Barabbas recently… well, several months ago, posted a set of questions for people to answer. His questions were aimed at atheists, and I do not consider myself an atheist, but rather an agnostic, however I thought I’d take a crack at the questions.
1. Would you say you are Convinced that God or gods do not exist, or simply that you don’t Believe that they do? (Two very different statements. The first applies to Knowledge, the second only to Belief)
Honest answer is that I do not know. So far, no being that could be considered God or a god has made itself known to us, save for various competing versions of God across various texts, written thousands of years ago. The acts attributed to God and God’s disciples/prophets could well have seemed like supernatural ones to people of the era, much as people from that era would find much of our modern technology to be supernatural. With that in mind, I am not especially convinced by evidence of God, and I don’t take self-referential sources like the Bible (or Qur’an, or Torah) as evidence in themselves.
However, I am willing to concede that there is much we do not understand of this vast universe, and who knows what we might yet learn?
2. We’re you ever at one time in your life a Believer in God or Gods, and if so… which one or ones? (Mind you, I’m not asking at this time why you left, just did you previously Believe)
I don’t think I have ever truly believed. I have often wondered, and I have wanted to believe, because who doesn’t want to believe that one day, we’ll be reunited with those we have lost, in an eternal paradise, but I find it hard to reconcile that desire with some of the barbaric commands issued in the name of God, or even by God themselves, across various holy texts.
3. Have you ever had any Experiences that might be described as “spiritual” or “supernatural” that others might see as “experiences with God”? And if so, what did you think of them at the time… and what do you think of them Now? (I apologize for the “3 in 1”. They seem linked to the same question, yes?)
The closest ‘experience’ would be in the form of dreams. I once had a dream about a friend who had passed away. He was an older gentleman, but his death was still quite sudden. Months later, I had a dream that I was dancing with his wife, only I was possessed by my friend’s spirit/soul, and at the point that his soul began to drift away, she asked me about why the number 42 was important, and I couldn’t answer her. She became very upset, and I became very upset, and when I woke up, I was nearly breathless from emotion. I’ve never woken up from a dream because of that kind of emotion before.
Another dream involved having a drink down the pub with my Grandad. The scene felt serene, and natural and right. I can’t explain it beyond that.
Are these dreams signs? Or are they just dreams? I know what I want to believe, and I know what science will tell me.
4. How do you view those who do Believe in God or gods? Are they ‘brainwashed’, ‘stupid’ or just wrong? (I know the first two are ‘loaded’, but I’m looking for your mindset as well as what you perceive ours to be)
I don’t think I can neatly categorise believers into boxes, there are different versions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and so forth. There are varying interpretations of holy documents. Some believe the Bible is literally true, to the extent that I’m quite sure if the Bible told them the sky was green, they’d deny the evidence of their own eyes. Others see parts of the Bible as allegorical. The same is no doubt true of followers of other faiths.
I think it would be ‘coming on strong’ to refer to the religious as brainwashed, but I do wonder if there is a measure of programming that comes from organised religion. There is the threat of eternal punishment, and the promise of an eternal reward, for behaving in the right way.
5. What Evidence or Experience or Arguments would lead you to believe in God or gods generally… or Christianity specifically… if any? (Mind you, I’m not asking “Why you don’t believe”. I’m asking what would lead you to Believe)
In the case of Christianity, the literal Second Coming of Jesus would be hard to ignore. In general terms though, if a deity descended from the skies and began to reshape the land, or end world hunger with a snap of its fingers, or perform any other kind of large-scale, obvious miracle, that would be hard to ignore as well.
Well, I hope that provides some food for thought.