Last night Clark and I decided to go see The Dark Knight Rises. We'd been planning on seeing a matinee today, but he suggested we go last night instead since we were up and he was too wired to go to sleep any time soon. We checked online and saw that the last showing of the night was at 11:40, which gave us about half an hour to get to the theater--plenty of time. When we got to the mall where the theater is located, though, the doors were locked. We waited outside until someone happened to be coming out, then ran to the box office to get tickets, only to be told that the last show of the evening had actually been at 11:00, and all the websites and apps saying there was an 11:40 show were wrong.
Disappointed, we headed back out of the mall, only to run into a friend of ours. Friend was also hoping to catch the 11:40 show, and was equally disappointed by its non-existence. We briefly considered going together to another movie at the dollar theater, but I could tell that Friend was distressed and needing to talk, so I suggested that instead we go to Denny's for midnight snacks. We ended up talking for a couple of hours about some of the issues Friend is experiencing, and both Clark and I shared some similar experiences we've had. In the end Friend thanked us for the "therapy." I was happy for the chance to get to know her better and to be a sounding board for her.
On our way home, Clark--who is more or less agnostic, like me--said, "You know, it's possible that us being there tonight was an answer to Friend's prayer." I conceded the possibility, as the same thing had occurred to me. This is why I'm agnostic rather than atheist. I don't really believe in God, but sometimes I would like to. I would like to think that there's some kind of higher power directing my life, leading me to places where I can do good for others and leading others to places where they can do good for me. While we talked last night, Friend said something that I had said several years ago, more or less word for word: "I've experienced too many small miracles in my life to deny the existence of God." I no longer feel so strongly, but I will say that I've experienced enough happy coincidences in my life to make me believe that there just might be some kind of something beyond what we can see, something that connects people and makes serendipitous things happen.
|Tell me, my atheist friends, if there's no God then how is there an angel on the Justice League? Explain that one.|
My default when describing my religious position is to call myself agnostic. This is certainly accurate--I don't know whether there's a God. But "agnostic" defines what I don't believe in. If I focus on what I do believe in, I prefer to think of myself as a humanist. I believe in people. I believe in the goodness of humanity. I believe the ultimate measure of whether an action is right or wrong is what impact it has on people--if it hurts people it's bad, while if it helps, it's good. I suspect that most "miracles" that people attribute to God are actually produced by human beings, whether it's a person deliberately doing something kind for me or simply the meaning that I (as a human) attach to a happy coincidence. Whether my suspicion is true or there really is a God using people to do his will, I figure my responsibility is the same: I will do my best to make life better for those I come in contact with, and I'll be grateful when they do the same for me.
That is my religion.