I’ve never been a theist since the day I developed self-awareness and a personal conscience about the world. For the majority of my life, I have believed that there was no god until one proved otherwise. Because I strongly believe only what I see and hear and enquire about. It is hard for me to take others' words to form a belief about something. I am a man of science. And as any scientific man would say, I, too, need proof.
The presence or the existence of God can only be claimed not proved. Until such a day comes when there is proof of god, I would remain an atheist.
While that is established, I have been wrong in something that I advocated myself. About beliefs. I used to believe that there was no god. But that again is just a belief. So I thought if I can bring myself to believe in the “non-existence” of god, then why can’t I bring myself to believe in god.
I found the irony and the flaw in the way I viewed the matter on the whole. Theism and Atheism are both, essentially, just forms of beliefs. And as a matter of fact, I advocate that everyone is free to form their own belief. But, this is not what I meant when I asked for proof of god. I’m ready to accept the presence of God if one proves it. But the entire idea of atheism is to disregard the existence of god even if someone tries to prove otherwise. And it’s the same case with theism where they unconditionally believe in the existence of God even if proved otherwise.
After some deep thought and research into what these two terms mean, I was able to get some clarity on the matter. Theism and Atheism are just unconditional beliefs. And as a person who did not want to form any unreasonable beliefs about the existence of God, I chose to be the opposite of that. I went about telling people that I was an atheist, all the while being unaware of what “being an atheist” meant.
I don’t want to believe there is no god. Also, I don’t want to blindly believe that there is some god. So what is it that I am? Turns out, there are more than just 2 belief systems. Those aren’t essentially beliefs but are more of ideologies. Yes, I can live with ideas. And I found an idea or a certain school of thought which matched my thoughts and it is Apatheism and Agnosticism.
Apatheist is a person who is not interested in believing or disbelieving in the existence of God.
Well, this is 100% me. I am just not interested in that part.
And on the other hand, there is also Agnosticism. Agnostics asserts that it is impossible for humans to know anything about the divinity of the universe. This is something that intrigued me when I read about it. But again this is a form of belief, unlike apatheism where there is no belief involved. But to a certain extent, I do believe that it is impossible for humans to decipher the mystery that is divinity, at least, in my lifetime.
So I can safely say that I am an Agnostic Apatheist. ?! If that is even a word.
There really isn’t much more to talk about the existence of God. On the other hand, there is something vast that is derived from divinity. That is religion.
Religion, just like divinity, can be followed or not. It depends on the person. But there is more to religion than just accepting or declining to be religious. If one follows a religion, he/she is religious. And the opposite is non-religious or secular.
Secular and non-religious are closely tied terms that are not entirely the same, but for the matter of convenience, let’s use them interchangeably as there is really not a big difference between the two.
I identify myself as a secular person. A secular person finds himself free from all the preaching of a particular religion, or of any religion for that matter. A religion lays down certain guidelines about the way of life and the principles to be followed and the Gods to be worshipped. To be religious means to follow all the preachings of a certain religion. Hinduism is a multi theist religion, Islam is monotheist whereas Buddhism does not advocate deity worship at all. While my subject knowledge about various religions, their origins and their preaching is limited to none, I find it fascinating enough to spend enough time studying about all there is to know about religions.
Being a secular person apart, I think it is essential to know about all the religions and about how and why people follow them. Despite the advocation of a supreme power and deity worship in most of the religions around the world, I find that the preaching and the core values each religion tries to impart in its followers hold a tremendous value that holds key to unlocking various aspects of life and attain answers to questions we didn’t even know existed and can open up our mind to a dimension of infinite possibilities.
INDEPENDENCE OF GOD AND RELIGION
I think it is worth mentioning that being religious and being a theist or vice versa are completely two different things. One can follow a religion, its preachings and values and at the same time not be interested in deity worship. The person just wants some valuable guidelines to follow in life. On the other hand, one can believe in the supreme presence of power but reject to succumb to the followings of a religion or deity worship. These people are called secular theists. While the first case is very rare in practice, the second case, secular theism, can actually be found in a lot of people, consciously or unconsciously, following it in their daily life.
INDEPENDENT STUDY OF WORLD RELIGIONS
With all that said, I have decided to explore the vast ocean of world religions as an independent study out of self-curiosity in hopes of finding a better understanding about
Origin and history of various religions
Ideology about God
Values and preachings
Cross compare religions
Find similarities and differences
Take on god
Evaluate positives and negatives
These are the objectives I am hoping to complete by the end of my study. My sources of study will include the various holy books, legends and mythology, documentaries, research papers by thinkers and philosophers around the world. As I gain some headway in my study, I will keep this journal updated from time to time regarding my progress and knowledge.
I know my mom is going to have a heart attack when she finds the Quran or the Bible on my bookshelf, from the fear of me converting, but it will be placed alongside Bhagavat Gita. I should be fine in being able to explain why those books found their way into my bookshelf, her deeply un-Hinduistic and atheistic son’s thinking space.