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Ask the Patriarch 101
How does it affect your lifestyle?

from Keith Debono

To open a discussion on this article, please use the contact page to provide your comments.

I am actually doing an interest study project on agnosticism and would like to know how, if at all, you believe that being agnostic changes your lifestyle from that of a Catholic. In other words do you believe that being agnostic has an impact on your lifestyle? And if so what would that impact be?

I have chosen this topic as I am interested in finding out more about agnosticism and since I have agnostic friends I would like to be able to understand them better.

Thank you for your help

Keith Debono

The Patriarch replies:

Keith:

Thank you for writing.

I don't think the label attached to a person's religious belief is as significant as how seriously that person chooses to get involved.

I have been agnostic for about 40 years now, and for most of that time it was just a label for my lack of belief. Of course, I did not go to church services, I did not participate in church social events, I did not pray, I did not contribute to religious charities. However, that is no different than millions of people who label themselves Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, Sunni, Shi'ite, Jewish, Hindu or whatever their parents happened to be. A high proportion of followers of various religions are essentially non-practicing.

That changed for me about ten years ago when I chose to put a few brief point about my views on religion on my personal web site. That generated an amazing amount of feedback, and I found myself getting involved in actively promoting agnosticism. That now takes up a significant amount of my time.

It's not agnosticism in itself that affects my lifestyle, it is the decision to be involved.

Most agnostics, in my view, don't care. They have decided that religion is not that important and move on with their lives. But so it is for many followers of religion. They might accept, in the background, the teachings of their religion, but they don't regard religion as highly important, and they move on with their lives.

It is degree of involvement and not the beliefs in themselves that affect lifestyle.