Revisiting Religion: Refusing to be an Arawak

Cathedral at the Monastery, Georgia

I am an agnostic.

I wanted to make that abundantly clear before I say anything else. A lot of people equate that with being an atheist. I guess from the outside, it may look like that, but we’re not the same.

As an agnostic, I think atheism is only slightly less arrogant and misguided than Christianity and other evangelical faiths. Why? Because atheists have no hard evidence that God does not exist, in the same way, Christians have no indisputable proof that God does exist.

Subsequently, to sit smugly on either side of the fence seems to me to be an inability to accept that we don’t know everything; that we’re still learning about the world we live in; and that there is always a possibility of what if…


Me? I prefer to sit on the fence and enjoy the view.

A Semi-Catholic Upbringing


I went to Catholic school twice in my life for a total of seven years. My first two years of school were at a Catholic kindergarten, and in high school, I attended Mount Alvernia Catholic High School for Girls for five years.

In fact, I spent the first two or three years of my life growing up in a Catholic convent. My biological father’s college had bought it and handed it over to my family for a while, for us to live in and take care of.

Unfortunately, that was 24 years ago and I have no pictures of the place. Instead, here are other pictures from a monastery I visited one weekend in the fall of 2015: The Monastery of the Holy Spirit.


Entering Holy Ground

When I received the invitation, my very first thought was, “This is going to make an awesome blog post!”

However, I didn’t think it would be one that in any way explored my thoughts on religion. I initially just wanted to share my visit. However, my experiences there really made me examine my religious beliefs – or lack thereof.


Let me include in this examination that despite seven years of Catholic-inspired education, I did not grow up in a Catholic family.

My [Actual] Seventh-Day Upbringing

My family was devoutly Seventh Day Adventist, which if you don’t know, is a denomination that survived what is called “The Great Disappointment” in the Millerite Movement.

Don’t know what that is, either? Do you remember in March 2011, when a cult led by Harold Camping predicted “the Rapture”?

They believed that Jesus would come for them and the world would go up in fire and brimstone, while they would be saved. People sold their properties and gave up their life possessions in expectation of Jesus’ arrival.

Denomination? — Or Cult.

Well, the Millerites did the very same thing in 1844, and after Jesus failed to show up in all his glorious splendor, the Seventh Day Adventist Church became one of the surviving offshoots of the belief.


As most cults (and offshoots of cults) tend to be, there was a world of rules that didn’t quite make sense. I couldn’t eat shrimp, because it said so in Leviticus; right next to where it also advises farmers not to mix breed their cows or plant more than one crop in the same field.

Today, we know that monoculture actually kills farmland, and the practice is discouraged. In case you’re wondering, the law against homosexuality is smack dab right there, too.

I couldn’t wear jewelry because it was unholy, but King Solomon was allowed to. And Sabbath was a whole day affair. Every Friday at sunset, I was plunged into depression and religious prison.


However, I never believed any of it. Even at three years old, I remember asking hard-hitting questions about religion and getting literal hard-hitting answers, because it was considered “blaspheming”.

A Losing Battle

I pleaded with God every night to reveal himself to me in some way so that I would know I wasn’t just talking to myself or something that didn’t exist. I read the Bible — and still know it better than most Christians and pastors that I’ve come across.

I pondered and I analyzed and I begged some more, and then finally, the burden didn’t seem worth bearing anymore, and I gave it up.


Most Christians will find this to be a hard line to swallow, but: I never felt more at peace than I did the day I decided I was done pleading with Jesus to prove he was more than a myth.

That burden I had been carrying around, I left it at the foot of the cross and wore the pendant around as a Gothic fashion statement, instead.

Free at Last

Life became a whole new place for me after that. I delved into Existentialism and loved the philosophical teachings of Kierkegaard, Marx, and Voltaire. They understood life. They understood reasoning.

They asked the same questions I had asked at three and five and ten and fifteen and had come to the same conclusions I had, with added insights.

I finally met (dead) men who understood what I had been battling with all along. It was freeing. I was sixteen years old, in my first year of college, and on the road to becoming a better person.

Part-Time Christians


After that, I lived a life much like the rest of my atheist and agnostic friends, which basically rivals the “purity” and “goodness” of my Christian friends. My Christian friends were always up to no good and then needing prayer on the weekend to feel better about all the wrongs they had done all week.

It was a luxury asset that they had: do bad things now and pass the guilt on to Jesus on Saturday or Sunday. By Monday, they were as good as new!


My non-religious friends and I didn’t have that luxury. Our guilt was ours to bear when we did wrong, so though none of us would claim to be perfect, we did our best to live good lives. And in the end, we did a much better job than my Christian friends, at that.

