Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
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11-04-2015, 03:48 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
I have written a lot on my website about the definition of atheism and agnosticism, and how agnosticism isn't a position in itself. Of course, if you feel comfortable calling yourself just an agnostic, that's totally fine and it's up to you. It just doesn't answer the question of belief, because you could be an agnostic atheist or theist. Everyone is one or the other, by the terms as used by the atheist community in general. Anyone is of course welcome to redefine things to mean whatever they want, if it makes them happy Smile But in any discussion, what terms mean is the first thing to agree on or else you just talk past each other.

http://robvalue.wix.com/atheism#!what-is-atheism/c57k

http://robvalue.wix.com/atheism#!agnosti...stic/c1xja

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11-04-2015, 03:48 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(11-04-2015 03:12 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  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

Yes, I guess you're right. Atheism is not holding a belief in the existence of any deity and agnosticism could be interpreted that the existence of a deity is currently unknown in fact. In this sense I too fall under the category of an agnostic atheist (and like you said, some times anti-theist - which is a bit too absolute but it is a position I tend to take when debating the issue).

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11-04-2015, 03:51 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(11-04-2015 03:48 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I have written a lot on my website about the definition of atheism and agnosticism, and how agnosticism isn't a position in itself. Of course, if you feel comfortable calling yourself just an agnostic, that's totally fine and it's up to you. It just doesn't answer the question of belief, because you could be an agnostic atheist or theist. Everyone is one or the other, by the terms as used by the atheist community in general. Anyone is of course welcome to redefine things to mean whatever they want, if it makes them happy Smile But in any discussion, what terms mean is the first thing to agree on or else you just talk past each other.

http://robvalue.wix.com/atheism#!what-is-atheism/c57k

Maybe I just have a problem with the way words are used. Agnostic atheist describes my position perfectly. I am an atheist who is not sure if he should be called an atheist but at the same time has no problem with it.

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11-04-2015, 03:54 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
Yes, agnosticism as you've defined it is a valid standpoint. However, it doesn't say anything about whether or not one believes in deities, which is the question. For that question, there are only two answers: yes (theism) or no (atheism).

The invalidity of agnosticism comes when self-proclaimed "agnostics" try to use it as a (non-existent) middle-ground between atheism and theism. You either believe, or you don't. There is no "not belief" and "not not belief".

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11-04-2015, 03:58 AM (This post was last modified: 11-04-2015 04:03 AM by Robvalue.)
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
Rez: yes, by the general definitions you sound like you are an agnostic atheist. Anyone who doesn't operate with the active belief that there is a god is an atheist. It doesn't require you to also act as if there is no God, though. You can reject both claims, you can be undecided. That is just as much an agnostic atheist as any other. The only atheists who aren't agnostic are those making an actual knowledge claim about God not existing.

But of course, the word atheist carries a lot of stigma at the moment as it is wildly misunderstood, even by many atheists. So I totally understand people not wanting to use that word to describe themself. I'm of the opinion that the more it is put out there and the confusion removed, the better things will be in the long term.

So being agnostic is a valid position, if the question is "do you know there if there is a God or not?" But if you're being asked if you believe in God, it's not answering that question at all (although I'd default anyone to atheist who says just agnostic).

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11-04-2015, 04:44 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(11-04-2015 03:58 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  Rez: yes, by the general definitions you sound like you are an agnostic atheist. Anyone who doesn't operate with the active belief that there is a god is an atheist. It doesn't require you to also act as if there is no God, though. You can reject both claims, you can be undecided. That is just as much an agnostic atheist as any other. The only atheists who aren't agnostic are those making an actual knowledge claim about God not existing.

But of course, the word atheist carries a lot of stigma at the moment as it is wildly misunderstood, even by many atheists. So I totally understand people not wanting to use that word to describe themself. I'm of the opinion that the more it is put out there and the confusion removed, the better things will be in the long term.

So being agnostic is a valid position, if the question is "do you know there if there is a God or not?" But if you're being asked if you believe in God, it's not answering that question at all (although I'd default anyone to atheist who says just agnostic).

Precisely. Thank you for that reply - I was trying to pinpoint what does this distancing away from the word 'atheist' really mean. And I find your statement that the word should be put out more to at least help with clearing out the confusion (myself included since that sudden change to agnostcism on my behalf derived from the constant misuse of the term by other people) quite valid.

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11-04-2015, 04:53 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
You are most welcome Smile Glad I could help!

To me, I see it kind of like the gay movement. If people were all saying different things, "I'm different", "I just don't like women", "I'm special" etc, then this makes it harder for the general population to understand the position, and it makes it harder for the next gay person to come out. It's not entirely clear these people are all talking about the same thing. Whereas if they all identify as gay, and promote what exactly what means to clear up confusion, then it becomes better understood overall and coming out is much easier.

That's just my opinion. I still understand people instead wanting to avoid using the label because of the effect it will have on them personally. I'd never want to pressure anyone to use a label they are not comfortable with.

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11-04-2015, 06:29 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(10-04-2015 08:30 PM)rezider Wrote:  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.

I think agnosticism might be better defined as "the view that the truth values of certain claims is currently undecidable due to lack of definition and/or evidence".

Quote: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.

From my perspective it is actually the most intellectually honest position. By your own definitions I am an atheist because I lack any belief in a god but I am also an agnostic because I agree that the truth value of the claim that some god exists is unknown. That makes me both so agnostic atheist is the best description for the general case. On the other hand, in the specific case of Yahweh I am a gnostic atheist since I am convinced that that particular god exists only as a fictional character.

The problem is that there are multiple definitions for both terms and the primary meaning for both has shifted, especially for atheists. It makes it difficult because we end up talking at cross-purposes with theists who are using alternate definitions. The important thing is to be clear and that's another thing I like about saying I am an agnostic atheist - it makes many theists stop and ask for clarification because they see it as a contradiction and that opens up discussion.

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11-04-2015, 09:43 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(10-04-2015 08:30 PM)rezider Wrote:  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?

It is possible to be an agnostic atheist and I would say the majority are. I happen to be a strong atheist. I don't consider agnostic atheist to be a valid choice for me but I would never tell someone else what they have to believe.

The reason why I consider myself a strong atheist are these:

1. There's no evidence.

2. I can never be called upon in reason to prove a negative.

3. The concept of God directly contradicts observable facts of reality. If there is no evidence for something and it contradicts known facts then there is no rational grounds for concluding that that thing is possible.

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11-04-2015, 10:05 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
I don't think any of these labels matter so far as much as what you believe or think. I don't care too much based on what people perceive you hold as a position based on a label as significant unless you want to be making the social statement of it.

I generally don't like Huxley defined Agnosticism as a position because generally people who hold to it don't qualify it with a "perhaps unknowable" but assert they know what is and isn't knowable.

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