50 Blogs on Disbelief
My thoughts on the book, 50 Voices of Disbelief, Why We Are Athiests, edited by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk. Written as I read them in no particular order. The page number of the essay is provided at the top of each entry.
p. 168 Julian Savulescu “Three Stages of Disbelief”
Nothing terribly new in this essay, but it is beautifully written, a testimony to the frightening yet exciting experience of life. I won’t try to recreate any of that, just cover the three stages.
Before the disbelief, came belief, at an early age. He was a good Bible student and even made up his own prayers. Religion was a welcome comfort against the fear of death. By age 16, he started seeing the whole project as an invention, a way to exercise control. I think this is inevitable for many in the modern world who become believers when they are young because it is comfortable and reassuring. That was the first stage, he calls physical implausibility.
The second stage lasted quite a while, through different concepts of God including ideas from Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Then came medical school and internship, and direct experiences of suffering and death. He calls this the existential senselessness stage. Through this stage he “continued to want to believe”. He spoke to philosophers and other “received sensible, reasoned lines of advice which conflicted.”
The final stage doesn’t have a label, but he presents some interesting questions about how we decide what is morally right and how do we face our eventual demise while enjoying the beauty and fulfillment of our time alive. He has what seems to be an appreciation for tradition, but now finds God irrelevant. I find the questions he asks and the discussion he opens up much more interesting than arguments about existence.