I Don’t Know: Why I’m Agnostic

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.

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41 thoughts on “I Don’t Know: Why I’m Agnostic

  1. I completely agree with what you wrote here, this is exactly how I feel about religion. I am a spiritual person though, just not religious and I also didn’t like to go to church when I was little. I was disappointed when I noticed people don’t even question their reasons why they go there, they just do because they were “supposed to”.I like what Thomas Paine said about religion:” My own mind is my own church.” I liked that very much. Thanks for writing this.

  2. Your story sounds a lot like mine growing up in the Church starting from five-years of age at attending school school classes & church to being baptized at sixteen..I always wanted to believe wanted to feel “it” but it just didnt happen. To me I always felt there was always a masks over most of the people in the church. In the front room they were one way and in the back they were entirely different people.(besides the outright dogma) I saw those two worlds juxtoposed so many times growing up in the church I couldn’t reconcile it and the illusion was lifted from my brain as well it was yours. As you do I see value in other forms of spiritualism buddism,hinduism, and just fully appreciating love, life, and nature…that’s my religion. I like Abraham Lincoln’s response when asked what his religion was “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” I always try to perpetuate goodness in me and others and minimize the regrets in my life…I think if we all started there the world would be a much better place. Thanks for the blog…

  3. I like what you wrote too. I’ve been there. Contact me if you want to; I can be found pretty easily on twitter or facebook. In any event, the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

    • Thank you for your taking the time to read it. I am very much at peace with who I am for the first time in a long time. Making the choice I made has liberated me.

    • THE LORD is a fictional character that DOESN’T exist it was created in the mind of man much to his detriment. Grow up.

      • I did grow up; that’s why I’m a Christian. Like I said above, I’m not hard to find. Write me and make your case if you want, or, if you’re feeling brave, feel free to ask God if he’s real.

      • WRONG asshole I DON’T have to make a case for a fictional character YOU do since you are the insane maniac that thinks that jerk off fiction is real and said so. Prove it dummy without having to resort to the standard cop out of “I just know it in my soul” or the bible says line of horseshit you religious freaks try push like crack to prove that this “god’ ass wipe of yours is real, go ahead genius do it.

        further you lunatic I don’t speak to things that DO. NOT. EXIST. because I’m not bat shit crazy.

      • Well, I think it’s safe to say that theists don’t have the burden of proof, since the world was theistic for thousands of years. Atheists are the newcomers.

        However, let me just say a few things. First, if you don’t think God exists, there would be no harm in the simple experiment of trying to talk to him. It wouldn’t make you crazy, just willing to humor someone and test your own theory. Again I say, put it to the test; you have nothing to lose.

        Second, there is actually good historical, historiographical, sociological, existential, and philosophical evidence for the existence of God. None of these arguments rely upon either my experience/emotions or any a priori assumptions about the Bible. We can discuss that further if you want.

        Also, since you started by telling me to grow up, you should check yourself. Why not refrain from insults, vulgarity, and such?

  4. Well said.

    I tend to stay right out of religious discussions. There might be a god, there might not be. And folk can believe whatever they want. Furthermore, being open-minded about a subject isn’t ‘weak’.

    I got stopped in the street by a J-Witness awhile back. I didn’t actually catch his opening gambit, I glanced at him, shook my head and continued on my way without slowing. Then behind me I hear, “Don’t you want to see your loved ones again?”

    It was probably the worst thing he could’ve said at the time. I did a slow turn and approached this bloke, leaned in close (think Considine & Stretch on the street in Dead Man’s Shoes). Quietly, I said, “I will see them again. And I don’t need your permission to do so.”

    Those kind of people need to take a long hard look at themselves in a mirror, coming out with shite like that.

  5. Kloipy,

    I like what you have to say. Its rare to find someone with your view on this subject. If you define God as a personal god who is watching over us then I would consider my self an atheist, if you define God as a creator, then I consider my self an agnostic. But my biggest concern is not if God exists or not. What I am concerned about is how believers and non-believes treat each other. It has become a shouting match between the atheists and the Christians in this country and it needs to stop.

    • Exactly. Better to admit that we can just believe what we believe and let it be that, than to kill each other over something no one truly knows

      • Tolerance makes good emotional sense; there’s no arguing that. But we don’t all believe that we can’t or don’t know about God. I believe we can know, and by knowing, I’m inspired to try to help other people know too. Knowing is harder than not, but it’s also better than not. It’s the only hope for true and good happiness for everyone. Tolerance makes less sense in that context: if I watch someone blindly walking in front of a speeding truck, I’m not being tolerant; I’m being a monster. Sure there are better and worse ways to try to help, and a lot of Christians pursue the worse ways, but then the complaint is about method, not motive.

  6. Great post. Good to find another agnostic on Twitter. I totally agree with your statement “…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”.

    • Thanks! I followed you back. It’s a title most people don’t ascribe to (and like I said in the post I don’t like labels really) but like I said, I don’t know what is there, and neither does anyone else. All the hurt, war, hate, that has been done in the name of god or religion makes no sense at all, and who am I to tell anyone what to believe or not to believe. It’s my own view and really doesn’t affect anyone but myself

  7. I just started following your blog and this post is what got me. I have had mirror images of your experiences. I always look for the truth, but the God of the universe is just too much for us to understand. The God of the Old Testament, in my opion, is Bi-polar. He never bless us up until Abram. but he sure did kill alot of people.

