I Am Not Afraid to Say, “I Don’t Know.”

Why do religious people (especially Christians) think atheists are so afraid of the phrase, “I don’t know?”

There are all these laughable Youtube videos in which individuals basically pose a question they believe to be unanswerable and then behave as if it will so flabbergast atheists that they will be immediately converted into believers. Clearly these individuals do not realize that most atheists, freethinkers, etc. see the universe in a more dynamic light than apparently do many religious individuals. In other words, most atheists and nonbelievers I know are willing to say, “I don’t know,” in response to questions for which they have no answers.

You could ask me the popular question, “If God did not create the universe, where did it come from?” or any one of the many variants of this question. I would respond, predictably, that saying God created the universe and God always existed is no better than saying the universe always existed. To further probing I would be willing to respond that I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have a book that tries to explain all the mysteries of the world, and if I did have such a book you can be sure I would place no value on its contents if they suggested ridiculous, unreasonable things like Noah’s Ark. Rather, there is a process called science that is continually advancing, answering more and more questions all the time. I value that process and the answers that result.

Perhaps science will someday be able to answer this question about the origins of the universe, and perhaps not. It’s a hard thing to think about (kind of like thinking about the concept of nothing – when you think about true nothingness), but not, I think, something that should be feared. Fear of the unknown is useless. (If you fear the unknown what you fear may turn out to be as harmless as dandelion fluff or as harmful as a nuclear meltdown, but you cannot know until it becomes known.)

My point is, I wish religious people would realize that just because they fear questions for which they don’t have answers does not mean nonreligious people fear them, too. I know I don’t.

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