Agnostic triple whammy
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19-06-2016, 02:09 AM
Agnostic triple whammy
Hi,

There are three main arguments that others have used against me when I confess to liking agnosticism.

1. From the theist - ‘You are a closet atheist’.

2. From the atheist - ‘You are a closet theist’.

3. From both – ‘You can’t make up your mind, but you will eventually see the light and join us’

I wonder: Is agnosticism a satisfactory world view, or is there something wrong with it?

D.
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19-06-2016, 03:28 AM
RE: Agnostic triple whammy
Oh goody!

We haven't had an argument over definitions for at least a day.

Welcome to TTA.

Wink

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19-06-2016, 04:55 AM (This post was last modified: 19-06-2016 05:07 AM by cactus.)
RE: Agnostic triple whammy
Agnosticism has two definitions in common usage:

The definition everyone uses:
"I don't know if such a thing exists."

and the formal definition that people will sometimes tell you is the "correct" one when they hear you use the first one (since it was in fact how the word was intended to be used by whoever coined it):
"I don't personally think it's something that anyone CAN know."

Since language is flexible, and words only attain meaning through usage, I tend to reserve my usage of the word to the second meaning, because the first one is trivial. Literally everyone fits that definition, unless they have superpowers to telepathically communicate with the supernatural. Drinking Beverage

Atheism and agnosticism are not worldviews, nor are they mutually exclusive. They are ideas that should be irrelevant to a person's everyday life, but often aren't, because so many people have been conditioned to view these concepts as "scary" and "harmful."

Personally, I describe myself as an ignostic atheist: Propositions of "gods" are not convincing to me, and the concept of a "god" is too poorly defined for me to know with any degree of certainty when I have or have not encountered one.

If we came from dust, then why is there still dust?
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19-06-2016, 05:28 AM
RE: Agnostic triple whammy
IMO, agnosticism is the only honest and reasonable position.

Anybody trying to tell you that they have knowledge of whether or not there is a deity is totally full of shit. They don't have that knowledge. There is a fuckload about the universe that we don't know. I don't see any reason to rule anything out until we figure out this whole "something from nothing" bit.

The agnostic, just like the skeptic, is simply waiting for evidence before jumping to a conclusion.
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19-06-2016, 05:55 AM
RE: Agnostic triple whammy
(19-06-2016 02:09 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  Hi,

There are three main arguments that others have used against me when I confess to liking agnosticism.

1. From the theist - ‘You are a closet atheist’.

2. From the atheist - ‘You are a closet theist’.

3. From both – ‘You can’t make up your mind, but you will eventually see the light and join us’

I wonder: Is agnosticism a satisfactory world view, or is there something wrong with it?

D.

There is no practical difference. It's all a meaningless who-ha.
Chinese mystical Tao, Christian mystical contemplative ("Dark Night of the Soul" and "Cloud of the Unknowing"), and Agnosticism are all, on a practical basis, equal.

Il faut cultiver nos jardin.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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19-06-2016, 06:00 AM
RE: Agnostic triple whammy
It means exactly whatever you expect it to mean.

As does it to the other guy - even though it's a diametrically opposed opinion...

And - you're both right.

Or wrong.....

Depending how you look at it...

Or not...


...

and so on, and so forth...

.......................................

The difference between prayer and masturbation - is when a guy is through masturbating - he has something to show for his efforts.
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19-06-2016, 07:18 AM
RE: Agnostic triple whammy
Depends on what you mean by agnostic and what you believe atheist and theist mean. A hard core agnostic claims knowledge of any kind is impossible in the god question. And while I disagree that is a valid position.

If by agnostic you just mean you're not sure, the answer is that no one is. We don't wait to be absolutely certain before we make a decision. If this is what is meant by agnostic then the next question is do you hold a positive belief in a god? If yes, you are a theist. If no, atheist.

Most atheists are agnostic atheists. They aren't sure but they don't believe in a god. They could be wrong, and it's impossible to say for sure, but they don't positively believe in a god. Others, like me, are gnostic atheists. God positively does not exist and we can be certain of that.
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19-06-2016, 07:41 AM (This post was last modified: 19-06-2016 07:56 AM by Reltzik.)
RE: Agnostic triple whammy
OP: There's two competing definitions of the word "agnostic" in play in our society, which is tied to two competing definitions of the word "atheist", and this engenders much confusion.

