Here’s a brief introduction on how I got to this point:
I was fourteen the first time I really questioned the existence of God. I was staying with some friends at a conference at a Christian college over a long weekend. The weekend was filled with lots of sermons (most of which the kids skipped). The last night there was kind of like the big blow out. During this particular sermon I had the experience I had not really had before. The adults outweighed the children and soon into the sermon something happened. A woman had started laughing hysterically. And no one else was reacting to it. I waited around thinking someone would be dragging her out of there but that didn’t happen. Then the preacher asked the entire group to break off into pairs. Soon what felt like a crowd had gathered around me.
Through the cracks of this human chain, I could see adults falling to the floor and rolling around. Men and women around me had started chanting and yelling in different language. I didn’t really understand what was happening but it on one hand freaked me out and on the other made me want to laugh. I couldn’t understand why these people were acting like this and how this was what God wanted. Soon members of the circle I was in had started to drop to the floor as well. Then I felt hands on me. I’m not the type of person who likes a lot of touching unless I’m really close with a person, so already I was uncomfortable. Hands were on my back and a large man put his hand on my forehead and was gently pushing me backwards. Then he started to ask God to come into my spirit and to cleanse me with the spirit and this was cobbled together with the cacophony of voices.
I looked around the room while they pushed on me, I looked at the adults and kids all supposedly in the grips of the Holy Spirit, and here I was, a Christian, someone who did believe in God, and I felt nothing at all. Part of me wanted to just drop to the ground and pretend, but I knew that wouldn’t be right either. So I just stood there as the man with his hand on my forehead; first pushed harder, then eventually moved on to the next person.
I didn’t know it then but that night would be the seed of doubt that was planted in my head. That seed grew into what I can only describe as years of atheism. I never said much to anyone outright, and I continued to go to church with my parents at times, but inside I didn’t believe in God anymore, and at that point in my life I really didn’t care either. While at church, I went through the motions, sang the songs, bowed my head, but I never really listened and I just counted by the minutes until it was over again.
Then when I turned twenty, I went through a resurgence of faith. I read and carried the Bible with me all day long. I studied and highlighted and thought constantly of God. I was a prophet in my own mind and spoke my thoughts at anytime. Then around 24 another situation came up and I was back to that time again.
Let’s cut to today:
Today I am finally in a place where I feel right with who I am when it comes to religion. I hate labeling myself as anything, but if I had to write it down on a form I have to say that I am an agnostic. Agnostics get a bad wrap as being wishy/washy or weak (by not being able to pick a side), this is not only from the religious but from the non-religious as well.
Here’s why I am what I am:
First off I have no hatred or ill-will towards atheists or the religious; I have no hatred or ill will toward God. But I find it very presumptuous to say with 100% faith that I can begin to understand what is behind this world or universe or what is or isn’t beyond this life. Who am I to say that I know what is the right or wrong answer. I don’t know. I can’t prove or disprove either side and my answer is that I’m not sure and I’m not going to count out either side of the equation.
I find a lot of great things in many religions. There are many great lessons and some of it reads like beautiful poetry. I don’t think there is a particular one that is better than the other. As long as they are religions that practice and preach understanding, love, peace, self awareness, and more they have something to say that is important to anyone. I do not subscribe to anyone who uses violence or spreads hatred or ignorance in the name of God. I’ve run into far too many Christians that speak things so far removed from the thing they say they base their life on that it makes me sick. Using religion as a means to hate someone because they are different than you is nothing less than ignorance and personal hatred.
I love the teachings of Christ. I love the lessons about the evils of pride and wealth, the treatment of those with less than you have, the love and forgiveness for all people. All of these things; I aspire to live my life by. I also love the teachings of the Buddha. I love the spiritual symbols and meaning of Hinduism. And more. Why should I trap myself into one specific belief because it’s the right thing to do? If I can take a lesson from somewhere else that means as much to me, why is that wrong? Religion gets to hung up on titles to actual make a really big difference. If things were done in the sake of love and not conversion we could do a lot of good in this world.
On the other side of the coin is Atheism. I like to think that I’m a pretty rational person. I believe in science and I’ve heard many good cases against the existence of a God as well. Science is wonderful and it’s useful. It’s important to understanding ourselves and the world around us. There is so much beauty in the understanding and complexities in our world that it is almost religious in it’s extreme awe and wonder. I am positively astounded by the facts as giant as space down to something as incredible as the atom. And how they all come together to create this existence we call life. I can fully understand why people believe that there is no god and how we are nothing but a part of this swirling blue ball because of almost being ‘in the right place at the right time’.
What I don’t understand is this. A decent amount on both sides ( I won’t say all because I know both that don’t act this way) spend most of their time telling the other one that they are wrong. Atheists and Believes talk about God just as much. I feel there is a lot of wasted energy in telling someone what they do or don’t believe is wrong when it comes to faith or lack thereof. Instead of being reasonable people it sounds like a school yard fight to me. And have chosen to take myself out of it.
Am I spiritual? Yes. There are times where the wonder and beauty of it all make me feel like I am a part of everything, a piece of god that contains everything. Do I feel the need to worship a particular god? No. To me God is more than a name or creed. If there is a God, It is unknowable, it is neither good nor evil, it just is. It’s beyond all that we could ever understand.
Here are some of the reasons and things I do and don’t believe:
I don’t believe in Hell. And I don’t like people assuming that I will end up there if I don’t believe in the ‘right’ god.
I do try to live my life in a way that I treat everyone with kindness and to aim for being the best person I can be for my family, friends, and others.
I do try to understand other points of view and try to help bring people together with love and understanding.
I don’t like people that push their beliefs on others or make someone feel stupid for what they do or don’t believe in.
I feel most spiritual when my feet are off concrete and I’m out in the woods. This is my place of worship.
I show with my actions not by quoting something said by someone else.
I am myself and no one else; these beliefs are mine and mine alone.
A spiritual journey is only for the person who is on it. Showing off what you believe or don’t believe does nothing but end up in pride (as Christ said, it’s better to pray in the closet than out in the street)
Life is too short to be spent in judgment of others.
There is a lot of beauty in the world and we could see it if we took the time.
We will never fully understand anything; we are grasping at straw and shooting in the dark. The Universe is so much bigger than us.
So I’ll end with this and it wraps it all up like it started.
I don’t know.