Certainty. The word alone has a definitive ring to it. This word perfectly and succinctly sums up the problem with devout believers and atheists alike. Because no one can ever truly know.

The foundation of religion is faith. Blind faith.

This is what few atheists understand. When they try to convince pious believers to doubt their own beliefs by citing the ridiculousness of the Bible, emphasizing tall tales like Jonah and the whale, the talking snake, etc., – what they fail to realize is that the mind of a true believer operates not on proof, but on faith. They believe for believing’s sake. And while atheism may make more sense (to some) than full-on blind faith, it too upholds blind faith.

Webster’s dictionary defines “faith” as “belief not based in proof,” and atheists may have reason and logic in their arsenal, but proof they lack. Because of this, atheists have a harder time than believers do proving that their theories are correct because it is impossible to prove a negative.

Allow me to propose an example. I believe unicorns exist, but human beings simply cannot see them or locate them. Do you disagree? Of course, you do. Now prove it. Prove that there are no such things as unicorns. You can’t. Because you cannot prove that something doesn’t exist, because it could very well be that human beings just cannot see it or have not yet found it. Think of bacteria. There was once a time when people didn’t know about bacteria. It is invisible to the naked eye, but it exists.

Therefore, if atheists lack proof that God doesn’t exist, the same way that theists lack proof that He does, both groups are running on faith. Believers have been taught, probably from a young age, that such-and-such religion is true, along with it come all the beliefs that to others may seem improbable or illogical. My father has often told me that when he sees a beautiful sunset it reinforces his belief that there must be a God. I tell him that the sun setting is simply part of the Earth’s predictable rotation around the Sun, but to him, this beauty is so profound it signifies something otherworldly. He was raised Catholic from the time he was born, so he is “pre-conditioned” to believe that such seemingly nonsensical things are possible. He, and others like him, operate on faith.

The atheist finds the notion of God ridiculous.

Atheists, on the other hand, lack this “conditioning” that many theists have had since birth. Science tells us that the brain of a child, smaller in size than an adult’s and still growing, is like a sponge, absorbing that which it gets immersed in. The atheist finds the notion of God ridiculous. To him, believers are simply deluded. He feels he is running on pure reason and logic, yet he has no answer to the utmost of important questions: how’d we all get here? What happens when we die?

Origins of Life is Still in Question

The truth is that these questions cannot now, and probably never will have clearly defined answers. As science evolves, it can tell us how our planet moves, how and why we get sick, how bees fly and why it’s hotter near the equator, but the jury is still out on the origins of life. Those who claim to have certainty in either extreme are motivated solely by their preconceived notions. Whether these notions are based in religious dogma they’ve believed since childhood, or reason and logic is irrelevant. Neither side has proof, and therefore both are running on faith.

Agnostics are separate from either side because they do not presume to know, nor do they suspect this knowledge can ever be definitively known. They do not cling to any particular religion, for lack of proof, but also cannot completely embrace atheism because of its certainty that there is no such thing to embrace. As long as human beings are in the dark about the origins of life, those who shy away from this darkness are guided by faith, while those who embrace it while they may feel less secure in this vast and mysterious universe of ours are at least open-minded enough to know that certainty, on either side, is futile. To quote the American economist Stuart Chase, “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who disbelieve, no proof is possible.”

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