Agnostic Atheist. It’s a term I have used a lot on the podcast and one that I explain in this way. Agnostic is due to knowledge; I don’t know if God is real or not. Atheist is because I am not convinced that there is a God, not because I know there isn’t a God. I still think this sums my position up well, for anyone who cares. I mentioned in my review of Miracles that I am not a fan of labels, and this is true. Labels are very tricky things, but they can also help clarify things in the way guessing, hoping and inferring unhelpfully do not.
As readers of this blog will have seen, I have been really struck with what C.S. Lewis says in his book ‘Miracles’. Morality and Reason being rooted in something outside of Nature makes sense. At least in the way that Lewis weaves it together.
The problem is this doesn’t mean it is true. I am not trying to pick a side and fight tooth and nail to prove one is right over the other. Rather I am trying to reflect on what I read/hear and honestly share my experience on this blog, and on the podcast.
I am still very sceptical of what Mr Lewis says in his book. It doesn’t come down to definitive answers which provide me with confidence in a Being outside of Nature. What it does is paint a picture upon which a Being is required to grant the depth that Lewis experienced in the world.
The problem comes down to the reality that we know far more about consciousness today than we did when Mr Lewis wrote this book. For example, we now believe that both the right and left sides of the brain are independently conscious. To the extent that through clinical experiments you can make both hands fight for something (such as a pen), without the ‘person’ wishing this to happen. Both the person’s right and left hands will act out the desires of the relevant side of the brain. You can also see different sides of the brain wishing to do different professions (when a child was asked what they want to be when they are older they said one thing, and one of their hands spelt something else out). This might sound crazy, but I would encourage you to look into it.
Two books that take a short look at this are ‘Waking Up‘ by Sam Harris’ and ‘The Happiness Hypothesis‘ by Jonathan Haidt. Both of which will be reviewed here on the blog in the near future, both are also worth a read if you have the time.
Does this make what Lewis said wrong or irrelevant? No, I don’t think it does. So that still has me stumped. There’s a strange desire in me to know the truth about God. Not a truth, but the truth. Like it’s rooted within my very core and keeps me going down a path. Does evolution put this within me? Is it an echo of something else?
Anyway – how can we claim that consciousness, in regard to reason and morality, is rooted in a divine being when we can see within one person different expressions of these things? A question raised by Sam Harris leading on from his time spent reflecting on split-brain syndrome is simply this: what happens if the left side of the brain believes in a supernatural deity when the right-hand side does not? What is saved into eternal life with God, and what is cast into hell?
Is this even the right way to look at the question?
Things seem to be far more complicated than believing you or I am a single person. We are a collective of conscious and sub-conscious workings which can build the illusion of ‘I’.
Again, this might be running down rabbit holes to no avail. It is far easier to decouple something than it is to build something up, I need to keep remembering this. Destroying something takes moments, rebuilding can take a lifetime.
So, what about rationality from an irrational process? To the extent of objective rationality, maybe this doesn’t exist? On the other hand, mathematics doesn’t seem to have been invented, rather it seems to have been discovered. Consciousness has allowed us to reflect on things outside of ourselves to a level that no other living thing has ever done before (that we are aware of to date). We have taken paths due to evolution which has enabled us to ‘rationally’ tackle things whilst also watching out for something that will stop us from pushing our genes into the future. Could our rationality, and maybe our morality not be ‘rational’ and ‘moral’ from an objective process, but simple the best we have come to through an unguided process, such as evolution?
But I don’t want answers that are false because they make things fit comfortably together. I want answers that are the closest to reality as we can step. This is why Lewis’ book Miracles has so gripped me. I want actual rationality, actual morality, actual purpose and actual reason.
How about miracles? How do we know events have taken place if Nature will incorporate them without missing a beat? The way C.S. Lewis talks about this is brilliant, it is also very moving, but it doesn’t prove miracles take place. Rather it proves that we could have miracles taking place, without even knowing they are taking place. We can assume a lot of things to have taken place, claimed they are miracles because others said they are miracles and they actually happened. This doesn’t prove it happened, or if it did whether it was a miracle or not.
This however doesn’t mean it’s ok to just say, ‘we can’t know, so I won’t try and find out’. As I have made clear so many times, my goal here is to be as honest as I can be as I journey my own life reflecting, reading and engaging as I go.
_End of Blog Blurb_
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.
Support: The podcast and blog will always be advertisement-free, and your generous support on Patreon will enable us to continue doing this effectively and to a higher standard over the years to come. Please consider supporting the work we do.
Alternatively, you can support this work with a one-off gift via PayPal.
Podcast: If you like what you read then you could always check out the podcast ‘When Belief Dies’, it is available on all major podcasting platforms or you can listen/watch via YouTube. I upload and publish via Anchor FM each Wednesday at 7 am. For early access, support me on Patreon.
Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better and ask you, reader, to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.
Time Frame: This blog is roughly twelve to twenty-four months behind where I currently am in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting.
If you want to get every post straight to your inbox then you can do that by either following directly via WordPress or with your email address, whichever you prefer. The links for that and social media are to the right if you’re on a computer, or at the very bottom if you’re on a phone or tablet.
I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂
When Belief Dies #68 – 'An exchange of monologues…' with Daniel Kelly – When Belief Dies
- When Belief Dies #68 – 'An exchange of monologues…' with Daniel Kelly
- When Belief Dies #67 – 'Psychedelics, History & Hope' with Pat Smith
- When Belief Dies #66 – 'Social Contracts' with Kane B
- When Belief Dies #65 – 'History for Atheists' with Tim O'Neill
- When Belief Dies #64 – 'The morality of an Infidel' with Simon Blackburn