Atheist, Agnostic or just plain clueless?

Looking through a cousin’s profile on Facebook, I was struck by her declaration of being an Atheist. As much as it surprised me I wondered if she meant to say Agnostic instead. Not sure if I understood the difference myself I looked both words up.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Atheist as one who believes that there is no deity and Agnostic as a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable  ; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

These thoughts have been swirling in my mind for a while now. About two plus years. Losing my father set a chain of thoughts in my mind that is yet to settle. All my growing years I confused rituals with religious views and thought of myself as an atheist. I wanted to have nothing to do with a God that imposed so many rules and regulations and discriminated against me because I was a girl.

In my high school we were exposed to many lectures about Vedanta and philosophy which I quite enjoyed and was curious enough to dig deeper. Over the next few years I picked up books on philosophy from different parts of the world and imbibed some ideas which appealed to me.

Now an adult, I am not yet sure what is it I believe in or want to believe in. While I still sort my ideas out, there are a few that stand out. Karma and the concept of the cycle of life. As I create my own personal faith, there are things I am easily able to fit in – like a reverence for the force of Nature and some that I struggle with – the concept of Karma and cyclical nature of life.

As I go through this process, I am interested in knowing if any of you think about this consciously. Are you a firm believer in the tenets of your religion or like me are you ambiguous of what it all means to you personally? Whatever it is, speak up. I really would love to talk about it. 🙂

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15 thoughts on “Atheist, Agnostic or just plain clueless?

  1. Hi Laksh, this is thought provoking. I think I am on the other end of the spectrum. Theist, I am; religious I am not. I get worked up about all the anti-girl things of the religion too. Also, it doesn’t make sense to barter with God. (Get me a job and I’ll perform an abhishegam) However, in times of grief/ need, I beseech the almighty to make things better. Inexplicabily, for me, it works. At least it seems to. In short, though my attitude towards my religion is a bit cavalier, I believe in God.

  2. i am an Agnostic. i know it because i have thought about it. i also feel that it is inside you and me and everyone.. ‘aham brahmhasmi’ is not a wrong concept if understood properly. if you look scientificaly it is the subconcious mind.

    Karma says ‘what you sow is what you reap’ so is it with the subconcious mind. it responds to your thoughts be it positive or negative. the more positive you think the thing around you turn positive and vice versa.

    @ rituals – i feel that they are mere ways to please the eyes and the tummies. but shlokas and mantras are not fake. they do have a power. the sound vibrations produced during the recitations do have some positive effect. even if the meaning is not known.

  3. It’s a tough call, really. The mind says no, the heart says yes. I read Richard Dawkins The God Delusion – he argues so convincingly against God and honestly I cannot rationally counter him. Yet, I feel good about the rituals in my life – the everyday lighting of the lamp, the reading of a holy book, the reciting of slokas in my mind. At the end of the day, I justify my rituals (even going to a temple) as a form of concentration of the mind, of a centering, calming force that is more internal than anything else. I am weaning myself away from asking for and expecting things from an outside power. I am learning to see prayer as just a deep inward look and journey. Does that make sense?

  4. Interesting, you know. Hmm…I think I’m agnostic who tried to be atheist when I was young to be cool. But really, I personally believe in a power and nothing else or no one else beyond that.

    Of course, during PMS, the power is male 😛

  5. I think a person’s religious beliefs is one of the most personal things, so I normally never venture there.

    As for as I am concerned, I have no problems having things that I would like to have in my life(which are part of my religion) and any other aspect that is not convenient to me or is not meaningful is removed. Happens on its own in my life ofcourse not living in India has helped this smooth transition without much of rebelling.

    I do think being Agnostic is more of a sensible choice than atheism. Though I would like to stick with the policy that belief or non-belief as the most personal aspect of others and not comment on it.

  6. This was one of those thought provoking posts from you.
    In my school days I was an Aethist and developed a little belief in the supreme during college days.
    I would say I am a part Agnostic. I do not follow any hard and fast rules of the religion, but I do believe that God is there but don’t know in what form. Believe in Goodwill and Karma as you do.

    At our home both of us are think alike and hence it is cordial. We do not follow most of the rituals at home and with my MIL being her I go to temple as an escort and yes I do find solace there. But my point is if I seek solace, I can find it at home as well.

  7. Great post!

    I don’t think God has a form. So I don’t believe in idol worship. I don’t pray. I’m of the strong opinion that God or the cause of creation is unknowable. I love Zen. I love Osho’s writings. You should try Osho’s writings. It can so simple yet so enlightening.

  8. Hey Thanks for stopping by my blog and Commenting!

    As for this post: It is said that the Universe started from Singularity according to the Big Bang theory. Everything in the Universe came of out of that single point of high energy nothing. This means you and I came out of that point too. We belong in this Universe, as a part and whole of it. The notion of God is this high divine energy that exists withing everyone and everything in this Universe. Religion is just something that Man created for himself. The ultimate reality is the presence of divine energy in everyone of us.

