Humans however are also rational beings so their existence, chaos and the various phenomena of the natural world also needed an explanation and so faith came along to explain the inexplicable and subsequently religion crystallized all that into the dogma of a working organization (or corporation these days). The questions however, remained and multiplied. Socrates raised questions about the established gods of his time (and we saw what happened to him-SPOILER ARERT, he dies).
In more modern times when progress, via science & technology butted in, Marx declared that religion is the opium of the masses. Darwin flat lined the story of creationism by proposing the super “atheist” theory of evolution and suddenly apes and humans became distant relatives and got to know each other better! Dostoyevsky tried to resurrect faith with lessons on morality, crime and punishment, but thanks to Nietzsche, sometime in the late 19th Century, (and Ayn Rand even later in the 20th ) we learned that God is (maybe) dead. The Judeo-Christian God that is. Thus came out the new God of atheism (AKA capitalism, materialism, selfism, egoism and a whole bunch of endless isms). To be or not to be, Atheist, Agnostic or Religious? That is the question- and with all of the respective subgenres of “so-so moderate religious, fanatic religious, or undecided” In what category do we fall into? So let’s break it down…
. Back in the day it used to be slanderous to be called an atheist (especially in religious homogeneous countries like Greece or Italy: “hey look there’s an ATHEIST: get him” as stones fly or lightning strikes him down). These days it seems like atheism is the new cool, but wait we also have the agnostics! So what is the difference? Atheists by definition as those who do not have or believe in god (from the greek-“a”without “theos” God). Agnostics just don’t know (“a”without “gnosis”knowledge). Of course it is understandable why people are straying from the old school institutions and approaching these more “civilized” establishments… religion has left many, especially the youth, disappointed & disenchanted for years now. Corruption, controversy, scandal, racist and medieval chauvinist views along with violent histories surrounding organized churches & religion have tainted their foundations and left a bitter after taste….Of course the rise of science, reason, logic and a little movement called feminism didn’t help either. This we could say put the nail in the coffin. Or did it?
Yet, we cannot blame good old JC for human errors! It is fair to say that if he did come down to earth to take a look around, he wouldn’t be very happy with the state of affairs of his “church”. First of all where would he go? The Vatican? Mount Athos? Back to Jerusalem? The Holy Baptist Church in Alabama? The Watchtower in Brooklyn? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah? The same can be said of Mohamed, Buddha, even Abraham’s G-d (well, perhaps not h-m, since he was well aware early on, that man is just not to be trusted, as he was sure to inflict punishment as quick as Zeus’s fist). Look, what most religions teach at their core, is good and noble. Now what humans have extrapolated & paraphrased for the own political agendas, and selfish reasons, is a whole different bag of apples, and boy don’t them apples taste good! From the apple of discord to the apple of Eve…everyone wants a bite! In its defense, Religion has helped many people find their way, deterred a lot of wrong thinking & doing and there are still good samaritans carrying out God’s great deed but even so, it is once again becoming the hot bed of discussions.
Well maybe it never left that hot bed, maybe the proliferation of mass media in our every day world is just exposing us to every single thought and opinion in nanoseconds….but whatever the case it’s still worth examining. While some people are turning to older more supposedly “dignified” pagan religions and deities, (Greeks AKA Hellenists to the Olympian Pantheon for example, celebrities like Madonna and her groupies flocking to ancient mystical Judaism’s Kabbalah) and a few years ago goin’ Buddhist was the hottest thing to do, mala beads, Richard Gere /Save Tibet, Dali Lama and all, and others now are converting back, left and right, losing and finding the truth again (but keeping the Yoga for toned arms and Buddha statues as decorative home accents) the new “IT” thing, seems to be atheism and agnosticism. The Christians are afraid they are losing members worldwide (I wonder why) and are convinced they are under attack from the Muslims, Jews, and Harvey Weinstein. In the USA there is an obvious war on Christmas by Obama and the left wing liberals. Meanwhile the pagans are angry, bringing back the pantheon because they just remembered that almost 2000 years ago the Christian Byzantine Emperor Theodosius burned their statues and temples and that Christianity is just a big conspiracy contrived by the Jews to undermine Hellenism. Islam is by far the new terrorist chic promising 40 virgins upon suicide vest inflicted death, and the Jews well they just sit back and try to ignore the anti-semitism and stereotypes, while they count their dinars.
