2020, Religion, Society

I’m Agnostic But I Tell People I’m an Atheist

I am agnostic. I make no claims to know what caused the universe.

To me, it’s the height of presumption for someone to claim they know why the universe exists, perhaps even how the universe exists.

The presumption is even worse when it comes from someone who doesn’t specifically study the origin of the universe (i.e. someone who is not a cosmologist).

But, to many people, the term “agnostic” implies an open-mindedness towards the world’s religions that I don’t posses.

Let’s take the abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Not only to I reject all their claims of the nature of god, I reject the idea that they could know god if they could actually prove their god’s existence.

They cannot prove its existence, of course. They have been trying for millennia and nobody has succeeded. What are the odds they will prove it in the future?

(At least polytheism and the nontheistic religions have some humility – there isn’t one being who is obsessed with our day-to-day moral struggles in those religions.)

These religions all come from a time when we didn’t know very much about the universe. It makes sense they arose to help fill in the explanations of the world that human beings experienced.

And we didn’t know the earth wasn’t at the centre of the universe. It makes sense we would assume we were at the centre until we knew better.

But now, belief makes no sense. We know better.

The only way belief makes sense is as customs inherited from our families and our communities, and then intensely defended when our beliefs and cultures are under threat.

But, as adults, we should look at reality as clearly as we can.

I try to do that in my life.

And that’s why I’m agnostic. I have no idea what caused the universe and I very likely will never know. It’s the height of arrogance for me to insist that somebody else believe what I cannot possibly prove about the nature of our reality.

But, when I say I’m agnostic, people assume I am open-minded about monotheism. I’m not.

I should clarify:

You are free to believe whatever you want. Who am I to tell you what to believe? (As long as you don’t tell me what to believe, of course.)

But I’m not open-minded about arguments in favour of monotheism. They are all bad arguments. They have all been debunked over and over again.

So that’s why, when people ask me, what do you believe, I say “I’m an atheist” even though I’m actually agnostic.

In case you were wondering.

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