ATHEISTS, AGNOSTICS, AND BELIEVERS

Is There A Place In My Life Where I Lack For Nothing And I Live Beyond Skepticism And Even Beyond Belief?

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So what do you see here?  It's just a child spilling the dishwasher soap?  But what do you see?  I see ART!  Now how can that be?Here's life with all of its innocence.  Nothing lacking here, no skepticism, and nothing to believe in.  I think this just might be God pushing us in the stoller, running at a full clip, while we just sit back and enjoy the ride.  What keeps us from just relaxing and enjoying the rideIt's hard to see, but I think that is God looking for us in the bushes!We are miraculously born with ten toes and ten fingers and we actually survive long enough to dig around in the sand.I'm somebody, and whatever else you're not sure of, you better be sure of that!I'm just here for the viewing, believe it or not!I'm NOT going down at all!  So what else don't you get correctly?Now what do you suppose has sustained these two old people?  They are in their nineties and still madly in love.  How could that be?Why in the heck would anyone get married?Is darkness a reality?  What is the difference between darkness and light?  Is there any place in the universe where I can stand and there will be only light?  NO darkness.Is there such a reality as darkness?  When I close my eyes and venture into the darkness behind my eyeballs, I discover PEACE.  HOW CAN THAT BE?
So what do you see here?  It's just a child spilling the dishwasher soap?  But what do you see?  I see ART!  Now how can that be?
So what do you see here? It's just a child spilling the dishwasher soap? But what do you see? I see ART! Now how can that be?
Here's life with all of its innocence.  Nothing lacking here, no skepticism, and nothing to believe in.
Here's life with all of its innocence. Nothing lacking here, no skepticism, and nothing to believe in.
I think this just might be God pushing us in the stoller, running at a full clip, while we just sit back and enjoy the ride.  What keeps us from just relaxing and enjoying the ride
I think this just might be God pushing us in the stoller, running at a full clip, while we just sit back and enjoy the ride. What keeps us from just relaxing and enjoying the ride
It's hard to see, but I think that is God looking for us in the bushes!
It's hard to see, but I think that is God looking for us in the bushes!
We are miraculously born with ten toes and ten fingers and we actually survive long enough to dig around in the sand.
We are miraculously born with ten toes and ten fingers and we actually survive long enough to dig around in the sand.
I'm somebody, and whatever else you're not sure of, you better be sure of that!
I'm somebody, and whatever else you're not sure of, you better be sure of that!
I'm just here for the viewing, believe it or not!
I'm just here for the viewing, believe it or not!
I'm NOT going down at all!  So what else don't you get correctly?
I'm NOT going down at all! So what else don't you get correctly?
Now what do you suppose has sustained these two old people?  They are in their nineties and still madly in love.  How could that be?
Now what do you suppose has sustained these two old people? They are in their nineties and still madly in love. How could that be?
Why in the heck would anyone get married?
Why in the heck would anyone get married?
Is darkness a reality?  What is the difference between darkness and light?  Is there any place in the universe where I can stand and there will be only light?  NO darkness.
Is darkness a reality? What is the difference between darkness and light? Is there any place in the universe where I can stand and there will be only light? NO darkness.
Is there such a reality as darkness?  When I close my eyes and venture into the darkness behind my eyeballs, I discover PEACE.  HOW CAN THAT BE?
Is there such a reality as darkness? When I close my eyes and venture into the darkness behind my eyeballs, I discover PEACE. HOW CAN THAT BE?

What's In A Label?

Nice To Meet You, Some Of My Best Friends Are Atheists, Agnostics, and Believers. Sometimes, I’m one myself!

I wonder if you asked God to choose one of those categories for Godself, which one would God choose? Just being silly! Come on, get a grip! Laugh! I had a professor once who used to say, "Only God knows, and even he’s doubtful." Love that one!

This is not a blog for convincing. I don’t think! Might be fooling myself! Convince comes from the Latin, com and vincere which means to conquer with and ultimately to conquer with an argument, as if there is a battle to win. Well, I’m fresh out of battle energy. So I prefer to make this a blog of exploration, in particular, of our human experience of LIFE!

I love words. So let’s begin our exploration with a look at the words.

ATHEIST. The word comes from the Greek. The "a" means without or lacking. "Theist" comes from the Greek word "theos," meaning God. So the atheist, technically, is not someone who is anti God or against God, nor one who does not believe in God as such, but someone who is without or lacking an experience of God. M-m-m. That’s an interesting way of looking at it.

