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Keep searching

June 12, 2011

A woman recently encouraged me to “keep searching,” clearly meaning to continue searching for God. She wrote:

“I think it is sad the way Satan has worked to make so many people doubt God. The truth is out there people—please keep searching. When you find it and let Jesus into your life you will be rewarded in ways you can’t even imagine.”

Obviously I have no reason to search for something that I don’t believe exists. She might as well have encouraged me to keep searching for Odin or for Amun-Ra.

I echo the refrain—Keep searching!—but I won’t be satisfied reading the same Bronze-age text over and over again or muttering prayers in hopes for enlightenment. This is not how anyone truly attains any measure of useful knowledge or understanding.

When I came to reject all forms of supernaturalism and to adopt a naturalistic worldview, I indeed felt, and still feel, a real need to search, not for God, but for evidenced-based explanations to life’s enduring questions.

How did the universe begin? Before, I was satisfied with the answer, “God created it.” But I “kept searching” and listened to the theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss deliver a talk called A Universe from Nothing, in which he describes how the vast majority of mass in the universe is dark matter, unobservable, and that the universe did, in fact, come from nothing. I read the books The First Three Minutes: A modern view of the origin of the universe, A Brief History of Time, and The Grand Design.

Why am I here? Before, I was satisfied with the answer, “I am a child of God, and he has sent me here.” But I “kept searching” and came to understand for the first time in my mid 30s that all life emerged some 4 billion years ago, and about the power and eloquence of evolution by natural selection by reading Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Why Darwin Matters: The case for evolution and against intelligent design, and Why Evolution is True.

Where does our moral sense come from? Before, I was satisfied with believing that it comes from the “light of Christ” in all of us, or from the holy spirit. But I “kept searching” and found that the existence of altruism, compassion, generosity, kinship, and compassion can be explained perfectly well by evolution by natural selection, discussed in The Science of Good and Evil: Why people cheat, gossip, care, share, and follow the golden rule, The Moral Landscape: How science can determine human values, and Justice.

What about the problem of evil? Before, I was satisfied with some excuse like “God works in mysterious ways,” or “Our ways are not His ways.” But I learned that there if there is a god, and if he is all powerful, all knowing, and all good, then there’s a much more eloquent explanation for the existence of evil—that god does not exist. Read God’s Problem: The Bible fails to answer our most important question – why we suffer or When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

What happens when we die? Before, I was satisfied with believing that I’ll somehow survive my own death, see loved ones, and live with god again. But I “kept searching” and learned that we cease to exist when we die, just as we didn’t exist before we were born, and I read Spook: Science tackles the afterlife, Stiff: The curious lives of human cadavers, and How We Die: Reflections on life’s final chapter.

One of the truly sad effects of religion is that it teaches people that it is virtuous to be satisfied with not understanding. It offers an absolute truth, and very often the faithful feel no need to look any further for empirical answers because “God did it” is good enough.

But not for me. I wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads (you should see my to-read list!), so I will indeed continue to keep searching.

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  1. That’s powerful stuff, Kevin. Excellent.

  2. JEANNA RICHTER permalink


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