Filling holes with god

I’ve oscillated between deism and atheism for a while now, not sure which way to swing on the god issue. My main reason for leaning towards deism is the whole “how did the universe begin” question. Being just recently out of Christianity, the idea of a deity starting it all is very familiar to me. I no longer believe there is any kind of deity that directs, affects, or intervenes in the affairs of the universe, but I COULD accept that one got things started before walking away and letting things go.

I was reading Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion recently in which he talks about the bad habit some people have of shoving god into any question or problem they don’t have an answer to. Just because the answer is currently unknown doesn’t mean we won’t one day find one. Even to “how did the universe begin?”

“There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.”  -“quote” from St. Augustine’s “Confessions”*

This quote from Augustine really bothered me when I first read it in The God Delusion. It’s that kind of thinking that holds us back from understanding our world. Fortunately I can’t think of anyone of my religious friends, family or acquaintances who would agree with him, but it sounds to me like “the god of the gaps” taken to the extreme. I realize it is extreme and that your average religious person would disagree with his sentiments, but now I see how stunting it is to use “god” as a gap-filler instead of acknowledging there is currently no known answer and searching for one.

I am now an atheist. Not because I “know” there is no god (because I don’t), but because I do not see how a deity fits in my life aside from filling gaps.

*I wanted to read St. Augustine’s quote in its original context to see if its meaning changed, but I discovered it’s less of a quote and more of a summary of the chapter.  Having read the chapter here, I think the “quote” still sums up the general idea.

Campbell’s Tomato Soup

There are tens of thousands of denominations in Christianity.  There are an estimated twenty-odd major religions in the world, many of which have or likely have several (if not hundreds or thousands) of branches, break-offs, streams of thought, denominations, sub-groups, or whatever you want to call them.  For the sake of simplicity, I’ll just use sub-group here.

When it comes to non-religious groups, I only recently discovered that
a) there are more than just atheists and agnostics and
b) even atheists and agnostics have sub-groups.

I had always thought you either didn’t believe in any gods or you didn’t know if any really existed, and that was the extent of it.  How do you find the “right” label for yourself?  And are these labels even important?  They always kind of bugged me….maybe because I didn’t know how to label myself.  I always said I was a Christian.  “Yeah…but what kind?”

“Independent fundamental, Bible-believing, Bible-beggin’, foot-stompin’, soul-winnin’, door-knockin’, pew-jumpin’, sin-hatin’, devil-chasin’, King James Version ONLY Baptist!” —Mark Lowry (the only place on the net I could find this quote is here)

My family on both sides is several generation Pentecostal.  From the age of 10 until in my teens when my family stopped attending church, we went to a Baptist church.  So was I a Pentecostal?  Was I a Baptist?  I didn’t really know and figured it shouldn’t matter.  I was a Christian!  That’s all that mattered!  I remember catching a ride somewhere with my great-aunt and uncle and a couple of friends of theirs.  My aunt and uncle are, of course, Pentecostal, as were their friends.  Conversation revolved around God and church, and my aunt suddenly warned her friends “Be careful what you say!  We have a little Baptist in the car!”  I thought about that warning many times over the years, which lead to my belief that denominations don’t matter.  Or labels.

And yet…being label-less in regards to my belief system…I catch myself looking for one.  I feel more vulnerable and lost without one.  I think “If I had a label, I would know what I believe and I’d have an answer for people when they ask me.”  There’s comfort in that.  Security.  I don’t like not having an answer.

GOD I miss the days when I knew what I believed!