Every so often, I reevaluate the labels I choose for myself. Should I refer to myself as an atheist or agnostic? (Of course there are other labels as well.) Which one is the most honest reflection of my beliefs and identity? And for many years, I bounced back and forth from atheist, to agnostic, to I don’t think I can pick a label, to atheist, etc. What always brings me back to atheist is this challenge from Christians and other believers: If God spoke to me or appeared before me, I would believe. And of course, he would if I would just let him in. I want to reflect on this for a paragraph or two and talk about why my thoughts and feelings on this idea has led me time and time again to choose the label atheist.
Ok so let’s be real, if God were to speak to me or appear before, I would quickly assume that I am in need of medical and/or psychiatric help. There are many reasons for auditory hallucinations like schizophrenia, sleep disorders, tumors, etc. There are many reasons for visual hallucinations like migraines, seizures, concussions, lack of sleep etc. In addition, there are psychiatric disorders where someone might develop an alternate world, personality, or friendships for themselves. Let’s not forget that many medical and recreational drugs have these effects. So this would be my first go to: Something is wrong with me, and I need to get some help.
But let’s say for the sake of argument that I’m convinced: My vision was God himself! The next thing that comes to mind is that there can’t be just one. There isn’t one of anything in the known universe, so why would there be one god? There would logically have to be many gods. What’s more, everything has a beginning and end. Again, nothing in the known universe lasts forever, so I have no reason to believe that the being standing before me extends beyond time and space, especially if this god is interacting with me. (Christians like to argue that God extents beyond time and space and, in effect, reaches into our realm to interact with us, but such a doorway would have to go both ways. If he can see us and interact with us in our world, then we can see him and interact with him in his world. This could be another blog post.) So then, I would have to conclude that what stands before me isn’t the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent monotheistic God but instead a being of great power with limitations.
This is why I can’t choose agnostic as a label for myself. Agnostic seems like a more honest answer to the question Is there a god, but I can’t bring myself to say I don’t know or I’m waiting for the evidence. I have no doubt that whatever evidence that is brought forth will only prove that God is not unique and certainly limited; therefore, he cannot be the God as described by the monotheistic religions. Atheist then becomes the label that makes the most sense.