Sunday, December 18, 2005

I don't know and I don't care

There's a post at Pandagon asking about agnostics. Interesting timing, because - given the time of year - I had been crafting in my head a post about my beliefs, if you can call them "beliefs."

I am an agnostic. More than that, my views on God are like that old joke about the difference between ignorance and apathy: I don't know and I don't care.

I say "I don't know" because I don't think I'll ever know - not while I'm alive on this earth - whether there's a god. Besides, I think of religion and even simple abstract spirituality as something taken on faith, not forged with the certainty of knowledge.

I say "I don't care" because regardless of whether God exists, I can't imagine living my life any differently than I do now. I am exceedingly irritated by people who exhort myself and others like me to embrace religion so that we may be guided by "morality." As if the certified and complete absence of a god would turn me into a thieving, backstabbing, hateful individual. It's not fear of punishment that keeps me from harming my fellow man - it's my desire to be a good person, to make a positive mark on the world for the short time I'm in it. I often think about how to be more generous, how to be more understanding, and how to be more patient... whereas I hardly ever even think about whether there is a god, whether Jesus was just an exceptionally kind-hearted person or the Son of God.

I wish I had a better memory. Talking about my "beliefs" reminds me of two things, and I'm sorry I cannot direct you via links to either one. One is the SportsNight episode in which Natalie is upset that the pope has said there's no hell. She's very agitated by that, until Jeremy reminds her that it doesn't matter. He tells her that the existence or non-existence of hell has no bearing on her life: she is a good person and thus will continue to strive to be good to others.

The second thing is an article by Gregg Easterbrook years and years ago in The New Republic about religion and existentialism. All I can recall about that piece right now, years later, is the ending. Easterbrook notes at the end of the piece that even the absence of a god does not make our lives here on earth meaningless. Indeed, if this, if we are all we have, that makes what we do here, on earth, together and for each other, so incredibly meaningful. I very much agree with that notion. And it's that type of existentialism that guides me through the Christmas hype, the stress, and the general craziness that can afflict us at this time of year.


Blogger liz said...

You always put things so well.

7:04 PM, December 18, 2005  
Anonymous Ellen S said...

I always tell people I am an agnostic, but a devout one.

I also joke about being a better agnostic that most people are in their religions because 24/7 - I DO NOT KNOW. I am not plagued by moments of lack-of-doubt.

8:02 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

You're too kind, Liz.

Ellen, welcome to the blog!

8:49 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Lovely post, APL.

9:10 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger Courtney said...

See, this is the kind of post that makes my husband think you're the beer-drinking (that's definitely a compliment in his book) version of me. A Sportsnight reference, a belief in morality wrapped in a religion-less world, and a little New Republic thrown in for good measure. I so heart APL!

10:51 PM, December 18, 2005  
Blogger Running2Ks said...

Excellent. I believe in God because it is nice not to be alone.

But, like Natalie, I'm a good person because I am. I don't think at all about rewards or punishment after life.

10:10 AM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

Love this post, APL.

Hear hear for being a good person just BECAUSE.

10:57 AM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger ccw said...

Very well said.

12:04 PM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger Yankee T said...

This is so well put...You put into words just what I feel. Thanks for this.

6:26 PM, December 19, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that I'm not agnostic, though my spirituality is trending ever so slowly from Episcopalian to Unitarianism. Bottom line is that I believe the Jesus story but very little of the baggage that's associated with it. The only morality one can truly derive from the Gospels is that we need to help the needy -- period. Love God, love your neighbor. Pretty much anything else was added by self-interested church officials over the years, and it came over the objections of the Irish monks who spent the Dark Ages transcribing the Bible on craggy rocks with which the barbarians couldn't bother themselves.

While some of the world's most moral people are Christian (e.g., Bono), many are not. And APL is indeed an upstanding moral person, which I why I don't worry about the Goran lust she expresses here. It's just talk. Right, sweetheart?

(Actually, we were once in the same room with one of her mythical "top five," and he was decidedly checking her out. I've threatened to kick his scrawny English ass to this day.)

All that said, I think APL leans more spiritual than she confesses here. Either that, or she just wants me out of the house on Sundays.

9:12 PM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger listmaker said...

Thank you for putting into words exactly what I feel.

8:48 AM, December 23, 2005  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

Thanks for the comment and for stopping by, listmaker.

12:07 PM, December 23, 2005  
Blogger Wicked H said...


Standing Ovation!

12:58 PM, December 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the honesty. May I quote you in a sermon that I am constructing? It's a great contrast to what the Bible speaks of in Acts 1:3 when it speaks of Jesus after his resurrection; "...he presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs..."


3:18 PM, July 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you didn't know and didn't care you'd be a whole lot quieter.
So I say you lie.
My name is Fed-up-with-phonies

3:41 PM, November 16, 2009  

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