As a skeptical, irreligious person I must admit that in many ways I am defined by my uncertainty with respect to the consequential and contentious issues. Does God exist? I don’t think so, but I’m not certain. Is there absolute morality? I’d like to think so, but I’m not certain. What are the exact processes of evolution? I understand a great deal about the evolutionary processes that take place, but I’m not certain. How did the universe come into being? Perhaps the physical universe had no beginning and will have no end, but I’m not certain. Is there good and evil? I’m inclined to think this is a humanly contrived dichotomy, but I’m not certain. Does life have meaning? I hope so, but I’m not certain. Can I trust my own thoughts? I believe so, but I’m not certain. By examining the evidence and attempting to evaluate it objectively I have come to a number of conclusions with respect to these consequential and contentious issues, but these are founded on probability, not certainty.
Throughout history religion has served as a means to posit certainty. Psychologically humans are pattern seekers, we observe the world and attempt to construct a framework with which we can assign meaning to what we see and experience within it. When we see the shape of a rabbit on the surface of the Moon it is not because there is actually a rabbit on the Moon it is because of pareidolia, the perception of significance in randomness. Religion is utilized in much the same way, as a framework with which humans can project significance on a universe that appears random. Similarly science serves as a framework for us to try and understand the universe, however religion and science differ on the matter of certainty. Within science even well-documented, widely observed, extensively researched scientific theories, such as gravitation or evolution, that are considered facts are not considered to be absolutely certain. Science is about probability, not certainty.
Within religion humans can find the certainty that science is not willing to offer them. All major religions offer absolute truth primarily through prophetic revelations and sacred texts. When you wonder why you are here, how you got here, and what you should do religion extends an invitation, an invitation to partake in the truth only it can provide. This is an aspect of religion that I find to be both disquieting and objectionable. Religious truths are always questionable, either on historical, scientific, or philosophical grounds, and claims of absolute certainty are a farce to support fideism. Faith is the antithesis of the scientific method and religious certainty can only be maintained through faith. Atheism is not based on the certainty of God’s nonexistence, that would be fideism, but on the improbability of God’s existence based on the evidence. Although I understand why so many need to find solace in religious truths, faith, and a belief in God I myself cannot on evidential and objective grounds. I’m just not certain.