It is my experience that most people in the U.S. are born and raised to some degree already walking on some religious path. My parents raised me completely without religion in my life. There, therefore, is no path that has been laid down as a suggestion for me to follow.
Instead, when I became curious about religion, I was faced with hundreds of different paths to choose from. How could I possible choose? I could only measure the merits of each against the only accurate map that I knew of: science. Under this criteria, all of them failed. I’ve been forced to make my own way through the woods ever since.
I call myself a militant agnostic not because I’m willing to go out and kill for my lack of beliefs. Many people consider agnostics to be kinda wishy-washy about their beliefs. I am not. I am a firmly committed agnostic, and I strongly believe that being agnostic is exactly where where I belong on the theistic spectrum. Science cannot disprove God’s existence. God Himself could very easily prove His existence beyond virtually all possible doubt. As He hasn’t done this, I can only assume that it’s either because He doesn’t exist, or that He has good reasons for wanting us to believe He doesn’t exist.
Unlike many agnostics, I am not just uncertain about the God of Abraham, I am also uncertain about just about any other God you could name. To be quite honest, in fact, I’m quite atheistic as far as the God of Abraham is concerned. Not only is the bible quite flawed, the God in that Bible does not behave even remotely like how I’d expect a non-insane God to behave.
No, the God I’m uncertain of would be a far more sane and reasonable God. My God would have control over the entire universe and be far less obsessed with this little rock we live on. My God could kick the God of Abraham’s ass through several unlikely dimensions.
The God I don’t know if exists is a God of my own deduction and thoughts. I will talk about Him as a concept, but I will in no way try to push him down anyone else’s throat.
At times, I will talk like an Atheist. I fully understand and sympathize with the atheist point of view. I just can’t quite make that final step.
First of all, I spent so much time playing with the concept of God, and running through various plausible Gods that fit in with our current knowledge of the universe that for me to choose atheism would entail my acceptance of a “belief” that there is no god. Most atheists profess that belief is not necessary from their point of view as they see no evidence for God’s existence. This is fine, and absolutely true. There IS absolutely no evidence for God’s existence. It still would not feel intellectually honest for me to choose this path.
What’s more, I enjoy thinking about God. He’s fun. I kinda enjoy imagining the limitations that an omniscient, all powerful MUST have, despite the fundamentalist viewpoint that there are no limitations. I enjoy putting God through God simulations in my brain and try to guess how He would come out as a result.
I will admit to some predjudices. I’ve grown up in western culture, and I’ve got a western bent. I call this being “God” for example, instead of Allah. I refer to God as He even though God would almost certainly be genderless if God exists at all. I do this because the original translations of the Bible had God as a male, and English has a profound lack of non-gender specific third person pronouns. I have more respect for God than to call Him an It. It just lacks class, you know? So if there are any women who have a problem with this, then I leave it to you to come up with a proper non-gender specific third person pronoun for me to use. Otherwise, I’ll stick with tradition, thank you very much.
I also capitalize the word God and the He, His, Him pronouns because it’s in the rules of proper English, and plus again it just feels more respectful when dealing with the possible creator of the entire f’ing universe. The concept of a God who has managed to create something this big and complex deserves a capital letter, whether He exists or not.
There are times when I will talk as if I don’t believe God exists. There are times when I will preach quite vehimently as if He DOES exist. I am not being disingenuous. It’s just that I am capable of holding both thoughts in my mind. Call it doublethink. It’s my brain, and I can maintain two contradictory thoughts in it at the same time if I want to. 😛
Others may ask me, “What if I’m wrong, and God will send me to Hell for doubting?” Well, my answer to them would be that then either we would ALL be screwed, or we have nothing at all to worry about. There are, by last count, an infinite number of potential mutually exclusive jealous Gods out there. Even if I follow just the God of Abraham, then there are at least three major paths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) that could get me flaming if I choose the wrong one. Within Christianity, the are literally hundred’s of sub-variations of God that promise damnation unless I follow their particular set of beliefs. There is certainly no safety in belief.
And, if the unproven God is NOT jealous, then I think He will forgive me for doubting. I’ve lived a reasonable good life. I’ve helped a lot of people. I’ve given to charities and gave large tips to my waitresses. The degree to which I am mentally unsound is not my fault. I was born that way, and I am doing my darnedest to get past it all. I am as I was created. I am very hopeful that any reasonable God would see that.
So, that’s about it. The atheist really shouldn’t care what I think so long as I don’t try to force my beliefs onto anyone else…no worries there. The theist, well, they will think what they will think. I am automatically condemned to eternal torture according to some of their beliefs. Well, I really don’t like the sound of that, and I’m fully willing to jump into the arms of Jesus if He is waiting there after the truck squishes me. I’ll just cross my fingers and hope for the best.