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Agnostic Testimony 25
No logical foundation to base my beliefs on

by: Kristine Robinson

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When I was 6, I asked my parents not to send me to Sunday school any more. They'd been teaching me about Jonah at the same time as I was reading about whales. I couldn't work out

a) how Jonah had been swallowed by a creature that used baleen instead of teeth and preferred small shrimp,

b) how Jonah had managed to breathe in the whale's stomach, and

c) why the digestive acids hadn't made Jonah into soup.

The Sunday school teacher couldn't tell me, and going to "Big People's Church" didn't tell me the answers either. So it was all just stories that I didn't like as much as the other books I read, and which didn't make sense.

At the age of thirteen I found a book called Practical Celtic Magic. It seemed cool, so I picked it up and started on my road to Paganism.

You can explain it all in Paganism. With enough research, you can find an answer for pretty much anything. And it works. Or at least, it seems to work. Possession, channelling, Ouija boards, spells... it's all consistent. And for many years I believed wholeheartedly that I was in constant communication with gods, demons, spirits, and all manner of other supernatural stuff. I saw them. I heard them. I spoke to them, and they replied. I was the vehicle for possession and channelling; sessions which I don't actually remember but which were recorded by other people in the coven I founded.

In 2003 I went to a doctor about it all. One of the occult laws, the Law of Challenge*, warns us to be on our guard. So I told my doctor about seeing things and hearing things that other people couldn't, and that I wanted to see a psychiatrist in case I was schizophrenic.

I have Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. Research has shown that people with TLE can become fanatical about religion, sometimes reporting religious experiences as part of their seizures. Visual and auditory hallucinations occasionally accompany seizures.

Discovering my TLE was my first step, I began to doubt. There were still enough things I couldn't explain away, until I found myself on a religion and philosophy forum, arguing in favour of evolution against backwater Christians who had no understanding of biological science. There are a lot of atheists on those forums (who would have thought it?) who were quite happy to introduce me to YouTube Penn and Teller episodes to debunk my remaining proofs. I was left with no logical foundation to base my beliefs on, and I'm just not one who can leave it all down to faith. In 2007 I abandoned Paganism altogether.

Self-doubt is the most precious thing I have. I cannot trust my own senses, therefore I must look for consistency. Anything without consistency must be subject to question.

This is why I became agnostic. I can never say without a doubt that it is one or the other. The probability is that it was always simply in my head, but I'll never be able to say with certainty that every vision was false.

Of course, it doesn't really matter one way or the other, I may not actually be sitting down typing all this right now.

Footnote:

*The Law of Challenge states: All visions, dreams, sources of inspiration, suspicions, anything, in fact, that would appear to issue from beyond the bounds of rational, logical thinking, should be challenged. The lesson here is one of absolute honesty, as the aspirant should be aware of the subtle line that divides the present reality from interpenetrative alien frequencies, and inspiration from delusion. I have it written in my Book of Shadows. I'm unsure where I originally transcribed it from.