As I m writing this, I’ ve been thinking lately about how isolated from the world I feel. I consider myself an atheist while most of my friends believe in God or some other thing. Of them all, the only acquaintance that I talk to that’s also an atheist will on one hand deny God in all respects, but then later hate Him for allowing tragic events. I struggle to keep my mouth shut to the contradiction, knowing the Pandora’s Box I can open with her contradiction.
I have no one to talk to about things that happen in my life that I can’t explain. Is it possible to believe in the unexplained? Surely, while science has answers, it’s not infallible; but it can be refined, corrected, made better. I remember in my HS science class my physics teacher said that theories are called theories because they cannot be ever 100% explained, that there could always be that one little thing we haven’t discovered. It’s a generalization (made worse by myself), I know, but she went on to explain Newton’s Laws. They weren’t wrong, but they weren’t complete either. At relativistic speeds, Newton’s Laws aren’t quite as applicable anymore. Newton didn’t know that during his time, but we do now.
Before I start sound like I have no point, let me start getting to the meat.
Several years ago, I was sitting in the same chair I am now, talking on the phone about God with one of my friend’s parents, and very agnostic. I had no idea what I believed in and sat firmly on the fence as I tested the waters. During the conversation, I caught lights floating just off my wall about a foot below my ceiling, which is about 8 feet high. As soon as I looked up, they were gone. My blinds were shut (It was night outside and away from any road. Only a flash light could do that IF my blinds were open), no light reflection (all lights save my computer monitor were off), and my door was shut. This happened four more times since.
Needless to say, the mother proclaimed, It’s Him. He’s trying to talk to you.
I figured it would be a lot easier to just have a Booming Voice from the Sky. But they say you can’t get everything you want.
A year before the first time this happened, I went camping with my uncle in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. He and his friends were drinking and smoking pot just before dawn, so when my uncle said, What’s that? with an urgent tone while looking at the sky, I paid him no mind. But when others asked it too, I looked. There was an impeccably bright light crawling at a good speed across the pre-dawn sky.
I knew it wasn’t a plane: It had no flashing lights. Unless it had a spotlight continuously on us, it wasn’t a chopper. It made no noise. It only moved at a constant speed. It wasn’t a shooting star; I ve seen those before. It certainly wasn’t a planet becuase it moved. Going back home and back to school, I proudly claimed I ve seen my first UFO (and I didn’t say I ve seen aliens ).
After falling off the agnostic fence, I looked back on my life to events of the unexplainable. I started to rationalize, look at them from an older, objective viewpoint. During the clear, winter nights in the suburbs of Boston, I sometimes saw little specks moving across the sky. Telling about these to my physics teacher, she told me they were satellites reflecting the light from the moon or Earth. I never put two and two together (out of sight, out of mind) until two years ago: Perhaps it was the International Space Station. It’s bigger than any other satellite, and the pre-dawn hour would allow the station to reflect all of the sun’s glory. I had my new discovery, my step up from Newton to Einstein.
The lights above my wall? I feel stupid for having such a narrow mind and not realizing what they were: Much like when you look at the sun, you re left with spots blinding you. I was always looking down at my hands or keyboard when it looked back up to my monitor, and then see them floating above my desk. Even now, just for fun to see them again as I type in the dark, I see them over me.
But still, those are two minor things. Science is greater than that. There are new discoveries every day, and I d assume even more amendments/refinements/corrections to old theories. So now the absolute reason why I am typing this: Is it Atheistic to believe in the unexplained? Yes, I suppose ghosts, or even God, can be encompassed in this question even though I doubt they exist and there may even be proof to completely refute them. But there must be other forces we’ve yet to discover, put a name to, or even understand.
I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in an intelligent being/force, and I can’t help but feel like I contradict myself like my friend when I call myself an Atheist. I don’t like that and I’d love to share thoughts with anyone kind enough to help guide me on this.
What an incredible letter! Before I respond, please let me thank you copiously for sharing it with me!
I am an atheist (obviously), but I feel that the most wonderful things in existence are those which remain unexplained. The unexplained is a frontier — it is a door waiting to be opened; a poem waiting to be read. Mysteries big and small are a delight to the mind. Unraveling them is a glorious process. They are not magical, but wonderful.
Some people think there is a conflict between believing in the unknown and atheism. These are people who, like your mother, consider the unexplained to be proof for the inexplicable or the unlikely. I see no contradiction.
When I was a child, I saw a cloud that was striped with the colors of the rainbow instead of white. It was beautiful and mysterious, and I’ve never seen such a thing since. It took decades for me to find out what I had seen, and I treasured the mystery for all those years. I still treasure the memory, and remember the joy of finally finding a solution.
So call yourself an atheist if it describes your feelings about religion, but don’t let the label harm your sense of wonder. And don’t listen to those who say it should.