An agnostic friend sent me a clipping from the New York Times in which several agnostic-about-religion scientists and philosophers spanked some authors of best-selling atheist books.
The word “agnostic” has a negative feeling for most religious people but it merely means, “does not know.” The “a” means “no” and the “gnos” means “know.” So “agnostic” literally means, in Indian fashion, “I no know.”
What’s wrong with that? Is there anyone who believes in the total spectrum of doctrines about God and religion? I am an agnostic about the infallibility of the Pope. I am an agnostic about the idea that anyone can “fall from grace.” I am agnostic about hell as Rev. Buster Brimstone and his ilk often preach it.
Several of the bishops who were called together 327 years after Christ left to decide on the acceptable theology of the church were agnostic about what is now considered to be basic Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity only passed by one vote, meaning there were almost as many bishops who questioned it as agreed with it. The idea of reincarnation failed by one vote and several bishops continued to believe in it even when they were outvoted.
If you start going through all the “orthodox” beliefs with just about any Christian you will see they are agnostics about one of more points of theology. I dare to say that everyone is an agnostic to some extent about one of more oft-recited doctrines.
The main thrust of the N.Y. Times article was that atheists just enjoy ridiculing theology and do not give any weight to the experiences of millions of people. I rejected fundamentalism a long time ago but I was not able to reject the reali8ty of some of my own experiences and insights. I was not able to reject the quality of spirit some people possessed and attributed to the presence of God in their lives.
Dad was a fundamentalist and mother was not. He often accused her of having a home-made religion.” She acknowledged that fact and even wrote a humorous poem about it.
I liked the idea of having a homemade religion based on our own experiences and insights into spiritual reality. Paul said, “Work out your own salvation” so it seems he had a homemade religion.
I have discovered that one can have a real experience of spiritual reality while being an agnostic about anything and everything that does not make experiential or rational sense to them. It may hit some people as strange but I did not develop a meaningful spiritual practice until I began to question and test things for myself.
When I was growing up in a rigid church atmosphere, my beliefs were pretty well those of a parrot. The only place they rested in my emotional nature was in my Fear Department. I didn’t parrot them because they came from my heart. I parroted them because I was taught to be afraid to question. One day I realized that God didn’t give me a brain to be used as a mirror to project the thoughts of others. He did not give me a sponge for a brain to just soak up what someone said. He gave me a brain that works through inductive and deductive reasons to reach conclusions and a brain that can pass sane judgment on emotional experiences.
Really, I decided that the greatest sin was to not use my brain out of fear. I realized the greatest sin is to let others live your life through management of your belief system.
In his great work The Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes said, “We only know as much as we can prove by actual demonstration.” If we do not find peace and joy and all the other healing and happiness powers in our spiritual practice, do we not need to go back to the workbench and refashion our values until we do?
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