    • Thank you for following the blog and thanks for the comment. I think a lot of the old test was people creating a diety that would turn them away from doing ‘bad things’, a God to be afraid of as the time wasn’t really lawfull. I think most of those stories are obviously just parable and shouldn’t be taken literally. If God exists I think he’s beyond any of our emotions and understanding, not just someone who sits in judgment of mankind. If that were true we would have been gone a long time ago

  8. Why can’t you keep clicking the ‘Like’ button? This needs more than just the one.
    This all sounds similar to some experiences I’ve had. I’ve come to the point where the most concern I generally have about formal religion is learning from those who are more versed in it than I am.
    Isn’t it more important to learn and teach people to be accepting and tolerant than to ascribe to a specific set of rules? Good for you for finding a place that you are comfortable in. I hope you continue to be there.

    • Thanks Chris! For awhile I thought and was worried about how I would fall on which side. I was so consumed by the thought that I had to choose one or the other. Than one day I realized that I don’t have to because I don’t feel either way. I can be spiritual and rational, I don’t have to do something to please one side or the other. My journey is mine alone and for the first time in my ‘spiritual life’ I do fully feel liberated by the fact that I don’t have to be anything. I can just be who I am and hold my beliefs to myself. I don’t feel the pressure of having the fear of hell and I don’t have the worry that if I die and nothing happens that it will be of any concern to me. I’m focused to be the best human being I can be, to appreciate the fact that I do not and cannot have the answers and that is fine. I can see the beauty in religion and the beauty in science.
      Better for me to be a good person and try to make a difference in this lifetime in case it is all we have. And even if I’m not remembered as generations go on, I know I can die with peace in my heart knowing that I was a good person and tried to make things right in what I could, because I wanted to, not because I felt forced to.
      To to right and be good is my nature and not influenced by anything but who I am inside.
      Like I said I don’t harbor ill will to the religious and non-religious, I just think that the constant verbal assualt and back and forth serves no purpose but to make fools of them all

      • I couldn’t have said it better myself.
        At the end of the day, we’re all doing everyone a service by trying to make the world a better place. It’s good for us now, the next generation later, and it certainly won’t hurt any possible afterlife possibilities. Win-Win-Win.

  9. I’ve always thought of Agnostic as being open to possibilities, but maybe because I don’t want to think myself “wishy-washy”! I think there is a God, Supreme Being, or Force — but there are so many inexplicable and wondrous things in this universe that I think my feeble mind seeks not only to understand, but to credit. Kindness incorporates, encompasses, and transcends religions–can’t go wrong with kindness. Have a happy weekend with your beautiful family, ~ Lily

  10. You know, your description of your earlier experiences in the church reminded me of that Crash Test Dummies song/video “Mmmmm”.

    I have had a strikingly similar experience with religion growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness. At around 11, I started asking more and more serious questions, and found myself hit with a lot of guilt and judgement, which seemed counter to the messages I was getting from the Bible. My love for science made it hard to accept most interpretations of that Text that I had heard by that point, so I decided to clean the slate…atheism.

    I followed that path for about 10 years, and bumped into a system that had at its foundation that harmony between science and religion, not to mention some ground-breaking spiritual concepts that have kept me fascinated on this journey.

    The key for me has been to always search for truth, and not let myself fall in line with folks who belive that they have “arrived” and that further exploration isn’t necessary…none of us “know”…

    • Oakritchie- thanks for your comment. I happy that you found something that works for you. My parents after years and years as Christians converted to Bahai about 4 years ago and it works for them, I’ve never seen them happier

  11. Jesus dude stop being so wishy washy you’re agnostic because you’re smart enough to realize that imaginary super powered invisible sky friends that grant wishes if you beg hard enough in a specific building are in no way different from like The Avengers in the funny pages. Both are made up fictional characters that don’t exist. Stand up and be proud that you walk in the light of intellectual superiority and moral freedom and that you realize that FACT!!! about the non existent magical sky daddy.

      • dude there is a long list of things in front of this post which would get me sent to “hell”. This is nothing.

    • Xi- i think in some respects I think it would be easier to just pick one or the other, however I just feel I can’t be 100% sure of why or what caused us to be here. It could be just one giant chance that we are here or it could be from some creation, i’m not certain. But as I stated, i really don’t think if there is a God , he has his hand in our day to day activity, it’s more like the monolith from 2001, sans the space baby 🙂

      • “walk on the right side of the road Ok rwalk on left side of road OK walk down the middle of road sooner or later you are hit by a truck.” Mr Miyagi

        Pick a side and since you aren’t being a paste eating retard you already picked the correct one. Man up son.

  12. This is a good post. For the moment, I can say that I’m agnostic. But good that you made it clear that just because people are of this belief (or non-belief, for the atheists), it doesn’t mean that we’re God-hating. We’ve simply found that conventional religions or beliefs…can not give us the answers we need. And leaving it or at least doing less with it is how we can be enlightened.

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