Today I read an intriguing post by GrrlScientist at the aforementioned Living the Scientific Life blog. She discusses being raised to be a religious person , how this conflicted with her inquisitive nature and how this conflict lead her to become an atheist. So that got me thinking about my childhood, and I wouldn't say everything clicked in to place but it has certainly helped me to make a little more sense of how I interpret the world and why.
If my parents had a particular belief system in mind when they raised me I'm still not aware of it. In fact if they raised me to be anything I would say it was to become a scientist. Most people would say that's not surprising considering I was raised by an anthropologist and a biologist, but there was more to it than their own knowledge and interest in the natural world. I think I was allowed to experience nature differently that many children are. If I was curious I was encouraged, if I had questions they were answered and no answer was ever dumbed down (even if this meant teaching a very young child the details of how animals reproduce).
One might expect such an upbringing to take away the mystery of life, but it did just the opposite. For some inexplicable reason all these answers just made the world seem more mysterious and amazing, I was sure I would find something unexplainable if I just looked long and hard enough. I never did, but I also never stopped looking. Now I no longer seek the unexplainable with a belief it will remain unexplained, but instead seek the answers to the yet to be explained questions.
What more is a scientist than a child who was never taught not to ask questions? or at least never stopped questioning, even when told to. And as a result of this childhood I am what exactly? certainly not religious, but not an atheist either. I have a feeling that Professor Dawkins would tell me that to understand evolution, biology, and the origins of life on this planet and not proclaim oneself to be an atheist means that I am not following the scientific reasoning to it's logical conclusion. Maybe that's true, perhaps there is a flaw in my primate brain that makes me perceive the natural world with too much awe causing me to believe there may be something beyond what I can see and know with the tools I have. Perhaps it is a side effect of always being encouraged to question what I see and experience. Maybe it's just the revolting nature of all the labels people assign themselves causing me to resist assimilation in to any belief or non-belief system.
It's strange to have enough scientific knowledge to explain most of the world I encounter, and yet be so incapable of explaining myself.