- Religion and Philosophy
An Argument for Uncertainty
I am Agnostic. Have been for a little while, about three years. In high school I went from being a lifelong Christian to actually being mildly interested in Satanism (I was pissed off and immature) and eventually settling for Atheism by senior year. Then college came, and doubt about nothingness settled in, and so I simply gave up and said, “I don't know.” At the same time, my dad has studied the meditations of Buddhism, and my mom seems Agnostic herself now. Both were raised and raised me in Christianity.
Now I'm not going to completely attack Christianity. Instead I won't discriminate. I don't like any organized religion. Nothing I've been interested in has seemed quite right or completely suggests free will, and whenever people “find Jesus” it frustrates me to no end.
My main problems with most organized religions are the two ideas that we aren't free beings and that death is the only real thing to look forward to. I see a lot of this with friends on Facebook. Posts appear like “God was good to me today. He ended it well.” So it wasn't because of your own actions that your day was good? It wasn't because of the goodness of others? It all comes down to a being you can't feel, see or sense in any other way? Sure you can believe in God. But if I were to believe in one I'd like the idea that I have control over my own life. Of course if you bring this up to someone who firmly believes our destinations are predetermined by God, then they defend it by saying it is your choice, and therefore essentially contradicting his or herself. What it really comes down to is that if we don't have free will then what makes us anything more than God's poor puppets, his tinker toys to fuck with for eternity? If we do bad, is it not God's fault with that argument? If we become serial killers, any kind of social deviant, is it God's predestined plan for us to be so? If so, then why do Christians get so pissed off at people who blaspheme or don't believe if it's only God's plan to keep them from believing?
I have a lot of questions, but there are never any answers for them. Not one religious person has given me a single intelligible answer without being hypocritical in some fashion (I'd love for this to change). In a way, the whole idea of predestination makes me think of God as the scientists conducting the Ludovico Technique in A Clockwork Orange, keeping us from being able to choose how we act in life and instead forcing us to conform to whatever he/she wants us to in accordance with this “plan”. We suffer, can't make it in life, have the personalities we're given, all because “God” needs us to do his bidding. Of course most Christians I've known have had pretty good lives to be thankful for.
What about Satan then? Does Satan, according to most Christians, represent temptation? If so, then that simply means he tempts us, rather than forces us to do what comes our way as this “God” supposedly does. If this is the case, I'd much rather side with the one who allows choices, even if he is devilishly luring. Besides, God killed more people in the Bible than Satan ever did. The Flood, his anger in the Old Testament, forcing a man to sacrifice his son as the only way the guy could say “I love you”. I'm sure a lot of people hear this, but do they really think about the bipolar and psychotic traits God shares in the Great Novel between the Old and New Testaments?
There's also something wrong about the idea of death being the ultimate salvation as well. I've heard people who were in the depths of depression say “it's all going to be fine in the end when I get into heaven”. To me, this promotes the idea that living is all building up to a death, that it is impossible to truly enjoy life and just live it with passion and see the beauty of it as opposed to saying, “Well, hell! If heaven is waiting for me up there, I better just be patient and suffer through this.” I personally think it's more important to live life for what it is rather than be infatuated with the idea of an afterlife, and having spent your whole life wasting it thinking about what's beyond this place, and trying with all your useless strength to get into it when you don't know what it is through anything else other than rumors spread by people who've never even been there.
We're here now. Live with it.
The one positive thing I've found about Buddhism that's different from most of the other mainstream religions du jour is that it promotes the idea that God is within us, a part of every single person on Earth, and that it's up to each and every one of us to find it. It's our own free will that allows us to search for peace inside of us, and that God doesn't possess us as other religions do, but is instead inside our hearts and minds. It also advertises a world without racism, as this God does not discriminate between any racial group or people of other sexual preferences. At the same time, I really don't know if this is the right one for me, as I have no more proof that this religion is any more legit than any other religion I've heard of. They're all cults in their own way, but ones which have grown large enough to spread out into different subgroups such as Protestants, Catholics, Baptists, and the Westboro Baptist Church...Okay, that last one's a very small, radical one, but still.
So many religions advocate the ancient philosophies of homophobia and racial prejudices, when men and women weren't as mixed around the world as they are today, and lived under the reign of kings and queens. In modern America, with international travel perfectly available to everyone (except to the poor and many Third World citizens) we should remove ourselves from xenophobia and focus on trying to intermingle as a species that's developing more intellectually than physically at this point in evolution. Instead, old school religions all say “the world started this way, it should end this way” and eliminate the prospect of progression. We're living in a world where traditional moral values aren't half as integral to many people as they used to be. Many of the ones I've been brought up to believe in come from the dead views created by the white man's neuroses from centuries ago.
Atheism is growing today, and it's something I'm semi-proud of. People are thinking with their heads and eyes open more than they have, rather than following blind faith and believing in the abstract idea of God (usually in a simple, naive way) simply because a lot of people around them told them it's true over and over to pummel it in them.
really is the hand-me-down of thoughts. We're pressured to believe in
the same shit our parents believed in, and for that matter, the rest
of the family, instead of searching for the real answer with smarts
that will make life less of a struggle and more of an adventure. So
many religions cause more frustration and confusion within the self
instead of catharsis, which is the very reason the religion was
created. But that's just it; these religions were instigated by the
certain people they worked for. Maybe we should learn the meaning of life through experience, not through someone telling us.
With all that said, I'm Agnostic because the idea of Intelligent Design hasn't completely eluded me. I just don't believe we're supposed to know the answer, if it is all for a reason. I'd like my God to be accepting of my own choices in life, someone like an actual loving father instead of a puppeteer, someone who won't send me to eternal timeout if I misbehave, and that I'm simply being guided by these choices I make. There's also a certain beauty in life I see as I get older, the intimacy and intricacy in things that seem too connected with each other to be merely incidental. One kind of natural yet man-made analogy is the idea that bacteria spread to reproduce, and that eventually this bacteria made us up, and now we're at a point where space exploration is on the horizon, and we'll be spreading ourselves out in the universe like our own bacteria if we don't all wind up dead by the time it's possible.
Not only do things seem so intertwined and colorful in our own home, but so does the idea of perception and being able to acknowledge the world. It almost seems like if it's only because of evolution, then human design is a failure, if only for our self-awareness. It's our ability to know we exist and question our existence that causes us to elaborately commit suicide, genocide, and construct weapons that are more harmful to this planet than anything else within it. We're more destructive and stupid because of our intelligence, and so it almost feels like nature created us as a cancer to balance things out with life and growth.
I can't say whether or not there is or isn't a God. I can't say organized religion is wrong, but I also don't believe any of its members, in any cluster, can say it's right for certain either. I definitely think the focus should be on this life we're living, in the now, and put off the idea of death until it actually happens. Once we cross over that line, then we'll either know or never know. But we'll still never know as long as we're here to think about it.