nicolas stagliano

// adept jibber-jabberer //



Nicolas Stagliano | November 11th, 2022

Sitting across the room from my counselor, I remember him telling me that I’m an “agnostic Christian”, and that the apostle Paul had “agnostic Christians” killed for their heretical worldview. I remember smirking and raising a parenthetical eyebrow. If my parents knew the “Christian counseling” they pay for led to this they’d probably pull me out. If anything, I found what he said disconcerting. I already know I’m bordering on agnosticism, but I’m well aware of the fact that it’s not compatible with Christianity.

I went home shaking my head, it was a pointless meeting.

Some months ago, I chose to accompany my parents to visit friends of theirs. The weekend activity was boating. I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some work done on now-irrelevant projects while they were out on the lake. The events of that night are unimportant.

Vividly I recall the feeling I experienced on the long ride back home. I didn’t drive, and I remember fading in and out of consciousness as the streetlights passed overhead. I was listening to the album Draining Love Story, a “breakcore” album by Sewerslvt.

I felt tingly and incorporeal. Dissociated. At any moment, I would just dissolve. I could cease to exist, and all that would remain is the music.

I had a dissociative experience recently, and it confirmed a lot of things for me, I think. I was lying face-down on the bed, and every time I closed my eyes I left the room. I could describe in detail a dozen different environments my mind whisked me away to: a parking lot at night, a bustling party, a museum hall, etcetera. I could hear the sounds of each scene. I remember trying to talk to someone at the party, but they ignored me.

It was like the limiters on my brain were taken away. Complete freedom of the consciousness without limitation to the body. It made me wonder, if I chose to embrace the dissociative episode completely, could I have become lost and not come back? I remember, toward the end of the experience, I had to pull myself back. It was hard, and my entire body felt grimy. It felt like my skin was foreign to me, after having been outside of it for what felt like hours.

Since the episode, everything has been transient. Nothing has felt the same. Familiar things strike me as foreign. My desk, my house, my family. I know that it should feel disconcerting, I guess, but if anything it feels good, somehow. I can’t explain it, I couldn’t if I tried.

I remember obsessing over pseudo-philosophic dogma of actualization and becoming. Constantly deconstructing all of my thoughts, trying to find an underlying motive to them all. It was a miserable period of self-flagellating vivisection of myself and whatever ego I had. My faith did not help me then: my self-flagellating-esque behavior was religious in origin. If anything, it was poison.

Agnosticism is the rational conclusion of any line of a priori reasoning. Not in opposition to proper Gnosticism necessarily, but in the lack of anything else. It is not at all self-apparent to me that theism is the rational conclusion of any apologetic argument. I have examined them all, and they all ultimately boil down to the same dogmatic statements; it’s the “I AM THAT I AM”. Circular logic.

I remain a self-proclaimed religious person. This is because of my belief that religious experience exists outside of a priori reasoning; it is empirical. Experience is what colors the structure of religious belief; the “presence of God” that can be felt in prayer, or even the experience of miracles that cannot be explained away as the “entropy of the universe”.

Every apologetic is ultimately dogmatic and circular, but I remain an apologist in the sense that religious experience is very real for many people of all theistic traditions. Many Muslims swear upon their lives that they can feel the presence of Allah when they pray. Catholics report a strong sense of peace when performing the meditative practice of the Holy Rosary. I personally have witnessed and experienced in my Christian faith what I esteem to be miracles. Where are miracles from, if it isn’t the entropy of the universe? Theists would say from God. Some coincidences are too extreme to believe.

For sake of charitable argument, I will humor the agnostic point of view for a moment: God is unknowable, but not necessarily nonexistent. Atheistic apologetics are just as circular as theistic apologetics; a priori, God is unknowable. This is a very reasonable position to take. However, this does not diminute in any way the idea that religious experience is very real; this is because a posterioriexperience is necessarily subjective; when you feel the presence of God, you are making a judgement based on afeeling, not on a reason. Therefore, a person’s subjective belief, when colored by experience, is immune to pure reason, because pure reason does not account for experiences.

I’m not totally sure where I’m going with this. This post has been bouncing around in my head for a long time now, I just figured I’d jot it down quick before it ultimately seeps out and is gone forever.


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