Friday, April 16, 2010

Anti-Religionism vs. Agnosticism

Lately I've cyberfallen in with a crowd that is all too suspiciously eager to proclaim what a crock religion is in order to fly the flag of atheism, which even Richard Dawkins notes can only really be agnosticism. While I am an agnostic, I see no reason for triumphalism or hatred of religion, merely to proclaim one's position.

To be agnostic one need not replicate churches, crusades or -- Universe's Echo help us! -- an inquisition, with the variable "God" merely assigned a negative value. Nor need one feel too superior to religious people who, after all, put on their pants one leg at a time just like everyone else.

Yet this is what I often find.

In "real time," of course, plenty of agnostics go to Unitarian churches, Ethical societies and the like, which have bake sales and bazaars just like Our Lady of Mercedes or St. Elfric the Tasteful, only they don't have crosses anywhere. And they don't dare even whisper G-o-d.

Online, life is more polemical -- this is mostly about words, after all -- and it takes the form of ye olde high schoole "hate" clubs. We Hate Unfair Criticism has evolved into We Don't Thank Deities for the Deeds of Humans.

My suspicion is that these agnostics are just as religious (and illiterate about religion) as most religious people. They're just religious about their agnosticism. This is not to say that religion "wins" or religionists are better. Far from it.

My only contention, as someone who knows a thing or three about the Judaeo-Christian religious tradition and its foundational books and thinkers, is that it is not necessarily unreasonable to believe, and most real believers should experience doubts every now and then, just as it is not unreasonable not to believe.

Not believing is not a new thing to be, it's merely little more than simply not managing to wrap one's mind around notions such as a man-god, prayer, not to mention an invisible being of whom there is no direct evidence.

When one doesn't believe, one still is left with doubt, inquiry, tentativeness and the uncertainties of real science. Trust me. I know about this.


heart in san francisco said...

I don't really care what others choose to believe, but I deplore the competitiveness religion seems to provoke. I despise proseletyzing and the arrogance that accompanies it. As for believing or not, agnosticism is the thinking person's religion because as you stated, there is no empirical evidence either way, but an open mind never hurts.

Cecilieaux said...

I hear you, Heart, but competitiveness is not exclusive to religion. Let's add to the list Wall Street, the unions (among each other), the Hegelians of the right and left in the battle of Stalingrad, political parties, etc.