Friday, September 9, 2016

The Unreasonable Atheist

September 9, 2016

Atheism puzzles me. I can understand the agnostic who says, "I don't know if there is a God," but like some fundamentalists, the atheist is too certain of his unbelief. It's possible that I may be oversimplifying this particular worldview; there is much in this world of which I know little, and plenty more of which I know nothing at all, so perhaps I don't really understand atheism. As I understand it, the atheist says, "there is no God; God doesn't exist except in people's imagination; he's the feebleminded's explanation for all that he doesn't understand."

Wednesday I attended my first class in jazz improvisation, a pretty heady subject to tackle when I barely know my way around the string bass. Jesse, the student teacher, was charting jazz and blues sequences on the board, talking about Tonic notes, fourth's, fifths (no, not the kind that comes in a bottle), seconds, augmented, diminished, seventh and ninth chords, how all these relate to each other and work together in a musical composition. When I learned the saxophone, I was taught the notes, key signatures, timing, and the composition notes that told us when to
slow down, speed up, get softer or louder. I didn't get any music theory at all. I didn't know it, but it was still there.

I am amazed at the complexity of sound. An octave is the same note, only in a higher pitch. In any string length, move halfway from one anchor point to another, and you'll have an octave. Sound comes in waves, and an octave is a sine curve cut in half. Music is physics, math, and emotion, all rolled into one. Different instruments produce different tonal qualities, which is why a bassoon sounds dark and woody, while a trumpet is bright and brassy. But I have no idea as to why this is so. So I stand on the shore of this ocean of music and toss my feeble notes into the waves, amazed at the vastness of it; how a single scale can produce so many different songs. It would never occur to me to say, "There are no more songs out there." I may not know what they are, but they are surely there.

Although I don't agree with him, the agnostic at least makes sense when he says, "I don't know." The atheist however, seems awfully arrogant. To categorically deny the possibility of God's existence, one would have to possess all available knowledge, an attribute we give to God alone. Failing this, to say God is an impossibility is either arrogant or foolish. If there is something in this world that I don't know, I must concede the possibility of the existence of a god, or God. There's plenty I don't know, so I know God is possible. My faith tells me who he is, what he is like, and how I may know him. That's enough for which to be thankful tonight.

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