Wednesday, November 28, 2012


          When I first left Mormonism, I called myself an atheist.  I walked around saying “I know there is no God.”  Faced with the difficulties of transitioning out of Mormonism – the fights, the sorrow, the preaching – a hardline approach was necessary.  I needed to present a strong face to the world, to counteract the rigid beliefs I grew up with.  If a pendulum swings far to one side, then it must return to the other side in equal measure. 
          When I began to settle into my identity as a former Mormon, I realized that I am not an extreme person.  In church, I was taught to say “I know there is a God.”  Then I said “I know there is no God.”  Neither of these identities worked for me.  I do not know the truth and I do not want to lie – either to myself or others - about the fact of knowing.  As people, we have a tendency to whitewash our reality, to project an image to the world.  We all want to be seen as ideal versions of ourselves.  The more we act the part, the further from reality we find ourselves.  Saying “I know” about the existence of God is a deny our limitations as humans.  There is no substantive evidence that either proves or disproves the presence of a higher power.  
          As an agnostic, I have been accused of being wish-washy.  I disagree.  Part of growing up is accepting your limitations.  For me, the path to maturity involved accepting my limitations.  I will never be a social butterfly – I am far too introverted for that to be a reality.  I could wallow in self-pity about the matter – or I could grow up and accept myself for who I am.  Within the acceptance of limitations is strength.  Until there is substantive evidence concerning the existence of God, I will not claim to know the truth.  
          As human beings, we have our collective limitations.  As much as I love watching X-Men, humans will probably never develop super-powers.  I also don’t think we ever know the truth of what happens after death, as much as popular books and pop-science try to convince us otherwise.  We can either wallow in denial and self-pity or we can accept the limitations of our beliefs.  There is no shame in admitting we don't know the answers.  


  1. Your post reminded me of one of my favorite poems.... "Our Limitations," by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Holmes' specific religious beliefs are a bit of a mystery, but he did outright reject his father's strict Calvanism and his references to religion are often questions more than answers.

    WE trust and fear, we question and believe,
    From life's dark threads a trembling faith to weave,
    Frail as the web that misty night has spun,
    Whose dew-gemmed awnings glitter in the sun.
    While the calm centuries spell their lessons out,
    Each truth we conquer spreads the realm of doubt;
    When Sinai's summit was Jehovah's throne,
    The chosen Prophet knew his voice alone;
    When Pilate's hall that awful question heard,
    The Heavenly Captive answered not a word.
    Eternal Truth! beyond our hopes and fears
    Sweep the vast orbits of thy myriad spheres!
    From age to age, while History carves sublime
    On her waste rock the flaming curves of time,
    How the wild swayings of our planet show
    That worlds unseen surround the world we know.

    1. That is wonderful - thank you so much for sharing!

  2. I'm agnostic too. After years of saying "I know the church is true" it feels good to say "I don't know."

  3. There is 'strong' atheism the adherents of which claim there is no god at all

    There is 'weak' atheism the adherents of which claim there is no evidence of god

    The question about agnostics is kinda tricky. In my experience most agnostics arent really, they dont believe in god but are to scared to deal with that fact and see it as a compromise so as not to offend the believers in their lives.

    The question I always ask agnostics to find out if they are truly are, or just posers, is if they are agnostic as to the existence of more than just the monotheistic god.

    Are you also agnostic towards to idea of the thousands of other deities? Do you hold the notion that Thor, Tezcatilpoa, Brahamma, and Apollo may or may not exist as much as Elohiem/Israel?

    Cause if not you arent really agnostic

    As for myself I identify as a weak atheist, I see no evidence or trace of god and live my life accordingly

    As far as reasonable beliefs systems, IMO

    1.Weak Atheists

    2.Deists, Real agnostics

    3.Polytheists, Strong Atheists,


    5.Conciliatory/Apologetic agnostics

    1. Agnosticism is basing your belief on evidence - there is no evidence either for or against God. Personally, I lean towards atheism. But - and this was the point of my post - I see nothing wrong with accepting the limitations of our knowledge.

