some young Hippie-Chick's voice in my ear jarred me from the confusing state in which I was.
"...give yourself up..." Jesus? God?
That moment really gelled a lot of anti-religion questions and thinking I had been having since early childhood.
I just couldn't buy it!
There were just too many holes in the stories.
Too many contradictions.
Too few clear and realistic explanations.

Then, another thought-wave hit me: from all of the incense burning and hand-waving and tearful sermonizers, I had repeatedly heard that "we can't KNOW the True Glory of God. We can't understand His magnificence. We can't know his plan.".
1 we can't understand
2 there really isn't much real, reliable and provable information in Scriptures
3 they all just preach The Golden Rule (essentially)
4 God is everywhere and is in everything
5 we are God
6 God is us
7 God is love
8 The Magnificence and Beauty of all we see around us, is God
9 For all of the unanswered, remaining questions, "quit asking and just Believe... have faith.... blindly.".

A very cool, calm, collected and intelligent woman with whom I was speaking much during those searching years, said to me after a long discussion on religion/faith,
"Don't believe a word I have said. Figure it out for yourself."
She had been raised Buddhist but had investigated a variety of established religions. After successive years of searching, she decided to align with "Rudy".
She reminded me of a comedy routine that Bill Cosby had contrived years before. Cosby suggested that God is a busy guy and that we are calling on him for all sorts of incidental crap every day. Cosby said he "...had a friend named Rudy.
Rudy wasn't doing much of anything; call on him. It will be just as effective.".

If we have an inability to "grasp it", why strictly align to so many detailed particulars?

Mankind tends to be an interesting combination of thoughts and attitudes.
In so many ways,
Mankind is pompous,
Mankind is ignorant,
Mankind is fearful,
Mankind is quite gullible,
Mankind is very imaginative,
Mankind is lazy.
Mankind forgets so MANY things that it really would be best to remember.
Mankind remembers so MUCH that it would be best to forget.
With education, comes knowledge. With Knowledge, comes the repulsion of superstition.
Do I know ultimate reality? No. But I honestly believe that I focus upon more of reality than does a person held in the bonds of religion.
Does that make me better or in any way superior? No.
And maybe I am at a disadvantage. Maybe they are more content and warm and fuzzy, more of the time, than am I.
But I see tangible evidence of My Reality and that is my "warm and fuzzy".
Blind acceptance scares me.
I feel embarrassed when I stop seeking truth.
And if, in my search, I do not find all of the answers, I am fine with that. Mysteries are good for the soul.
"The Performance" is not as much fun when The Magician reveals his secrets.

At the top of this page I quoted from the physicist Richard Feynman. He said:
"I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing.
I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong."
(-Richard Feynman)

If anyone wants to remain in a state of belief in a "Daddy In The Sky", etc., then to each his own; just don't denigrate, punish and impose upon others in our society for not joining The Club.

I had some rather animated and fervent discussions with a few acquaintances who had overheard me declining on some Christmas Festivities. I don't REALLY have inherent and complete disdain for all of those Holiday observations. But I had been invited to go to a Mass.
I have been to Masses before. They ARE an interesting experience, even for nonbelievers. But Mass is a little more Pomp and Circumstance of Devotion than my spirit desires. Been there done that.
"I am not a Christian.", I replied.

My "few acquaintances" asked me of my religious affiliations in light of my declared absence of Christianity in my life. I explained that I do not subscribe to any religion. Immediately, I received several warm smiles. They were avowed Atheists.
We quickly became a friendly and cohesive social unit...for a few minutes.
I heard slanders and felt airborne barbs directed to our religious brothers and sisters. Our newfound bond began to dissipate when my Few Acquaintances heard me dismiss their Atheism.
I told them that I perceived their commitments to Atheism to be as unjustifiable as are the enthusiastic followers of any religion, furthering that as I could see no way to prove reasonably the existence OF God, I could also see no way to prove God's non-existence...and to charge one's life to the concept of Atheism is as much of an act of Blind Faith as is the handling of poisonous snakes with only the Hand of God to protect.
One Acquaintance imparted that he felt I was being wishy-washy...a fence my Agnostic stance.
I explained, "The day that you can show me some logical reasoning and evidence that God does not exist, I will gladly become a confirmed Atheist. And until you can provide such evidence, for you to denigrate someone else for their beliefs, you are as misguided as is any religiously oriented person who, in the name of his religion, "hates fags"... or thinks that Jesus rode dinosaurs... or blows people up with bombs in the name of his god.
They remained somewhat cordial but clearly, I was no longer on their team. I don't like segregation. It's not a good thing.

Mankind being as it is, we DO seem to gravitate to hanging more with others of like minds. And I guess that is perfectly natural and somewhat reasonable. But it is at these points where I see huge negative effects from theism as well as atheism; Both schools assert such a degree of specificity about the unknown that people are pulled apart in some of the strongest disagreements known to man.
Emotions of devotion and belief run quite strong.
And with the strength of those emotions, there tends to be a very strong desire to segregate along those lines. At that point, discourse, thus communication, thus understanding, wanes to points critical.

Granted, there is much positive that can come from and has come from religions. Communities of good people have gathered in the name of religion. Beautiful artwork and architecture has been created from a religious perspective. Many suffering people have been relieved by God-inspired institutions.
But I cannot believe that these same effects could not have also come to be in an atmosphere of Highest Reverence of this astoundingly beautiful, tangible Universe in which we reside; a World which can bring about tears from its beauty and magnificence; a World of wonderful, joyous, thrilling pleasures. And all of this can be found without dogmatic wars which separate precious souls on a battlefield.
There is satisfying fascination to be had in merely inspecting and investigating a single leaf...or plant... or forest. If we look, there is enough fascination to keep us occupied in appreciation, instead of building empires of speculation and specification of that which we cannot understand.
Personally, I have always enjoyed the work of a good magician.

Infinitely larger and infinitely smaller.
All existence is that way, from what we call Cosmic/Universal to what we consider Quantum and smaller.
There is no end.
Enjoy the space and scale of "things" that you have at your disposal and can perceive.
What we call The Cosmos is, somewhere, on the head of someone’s pin.
Beyond playful conjecture, it matters not, really, what happened countless light years away in distance and time...or what is happening right now on a super-super smaller-smaller scale which we can’t possibly see or otherwise detect.
Quit worrying about things you can't understand.
It's O.K. to not fully understand.
It's O.K. to not know.
And it’s fun to speculate and gander with your jaw hanging open, scratching your head, wondering.
Fascination with the unknown is The Magician.
It's no fun if you know all The Magician's secrets; you never will...because all aspects of
All Things are infinitely smaller and infinitely larger.
Just freakin' accept it.
And if you can't accept it, immerse yourself in drink and drugs...or join a convent and hide your head in the sand of fairy tales and superstitions and sooth your ego with the delusion that you know “how it all works” and what “went before” and what will “come after”.
Love, Fun and Pleasure is why we are here.
The only Master we serve is Within.

I won't sit waiting for the whole world to change, but as John Imagined,
"...some say I'm a Dreamer. But I'm not the only one..."

Love Unlimited.


Copyright Robin Skelton



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