An Unexamined Life (Adam Howie)

The unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates

The Disintegration of God (from the “Atheism for Lent” studies)

I’m pleased to share a guest post by my online friend Adam Howie.

Adam’s Bio: Gamer of many a genre, geek of various forms, bordering on nerd, oft a wannabe thinker and ponderer, but mainly trying the journey of a digital and traditional media artist.

Over the last ten or so years, although to be honest this probably has its roots much further back, I have been going through a self-critical journey of examination and periods of reflection on what it means when I say, “this is what I believe”. This goes from the smallest seemingly insignificant parts, to the largest and perhaps core concepts of my beliefs system, and not just what many would call “religious” either.

Partly this evolved from the root of the idea behind the quote attributed to Socrates above, although probably when I started this process, I really wasn’t aware of that quote. It was also born from my experiences in university of being challenged over my beliefs and being confronted with the beliefs of others who could articulate their reasons. This was when I came to firmly embrace the idea that “just because” was rarely, if ever, a valid response as to the “why do you believe X?”.

A number of years later I encountered the work of Peter Rollins (“Idolatry of God”, “The Divine Magician”) which among other elements further exposed me to new facets and concepts, such as the work of the mystics, Lacan, Hagel, “dialectics”, “the lack”, and a whole swathe of other fascinating ideas that I had not been exposed to before, but at the heart, I guess, of it was embracing the unknowability, the uncertainty of reality. His work and exploration of belief/doubt/etc have been instrumental in this journey, along with of course a myriad of other thinkers etc.

One key element throughout this journey was a “creed” that I started as a way to codify my beliefs into a more logical way but has become much more of a “living document”, a way to reflect upon my journey, that I revisit, reword, and even completely rethink parts of as I continue this journey. This creed details everything from my understanding of the divine, to the nature of community, to my positions on societal and political issues, at least at a high concept level. Through the years I have went back, tweaked small parts, and rewrote entire swathes of text, reread, and reaffirmed some elements, while wholesale removed some parts.

While doubts and questioning all things of faith and belief is good, I do hold, do not find any contradiction with this process in this, that when it comes to the realms of the scientific, those parts where peer review, examination, testing, experimentation, etc can provide to varying degree of certainty answer we must acknowledge the limitations of our own understandings and trust those things where science provides such answers. This isn’t a contradiction or invalidation of accepting doubt, or questioning beliefs, rather confirming our belief in the processes and rigours tools behind the answers they seek to provide, yet even they admit that science is journey too, where they delve ever deeper into the mysteries created by those very answers.

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