Disclaimer: This essay is purely a work of introspection, observation, and personal opinion. Nothing stated within it should be taken as fact, but as one girl’s empirical analysis of her own beliefs and the behaviors of those around her. My fascination with the width of human diversity runs very deep– here, I simply aim to explore it.
I believe, but I do not believe in “God.”
That is the mantra I currently stand by, but before any serious theists jump down my throat, I implore you to listen. I do, however, believe in the belief of God. Today, I will be diving into topics that may be sensitive to many people. At the end of the day, life is short, and whatever belief system means something to you is valid, as long as you yourself are not harming others. I am not trying to shame anyone, merely to shed some light on my thoughts on religion, spirituality, and atheism– and perhaps the links they all have with each other.
My Religious Backstory
Throughout my youth, I was vaguely involved in a multitude of Christian churches. My family’s piousness was dubious for sure, and I managed to garner a slight knowledge of the Bible at best, and several threats of damnation at worst. Baptized at seven years old Trinitarian and eventually turned somewhat Catholic, I never gave too much of a shit about religion. Young Elizabeth (as I was once called) had no feelings for or against the Church, or lack thereof. My in-depth philosophical analysis of Catholic values led to a few of the aforementioned damnation threats, and to a subsequent “suggested withdrawal” from CCD. Neither I nor my parents really minded. It was clear at this point that Christianity was not for me.
That being said, I was certainly not an atheist. An “atheist” as defined by Merriam-Webster English dictionary for simplicity, is “a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.” I do not believe in God, nor Allah, nor Vishnu, Thor, Zeus, or Ra, yet without delving too deep into the etymology or use of the word, I could say with absolute certainty that “atheist” was not how I identified. As I emerged into adolescence, this identity slowly evolved. I eventually discovered agnosticism, and came to like the ideology.
For those unaware, agnosticism is defined (again by Merriam-Webster) as “a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (such as God) is unknown and probably unknowable.” Some people tend to lean in one direction or the other: agnostic atheist, or agnostic theist. These more specific identities portray a personal belief in either god/gods, or lack thereof, but an acknowledgement that their belief holds no scientific proof or foundation. Although all agnostics accept that this is an “unknown” reality, I find that for me, the “unknowable” part is key.
Trying to solve the answers to the universe is not only futile, but downright exhausting. I am by no means trying to demean the intellectual merit of philosophy– it’s fun, and certainly intriguing. That being said, I hold onto the belief that none of the questions philosophers spend so much time contemplating have any semblance of an answer. The meaning of life, ethical dilemmas, intrinsic “purpose”– it’s cool, but frankly, irrelevant. Sorry Plato, but philosophy is more of a hobby these days. At least for me, but I digress.
My mother is Catholic, albeit “recovering” as she would say from her Christian upbringing. My father, conversely, is a “Hindu-Christian” quasi-guru of a spiritually confounding nature. This wild juxtaposition paints a picture of how exactly I was raised, and how my views have morphed and evolved over time. While I am not religious by any means, I am spiritual to the core. This was less of a decision and more of a necessity for the sake of my mental clarity, but I’ll go into that more in a moment. Despite my belief that the existence of a “higher power” or lack thereof is inherently unknowable, there are certain phenomena I have witnessed, felt, or experienced, that simply feel right to me. “Powers,” perhaps from nature, perhaps from the depths of my weak human psyche, but energy flowing all around me. It could be God. It could be electricity. It could be a glitch in the Matrix.
It could be nothing. Nonetheless, it is something to me.