For years, I have been a believer. Christian, Reformed Protestant. Going to church regularly, praying, and reading the Bible. I also studied seriously many sacred books from different religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and a few others. And then around 50, I became an agnostic.
I lost faith. Not because of hardships in life, even if I had my share, to say the least, but because I realised that I was illogical.
Now don’t get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for the people who have faith in a god, or, for atheists, who, in my opining have a faith themselves. (the faith that there is no god). Whatever they believe, it is their choice and who would I be to criticize them. But for me, it does not work like that. It is totally personal, and I don’t look upon on people who do not share the same idea.
First of all what is agnosticism
agnosticism, (from Greek agnōstos, “unknowable”), strictly speaking, the doctrine that humans cannot know of the existence of anything beyond the phenomena of their experience. The term has come to be equated in popular parlance with scepticism about religious questions in general and in particular with the rejection of traditional Christian beliefs under the impact of modern scientific thought. http://global.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/9356/agnosticism
This is the accepted definition of agnosticism. Personally, I differ quite a lot from this definition, as I do not know if the existence or non-existence of god(s) is unknowable. We may, in the future, come with an answer to this question, even if I find it doubtful.
Why I became an agnostic
The reason why I became an agnostic is about intellectual honesty. I cannot assure that there is or there isn’t a god. It is all about belief, and I cannot hold a belief as a certainty.
I did in the past, relying on my heart, on my beliefs, and probably on my education. But now, it is just impossible. This is why I lost my faith. Not because I’m disgruntle or bitter about god, or because I believe « He » does not exist. Just because I realised that I would be unreasonable in asserting the fact of the existence of a higher power.
I am even going further questioning reality. It’s a fascinating idea that, luckily does not stopped me from sleeping at night or living a normal life.
This is not a comfortable position. That’s for sure. It would be definitely easier for me to get comfort in the belief that a god exists, or doe not. Why am I calling atheism a faith? that’s simple, the atheists believe there is no god, as the theists believe there is one. This is not pertaining to reason but to beliefs. Bring me one theist or one atheist who can prove me they are right and I might change my mind. I am still waiting to meet one.
Of course, Christians, for example, will tell you they have the Bible to prove it, but the Muslims will say the same thing with the Koran,and the Hindus with the Baghavad Gita and so on, and the atheists will claim that these books are man made and not divinely inspired. So who is right? Nobody.! They all have their belief, and their beliefs do not pertain to reason. I’m not saying they are wrong to think as they do. It’s their life and their problem I just say it does not works for me any more.
Now let’s be clear. The sacred books have a definite interest. Historical, philosophical, sociological. The messages of the Torah, Christ, Mahomet, Krishna, Buddha etc., convey some very good ideas. Mainly about peace and respect of others – when it is not distorted by religious people to prove they are the chosen ones and that the unbelievers have to live by their laws – but according to reason, it remains books, written by human beings, some of them wise, some of them fools, and some of them acting for political reasons. Are they divinely inspired? Maybe. If there is a god of course! We come back to the same question
Agnosticism in the life of the city
The regimes in theocratic or atheist governments, or wannabe , have always become more or less dictatorial and antidemocratic. This is one reason I think that agnosticism is what should be a standard in governing a state. It does not negate religion, everyone is entitled to his own beliefs, but these beliefs should not be enforced on the community. Live and let live as long as it dos not infer on the freedom of others.
This is not easy. We have seen that in France with the debate on the Muslim veil in schools. I am not sure what to think of it. Should teenagers be allowed to wear a veil at school, as long as it does not infer with their education or the freedom of others? I think so. But we again come back to a matter of reason and balance between the secular and the religious.
Science versus religion
Contrary to religion, science is, or should be, an attempt to demonstrate truths about the universe by a logical process. Theory, experimentation, and return to theory. I say an attempt for obvious reasons. Man is not and has never been completely able to be always right as his knowledge is in perpetual evolution, and I’m not talking about scientists motivated by politics, theism or atheism. Lysenko and Kepler are perfect example. I’m not comparing them of course. On the contrary religion, theist or atheist tends to adapt scientific facts to their beliefs often twisting the truths to fit in. Evolution vs creationism for instance. Stricts atheist will say that evolution proves the inexistence of god, and Christian theists that creationism is right because it is in the Bible. In fact, evolution theory, (that seems to be scientifically established but has to be perfected) does not demonstrate the inexistence of an intelligent design. What I believe about this subject is irrelevant to this discussion. In fact I just don’t know if there is a creator or not
Taking agnosticism even further. What is real?
this takes us back to the subject of agnosticism. Always challenge facts that you can’t demonstrate scientifically or logically. This can leads to the extreme. Challenging everything. For instance, what is reality? Obviously, what I see, hear, smell, touch or taste is not the same that someone else will experience. It can go even further. Time for instance is different for everyone. The notion of time itself can be, and is by some scientists, considered as irrelevant. (hours, minutes, seconds, etc is totally subjective. Man made to suit our needs).
And to conclude let’s ponder a moment on these ideas:
Could we not be the dream of someone else who wakes up when we die? Inside the Matrix? Or the experiment of a mad scientist?
This, my friends, has no answer yet!