Do you consider yourself relgious?
Such a simple little question to which I could simply answer yes, or no, and then get on with my life. But it’s much more complicated than that.
Do I agree with any one belief system and therefore have a membership in an organized religious community where I attend regular worship services? No I don’t. Do I believe in an almighty deity and the immortality of our souls? Maybe. It’s hard to be certain. There’s always room for doubt where no hard indisputable proof exists. I am the child of a very spiritually religious mom and a very skeptically free thinking dad. We grew up seeing both sides of the story I guess, and learned the importance of tolerance and respect for differences.
It drives me a bit crazy when religious fanatics (in any relgious movement) profess to know the unknowable while having no rational grounds to justify the things in which they believe. “I believe” should be understood to mean “based on my knowledge, understanding, and interpretation of the prevailing evidence”, and not based simply on blind faith. Zealots would like everyone to have that same unshakeable faith. But choice is essential to human nature and all of us should have the freedom to live our lives in whatever way works for us, without having someone else’s strict set of rules shoved down our throats.
So do I have all the answers? Of course not. A Theist believes, an Atheist disbelieves, and an Agnostic sits on the fence. That would be me – the queen of non-committal. But I’m not an agnostic atheist (who does not believe any deity exists, but is open to the possibility) but more of an agnostic theist (who believes a deity exists but does not claim it as personal knowledge). OR maybe a spiritual agnostic (who follows traditionally religious spiritual practices in the absence of knowledge of God while being irreligious).
Seriously. Who really cares. I’m not a bad person. I just don’t think people are smart enough to know everything there is to know about everything and should try to keep an open mind. Who knows what universal truth might pop in there when you least expect it. There is a ‘world religion’ which so far has kept us from blowing up the planet. For all our diversity and nattering about the fine print we all have the same basic wants and needs. Some of us are just more pushy and block-headed about it than others. There have been some truly horrific things done in the name of religion, and some truly good and beautiful things too.
I believe that living a life of moderation is better than going to extremes. We like to define ourselves and give ourselves lables and profess to be one thing or the other or something else entirely. There are people who need the structure of religion and people who don’t, all mixed up with the ones who can’t make up their minds. Religious or not, all of us want to live a good and happy life. Make that your first priority, and how you go about it becomes a secondary consideration that’s not necesarily right and not necessarily wrong. It is simply a means to an end.