Damned to Hell?

A few years later, I pointed that out to one of my friends who considered himself a believer, and he had an interesting take on the whole matter. He admitted that he had noticed the same thing: that his atheist and agnostic friends lived much better lives than his Christian ones.

And he knew why. In his mind, the Devil has no need to tempt us, because we’re already damned and going to hell. We’re a lost cause. Christians are still holding on to God, and need to be tempted away into sin.


Who knows? Maybe he’s right. Or maybe people who gravitate to gods and deities are people who refuse to accept and take control of their own lives and need someone else to blame for all the bad in the world.

I don’t know.

That’s the beauty of being an agnostic. I can theorize and postulate, but I can also frankly admit that I don’t know — and I am perfectly okay with that.


A Paranormal Past

In fact, while sharing with Michael, the many paranormal experiences I had growing up, I admitted that one would believe that that would make me a believer.

He nodded and admitted that that was true. It’s amazing that it didn’t. I said to him, “You know why it didn’t? It doesn’t, because I refuse to be an Arawak.”


He had no idea what I was talking about, so I explained:

Arawaks were the Native Indians in Jamaica at the time that Columbus came. From the hilltops and the shores, they saw these mighty ships approaching, and soon, they saw White men pouring out of them.

They had never seen such fine naval craftsmanship before and had never seen White men. They believed then, that they must be gods.

In the end, Columbus and his men wiped out the entire population of Arawaks on the island. Not one of them survived. It is one of the most complete cases of genocide in the Americas.

I have seen and experienced a lot of things that I do not understand and will never understand, but that does not make it God. What was God to man centuries ago, turned out to be Spaniards led by one Italian, in ships.

Learning Lessons from the Natives

Thus, I refuse to be an Arawak. I refuse to attribute my ignorance to God. I am able to admit that I simply do not know, and that one day, there may be a perfectly rational explanation — or not.


Still, I respect the people who have managed to believe. In fact, for a long time, I envied them. I wanted to believe, too. I wanted to be a blind sheep, stumbling back to the Shepherd for guidance, but ultimately that life was not for me. I am unfit.

God, if he exists, gave me a brain to think and challenge what we think we know, and I have used it for exactly that. If questioning existence and nature and knowledge and life and lies and the status quo is ungodly, then that’s not a God I want to worship, anyway.

To Each Their Own


In the end, I truly believe in living my life by to each their own. We all have to find our own paths and our own truths in life. It’s important to respect that. I may not believe in Christianity and the Christian God, but I respect that there are people who do.

So when I visited the monastery, I respected it as Holy grounds, though I felt not a stirring of exceptional Presence. And when Michael wrote a petty comment in the prayer book, I was quick to scold him for his childishness.

I expect my non-religious path to be respected, and in return, I respect the path of the religious — whether it’s Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or god knows what else, as long as they’re not hurting anyone. Subsequently, there’s no need to post nasty signs like this:


Or this:


Christianity is no more or less believable than Islam, and let’s be honest, Muslims and Jews are better at being Muslim and Jewish than Christians are at being Christian.

Yes, Islam breeds radical thoughts, but so did Christianity back in the day. Where do you think the Crusades came from: when it was god’s will to murder Muslims? In any case, that’s a debate for another day. I’ve said enough already.


As for me, I appreciate and thank and revere what I know for a fact exists: Mother Nature. Some people might say, well who made nature? What created the “big bang”? Well, I ask you, “Who made God? What created Him?” 


The answer is simple and yet so difficult for people to accept, despite acknowledging our shortcomings as humans. The truth is:

We. Don’t. Know.

What I do know is that these plants and this air and the sky is real. I can see it and touch it and smell it and feel it and science can measure it. Those, I do know exist, and that’s all the mystical wonder I will ever need in my life.



I hope my post has inspired some thought, and that I’ll see some of that in the comments as the week rolls by. Have a good week, and always remember the Arawaks!

93 thoughts on “Revisiting Religion: Refusing to be an Arawak

  1. Your atheism/agnosticism comparison is very interesting, and reflects the thought processes I went through a few years back.

    I called myself agnostic for a while, but then I realised that I wasn’t open to any religious narrative where there was a greater power we had to answer to. The only deity I was interested in was one better than humanity. The only others offered punish us for not worshipping them (or not doing what they told us), embodying their own sins of wrath and vanity. A sinful god? Sounds like a human in disguise to me.

    I haven’t been able to give such beings a place in my heart ever since.

