Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Atheist/ Agnostic and the fear of Conflict

I never believed in Santa Claus. It never even occurred to me that the stories of a fat man climbing down my chimney bearing gifts could be a true tale. Now I definitely had an imagination as a child but I was always acutely aware of where the ground was. I never feared walking off the edge of a flat world. I also never feared, nor sensed, felt, praised or cowered before God.

I say this not with the intention of trivializing anyone's beliefs, I only say it to display the innate skepticism that has always been a part of my character. I'm very open to new ideas but I am incredibly patient. By patient I mean that I will take the time to discover the truth or fallacy in a person's statement and withhold my judgment until I am positively sure of my stance. In regards to religion however, this process becomes a bit more difficult to adhere to. No matter the evidence for or against a higher power, whether that power is a figure from Judeo-Christian-Islamic history, Hindi teachings or even something from an L. Ron Hubbard book; the question comes down to faith. And in the end faith and belief are abstractions that are impossible to prove, disprove or define.

If I had to place a label on myself (i hate those things) I would have to say I'm agnostic bordering on atheist. I have nothing against God, or the religious. I was raised in a Christian home with Christian beliefs and I have a mother who holds her faith very close to her heart. The pieces simply never seemed to fit for me. As early as age 11 I remember asking the question "Where did God come from?" and never getting a straight answer. As I aged and my thoughts matured I found ways that I could actually fit religion into my worldview but I was never struck but any spiritual awakening. All of my thoughts toward religion were completely academic in nature. Over the years on numerous occasions I've found myself in awkward positions in conversations. They would always start as such:

"Okay, now I know you believe in God right? So this is what I..."
"What's wrong? Just pray and ask God what..."
or even... 
"You know God was with you today when..."

Whenever these types of things popped up I would shrug my shoulders, mumble something incoherently and let whoever I was talking to go on with their speech believing that I felt the same way. I always avoided spouting out my gut reaction which I knew would have led into yet another unending debate over religion and the universe and why we are here and a horde of other things with no solution that I was not at all interested in going through. Even in my own house my thoughts had nothing in common with my family. Faith and Love are kin to each other. They are intensely personal and it may be utterly impossible to force another human being to believe or love something that they do not already.

I don't claim to "know" anything. And I am incredibly wary of any man who does. The debate over higher powers and the afterlife is a centuries old conflict; one which I am intensely interested in. I read tons about western and eastern philosophy and religion, and I have a healthy interest in the motivations of man and the laws and customs we govern ourselves by. But as far as my own experience goes, I'm just not all that concerned with God. I am not seeking, nor running away from a spiritual experience. I will also never champion or vilify another person's experience (within reason). So if you love your God, love your faith; cool. I'm not gonna try to change that. But don't preach to me. If I am meant to find some purpose in life that is ruled by the laws of a higher power, then it will happen when it's meant to. Similarly, if no God is ever miraculously revealed to me and there is never part of my life that is concerned with religion; also cool.

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