I call myself a non-believer, but I suppose technically I’m agnostic. I don’t deny the utter possibility of some universe creator, but have concluded that if one exists its beyond my capacity to understand or interact with it on any meaningful level. And its interest in me would likely amount to my interest in Amoeba. So for daily life, I don’t think there is any god.
I wasn’t always in this place. I was not taught about God by my parents. My grandma took me to church when I visited her and when she visited us, but beyond that my parents left me to explore the question on my own.
When I was 16 I became a born again Christian. I accepted Christ because it was such a beautiful idea. A God who loves me just as I am, who doesn’t care about the fact that I’m messed up. I read the bible through and through. I went to bible study and bible camps and joined Campus Crusade when I went to college.
In college my path was a bit erratic. I was easily enticed to the sinful life of drinking and wild parties and sex. But ultimately I settled back into a spiritual life, kept the belief and in my senior year I wanted to be a missionary to Russia. (back then Russia was considered Godless because of communism.) I was turned down for a mission trip to Russia with Campus Crusade because I was fat. Its a silly story, but suffice to say it was a blow that caused me to reconsider.
At that point I looked more closely at organized churches and was sickened by the hypocrisy. There is an undercurrent of competition to be “holier than thou” in spirit filled churches. How many people did you bring to Christ? How many bible studies do you participate in? How many do you lead? What sorts of mission work have you done? The prayers in church are not for the benefit of god, they are for the benefit of the congregation or the gathered group – to show everyone how pious the person praying out loud is. I could go on, but it was nauseating for me.
I still believed in God. I just did not think the church was the best way to have a relationship with him. I continued to read the bible and pray. But once away from the church, my mind was free to look more closely at the bible and at what I thought of God. And I found that I really didn’t think the bible was literal. It really wasn’t possible. It must be more metaphorical.
Then I met a man who practiced Hinduism. He explained karma and dharma. And while reincarnation seemed somewhat odd to me, I couldn’t help but see that at least the concepts of karma were reflective of real world physical laws. Cause and Effect. As opposed the eternal life insurance policy sold by Christian churches. I started reading about Buddhism and Taoism. I was quite enchanted with Taoism, but I never embraced any of them as a practical philosophy or religion.
As time went on, I left behind the bible. It wasn’t a sudden epiphany. It was a slow wandering of ideas and thoughts about what we know about God. It seemed wholly unlikely that God was described by any book created by man.
It seemed more likely that God was reflected in his creation. And if that was so, it was pretty clear that God was very fond of action leads to consequence. After all, it was already built into the world we lived in. So – it was very unlikely that the Christ Insurance Policy was God.
Nor did I think Hell existed. To what purpose? I couldn’t find one in anything I saw, so no Hell. Heaven? Unlikely for the same reasons. If anything, reincarnation might be possible, but there certainly wasn’t much reason for that either.
After more thought wandering it became clear that what I believed was of no relevance at all. Any being who created the universe was a much more complex being than I could possibly fathom on any level. Such a being would have no interest in whether or not I knew of its existence, much less whether I worshiped it. No, my belief would be irrelevant.
Since, my belief would be irrelevant, I was able to let go of all the fragile threads that held me to the idea of God. He either exists or he doesn’t. There is no evidence that he does. Since I have already established that its irrelevant whether I believe, I live my life as though God doesn’t exist.
So, now I don’t believe. In fact I try not to believe anything, which is why I usually identify as a non-believer. Belief is a thing we have to defend. Ideas are things we develop and change when new more compelling information is brought forward. I try to keep myself to ideas.
What of my purpose? What of my morality? I think who I am is defined by me. I think living a life based on critical thinking and on creativity is my path. Knowledge is one of the most worthwhile goals of my life. Its my thing. Its not yours. What you think is how you define you.
My morality is based on my own internal compass. Its not nearly as strict as religion or government.
- I don’t think any sexual action that is consensual and non-detrimental to either party is bad.
- I think hurting anyone, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or financially is bad.
- I think all people have the right to freedom, happiness and the best health that science can offer.
- I think people have a right to choose their own death.
- I think all of the above is oversimplified and should be weighed in the complexity of the individual situation.
Well, I guess I won’t go on, but you will note that while I am sinful as defined by most religions, I am not amoral. I don’t consider anarchy and murder and hate to be acceptable. I think compassion and kindness are the most noble things a human can be.
I am not evangelical in my thoughts. I share them if someone wants to have an open learning discussion, but not if someone wants to try and convert my viewpoint to theirs. I really don’t care what anyone else thinks or believes.
If you are a religious person, that is fine with me. I used to be and I remember how much it helped me at that point in my life, how much solace I got from it.
I do, however, have a problem when anyone tries to make their religion into laws, or tries to make it part of public school curriculum, or tries to limit the rights and freedoms of any person. That I will fight.