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    Posted August 7, 2013 by
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    First Person: Your essays

    There's something about ietsism

    It is without question that the modern American religious debate has been whittled down to two heavyweights: Christians and atheists. But like any good fight there are always other players.

    Ietsism (Dutch for somethingism) is not a groundbreaking belief system; instead it’s merely a political joke that has gained traction. Akin to agnostic theism, ietsists believe there is something else to the universe but are uncertain of its role and characteristics. No one view of God or a higher being seems to fit, and ietsists aren't afraid to wonder. There is simply something more to be seen.

    My own skepticism was long unclassified. I despised that agnosticism was viewed as the lazy man's atheism, but the Roman Catholic roots I was brought up in failed to answer my questions and left me yearning for answers. More than that, it left me disgruntled at the lack of flexibility and modernization that my younger self craved.

    I can vouch for the struggle that comes with the journey of believer to skeptic. It’s as if society can accept the religious and the atheistic, but is unsatisfied with simple unknowing and skepticism. People want to see the headlining fight and are rooting either for Christianity or atheism. As a former true believer, denouncing God is a big pill to swallow and one that I am not currently, and may never be, willing to take.

    On the other hand I can't sit idly by watching Christianity alienate gays, women, millenials and many other groups. Pope Francis recently caused a stir by saying that it was beyond him to judge gays so long as he or she “searches for the Lord and has good will.” The Pontiff simply stated he was going to abide by the teachings of the church and judge actions, not people. Not exactly the welcoming arms some made the statement out to be.

    It is this type of doctrinal nonsense that first made me question my faith; made me question the institution of Catholicism and Christianity as a whole. I refused to accept beliefs and dogmata that were ultimately used to make those around me inferior or less worthy of His love.

    For me, this was the beauty of skepticism. The ability to believe what I wanted to believe and question what I wanted to question without having to hide within the church was liberating.

    I can thank Frans de Waal for introducing me to ietsism. He discussed the trend in the increasingly secular Netherlands in his latest book, The bonobo and the atheist: Searching for humanism among the primates. Finally! Finally I had a name for my skepticism beyond being the ‘lazy man’s atheist’. Agnosticism had a subculture with a catchy name that fit my views perfectly. I cannot begin to speculate what is or may be out there, but I know the God that was force fed to me during Sunday school isn’t it for me.

    And I have to wonder, is the ultimate destination for millenials leaving the church really atheism? There’s an old adage in medicine: when you hear hoofbeats think horses, not zebras. I believe it is much more likely that the exodus of millenials from evangelical Christianity far more commonly results in agnostics not atheists. I mean, agnosticism and belief systems like ietsism offer freedom that religion often cannot afford its members.

    I have come to peace with my new label. I am an ietist. There must be something, but what? I’m content with not knowing. I’m content with giving my youth to Catholicism only to come out the other side with more questions than when I started. I’m content with my understanding of the Bible and that it will not provide me the answers I’m looking for – at least not in this stage of my life.

    Hopefully skeptics will stop getting lumped in with atheists and we will have a fighter in the ring eventually, but all I can say is there’s something about ietsism and it sure beats nothing.
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