Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
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11-04-2015, 12:10 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
It is absurd and irrational to claim that you are agnostic in the sense 50/50 (you could be this at a certain point in time - if you are living in the dark ages, for example).

In Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion he introduces a spectrum, a scale from 1 to 7 where 1 is: I know there is a God (I believe we can all agree that theism is irrational in itself). And 7 is: I know there is no God (which too could be considered as irrational but I myself am somewhat leaning in that direction).

Dawkins defines himself as a 6 - an extremely low chance for the existance of God but still a bit above 0. De facto he is an atheist but with a drop of agnosticism.

In one interview they asked him why some times he says that he is an agnostic and some times atheist. He said something in the lines that he is a 6,9 on that scale. But that's another topic.

When I said that claiming a middle ground between atheism and agnosticism (agnostic atheist) is intellectually dishonest, I meant that the use of the terms sounds a bit contradictory. And it is not because you cannot claim to be that but simply because the position agnosticism then loses its ground and becomes this useless add-on. You might as well be better off saying, 'I'm atheist, but I can't disprove God, so...' or 'I'm atheist, but I can't say for sure.' It sounds silly. That's why the terms positive/strong/hard and negative/weak/soft atheist were created:
- Positive Atheist - asserts that no deities exist.
- Negative Atheist - does not believe in the existence of any deities and does not explicitly assert that there are none.

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This post turned into a dictionary: what do the different terms mean and how and why are they used in a certain way Big Grin

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11-04-2015, 02:32 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
Fucking Dawkins, makes an integer scale, then marks himself in tenths. What an asshole. Big Grin

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11-04-2015, 04:51 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
When it comes to the general thrust of the worlds religions I am an atheist.
As for universal possibilities beyond science and logic I am agnostic.
A perfect god of any sort? I see this as an oxymoron: the closest to this being an ever evolving force directed towards betterment.
I do not see the arbitrary qualities of god, as given by religions, an impediment to contemplating higher states of being operating in a continuous state of flux.
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11-04-2015, 05:11 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
It's just labels.

The question "Do you believe in god/s?"

Answers:
A) Yes
B) No
C) please define god/s

A is theist

B and C is not theist or if you prefer "atheist"


The agnostic label isn't an inbetween.
There is no in between of theist vs not theist.

People that attach the agnostic label to the atheist label are merely stating that although they lack a belief in gods, they also lack a belief in evidence that there are no god. It's not that we think gods are possible, it's just that we tend to think the God concept hasn't been sufficiently defined.
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11-04-2015, 05:36 PM (This post was last modified: 11-04-2015 05:45 PM by mordant.)
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(11-04-2015 03:54 AM)One Above All Wrote:  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".
Yes ... this is key. Belief is binary, you either believe or you don't. Whereas knowledge (gnosis) is a continuum .... you have degrees of knowledge with varying levels of completeness and confidence. And when knowledge / evidence is lacking enough you reach a tipping point where belief switches off.

With respect to the question of the existence of deities, knowledge claims might be thought of as your projected "odds of god". If you think the odds of god's existence are close to 50/50 for example you might appear to validate this notion of agnosticism as a "middle ground" but to make that claim you're incorrectly conflating knowledge with belief. Knowledge and belief can vary independently; they influence each other but are NOT the same thing. If you think there's significant odds of the existence of deities -- especially specific ones -- then you simply don't fully grasp logical argument or decent evidentiary standards and you have not emotionally detached from your attachment to certain ideas / illusions.

Most atheists make the odds much lower than that. I would put the odds of a generic deity at a fraction of a percent; and the odds of the abrahamic deity any other invisible personal deity at a tiny fraction of THAT. This doesn't make me any less of an agnostic; if I make the "odds of god" at anything less than 100% then I am agnostic and not making an absolute knowledge claim.

That's the other confusing thing about agnosticism and atheism being different things; most agnostic atheists are sure enough that there is no god that they live their lives no differently than if they were 100% certain of the non-existence of all deities. In real world terms you could not externally tell the difference between most agnostic atheists and a gnostic atheist. Therefore "agnostic atheist" is a somewhat technical term and the theist tendency to equate atheism with megalomania is understandable, even if not justifiable.

