Knowledge and uncertainty, and belief and doubt, are often two sides of the same coin, and it’s the dynamic relationship between the two that drives us forward. At the second Sinai and Synapses seminar, Professors Karl Giberson and Stuart Firestein share their thoughts on this tension.
Atheism and agnosticism are almost totally independent of each other — and in fact, many Jews (myself included) would likely self-identify as “agnostic theists.”
It’s inherently challenging for believers and atheists to have productive conversations. But one bright person interested in broadening the conversation is Sam McNerney, a science writer who focuses on cognitive science and an atheist interested in religion from a psychological point of view. So as two people with different religious outlooks we wondered: what can we learn from each other?
Many of the things that make our brains happy are now more harmful than helpful. And some people place religion in that category, as well. Religion is like fatty foods, they claim — something we should outgrow and move beyond. But I think the better question is, what aspects of religion should we try to outgrow?
Either God exists, or God doesn’t. And we have absolutely no control over that fact. And so because there’s nothing we can do about whether there is a God or not, I’ve never found that question to be a particularly interesting one to ask. After all, when the question is framed in that way, there are really only three answers people can give — “Yes, I do,” “No, I don’t,” or “I’m not sure.”