Joining the Agnostic Community
by: Robert F vonBriesen
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In my earlier essay (Agnostic Testimony 30: The Conclusion of a Life-Long Seeker) regarding my path to Agnosticism, I mentioned that I intended to start an Agnostic Group on ‘Meet-up.com’. I had previously belonged to several New-Age and Shamanic groups in Meet-Up and felt that there were many in those groups who expressed agnostic beliefs.
Upon further exploration of Meet-Up groups, I discovered that starting a new group is not necessary; there are already a few groups in my local area. One group explained their small number of members as being the result of the reluctance of younger people to break out of their self-identity which includes religious beliefs imposed upon them while very young. It seems that a person must go through a life-long search as a skeptic to come to the conclusion that the greatest obstacle to self-awareness is organized religion. Consequently, most Agnostics are Senior citizens or approaching that status.
I accept that as partially true as I know, from my own experience, that I began my search while in my early 20’s. That search included many paths and traditions from Baptist, Jehovah Witness, Transcendental Meditation, B’Hai, Buddisim, Kaballah, Wicca, Shamanism and meta-Physics. I have concluded that I needed exposure to all those traditions to understand more fully what people believe and why they believe that way.
It appears that once a person finds a foundation for their self-identity in a particular tradition, they are reluctant to reconsider it. Not only is it a fear of being cast adrift in a sea of non-believers, it is a fear that something in them will be lost if they fail to adhere to the dogma of their belief system.
As an Agnostic, I do not consider myself to be a ‘non-believer’. I still have beliefs but they are based more on the emerging ‘Humanist’ movement than the old-time Religions. I believe we have a responsibility to consider all life forms, not just humans, to be worthy of respect and consideration. Humans, while possessing intellectual and creative skills above other animals, are still not the epitome of all possible life forms. There may be other, more developed and non-physical, life forms that exist in a world we cannot perceive. However, we live in this world which is physical and material and it is here where we must struggle to survive.
This has nothing to do with a belief in a ‘God’; it is a belief that we have our place in the natural order and that we should try to understand it to fulfill our purpose as a species. As a member of the most destructive species on this planet, I grieve for what we are doing to our home. Not only are we the most destructive, we are the most predatory of species. How many other species engage in wholesale slaughter of their own kind? Our creative and intellectual capacity has not produced a utopia; it has created a world that could be consumed in a global war based on the decisions of a very few people.
Most of the world lives in fear and despair and are slaves of religious / political and economic systems that prevent them from ever rising above their desperate situations. Those who have power and wealth are primarily concerned with maintaining their status regardless of the human suffering that is created.
I do not believe I can change human nature or the course that civilization is on. I just do not want to add any more fuel to the fire. May my little piece of life be one that is filled with peace and tranquility that may be shared with others who are seeking the same.
In the end, we all die and perhaps our life energy will pass into another form. That is then, this is now. ‘Now” is all we can handle and understand. Rather than being concerned about the next phase of my spiritual existence, I prefer to focus my energy and efforts on making this life more tolerable and in agreement with the natural order of life, regardless of what the source of life might be.
R-von / July 2014
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