When I was growing up in a Southern Baptist tradition, we defined faith like so: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 KJB) Depending upon the bible you use, this verse could be interpreted in a number of ways. I have recently found the following interpretation to be more fitting to my understanding of faith: “Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see.” (Weymouth New Testament)
Faith, I have discovered, is the rational conclusion derived from the impartial observation of how the universe works. We develop faith in things and people that prove themselves to us…they have been tested, tried and have shown a pattern of behaving or reacting that is reliable and accountable.
I have faith in every chair I sit upon…that it will hold me up for as long as I choose to sit there…whether it is until the end of time or the end of my workday. I have faith in my mother…that no matter what I have done or where I am, she will do her best to help me in every situation. I have faith in my inner-circle of friends…that they will always be truthful with me to the point that it hurts…yet they will not leave me to the wolves. I have a different kind of faith in this government…that it will do what is in the best interests of the payers and not the people. And most importantly, I have faith in the Universe…that the laws that have governed it since the beginning of time still apply to this day and will continue to apply long after mankind transcends this existence.
I could get all sappy here and begin to outline the numerous miracles that occur on a daily basis, or explain the completeness of the natural law that states, “Nothing comes from nothing,” or get into how the synchronicity of existence is too pervasive to be truly merely coincidences. Rather, I will just say that these are the things that are the basis of my faith, for I see them.
Agnosticism is often confused as a “Faithless” belief system. It is true, many who claim to be Agnostic have used that declaration to end their spiritual process by saying, “There’s no way to know if God really exists so I’m not going to worry about it at all.” To the contrary, I am beginning to understand that my faith holds stronger now that I do not blindly, or with weak hope, bestow it upon people or situations. It becomes substantially easier to develop trust in the natural order of things by opening myself to the simple experience of living: observing, accepting and appreciating what is happening throughout the universe. In addition, as I develop this trust, it is easier to fully submit to the will of something greater than my individual struggle. My faith is and will be demonstrated when I am able to stand in the midst of Life’s many trials and believe that I will come through as a better person. It takes faith to look at international wars, interpersonal conflicts, poverty, pain, disease, depression, child victimization, serial murder, genocide and believe, truly believe that the universe is being perfect within this struggle.
And I do. As an agnostic, I have to admit that I do not know and probably never will. Yet it is my duty to take the information provided, the facts as I am able to comprehend them, and form a system of faith, to Trust in the proven order of things and submit myself to the gods of our existence. These gods or our God or The Creator or Jah or Allah or Life or whatever your research, prayer and study leads you to call IT are on display every day..all day..without fail. It is in the systematic rise and set of the sun, in the smiles and cries of all people. When I look deeply at the perfection of process…the way things are…I am almost completely overwhelmed by the Presence of what is greater than all of us.
It may seem strange to some that I conclude this three-part series of Agnostic dialogue by speaking of gods and belief. But to me it makes perfect sense. In Part One I implore the world to empty the half-full glass of beliefs that are handed down to us by tradition, parents and culture, in order to begin working towards a more personal understanding of existence. The first step is admitting to not knowing. Harder than it sounds, but everything gets easier from that point on. In Part II I ask you to “Lose” the desire to search for anything more than what the Universe has already blessed you with. Being open to receive whatever comes your way, you begin to account for and name the truths of your existence. Finally, having opened this space for experience, you develop faith in the process of Life. This is how Agnosticism became my gateway to faith, trust and God.