You’re either an egalitarian or a racist; an activist or sexist; an animal-killer or a member of PETA; religious or atheist. Far too often there is little understanding of the halfway.
I’m concerned about this because of my current religious dilemma. It would seem that I have supposedly pledged allegiance to two sides of a battlefront.
First, allow me to attempt to explain my position. I was raised a Christian, but I would not define myself as a Christian at this point. My friends, it seems, are all atheists. And I find too often I become the straw man for both sides, because there is no word for my current philosophical standpoint.
(NB. Some of my “Everyone does this” statements may be coloured (>.>) by the fact that I spend far too much time on Reddit.com, where there is a largely ‘Evangelical Atheist’ population. I’m sure that not everyone is as bigoted as I make out.)
As much as I use words extensively, I don’t like the way they simultaneously mean so much and yet so little. They sit on a simple definition which you can debate and stick, but at the same time they carry such a weight behind them, years of nostalgia, books of meaning, neural connections that have nothing to do with the definition whatsoever.
At this point, there are a series of words that define certain philosophical standpoints on the Christian ‘scale’. They are easy to define, yet carry far too much weight to be used that easily. Allow me to pull a few out.
Christian: (This word will be defined differently depending on who is defining it, but generally…) Someone who adheres to the Christian belief system. Usually, the prerequisites are:
- Belief in (a) God (specifically, Yahweh, although each Christian’s definition of Yahweh can be different, and they can still be accepted as Christian)
- Belief in Jesus (Not just that he existed, that much is not important, as much as it has been argued. Belief that he was sent by God to reform Judaism into something palatable to the Gentile tongue)
Anything else is personal definition, and can be easily dismissed. (So far as I can see.)
(NB. I am dealing with the Christian-Atheist divide, I’m sure it applies just as much to other theistic-atheistic divides, but they are not mine.)
Atheist: Someone who believes that there are no deities.
Agnostic: Someone who believes that it is impossible to know whether or not deities exist.
As far as I can see, these are the three known standpoints. Anything else, it seems, would require expansion and explanation.
So my problem is two-fold. Firstly, I am personally technically closest to Agnosticism according to the definition, but the word carries so much weight in terms of implied meaning that to use the word in describing my own standpoint would create many misconceptions and misunderstandings.
This problem is even greater if I say that I am Christian. The assumption often is (even though it is not part of the definition) that a Christian will denounce evolution, genetics, geography, and rely on ‘the voice of God’ to guide them through life.
Even when I was a Christian, none of these things were true about me.
My second problem is that, being between Christianity and Atheism, I will often be pushed into the opposite camp of whoever I am conversing with. Amongst my friends, I am ‘The Religious One’ even though I don’t fit the definition of religious.
On the other hand, once I make it clear that I despise being treated as ‘The Religious One’, it is assumed that I have taken up the opposite side, and am an atheist. And this comes with its own baggage.
The first reason I refuse to be classified as an atheist is that the subtextual meaning of the standpoint is “I believe ‘All Christians are Stupid’.”
Which I don’t.
So this long-winded explanation serves to join my dividing problems to come to a conclusion.
I hope to secure my philosophical standpoint, and stop being pushed to one side of the nonexistent fence.
Here’s a new term:
Ambiguist: Someone who doesn’t adhere to agnosticism or gnosticism; who reserves the right to make decisions on their beliefs on a per-belief basis, instead of adhering to a clustered doctrine or predetermined set of beliefs.
So there. I’m allowed to pick bits and pieces from different places, but everyone should be allowed to. Even if they define themselves as Christian, it shouldn’t automatically cause others to make assumptions about their beliefs.
I may write more on my discontent with the simultaneous simplicity and complexity of words, but this post feels like it has gone over the word limit by at least a few hairs.
Ramble ramble ramble.
If anybody actually reads all of this, I think perhaps you should get a prize. See me after class. Good child.
(One final NB. I know I haven’t sourced any of these images. I recommend tineye.com, where you can put in an image and it tells you where it’s from on the internets! I am most definitely not on their payroll! Seriously!)
And with this, the Maddened Man shuffles into the corner of the padded room to play with his straps, in an attempt to refasten the straitjacket before the guards return.