Imagine you’re at a theme park. It’s the best in the world, and for the purposes of this exercise, it’s the only one in the world. It’s got everything you could ever want – amazing rides, fantastic attractions, great restaurants, everything you could ever want to do, all in one place. We’ll call this FunLand.
Now, you get to go to FunLand only once, for one day. There’s so much to do – it can’t possibly all be done in one day – but you’ll still get to do a lot. Some things you’re not going to want to do. Others you will, and the people you go to the park with might want go alongside you, or they might not, but you’re all set to have a good day.
As you’re about to set out on your day at FunLand, someone tells you that, if you plan your day right, at the end of it, you’ll get a free pass into a different, secret theme park – this new theme park is bigger and better than the one you’re in, and it’s designed exactly for you – all the stuff that you’re going to skip or end up being disappointed with at FunLand won’t be there, and it’ll be filled with nothing but the things you want. What’s more – you get to spend the rest of your life here, and it won’t ever get boring, because you’ll be so happy to be there – everything will be right and you’ll never have to worry about anything again. We’ll call this new theme park AwesomeWorld.
So – you’re about to head into FunLand, and then you learn some more stuff about AwesomeWorld, and a lot of it doesn’t match up. Some people tell you that if you ride the rollercoaster before noon, you’ll lose your chance at AwesomeWorld. Some people tell you that you need to explore the zoo at FunLand, and only with other people who are only-exploring-the-zoo, or else you’ll be banned from AwesomeWorld.
Some people really love the waterslides, and when they hear that there are other people that only want to go through the Haunted House attraction, they decide that this isn’t right and try to get the Haunted House torn down. Then, there are the people who stick to the swimming pool – they don’t want to go to AwesomeWorld at all and will tell you it doesn’t exist. And in the middle of this, you start to wonder, “what should I do, what rides are safe to go on, where is it safe to visit?”
Now, to be fair, the majority of the people in FunLand really want to go to AwesomeWorld and have made up their mind to stick to one course of action to get there. Perhaps they don’t like the Haunted House, and just stick to the zoo – but if you decide to visit them, they’ll greet you and welcome you. Then there are the people who ride the rollercoaster before noon – chances are that when they rode it in the morning was when they felt they were ready for it – and it’s not going to take any of the enjoyment out of it if they decide to go on later. And the people by the pool – most of them are just having a good time, but there’s the few occasional people who will ridicule you if they find out you want to get into AwesomeWorld.
But the ones who stick out are the ones who really want to get into AwesomeWorld, or the ones who insist on telling you it doesn’t exist – and they won’t be happy until they’ve convinced every single person in FunLand that their view is right and that everyone else is wrong. And so everyone in FunLand starts to judge the people at the zoo because of a few people they’ve seen there, and it’s the same with the rollercoaster, the haunted house, the pool, the waterslides.
Soon, these groups are getting into arguments, and into fights. Some of them try to dismantle the Haunted House, but everyone ignores the time years ago when the Haunted House tried to expand onto the zoo.
And before you can even begin your day at FunLand, you’ve got a thousand different people telling you different things, saying you need to do things one way, or this way, and definitely not that way, and you stand at the entrance to this park, understanding why they think these things, because they all have their hopes on AwesomeWorld, or think that hoping for AwesomeWorld is pointless.
And so you decide that what you know for sure is that you’re at FunLand, and that you want to have a good day. You want to experience all the different things, and not rely on the certain rules that other people might have about them. You want to go down the waterslides, swim in the pool, ride the rollercoaster, visit the zoo and the Haunted House – and then do everything else that you want to do.
And yeah, if you can get into AwesomeWorld, if it exists, then you hope you do everything right. But it’s not going to stop you from saying “Hi” to the people who are at the zoo, it’s not going to make you tear down the Haunted House, and if someone you see at the pool thinks AwesomeWorld doesn’t exist, then you’ll agree to disagree before splashing around together.
You don’t know if AwesomeWorld exists – you’ve only heard people say it does, but then again, if FunLand is there, it seems reasonable there’d be something like it. What you know for certain, is that you only get one day at FunLand, and that hoping for an exclusive pass into AwesomeWorld isn’t going to stop you having the best day ever, and though people will disagree with you, you’ll just have to let them or otherwise you won’t get to experience everything you can.
And that, massive oversimplifications aside, is why I’m an agnostic.