How about AGNOSTIC? Again the "a" comes from the Greek and means without or lacking. Gnostic comes from the Greek "gnostos," meaning known. The verb is "gignostein," to know.

So the agnostic is one who is without or lacking a "knowing" of God in his or her life experience.

If we look at atheists and agnostics from the root meaning of the words, we are not really talking about beliefs here, but life experience.

How about the word BELIEVER? The word comes from the Middle English "belefan." "Lefan" means to allow. Wow! That’s interesting. The Middle English ‘lefan" is derived from the Old English "leof" which means "dear." So a believer is one who allows him or herself to have experiences of God, and holds onto them dearly. Oh yes, we hold on to our beliefs for dear life, perhaps so dearly we are willing to die for our beliefs, or worse, kill someone else who does not hold our beliefs.

Something else we might want to look at here is the difference between beliefs and values. A belief, according to Wikipedia (sorry!), "is a psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true." Hey, not bad!

A value, on the other hand, is moving our beliefs to the level of behavior. So my behavior is consistent with my belief. I believe God is love, and so behaving lovingly is the real value, the proof of the pudding, the authentic gem. That’s why a believer trying to convince someone (conquer with an argument) of God’s existence is perhaps an oxymoron!

I wonder if our alignment with any one of those labels, has more to do with our experiences of disappointment, disillusionment, pain, and abandonment, than they do with any philosophical, scientific, psychological or spiritual exploration and discovery. Even for the believer, I wonder if the adamant insistence that there is a God is a way to ward off the despair that looms on the horizon. I mean, for anyone, even the great Saints, life’s mysteries include both God being there and sometimes God being difficult to locate amidst the chaos.

And what’s with the atheist and agnostic both being so certain about their beliefs? What about those mysteries which at least make one scratch his or her brain for a moment. The fact that any one person makes it out of the womb with ten toes and ten fingers, two eyes and two ears is pretty phenomenal when one considers all the other possibilities. There is probably more good reason for us to pop out missing or with extra stuff than there is for so many of us coming out as "perfectly" as we do.

I wonder what the atheist or agnostic would think if he or she were to walk in the door and find there beautifully woven crepe-paper streamers of varied colors, balloons, and signs on the walls reading, "Happy Birthday, Vern...Happy Birthday, Dad....Happy Birthday, Good Friend....Happy Birthday, Sweetie?" And then thirty people suddenly jump out of the walls screaming, "Surprise!" How random or unpredictable could that be?

Or let’s take another scenario. You walk in the door and you see beautifully woven black crepe-paper streamers with signs that read, "Happy Birthday, Jerk....Happy Birthday A**hole....Happy Birthday, you SOB." What would you think? Might you say, "Whoa, what happened here?" And there are no thirty people jumping out at you screaming "Surprise!" "Surprise" would be screaming out all by itself, and it’d just be you and the room and the "greetings." Just a random act of kindness by those who hate you? Or is it predictable? And interesting enough, even being a jerk, folks could still care enough about me to wish me Happy Birthday!

What I think the Atheist and Agnostic have to offer those who consider themselves believers is their capacity to decide to live a "good" and "loving" life without the promise of a reward. What is with that? So the only reason I treat people kindly, the only reason I control my impulses, the only reason I choose not to shoot people on the freeway who cut me off, is to get to heaven? That’s a little scary because it means that my motivation is pretty tentative.

When the Atheist or Agnostic decides to live life to the fullest and to his or her best, he or she has to go to the roots of what makes us tick as human beings, which I believe is a kind of innate goodness. We’re pretty good people if left to our own devices. For me, that is another one of those feedback loops that points to at least an inkling of God’s existence, sometimes referred to as the small still voice, but obviously not for them.

Unfortunately, as we grow up, we lose our innocence and the connection to our innate goodness because of experiences with the big people in our lives. By the time we are eighteen and ready to venture into adulthood, most of us are pretty tainted and sometimes beat up. If there is a judgment day, that’s what we adults will be held accountable for, not loving our children enough to keep them connected to that place deep inside where they can know and experience God.

There are so many experiences in life that do connect and have parallels, and for me those connections and parallels point to God. I know there are lots of folks who do not see it that way.

