"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." (Walt Whitman)
I'm the fourth definition of a fool used as a noun, as in -- "He's a dancing fool." Substitute "skiing" for "dancing." In winter, I indulge in my enthusiasm for skiing.
I imagined a life as the second definition of fool, when after college, I considered Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, albeit briefly. This idea ended when I mentioned it aloud to my parents. Instead it was off to divinity school for three years of rigorous rational training.
The first, third and fifth definitions of a fool are the three I fear. But allow me a Lenten season confession of a penchant for the practical, the rational, and the empirical. I love science. I always have. Science does not depend on belief. If it did, I would not have such an affinity for it.
Science is so rational as to immediately discard what is proven to be false and adopt what is proven to be true. The sun is not the center of the universe. Evolution exists on a microbial level. The universe is expanding. Dark matter is real. Gravity is a law, and sometimes a nuance. There are at least five dimensions, the traditional four, plus that new discovery, proven to exist by ongoing experiments in quantum entanglement. In science the rules change with accumulation of provable knowledge. Science is rational and evidence based. There is more to the physics of this world, and the inventive capacities of the human mind than we humans imagine, ever since we mated with Neanderthals.
My next confession: I have a disease called The God Madness. I think many otherwise rational people have this disease, too. We believe in God despite there being absolutely no empirical evidence to support our belief. We believe because our hearts tell us so. We believe because God has touched us, just as God has touched all of us. As far as I can tell, nearly every human gets the "finger" of God laid on him or her at some time or another. It's just that believers recognize the touch and choose to believe in God, or they find themselves believing, even against all reason. Belief is not rational. I know how this looks to real rationalists who are agnostics, non-theists, or atheists -- to believe in that which cannot be seen, tasted, measured, or proven. It might make me appear a nut-job, a whack-o, a flake, a fool to those who do not believe in God. I hypothesize that there are many people out there like me -- rationally minded people who also have the dreaded God Madness. Contradictory to all evidence, other than our own subjective experiences of God, we believe.
Even Richard Dawkins, the famed author and atheist, says he is not 100 percent certain that God does not exist. He's right -- how can you know for certain? The answer is you cannot know, you can only believe.
*Definition of fool: (from Dictionary.com)
1. a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.
2. a professional jester, formerly kept by a person of royal or noble rank for amusement: the court fool.
3. a person who has been tricked or deceived into appearing or acting silly or stupid: to make a fool of someone.
4. an ardent enthusiast who cannot resist an opportunity to indulge an enthusiasm (usually preceded by a present participle): He's just a dancing fool.
5. a weak-minded or idiotic person.