Agnosticism > Atheism (and Theism)

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With as much as I generally don’t like to run, you’d think I was running some crazy ass marathon for the amount my intellectual landscape has shifted over the last 5 years.

From lifelong believer to outspoken atheist full of venom to an atheist that’s just live and let live to now just a plain old boring lacks the balls to take a firm stance agnostic.

Before I continue on, let me just split a few hairs here and admit that I’m an Agnostic Atheist and that I’ll explain why at the end.

So, you wonder, if Nate was at one time sure there was a God and then sure there wasn’t a god, then how has Nate run such a stupid marathon just to end up at, “Meh. Probably not?”

Good question! My you are an insightful one aren’t you?

Before we dig further, please study this graph:

graph

The Descent Into Madness

Madness may be a bit hyperbolic, but when you shed your lifelong belief system and are working out your place in life, the world and are dealing with complex interpersonal relationships in great flux due to your leaving the “fold”, it starts to feel like you’re losing your mind.

I was a Southern Baptist bible believer up until the rip old age of 29 where I had my big divorce from that line of thinking.

In this time of The Great Divorce, unless you’ve traveled that path personally, you can’t possibly hope to understand the complexity of relearning everything and trying to not ruin many good friendships along the way while also, hoping and expecting real friends to allow you to be challenging and even in pain during the process.

I realize that I was a bit…..overeager in my early Gnostic Atheist days. I was full of venom and generally upset. Not upset at a God I no longer believed in (man, I got tired of hearing that I was “mad at God”), but because it’s emotionally, mentally and even physically exhausting sorting your life out after you leave faith.

I was mad at my old churches. Mad at my believing friends that couldn’t and wouldn’t understand me. I was mad at my family for the guilt and I was most mad at a religion that, in my view, put these unnecessary stresses in my life and that I’d been duped by them for so long.

Yes, I was mad, as so many of you thought and told me directly, but I was mad and hurt by a line of thinking that I no longer ascribed to and the stresses that leaving that brought on in many ways. I was not mad at God.

The Climb to Peace

If you’ve spent any time following this very blog (that’s mostly derelict now) then you know how direct and venomous I could be and was. Even to friends and family I’d been especially callous in my verbiage and tone and for that, I’ve actually apologized more than a handful of times to a handful of different people that seemed to get the worst of it. If you feel you’ve been left out of the apologies then please accept this one as sincere, which it is:

“I’m sorry for being a dick.”

After most all of the pain was gone and I’d said my piece, I was stricken with the most wonderful calm. It wasn’t that I didn’t care anymore, but that I didn’t feel the need to be right or prove anyone else wrong.

This is my one life, I’m going to live it and have my peace.

Who the hell do I think I am to not allow someone else to do that for themselves? So long as they’re not demonstrably hurting someone else, I’m in no place to silence or shame them.

We’re all on a journey and none of them are the same.

The Smug Factor

Who here likes to be talked down to?

If you want a good lesson in condescension, I strongly suggest you grab a lunch with a Gnostic Atheist or a Gnostic Theist.

A Gnostic Theist will badger you to death with anecdotes and bible verses. Asserting the same arguments over and over and over and completely fail to take your thoughts to heart. They listen to you speak just to hear you take a breathe so they can continue an onslaught of Jesus until you break under the pressure and scream”Uncle!”

A Gnostic Atheist will smother you with their intellectual superiority. They’re “too smart” for religion and see the puppet masters in the background, keeping the minds of the common people enslaved to their ways. A Gnostic Atheist is SCIENCE with a capital ASSHOLE attached to it. There’s no logical thinking they can’t beat you at and know, for a fact, that the world would be a far better place if religions were eradicated completely and the SCIENCE people ruled all.

You know what these two groups of people lack? Empathy.

The Gnostics are the douchebags of spiritual debate. They can’t relate to you and they don’t want to. They’re less inclined to a civil discussion than they are to “winning” an argument. Everybody loses in these circumstances.

Truthfully, I hate them both equally. Poison in the well that keeps friendships from forming and alliances between our parties made.

My move to Agnostic Atheism was spurned on by an honest reflection of these 2 parties and a sincere reflection with myself as to how certain I am of the ground I stood on.

Come On In, The Water Is Fine

I think that if everyone, and I literally mean everyone, were intellectually honest with themselves, that you’d be forced to see that agnosticism is the only appropriate place to land intellectually.

We simply don’t have enough information to work with in terms on definitely landing on there are or are not gods.

Agnosticism does not mean you abandon your faith or that you abandon your logical thinking, it simply means, “Shit, bro, I don’t know.”

That, to me, is a humbling and honest place to be.

Confession

While I’m riding high on the agnosticism horse, I did earlier admit that I’m an Agnostic Atheist and there’s a handful of reasons why, but I’ll narrow it down to two:

1 – All superstitious explanations, historically, have been replaced with scientific ones. The most clear example is this: the Ancient Greeks used to ascribe the sun moving across the sky to a god named Helios. Helios would daily pull the sun across the sky using his horses and a chariot.