So one can see why atheism & agnosticism are so appealing: it’s a tabula rasa, wipe your hands clean Pontius Pilot Style, no bad record, muddled history, secret gospels and chalices, no incriminating labels, no bad blood, no witches BURNED! But even so, these two different schools of thought have another basic unifying factor with other religions: they ALL believe in something else. See even if you are an atheist, you still believe in something, you are still labeling yourself. Even as an atheist or agnostic, there is a something that still drives you, that you love, that you are passionate about, that is THE center of your universe: Yourself, Family, money, career, work, food, drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, pets, politics, Balenciaga, Jimmy Choo, Kate Moss, Eric Clapton, Metallica, Bono, Unicef, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Britney Spears, the Secret…otherwise if you fancy ZERO then you’re a nihilist. Then again, you believe in nothingness, so were back to square one. Basically being an atheist or an agnostic doesn’t really mean you are anti or a-religious. I mean yeah it may not be as ritualistic believing in the House of Chanel or the Houses of the Holy Re-mastered, (or is it) but it doesn’t have to be. Devoted Worshippers of Christ whipped and starved themselves as an act of devotion, and today female worshippers of the House Louboutin torture their delicate feet daily in the name of fashion. At the end of the day, religion is what you make of it and what meaning you apply to anything. In the 1970’s fans spray painted “Eric Clapton is God” and they meant it, and they were probably right. Led Zeppelin we’re not joking when they sang about the “hammer of the Gods” and yes, there is lady who knows: The Church of Rock is all mighty and all powerful, the disciples many, the riffs and scriptures holy, concise, diverse and universal with mass appeal. And yes Elvis is still alive so Christians be afraid, be very afraid!!
Seriously though, religion is one of the oldest things in the world, because humans have a need to believe in something, because humans are spirit not just body, whatever that something may be, but most importantly, religion is a our moral compass, a check point against our twin evil human nature. The question is, when is religion a good ole group and when does it become a nasty little cult? When do you stop being a missionary and when do you turn into a brainwashing nut? When does philosophical investigation become thought control instigation? When does the supreme being stop being humanly divine and when does he turn into an extra terrestrial called Xenu? The line is fine and complicated , but what I do notice is that even atheists these days have a need to group, to inform to prove the religious WRONG , to proselytize, to form and create a non religion- religion….see my point? Maybe Nietzsche was right “The world is the will to power and nothing besides” but then again maybe the Beatles were right that “All you Need is Love” or maybe Jim knew that “music is your only friend”. Personally, as much as I love Jim Morrison’s prophetic lyrics, I think Bret Michaels summed it up best when he sang “give me something to believe in” Then we have agnostics. Due to their nature, image and by definition, agnostics are often lumped into the same category as atheists, but in reality they are different. They do share the same “enemy” and they are NON RELIGIOUS….or maybe they aren’t, they just don’t know what religion is or who to follow: Right? “Is the Catholic JC better than Greek Orthodox JC? Is Buddha the road to Nirvana or is Nirvana’s Nevermind the road to Buddha?
I don’t know…so I’m an agnostic.” Actually it’s a pretty convenient category to fall into: You’re not exactly an evil one sided, hell bound atheist (boooo) but rather a confused seeker, searching into the unknown (or not) to find out that you only know nothing and wow and how SOCRATIC is that, as it all comes back down to him of course (as I try in vain to gain back the pagan constituency who I lost three paragraphs ago!) Recently there was a group of atheists in the USA, who decided to form their own “church”…but wait doesn’t that negate the whole concept of atheism? Or was that just an episode on South Park? To me Atheism and or Agnosticism are like renegade factions…almost like revolutionary anarchist groups. Atheists are the extreme leg, the “god is dead” group and agnostics well we summed them up above…they’re more lukewarm and undecided. No offense to either group, respect to all! It’s also easier for Christians and Muslims to categorize non believers: “Oh her, she is an atheist; her friend! pfff an agnostic.”
They use the terms interchangeably for anyone that doesn’t fit their mold or questions any of their beliefs or dogma. Pretty pathetic for enlightened individuals of God. But at some point we have to choose our battles. So trying to convince another person as an atheist or as an agnostic that you are right and they are wrong is kind of like being the same. Exchanging ideas is grand! Imposing ideas is meek. You are preaching and you are trying to prove something; and that my friends, becomes the same as any other religion: dogmatic, restricted and at the end divided and segregated: and segregation breeds hate. At the end of the day everyone needs to belong, needs to identify, needs to have faith, needs hope, needs love and overall needs something to believe in: even in the lack of existence thereof.
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