In a recent discussion with a fundamentalist, the question was asked to me as to whether or not I wished that God existed or whether atheism was my desire. I thought this was an interesting question for a few reasons.

To start off with, the obvious fact that ones desire for something to be true has absolutely no bearing on whether or not that something actually is true. I want there to be a million dollars in buried in my backyard, but it is extremely doubtful that there actually is a million dollars buried in my backyard. I want to have superpowers and as a point of fact that is actually impossible. So I think this question takes the conversation in the wrong direction. But that aside, let’s proceed.

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Comment by Becca on March 23, 2010 at 9:00pm
Damnit - Loren Beat me to the Sagan Quote but that's how I feel about the question.
Comment by Loren Miller on March 23, 2010 at 10:57am
Belief on its own is incomplete. It is opinion without substantiation and as such it is impotent. We all know the old saw about opinions and assholes, and if we don't, we should.

Knowledge, on the other hand, is fact and theory and observation and supposition gone through the crucible of test and experiment, repeated verification and critical peer review. It bears the weight of multiple approaches and observations and in some cases, the enormous weight of practical application and continues to stand. On that foundation may be found other theories and other facts discovered. With that grows our understanding and grasp of the reality we live in. To base one's life on knowledge thus gained may not be to ground it in utter certainty, as science by its very nature grows and evolves as curiosity drives new and greater discovery. Rather, it provides a rational reason to believe that the steel I-beam will hold the weight of the load assigned to it, that a transistor will represent a "1" or a "0" in its assignment in a RAM memory and will toggle from one to the other as instructed, that a DNA comparison between two samples demonstrates that Sample A and Sample B are dissimilar and therefore the owner of Sample A cannot have been the perpetrator of a given crime, that these and a million other examples of scientific fact and theory are demonstrated, repeatable and reliable.

In this regard, Carl Sagan's quote could not be more apt or important: "I don't want to believe, I want to know"



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