When life has taught you something different than your religious upbringing has taught you, where do you turn? Do you trust your life experiences and believe that they happen for a reason (even an undefined reason)? Do you hold tenaciously to a belief taught to you by those you love (parents, churches, friends) in spite of your reasoning mind? Do you reject all spirituality because you feel religion has “sold a bill of goods” that is untrustworthy? Do you come to a place of respect for the process of human evolution (especially the evolution of consciousness) and accept that everyone: the Christian, the Jew, the Buddhist, the Atheist, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Druid, the Superstitious, the New Agers, the Scientists, and all the many vast belief systems man has created to explain existence each have a piece of the puzzle?
Having been raised Catholic and taking the catechism teachings to heart as a child, I lived in dreadful fear and self-deprecation for much of my youth. Years of repetition ingrained the belief that human beings are fundamentally unworthy and that the devil has a voracious appetite for all souls and is lurking in every question of faith. To break through that conditioning and fear is no small task and not fully appreciated by those who did not receive (or take to heart) such intense indoctrination of belief systems that do not allow room for questioning. I fully appreciate the extent of ingrained beliefs and the struggle to hold on to them – no matter how irrational or destructive.
Doubting Along the Road to the Truth
When it comes to spirituality, I would prefer not to classify and limit my understandings. I do have an extremely strong and rich spiritual life. However, that spirituality fluctuates as I grow and learn from life experiences – both physical and mystical. Because of this, I embrace Agnosticism as a viable pathway to the Truth. How can anyone claim to know something that cannot be proven one way or the other?
We can individually know something through a mystical experience but that experience cannot be put into language and transferred to another in such a way as to know the truth of it like that of the original experiencer. The 1997 film Contact brilliantly portrays this phenomenon.
Agnosticism allows us the freedom to entertain beliefs that may sustain us as we travel through this world while accepting that those beliefs may or may not be absolute Truth. This allows us the ability to adjust those beliefs as our understanding and experience grows. Much like a scientific theory, when new information is found, findings are adjusted accordingly. Agnosticism is about allowing space for growth.
Another plus for Agnosticism is that it lacks the hubris of certainty – both theist and atheist. It recognizes the limitations of human understanding within the dimensions of space and time. Humility dictates that we cannot know what God (if there is such a thing/being) knows. We can search and discover new insights and secrets once hidden but now revealed through expanded consciousness and ever deepening quantum physics. We can know that what we once thought was fact, is not. And we need not be threatened by our former ignorance or afraid of shining light on our current lack of awareness.
This is the perspective of wholeheartedly embracing the uncertainty and mystery of life. Agnosticism can lead us to our own personal revelations and to the Truth that exists beyond words. Perhaps one day we will evolve into perfect understanding with a perfect way to convey that understanding, perhaps not.
There is Something
There does exist an indefinable underlying current that connects all life. It could be Love, it could be God, it could be pure Energy, it could merely be tiny particles popping in and out of existence from some unknown other dimension, it could be an as-yet-to-be defined force, or it could be purely imagination. From this questioning and open perspective, we can live lives doing the best we can with the information available no longer threatened by challenges to what we may have believed. We honor all life not for the sake of the threat of annihilation or any other-worldly reward but for life itself. The religion of my youth taught me fear; the agnosticism of my adulthood teaches me to wonder and grow.