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You know, on the spectrum of religious belief, there is atheism – these are people that don’t believe. There’s theism – these are the believers and agnostics say it’s beyond comprehension that the whole issue of God us unknowable. You might be interested to know that perhaps the greatest mind of the 20th century Einstein, the one time that he actually used one of these appellations was in a letter about five years before he died and he referred to himself as an agnostic.
I’m still agnostic. But in the words of Elton Richards, I’m now a reverant agnostic. Which isn’t an oxymoron, I swear. I now believe that whether or not there’s a God, there is such a thing as sacredness. Life is sacred. The Sabbath can be a sacred day. Prayer can be a sacred ritual. There is something transcendent, beyond the everyday. It’s possible that humans created this sacredness ourselves, but that doesn’t take away from its power or importance.
I suspect the reason is that most people […] have a residue of feeling that Darwinian evolution isn’t quite big enough to explain everything about life. All I can say as a biologist is that the feeling disappears progressively the more you read about and study what is known about life and evolution. I want to add one thing more. The more you understand the significance of evolution, the more you are pushed away from the agnostic position and towards atheism. Complex, statistically improbable things are by their nature more difficult to explain than simple, statistically probable things.
The list of things about which we strictly have to be agnostic doesn’t stop at tooth fairies and celestial teapots. It is infinite. If you want to believe in a particular one of them – teapots, unicorns, or tooth fairies, Thor or Yahweh – the onus is on you to say why you believe in it. The onus is not on the rest of us to say why we do not. We who are atheists are also a-fairyists, a-teapotists, and a-unicornists, but we don’t have to bother saying so.
I don’t see any sign of God in this world, in the place where we live and things we know. It can all be explained to my mind perfectly satisfactorily without God. But in the great darkness beyond this little spark of light where I live, of course there may be all kinds of things. There may be a god. So I’m really an agnostic.