    The Definition of God in Dictionary is incorrect.

  9. Well, i do get the hint. 😉 I usually do not like to share my view on this topic because as somebody above said, its personal. When people ask me why i am an atheist, i ask them why do they pray. The answer usually is that it gives them a sense of peace and inner satisfaction. Well, it doesn’t work for me. I need to have an explanation to believe in things and when it does not happen, it is plainly superficial. For me, I’d rather spend time feeding a stray dog. That gives me the sense of peace and inner satisfaction. As far as girl rituals are concerned, my parents have been very liberal with that and it has never been much of a problem. Also, I am not against religion, as in festivals mainly, because they give a sense of inheritance and the whole idea of why we celebrate each festival and their meanings intrigue me.
    Again, believing or not believing is one’s own choice.

  10. I think it is really a provoking post.The thought varies from person to person. Everybody in the universe believes that there is one power beyond us which may be in any form.As far as i am concerned slokas and mantras do have a special power also the rituals we follow in our religion.

  11. I’m a strong believer of Karma and Rebirth, Laksh. We reap what we sow. According to me Karma supercedes even God and even He is not spared. If not, why Lord Rama had to undergo all that pain for 14 years in a forest? What has to happen will happen. We will take births until we pay for all the bad deeds we have done knowingly or unknowingly. Once everything is settled, we are not born anymore and that is Moksha. S is also a firm believer of Karma. So whenever we are faced with some difficulties we tell each other that the poorva janma pavams (bad deeds done in the previous births) are being reduced from our book.

    So what I feel is as long as one is a good human being (who is compassionate, respects fellow human beings and their principles, helps people around when in need, doesn’t hurt anyone) it doesn’t matter if he/she is an atheist.

    That being said, have you wondered that why only some of the Hindus (I’m talking from Indian standpoint only here) are atheist. Have you heard a Muslim or Christian in India telling that there is no Allah or Yesu? The interesting point to note here is all the Muslims and Christians in India were Hindu once and they got or were converted. So when people have such a strong belief on a religion in which they were not born originally, why we Hindus don’t have that sort of conviction?

    I also don’t like when atheists (especially politicians like Karunanidhi) attack only Hindu Gods. Every Ramzan DMK people go to Triplicane mosque and drink Kanji. All these people can accept Alla and Yesu but not Hindu Gods. Can he or Kamal Hasan or any other atheist in public life campaign that there is no Allah or Yesu? But they don’t have problem bashing Hinduism. That’s when I get all agitated. Born as a Hindu does not give them the right to bash Hinduism.

  12. @ChillPill: I understand. It has been interesting reading the different views people have.
    @Oorja: I am fascinated by the rituals and the associated meanings. I wish I understood it more to agree or disagree with it.
    @SmallTalk: Makes a ton of sense. I light lamps or go to the temple for reasons unconnected to faith actually. It puts a smile on my face and connects me to my past. I find a certain joy and peace in it.
    @Nandini: LOL 🙂
    @Sachita: I agree it is personal too. I am not as concerned with whether a person is a theist or not but I am interested in knowing what lead them to that choice. It is the process that fascinates me.
    @Manchus: With you on this. Still I am yet to find out what I believe or not believe in.
    @vjkrishna: Been hearing about Osho from different sources the past year or so. Will check it out. Will check your post out too!
    @Dinesh: That sure was definitive. 🙂
    @Shalu: Apologies first and foremost. I did not intend to comment on your choice rather understand why or what led you to that choice. Like Sachita says it is a personal thing. This topic has been on my mind for a while now and your FB profile kind of triggered me to write about it.
    @Abi: I understand what you say but it is that part about the power that flummoxes me. I think like most other things in the abstract domain, this is something that has to be experienced to become a believer.
    @Madhuram: I feel your angst. Public/Political figures are beyond my realm. To me all that motivates them is power and their actions are orchestrated with that sole intention. So, no point talking about them. This unholy nexus of politics and religion will be the death knell of us all. On a different note, your point about karma is the one that I am having trouble wrapping my head around. It all boils down to the concept of rebirth and the permanence of the soul.
    @All: Thanks for sharing your views. I will have to ruminate on this and probably do some reading.

  13. Born into a family where both my parents are from different religion… I was brought up believing in both the religions… sometimes it might be confusing and complicating… I celebrate Deepavali… and Christmas too… I’ll go to temple twice a week… and I attend cathecism class in school and go for prayers… I believe in God… for me religion is man made… but God isnt… there is only one God in defferent form and born in different part of the world… at different period…

  14. This has definitely been on my mind at least for 2 years now. I was brought up to believe that there is a higher power. And now I do struggle with the concept of how He/She can turn a blind eye on to all the suffering and pain in my life or others’ life. And as for the son- I teach him the names of gods, expose him to songs, maybe he will find a stronger identity than me..

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