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.