    2. There is no evidence for or against these either, are you agnostic about all of them as well?

      The list exceeds posting limit follow the link to see the list

    3. Most cultures have some conception of a deity/deities - arguing the different conceptions of a higher power ignores the deeper issues.

    4. I'm not arguing the different conceptions, I'm saying unless you are as equally agnotic about all god as you are the one god, you arent really agnostic

    5. Then I think that would qualify me as fully agnostic.

    6. Oh, I forgot to add, 20 points to the first person to point out the one deity on that list that is a ficticious charecter from a fantasy series

  4. Why argue about semantics? Postmormongirl said that God may be out there somewhere, or not, and without evidence, she's not going to take a stand. Lujlp, you call that position weak atheism, she calls it agnosticism. Is there a purpose in trying to get her to change what label she gives to her opinion? Even using your definition, I think she fits more under agnosticism anyway. She didn't say that she privileges the possibility of the Judeochristian deity over others--she's just waiting for evidence about any sort of deity.

    People who are somehow foiled by your question sound thoughtless. Any agnostic who has given half a thought to the question probably isn't limiting him/herself to the god of the Bible.

    1. My point is not to get her to change her mind or her position, its to clarify the reason behind her position.

      As I see it the difference between weak atheism and agnostocism is while an agnostic will say there is no eveidence one way or antoher a weak athiest would say a lack of evidence for could be seen as evidence against, but not 100% conclusive evidence

      And to my question, I know people who say they are agnostic to El/Elohiem/Israel/Yhwh (Jebus's daddy) but are 100% hard atheist towards Thor, and Ishtar, and Marduk and thousands of other dieties.

      In other words, I dont feel it is semantics, I feel it highlights the very core of whether or not someone truly is agnostic, as opposed to just trying to be unobtrusive

  5. I have been wrestling with "knowing" and faith lately. I am an active member of the LDS church, and I don't see that changing for me. I often participate in testimony meeting, during lessons, and in other settings where I am able to share what I believe with others. For years I felt comfortable saying that I "knew" that various gospel principles--including the existence of a Heavenly Father / God and Jesus Christ--were true. I DO see evidence all around me, especially when I am able to spend extended periods out in the woods. However, I find it more difficult to be so confident of what I "know." I realize that I am still at the level of faith. I have faith that God exists. I have faith that Jesus Christ atoned for the pain and sins of the world. I have faith that many other principles of the gospel are true.

    I think the LDS culture tends to discount faith. Even though we know it is the first principle of the gospel, I think there is a general expectation that the "good" Mormons will grow out of it. That we should go from our initial faith, through faith-promoting experiences, and so come to knowledge. But even after 40 years of membership in the Church, I'm still at faith. And I actually think that's how it's supposed to be. For me, I get a little nervous when others around me start glibly saying that they "know" this and they "know" that, and I'm listening to them thinking hmmm... How do you KNOW?

    Which is the cool thing about faith. The point isn't to "graduate" to knowledge, the point is to endure through faith. To endure with not knowing. To have wonderings and doubts and insecurities and still serve the way Christ taught. To me, that makes it faith. You don't know, but you have faith in Christ, (even though you STILL don't know), and you do it anyway.

    Please don't think that I'm trying to be preachy in this comment. It's rambly because it's something I'm still working on figuring out. What struck me when I read your post is that your definition of agnostic and my definition of faith are two sides of the same coin. We're almost talking about the same thing, but we've come to different ways of wrapping our heads around it. What do you think?

    1. No, I don't find this to be preachy. My issues are with the people who take the hard-line approach of "knowing" and who feel that everyone needs to believe the same - not with the concept of faith in the unknown.

      I guess we both possess a type of faith - for me, that would be science and humanity, for you, I would say faith in a supernatural deity.

  6. I feel almost exactly as you do and still consider myself an atheist. Funny how that works.

    1. A lot of this is just me being overly anal about semantics. My background in research has drilled into me the need for not avoiding over-arching conclusions as well as the necessity of being very precise in my definitions.

  7. Great post, awesome blog, strong work!


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