Some days, I experience God in my life quite indisputably. Other days, I’m just not sure if God is there or not. And then there are those days that God’s presence is a void, which sometimes I can actually tune into, but it is a void nevertheless. My experience of God’s presence or lack of seems to transcend those three labels. To attach one of those three labels, atheist, agnostic, believer, does not adequately describe my experience.

Life is so much more complex than God is here, no he isn’t, I’m not sure!

When I asked my sister if the brown carpeting which was about to be laid throughout my entire office would dictate the colors I painted the walls in the various rooms, she said something very profound. "The rug is your dirt, and like a gardener, you can plant whatever colored flowers you want, and you can paint the walls whatever colors you want." And I did! In its own interesting way, my sister’s observation is godly. I know for some of you this whole paragraph appears schizophrenic!

I’m a firm believer in ALL of the current scientific theories of how we got to this point in time and space. I’m especially a believer in evolution, and I find myself evolving with each passing day, sometimes into species no one likes, including myself, but then other times, into species that everyone seems to love. That part is really awesome! And for me, it is ALL about God.

I’ve given up trying to make sense of the starving children here in Yucaipa, China, Bangladesh, Calcutta, or wherever. But I know this. If any one of us really wanted to make sure there were no starving children in our own bailiwick, there wouldn’t be any, and maybe that’s why God doesn’t do much about it. God is waiting for us to do our job. And the tragic earthquakes and hurricanes and tornados? I have no clue. But I don’t know anything about quantum physics or quantum mechanics either. I don’t even know how my car runs or why my computer blows up. So it does not become a crisis of faith for me. AH! There’s that word, FAITH. I think faith is important, especially having enough loved ones so that I can experience faith first hand. Yep, there are plenty of bad people around, but like the fact that we pop out as well as we do, I find a lot of clarity in the love ones around me. Even when I can’t seem to touch God, I can touch them and that takes me to some place far beyond the dimensions of time, space, or randomness.

And speaking of randomness. You know what I really like about randomness? That probability distribution thing. That is so cool and so godly in my eyes. I mean chaos and unpredictability is perhaps at the heart of all creation.

Well, you must have some thoughts to share, and for God’s sake, please do!

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Comments 13 comments

Diane Mierzwik 6 years ago

Veryt houghtful. I'm a believer each week I make it through another week!


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

THANK YOU a bunch for reading my blogs. Appreciate it immensely. And making it through each week potentially can make a believer out of any of us, if we let it!!


bayareagreatthing profile image

bayareagreatthing 6 years ago from Bay Area California

Very interesting perspective. I love the definitions. It makes the understanding clearer. I am a believer who loves :)


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Hey, Bayareagreatthing! Sorry your bridge isn't doing so well. The cable guys are even having a difficult time getting it repaired. Thank you so much for your comment and your fan mail. Appreciate it. I love to think and make the most meaning out of "issues" that so many people are passionate about and actually live their life by for better or worse! I too am a believer and a Christian, but I know there are some Christians who would crucify me for my take on God and Life and Scripture. That's scary. Dostoevsky (?spelling) has that chapter in Brother Karamazov entitled "The Grand Inquisitor" where Jesus comes back during the day and they crucify him one more time! I supposed it would be an honor to be crucified, but I'll take a rain check! A very long one!


Jeffrey Neal profile image

Jeffrey Neal 6 years ago from Tennessee

This is a very good hub. I am Christian as well...maybe not devout and evangelical like some of the others who live here in the bible belt, but I believe nonetheless. Whether or not this is some coping mechanism we dreamed up matters not to me. I don't venture into the religion forums here looking for a fight and to argue that God is the only way, but He is my way.

I am on the same page as you with the philosophy that all people are generally good. It is the measure of their experiences which may cultivate evil in their hearts. God made it that way because this is not Heaven. We have to pay our dues first and live out our lives, a precious gift in itself, and we are free to waste it or make it into something good that helps others.

Ah, well. Thanks for this, I enjoyed it!


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Hye, thanks for the comment. I like to say hey alot. But seriously, thanks for reading, and it is so cool when I get a sense that someone, like yourself, really gets the flavor of what I am saying. The pieces in the stew sometimes are not as important as the flavor! I like to share my flavor. That sounds a little ungodly! But yea, I like people to catch the flavor, more important sometimes than the details. thanks again


HealingSpirit profile image

HealingSpirit 6 years ago

I must tell you that I am thoroughly enjoying your hubs. I'm in Spiritual Sponge mode at the moment, and as I read your hubs, sparks of evolution and reflection are set into motion within my spirit. What a joyous thing, thank you for that!

