To anyone that knows me, I’m not a religious person at all. But to anyone who knew me before 2005 or so knew me as a devout Christian. And anybody that caught me between ’05 and ’07, well, they knew I was going through religious strife.
Religion is a closed book in my case. I’m not into it, I don’t follow it, and I certainly don’t have a God. I had the exact reason for this etched out before, but in light of recent events (Facebook opinion explosion/Norway) I thought it would be a good time to reevaluate my stance on the topic.
Since I declared my agnosticism (not atheism, and why later) my mind has changed a lot. My friends now could tell you that they’ve watched me mutate a lot over the last few years, and it’s all true. I think much differently now, the big difference being a lack of absolutism. It’s this lacking, with, as I idealize it at least, a growth in open-mindedness that has actually closed me off to religion.
I’m a mathematician (or close). So the prospect of accepting the supernatural for the promise of some also supernatural afterlife isn’t exactly at the top of my list of things with which I mentally gel. We live in a mechanical physically bound universe—and even though there are plenty of things that we don’t understand, my innate romanticism tells me that we can understand anything given enough time. Tangents aside: there just isn’t enough evidence to support my following a religion and its structure. Plus, I’m lazy: I smoke, I drink, I curse. Adopting religion would be a big life change, one that I’m not even willing to commit to. And for something that I can’t prove, but have to “have faith” in? No thanks.
Then there’s the issue of picking from the myriad of religions at mankind’s disposal. Every one tells me that the other religion is wrong, promises a heaven of some kind, and has rules of its own. This is supposed to be a “test”: God will guide you to the correct religion if you let him. But did you find “the right” religion because you asked God to help you, or did you find religion on your own because of a belief in God?
Interpretation is a powerful thing. The mind can believe anything it wants to, with the proper amount of work and time. And unless God just decided to give us tons of options that would lead us to Him anyways (thinking humans would fuck it up and overdo the whole religion thing), giving us free will to understand and decide as we please and then punishing us for not reasoning properly (without official guidance, mind you) is just a dick move no matter who you are. “Read this open-ended, ambiguous text and write me a paper. If you have the wrong meaning, Hellfire! You have 40-100 years.”
Atheism doesn’t do any better, in my opinion. In fact, I see atheism and religion as equal alternatives to one another. Atheism, as most know, argues that there is no God, and that all religion and its facets false. Sounds like my road: no God, no rules, no judgement. Atheism should be just about perfect.
Unfortunately, atheism provides me no religious relief. On the contrary, for the while I was atheist I felt it was my responsibility, my civic duty, to tell religious people that they’re wrong and atheism is the only right path; as is the nature with most n00bs and those lacking any semblance of self-doubt. Atheism’s fundamental problem is that it has no way of keeping its followers in check. It allows followers to believe that any conversion is good by any means. More often than not, I catch atheists ganging up on religion, telling them they’re sheltered, weak-minded, closed-minded, blind, unable to cope, etc…
The inconsistency bothers me too. It’s all logical and scientific up until the money question. But write me a formal logical proof on the non-existence of God. I dare you to even attempt fathoming that process. Hah, good luck!
The rub is that atheism still requires faith. Just like God can’t be logically proven, the idea can’t be disproven either. Religion and atheism require equal blind trust from me, and my faith isn’t something I just hand out. For this reason alone, in my mind atheism and religion are at equal odds with one another.
Simply, my problem is this: they’re both a dogma. Both assert that they’re 100% correct, everywhere. Always. Neither can prove themselves entirely correct in self-defense, and both keep me riled up about religion. Both spurn the opposite, employ group-think/extrinsic value, and encourage followers to convert others. They’re both a major convenience for members, as they both provide a lens for understanding and navigating the world around them. They both require a degree of naivety to accept.
Hey, I’m not trying to tell you what to believe, remember, I’m just figuring out why I don’t believe what’s on the table.
I just don’t participate anymore. I am all for “no God” but I don’t hate people that follow religion. Granted, I harp on Mormons a lot, but only because I used to be really interested in the following (topic? occult?). I just hate people that think they have it all correct, especially when combined with a big mouth. Actually, I really admire the faith in religious people: they have the ability to completely trust something they don’t fully understand, and be behind it 50-100%. That’s a skill. I am simply unable to utilize faith—I have to know or feel like I know before doing anything. And trust me, it’s not a good trait for all situations. It usually slows things down.
But agnosticism teaches me to accept the unknown. I’m all for conversing with a Christian or an atheist, and one might give me the illumination I need to hop on board with one or the other. So far this isn’t the case, but I’m always open. However, being as naturally high strung as I am, it’s just not good for my mind or blood pressure to be stressing about something I can’t control (religion, if you forgot). Agnosticism is my admittance that the entire topic of God, His desires, etc… is completely unknown to me, and for now is not worth accepting or denying since I don’t have the evidence I need.
For the most part, this helps me stay relatively uninvolved with religion (making me a happier person). The only time I really get frustrated with it anymore is when I see it controlling the way someone thinks, or when I see a follower try to control the way another thinks. Especially when it’s all married to tactless, indignant dialogue. And yes, if you didn’t catch my point by now: atheism is still religion controlling you.
ALSO: I can’t stand the lack of respect between atheism and religion. When you really look at it, it boils down to people trying to make sense of what’s around them, and be happy at the same time. I think even the yearning to understand is a good, amazing thing, and if religion or atheism is your route more power to you. But you’ve got to give respect to get it; that’s my philosophy anyways, and I rarely get disrespected for my stance on religion ;)