Claiming belief vs knowledge

Posted on January 10, 2011 | 3 minute read

When we talk about religion and spirituality it seems all about believing (or not) in a higher power, or “God”. I always say I’m spiritual, but not religious. I believe that there is something more and have my own ideas of what I think it could be, but I never claim to know that there is something more. Does this mean I don’t believe? Does belief in a higher power, God, whatever, require being able to whole-heartedly say that you know it exists and that everybody else is wrong?

I think that there is a line between believing something and knowing something, and we can easily believe something but not claim to know for sure. I believe that there is something out there, but I can’t say with certainty to someone else that I know, 100%, what it is or that it is there. I may have had my own first hand experiences with it, but those are subjective and can’t be taken as ultimate knowledge of its existence.

I’m a little confused about the definition of an atheist. Does an atheist claim to believe there is no God or does an atheist claim to know that there is no God? Does an atheist go around saying **“There is no God. Period. Nada. No way. Not possible”? **

Or does an atheist say “I personally don’t believe there is a higher power, but it is possible because we can never know for sure."

And doesn’t that make him/her agnostic? Are all atheists also agnostic?

Or do they say: “There is no God until we can prove its existence in a scientific experiment”?

Which seems very flawed to me because just because we can’t “prove” something does not mean it isn’t real or that there is no possibility of it being there. It also doesn’t mean that it isn’t an avenue or idea worth exploring. Was Earth flat before we proved otherwise? Did the sun go around the earth before we proved that it was the other way around? We can’t claim not being able to prove something as knowledge because just as it’s possible that God is really not there, it’s also possible that our own human limitations do not allow us to observe God according to our scientific method. Just because it’s out of our grasp does not mean it can’t exist.

Some people will say: “Fine then, let’s say there’s a spaghetti monster in the sky. We can’t prove otherwise, so it could be true, right?"

And to that I say - heck yes it could be true. I know that until we can show otherwise with certainty that there is no spaghetti monster in the sky, it’s possible for one to be there. Does this mean I believe in a spaghetti monster? Nope. I think if C for example suddenly told me that he believes in the spaghetti monster I’d think he’s a little nuts. But my own opinions or beliefs about it do not negate the fact that it is a possibility, no matter how unlikely that it seems.

“But with this kind of outlook, you could say anything is possible!"

Well…yeah.




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