Statisticians tend to lump them together when listing percentages with Sweden 85%, Japan 65, France 49, Germany 45, the UK 44, Canada 30, Israel 26, and the US, where no non-religious politician can survive, only 9%. There is an important difference. An atheist denies the existence of any supreme being while an agnostic, although skeptical, maintains an open mind, ready and eager to assess all the evidence he/she can find. Agnostics decry the lack of historical proofs, the bigotry, exploitation, intolerance, persecution, and wars religions have caused but admire the usefulness of churches, mosques, synagogues, philosophies, and the like in uniting groups and in providing solace. Agnostics have been with us as great thinkers at least since the invention of the written word. The evolution of all religions into so many varieties confirms a vibrant skepticism. So, from an agnostic point of view, what are the facts? How much free will do we have? What conclusions, if any, can we draw?
We humans have evolved the ability to recognize, amass, and analyse data at an ever-increasing rate. Our conversion of raw materials into foods, housing, clothing, buildings, transportation, communication, and so on is amazing. All this with just a few quite-limited senses and a short life span. Compared to ferns, termites, bees, dolphins, crows, and other creatures we have come an even longer way, so what percentage of the Truth is in what we think we know? Do our genes control us? I do know that I was propelled, like many others, into a successful 59-year genealogical hunt, pushed by the sudden realizations, at different times, that I was behaving exactly like one or more of my parents or grandparents. But, what about away back?
Avoiding the gender trap, let us assume that originally there were gods, branes, and space. Where, how, and why they came to be we will tackle if and when we uncover sufficient data. Our multiverse was created in such a sloppy, cruel, wasteful, and trial-and-error fashion that the job must have been left to young gods under training and ones who had no care or responsibility for what they created. The created would have to care for themselves, and have, in a wide variety of ways in spite of 99% of species achieving only extinction.
These gods started out alright by rubbing two branes together that freed immense gobs of energy that joyously burst forth, unfettered, to explore space. But slavery was born when they turned down the thermostat forcing many particles of energy to congeal into bits of matter we call quarks, electrons, positrons, neutrons and so on, all subject to both the weak and strong forces that were about. Atoms of hydrogen and helium were formed, that imprisoned these particles forever into a dance around each other. Forced to obey the imposed laws, they formed suns where immense heat and pressure changed them into a variety of elements thus setting the stage for the emergence of life billions of years later. These gods never acquired compassion as they chose competition rather than co-operation for us new life forms to adapt and improve to become more like gods. They injected pain, suffering, pleasure, and the essential need to eat, resulting in us preying on each other while evolving into millions of temporary species in temporary environments.
At this moment in Time, which is something else we do not understand, some humans believe we are at the pinnacle, yet we have little concern for all those other life forms we consume for our needed energy and growth, although we do choose a few to protect so they can serve us as tools, companionship, eye appeal, or recreational retreats. This has made Greed a dominant characteristic. We fear that certainty for everything we know: Death. There is little solace in knowing that those trillions of atoms that make us what we are have existed from the beginning of time and will recycle after we have gone to survive to the end of time.
We have saddled ourselves with this gnawing need to be useful, wanted, respected, and loved. Few of us are satisfied with what we receive, so imagine supreme beings who love and care for us. Does imagination, including dreams, have any reality or permanence? Do we know what reality and permanence are?
We do have a huge challenge. It is easy to fall into hopelessness if nothing matters, and exertion is futile. Even though we had no known say in us being us and no one who has passed on has sent back any message as to what, if anything, lies beyond, we agnostics are blessed with an immense curiosity that delights in using what resources we have to probe as long as we can the mysteries of our being. Who knows? Maybe, in the long distant future, our progeny will evolve into the benevolent gods so many of us long for today. Perhaps that is why we refuse to join atheists in their no-god stand as we have a glimmer of hope that we can evolve into gods, but that could take a million years or so during which we must preserve our only home - this earth. Being an agnostic is not for the lazy, the afraid, the extremists, the uncaring, but it is rather exhilarating.