The Society for Uncertainty and Intellectual Modesty

I try to avoid dogma. But if there’s one thing I believe dogmatically, it’s that the amount of stuff we don’t know is much greater than the amount of stuff we do know.

The origins of the universe. The nature of consciousness. How to combine quantum theory and relativity. These are big and important questions that are fundamental to the basic nature of our existence. And even the smartest among us struggle to provide anything resembling a coherent theory. I’ve been studying philosophy since I was 15, but I’m not sure I’m much better at understanding these fundamental questions now than I was when I started. I have added some facts and vocabulary around these ideas, but it’s mostly just me reciting what others have told me.

It’s Sunday today, and so when I drove through Salida this morning, as would have been the case in just about any other small town in this country, I came across lots of people going to church. Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Unitarians.

I’m a non-believer, and so I don’t go to church. But ever since leaving the church as a young teenager, I have lamented the fact that non-religious groups rarely provide the community and camaraderie that religious groups provide. While I don’t miss going to church, at all, I certainly envy the fact that the religious have the communities that they do.

It’s hard to organize and motivate people to create a community around the concept of non-belief.

And so while I definitely don’t believe in any of the creation myths and anthropomorphic religious stories that have been explained to me, I would love to be able to create a community around the absence of stories. I’d love to be surrounded by a community of people who are comfortable accepting the fact that there is so much we don’t know, and that have the intellectual modesty to accept that there aren’t any easy answers. I’ve attended groups organized by non-believers before, but even those groups tend to be a bit certain and overconfident to me.

So maybe someday I will try to create a community centered around those who are willing to accept uncertainty. We can call it the Society for Uncertainty and Intellectual Modesty.

Something tells me that attendance might also be fairly modest.