I’ve oscillated between deism and atheism for a while now, not sure which way to swing on the god issue. My main reason for leaning towards deism is the whole “how did the universe begin” question. Being just recently out of Christianity, the idea of a deity starting it all is very familiar to me. I no longer believe there is any kind of deity that directs, affects, or intervenes in the affairs of the universe, but I COULD accept that one got things started before walking away and letting things go.
I was reading Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion recently in which he talks about the bad habit some people have of shoving god into any question or problem they don’t have an answer to. Just because the answer is currently unknown doesn’t mean we won’t one day find one. Even to “how did the universe begin?”
“There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.” -“quote” from St. Augustine’s “Confessions”*
This quote from Augustine really bothered me when I first read it in The God Delusion. It’s that kind of thinking that holds us back from understanding our world. Fortunately I can’t think of anyone of my religious friends, family or acquaintances who would agree with him, but it sounds to me like “the god of the gaps” taken to the extreme. I realize it is extreme and that your average religious person would disagree with his sentiments, but now I see how stunting it is to use “god” as a gap-filler instead of acknowledging there is currently no known answer and searching for one.
I am now an atheist. Not because I “know” there is no god (because I don’t), but because I do not see how a deity fits in my life aside from filling gaps.
*I wanted to read St. Augustine’s quote in its original context to see if its meaning changed, but I discovered it’s less of a quote and more of a summary of the chapter. Having read the chapter here, I think the “quote” still sums up the general idea.