The Slippery Slope of Uncertainty

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“Once you are open to questioning rituals and time-honored practices, you find that one question leads to another.” – Carl Sagan, Cosmos

I just finished reading “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens, and I’ve come to the conclusion ¬†that I am not an atheist (my parents will be so relieved). The reason? Atheism requires too much certainty. In order to be an atheist, I’d have to be certain that there is no god, and I’m not at all certain of that. At least, not yet.

I mention that because it illustrates the truth of the Sagan quote at the top of this post. You see, a year ago I would never have expected…hell, I would have found it impossible to imagine… that I’d be contemplating whether or not I believed in god. Belief in god has always been a part of who I am. When I left the church I was raised in, I knew I’d abandoned religion. But god? No way, man…me and god were tight.

Once I started questioning my beliefs, though, and being open to the idea that I could have been wrong about some pretty important ideas…well, as Carl said, one question leads to another. If you’re going to start questioning everything, you end up questioning¬†everything.

I’ll be honest: being a disciple of doubt really blows sometimes. When you start to make a concerted effort to question every assumption and belief, even (and especially) the ones you hold sacred and would lay down your life for, things can get a little sketchy. At the end of the day, though, it’s the only honest thing you can do.

That’s why I haven’t been writing much lately. How could I write anything? It would probably turn out to be wrong, anyway. Most of what I’ve written here in the past is flawed in some way. Go have a look and you’ll see what I mean. There were days I was tempted to just nuke this site and start over. Or just nuke it and leave the domain pointing to a 404 error page until I figured it all out. How could I choose the truth if I didn’t have a clue what the truth was anymore?

Instead, I walked away. I read. I meditated. I contemplated. I loved. I sang. I was in a few stage shows. I worked. I formed a business with two of my closest friends. I spent time with an awesome five-year-old and his awesome mom. For the first time in my life, I participated in the political process.

Most importantly, I kept right on asking questions.

I’m not finished asking yet, nor do I expect that I ever will be. And that’s OK. We don’t get to find all the answers we seek, right? But we do find some of them, and the ones we do find tend to be pretty earth-shattering and mind-bending and life-altering.

What’s it all mean then? Where am I headed next? I don’t have a fucking clue. And you know what? I kind of like it that way.

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4 Responses to The Slippery Slope of Uncertainty
  1. clive
    November 29, 2012 | 9:35 am

    I don’t know much but what I do know is this: that I can’t see how one can ever expect to know the truth about anything if one isn’t honest with oneself.

    Life is short, uncertain, precarious, unpredictable, so make the most of this opportunity right NOW, do it as well as possible, try to be kind and tolerant and respectful and listen and learn, wake up to yourself and to the world, then do what you need to do. May you succeed.

    • Jerry
      November 30, 2012 | 9:15 pm

      Thanks Clive. That’s great advice!

  2. Christopher Carlson
    November 29, 2012 | 12:29 pm

    I had a couple of experiences this August that moved me more in the direction of some sort of faith. You find a lot of coincidence in the world if you start looking. Almost like your life is some kind of novel. I started wondering about my sense of consciousness, etc.

    What I do know, is that the laws of natural selection have applied to religion. And that what we have today are the biggest baddest things that outcompeted everything else. New faiths pop up every couple of decades, and who knows what will happen then. It is most important that we maintain an open mind to others, and work forward out of curiosity for progress rather than closing our minds with tradition.

    I would much prefer a path of discovery to a path of stubbornness, but if a little bit of ritual gives you stability and calmness, go for it!

    • Jerry
      November 30, 2012 | 9:37 pm

      Totally agree about keeping an open mind and choosing the path of discovery. I definitely feel a spiritual pull, which is why I just can’t commit to a belief in “no god”; there is far too much mystery and synchronicity in the universe to be certain. That said, formal religion has zero appeal for me. I’ve attended a few loose meditation gatherings, sometimes with readings from the book that particular group considers sacred, but I haven’t yet connected with a group that resonates enough to return. I’ll keep seeking and asking, though. Thanks for stopping by to chat!

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