Rise of the Gnostic Atheist

on Thursday, July 2

Alias: GMNightmare
Name: Jesse
Date: 29 July 2009
Birth: 1988 C.E.
Gender: Male

In my beginning, I was born to both a new mother and new father. My birth was a rather large event to my extended family, for I was the very first great grandchild. As my mother’s family is very close, of course many made an appearance. Near birth, I was blessed and baptized by my great grandfather under Christianity.

Under such pretenses I assume many would suspect that I was raised under a very religious setting. This was luckily not the case. It is worth mentioning that my mother’s ancestors stem from a long line of clergy, and they are all fairly religious… And while my mother is also mildly religious, my family couldn’t seem to find a church that we fit into.

Sure, my family tried—I understand that we were almost sucked into Mormonism. In the end, the situation basically turned out to be a lax kind of religious attitude. There was definitely more church attending during my younger years, but we went less as time progressed. Both my parents worked difficult and long jobs, and Sunday just needed to be an actual day of rest… as well as spending time with their kids.

I vaguely remember somewhere around the age of 10 or so… well, actually quite clearly, a day dining at a restaurant. My parents posed a question, of what we (the kids) thought of hell. My personal response gave the more “good” you where in life the better you would live in heaven... Hell didn’t really exist to me even at this point in my life. My sibling’s response was far cruder; basically amounting to saying a certain relative of ours should go there.

At this point, my parents informed us that our great grandfather had done some “research” into it (Biblical studying hardly amounts to research) and came to the conclusion that hell didn’t really exist as a place. All hell basically amounted to was nothing, you died and that was it. Much like the atheist point of view of death in general actually. This certainly made more sense at the time to me than some torturous place.

A little time later would be about the time I entered a Christian summer camp. A fun place really, but only posed to delay my atheism, if it even could. The reason for Jesus’ existence was answered here, being the sacrifice to end all the sacrifices… I remember this being an epiphany at the time, although it would of course only pose more questions later.

Some more background information here would be helpful before I move on. My life has been quite an easygoing one. I’ve led a very happy life, with few problems or hindrances to bar my path. So when it came to going to church gatherings and this camp, it of course wouldn’t bring me more happiness or joy than I already had.

When your life is full of strife and sadness, a good break every week is a nice and happy moment. I, as said above, had no need for this. It all comes into focus, when comparing myself with the rest of the congregation. They treat these meetings as something that brings them more happiness. For me, I was just as happy there as I was at any other time. You could say I was immune to the “joys” of the church.

So back at the camp, there would be nightly fireside chats. Other kids would share their god stories… where a prayer would be answered, or they were helped out through harsh times. Out came another problem… I simply didn’t have any. I tended to doubt each story as well—typically not the story itself, but the intervention or actual act of god in it.

Perfectly reasonable actions were attributed to god. Even worse, the positive actions of others were explained away as simply god’s plan. These stories did not sit well with me. I would ask myself, “Why do these people believe those were acts of god? What acts then do come from god?” Let me tell you, mind tangling questions…

The only real answer that even starts to work is god controls them all: good or bad. You know, god tests you… There was a big flaw here, coming from my situation: why wasn’t god “testing” me? Why was I so much more blessed than anyone else? Two cases then: I didn’t need it, but then why would anybody need it? Or I take the more egotistical approach that I was special.

As much as people like to assume, I’m not quite as egotistical as I would seem. I did not like the notion that I was special and that everybody else wasn’t based upon god’s seemingly random will. Let’s face it as well; the Bible never really helps unless you know where to look… And of course, depending on where you look, you’ll get different answers.

Upon leaving the camp, I would of course revert to what I normally did during summers… Programming video games and debating online. The programming is relatively irrelevant; the debating on the other hand consisted of all topics including religious ones. They were all of course very intellectually stimulating; debating such things as parallel universes, dimensions, the meaning of life, and so forth.

From all the experiences compacted with time, I would eventually start to become nonreligious. Unfortunately I would still consider myself Christian for quite a number of years, although quite clearly my beliefs did not match the title. In fact, I hardly doubt my beliefs ever really matched the title. It still would not be until the start of my college years that I would come to the notion that I was not a Christian, and was indeed nonreligious.

I still had a belief in god at this time mind you. My view of god consisted of basically the god that is just there in everything. I would come to understand that my views aligned with that of Pantheism a little while later. Fairly word for word, and for never hearing about Pantheism before I was quite surprised.

Finding a religion that pretty much directly coincided with my beliefs gave me gumption. Eureka was the thought, but I knew what this meant in its entirety. Pantheism is very agnostic in its nature; it basically amounts to feeling that it’s true and I had come to this conclusion. In fact, Pantheism is akin to atheism, except with a belief in god… it’s one of the most basic yet at the same time advanced forms of theism. Thus, I felt far more aligned to atheism than Christianity at this point in time.

My questioning wouldn’t stop there. The fundamental question that made the difference was “Why do I believe what I believe?” Why? Just to feel good? Just to fit in? Was it just easier to explain to the masses? In a way, yes was the reply to all of those questions.

A belief in god still felt good. A belief in god still allowed me to fit in. A belief in god was easier to explain. None of those answers were intellectually sound. Why should I believe something with such weak convictions such as those? The answer of course is I shouldn’t—or not that I shouldn’t but that I didn’t want to.

Of course this didn’t happen that quickly or easily, but progressed over quite a large sum of time. But when everything was said and done, I had become an atheist. Let’s make certain, debate and rigorous pursuit of knowledge has never stopped this whole time. It indeed continues to this day. Thus, the story does not end there.

Oh no, we have only gotten to the atheism, the question of how I came to be gnostic still remains. This is very much a recent change, as in, barely a week before I wrote this. There is a very exact process into which I came upon this as well. It happens to center around my confrontations with none other than professed agnostics.

First, let us clarify. Atheism means you don’t have a belief in god. On the other hand, being agnostic simply says you think god is impossible to prove or disprove, or in other words that you don’t know. Now you can be an agnostic theist… or you can be an agnostic atheist. Not knowing while also not believing is a fluffy way of saying you don’t have a belief in god (but may have one later), thus atheist (currently). The majority of atheists are agnostic.

So here’s the issue: I run across a lot of posts by claimed agnostics that being in a religion or being atheist is both equally ignorant. That’s putting it nicely. Constantly having to say they are actually atheists themselves, becomes quite a hassle—also put nicely. Now most claimed agnostics (that aren’t theists) claim to be agnostics for two reasons… first are the negative stereotypes against atheism, and second being they just don’t understand the terms. The agnostics that I’m talking about here also happen to be incredibly egotistical to boot. Here’s the funny bit, they seemed to be gnostic about their agnosticism…

This brings us to the question, what is knowledge? Knowing does not mean truth; it means you regard it as true. Knowing is paradoxical in its nature, how can anything be known with exact certainty? It can’t, but for the sake of progress we have to start at some point.

I’ve argued against countless excuses for god. I’ve found fundamental flaws against any kind of omni-ability. I’ve argued against not only the existence but the uselessness of a creator. Essentially, I’ve argued if god cannot be known in this reality then god has no basis in this reality. I’ve even argued the word classification of the word god even.

All and all, perhaps it’s just more honest. I have found flaws and argued against all types of gods, how much more must it take to know? I’ve argued against the whole notion, reason, and existence of god… why can I not be certain there is no god?

And that, is my story of why I am a gnostic atheist.


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