Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
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10-04-2015, 08:30 PM
Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
I am not sure whether or not this should be in the PHILOSOPHY section, but still.

There is a question I've had in my mind for quite a while now, or rather a battle that was, sort of, raging inside me.

When I first began my journey towards atheism, I was a deist. Later on I moved to agnosticism not for any other reason but because I was indecisive (which I consider foolish) - I was an atheist in disguise. It didn't take much persuasion to finally make the call and admit to myself that I am, infact, an atheist. I’ve always concidered agnostics to be atheists who are afraid of their conviction. Now... well, I could quite firmly say that I am an agnostic - which is what I have always been - an agnostic WITHOUT the fear of my conviction.

Here is what I mean: I consider myself to be agnostic in the sense that agnosticism means the suspension of judgment on ultimate questions because of insufficient evidence. I've always found the use of the words 'atheism' and 'agnosticism' very peculiar.
- Atheism - a lack of belief in God.
- Agnosticism - the view that the truth values of certain claims is unknown and perhaps unknowable.

Atheists can be percieved as:
- people who lack belief in God, but since God cannot be disproven they don't claim that God doesn't exist -> this is interpreted by most as agnostic atheist which is considered the default atheist position which is intellectually dishonest.
- people who are certain that no God exists -> this is hard/strong atheism.

Agnosticism is sometimes claimed to be atheism. Carl Sagan has recognized himself as an agnostic. He has once said in an interview for the magazine Skeptic (I believe it was): 'An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid.' I must say that I agree very strongly with the part 'by some definitions'. The different ways people interpret specific words makes you want to resent those words (this is partly the reason I stepped away from using 'atheist' to describe myself). But there is something that bothers me here as well. He states that 'an atheist is someone who knows there is no god'. Now there is the bigger issue. What does really stand behind 'lack of belief'? And in that sense, why are agnostics considered to be atheists? If atheism is simply a lack of belief, then agnosticism is simply the lack of knowledge - you just don't know; you're not sure; you can't say that you believe and you can't say that you disbelieve.

Combining agnostic and atheist together makes it exceedingly difficult for me to accept that position. As I said, it is intellectually dishonest to make that combination and it is not that you are being dishonest but rather the use of the words is incorrect. Negative atheist? Fine - but that doesn't make you half agnostic, half atheist. Yes, I might be leaning towards disbelief in any sort of God but there are still some reserves. And I am not talking about that 'what if I am wrong' bollocks. That is out of the question. It is more than certain that the religious God is dead and has forever been - I don't want to be absolute about what the real God could be. The supernatural does not exist. But no one ever said God has to be supernatural (except for all religious people, but let's just throw them out of the equation).

With all this talk the main issue comes down to how each of us sees God. Are we talking about a divine being? Are we inside a simulation conducted by other humans? It sounds very science fictiontific, yes, but what I understand under the term God is simply a something. Nobody said it has to be intelligent or supernatural (already said that that's foolish). This is why I keep that page blank but will definetly defend the atheist standpoint. Science is leading us towards the conclusion that there is no God, but we haven't gotten there yet. We will be there only when we've discovered how everything in the universe works 100% or at least how everything came into being. Imagine that we find out that inflation was infact caused by something 'outside' (it could be from the inside for all we know) and that something is a thing that we don't even recognize as a life form. It is not intelligent, it doesn't care, it doesn't even know what it did - a God lesser than a worm (no offense to worms). Or maybe just like an old TV - we are merely a program; someone has pressed the button and that singularity expands just like the light on the screen. Wouldn't that be exciting?

We all know that chances for the existence of God (no matter how dumber than us He is or perhaps he is as smart as us) are now closer to 0 than they have ever been and in time we will discover the truth, whatever it might be. But it seems only rational to stay open minded until the very end for this is not a matter to be taken lightly. While atheism is, infact, pragmatic, agnosticism is rational.

Words are interpreted differently and agnosticism seems to fit best within what I see to be the range of possibilities.

Could you blame me for choosing to be agnostic considering my situation?

