Pronunciation: \ag-ˈnäs-tik, əg-\
Etymology: Greek agnōstos unknown, unknowable, from a- + gnōstos known, from gignōskein to know — more at know
1 : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god
So it was a very big step for me when, a few months ago, I made the big leap to atheism.
athe·istPronunciation: \ˈā-thē-ist\Function: nounDate: 1551: a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.
For some time I believed that atheism was level with theism in the unsupportable assertion that there is or is not a supreme being as defined by theist organizations as an omnipotent and omniscient conscious entity.
the·ism\ˈthē-ˌi-zəm\Function: nounDate: 1678: belief in the existence of a god or gods; specifically :belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world
\ˈgäd also ˈgȯd\
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German got god
Date: before 12th century
1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe b Christian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind
2 : a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality
3 : a person or thing of supreme value
4 : a powerful ruler
I find it interesting that Merriam-Webster dictionary places a special subsection of the definition for the capitalized God, as opposed to the lowercase. God the presumptive supernatural creator as opposed to the idea of any supernatural being.
su·per·nat·u·ralPronunciation: \ˌsü-pər-ˈna-chə-rəl, -ˈnach-rəl\Function: adjectiveEtymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin supernaturalis, from Latin super- + natura natureDate: 15th century1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)
So, as an agnostic, I was defining myself as impartial, that I was incapable of making an informed opinion on whether God was a realistic idea I could pin my beliefs on or that it's an unsupportable claim with enough evidence to the contrary to disprove its existence. God, ghosts, spirits, bogeymen, angels, tooth fairies, goblins, unicorns and any other mythological creature have the same amount of empirical evidence as the other. I do not believe the tooth fairy exists because I found out my parents were the ones putting money under my pillow and they were lying about it. That wasn't incontrovertible evidence of its nonexistence, but my faith in the tooth fairy was shattered by that breach of trust.
A few months ago I realized that deep down inside of me, no part of me is capable of believing in the uppercase God.
This has been an important part of the whole 12 steps thing -
- Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
- Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
- Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
- Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
- Step 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.
I think it's very well-established by now that I have trust issues. Why should I trust the same creature who I'm told put me through all these "tests of faith" that have had such horrible lasting effects on me, just because he wants to see if I can trust him afterward? That is an abusive relationship, and so I am avoiding it and having faith in myself instead.
I have faith that I am greater than I have allowed myself to be, and that everyone is greater than they are told they can be. I believe strongly in the power of the individual person and feel that if any 'miracle' occurs it has less to do with a supernatural god meddling with our lives and more to do with the individual person who made that miracle occur.
Accepting a power greater than myself is a poor wording at best for what I will need to do to make it past step 2.
And then, now that I have humbly accepted that I am an inherently inferior creature, for step 3 I need to turn my will and my very life over to this very same entity that has been supposedly responsible for all the trauma I have been through? Why should I trust it? Because I have no choice? Again, the power dynamics of this relationship make it inherently abusive and I need to escape it, not embrace it.
But let's say that I do give in, I do stop fighting the fight because I see that it's not getting me anywhere, I do accept that I am broken and inferior and that I need guidance from something greater than me, greater than anything human, and that I can define it however I see fit so long as it's superior to me. I need to then make a moral inventory of myself to find every single way I am inferior to it, humbly ask this entity to remove my defects, and then somehow accept that this creature has a specific 'will' for me, a purpose, which is to spread this message to other defective people.
I understand that there's a much more humanistic interpretation of these steps hidden between the lines, and that there is group empowerment in individual disempowerment, and so long as one is associated with the group one gets the benefits of empowerment because the individual was clearly unable to handle the power themselves and became an addict.
This whole process is ultimately what made me realize that I am an atheist. I am absolutely unable to even humor the idea that there is a conscious supernatural being watching over us all. If I could it would be much, much easier to accept the 12 steps and work through them. Instead I have to fight the wording and find what it is that is conceptually beneficial to it all, what it is that they're really meaning for me to feel, and then move through them with that in mind. As a side note, that approach makes it much more likely I'll really integrate the lessons into my life as opposed to lip servicing them which is a major issue in AA.
So, I can no longer claim not to have taken sides. My trust issues made that decision for me.
I'm definitely an atheist, and it would take one hell of an amelioration of that broken trust for me to think otherwise. And since I don't think that sort of thing is really what this God creature is known for, I'm just cutting it off. Agnosticism is humoring it too much for me.