Sunday, September 2, 2012

An Alternative Word to God?

As a committed Agnostic I've always been uncomfortable with the word "God". Unlike Atheists, I don't believe God doesn't exist. Unlike most monotheistic religions, I don't believe in God. For me, there's no way to tell one way or the other - so it makes no sense to believe either of those ways.

Nevertheless, we exist. Here on a planet, that exists in a solar system, that exists in a Galaxy, that exists in our Universe, which may be one of many. And where does our one, or the many Universes, exist? No one knows. Atheists simply claim the Universe is all there is. Believers claim it all exists in God and thus proves God exists.

Neither argument satisfies me. Yet it is true we, and everything else around us, exists. So what's a poor Agnostic to do? What term to use? "Universe" is too cold - and seems to imply a belief in Atheism. "God" is too charged. Too many people have so many different definitions and meanings associated with the word.

I choose "providence". It's an older term. People understand it, but use it to a much lesser degree. And it's ambiguous about beliefs. It doesn't imply belief in Atheism, nor does it imply belief in God. It simply implies that somehow things mysteriously work out. Here's a very nice quote from John Adams, 2nd President of the US.
"I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth."
 Now, John Adams was a smart man - and a devout Unitarian. He was familiar with the concept of God. So why did he choose the word "providence"?