Why I’m An Agnostic

I just took a few days off to recuperate and rejuvenate; it was perfect in every way, filled as it was with good friends, good food, and good wine. I had the best time of it.

At one point the conversation turned to the R word and everything that comes along with it, including the G word. We did discuss one religion specifically for the impact it’s having on the world today, and then we discussed religion in general.

Now, I’m surrounded by atheists and spiritualists. I don’t think I have any religious friends, although I do have some acquaintances who would be happy to term themselves ‘religious’. This is fine with me; as I’ve said before, I have no problems with your belief systems. We’re fine, you and I, no matter what it is you believe. We will have a problem, though, when you decide you want to cram your belief systems down my throat. Until then, we’re good. I’ll even celebrate with you; festivals, I think, are the good thing about religion. Someone’s always celebrating – and celebrations mean food and friends and good times.

I like talking about things with like-minded people, and I like a good discussion. I even like an argument, provided it is logical and makes sense. So it wasn’t too long before I was accused of being a fence-sitter by a friend who had a twinkle in his eye as he levelled it at me. I rose to my defence, naturally, and an argument was soon in full flow.

Perhaps it does seem a little too convenient to claim that I simply don’t know. However, that is my position on anything to do with religion and god. I simply don’t know. I cannot in all certainty claim that a deity does not exist, just as I cannot claim that it does. I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen his/her/its handiwork. I don’t believe that the earth is inside Shiva’s throat, just as I don’t believe that the universe was created in seven days. Six days, in actuality, as I believe god apparently rested on the seventh. Yeah. Sorry. Not buying that.

Yet I understand that there is so much that cannot be explained away by science, and so much that science does not understand. I’ve never understood the battle between science and religion, in actuality. I feel like they would have got so much more done if only they’d always been friends. But hey, nobody consulted me. I don’t think anyone actually sat down and thought it through either. Someone who was very bossy once said that science was the enemy of religion, and everyone that ever followed simply followed that. We seem to be very good at obeying orders. Blind faith, here we come.

It is perhaps convenient that I neither believe nor disbelieve, but in actuality it’s not the best place to be in. I am going to live my life gloriously uncertain, until the ultimate certainty claims me (to paraphrase Terry Pratchett). I don’t claim to know or understand death or what happens to us all; I don’t claim to understand souls and spirits. But I do know one thing. I know that _this_ – this time on the planet – this is our one shot. It’s our one opportunity to live. I’m pretty sure there’s no afterlife; no heaven or hell; no living forever. So it’s important to give this one shot we _all have_ our all. If that means accepting that we perhaps don’t know it all, then so be it. If that means believing that we do know that it exists or does not exist, then so be it. Just live the best life you can, the best way you know to live it, and impact everyone in a positive way as far as you possibly can. That is _my_ religion.

So that’s why I’m agnostic. I don’t know. I accept that I don’t know. I accept that this probably means I’ll never know.

And that’s all sorts of okay with me.

17 Comments

  • Avatar
    Liv 4th September 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I agree completely! I see no conflict between science and religion, only conflict between individuals with closed minds. I myself am Buddhist, but not because I think Buddhism is the ‘correct’ way to be, it is just how I think – who I am. 🙂

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      Awanthi @ Sybaritic Pleasures 4th September 2012 at 4:00 pm

      And that makes perfect sense to me! 🙂

      My first happy thought at the moment is, ‘Whee, my first Buddhist friend!’ *laugh* 🙂

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        Abhishek Srivastava 9th October 2012 at 4:48 pm

        For the record, true Buddhism is an agnostic religion. True Buddhism talks about your role in the world, and a philosophy to be followed, rather than which gods to worship and how many times a day, following what rituals. 🙂
        Most of traditional religious “reasoning” can however be boiled down to this :

        Q : Who is God? How do we know someone we have never seen, even exists?
        A : Because everything must have been created by someone. Ergo, the creator of the universe is God.
        Q. Okay, then who created God?
        A. No one created God. He always was, or he created himself.
        Q. Okay, but you just said *everything* must have a creator? If God can exist without having a creator, why cannot this universe itself?
        A. Shut up, you disgusting non-pious non-believer. You will burn in hell for this blasphemy!

        On the serious side, God may or may not exist. But I am not so sure, he is necessarily the way, most modern religions seem to describe him : A petty, petulant, narcissistic, sycophancy-seeker who loves giving out trick tests. The best service a customer may do to a master chef, is enjoy his food fully till the end. Few of us keep thanking the Chef after every mouthful, to the extent that you let the actual food go cold. Nor do we end up thinking that it is somehow a sin to enjoy the food the Chef has provided you with. For that matter I seldom see people arguing that the food having way too much salt or pepper, is actually the Chef “testing” you. I would rather choose to believe, that if there was indeed a god, he might just want us to live our lives fully and us making the most of it and enjoying his creations.

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  • Avatar
    stace8383 4th September 2012 at 4:03 pm

    “I know that _this_ – this time on the planet – this is our one shot. It’s our one opportunity to live. I’m pretty sure there’s no afterlife; no heaven or hell; no living forever. So it’s important to give this one shot we _all have_ our all.”

