Dear Sister: I am an Atheist

Dear Sister: I am an Atheist August 3, 2019

By Ted Tucker

Dear Sister,

I may not have been clear in my last email so let me be clear now. I am an atheist. I know of no evidence to believe that there is anything supernatural. I believe that humans created all of the gods of the past, and that humans have created the thousands of deities that are currently worshiped today, including the God of Abraham.

I have struggled my entire life with faith; faith defined as belief without evidence. Although I have tried, I simply can’t resolve it in my mind. I don’t seem neurologically wired for faith. I am a skeptic and have always been skeptical of faith claims. I have always been driven in the search for truth and I care very strongly about what is true. I want to understand as much as I can of what is known about the fundamental structure of the universe. I want to understand the processes that allow for complex systems to emerge from simple systems, and how it is that we have evolved our cognitive ability to explore such questions.

The philosophy that I studied in college helped me with reasoning skills, helped me form questions, but did not provide answers to these questions. The Catholic religion that I was raised with provided unreasonable explanations to these questions. This is a religion rooted in the oral traditions and Iron Age writings, of scientifically illiterate people, with primitive cultures. A religion, like other religions, founded not in evidence, but rather in dogmas or arguments from authority. A belief structure that is continually reinforced with promises of salvation and threats of damnation.

There are presently over 4,000 religions practiced on this one tiny planet; had I been born in India I would most likely have been indoctrinated into the Hindu religion, with different gods, and very different faith based beliefs.

I believe in Science. Science is the only discipline that can give us reliable knowledge about the world. Unlike religion, science begins by acknowledging ignorance and only then develops tentative knowledge. Science is what we have learned to guard from deceiving ourselves, as we are so easily prone to deception. Science formulates models and theories that are based on empirical evidence. Scientific theories are testable, repeatable, and falsifiable. Science makes predictions that are experimentally demonstrable.

The beauty of science is that it is a self correcting enterprise. Scientific theories are subject to peer review. There are no authorities in science and often the scientist that gets the most notoriety is the scientist that disproves, modifies, or further solidifies a current theory based on additional evidence. There are no absolute truths in science only degrees of uncertainty. A scientific theory is the strongest claim for what can be called true. The Copernican heliocentric theory, demonstrating that the earth orbits the sun, is still a theory but we claim it as truth/fact based on the overwhelming amount of verifiable and falsifiable evidence. The same holds just as true for Darwin’s theory of descent with modification.

There are many things unknown and yet to be discovered because our tools for understanding are limited. The tools of science have vastly improved and continue to improve exponentially. Every day scientists reveal a more accurate and complete model of our staggeringly vast and truly amazing universe! Are we just one universe of a possible multiverse? The real discoveries of nature are the things that fill me with awe and wonder. I strive to examine all truth claims, to seek out the evidence before believing, and to be open to changing my mind.

Richard Feynman summed it up neatly; “I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here. I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell. I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”

I will not try to disabuse you of your faith because I know its importance to you. I ask that you please keep the religious preachings, judgments, and dogmas of the Catholic Church, to yourself. I will always be open to any scientific evidence you wish to discuss.

With Love, Your Brother

Browse Our Archives