“There is no God.”
This was the final line of an op-ed I wrote in my predominantly Catholic university’s newspaper in October of 2016 in the hopes of provoking greater engagement with the question of God’s existence on campus. It now marks the beginning of a new project that will pick up where that article left off, only this time with an infinitely wider audience: the internet.
I have grappled with the question of God’s existence ever since I was a young teenager. Though the skeptic in me eventually prevailed, my large Catholic family and small Catholic college never let the question escape completely from my mind; and like anyone who grapples with a particular challenge long enough, I have developed something of a passion for it. Surely if there is any big question worth investigating, it is this one? I can think of no subject with greater implications, philosophically speaking, on the way we understand the world and our place in it.
But as someone who cares about the question of God, I am frustrated by the senselessness of the discourse that commonly surrounds it, and that surrounds religion in general. Like politics, religion bears heavily upon personal experience and identity, which hinders our ability to analyze it intelligently. Neither believers nor nonbelievers seem to honestly wrestle with other perspectives, or scrutinize their own. We often get caught up in the details without examining fundamental assumptions. We fail to recognize external, non-rational influences of belief. We fall victim to silly fallacies. There is a general unwillingness to truly understand or meaningfully engage with the other side.
What we need is a new way to discuss God and religion that is based on sound reason, intellectual integrity, and genuine curiosity. As a philosophically inclined, ex-Christian skeptic who is part of a devout family and tight college community of believers and who is passionate about the subject, I have taken it upon myself to start that discussion by presenting my own skeptical point of view as honestly and effectively as I can.
Though I will argue, sometimes perhaps fervently, for my perspective, I will do so with an eye on the primary purpose of this blog: to encourage everyone, including myself, to think clearly and critically about what they believe in regards to God and religion. I am more concerned with how we think, not necessarily what we think. A change of mind on either side is unlikely, but for all those who honestly and intelligently engage with the opposition, a widening of perspective and a deepening of understanding is inevitable.
A few notes on how the blog will operate: I will write at least one “formal” post per week, with smaller posts throughout the week to respond to your thoughts and ideas, or to share a post from one of you. As for my own approach to the discussion, I do have specific points to make, but beyond that I intend to keep things open-ended. I will not restrict my arguments to any particular philosophical or religious version of God, though since I am an ex-Catholic and most religious readers will (I suspect) be Christian, I will probably lean in that direction. I mostly look forward to engaging with all of you in the comments and by email and seeing where the conversation leads us.
If you are content to remain complacent in your belief or lack thereof—if you feel that the questions of religion and God’s existence are unimportant—, Skeptic’s Point is not for you. For the rest of you: if you want to engage with your beliefs, to abandon your intellectual comfort zone, to challenge and be challenged… I believe you have come to the right place.
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