Wednesday, July 8, 2015

#ITLQBM - Check Your Religious Privilege: Agnosticism

Intersectionality Through the Lens of a Queer Black Man

Previously: "THIS is the definition of Atheism which is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.Most inclusively, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists. "Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. Older dictionaries define atheism as "a belief that there is no God." Now, here is the thing that one must understand, I still know right from wrong and just because I don't believe in something does not mean I am not a good person with standards and some form of morals."
I am going to go ahead and dive right in, I need believers to understand that there are those who exist in between the two ends of the spectrum of Atheism and Theism. Today I will talk about the mid point on the scale, those who are Agnostic and are treated much like the "B" & "T" in the LGBT community. Agnostics are looked at as confused much like the Bisexual community and tend to be unfairly treated or a whole lot like the Trans community in that they are clumped in under the umbrella of Atheism which is not fair as they are not Atheists. Here are some definitions for your future reference:

Agnostic - a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God. 

Agnosticism -  is the view that the truth values of certain claims – especially metaphysical and religious claims such as whether or not God, the divine or the supernatural exist – are unknown and perhaps unknowable.

When someone tells you they are agnostic please take the time to hear them out and try not to assume what their disclosure to you means. Remember to check your privileges be it religious privilege or specifically Christian privilege (the dominant religion in the USAwhich, as I have shared before is "the system of advantages bestowed upon Christians in some societies. This system arises out of the presumption that the belief in Christianity is a social norm, leading to the exclusion of the nonreligious and members of other religions through institutional religious discrimination. Christian privilege can also lead to the neglect of outsiders' cultural heritage and religious practices." Try not to reconcile a person's identity as Agnostic and their stance on the claims of religion or deities as them being an Atheist. I cannot stress this enough. Do not under any circumstances question their belief system,it is not their responsibility to help you reconcile why they are Agnostic. Nor should you feel the need to go on autopilot and feel the need to save Agnostics from the eternal damnation that your bible claims to be punishment for disobedience. I am being as respectful as possible, as I say this.....Be willing to accept that what you have been indoctrinated with may not be the crown jewel of civilization and that your manifest destiny mentality may need to be unlearned. 

On the flip side of that coin, I need for those who lean strongly to Atheist end of spectrum to be respectful as well. A lot of times we also cast judgement on those who may very well be an ally and are usually clumped in with with us, Agnostics. Here is a problematic language from Atheist Richard Dawkins: 

 "...a distinction between agnosticism and atheism is unwieldy and depends on how close to zero a person is willing to rate the probability of existence for any given god-like entity. About himself, Dawkins continues, "I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden." Dawkins also identifies two categories of agnostics; "Temporary Agnostics in Practice" (TAPs), and "Permanent Agnostics in Principle" (PAPs). Dawkins considers temporary agnosticism an entirely reasonable position, but views permanent agnosticism as "fence-sitting, intellectual cowardice."

In a nutshell, Agnostics are often characterized as confused and cowardly fence sitters who refuse to make up their minds about where they stand. We should consider agnosticism to be more than the tired misconceptions that we may have about it. The battle between atheists  and theists has the tendency to exclude and degrade Agnostics. This is because both sides are locked in an argument where Theists make the case for God via scripture and faith, while Atheists argue argue against the existence of a God, deity or supreme being. We have to understand that this is not a black and white argument, that we may be silencing Agnostic voices and forcing them to the outer fringes of the larger debate. We all need to come together and acknowledge our contributions to some fairly serious misconceptions as to what Agnosticism really means.