My man, Buddha

The person who needs religion to bolster up his own purposes is a timorous person, and I cannot think as well of him as of the man who takes his chances, while admitting that defeat is not impossible. —Bertrand Russell, “What is an Agnostic?”

Before you go jumping down my throat with arguments against this thought that I shall present to you in a few moments, let me explain that it has taken me years on contemplation and conversation that has brought me to it. You see, the idea was placed in my head several years by the ghost I call Alice – who isn’t a real ghost, so much as a very real person who has the tendency of returning to my world whenever it pleases her the most. After several dreams that presented my maternal grandmother, I confided in her that I was losing my wits, my grasp on reality. Her explanation was Hispanic Catholic in fashion – “The dead communicate to us through our dreams so they are not forgotten.”

To any other person, this might have calmed my nerves. It might have even comforted me, knowing that somewhere out there, my grandmother was watching down on me, still guiding me through this world. Only, I’m not any other person. I’m me, and that’s a person who once – or still does believe – that once we die, that’s pretty much it for us. Our memory will continue on for a few short weeks, months or years, but after that, life must continue on. We are essentially over.

“We all have to believe in something,” Alice said. “It’s in human nature to believe in [a higher power].”

Being very much human, I found it rather insulting. After a few years thought, however, I’ve come to accept her simplistic explanation why several of us still look up to the sky and think someone is looking back down – with the expect of the paranoid/delusional people out there as there is probably several people looking down on them, waiting to make their move.

Then explain the rest of us, you ask? I’m not very pithy with words, so just read this, this and this for further explanation. Hell, even read this. Evolution is my usual suspect for things like this, however. Evolution is always the go-to reason, like Hitler is the go-to example in Ethics.

So why am I an agnostic and not a full blown Atheist? Is it because I’m not fully evolved – as if Agnostics are the link between believers and Atheists. I’ll turn to my man, Bertrand Russell to answer this one for me:

An agnostic thinks it impossible to know the truth in matters such as God and the future life with which Christianity and other religions are concerned.

Okay, I get why you’re not a Christian, but why aren’t you an Atheist? Mr. Russell doesn’t like to be interrupted, is my answer to that question. Please continue, Bertrand:

The Agnostic suspends judgment, saying that there are not sufficient grounds either for affirmation or for denial. At the same time, an Agnostic may hold that the existence of God, though not imp0ssible, is very improbable; he may even hold it so improbable that it is not worth considering in practice.

It’s simple – I’m a creature of evidence. Just because I’ve never seen a UFO doesn’t mean I’m going to disregard the possibility of life on other planets – though, I will probably disregard you if you ever told me you’ve seen an alien or UFO. And while I’ll leave the window open for the god possibility, I’m not going to let the possibility rule my life, decide my fate without my regard. In other words, I refuse the role of sheep among shepherds.

As Russell would say, I believe “a man should think out questions of conduct for himself.” Or better yet, the Buddhists said it best – “every one must bear the burden of his own sins, that every man must be the fabricator of his own salvation, that not even a God can do for man what self-help in the form of self-conquest and self-emancipation can accomplish.” (Of course, both of these quotes can relate to Atheists, as well.)

Like Russell states – “he will seek to profit by the wisdom of others” – I’ve sought out several people whose wisdom and intelligence has molded my thoughts and insights. It doesn’t make me any less “human” or “Christian,” in my mannerisms. But that, in of itself, is a topic for a later date.

Meaning, tomorrow.

Texts used within the post:

  1. What is an Agnostic?” by Bertrand Russell
  2. A Buddhist Bible edited by Dwight Goddard
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