The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.
In the context of religion, this statement is very compelling, at least to me. I have been awash in knowledge about doctrine, theology, and all the rest, for much of my life, and all of it seems to be illusion to me now. I thought I was so intelligent and well educated, when actually I knew nothing. Now that I know that I know nothing, I am much happier, oddly.
I asked my wife an interesting set of questions last night:
What if you could simply decide that the things that happen in church buildings on Sunday morning are precisely the same thing as going to the Durham Performing Arts Center to see the Nutcracker Ballet? What if you could simply decide that it is all simply a human invention, and nothing more? What would that mean? Wouldn’t you then be able to stop believing what another person (generally a religious authority figure) told you, and instead start believing whatever seemed real, meaningful, and comfortable for you?
Hawking is famously an atheist. I have read several books by Hawking, and he has been instrumental in my understanding of modern physics, a subject about which I am very passionate. While I respect his position as an atheist, I do not share it. I may blog more on why I am not an atheist at a later time.