    I don’t declare myself agnostic, because I am firm in my belief that the omnipotent, anthropomorphised, sentient God doesn’t exist. I think that any patterns we see that lead us to the conclusion that there is are led by our natural longing for understanding and love of finding patterns that may not be there. In that respect, I’m an atheist. I don’t think there is *a* God.

    But I still find “God” in other ways. I look up at the stars on a dark night and I see God. I can feel God in the cracked brick under my fingers as I run my hand along a wall. I feel God in a friend or family member’s hug. I can hear God in the sound of magpies in the morning (in this case, God is a total jerk, because I would much rather be asleep).

    To me, God isn’t a glorious creator or a saviour or judge. God is the ticking over of the universe, an unstoppable force that encompasses the sheer dumb luck that brought humanity into existence after billions of years of evolutionary paths. God is the wonder and tragedy of coincidence, the unbelievable and inconceivable contrast of the vastness of space against the infinite smallness of electrons and beyond.

    I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in one or a pantheon of gods, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in holy wonder and power, the something that can’t be explained.

    I think that’s where atheism and agnosticism overlap – that place where you don’t need belief to feel spiritual – and that overlap isn’t given enough weight in atheist discussion circles.

    (Well, that was longer than anticipated. Sorry.)

    1. I think your understanding of agnosticism and atheism is far more interesting. And you are correct, they do overlap. We (and I mean all of us, not just you and me) draw the line at different places.

      I don’t think I’ll ever identify as an atheist, though I am an agnostic who does not believe there is a God, or even cares if there is. I’m not impressed with his work, and wouldn’t worship him either way.

      However, I do accept the “what if” and the unknown factor. I accept that perhaps there is a logic to the madness that I do not understand, even if I don’t agree with it. And I also ‘accept’ that God is unfair to not make me an obedient sheep, to choose a life for me (since they claim he has such power) that would inevitably lead to nothing but doubt, and later, an absolute rejection of his existence.

  2. Nice posts. I went through the same sort of faith or lack of faith thing as you. I now admit I’m an atheist after a few years kind of sitting behind the agnostic thing. While I still can’t say I definitively know, I don’t actively believe at the current time which makes me an atheist.

    Enjoyed the post. Thanks for writing it. I look forward to reading more in the future. 😊

    1. For me, it’s not a matter of sitting behind anything. I just think of atheism as knowing for sure, whereas as an agnostic, I don’t really know for sure what is or isn’t out there. I don’t believe anyone can know for sure, which is the meat of that matter. I respect those who are fairly convinced of either side though.

      I’m not particularly concerned with whether or not a God exists, so I’ve left that life behind, for the most part. I figure even if he does exist, I don’t feel particular inclined to worship him. I’ve read the Bible and “He” seems more like a villain than a saviour.

      And thank you. I’ve been checking out your posts in my feed as well. We’ll be hearing more from each other, I’m sure. 🙂

      1. Just wanted to clarify that I wasn’t trying to imply you were sitting behind anything. That was me several years ago.

        And thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to read my work.

      2. I didn’t think you were. Just explaining my own experience. Trust, I’m not that suspicious haha.

        And you’re welcome. Keep posting!

  3. I enjoyed your post and will look at others. I was a little uncomfortable with your definition of atheist and agnostic. A freethinker group I meet with has discussed and debated those terms over and over again. Unfortunately, there seems to be no commonly agreed upon definitions. I prefer to define atheist as simply not believing in a god. An atheist thinks there is insufficient evidence to warrant a belief in a deity but would revise that opinion if suitable evidence appeared. Believing there is no god is sometimes called a strong atheist. That is an admittedly more aggressive position that elicits more opposition. Although I don’t think we can be absolutely certain about anything, at some point a lack of evidence is so overwhelming as to be as near to certainty as we can ever come — e.g., 2,000 + years without a single argument for a deity that has withstood scrutiny.

    Agnostic often means something is unknowable as well as unknown. Atheist and agnostic are not mutually exclusive terms. Some people define themselves as both.

    None of this is meant to disagree with your main point — It is better to live with uncertainty and ambiguity than to claim unjustified certainty. The worst thing that can happen is to prohibit questions and doubt. I’m especially impressed with how early in life you started listening to your own questions and doubt.

    My favorite part of your post was your incite into Christian beliefs being unrelated to good behavior. A term for what you describe your Christian friends doing is “cheap grace.” A person does not have to worry about being good if forgiveness is easy and repeatable (the confessional). Atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, and all other non-religious people take full responsibility for their choices and actions and choose good ones for reasons far better than an eternal reward or to avoid a terrifying punishment.

