Adventures of the Super Agnostic pt. 2: The Kobayashi Maru And My Beliefs

Adventures of the Super Agnostic pt. 2: The Kobayashi Maru And My Beliefs

(By Chris Bowsman. Continued from pt.1.)

“I don’t believe in the no-win scenario.”

- Captain Kirk, on The Kobayashi Maru

In matters of Science, I’m in favor of Science. But, religious aims are not those of Science. To me, Religion aims to explain the truth in ways that are anthropocentric and artistic in nature whereas Science must not and cannot be anthropocentric; though I think scientists can be artists. Carl Sagan was pretty artistic in his language. And so is Bill Nye. But, I firmly believe in everyone’s ability to express their own personal stories, because people have different experiences, and therefore they have the right to match their experiences with their stories as individuals.

If you believe you have the one true story at the expense of another human‘s dignity, I hate to tell you, but you are mistaken. People exist as a plurality of narratives, and no personal experience of one’s own has the right to infringe on the dignity and autonomy of those people as individuals. It may be that deities are imaginary or internal, but Science in that case has no place to infringe on human dignity. I’m a firm believer in the idea that one’s first experience with death is informative of one’s religious stance or as Captain Kirk says: “How we deal with death…is AT LEAST as important as how we deal with life…” More specifically, that’s when a cafeteria-religion type guy like me first has to face The Kobayashi Maru and decide: “Whoa! Wait a minute! What do I really believe about God? Do I believe in God at all?” And my answer is I truly don’t know, and I’m happy making stuff up. But, I’m aware that I’m choosing to make it up! That’s most important.

You see, in college I practiced Zen Buddhism for 3 years and read Friedrich Nietzsche and Joseph Campbell. When my best friend in college, a Methodist, died in a car accident, I knew that I had no greater truth about religion than she did: If heaven was what she desired most, I gave it to her, in my head. Why not? The important thing to me was that we got along, had fun, and understood each other, as well as our reasons for our religious differences. This is how I came to accept that my metaphysical beliefs are fundamentally Agnostic: No matter what Religion and Science say, I still have the freedom to choose whatever fits in my story based on my personal experiences.

I believe in the laws of Science when dealing with physics and the world around us. Absolutely. Science has the last word there. But, in poetics, in literature, in mythology, in our personal search for meaning Science (or Religion for that matter!) only can have that meaning if you want it to. Science is not an art. It is exact. Human lives are much more complex to be explained completely by just Science or Religion! The choice is up to you which parts to keep or leave out of your story.
As for me, I believe that no one can know for sure if there is or is not a god beyond the figures WE choose to give meaning, not the other way around. There may be even a god that we don’t know about unlike anything in established Religions and beyond our imaginations, operating by the laws of Science! And that uncertainty gives me hope and humility, because it means I don’t have all the answers yet. But, I know other people need help just like I do, with that question!

So, that people are still working on the answer gives me hope that people will and must work together towards understanding one another respectfully. By the way, I know that there’s a lot of friendly people who believe only in Science or Religion. But, when discussing metaphysics, I feel I have to work towards common goals and understanding without attacking or shaming a person‘s self-worth! My story is my choice. I try not to insult another person because their story is different. I may not agree with their outcomes, but each person has the fundamental freedom, as an autonomous being, to choose (and change!) their metaphysical beliefs for their own reasons. That’s what I believe. Like Professor X, I think it’s a sign of strength to know your limitations, and practice respect for diverse metaphysical beliefs.

About Chris Bowsman, comic and gaming editor: I’m a passionate disability rights advocate, sci-fi fan, and intercultural communication guy. I have cerebral palsy. I like video games. I have a master’s degree in Intercultural communication and a B.A. in German. I hope to go overseas again someday. Haven’t been to Germany. I’ve been to Spain. I like movies. Raised in Port Huron, MI. Went to College in PA. Looking at the world through the eyes of aliens. Blogspot: www.christopherbowsman.blogspot.com


About Jonathan Ryan

Jonathan Ryan is a novelist, blogger and columnist. His novel, 3 Gates of the Dead, published by Open Road Media, is in bookstores everywhere. The sequel, Dark Bride, will be out in April 2015

  • Noah Smith

    But isn’t there a danger of doing a “Heffernan”? Tech writer Virginia Heffernan’s explanation as to why she’s a creationist was so dumb that some people think that she was pulling a hoax. She just preferred the Genesis account to Evolution because the Bible told a better story and she disliked evolutionary psychology. Bad explanations shouldn’t garner automatic respect regardless if it’s religious or secular.

    For myself I’d rather face “reality” stripped of mythology for, as someone else has remarked, if you’re being chased by a tiger does it help to think of it as a rabbit?

    • Chris Bowsman

      Yeah, Science has the last say in objectivity. Myth and religion are subjective truths that deal with human vulnerabilities, if you need them.

  • Matthew Steele

    I like what you write here. :) Your thoughts remind me of the scene in Babylon 5 where the station is hosting a forum on all the race’s religions and religious rituals. All the races present rituals. He brings them into a cargo bay where a long line of people stand, and introduces a member of every belief on earth. It’s a beautiful scene, and I think it’s my favorite one in all of science fiction.


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