"I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." - Carl Sagan
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10-04-2015, 08:33 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
I don't think you can be just an agnostic. You either are a theist (believe in god) or not (atheist)
But like me and many people here you could call yourself an agnostic atheist Wink
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10-04-2015, 08:46 PM (This post was last modified: 11-04-2015 06:42 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
Even when (and if) they know how everything in the universe works, it will still not answer any questions about the gods, (except for those who use a god as a filler for a "gap"). Religious faith is not about knowledge gaps. The gods are not just about "how everything came to exist". In fact there is no coherent definition of the three letter meme pronounced "gawd", and until there is, there is no reason why anyone needs to have any position with respect to an incoherent concept.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism

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10-04-2015, 09:09 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
When I classified myself as an agnostic, I just didn't care about the issues of religion. In many ways I missed those days. Back then I didn't notice how stupid and annoying religious people can be.
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10-04-2015, 10:48 PM (This post was last modified: 10-04-2015 10:55 PM by Hafnof.)
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
I think that claiming something is "unknowable" is a big call, and is likely indefensible. Agnosticism based on the strong claim of unknowability to me are probably fooling themselves with an unjustified belief in unknowability. So long as the agnostic doesn't hold unknowability as true then I have no problem with the label, but I'll still classify them as atheist if they have no belief in a God.

I think the weak agnostic label is one applied out of politeness by people who want to distance themselves from the strong atheist position when describing themselves to theists. Personally I accept the atheist label. I think it clearly communicates my position and if someone thinks I mean strong atheism then I can certainly clarify that point to the degree it needs to be clarified: I don't have a god belief. I'm pretty sure every god concept presented to me thus far is false, and I think the likelihood of finding a god belief that I accept as true is low.

Perhaps the practical difference between someone who prefers to self-label as agnostic and one who prefers to self-label as atheist is that the former is implying to their audience that they haven't made up their mind yet which way things are likely to be, while the latter is implying their mind is made up - provisionally speaking.

But this also comes down to what is meant by "god". I wouldn't call an unthinking multiverse "god", nor would I necessarily call a universe-creating worm "god". I may accept creative propositions that some would call god but which I would classify as natural, or at least "not a god". To me it is hard to conceive of calling something a god if that being is not demanding of and worthy of worship, and is also our creator. I think the probability of finding a being demanding of worship, worthy of worship, and who is our creator is very low.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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10-04-2015, 11:07 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
Ignorance is no excuse.

#sigh
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11-04-2015, 12:53 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
Personally I am a 'raving' atheist, however should some scientifically valid evidence of a god like being be confirmed, I would be prepared to adjust my standpoint. That's science and how it works. I don't for one nanosecond think it is ever going to happen.

I don't have issue with agnostics, as for some it is hard to quantify things we don't yet have evidential explanations for, and if they find themselves wondering if there is something else out there; then that's fine.

It's the buggers who fill that gap with faith in a super being, because a few thousand year old text of questionable origin tells it so, that grind my gears.

I Think; Therefore I Am....
...or is it the other way around?
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11-04-2015, 03:12 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
You are blindfolded on a cold winter day and taken inside a warm house that you have never been in before.

You are taken to a room and told that a door leading outside into the bitter cold is open directly behind you.

Given that you don't feel any cold air, nor hear any sounds from outside directly behind you, it would be easy enough to reject this claim and not believe that there is an open door directly behind you.

Given that you are blindfolded and you can't turn around to look for yourself, you don't know or can't know if there is even a door there at all.

On one hand, you don't have any evidence to believe the claim, but you also lack the ability to know if the claim is true or not.

This is why agnostic atheism is an honest answer.

I'm an Atheist and I choose that label because it instantly let's others know where I stand. There is no ambiguity.

All agnostics are also atheists, but they may use the term socially as a way of side stepping the question "Do you believe a god exists ?"

I am technically an agnostic atheist and at times an anti-theist.

My two cents

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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11-04-2015, 03:38 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
I only got two things to say...

fucking neckbeard. Big Grin

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11-04-2015, 03:38 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
Those are some good points and I've certainly thought of all of them. I understand that agnosticism could be viewed as a dishonest position. And since I am speaking from an atheist standpoint it could be very confusing to what I am.

I posted this because I needed to clear things out for myself.

By no means do I associate agnosticism with unknowability as an absolute. Which reminds me of a quote from Star Trek: TNG:
"There can be no justice so long as laws are absolute."
~ Picard, Star Trek: TNG S01 EP08

Rather I associate it with the atheist position of claiming there is no God until one is evident. I just don't think that that's the correct way of using the word 'atheist'. 'I am not saying there is no god, but you'll have to defend the hypothesis and provide evidence for it.'

"I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." - Carl Sagan
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