folks act very surprised during religious discussions when I've
admitted to having no belief in God, so I thought I'd put together
my thoughts so that others can understand the world from the point
of view of a "real agnostic."
myself as agnostic as opposed to atheist because I'm still willing
to entertain the idea of a supreme being in the hypothetical sense.
I just don't know what or who it is or what she/he/they want(s)
from me (or from the rest of my fellow human beings). I have, however,
come to the conclusion that no religion I'm familiar with has an
accurate, complete picture of this hypothetical supreme being.
I was raised
in a religious household, and was active as a child in the Episcopal
Church. I was given an excellent education in the Bible and Christianity
in general. I know what the Bible contains and the promises made
in it. I find it a fascinating book and intend to expose my children
I was also given eyes to see, ears to hear, and a mind to think.
Growing up in the 60's and 70's in California, I was exposed to
many other groups and could not deny the possible truth in their
beliefs. After I spent time abroad as a foreign exchange student,
it became impossible for me to shield my eyes from the religious
and cultural diversity in this world.
I was always
very bothered by the idea that Christianity claims to be "the
only way." There are and will be billions of people in the
past, present, and future of this world who have not been exposed
to Christianity (a fact that also troubles missionaries a great
deal) or who have been exposed to it but choose not to follow it.
Many of those billions of people live(d) exemplary lives worthy
of the same kind of eternal rewards Christians anticipate. Yet by
the standards almost all Christians believe in, they are doomed.
doesn't exactly speak towards a God I'd want to obey. Let me use
a more down-to-earth example of how I see the matter (as a former
teacher, I often see educational analogies in life). Picture a typical
school. A math teacher gives one type of assignment to his first
and second period algebra classes, then gives a different assignment
to the geometry classes he teaches 3rd and 4th period, and a completely
different assignment to his fifth and sixth period calculus classes.
At the same time, another teacher is giving different assignments
to *her* various classes.
Now we can
assume that students from the first period classes of the two teachers
might talk to eachother, they might even discuss their respective
assignments. However, would either teacher hold the students in
the other class accountable for the assignment s/he gave?
It is also
certain that students from the fourth period classes might be informed
"through the grapevine" what has been given as assignments
in first period. Perhaps the teacher posted it. But can we hold
either the fourth or first period classes responsible for the assignment
given in the other period? Can we hold those who had one teacher
for English responsible for the assignments given by a different
imagine that a perfect supreme being would expect such (supposedly)
important information to be spread through such inefficient means
as "word of mouth." The possibility of the message being
garbled in translation is too great. No teacher would rely on students
to spread the word about an assignment, so I cannot imagine a supreme
being using this method for information far more crucial than homework.
So why don't
I follow Christianity anyway?
considered this question. Following Christianity because it is the
primary religion taught in my culture (and that taught to me by
my parents) would be equivalent to doing the homework for my "class"
in the analogy above. Yes, it is an option I could choose, and I
do not fault others for making this choice.
It is here
that Christianity "shoots itself in the foot" in gaining
me as an adherent. Compare the statements of Christianity with the
testimony of a witness in a court of law. A judge and jury are rightfully
instructed to consider testimony that is false in part to be entirely
false. In my opinion, since Christianity states that it is "the
only way" and I have what I feel is clear evidence that it
cannot logically be the only way, it is false in part and thus must
be discarded. I feel it would be hypocritical of me to follow
who aren't familiar with the concept, Pascal's wager says simply
- if there is a God, you benefit in the end from following His rules,
if there isn't, you haven't lost anything. There are many many folks
who use this as an argument in favor of religious practice.
with this is that it's a false dichotomy. It assumes that there
could only be the Christian God, and that the rules contained in
the Bible are actually from him and completely accurate. If you
open up your mind to the other endless possibilities - that perhaps
some other culture "has it right" or that the Bible or
even any part of it is not an accurate transcription of God's "instructions"
you realize that there are many more than the two bald possibilities
proposed by Pascal. Consider the high school analogy again, and
all the different homework assignments given over the whole day
by all the teachers in all subjects. Which one is right? Which one
is not garbled in translation?
In my opinion,
if I live a life where I have generally followed ethical behavior,
and the supreme being refuses to allow me into the final reward
for not following some specific rule contained in one particular
religion, I'd rather burn.