    I look forward to reading more from you.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad the post provoked deep thought.

      I did use the term “strong/strict atheist” two days ago and one such atheist all but roasted me in fire and brimstone for it.

      Atheists often do not think kindly of agnostics. He, himself, described atheism as full belief that there is no God, and that he can never be otherwise convinced. But as you clearly pointed out, there is some discrepancy with the definition.

  4. Excellent post! It also consider myself an agnostic. One with pagan tendencies. When I think of God, or Goddess, I tend to think in terms of Gaia and the interconnectedness of life. I find a real basis for inclusiveness and tolerance there. My major problems with organized religions have been there patriarchal natures which globally tend to devalue women and the rigid, judgmental rules. The focus, as you note, is too much on what we do wrong. I prefer a world where we can focus on the things that work, that make us better. Do I know whether God exists? Nope. But I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it either.

    1. Thank you Karen. I don’t spend time worrying about whether God exists or not either. There are such bigger problems to fix that prayer does not.

      And you’re right, a lot of religions devalue women, which was one of my major gripes with them as well.

  5. Hey Alexis, I’m always intrigued to read how other people think. I’m a strong believer and I’ve had discussions with people I know who were atheists or agnostic. Your post was a good read and I agree a lot of atheists behave better than Christians do. What I’ve learned over the years is to keep things simple. I choose to have a relationship with God because I want to. No one can really force me, there were times when I turned away from God. In those times I felt emptiness, something was missing, when I re-started my relationship I felt this peace I hadn’t in awhile. I have friends who are Muslim and I find their religion to be beautiful. In the end my faith journey has changed my heart, how I talk to people and interact with the world. Sometimes you expect a big sign to show that God is there, it doesn’t always happen, I’ve been there. I believe in having faith in yourself, unconditional love and hope. I look forward to reading your future posts.

    1. Always great to hear from believers when it comes to post like these, especially those like yourself who can accept that people have the right to their own spiritual paths or lack thereof.

      I think some of us are more conditioned for some relationships than others, and spirituality and religion is largely a relationship with a deity or God. Some people feel empty without that relationship and need it, and some don’t. In the same way, there are people who don’t want a relationship, kids, or marriage, and who have no desire to maintain close relationships with their parents. And then there are others who couldn’t imagine a week without seeing momma, or spend their whole lives looking for “the one”.

      We’re all wired differently. I suppose it’s just a matter of how it all plays out in the end.

  6. I’m one of those believers. I believe in God who existed outside of himself in order to create himself. And I appreciate this post in its entirety. I could see through your eyes from your thoroughness and eloquence. Enjoyed the read! Thanks for this thought probing well written piece:) Respect:)

    1. Thank you. I’m glad that even believers can understand and appreciate that for some of us, we just can’t seem to eliminate that doubt despite all our best efforts. It is what it is.

      Thanks again!

    2. I’ve never heard the “existed outside himself to create himself” belief before. That’s totally mind bending, and strangely poetic.

      And, even more strangely, almost the perfect guide to self-improvement…

      1. That for me friend, is THE most profound attribute of God, that He just IS. The I AM (that’s how he introduced himself to Moses). YAHWEH. So I also understand how we sometimes struggle to believe when we have this innate ability to question. That He just is.

  7. Hi Alex! I learned a lot from this post. the pictures are very detailed and beautiful. I did not know anything about an agnostic until I read this post. Thanks. My husband always says that religion is a paved way to hell. A lot of people only choose to follow a religion because of their parents and their cultural background, not because they have knowledge and understanding of what they’re following

    1. Your husband is a smart man, an articulate at that. I love the way he worded it.

      Religion has a lot of great lessons to teach us, I think, about being kind and loving and giving and charitable. But unfortunately, it’s also easily twisted and manipulated to serve selfish ends and the people who follow it mostly use it for that purpose, from what I’ve seen.

      I’m really glad I was able to teach you what an agnostic was. I’m honored. Sounds to me like your husband is one too.

      1. Thanks for the complement on my husband and his words. He has a great way with words. My husband taught me a lot of things about the bible and how to understand it.

        I remember when my grandmother used to force us to go to church every Sunday. She swore that it would save us. It did more harm then good. I’m happy that I stopped going to that church at the age of 17 after they had a ceremony for my mother’s death there.

      2. You’re welcome. He deserves it. I’m glad you’ve been able to learn quite a bit from him.

        I lost my faith for good around 17 too, and a big part of that was being forced to go to church as a teen. It wasn’t a choice. It was a condition for having a place to live and food to eat.

