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Ask the Patriarch 131
Filling the Void

from Will Petillo

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As an agnostic, I do not find the case for religion and the existence of God convincing and there are a great many intelligent articles on this site that defend such a lack of persuasion. Nonetheless, I cannot help but find the idea of God and religion to be deeply appealing--despite what the rational part of me has to say about it. The sheer number of religions and people who believe in them (zealously or more reasonably) seems to indicate that I am not unique in this. This raises two basic questions that I have been trying to figure out for some time, for which I have not managed to find a satisfactory direct answer:

  1. What is the appeal of spirituality? What human need(s) does it fulfill?
  2. Can those needs be fulfilled under apathetic agnosticism? If so, how?

I am interested in all responses anyone may have to either of these questions -- even the poorly thought-through ones.

The Patriarch replies:

Will:

I'll limit my reply to three factors - there are probably more but I'll let others identify and address them.

In some ways agnostics are different from other people.

That leaves us with a sense of community. That is a need that apathetic agnosticism meets,, even though it is a tenuous connection through this web site or through the discussion board. The number of people who have written to say "I thought I was the only one who felt this way" is astonishing. Too many agnostics feel they are alone - even though a recent survey shows 16% of American males are agnostics.