Following the publishing of his first book–Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives—David Eagleman is interviewed about religion and his beliefs, providing a refreshingly new andâ€¦ empiricalâ€¦ take on religious faith, atheism and agnosticism.
Every time you go into a book store, you find a lot of books written with certainty â€“ you find the atheist and you find the religious and everybody is acting like they know the answer. I think what a life in science really teaches you is the vastness of our ignorance. We don’t really understand most of what’s happening in the cosmos. Is there any afterlife? Who knows. We don’t have any evidence for it. We don’t have any evidence against it. The thing that has always surprised me is that people are always acting as though they know the answer. [â€¦] As Voltaire said, “uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd position”. [â€¦]
I call myself a possibilian. The idea with possibilianism is to explore new ideas and to shine a flashlight around the possibility space to really understand what the size of that space is. The idea is not to commit to any particular story, it’s not the end goal to say “OK, we’re going to figure it out and commit to it” because it’s simply past the toolbox of science. The best we can do, and I find it a wonderful pursuit, is to just try and understand what the possibilities are. [â€¦]
I don’t have a belief system, I only have a possibility system!
Sum is the first work of ‘speculative fiction’ by Eagleman, a neuroscientist specialising in the study of time perception and synesthesia.