For the Love of God

If you are like me, you will occasion to find yourself paddling through a fog in vaguely theological waters. Populated by schools of secular apologists and non-denominational spiritual types, these celestial rivers are by far the most difficult to navigate, and if you will forgive my stretching the nautical metaphor to the maximum, the fear of running aground and bruising the feelings of our slightly non-secular friends is ever present.

The obviously devout are considerably easier to fathom for you know where they stand. Catholics believe in the divinity of Jesus, in miracles, and in the apostolic authority of the church. Islamic adherents also have an Abrahamic tradition (as do Jews) and if you present me with a Zoroastrian I can safely assume he drives a Mazda.

However, those that mix and match and borrow from a host of different faiths and principles present a unique problem to those of us who wish to understand; they don’t come with a manual. A Christian is equipped with a Bible, and not only is their holy book a handy guide to living a Christian life, it is also a tool with which the rest of the world can understand the Christian. The spiritual aficionado, the non-denominational fellow whose worldview cannot be reduced to force, material, and time, but nonetheless rejects what is typically labeled “organized religion” is difficult to comprehend for the simple reason that he has no label, no manual, and nothing to point to so he might dispense with having to explain.

I call myself an atheist though I am strictly speaking an agnostic. An accurate summation of my point of view, is that I am an agnostic teetering on the brink of full blown atheism. I recognize the possibility of God, and concede nothing else. Most atheists are really agnostics in that sense, and Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens are examples. For calling myself an atheist, you understand a great deal about me, and while my atheism is but a component of a rational and materialist worldview, it is a loaded stamp and its importance is overemphasized. That said, the label “atheist” is pragmatic despite the faults.

However, our spiritual but not religious friend must go to lengths to fully articulate what it is they believe about almost any subject you care to name, for little can be assumed or taken for granted in advance of most any discussion. That is no criticism, but it is an overwhelming task requiring a great deal of patience on the part of the non believer. That patience should be considered worth the while on the part of secular society, for it is ideologically driven religions and theocracy that are the enemy of reason and argument, and not personal notions of God or the numinous.

Robin Lindsay

rockrobinoff[at]gmail.com

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