Am I missing the god gene?
When it comes to the idea of a deity, I’m an “agnostic” atheist. I really do keep an open mind: How could I not? Our human, scientific capacity for understanding the universe is still in its infancy. Yes, we’ve come a long way baby, but nobody claims that humankind has “arrived.”
I’m quite persuaded that the anthropomorphic “old man on a throne” god of the three major world religions is a fictional character. But is there some greater entity, consciousness or purpose in the universe (or of the universe) that’s simply beyond our finite skills of detection?
There certainly could be.
A line in The Ghost Map (a wonderful nonfiction book I’ve written about here before) sticks in my head. The book tells the story of the last great cholera epidemic of London and the two men (a doctor and a minister) who solved the disease transmission puzzle. Specifically, they isolated a contaminated water pump in the neighborhood where the outbreak occurred and shut it down, stemming the epidemic.
But they did their work before the germ theory of disease. As author Steven Johnson put it, the idea that invisible cholera molecules were floating around in that water would have been as laughable to them as the idea that invisible fairies are floating around in our gardens is to us today.
So I don’t close my mind to the possibility of god, but I also don’t hold my breath waiting for a sign from this inscrutable divinity. As I move farther away from evangelical Christianity, I find myself developing more confidence, self-reliance and independent coping skills. My life is freer, happier and more fulfilling. In fact, sometimes I wonder whether my lack of striving for “spiritual truth,” when all around me people seem to be obsessed with it, means that I am missing something.
Do I lack a god gene? Have I “hardened my heart”? Is my spiritual “radar system” shut down? Should I care?
Remember The Emperor’s New Clothes? A post by science blogger (and outspoken atheist) P.Z. Myers takes off on that with The Courtier’s Reply. What do you think? Is there an inscrutable, complex and mysterious being out there somewhere that humans should worship? Or is the emperor really naked?