For a while I had a hard time deciding if I was an atheist or agnostic. Could it be that I was an agnostic atheist?
An agnostic is a person who is like “D’uh, I dunno and I don’t care”. An agnostic kind of hovers in a mental purgatory between theism and atheism doctrines. It’s kind of like religion for the lethargic and spiritually unmotivated. The agnostic believes that there may be a God but that no human will ever know nor be able to prove it, so it’s irrelevant and of no significance or importance.
An atheist is a person that says, “Nope, there is definitely no God” and that’s that. It’s like hardcore spirituality. “I don’t need no stinkin’ deity!”
According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic_atheism), “agnostic atheism, also called atheistic agnosticism, encompasses atheism and agnosticism. Agnostic atheists are atheistic because they do not have belief in the existence of any deity, and agnostic because they do not claim to know that a deity does not exist. The agnostic atheist may be contrasted with the agnostic theist, who does believe that one or more deities exist but does not claim to have knowledge of such.”
What? This is starting to sound like an SAT prep test logic question from the late seventies. “If a wizzle is wuzzle but a wazzle is wezzle, then is a wizzle a wezzle?” I’m not even going to go into hard atheism and soft atheism.
I consider myself an Agnostic Atheist.
I don’t believe that there is God per se, but there might be something or someone floating around out there that we will never know. We will never be able to comprehend it. If it’s out there, it doesn’t want to be known or comprehended in any way that can be tangibly or intellectually understood by human beings, so why be concerned with it?
When I was young I went to a Lutheran church fairly regularly and then a Baptist church. I got baptized at the age of sixteen by my own accord and with no coercion. I also attended Seventh Day Adventist and Jehovah’s Witness churches.
My parents were not what one would consider “religious folk”. My father never attended church and rarely spoke of religion. My mother went sporadically while I was growing up, but did join and attend a Baptist church regularly in her older years. Much of my childhood religious experiences were through friends and extended family members.
I attended church well into my twenties. In my thirties I attended a Dominican college and it was there that I took several theology classes. Around that time I read the entire bible…twice…forward and backward. I’m not sure why. I also became an ordained minister (online). I’m not sure why I did that either.
Over the years, from my own experiences, I found religion to be irrational but yet it expected me to behave rationally. When I questioned people about their religious beliefs and their faith, I could not get a clear answer; not even from clergy. It seemed like I was expected to believe something that made no sense to me, was not derived from any logical or concrete source and was inexplicable and scientifically unfeasible. Therefore I decided that religion or being religious was just not for me.
I grew tired of wracking my brain and my spirituality, trying to force myself into a place where I did not fit in and so slowly I let it go. I took what I’d learned from all of the religions I’d been connected to and all the things I’d learned and experienced and found peace within.
After I thought I was content with letting go of the God concept, I had this powerful philosophical dilemma. What was my purpose? Why was I here? Where will I go when I die? What if I’m wrong in my thinking and there is a God? Just about everybody I know is devout, so won’t I be an outcast and scorned?
I just found it hard to believe that intelligent people believed and found the bible to be plausible and feasible. I am not saying that the bible is not one of the greatest and most enduring works on earth and it provides some excellent lessons on how to live and what’s expected of humanity, but it is to me, as far-fetched as “Star-Wars” and “Chewbacca” or “Lord of the Rings” and “The Gollum”.
I also wondered if religion and God are so great, then why have so many wars been fought over it and why have so many people killed each other over it? For a while, it seemed to me to do more harm than good, but as I got older, I realized that evil is a flaw in being human that occurs when the mind distorts things in some way. I could not blame God for that.
God gave us free will, but does not control how we exercise that free will. That is up to us as individuals and as a whole. Unfortunately, human beings often do not do well with free will in either capacity and seem to enjoy smiting each other.
I also had a problem with a God that claims to be forgiving and loving and wants us to strive for goodness and harmony but will, according to the bible, smite and destroy anyone that does not believe or adhere to religious doctrines.
I also questioned what pure-love entity would sacrifice his own son and let him be tortured to death to prove its own existence. Surely, an all-powerful entity could have come up with better proof to garner people’s faith.
In reality, I cannot prove that God does not exist any more than a devout person can prove that God does exist. Therein lays the balance between existential spiritualism and devoutness. That lack of ability to prove on either side is the equalizer.
The bottom line is that it’s okay. I can be happy in my not knowing and not caring and the devout can happy in caring and in what they perceive as knowing. Its fine by me and it’s cool.
My wish here is not to offend anybody or downplay anyone’s religious beliefs, but like those that consider themselves religious, devout or a follower of organized religion, please know that this article is about my beliefs and my feelings on a personal level and is founded on a lifetime of experience, of seeking, of finding acceptance and being okay with it all.
I still wear a crucifix around my neck and rarely remove it. For me, it is a sign of my spirituality and connectedness to nature, the universe and to humanity. I still practice the meditation and chants of Buddhism.
As for where I’ll go when I die, it doesn’t matter. I’ll see when I get there and if there is nothing after this life, it won’t matter because I won’t know anyway at that point, so for now I am alive, at peace, happy and strive to be a good and decent human being.
Good Article on Atheism and Agnosticism: http://20gramsoul.com/2007/07/15/soft-atheist-hard-agnostic/