In my 53 years I’ve gone from being ambivalent about God, to believing in a god, astrology, new age, Buddhism and even almost becoming a fundamentalist Christian, to finally realizing that there is no god. Now to come to this conclusion, I had to do a lot of soul searching if you will, a lot of questioning and thinking.
First I had to ask the right questions: i.e., do I not believe in the existence of any god or god-like thing, or do I not believe in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God. Well, the latter was easy to answer: No, I do not believe in the “existence” of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God. So by this I mean, I do not believe he’s real. I think he is a mythological character concocted by the Israeli people and adopted by Christians and Muslims just like the Greeks had Zeus and the Romans had Apollo. Yahweh, Jehovah is as real as those two. And although Christ may have been a real character, he was definitely not born of a holy spirit and a virgin. Nor do I believe that he died and resurrected on the 3rd day and rose to heaven.
But does this make me an atheist? The American Atheist organization defines atheism as a lack of belief in gods, which is no the same as disbelief in gods or a denial of gods. Agnostic, on the other hand, is defined as a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God. So an agnostic does not necessarily claim to believe that there’s no god, rather, they don’t claim to believe god is as it’s defined by the different religions; i.e., if there’s a god, an agnostic does not necessarily believe that this god answers prayers or does miracles. They’re on the fence. Maybe God is real, maybe he’s not. Who knows, and basically, who cares?
So based on this I’m not an agnostic. I can emphatically state that I don’t have a religious faith. I don’t pray and I don’t believe in divine intervention. And I believe that the gods of all religions are nothing but mythological characters. But just because it is my belief that these gods are not real, does it mean that there’s no possibility for the existence of something greater than ourselves. After all, no one (not a scientist, an atheist, a Buddhist, Christian/Muslim/Jewish) knows with certainty what happens when a human being dies. No one! We know the body dies. But does the mind die too? We know the theories and we know the religious beliefs. But the theory has not been proven, nor have the religious beliefs. There’s all these quantum theories, which I cannot explain, much less claim to understand. But a lot of those theories are as mind-boggling as believing in a celestial heaven. It’s hard to grasp the concept; to wrap your mind around it.
Now, my belief in the possibility of an after-life, or the possibility of the existence of something greater than ourselves does not mean that were these to be true that they are necessarily better than what we have here on Earth or that this power is something that is there for us to summon for its help or comfort. I just believe in the possibility that there could be something more beyond this Earthly life. There’s so much that we humans yet don’t know or understand about life, our universe, our cosmos that to discount the possibility of some kind of existence beyond human death is disingenuous. Now I know this could be my wishful thinking because the idea of going into nothingness is something that our human instinct of survival refuses to accept. But at the very least, I want to believe in something, cling to the hope that we do continue somehow. Were this to be just a fantasy, well, no harm done. If we die and become non-existent, I won’t feel the disappointment that there was nothing there after all. And non-existence after life is better than the alternative. I hope the atheists are right and indeed there is no god and no after life. Imagine the horror were we to find out that Yahweh, Jehovah, Zeus, Apollo and the like are real. We would all be at the mercy of fanatical, totalitarian, blood-thirsty, racist, sexists dictators. And I’m talking about heaven.
So am I an atheist? Maybe I’m a pseudo atheist. I believe that there is no god as such, but cling to the hope that something better than this exists beyond this life, this earth, this world. And that somehow, that something is within our reach. Is not faith..it’s hope.