Namaste,

KJ


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Well, thank you so much for reading and enjoying. I really enjoy exploring these topics and there is just so much we "know" about our universe, so many "new" ways we are learning how to interact with people in so many different areas of life, but when it comes to issues of religion and spirituality, we seem to get stuck in some very old ways. So many "the earth is flat" ways of experiencing God, and it's almost sad to me. So I get really excited when someone like you, who is obviously comitted to experiencing the Spirit, enjoys reading the "inspiration" that I get to have flow through me.

Namaste

Vern


Jim 6 years ago

Vern, I sometimes refer to myself as an agnostic believer. I think belief implies not knowing (reference your definition of agnostic), to some degree. We believe, rightly or wrongly, that an airplane will take us to our destination, but we do not know until the end of the flight.


Jim 6 years ago

Vern, I sometimes refer to myself as an agnostic believer. I think belief implies not knowing (reference your definition of agnostic), to some degree. We believe, rightly or wrongly, that an airplane will take us to our destination, but we do not know until the end of the flight. P.S. I've been reading your hubs for a while now, and I especially appreciate the humor, as well as the insights.


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Hello, Jim. Glad to hear you are a regular reader. I enjoy writing so much and I enjoy my sense of humor and believe me, I don't know where it comes from!! I just take the risk to staying open to it and on occasion someone is offended and just got to be humble at those moments and take an honest look whether or not I crossed a line or if I just need to respect that person's precious sensitivity. I like the analogy of the airplane and you have to have FAITH to fly in one of those contraptions!! My grandmother referred to cars as "the machine." I don''t think she ever flew, but it would be fun to know what she would call an airplane!

Thanks again

Vern


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

"So the only reason I treat people kindly, the only reason I control my impulses, the only reason I choose not to shoot people on the freeway who cut me off, is to get to heaven? That’s a little scary because it means that my motivation is pretty tentative."- It is well known amongst those of us who study humans, that humans respond very well to incentives. Give the right incentive and the human does as told. Incentives help conditioning and humans are to be conditioned, in order to behave in a certain way and to be controlled easier. History shows us clearly that Religion and State often joined hands (and still do). Christianity for example, conditions people with Eternal Hell: pain and suffering, forever. And Kings came from the Gods in the past - Divine rulers ...

"I know for some of you this whole paragraph appears schizophrenic!" - Haha!! Yes, that paragraph can certainly land one in a mental institution, at least for a check-up/cold shower.

I see that perspective. Paint the walls however You wish - play, create!

But I also see the perspective of an interior decorator: "What colour is your carpet because that will certainly matter in what your choices for the wall paint will be." My walls here are yellow, the carpet is blue. The ceiling is also blue and the wooden border along the floor and doors is red. Red, yellow and blue - my ancestors colours and the colours of my national flag (one of my nationalities, I have two). So, when I put the room together in this manner, the carpet colour matters. LOL!! Who's the schizophrenic one now? Haha ...

"Even when I can’t seem to touch God, I can touch them and that takes me to some place far beyond the dimensions of time, space, or randomness." - Quite beautifully put.

"You know what I really like about randomness? That probability distribution thing." - What does this mean?

"I mean chaos and unpredictability is perhaps at the heart of all creation." - Yes, I certainly agree here. Creation does invite chaos and unpredictability. Funny, that's the one thing I say about myself often: "The only predictable thing about me, is that I am unpredictable."

Another interesting and fun read. Thank You for sharing your thoughts.

All the best!


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 4 years ago from Yucaipa, California Author

Thank you so much, Mr. Happy!

I just realize why your name keeps triggering some familiarity in me. I have a dear dear friend who refers to parts of myself as Mr. Happy!

THANK YOU SO MUCH for giving life to an "old" but still relevant hub. I had a blast, by the way, painting back in 2003. Very classy but wild, and recently a dear friend who is an interior decorator convinced me, as she put it, to "upgrade." It was time, 9 years old the other decor!! So I have begun and this time around is so much different. Soft, soothing, not so busy, not so brash, simple, and very very calming. Life is interesting. I love the sounds of your decor!

THANKS AGAIN FOR READING AND COMMENTING. I enjoy this topic and my experience of God continues to be rich.

Vern

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