The two competing definitions of atheism are called strong atheism and weak atheism. A weak atheist is anyone who doesn't believe any gods exist, while a strong atheist is someone who believes that they don't. "Weak" and "strong" are not any indicators of strength or failing in character or conviction, but rather of how bold or mild the claims being made are. The distinction between weak and strong atheism is someone who is not convinced that gods exist, but also not convinced that gods don't. That person is a weak atheist, because they do not believe that gods exist, but not a strong atheist, because they do not believe that they don't.

In one set of definitions, "agnostic" is a qualifier to one's atheism or theism, indicating that the position is uncertain, provisional, or openly subject to change in the light of new evidence. Thus an "agnostic atheist" is someone who does not believe that gods exist, but doesn't claim certainty on the position and is willing to consider evidence on the subject. This definition of agnostic allows for weak atheism, and has an opposite: gnostic, meaning someone who claims certainty in regards to their position.

In the other set of definitions, there's a sort of spectrum between "theist" and "atheist" at the extremes, with "agnostic" occupying much of the territory in the unconvinced, "there's not enough evidence to decide yet" middle. In this version the only type of atheism is strong atheism, and weak atheism isn't acknowledged as such and gets filed under agnosticism. Both atheism and theism would be gnostic positions.

When one person uses one set of definitions and another uses another set of definitions and neither party realizes it, the result is lots and lots and lots of frustration and little communication.

Around here, and among most self-identifying atheists that I've encountered, the first set definitions (that allows for weak atheism) is used... to the point that many people will insist that this is the "right" way to use the terms, as opposed to the other, "wrong" way. I don't think it's a right-or-wrong issue -- both versions are in common usage -- but I think the version of atheism allowing for weak atheism has much more utility and value, and allows us to express finer grades of distinction and communicate our positions better.

With that basic language established... what do you mean when you identify yourself as an agnostic?

(19-06-2016 04:55 AM)cactus Wrote:  Agnosticism has two definitions in common usage:

The definition everyone uses:
"I don't know if such a thing exists."

and the formal definition that people will sometimes tell you is the "correct" one when they hear you use the first one (since it was in fact how the word was intended to be used by whoever coined it):
"I don't personally think it's something that anyone CAN know."

Since language is flexible, and words only attain meaning through usage, I tend to reserve my usage of the word to the second meaning, because the first one is trivial. Literally everyone fits that definition, unless they have superpowers to telepathically communicate with the supernatural. Drinking Beverage

Atheism and agnosticism are not worldviews, nor are they mutually exclusive. They are ideas that should be irrelevant to a person's everyday life, but often aren't, because so many people have been conditioned to view these concepts as "scary" and "harmful."

Personally, I describe myself as an ignostic atheist: Propositions of "gods" are not convincing to me, and the concept of a "god" is too poorly defined for me to know with any degree of certainty when I have or have not encountered one.

Actually, the term "agnostic" was coined by Huxley, who was stating that he personally was claiming no knowledge or authority on a subject, rather than claiming such knowledge was unobtainable in principle.

That said, the two versions of agnosticism you describe are called "weak" and "strong" agnosticism -- "weak agnostic" being "I don't know" and "strong agnosticism" being "we can't know".

EDIT-ADDITION: As for whether it's a satisfactory world view, the core of agnosticism is skepticism. In a healthy form of skepticism, one holds the positions in question to a high standard of evidence despite any temptation to embrace a premature decision. This isn't exactly a world view, but a methodology and an attitude, and it can be quite rewarding. But there's also an unhealthy degree of skepticism, where the standard of evidence is set so high as to be unreasonable, where no close examination of evidence is necessary because it is surely insufficient and where one's skeptical (and agnostic) position is held to almost dogmatically. This... well, maybe they derive some sort of satisfaction out of it? But I can't see it.
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19-06-2016, 07:46 AM
RE: Agnostic triple whammy
I'm a militant agnostic: I don't know and YOU DON'T EITHER!!!

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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19-06-2016, 09:25 AM
RE: Agnostic triple whammy
"I don't know, but I sure don't like the god you are selling me"
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