curtis fisher.

don't be so certain

- 5 Minute Read

Growing up, I was a devout atheist. With a sense of absolute certainty I concluded that it defied all reason and logic to believe in a higher power. I remember eating up the, "Christopher Hitchens PWNs Christian" variety of YouTube videos.

Over time, that heroic and unwavering belief began to waver. It started with my first high school girlfriend, whose parents insisted I joined them every Sunday for church service. At first it was something silly that I "had" to do to please her family (more on our need to please others later). Over time though, I grew to really appreciate that church community.

I remember thinking, "I may not believe in God, but these Christians aren't so bad." From that day forward, I stopped calling myself an Atheist. I didn't like the, "Checkmate Christian," connotations that it carried. These Christians were my new friends after all. It seemed to me that the Atheism that I once practiced was a belief system of its own; a belief system centered around PWNING silly religious folk who didn't understand the awesome power of logic and reason.

After my first girlfriend and I separated, what was once a "have to do" became a "looking forward to doing." I continued going to church. Every Sunday was filled with the joy of singing hymns, sharing in communal prayer, and chatting with church-goers after the service. I greatly appreciated the biblical stories and their moral takeaways. The literal translation of an omnipotent man in the sky didn't exactly resonate, but when you surround yourself with people who believe that, you begin to wonder.

You don't know sh*t and neither do I

We like to pretend like we know things. Knowing things saves us from the eternal pit of nihilism that so many dead philosophers have found themselves sucked into. When we know things, we can make sense of the world. A system of belief–whether religious, scientific, or something else–gives us the certainty we need to calmly go about our days.

For the truth-seekers among us (that's me by the way), it can often be hard to grasp this idea of faith that 3/4 of the world's population seems to be enthralled by.

The idea of faith used to be silly to me. Once I realized that faith is not something reserved for devout religious followers that perspective began to shift.

A scientist must have faith in their research until they come to a proof or conclusion. To illustrate this point, consider that we used to believe the world was flat. In that time period, with the instrumentation we had, that conclusion made sense. It seems like the truth. Looking back with a more universal perspective, we can see how foolish that belief was.

At some point, someone had to have faith in the idea that the earth wasn't flat. There wasn't yet any proof of that, so they had to have enough faith to go out and find their own answer.

We currently have faith in gravity, the speed of light being constant, and the motion of our planets (among many other things). Similar to the time of the flat-earth belief, the observational capabilities and instrumentation of our time support those scientific conclusions. The important phrase being, "of our time." A future humanity, with greater universal perspective may look back at us in jest—as we look back at the flat-earth belief—at what we currently believe to be true.

The point being that what we commonly call the "truth" these days is based on nothing more than our current capabilities for understanding the world. What we consider "truth" might be entirely incorrect.

So, to that young Curtis who used to be so certain that god didn't exist, I'd challenge him to be more open-minded. Who the heck knows what's truth and what isn't.

You can be both rigorous in your pursuit of the truth, and receptive to the idea that gods and mythical creatures and magic are possible. To completely shut those possibilities out with devout certainty is antithetical to truth-seeking. Whether it's scientific, religious, spiritual, or something else–one who seeks the truth must remain open-minded to the idea that what they believe to be true isn't really true.

I spend a lot of time exploring my curiosity and stumbling through life's questions. There's a certain sense of deep peace that comes from dissolving belief, and letting go of the notion that any of us know what the f*ck is going on. I fully admit that I may be wrong about everything, that there is so much to learn, and commit to live my life in pursuit of truth. I am content with uncertainty.