I recently joined a "Religion & Spirituality" discussion group on Facebook. It's been awhile since I've allowed myself to get involved in such debates, as I find they usually degenerate into a few atheists and a few Christians and Muslims slinging generic insults at one another. Since I am none of the above, and am interested in actual discussions, I bored quickly of those kinds of groups. This one seemed a bit promising, though, so I gave it a shot.
As an agnostic, I am generally shuffled into the "atheist" category and attacked immediately with preaching and threats of hell. That, I can deal with, but what's worse is when I can sense that someone genuinely believes that I am doomed to hell and hurts for me. That is hard to take, especially since my Mother is a Christian, and I can only imagine the worry she feels for me.
I worry also. I worry that religion is tearing our world apart. I worry that the focus has been put on the wrong things. I worry that while people argue over who God is and what his opinion on homosexuality is, they are overlooking the vastness and beauty of our universe.
My problem is not, I repeat NOT with the concept of God. One would have to know a lot more than I do to claim there is no God, and until we have a much better understanding of ourselves and our universe, I think it would be foolish to claim otherwise. Those who have searched for truth and come to believe in God have my utmost respect - not for their conclusions, but for their earnest search.
My agnosticism is not based on a disdain for the concept of God or an atheistic requirement for empirical evidence - rather, it is based on the complete opposite. When I look at the vastness of the universe, contemplate the complexity of every living thing, and indeed, even the non-living, it strikes me as self-evident that whoever, whatever, set this in motion is far beyond our own comprehension. It is not something that can be summed up in a book of parables and a handful of rules. It is not something that can be obeyed, it is not something that cannot be personified.
If one believes in God, one must also believe that God created not just Earth, but the entire universe. One must believe that every star, planet, sun, moon, every galaxy, was created with intention and purpose. We have a beautiful and mind-bogglingly large universe around seemingly just us, and we are squabbling over shellfish and dinosaur bones and two dudes getting married. I have a hard time believing that this was the intent.
Religion, all religion, tends to be based around a single event in the life of a single human - the crucifixion of Jesus, the enlightenment of the Buddha, the revelations of Muhammad. These single events are given enormous significance, and the recognition of them is seen as vital to our salvation. I tend to look at it from a more abstract angle. When I ponder these things, I picture the earth as seen from space - I see this small planet, surrounded by many other planets, stars and moons, and it seems to me that no one life is significant. Some lives have influenced our own, yes. Some lives have been given for us, yes. But it seems to me the real significance lies not in a single life but in all life, and the event we should be revering is existence itself.