        Needless to say that’s what drove me out on my own again for the second time, and for good this time.

  8. First of all, thank you for following my blog. Hope that you will like some of the posts I have written.

    I wanted to say that I have learn so much just from reading the blog post itself. Be it about Christianity, Atheism and other religious beliefs that you mentioned above. The mind and world is a complex matter in which even science and religion failed to explain properly. There are many amusing unexplained issues that are just fascinating to me and I don’t get the explanation from anyone regarding it. I felt that the mind is a beautiful thing that caters to individuals and each one of our understanding differs from the others.

    What I think is most important in this world is how someone live their life. I don’t care about their religion, race, culture or country. How they conducted themselves with a pure intention is all that matters. I felt that having that and sincerity is what someone should strive for. Just having a good heart is what most important. Much love ❤

    1. Thank you Izrael. I’m always flattered when people pick up any tidbit of knowledge from my posts. I do try to make them informative by throwing in bits of history and sociology where possible.

      But in the end, that is all based on my personal experience. And as you said, the mind is a complex and unique thing, per person.

      Thanks so much for dropping by. I look forward to seeing you in my feed.

    2. Alexis,

      If there is no God then that means everything happened all by itself.

      It is a failure of reason to believe such a thing.

      Consequently, simply by applying common sense (very simple reasoning) it is possible to deduce that God exists.

      The scientific proofs that God exist come from information theory, molecular biology and cosmology.

      These scientific proofs have nothing to do with creationism.

      They are proofs using the very standards and results taken from modern science.

      1. And does that mean God happened all by himself? How did he come about? Chance? Another Big Bang? And which god did it create? Zeus? Allah? Yahweh? Or all of the above?

        I don’t believe faith makes anyone more intellectually superior than anyone else. That sense of superiority, more than anything else, is my gripes with religion.

        To each their own.

      2. Alexis,

        My comments have nothing to do with faith, only reason.

        And by reason, we know that God doesn’t happen.

        That is because anything that happens is caused.

        So we return to the simple fact that if God does not exist, then everything must have happened all by itself.

        And that is nonsense, a rejection of reason.

        Consequently, both atheism and agnosticism are the rejection of reason.

      3. That is your opinion, and one you are entitled to. I believe the opposite, which is one I am entitled to as well. To each their own.

      4. I think your proposal hinges on the way we understand God. Is God an anthropomorphised omnipotent being, as depicted in the Bible and other holy texts? Or is God just an abstract concept, the mysterious faceless force of momentum and wonder that keeps everything ticking over?

        Do the patterns and paths occur because they were placed there in a reasonable manner by a sentient God? Or do they exist because our intelligence has created these patterns to make them comprehendible in an attempt to understand them?

        Which came first? The reality or the reason?

        Because we don’t know the cause, is that why “God doesn’t happen”? What if there is a cause, or an eternal run of causes that goes on forever, running backwards from the present state like an irrational number?

        Are we beholding something holy, or are we experiencing the most complex form of apophenia our species has developed?

        Your comment, and a quick read over your blog, has left me with more questions than answers, but there’s a special joy in that. I’d hope that if God is the anthropomorphic being we’re told of, God would be happy with that.

      5. Or you could just not know or understand what the reason was. You’re assuming the reason for everything you were taught by your religion is the only reason.

  9. Christianity, like all religions, is based on faith.

    Proofs, however are in the realm of reason.

    Consequently, one would look for proves of God’s existence through logical proofs or scientific proofs.

    Both proofs of God exist and can be understood by someone whose mind is trained to reason.

    1. That would imply that people who don’t believe have failed to reason, or show good reasoning abilities. Yet, most intellectuals reject Creationism and other faith-based beliefs. To each their own.

      If the people who believed in the God of fire and brimstone really believed, they wouldn’t do half the things they did. They’re agnostic too, but clinging on to their faith because they think they have to.

  10. I can relate to this so much. Even though my family isn’t what one may regard as ‘strictly religious’, I have been scolded many times for asking ‘too many questions’. Though my friends know I’m agnostic, I haven’t told my family yet, but I hope I can gather up the courage soon. Your post has given me much to think about ^ ^

    1. I can understand that. My mom knows I’m agnostic, but it frightens her. She says that’s what happens when people go to college. But she still tries to get me to pray and read the Bible. Funny thing is, I know the Bible better than her. I just don’t bring religion up around her anymore. My dad is an agnostic practising Christian, if that makes sense. I think mom might be too, but she’s scared to admit it. Our faith is so tightly wound up in our culture, especially in the Caribbean. Mom’s Jamaican, Dad’s French Haitian-American.

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