Conversations between an Agnostic and a Christian – Part 1 of 2

Posted: August 11, 2010 by Haelie in What If...
Tags: , , , , , ,

Remember the challenge I issued a few posts back?  The one in which I challenged you to read the Book/Gospel of John in the Bible.  If not, you can click HERE to go back and read it briefly.

So, have you taken the challenge?  Have you started to read John, finished reading it, or do you at least plan to read it?

My dear Agnostic friend did.

I have a close friend who is a professed Agnostic and is also one of my most faithful blog readers.  Upon reading my first few posts (on my separate blog “To Not Decide…Is To Decide“), he replied in length to some of my points.  Here in today’s post, I will share with you one specific response I received from him.  Then, in Part 2 of this, I will share with you my reply to him.

Without further adieu, here is his very thorough, intellectual, Agnostic thought process about God and things related to Him:

Upon reading your last entry I couldn’t help but think that it was specifically directed to me (for the rest of you this is based on other off-line conversations). It’s not so much that the gauntlet has been thrown by you its more that it has been there already, in front of me, for a long time now. Yes, I began reading the Bible. Yes, I began with John 1 as found on the site you mentioned. And, yes, I immediately stumbled over my gauntlet. Who would have guessed!

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

Short. Sweet. But fraught with nagging uncertainties (my gauntlet). God is used in the singular, with the presupposition that this one god was there from the beginning. If so, why did he decide to allow the ancient cultures to practice polytheism and pantheism for so many millennia? When did he decide “Ok, enough of this fun. Let’s get down to business…” If he was there from the beginning why was he so loathe to make it apparent that he was there? What ever happened to all these ‘other gods’? Weren’t they real for those who believed in them? Is the belief in many gods any more false/true then the belief in one god? (For an interesting perspective on where these gods are, I’ll challenge you to read the novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman.) Then…

What relevance, if any, does God (any god, pick a god) have today? This question, for me, goes way beyond Belief and Faith. Strip away B/F and it runs to the pure, elemental core of the matter – existence. Why do we exist at all? This is a terrifying question when taken on its own, in freefall with no ground below, for us to answer. It causes anguish. It causes dread. This Nothingness we face, out of which all else emerges and where all returns is the cause of this dread and anguish.

We truly exist. But concomitant with this is the crushing onus of inescapable uncertainty; save for one thing – our eventual annihilation, our death (and taxes if you’re a comedian). Our life is defined by our death. We wonder why there Something rather than Nothing. We are always afraid that the notion of what-is (our being-here) will slip into the what-is-not (our being-not-here).

Our being-here, the Something, is continuously being defined by Nothingness. Humans have the remarkable capacity of self-creation. This is a standard feature of human existence. We are the only beings that can define our essence. We can be what-we-are. Essence follows existence. We create the purpose of the Something.

We have the ability to become what-we-are-not-today. It’s our choice to become what-we-are-not from what-we-are. You are not the same person you where twenty years ago. You will not be the same person you are today twenty years from now. Temporality places further stress on this process of becoming. This also is quite onerous to accept – a total commitment to self-responsibility, self-determination. We were thrust into Somethingness as freewheeling entities; free to exist as being-here for ourselves. (This is does not come capriciously… there is an element of moral obligation… yet another troublesome burden to shoulder). Sometimes all this self-authenticity is just too much to comprehend, too much to bear. This now leads back to the thought began two paragraphs ago.

God (any god, pick a god) solves many of these existential problems because with him at the helm of the Universe the conflict between Something vs Nothing is suddenly ‘answered’. It comforts us that some greater power is handling all these messy details of our being-here. It’s all a matter of how our being-here, existence, is interpreted. With god in the mix, our Humanness is explained by essence preceding existence.

It is only within this latter notion that B/F can take hold. It is much easier to allow our being-here to be in someone else’s hands; divine or temporal. It allows prayer to be meaningful. For, after all, praying is a statistical coin toss with only one of two options available to it every time it’s employed. Either the prayer is answered or the prayer is not answered. If answered to your satisfaction it then strengthens the belief that there is a god. But, interestingly enough, the opposite corollary is not assumed – if the prayer is not answered the one praying does not announce that it disproves god but rather the blame is placed on the one praying. The faith was not strong enough (doubt), some past event was viewed unfavorably (moral failing), disingenuousness in the request, etc. But, worst of all, prayer can be the complete abrogation of our responsibility, the annulment of self-determination, if you allow its answer to be the final arbiter. (The answer it self, is totally meaningful/meaningless due solely to your interpretation of it. Hmmm, back to that troublesome Self again.)

For when I choose to decide or not to decide I am still responsible for the decision I make. Only within the realm of Self can I choose with any authenticity to follow whatever advice I receive from whomever I ask it of.

So, now that you have read the true and deep thoughts of an Agnostic–some of which may be your own thoughts as well–I challenge you to continue to come back here on What If…Wednesdays (and anytime in between) so that you can catch Part 2 of this Conversation between an Agnostic and a Christian.

After all, there are two sides to every story, and you have not yet heard my heartfelt, respectful reply to his side.

Come back to read it soon…

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