    I absolutely agree. NOW is all we’ve really got, all we can be absolutely certain of – although I know of several philosophers who might disagree with even that. So BE! 🙂

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    alienpiglet 4th September 2012 at 5:16 pm

    There’s something I don’t agree with. You’re saying religion and science are not enemies. But that’s untrue most of the times. Buddhism, the little that I know about it, sure sounds like it would go in perfect harmony with science. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, I think it was Einstein that said that Buddhism was the only religion that could stand side-by-side with science. However, when a religion tries to assure people that doubting certain facts (such as, say, the creator of the universe wanting everyone who did any work on a certain day to die and other absurd things) is a devil trying to make you doubt, that the questions you have about religious teachings comes from an absolute evil force and you should just kill your curiosity – I consider such religions to be natural enemies to science. Science is all about doubting, questioning, wondering, trying to find out more. Something doesn’t stick up? TEST the damn thing! Most religions though, encourage having a completely opposite mindset: accept, obey, do not test, do not doubt, who are you to question and so on. Especially if the science contradicts the said religions, “that’s from the devil, we’re right even though we have no proof, because we don’t need proof”.
    So it really needs to be defined, which religion exactly we’re talking about.

    As for the “fence-sitting”, I see absolutely no sense in defining an agnostic’s position this way. After all, “I don’t know” is not a position, it’s a fact. You don’t know. Why would anyone have to acquire any position about it at all? Humans are incompetent to judge such thing. It’s not like I would ever have to have any position about two contradicting theories in quantum physics, for example. Now how’s the matter of origins of the universe and supernatural forces beyond our understanding any easier?

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      Awanthi @ Sybaritic Pleasures 5th September 2012 at 4:28 pm

      I said religion and science ought not to be enemies. I completely agree with you; I think that instead of setting each other up as the exact opposites they should have both embraced each other. I see science and religion as two sides of the same coin. Both fields strive to understand in different ways our purpose; the reason for our existence if you will. I wish that the war had never been declared, but it is wishful thinking.

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        alienpiglet 5th September 2012 at 7:00 pm

        The war was declared based on the core dogma: do not question (or else you’re an asshole). In order to make a treaty with the said religions, they have to make peace with admitting that they got some things wrong, that they’re not necessarily the one true path. Frankly, I don’t see that coming. Again, some religions do stand a chance, the ones less dogmatic, the ones that are honestly more philosophical and more “thoughtful”, if that makes any sense, rather than based on blind acceptance, holding unquestioned authorities and so on.
        However, if the above mentioned religions had changed their ways, I’m sure they would’ve lost a huge amount of their followers. People want certainty, you know, some sense of secureness. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been following those religions in the first place. And seeing how much such religions are mostly about holding power more than anything less, I don’t see them relaxing their clutch any time soon.

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          Awanthi @ Sybaritic Pleasures 6th September 2012 at 11:02 am

          Or ever. Sadly, it’s something that ‘works’. It’s been known to work, throughout our history. I think along with certainty people also want to be told (most people, that is) what to do, what to believe in, how to be. I used to believe (when I was a tad younger and more naive) that surely religion would become redundant because surely everyone had an inner moral compass (like I do). Sadly, I’ve discovered that this is untrue. I have seen (with time and experience) that even religion does not provide some people with a moral compass; they go to every religious meeting and follow ritual, only to ‘sin’ unabashedly in private.

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  • Avatar
    marksackler 4th September 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Admitting you don’t know is the bravest stance of all. Asserting that nobody knows (as I do) may be the brashest.

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      Awanthi @ Sybaritic Pleasures 5th September 2012 at 4:35 pm

      But a part of me feels you are right; nobody can know for certain, and so I think it is not brash, but just logical. Perhaps I just don’t want to be alone in my uncertainty. 😉

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    Adventures in Anderland 5th September 2012 at 12:37 am

    I was raised religious, had a mini faith crisis followed by the final one due to disillusionment with organized religion. Sometimes I think I believe in a variation of the Christian God I was taught, but most of the time, I believe in a some thing greater, some thing MORE but NOT something sentient/omniscient. I call that thing “life” or “the universe” or “energy,” in that I know there are souls (but don’t think they’re relegated to only humans) and when we die, our soul flows back in to the universal source.

    I think the biggest problem comes from blind faith – be it in a more traditional religion OR science.

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      Awanthi @ Sybaritic Pleasures 5th September 2012 at 4:40 pm

      I understand your disillusionment; I was raised Hindu, read the Bible (out of interest) as a teenager, just before Satanic Verses came out. It came out when I was in high school and of course I absolutely HAD to read that. I’ve enjoyed the stories to do with Hinduism and the mythological aspects to that religion, just as I’ve enjoyed the often poetic verses of the Bible, and some of the parables are just gorgeous. However I’ve always considered those books nothing more nor less than historical footnotes.

      I don’t remember when I began to question it all, but I briefly went through a period of disbelief (atheism) before I then began to question THAT and wonder how people just knew it all. And so eventually I arrived at my current position; this is one I’m quite happy to embrace and one that most definitely makes the most amount of sense to me.

      I agree with your comment about blind faith – whether it be geared toward religion or science!

      Reply
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    Liv 3rd November 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I don’t agree with the argument that science “disagrees” or “contradicts” religion. To me, religion is a way of understanding, a perspective; or in some cases, accepting what we can’t understand/explain. Science is also a way of understanding in that it is a way of investigating or explaining the physical world. It has no moral or philosophical imperative.

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