belief, non belief and disbelief

I’d mentioned a UFO experience – nothing too startling - and quickly realised that the subject held no interest, apart from politeness, to my companion. I don’t really understand the ‘why’ of that but I do accept that ‘Are we alone in the Universe?’ is of no interest at all to many. Other, more earthly, matters consign alien existence to the fringe of life experience or interest.

To me it’s not a matter of belief or non belief but, regardless of my own experience, the evidence is there for those who care to look, in both the modern world and in history, that ‘we’ve been visited’ and probably so for aeons. As to alien motive, good, bad, indifferent, I have no knowledge nor belief by which to form opinion.

The same companion later casually stated that he’s an atheist, a statement which stopped me in my tracks. If he’d said he was agnostic I wouldn’t have ‘turned a hair’ – agnostic implies ‘don’t know’ whereas atheist implies a knowledge that there is no God. How can one be certain of such a huge negative – atheism relies on belief not experience just as religion can do the same.

Perhaps the saving grace of most religions is not to be found in the differing dogmas but in the focus upon ethical behaviour.

There is the statement, common on the internet – ‘Everything you’ve been told is a lie.’ An absurd statement and a lie in itself but it gains a certain currency precisely because a great deal actually is a lie, a half truth, a deception – ‘smoke and mirrors.’ I’m not suggesting that I have the big picture or anything close to it – it doesn’t matter to me whether my friend is agnostic, atheist or a believer in some version of Divine intelligence. It does matter that he’s ethical – words like ‘spiritual’ have less meaning for me than ‘ethical.’

Strange it is that belief is unavoidable, subtle though it be. Bringing this back to the prosaic, the ordinary and I go to buy a magic kit, as a birthday present, from an online store only to find that payment is accepted but no goods arrive and there’s actually nothing I can do about it apart from fire off some emails which, thus far, have had no effect.

Couldn’t quite believe it but specific experience does give one knowledge which, in turn, trumps belief. A certain wry humour in that and not too costly a lesson.