Practical Agnosticism

I was 17 years old and sat in Philosophy 101 (or some class like that) at my neighborhood Community College when the professor introduced me to the Big Bang theory. From what I can recall he said something like this:
Since we really can't scientifically explain the origins of the universe then lets just say that there was a "Prime Mover" that started it all.. and let's call that "God".
Now that really made an impression on this impressionable teenage boy and for the next 10 years gave me cause to be a practical agnostic. Interesting enough I still went to the Episcopal Church with my mom every week. It really didn't bother me to go because I still believed in God.. just not a personal God.. not a God that heard prayers.. not a God that really made any difference.. just this "Prime Mover" that got things going.

Years later when I was 27 I came in contact with a different "God".. you can read that story here.. but until that weekend I lived a life of practical agnosticism. Unlike many agnostics, who simply say "I do not know if there is a God", I believed there was a God (albeit a Prime Mover sort of deity). This belief in God did not however make any difference in the way that I lived my life. When my first wife went blind when I was 22 years old I did not pray.. why would I do that.. Prime Movers don't hear or answer prayers. I can remember crying about my wife's blindness.. I was in a boatload of pain.. but had no one in my life to talk to.. I spent most of my evenings with six of my best friends.. their last names were the same - Budweiser.

I think that many people share my story.. even ones who call themselves "Christian". They look around and see the logic in the idea that something or someone intelligent had to have designed it all but cannot come to grips with the idea that this entity is still involved with the creation. They see all of the pain and heartache in the world and in their lives and cannot come to grips with a God that is still involved. They exclude this kind of "God" because it just doesn't make sense to their heads.

On a cognitive level I am yet one of those people.. but my heart was changed some 33 years ago and my spiritual eyes were opened to a God who came to earth and poured His life out for me. Pain and heartache still don't make sense to my head.. I still hurt when people I love so much suffer so much.. but somehow I have been given the ability to filter this pain through my heart instead of my head. And when I am crying the most I find myself remembering that beautiful Man who died for me.. and everything is different.

I am no longer a practical agnostic.


  1. a touching diary, Bob. will have to come back to this one a few times. thank you.

  2. Hello Kansas Bob,

    The theological position you describe is often called deism. I used to be one as well for not too dissimilar reasons.

  3. Thx guys. I think that Deism is a bit more intentional Sid.. I think Deists probably pray.. or at least think about God.. my flavor was very passive.. hence the practical agnosticism aspect.

  4. Well, yes and no. Strictly speaking, deism is a theological position. It's the position that there exists a completely non-interventionist creator God. You seemed to have believed that. Some deists may offer occasional prayers of thanks for creation, but that is actually pretty rare nowadays.

    In fact, one of the main activity of modern deism is to make people like your younger self realize that they, too, are deists.

  5. Understand where you are coming from Sid.. perhaps many people are Deists if it is possible to be one in a passive sense. I would think that embracing a view of God would be more of an active process.. perhaps I could have titled the post Passive Deism.

    But the idea that I have tried to show here is the passivity of an assent to a "Prime Mover" and how crazy it is to label this "God".

  6. Good testimony. I like to hear bout what makes you tick.

  7. "But the idea that I have tried to show here is the passivity of an assent to a "Prime Mover" and how crazy it is to label this "God"."

    Ah, I see. I actually struggled with this very issue rather recently. I came to quite a different conclusion, of course, but it's cool to see some parallel thoughts.


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