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Douglas Adams, radical atheist
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Well, I finished Chuck Palahniuk's "Lullaby" on audiobook. Um, I don't guess I'd recommend it. I liked "Fight Club" and "Choke", but his first-person voice, the use of repetition, the retread of themes already seems a bit tired. Even though he's ventured into supernatural horror this time around.

I've got an abridged version of Stephen J. Gould's "Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin" next an audio. I'd never really been that impressed with Gould's writing style (seems way too verbose and self-congratulatory), but he was a strong advocate for popularizing evolution so he was still pretty damn okay in my book.

Also, I found King's new book "From a Buick 8" on audio at Half-Price Books, and since it was so damn cheap I went ahead and bought it. So my listening agenda is booked up for the next six weeks or so.

In print, I'm reading "The End of Science" by Jon Franklin, "Infinity and the Mind" by Rudy Rucker, and Douglas Adams' posthumous "The Salmon of Doubt".

The last thing I read in "Salmon" was an interview with American Atheists, wherein Adams talks about his non-belief. He talks about how being an agnostic or atheist in Britain is simply no big deal, though it's still somewhat improper to go around spouting out exactly what you do or don't believe.

I did take exception to his designation of agnostics, since he categorizes them as the sort of wishy-washy fence-sitters that most people do. "Why should I hedge my bets on the off chance that there's a god up there?" he says...or something like it.

I guess it's lack of organized agnosticism, or bad advertising, or I don't know what...but this misperception continually disturbs me.

Perhaps there are people out there who are agnostics who "half-believe" in god. Dunno. But I'm not one of them. The type of agnosticism I adhere to simply recognizes that there are current limitations to human knowledge. It's okay to answer some questions (especially those that are very large and very difficult) with: "I don't know".

These words invariably scare the hell out of some people, or make them very insecure, or both. But it very logically seems like the only intellectually honest answer to certain questions.

If, for example, I ask you the reader, sitting at your computer and reading this journal, what the exact contents of my left pants pocket are, what would you say? You might make a guess, but the fact of the matter is, you don't have enough information to answer with any degree of certainty. The most sensible answer is: "I don't know". And there's absolutely no shame in such an answer.

Atheism seems just as intellectually suspect as adhering to any of the various world religions. They say they know, with an absolute degree of certainty that there is no god or gods. How do they know?

Personally, I don't believe that there's any truth in any of the various religions, large or small. They all very obviously seem like human inventions, and I don't put any stock in any of them.

But I honestly can't know, with any degree of certainty, whether or not there's some sort of intelligent entity that's an integral aspect of the universe. Instinctively, I'd tend to think not. But the universe is a vast and complicated thing, and I think the most honest answer is to say that because of the limits of my intellect and knowledge, I can't really say for certain, with the addendum that I'd really like to know with some degree of certainty and that I'm going to keep thinking about and exploring the issue.

Anyway, I just think agnosticism gets a bum rap. It's like me asking you what number I'm thinking of between -453 and 88,000,000,000,000,000 then criticizing you for not taking a position on what it is when there's absolutely no way you could know.

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