You Can’t Be An Atheist


You can’t be an atheist because there is nothing romantic about that kind of certainty. Certainty is the destination you arrive at at the end of a conversation, one I was hoping we could have together, for the rest of our lives. These are supposed to be my head + your chest conversations where I ask you questions that don’t have answers and you tell me your best guesses and we both marvel at how small we are in the grand scheme of things.

I want to be more than a witness to your soliloquy. If am going to feel like your partner in life, I need to understand how your mind works and there is nothing I understand less than coming to a conclusion about something and sticking to it for the next fifty years. How do you deal with outliers? Religious people have crises of faith and scientific fields discover new things all the time. You are alone in your assurance that you possess a Truth. Doubt it a little bit and tell me why.

Scientists are the most beautiful when they are talking about the limitations of science. You can never do an experiment as many times as there are possible outcomes. This is why the scientific method produces theories, not facts. You can’t be an atheist because I’d respect you more if you had a wrong hypothesis than a wrong life-altering metafact.

You can’t be an atheist because I always cheer for the underdog, and in philosophy the underdog is the person who understands that they don’t know anything and chooses not to argue about it. There’s nothing to be gained acknowledging the good points of worldviews without accepting them as a story that tells your life. It’s an unselfish praise because it doesn’t benefit you, it doesn’t help sleep come easier at night, doesn’t explain what will happen tomorrow. You can’t be an atheist because the strength of living with these questions is sexier than your answers to them.

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image – Tao Lin