Wednesday

Introduction to Religion: Meet an Agnostic

Jake


1. How did you come to be Agnostic? (family, converted etc.. ) 
I was raised Southern Baptist in the Bible Belt, but I started to eventually question things and just wonder otherwise. Some things seemed pretty far fetched, like they were out of a fiction book. My parents were understanding rather than condemning and it allowed me to maintain a close relationship with them while I went through a religious identity crisis in my early teens.
I went through a brief phase (maybe a year) where I was very angry and anti-Christian. I felt hurt and deceived, and I adopted pretty hard-line Atheist beliefs, but continued to question and search for more. I became unable to accept the existence of God without undeniable proof that he/she/it was real.
Eventually, I made peace with everything, and accepted that the things I'd been raised on had carried the best of intentions, even if I fundamentally disagreed with the belief system, although I remained an Atheist.
Sometime after that year had ended, I dropped Atheism as well. I had denied Christianity because it couldn't prove the existence of God, so the most logical thing seemed to be Atheism. However, the more I thought about it, I thought it was very presumptuous to declare that there was no way that the Christian God (or any other deity(ies)) could exist.
It was then, still in my teens, that I accepted Agnosticism, under the belief that we are simply incapable of learning the truth. It's my belief that not only do I not know whether any kind of deity(ies) exist, but it is also my belief that it's probably impossible for us to know the real truth, whatever it may be.
In short: I believe we're incapable of knowing.
Once I settled upon that belief, my search for creation theory basically ended. I just focused on being a good person and impacting the world around me, because it was the only "sure" thing I could count on. If I'm here, why not enjoy myself and make it better for everyone else that seems to be here? 
2. What appeals to you most about the religion? 
There are several things...the peace of mind, the simplicity of it, etc. However, the most important thing about it to me is that it just makes sense.
3. What if anything, concerns you about the religion or do you not agree with? 
The only real concerns that I have are not related to my religion, but of people's perception of it. In many cases, I abstain from explanation because people just seem to not understand.
For example, I've been accused by Christians of "copping out" because I'm just afraid God will send me to hell if I say he doesn't exist and that I'm just settling on a "safe" middle ground. My response to them is that no, I'm very confident in my belief, and if any deity were to punish me for not believing in him/her/it, then they would probably have grounds to do so. However, it's not exactly of my concern.
Likewise, Atheists sometimes think of me as being "on their side," against Christianity because I deny the existence of God and other deities. However, they're wrong. I personally view Atheists and Theists in basically the same light, and I believe they are both overreaching, although they are for opposite reasons.
In a nutshell, I believe Christians and other theists are believing in something without proof of their existence. Likewise, I feel like Atheists are deny the existence of something without the capability of understanding everything in the universe. We simply don't know everything, and I feel like saying with 100% certainty that it's one way or the other is equally foolish.
4. What would you say to someone interested in learning more? 
If you really wanted to learn more, unfortunately there's not a true "doctrine" of Agnosticism. Whether good or bad, it is what it is.
My advice in general to anyone seeking to learn more about spiritualism is just to continue searching until you're satisfied. If it's something that's eating at you and bothering you and you're losing sleep or you're worried, it may be be a religion that you need. Perhaps while you search for answers, you should also search for some philosophy. I don't adopt any of the religious teachings of Zen Buddhism or religious teachings from any belief system (then it comes to creation theory, that is), but I am rather fond of the philosophical lessons that can be learned from Zen and Tao.
I can't speak for all Agnostics, because there are a lot of varied people who use that identifier. Some simply take it as "I don't know". But again, I take it as, "I believe we are incapable of knowing."
5. How do you approach the situation of people who don't agree with your point of view? 
Everyone finds their own answer, and they believe anyone that doesn't believe the same thing as them is wrong. If they didn't feel that way, they would change their belief. However, I believe it's our duty as humans to be kind and understanding to each other. I'll always listen and I'll always share, but often times I find it's best to keep my mouth shut, hah.
Religion is a topic you will almost never convert anyone one. It's a personal journey. If you share with someone that it asking, that is very different from telling someone that doesn't want to hear you.
Whatever you do, I suggest you lead by example. Christians aren't the only ones who hold the philosophy, "Do unto others the way you would have them do unto you," but it is a good one to follow.
6. What do you think is most unique about this religion and what do people sometimes find controversial? 
As a blanket term for Agnosticism, probably the most unique thing about it is how varied the individual beliefs can be from person to person for those that have taken "Agnostic" as a label.
It can mean, I don't know, I'm undecided, and many more things.
In fact, there are several self-proclaimed Agnostics that also identify as any other specific religion. For example, the celebrity Ricky Gervais identifies as an Agnostic Atheist who acknowledges that while we don't know, he personally feels like there is no deity. You could also technically be an Agnostic Christian or Agnostic Muslim and acknowledge "I/we don't know, but I personally feel..." etc. And again, there's me who is purely Agnostic.
It's a very individualistic belief system. Probably the most controversial thing, again, are the misconceptions because it's hard to pinpoint exactly how any one person feels.
7. What do you love most about being Agnostic.
But probably my favorite thing is this: 
When you acknowledge that the universe and existence in general is not a finite thing, the world around you really becomes a place of wonder. Once you accept that you don't know everything (and especially if you accept that you're probably incapable of doing so), you realize the absolute endless possibilities and opportunities that are out there.
To expand further on what I mean: I absolutely love new scientific discoveries. At one time, we believed the world was flat. That germs didn't exist. That flight for humans was impossible. We are constantly learning and discovering new things. The world is fundamentally the same. Gravity has always been here, and going the same direction on Earth for long enough would always put your right back at the same spot. But once you recognize how much potential is out there, the world suddenly becomes very exciting, even on a day-to-day basis.
8. Is there anything else you'd like to add? 
Just that I've gone on for a long time, and I appreciate the time it took for you to read my thoughts and opinions. Hopefully if you've read this far into what I've said, you were able to get something positive from it, whatever it may be. I hope you enjoy Rhiana's blog, and may your search for answers be a good one. :)

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