[LMB] Religion question

Joel Polowin jpolowin at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 13 22:35:36 BST 2021


Elizabeth Holden <alzurite at gmail.com> wrote:
> I don't meet many people who call themselves agnostic, and I don't hear
> people being called agnostic - not that the topic comes up much in my
> circles.

I'm agnostic.  I don't have any faith regarding the existence or
non-existence of a deity.  I rather *hope* that there's some kind of
life after death, as I don't want my self to end, but I don't have any
faith on the matter.  Pascal's Wager -- that one should believe in
God because that might lead to a reward, if God exists, whereas not
believing in God is a no-win option -- collides with my fundamental
bias that one should believe in things if and only if there's reason to
think that they are true.  (This is not the same thing as *acting* in a
certain way, based on a hope that something is true or not.  One might
argue that if one is uncertain if God exists, one should nevertheless
pray.  But that feels hypocritical to me.)

Years ago, I was discussing my lack of faith with my then-neighbor.
She was pretty devoutly Catholic, and IIRC went to services daily when
she could.  She suggested that I pray for faith.  I decided against
trying to explain the implicit "bootstrapping problem".

A few days ago, I was discussing my some of my current medical problems
with a new doctor.  He was trying to get me to decide one way or
the other if some of my newer symptoms are a result of the bicycle
accident I had a year ago.  I was firm: I don't know.  There are too
many concurrent potential contributing causes.  Much though I'd like to
know exactly what's going on, things really are indeterminate.  If I
look at things as though they were a chemistry experiment that didn't
give me the kind of results I expected, there are too many uncontrolled
variables that could plausibly have interfered, whose effects might
be of a magnitude to create my observations.  As with the matter of
religion, I'm willing to accept that I'm not certain, and prefer that to
being falsely certain without justification.

Joel



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