The increasing popularity of atheism as a credo has inevitably led to a dilemma: what do you call yourself if you fall somewhere in between belief in God and total disbelief?
For most of my life, I have been a nonbeliever or at least a serious doubter. But where do I fit on the non-religious spectrum between agnostic and atheist?
Atheist is a little too hard-line and dogmatic for my taste. Agnostic, on the other hand, seems a tad wishy-washy, as if one might respond to the question of whether or not God exists by simply saying: "Whatever."
From where I'm sitting, there's a huge yawning gap between the two camps. Just as any modern religion has a wealth of sects to cover all manner of religious permutations and combinations, those of little or no faith should have a myriad of options, too.
There are, of course, lots of historical terms that folks like me can use to describe their belief system. There's "skeptic", "cynic" and "secular humanist." Even the old negative labels like "heathen", "heretic", "pagan" and "infidel" could be adopted in today's world with a kind of perverse pride. But I definitely wouldn't go for "bright", that annoying postmodern term adopted by supercilious nonbelievers.
I've thought of calling myself an ambivalent, someone who stands somewhere between certain knowledge and apathetic avoidance. But that doesn't really work since I fall closer to the atheist end of the anti-deist continuum.
Anti-deist is unsatisfactory, too. After all, I don't want to be dissing God on the off chance that he or she might actually exist.
Protester sounds like a good candidate. Much like the Protestants split from the overly-rigid Catholic Church, I could declare myself a quasi-atheist, someone unconvinced of the existence of any deity yet still open to the remote possibility of a loving, hateful or simply uncaring God.
Seeker has a certain smug, self-satisfied appeal. I don't know the answer but I continue to dedicate myself to the ongoing search for religious truth. I could probably even work in a weekly service, a daily affirmation and, with any luck, tax-exempt status.
But none of those really works for me so I've coined some terms which might catch on as new sects among the non-religious:
This is someone who is bored or uninterested with the concept of God. Rather than agonize continually about the question of God's existence, the Mehtheist chooses to remain actively indifferent.
Just as Anabaptists reject infant baptism, Antibaptists reject baptism in all its forms as well as any other religious practise. Not to be confused with Anti-papists or antipasto.
These folks aren't just agnostics; they're extreme agnostics. They're not merely namby-pamby disbelievers but instead are extremely active nonbelievers, continually discussing the God question to the ongoing annoyance of those around them.
Rather than engage in everyday, ordinary questions of faith, the Metatheist goes beyond belief in God and explores questions at a higher, abstract level. He worships the Meta as in: "Does God believe in God?"
In the end, I'm going to reject all of these potential sects and just call myself an Overwhelmed. For whenever I consider the questions of God, creation and the universe, I become totally overwhelmed by the magnitude of my cosmological ignorance. And maybe that's the best any of us can hope for.