Are Deism or Agnosticism better approaches to spirituality?
Alternatives to Religion to understand God
From all of history, religions have been the most widely method to understand spirituality. Problem is that, because of the strong human presence, it has probably lost the right track to God and spirituality.
Deism and Agnosticism
According to Wikipedia, Deism is a form of philosophy that recognizes the existence of a creator of the Universe through reason and observation of our surrounding, and does not need any organized religion. As a collective, it does not rely on miracles or personal experiences that can be considered spiritual. In the other hand, agnosticism is the uncertainty of an existence of God given the fact that He may or not exist- those who are agnostics do not really believe or disbelieve in deities.
In a previous hub, I discussed how organized religion, especially fundamentalist Christianity here in the Western World, is a strong booster of atheism. The relationship is simple for those who do not really know God and think they follow Him out of culture: they feel manipulated by leaders of the church, begin to ask and question, and as the church lose control of the mind of that person as they begin to spit intolerance to his uncertainty, the person finally ends religion and because of not really knowing God, turns an atheist. Sometimes, in the case of people like me who know and have experienced God in our lives, it's not really wise to turn atheist even when we dump religion away to give space to reason and logic. In this case, it depends on how well do we believe we know God, to either become an agnostic or a deist.
Do all religions give a good approach to God? If not, what does?
The reason why so many people "sin" today is because they never really give the importance that God deserves in their lives. Because God cannot be seen, it's much more reliable in the immediate sight of people to please they physical senses. Thus, when people go to church, they are more into spirituality and this why in church they tend to be, or at least, project different. But as soon they hit the road, go their jobs, and have to deal with the same things in life, some bothersome and some tempting, their spirituality goes to a second place and their human instinct control.
This is what we call "human nature". Unfortunately, some religious people project they are people of God. If we define God, many words come to us- love, hope, peace, support, tenderness, truth, wisdom, power; positive things in general. Thus, it's understandable that we expect religious people to be different from seculars- maybe kinder, more supportive, more trusting in term of confessing doubts and questions. The problem is that this is not so in many cases. Thus, people become really upset, disappointed and somehow questioning about the real value of religions. They look for a haven to find support and help, and instead they find themselves like they should have never counted on those who they thought could help them. They feel betrayed.
Some atheists today are ex-Christians who felt betrayed by their people, and have declared "war" to them and their cause. But as I mentioned before, this is all human and God has nothing to do with this. So maybe those of us who no longer trust religions and/or feel betrayed and more disappointed with them for their falsehood and hypocrisy might want to find better approaches instead of dumping spirituality away and living only by the sake of physical stuff.
Agnosticism is just okay for those people who left religion out of observations that make them feel they are not really following what they think they follow. When there is an uncertainty, the best thing is to read, look for information and ask from different sources. If an agnostic go to a church with an intolerant Pastor who instills fear into him that "believe or you will not be saved", it will just make the agnostic turn atheist in the blink of an eye. The approach to understand God for an agnostic must be very smooth and must use reason and logic. Going to a church with a tolerant and wise Pastor is not a bad idea in this case. Agnostic questions typically are: Is God really real? What faith is the right one? Why? An agnostic will not accept reasons such as "because the Bible (or any other sacred book) says this and that". The only people who take the Bible as a final authority are the Christians, agnostics and deists won't be convinced by any sacred book that its religion is the right one. Reason and logic means that the faith is consistent, that it really shown no signs of negativity, and that it understands that this universe is relative.
An agnostic may turn into a religious person if the person in charge of the help to understand God is extremely patient, wise and tolerant. But sometimes, agnostics won't be convinced and will prefer other approaches, such as Deism. A Deist understands that since God is too complex to define, maybe it's better to leave Him aside from the things we do and take responsibility of our actions without blaming them to demons or any other spiritual stuff.
Today, because of so many problems in life, some people are in a real need to look for spirituality, and the sad thing is that unscrupulous religious leaders use this in their favor to instill their wrong view of God, with the use of manipulation and fear. These people are extremely vulnerable to looking into God in an extremely closed-minded manner, and adapt to views that are nothing but pure fanaticism and intolerance. Those of us who have been given the ability to recognize that should help into avoiding this to happen. We have already been betrayed by these so called leaders, and we must not allow them to continue their legacy of mediocrity that continues to spit discrimination and intolerance.
A new approach does not mean to be able to sin and do wrong stuff
Even if we are no longer religious, because we believe in something greater, and logic and reason give us a clear idea of what is right and wrong, we must be able to try and follow a code of honor that keeps us away from doing what is wrong. Some wrong things are relative to culture and religion, so here is where logic comes on handy. Is it really wrong for homosexuals to marry? Aren't they born that way? Can't we drink as long as don't get drunk? These are examples of things that agnostics and deists may think about since they are no longer into religion and do not need to feel the hassle of not abiding by it. But certainly, morals and values are important and they don't need to rely solely on religion.
Other approaches: New Age and Universalism
Many churches today condemn anything that is not Christianity but that still has some form of belief in God as "satanic". Many churches love to look into anything they don't agree with as satanic or call them lies of Satan. This is manipulation at its rawest and this is mostly pointed at younglings because of their lack of knowledge and experience in certain matters. Some movements, like the New Age and Universalism, though still have their particular rules which make some of their issues a little bit problematic, try to solve the situation that presents when a person dumps religion in favor of something different to make it possible to understand God better. A person may find one of these movements more suitable for them, and that does not mean by any means they are "lost". The are indeed "lost" for the sight of conservative fundamentalists who pretend to control their lives with their double-standard rules. What I can say is that people who want to find alternatives to religion must be aware into not falling into doing things that are unnecessary or wrong, like taking drugs, doing sexual acts or any sort of "strange" thing as a form of ritual to enter. This may mean that the movements they are following are not sincere and are more into something that is indeed sinister.
Tradition vs. Evolution, and looking alternatives within organized religion to better understand God
Organized religions like Christianity and Islam, who are quite old, seem to yet satisfy many people and not all of them are intolerant or do share views that are rather fanatic and intolerant. I am aware there are Christians and Muslims that are tolerant to other people and do not judge them. They still believe the Bible is the right truth but they don't expect non-Christians or people from other wings within Christianity to share the same thing. These are maybe the few, but maybe agnostics can find an answer within religion, just that they won't find it in churches where leaders are too strict and conservative. These people who are tolerant are aware that humans evolve, and that new discoveries have led to changing the approach we have towards God. For example, now we know the Earth was not created literally in six days, and that the process of the creation took billions of years. Some people make the decision to conclude this means God does not exist. But this means that the Genesis' first chapters are a metaphoric summary of what happened during the slow process of the creation of the universe which included different stages such as when the dinosaurs walked on Pangaea or when the first bacteria that evolved into bigger living organisms came.
It is your personal decision if you ever become agnostic to choose your calling. But never let fear govern your life. Much less, never let anyone control your life by the instillment of mediocrity, ignorance, intolerance and bigotry towards others.