Agnosticism is Not Fence-Sitting

I’ve heard from many people, usually right and left extremists, who do not believe that there is a middle ground to anything from politics to religion. fence sittingFor extremists, you are either hot or cold, white or black, on or off. They cannot imagine a more reasoned stance than that. After all if you don’t stand for anything you fall for everything, right? What a silly comment that is. In this type of thinking you have to either be all or nothing on an issue. Those who think in such absolutist ways cannot understand subtlety or gray areas that cannot be solved or thought out in completely objective ways.

I’ve often thought of myself as an agnostic. An agnostic is between an atheist and a believer. Now there can be a sliding scale of agnosticism so that you can have faith, but acknowledge that you cannot prove God’s existence. You can be an atheist and still leave the door open for possible proof of Godde. Those on one side who INSIST that Godde either does or does not exist is an extremist and not an agnostic. I have faith, but I do not think either side can “prove” anything. There is no absolute proof that Godde does or does not exist. It just isn’t there. The bible is not proof. That’s only proof that others have believed in God. The bible is only a document recording another’s experience of deity. Creation is not proof of God, because there is no evidence of it. God did not leave a signed note. We do not know of a beginning of creation through scientific means. What’s here may always have been here and humans are but a blip on the radar.

Some are uncomfortable with agnosticism because they opine that if you can’t be SURE of God you can’t be sure of anything. Well, that’s the point! Why be SURE? Nothing is SURE not even my life. I could die on the way to work this morning or live to be 100. We just don’t know. Some will argue for ethics and morality and say that if there is no God then there is no sure morality. HA! This reveals the extremely dim view of humanity that most religious believers have. If you believe that humanity is sinful (define sinful) beyond repair except by divine fiat and that nothing will keep humanity from destroying itself, then positing a God who will avenge you and the “sinless” of the world is a reasonable thing to create. It alleviates the existential dread we all must face at one point or another in our lives. I’ve wanted to do that myself: believe God avenges. My violent upbringing drove me to fundamentalism precisely because I wanted to be SURE my step-monster got what was coming to him. It’s only natural.

Yet, the older I get and the more things I know, the more I’ve come to believe that whether anyone believes in God or not, they naturally, out of necessity and survival, create their morality for their particular society. Xenophobic societies create the necessary boundries that protect them from all those “outside” themselves. This fear is natural by evolutionary standards. But the more we know of the world and realize that everyone is basically alike in the most basic sense, we begin to understand that morality is cultural. What works for the Bushmen of Africa does not work for the urban dweller in New York City.

I am perfectly content to have faith in what I believe is the Divine Spirit of the world, but I don’t think anyone can prove it and I don’t need to convince others of it to validate myself and my fear. Neither can anyone prove the opposite. The wise thing would be to allow for everyone’s differences and leave each other alone about it. Why do others have such a driving need to convince another that their viewpoint is absolutely RIGHT? I don’t think that. You may take or leave my comments or ideas for that simple reason, they’re my ideas. This is why blogs are so great. You can soak up another’s ideas, take or discard what does or does not resonate and move along. Knowledge is a good thing, but proof and surety is forever elusive.

If Godde exists and I have some faith that S(h)e does, S(h)e can certainly prove that herself without me or anyone else.

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2 thoughts on “Agnosticism is Not Fence-Sitting

  1. Agnosticism is not “between” atheism and theism. It’s an entirely different issue. Agnosticism describes what you claim to know – specifically, what you don’t claim to know that any gods do or do not exist for sure. This doesn’t say whether do you do or do not believe (theism or atheism).

    Everyone, including every agnostic, has present in their minds either the belief in the existence of some sort of god or they do not. If such a belief is present, they are a theist; if not, they are an atheist. If this person is an agnostic, then they are an agnostic theist (doesn’t know for sure, but believes anyway) or an agnostic atheist (doesn’t know for sure and doesn’t bother believing). They may consider the agnosticism so much more important than the theism or atheism that only bother to mention the first and not the second, but that doesn’t mean that the second doesn’t exist.

  2. Agnosticism, pragmatically, can only refer to theism and for me lies between faith and lack of faith. No one can be a cultural, historical, or (insert name) agnostic, can they? Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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