Saturday, July 31, 2010

Derivations on a Theme - Between Two Poles

There's a very thought-provoking post this morning on Nothing Just Is. Entitled The Spectrum of Belief, the author talks about the similarities of theism and atheism.
Today I found an article on Agnosticism which is definitely worth a read. In it, the author makes a similar point: that both theism and atheism are, in the end, leaps of faith, each one lacking an ultimate proof. While we can argue endlessly over which one is less of a leap of faith (and therefore more valid), that — of course — is not the point. The article argues very well for Agnosticism being — rather than just “weak Atheism” — a much more balanced approach to life’s unanswered questions.

This “spectrum of belief” which would have us view theists and atheists as distant opposites is, to me, quite incorrect. The road away from theism has led atheists back to the same faulty peak of dogmatic insistence. They just happen to now be facing in the opposite direction.
Once I no longer identified myself as a Christian so many years ago, I struggled with questionnaires that ask what word best describes my religious perspective. Atheism seems too harsh, but agnosticism sounds wishy washy. I generally don't write down Taoist either as I'm a philosophical Taoist not a [institutional] religious one.

However, after reading the blog post cited above, it dawned on me (yeah, I can be kind of slow) that agnosticism really is no different than the middle road spoken about in Buddhism and Taoism. It is the middle position between the two extremes. I acknowledge that there is some mysterious force afoot in the universe. I call it Tao, but that doesn't define what it is.

The place in which I do intersect strongly with atheists is in my condemnation of the institution of religion. While I will grant that it has and does offer some beneficial aspects to society, on the whole, I think the negatives far outweigh the positives. Rather than serving as a bridge to bring people together, religion erects walls to keep us estranged from each other and all of creation.

So, if I had to choose words that describe my spiritual perspective, they would be anti-religious, agnostic, and philosophical Taoist.

1 comment:

  1. "Spiritual Atheist" maybe for me.

    I once consoled a Christian who I had destroyed in an argument how: "Well, after all, to be anti Jesus you must believe there was a Jesus" - but I only said this to console and not because I meant it.

    You could say that to be anti God needs God but I am anti the belief in God. My argument is that God requires believer, believer requires God. Non believer requires nothing and nothing is required to not believe.

    What I believe in may be called God by some but it is the works of the philosophical Taoists that best demolish that argument when they say that the name is not the named. As he who names and the named are the very same believer and God who require each other to be.

    The truth I speak of needs no knower and is not to be known. It is to be. And that is an atheist perspective, no god, and it is a spiritual perspective, that this is an awe inspiring thing we recognize.

    The desire to name that or place certain qualities on an external being is for me as fanciful as the tooth fairy and as useful as tying a mountain to the ground.


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