Thoughts on Agnosticism

Posted By on March 30, 2009

I’ve never really been able to understand agnosticism. If you look it up on Google, you’ll get a variety of definitions, but most of them boil down to one of two things: either not knowing whether there is a God, or believing that it is not possible to know.

When I say I don’t understand, it is the former definition, not the latter, that I am addressing. I’m talking about personal religious belief and decisions, not philosophy. And what I don’t understand is how agnosticism can be an end point. To say with finality, “I don’t know” and then stop there… it is essentially like saying “I don’t know, and I really don’t care, either.”

What the word doesn’t take into consideration is that any perspective one takes on the existence of God is a decision. If you are convinced that there is a God, you can choose to act or not act on that conviction. If you are not sure, you have three choices: to approach it as though there is (the choice to believe), to approach it as though there is not (the choice to disbelieve), or to keep on searching till you have a more definitive answer.

The problem is that many people think, by giving their doubts a name, they can just accept the status quo of not knowing, and pretend like it isn’t a choice. But it is. Accepting not knowing, and then choosing not to accept God, is choosing to reject Him. It isn’t neutral. It isn’t choosing not to choose. The only neutral ground is to continue looking for an answer until you are convinced you have one. To choose not to choose — to choose to reject — is to make the most important decision of your existence by passive default. I have an easier time understanding outright, active anger toward God than pretending like a choice doesn’t exist.

If you choose not to take action on paying the rent, you choose to be evicted. If you choose not to take action on eating, you choose to be hungry. If you don’t choose a job, you don’t get work. You get the idea. You matter, and your choices matter. Choosing not to choose is merely choosing to default into the negative. It is a choice, and to say otherwise is to deceive yourself.

I can understand being afraid to make a decision. Being afraid of being rejected by a perfect God; being afraid of committing to a code of behavior that you aren’t sure you’re ready to commit to; being afraid, on the flip side, of making the wrong choice and landing where you can’t get out.

I’ve been afraid, too, of many things. I’ve at times been so afraid that I can’t take action because I’m frozen in place. I promise, I know how it feels. But one thing I’ve learned is that taking a step, even a small step, toward resolution almost never makes things worse. It almost always takes things one step closer to being better.

If you suffer doubts, know that you are not alone. But also, please know that every moment you seek or do not seek is a decision you are making. And fear itself is consistently worse than the thing we are afraid of. God won’t reject you. He won’t push you away until you meet His requirements. He won’t make deals with you. The deal has already been offered, and it’s one way. There is nothing you have to do but accept it. As for the “requirements,” don’t worry about them for now. God won’t expect anything of you that He doesn’t first put in your heart.

You are stronger, braver, and wiser than you think. Have courage.


One Response to “Thoughts on Agnosticism”

  1. Excellent article, Christina. I pray that someone who needs these words will find it. 🙂

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