Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

3 Atheists in Foxholes

with 4 comments

This is part 3 in a series. If you want to start at the beginning, scroll down.

It’s Sunday, and traditionally on Sunday I have a Day of Rest. I listen to my favorite music on the planet—a two CD set called Bach: Harpsichord Concertos, by the Academy of Ancient Music, Andrew Manze director, with Richard Egarr on the harpsichord.

Bach composed for the harpsichord. Playing his harpsichord concertos on the piano is really wrong of you. I mean—

Never mind.

Because of the present situation, I’m not going to quite get my day of rest, because—forms! forms!

But I did listen to my Bach, and that got me thinking about…


God is what most people in my position seem to be thinking of. I know lots if believers, and lots of people who pray constantly. Some of them pray for me.

A lot of these people are convinced that people who say they don’t believe in God are kying, to themselves as well as the rest of the world. Faced with death, they will find their lies stripped away, and they will acknowledge what they should have acknowledged all along.

But I know a lot of people who don’t believe, and I don’t think they’re lying to themselves or anybody else.

And I think that both atheists and believers are to be envied. Somehow or the other, they just know.

But for me, the problem is a lot more complicated.

I don’t just know. I don’t know that God exists. I don’t know that God doesn’t exist.

When I feel the universe around me, I don’t detect a Presence—but I also don’t detect an Absence.

The universe does not feel empty, but it also doesn’t feel as if a consciousness capable of communicating with my own is out there.

This kind of thing is often called “agnosticism,” but that doesn’t feel accurate with me either.

Agnosticism is an intellectual position, and I’m not talking about an intellectual exercise.

If you’ve ever been alone in an absolutely empty house, you know what I mean about the quality of the silence. It’s different, and emptier, than it would be even if the only other person on site was someone out of sight and silently asleep in a bedroom upstairs.

The universe around me doesn’t feel like that.  The problem is that it doesn’t feel like anybody is home, either.

I have never heard of anybody talk about this like this. I have heard arguments from atheists, and from believers, and both kinds of people seem to just know.

Even now, though, I don’t just know anything.



Written by janeh

April 22nd, 2018 at 10:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses to '3 Atheists in Foxholes'

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  1. I think that is the most any person can really say. There’s a vast difference between knowing and believing. On the issue of whether God exists, I think that the Rumsfeld response is the closest, although we can dispense with the “knowns”, because there aren’t any. There are an awful lot of things that we know we don’t know, bul probably at least as many again – perhaps an infinite number – that fall into his “unknown unknowns” category.


    22 Apr 18 at 6:32 pm

  2. I am also agnostic. The current big bang model assumes a huge amount of energy and that quantum field theory and general relativity applied. But where did the energy come from and where did the laws of physics come from?

    I think it was Aristotle who said that if we don’t assume a first cause than we get an infinite regress. The regress is emotionally unsatisfactory.

    But I can see no evidence for a God who takes an interest in me.

    I agree with Mique about “unknown unknowns”.


    22 Apr 18 at 7:42 pm

  3. I decided a long time ago that I was uncertain as to the existence of God. Most days I tend toward not.

    And I also realized that I was okay with the uncertainty. I don’t know what happens after death. I believe it will be just like before I was born, only longer.


    26 Apr 18 at 12:59 pm

  4. My grandson understands books. He knows what words and letters are, and can recognize a few. I very much doubt he grasps that the mystery I read on the kindle is the same type of thing as Curious George and the Puppies. He’s bright, but he’s three. We may be thinking too highly or ourselves or too little of the universe when we say there isn’t a full pattern because we can’t see it.

    Not a proof of the existence of God, but something to keep in mind.


    30 Apr 18 at 12:48 pm

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