Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Blue-Green Chronicles - Part 2

Agnostic - (noun) - a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. --from

This is what I am. Forced really by my blue-green split persona, it is the only way to cope with the flood of conflicting input that saturates both my head and my heart on a daily basis. And I like this definition, because often, an agnostic is said to be someone who simply "doesn't know." But really, it's that I hold that no one can "know". In this way, I find both fundamental religiosity and pure atheism equally absurd. And they are absurd to me because of the blatant arrogance displayed in practicing either dogma.

I have often heard one say about his/her faith, "This is what I hold to be true..." And I want to respond. No, it isn't. It's what you "hope is true...and desperately." And I think it is that desperation that creates belief systems. As humans we are very conflicted about our mortality. And most people have had that moment where they sense "something else." Those who have been able to connect to that "something else" and articulate its qualities in a new way have become prophets. Some small - maybe only to their local communities. Some large - like the big J.C. In this way, I feel overtly defined spirituality is the result of our trying to verbalize, organize, and institutionalize that which we cannot know. We have a sense of something - and it is maddening that we can't quite touch it - and our desperation to do so leads to the concretization of something that cannot be concretized.

Some would say to me, "well, duh, Matt - that's why it's called faith." Yes, but people of great faith rarely say they "don't know". They cite their faith as the reason they "do know." And again, this is absurd. I have heard many a faithful say, "If only I could make you understand what I know." Yes, please. Make me. Force me. Convert me so that you can feel better about your desperation - your intense fear - because deep down, you know you can't know. You can only believe - and really, what is a belief but the hope - not the knowledge - that something is true?

It is very important to state that I find atheistic scientists equally silly in their zealotry. I've often wondered if atheists are actually the most prone to religion. The belief in absolutely nothing but what is tested through collection of data and scientific process - well really, it's an exercise in not being disappointed. It is the creation of warranties. It is a way to self-cure spiritual addiction. I visualize this atheist in a sweat-soaked state of anxiety: I do believe in God. I do believe in spirits. I do believe in an afterlife. But I can't know. And I'm desperate to do so. I need it. I want it. But I can't know for sure. And so can't have it for sure. And I can't risk losing it. And so I must ban it from my house.

Atheists often talk of the need for pure scientific data. The issue is that this data must be measured and interpreted through human methods: what we can see, hear, feel, taste, and touch. But ironically, through science, we know that we humans have limitations - and what we perceive is not even "real". For instance, there is no such thing as "blue". And there is no such thing as a "melody" in music. The color and melody are nothing but interpretations in our brain - conversions from input through our eyes and ears. But cats don't hear the same melody. And dogs don't see that blue. And as overly simplistic as these examples are - isn't it easy to assume that perhaps there are things we can't sense at all? Are we so arrogant as to assume that the only data in the universe must be seen, heard, felt, tasted, or touched? What about senses humans may not even have? Speculative? Of course. But Dr. Scientist, quit telling me how you can "know things with near absolute certainty." Because as is often cited - the world was once flat - and with equal certainty.

My green side needs "see it to believe it" information. My blue side senses ghosts, other dimensions, and hears thoughts of others. And at the end of the day, all I can be is agnostic. So when I sit almost daily and stare into a candle, reciting prayers - I also giggle at myself for the Gothic ritual. Conflicted? Yes. But a traumatic conflict? Only sometimes. Really, it's nothing but agnosticism. And I'm trying to embrace that.

1 comment:

Mead said...

Have you been reading any of the research into "the God gene"? Looks more and more like "knowing" there's a god is a function of one's personal DNA. Which may be way some people are tortured by religiously induced conflicts all their lives (like my brother) and others (like- ahem--me) just slough it off the moment they move out of their parents' homes.

To my mind, this still doesn't necessarily disprove the existence of a higher power, but -- as Temple Grandin has expressed -- it's not something you know, it's just something your body chooses to believe.