I’ve got a few minutes, and I’ve been wanting to cover this for a few days now.
Agnostic (I don’t know, but I believe in something) or (No one can know, so why bother about it?)
Agnostic Atheist (I don’t believe in a god but I can’t rule out the possibility that there is one just because I do not have knowledge that it exists. Basically, I admit that my belief that there is no god is just as baseless as your belief that there is a god)
Atheist (I don’t believe in a god or gods and I don’t need knowledge or proof that there is no god or gods because it is on the believer to prove the existence of a god not on the nonbeliever)
Humanist (I believe that people can be good without a belief in god and am skeptical of untested claims). It is also inclusive of all the above categories.
I absolutely love what Rachael wrote, and I have referenced it many times. These are the terms that I identify with the most. I grew up in a ‘Christian’ household. I only use quotes because that’s the church we were linked to, but my family has always been very free and open when it came to religion. My father was raised a Catholic, but converted when he married my mother, an Episcopalian. That right there is evidence of an open mind. My mother these days I think would identify herself more so as ‘Spiritual’ than anything else, although you probably shouldn’t quote me on that. The fact that I cannot comfortably place her an a category is evidence of an open mind. As a family, we were more the ‘Easter/Christmas’ church-goers. I went to an Episcopalian pre-school, and went to Sunday school when I was younger, but as soon as I was able to make my mind up about these things, whether I went or not was completley up to me. My parents never once forced religion down my throat, and for that, I am forever grateful.
I myself have been riding the line between Agnostic and Atheist for a while now. In reading the article Rachael wrote, I was thrilled to find what she calls ‘Agnostic Atheist.’ “I admit that my belief that there is no god is just as baseless as your belief that there is a god.”
I haven’t been to church in more than five years, as getting older brought questions up that I wasn’t able to have answered. The “Says who?” question is my biggest. I was always taught that “Jesus died for our sins,” and “When you die, you can go to Heaven or Hell,” and all those other lessons… But to that I have to ask, “Says who?” Who decided that the bible was written fact? What if someone wrote the bible as a really intense fiction novel, and someone just found it and was like, “Man, get a load of this mess! I wonder how many people we can get to believe this crazy story!” WHAT IF IT WAS NEVER INTENDED TO BE BELIEVED?
I also have a really hard time with this whole ‘God/Jesus’ thing because of all the horrible things I’ve had to see in my lifetime. It’s the oldest argument in the book, and I can imagine that anyone of religion will just attribute this part to my being completely cynical about life, or not fully understanding ‘His’ purpose. I heard an interview on the radio of some musician the other day, and the musician was like, “Every day I just look up at the sky, and I’m like, Thank you God for making all my dreams come true, etc., etc.,.” I can’t help but wonder, what about all the musicians who never make it to the big time? Does this ‘God’ just NOT bless them? Why? How does he decide whose dreams deserve to be realized, and whose don’t? Oh, it must be all a part of his ‘plan,’ right? Or maybe ‘He’ has something different in store for the less blessed guy. What about when a sickness is cured, and we thank ‘god’ for that… What about those whose sicknesses take their lives? What about my nephew’s biological father, who’s illness got the best of him? He took his own life five years ago, was this ‘God’ responsible for that? If so, I certainly don’t want any part in that. If ‘God is responsible for the joys in life, then he must be responsible for the tragedies, and that, I find no comfort in. I’ve seen terror, and fear, sickness and tragedy, poverty and hate. I can’t even begin to understand how I am supposed to be able to ‘worship’ this power that causes so much pain.
I am not that much of a cynic, I promise. I use a lot of awful examples, because they make my point. I don’t thank a god for the things that I have in my life. I have SO many things in my life that are absolutely wonderful, and I am without a doubt one of the luckiest people on the planet. I have an incredible job that I love. This is because I am intelligent, and I work hard to get the things that I want. I am intelligent and I work hard for the things that I want because my parents are absolute GENIUSES, and they TAUGHT me to work hard for the things that I want. They are the way they are because of the way that THEY were raised, and the various lessons that their parents taught them. I am a GOOD person. I am not a good person because I think that I will go to hell if I do not comply with God’s ‘word’, I am not a good person because I feel I have to live by some standard of religion, or because a god told me to. I am a good person because I was raised to be. I was raised to respect my elders and to be kind to people. I was raised to respect other’s opinions and to work hard for what I want. I was raised by the most incredible parents anyone has ever had, and they raised me to be able to think for myself, stand up for myself and what I believe in, and to follow my heart and to use my mind. I don’t need religion to have a strong moral compass, that was instilled in me as a child, given by my parents. I believe that my path in life is 100% dictated by me, myself, and I. I make my decisions. My successes and failures can only be traced back to my own actions.
Here’s the kicker. I believe that everyone has a right to believe in whatever they want to believe in, or not. I may have written this big old blog post about religion and why I don’t believe in a god, and what I DO believe in, but I don’t normally jump on this soapbox. I don’t appreciate that my ‘belief system’ (if that’s what you want to call it for lack of a better term) is so looked down upon and so often discredited. I came into contact with someone recently who was constantly crediting her god with various happenings, some relating to my life, and in fear that I would offend her-not once did I contradict her even though it made me uncomfortable. That’s me respecting other’s opinions. Someone says, “That’s interesting,” and it’s okay for her to come back with, “No, that’s GOD.” Whereas it’s not okay for me to come back again and say something like, ‘No I actually don’t think it is.’ Does that make sense? It’s socially acceptable for people to credit their god for something, but it’s not socially acceptable for me to credit NO ONE AT ALL. I don’t think that’s fair.
I’m not writing this to purposely offend anyone, although I know it probably will. It’s not my intention. My intention is merely to throw my opinions out there to be considered. What I would like, is for people to appreciate that I have a different opinion, and to not ‘condemn’ me for it. I do not believe in a god, but I fully respect if you do. I feel that, if you believing in a god is what makes you able to live a fuller, happier life, and it’s what you need to continue to be a good person, and to treat people with respect, then so be it. I respect that. I just ask for the same courtesy.