"Donnie, an atheist is someone who denies altogether the existence of God. You're an agnostic. An agnostic is someone who believes that there can be no proof of the existence of God, but does not deny the possibility that God exists." -Donnie Darko
I was watching that movie back in April. Now I've seen this movie many times but to me, it's one of those films that the more times I watch it, the more I understand things. This time around, it got my mind working about religion. Yes, that may seem odd, but I was happy that it did. Then, last night, I got into a very interesting discussion with my friend Matt about religion. We covered a lot of stuff, from breaking down each denomination of Christianity to fundamentalist groups. It was very pleasant to me that he and I seemed to have a lot of similar beliefs and that we could discuss religion without feeling like we were going to offend one another.
My personal journey on finding where I am religiously has taken me years, even decades. I still don't have all the answers, but I feel comfortable with where I stand.
I am an agnostic.
I know that this may come as a shock to many of you, especially to my family and the friends that I went with to their churches. A lot of my extended family are very religious, and I love them for that. But for me, I have to go with what my heart tells me.
My Mom's side of the family was raised Catholic. My Dad had been raised Baptist by his mom and his dad was Episcopalian. I have attended all of those churches, as well as Presbyterian, RLDS (aka Community of Christ), and Christian Non-Denominational. I've compared each one. For the most part, they were the same (I mean, they all read the Bible, take communion, and bring people together). The only one that I was even remotely interested in possibly joining was Catholicism, and that was when I was going to college in St. Louis... which was a Catholic based University.
When I was a teen, my Mom was taking a human sexuality class and part of the course had to do with religion and homosexuality. They broke down the Bible and compared current prints with ones from before the sexual revolution. The discovery that the Bible was altered to condone homosexuality blew my mind. At first I was appauled that people would alter the word of God to fit into what's going on in the world. Then, I thought it through and realized that this was definatly not the first time something like this has happened. People have always altered or changed things to either protect someone or to deny something. Why would the Bible be any different?
That realization then made me question organized religion in general. If the people who pen copies of the Bible alter the info and Pastors preach those copies, then who is to say that we are really getting the true word of God? I just see way too many flaws there. I would much rather do my own research for the truth. I just feel you need to explore things for yourself, make your own discoveries. You don't have to follow the crowd... that's the beauty of free will.
There's also the whole science vs. God controversy. Scientists continue to reserch and discover more of how our planet works, how things came to exist. This does anger many, since it contributes to prove that God didn't create everything, or didnt exist at all. To me, knowledge is a powerful thing. The more you know about something, the more understanding you will be about life. So I support scientific research. Nothing wrong with that, especially since medicine is part of that research.
What does anger me about some religion is focused on the fundamentalist groups, especially with groups like the Westboro Baptist Church. That group exists more out of fear and hatrid than out of love and forgiveness. Some of it is also focused on ignorance. I just sometimes struggle to believe that some of their followers think that it's ok to expose harm to the world using religion as their reason behind it. It's groups like this that also contribute to the fact that I believe you should explore things on your own.
Just because I am agnostic doesn't mean that I will avoid talking about religion. I actually like discussing it, and with all kinds of people. I even love studying all aspects of religion. I spent many hours in newspaper class talking to one of my friends who is Muslim, and we enjoyed comparing each other's beliefs. I was thrilled when she brought the Qu'ran to school one day. Same goes with my friend Amarisa. I love hearing about her Mormon beliefs; it just fascinates me in the same way that I was when learning about new things in grade school. I would love to go on a vacation to Europe someday and visit the oldest churches in existance. A lot of my favorite books, movies, and tv shows revolve around religion or have religious aspects.
Books- Angels and Demons, The DaVinci Code
Movies-Dogma, The Green Mile, Boondock Saints, Saved!
Television- Big Love, True Blood
Ok, so I may not be the typical agnostic. But that's ok with me. Like I said, I am still doing some self-discovery. But at least I will know that whenever it comes time for me to leave this world, I will know that I stood true to my own beliefs and that I was happy.