We know that to be false. The sun is in a fixed place and the earth rotates around the sun and spins on the axis. It’s way less cool than a dude pulling it on a chariot, but hey, thems the facts.

2 – The biggest unknown for any honest atheist is this: where and how did it all start? Can something come from nothing? Can we even comprehend nothing?

That’s usually a starting point some of my most honest and challenging theist friends point out and it’s there that I have to put my hands up and say, “I don’t know, but I’m okay not knowing.”

I’m okay not knowing because as I just said in #1 above, superstitious explanations have always been replaced with scientific ones so I can’t ascribe a beginning to superstition at this point.

And I’m okay with not knowing because if (and this is a massive IF) there is a being/deity/god/energy/multiverse that started all this around us, there’s simply no way I can intellectually honestly conclude that that god is one of these 3 major religions and that I just happened to be born into the right one. That is the definition of arrogance.

If there is something that kicked life all off, I can’t possibly know anything about it. End of story. All religions are equally untainted with evidence.

So, here I am now at 33 year old just living life and not worried about what came before humans or what comes after I die because I just can’t know and that’s okay.

Religion seeks to answer an unknowable (at this point) question and I’m okay not knowing.

Uncertainty is only as scary as we let it be and living in fear is not living freely at all.

That is, after-all, one of the few things I do actually claim to know strongly.

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5 thoughts on “Agnosticism > Atheism (and Theism)

  1. I am still not sure what your four categories refer to. I assume you are using a literal translation for gnosticism (having knowledge) and that means you are dividing theists and atheists into just two camps each based upon whether they behave as if they know the answer to all of the questions brought up in this arena.

    I guess that makes me a gnostic atheist, but I also share attributes of the agnostic atheists. Maybe that is a matter of my mood. I kind of think I am a sideways atheist. I constantly wonder why it is that people don’t wonder, as in “I wonder why God allowed a serpent to fuck up His divine plan for his human gardeners in the Garden of Eden?” “Why did He create a serpent which could counter His own moves?” and “Why didn’t He put a guard around the Tree to stop Adam and Even from doing what He surely must have known they would do?” Questions such as these show this to be a fairy tale, and a poor crafted one at that. If it is a fairly tale I then want to as what the “moral of the story is” because it sure looks like a divine setup for poor old Adam and Eve and several billion of their descendants.

    But such questions are never asked by theists, which means they have betrayed their Creator by refusing to use the faculties they have been given.

    • That graph was, if I remember right, put forth by Hawkins a while back and I found myself aligning with it quite well in its definitions.

      I’m sure it’s very possible to fluctuate around a bit here and there as you still kind of pour over your thoughts and that’s not bad at all! The good thing is to keep thinking!

      Your questions about the Garden of Eden are EXACTLY the types of stuff that bothered me immensely and what I came to realize, ultimately, is that those questions aren’t actually arguments that a God doesnt exist.

      They’re just moral arguments that that God is a total jerk.

      Interestingly, this last year I binge was he’d Game of Thrones and there was a throw away comment made by a particular character that kind of blew me away.

      I won’t spoil anything, in case you haven’t seen it, but basically a character is kinda of letting the prophet/witch have it with the dumb plan a God has. He is talking specifically about how terrible and awful the plan is and when he says, “What kind of God does those things?”

      Her reply was, “The one we have.”

      It kinda punched me in the stomach because while I certainly don’t acknowledge a God, it was such a profound statement to me that if there were a God, it could do whatever it wanted, however it wanted and that’s just the way it is.

      Sorry for the long reply as I’m eating Honey Nut Cherios, but thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ve been well!

      Take care, friend!

  2. The sun is in a fixed place and the earth rotates around the sun and spins on the axis.

    Mostly. There’s no such thing as a “fixed place” without reference to some other place/thing.

  3. Sounds like you’re growing and becoming more considerate and empathetic, which is good. 😃

    I feel like you’re painting with a pretty broad brush here, though. Mainly by conflating “gnostic atheists” with the subset of anti-theists who are fundamentalist assholes about it.

    If you want to challenge my ideas here… I consider myself an agnostic atheist, though I usually just say atheist (when the topic comes up). I figure there must be some (likely unknowable) “brute facts of reality”, a la first cause. I see no reason to think there’s a being or personality involved…

    Following my own research and reasoning, I do consider myself a gnostic atheist with respect to the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Gods, at least. This is for gnostic as common, reasonable definitions of “know”, a la reasonable certitude based on evidence. IMO, the “you can’t really know” arguments rely on an absurdly definition of knowledge requiring absolute certainty, by which no one could really “know” anything.

    That said, I do also consider myself an anti-theist, as I care about the truth, think I have good reasons to think that the tall claims of religions are false, and I see the harm that such beliefs and institutions do to people – believers in particular. That doesn’t mean I go around screwing up all my relationships on account of it, or trying to push my disbelief on everyone, but I at least want to talk to those willing to have a conversation about it, and to sow some seeds of thought or doubt into some of those who won’t. And I appreciate others who do/did the same, as I and many others have found them helpful.

    I try to remain epistemically open in the discussion process. I’m sure I don’t do it perfectly, but that is how I got where am now.

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