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Ask the Patriarch 43
And Yet Another School Project

From Nathan Gibbs

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I attend St Gregory's College, C*******, founded by the Marist Brothers in 1926. As part of the HSC course for Studies of Religion we have to complete an Interest study project. From the vast amount of options I have chosen to study Agnosticism, but to be more specific reasons why people are Agnostic. I have done plenty of research and studied the writings of people such as Robert Green Ingersoll, but I would like to have more first hand primary sources in my work. This is why I was hoping it wouldn't be too much trouble for a person who considers himself or herself Agnostic to help me by answering a few questions. I would greatly appreciate your input, as I am very interested to read your opinions. By all means answer these questions in any form as I have had difficulty in finding a way to put them so please pardon the directness.

The Questions are:

Thanking you in advance for you response, which is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Nathan Gibbs

(Yr 12 Student)

The Patriarch replies:

Nathan:

The following replies to your three questions.

"Were you raised as an Agnostic?"

No. I was raised Church of England (now called Anglican.)

"For what reasons are you Agnostic?"

The flip, yet correct, answer, is that I have no reason to be anything else.

There is no religion or denomination that has been able to provide real proof of the existence of a deity, nor can I express absolute and complete certainty that one does not exist.

As expressions of my agnosticism, I have written previously:

"First, prove to me objectively that there is a god, any god. Only then do we need to discuss which particular deistic religion, cult, sect, or denomination happens to have the minor details correct."

"Over 10, 000 different religions. Over 35,000 different Christian denominations. They all can't be right. But they all could be wrong."

In a similar vein in the February 2004 (US edition) Playboy (you are old enough to read the articles,) Ray Bradbury writes:

"How did we get here? Where did Earth come from and how did the people of Earth arrive? We have thousands of religions with 10,000 answers and none of them completely agreeable."

If rather than consult Playboy, you would like to read your bible, then I refer you to John 20. 24-28. The tale told there has Thomas requiring proof and receiving it. Agnostics consider that level of proof lacking for the existence of any deity, let alone think that there is proof that the story of doubting Thomas is anything but a tall tale.

"Was there one particular moment when you realised that Agnosticism was for you?"

There was no instant of conversion. Determining I was agnostic was the culmination of considering a number of different religious options over a number of years. The final step came out of a series of discussions with Mormon missionaries. I came to the realization that all the Mormons have done is add a set of exceedingly questionable beliefs to the already questionable underpinnings of Christianity. Yet they were no more effective than any other religion at addressing the fundamental issue of any god's existence. Without being able to address that issue realistically, the whole belief structure collapses - regardless of which religion.