Agnosticism Revisited

Written: 11 November, 1999

Well, I promised myself that I would keep quiet on this subject for awhile, but I was thinking a little bit more about this topic at work today, and wanted to write another post on the subject that hopefully will be more even-handed than my previous posts here.

First, though, I would like to cut & paste a few paragraphs of a post I wrote on MacQ's board on Oct. 26th:

"There are some people out there that simply can't accept the idea that Christianity is true. Therefore, they are prevented from being Christians. Would God punish someone who so highly valued the idea of seeking the truth that they rejected Christianity because they honestly didn't believe it? I don't think so, but then I'm the kind of person who hates the idea of people not being with God, i.e. going to Hell."

I did go on to say that I felt God had revealed the truth of His existence to me and that "I think that if I rejected Christ now, I would be deliberately turning away from God." Whereas I don't think someone who hadn't felt that God "revealed the truth" to him (e.g., an agnostic) would necessarily be "turning away from God." In my earlier post, I was generalizing based on my personal situation, and I shouldn't have done that. We don't have all the same situation even if we all have similar viewpoints.

For example, some Christians think that Catholicism is the one true Christian church that Jesus started and that Protestants like me are members of a "man-made" church. I don't share their opinion, so I have no problem being a Protestant. If I DID believe it, I would feel compelled to switch. But it would then be wrong for me to bash Protestants, telling them they were in the wrong church. If someone doesn't believe in what you believe, then it really may not apply to them. I may think it applies to them, but then what do I know? Better that I should try and keep faithful to the way I try to be myself, rather than judging and condemning others for having different criteria, standards, methods, whatever. As I said before, I can't know what's going on in somebody else's head, so it would be folly to try and judge their relationship, or lack of relationship, with God. That's between them and their God or their conscience.

One of the things I objected to was the idea of agnostics "rejecting God." The idea of agnostics rejecting God really got me going. But today at work, I was thinking about one of the Apostles, Peter, and how he denied knowing Jesus three different times while Jesus was on trial (just before the rooster crowed), just to save his own skin. How can I single out one group (agnostics) as being those who reject God, when Christians like myself say that we follow God and then we continually betray Him? Can I honestly say that I do not "turn away from God" when it is convenient for me to do so? I probably do it every day. I'm reminded of how Jesus said that while we are criticizing another for the plank in their eye, we are neglecting to notice the plank in our own eye.

Agnostics are people who doubt or are skeptical about the existence of God. But it would be wrong for me to say that I never have doubts, or that any thinking religious believer never has doubts about whether God is real or not.

As I said on the board before, back in September: "This scene of Peter having doubts [as he walks on water toward Jesus] shows that since we are humans, we are going to doubt. We can't help ourselves. I even have doubts about whether my intentions for being a Christian are totally right or whether I decided to be one for some wrong reason (selfishness, wanting to join a bandwagon, whatever). I even have doubts when I'm praying sometimes, whether I'm doing it for real or whether I'm just doing it for "show," to convince myself that I'm a "real Christian." So, I just keep praying until I'm sure that I've confessed all my doubts and keep praying until it's really real. Sometimes I'll stop and wonder if God really is real, but thankfully I am reminded of the things that have happened in my life to indicate for me that God really is real."

Perhaps my criticism of agnosticism caused some posters to feel that I was attacking the idea of people having doubts. That was not my intention. We all doubt at times. I don't think that someone who is lacking doubts is necessarily "more religious" either.

There, now... Do I still sound "nonsensical" and "disturbing" to you folks? (I hope not, but then again...)