I think that I am turning into an agnostic. I have whistled in the dark long enough and preached to the choir long enough, but I have had a shift in the attitude of late that has been creeping up on me in increments. Well, I really can’t say that it has been “of late.” It has been there to some degree for me for as long as I can remember, and I’m almost certain that all religious or spiritual people to some degree, even if slight, have a doubt. I have always had doubts. I have been assured by many very good Christians and clerics, including my own father who was an Episcopal Deacon, that it is healthy to have doubts. So there you have it; I’m out of the ecclesiastical closet so to speak. I’m afraid I might be an agnostic.
What exactly is an agnostic that I should think that I am one?
A dictionary defines an agnostic as “a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.” Under that definition a lot of people are agnostics. Let’s be honest: who really knows God? Even my favorite preachers who claim to know God claim that God is a mystery too big to be comprehended by measly human minds. God is too big for us to conceive of. Admit it! That’s agnosticism!
I kind of equate belief in God to that of believing in ghosts: I’ve never seen one (that I know of) but I’m far from saying that there are no such things. I always find it funny when hardcore Christian types say there are no such things as ghosts when their very own disciples of Jesus thought that they were seeing a ghost when Jesus was walking on the sea.
And what is up with the Bible anyway?
I have read it from cover to cover at least a couple of times and decided that it depresses me. I mean have you read the Old Testament? God was as mean as a snake to people.
For example what about Adam and Eve? God places them in the Garden of Eden with simplistic minds that don’t know the difference between good and evil. Then God just so happens to plant a tree there that’s fruit conveys the knowledge of good and evil and tells them not to eat of it. That’s like leaving a loaded gun in a baby’s crib! Why did God plant that tree in the first place?
What purpose did it serve except as a dangerous temptation? God put it there on purpose! And, how could Adam and Eve be tempted in the first place? They didn’t understand tempting or the difference of good and evil – that only came after they ate the fruit, so how could they be guilty of formulating the intent to do evil when they didn’t even know what evil or temptation was? They listened to the friendly seeming serpent and suddenly the blinders were pulled off and they realized that they had done evil because they had learned what evil is by eating the fruit.
God then takes a walk in the evening breeze and being all omnipresent and omniscient suddenly notices that Adam and Eve are hiding from him because they discovered that being naked is evil. So, God pieces it together that they now know the difference between good and evil, meaning that they ate of the tree that God commanded them not to eat of and that’s original sin. We have been stuck with it ever since, but how, I ask you, can you sin when you don’t know what sin is? Adam and Eve got a raw deal. So they get cast out of the Garden of Eden and Adam has to earn his meal by the sweat of his brow and Eve has to have pain in childbirth. The ground is as hard as flint and the weeds are a constant plague, but now there is a new thing called death that awaits Adam and Eve and all their offspring after them. All of us are born to live realizing that death, and most of the time, unpleasant, painful death, awaits us. Why, because God left that tree, that Attractive Nuisance, in the Garden of Eden.
Now death in the Old Testament wasn’t such a bad thing.
After the painful part of death came to rest from the many woes of life that God afflicted on mankind because of the original sin. It was final peace and rest at the end. There was no more worry after death just blissful nothingness. But, God saw this, and that it was good, and decided that must be dealt with, so God comes along in the New Testament and introduces a new concept called hell so that God could pursue the mere mortal after death with forever damnation in lakes of fire. That was swelled of God to think of that for us.
Why is it in the Bible that something has to die?
The Bible is obsessed with death. That’s the concept that patriarchs on down through Moses held to assiduously. If you sin, then something, a sheep, or a ram, or a bull or a lamb, or a goat, and if you’re poor, a dove has to die for you. Something has to shed blood. It is a universal theme from the get-go. God has to have a sacrifice. The first murder occurs because Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God over Cain’s, so Cain killed him. Throughout the Bible, something has to die. At its peak, the Temple in Jerusalem must have been fairly awash in blood from the sacrificing of all the animals. King Solomon supposedly sacrificed tens of thousands of animals at the dedication of the Temple. And, finally, Jesus had to die – human sacrifice to finally satisfy the insatiable lust for blood.
I often wonder if the Jews got the Temple Mount back and rebuilt the Temple, reinstituting the sacrifice of animals, what the world would think of all the cruelty to and waste of animals.
As with ghosts, I’ve seen no up-front evidence of God that I know of. It could be that I have entertained angels unawares, but I would have appreciated it to know that was the case so I could have something tangible to have faith in. As far as the Bible is concerned, frankly, it scares me. I was actually scared of reading stories out of it to my kids when they were growing up because they were so bloodthirsty. Of course, as I am writing this, I fear that God will get retribution on me, or is preparing some special place in hell for agnostics, but heck, that probably already exists. I’m not sure that I’m really an agnostic, but I’m finding it hard not to be.