I realise that people who are agnostic have a very strong sense of self. I am who I am today because of the choices I made. They dislike the uncertainty that a religion brings and prefer to take sole responsibility for their actions. If something went well, it’s because of a mixture of hardwork and luck. If something went badly, it is because of the choices they made. Any possible references that suggest otherwise makes them uncomfortable because “science” have yet to prove it.
It is always good to see things from a different perspective. As long as it makes the person happy, I guess that’s most important. They take responsibility for their own actions instead shirking it away. I must say though, it’s just interesting to see how an agnostic passionately dispell the notion of God, raising their pitch slightly higher as they try to convince you of their logic and reasoning.
I chanced upon this article that I’ll like to share:
A question of identity: who am I?
Asking the question “who am I?” can elicit an innumerable amount of responses. Despite this, most of those responses will be predictable. Yet, from the stand point of Buddhism and physics, the often elusive question of “who am I” is made infinitely more profound.
When entertaining the question “who am I?”, most responses reflect that which the individual identifies him or herself with. “I am a lawyer”, “I am a mother”, “I am a spiritual person,” “I am a good friend,” are examples of typical responses; responses that reveal a basic nature of humans to establish their identity on a life role, on a behavior, or a belief system.
Precarious ways to define the self Basing identity on a role, a behavior, a belief, or the physical body is both common and seemingly natural. The problem is that to base identity on any of these things has definite draw backs. Basing identity on a role or occupation leads to problem when a person’s role or occupation changes. Children leaving home or loss off a career can lead to a crisis, if a person links their identity as being a parent or to the career. The same is true with the body. Being blessed with great looks or physical athleticism may be great for the ego but what happens when the body starts to break down? Even identifying with a belief comes at a cost as it can lead to rigid thinking and a resistance to taking in new information.
The illusions of separateness Both Buddhist teachings and quantum physics take the question of identity to an entirely different realm. Beyond culture indoctrination and the sensory limitations of the body, lies the intuitive view of man’s true nature as seen from a Buddhist perspective. The Buddhist concept of non-substantiality provides deeper understanding to what constitutes a living or nonliving being.
Non-substantiality states that nothing in life has an own unique entity. A table is not a unique entity on to its self. A table exists due to the temporary union of “non table” components, including trees, the soil, water, sun, and carbon dioxide, the lumber jack who chopped down the tree or the craftsman who build the table. The table is a culmination of all these different factors. If any of these factors were absent the table could not exist.
For those who anchor their sense of identity of to the physical body, both physics and biology pose an additional challenge: which body is being identified with? The human body is constantly losing and creating new cells. Almost every part of the human body is being replaced through the ongoing process of cell division. An individual’s body today is not the same body from ten years ago. From the atomic level, the body is indistinguishable from the environment, with both the body and environment exchanging molecules on an on going basis.
To base identity on the mind poses a problem as well. Where is the mind located? Buddhism and other spiritual teachings do not regard the brain as mind. The mind lacks physical form, nor does is it occupy space. Rather, the brain is compared to a radio tower, while the mind is compared to radio waves. Some Eastern philosophies believe that the mind is not the source of consciousness; rather, consciousness creates the mind, the body, and everything else.
Perhaps in the end, “who am I” is the exercise of the intellect, attempting to convince itself of its uniqueness, its separateness, trying to preserve a dualistic view of life to maintain an illusion of self.