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Agnostic Testimony 9
The Road to Uncertainty

from Chris Warren

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I was raised Catholic. While I went to public school, as part of the road to confirmation, I had to attend a weekly CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) class as well as attend services through the 8th grade.

I was a precocious kid, particularly in the sciences, so naturally some conflict between the literal bible and my science texts came to my attention. As we got close to confirmation at the age of 13, part of the process was individual counseling, Q&A questions with the parish priests. I got the pastor, Father Tom, and asked him about one of the conflicts. What he told me is standard Catholic doctrine, but it was never anything the CCD teachers or my parents had ever told me.

Father Tom explained that the bible wasn't meant to be taken literally. Some of the things in there were just stories that illustrated a point, and the important thing was to think about what it was trying to convey, and apply that message to life.

That little explanation from a Catholic priest was what broke the impasse that had been forming between my interest in science and rationalism and my family's belief system. I continued in the church for a few years after that, growing slightly constrained by doctrine, until I heard of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers.

Doing some research, I realized Quaker theology was very appealing to me. This sparked an interest in other alternate Christian options, which I investigated, but eventually came back to the Quakers. It's another non-literal theology with no enforced dogma, but relying in personal revelation.

This lasted about 4 years, during which I came to two discoveries: first, I had had no personal revelations of any supernatural origin. Secondly, that my belief in Christian divinity was purely a relic of my upbringing. Starting from a default position, I could not rationally reach that as a belief. Therefore, I abandoned the RSoF (although I understand they do have some members who would describe themselves so) and realized I was an agnostic deist.

While my personal belief in the existence or non-existence of a deity has wavered since that time, my agnosticism has not. My examination of all evidence I have seen has given me no empirical knowledge of a divine being, but neither can I logically disprove it. In either case, I have found no evidence that if such a being exists, it interacts with physical reality. The ontological question of whether such a being exists is interesting, and I tend to waver back and forth between nominal deism and atheism on it, but I recognize that both views are ultimately non-rational, and just a matter for personal speculation.

What does matter is that if there is a god, its desires are unknown, and it is non-interactive in our world, so it's up to people to effect the changes that need to be made to improve the world. I have found an ethical duty to act in a positive manner, answerable to my community, there is no god needed to set or enforce a code of conduct. And that is much more relevant to my life, the lives of my family, and everyone around me than my transient thoughts on the existance or nature of god.

That is why I am an agnostic.