I don’t like to label people. By label in this case, I mean to put into groups based on philosophic beliefs as opposed to say, political leanings or professions. I prefer to let people identify themselves. So, for instance, if some calls themselves a Christian, I accept that. If the identify themselves as a Jew, or Muslim or Hindu or Atheist, I accept that.
Not only do I accept how others identify themselves, I respect it. Everyone has something different to bring to the table, something that makes them interesting to me.
Acceptance and respect are at the core of a civil society. Without them we are polarized. We are unfairly grouped into groups that we don’t identify ourselves with, but which are convenient for others because it allows them to rationalize their intolerance and dehumanize what they see as their foes.
I’ve been hesitant to identify myself as this or that because I want to be seen as being balanced and as supporting fair and open discussions. But, I’ve realized that this may make me seem either wishy-washy or disingenuous, neither of which is the case. So I will now identify myself.
I am an agnostic. But not just your run of the mill agnostic, but an agnostic with deistic leanings. What does this mean? Well, let’s define a couple of terms first.
According to the Skeptic’s Dictionary:
“Agnosticism is the position of believing that knowledge of the existence or non-existence of God is impossible…Understood this way, an agnostic could also be a theist or an atheist. “
According to Wikipedia:
As for the definition of deist, Wikipedia says:
“Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this (and religious truth in general) can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for either faith or organized religion. Deists tend to, but do not necessarily, reject the notion that God intervenes in human affairs, for example through miracles and revelations. These views contrast with the dependence on revelations, miracles, and faith found in many Jewish, Christian, Islamic and other theistic teachings.
Deists typically reject most supernatural events (prophecy, miracles) and tend to assert that God (or “The Supreme Architect“) has a plan for the universe that is not altered either by God intervening in the affairs of human life or by suspending the natural laws of the universe. What organized religions see as divine revelation and holy books, most deists see as interpretations made by other humans, rather than as authoritative sources. … Deism can be a belief in a deity absent of any doctrinal governance or precise definition of the nature of such a deity. Deism bears a relationship to naturalism. As such Deism gives credit for the formation of life and the universe to a higher power that by design allows only natural processes to govern creation.”
So, when I say I am an agnostic with deistic tendencies, what I mean is that I believe that it is impossible to know for certain if God exists or not, that no amount of observation, evidence, or knowledge can ever prove God’s existence or non-existence, which is the basic definition of an agnostic. But I also believe that the Supreme Architect (I’m a mason and that is what we prefer to call the Supreme Being) setup the universe so that only natural processes govern them. So, in order to learn more about the meaning of life and creation, we must study nature and learn as much as we can from it.
There are people on both sides of the naturalism vs. creationism or theism argument who will not agree with my views. That’s ok. In fact, I think it’s awesome! If we all believed in the same things, then we wouldn’t have anything interesting to talk about!