I should also note that I've met a few atheists who just say, to heck with it, I am willing to say "there is no god" and if some theist knucklehead can't understand that this is a semantic shortcut over a technicality, I don't care. I'm tired of explaining it to people who don't want to understand.

Frankly, on my bad days, I fall into that camp. Because I guarantee you that a theist will happily say "there are no leprechauns" despite the fact that they would not technically claim absolute knowledge and proof; they would admit that a leprechaun might be hiding under a rug somewhere in the universe or that they might have existed in some form at one time. But they still don't see a reason to believe in them. So they are "agnostic aleprechaunists" and it's legitimate for them to say "there are no leprechauns" as shorthand for "I see no reason to believe in leprechauns, to the extent that I think it vanishingly unlikely that they exist."
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11-04-2015, 10:03 PM
Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
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12-04-2015, 07:08 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
Well, either you believe in a deity and are a theist of some kind, or you don't believe and are an atheist of somekind.

The dawkins scale and all the others before and after it are nothing more than the seperation of the personal standpoint of what you "think" the issue is with a god or universal creator.

For example, I believe in a God! or The God (which ever one that may be you are referring to). Therefor, you are a THEIST! ...YAY! YIPPEE!! HURRAAYY!...and well you know, all that mumbo jumbo malarky whatnot uh-Ha!

Anyway, Than someone comes along and asks you how certain you are! Your belief itself may not be a choice, as belief in itself is not a choice. However, your certainty can be to a small degree. At least when it comes to how you present your beliefs or certainty to others etc.

Some people who believe may think for a bit and after some thought, make the choice to concede that they may not be 100% sure for whatever reasons, even though in their mind they may think they are almost 100% sure. The very moment you concede the notion that you may not be 100% sure or absolutely irrefutably correct, than you slip down the track into agnosticism which is basically just atheism with the philosophical choice that you may be wrong about your position or everyone is wrong or whatever.

There is no such thing as a complete impartial agnostic, or such thing as a true agnostic because those people are just lying to themselves. If you don't believe your atheist, period. If you do, you are theist, if you don't know, undecided, unsure, you are still answering the question NO!

Now, the question is, how certain are you? Do you think here is a higher chance of deities existing or not? If one is too afraid to answer that or still thinks they don't know for certain, that is fine. Most atheists are Agnostic Atheists. We are pretty sure there is no god but 100% certainty is pretty much impossible in our books.

Of course its not just a single question of Theist, agnostic theist, Agnostic atheist, atheist. There are many levels in between each of these. It can get quite complicated. However, there is no such thing as a pure agnostic. Anyone telling you they are making the choice to be one, or just are one is lying to you or themselves.


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12-04-2015, 07:49 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
Intellectually, I have to leave room for the possibility that there is some sort of "god" out there, somehow, maybe.

From my gut, there is no such thing. Just ridiculous. Tongue

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12-04-2015, 11:24 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
It seems that a good many these days hold agnosticism as a non- position.
To my mind (relevant to god) it is the best position to hold.
As a concept God does not need the defining dogmas of any religion,
In terms of a cosmic vivifying force for the good the idea becomes more acceptable.
Agnosticism is not simply a moronic 'I don't know', it is a challenging consideration of both atheism and theism. It avoids becoming entrenched in radical new atheism as well as hard line dogmatic fundamentalism.
Accusations have been made that agnostics are 'cowardly atheists', or ''atheists without balls'. This derision may be seen as an attack based on not holding the 'true atheist position': letting the team down so to speak, or siding somewhat with the enemy.
I have also heard such accusations that agnostics are waverers through some fear of death and extinction. I disagree and would remind them that if any afterlife(s) were possible, such may not be necessarily pleasant.
Rather than speak of atheists holding a 60% or 99% (whatever?) conviction, I see the term agnostic as far preferable to such, in terms of engaging issues of a spiritual nature that avoids both religious and atheistic dogmas.
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12-04-2015, 11:33 PM (This post was last modified: 12-04-2015 11:53 PM by Robvalue.)
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
Atheistic dogmas? There is no such thing. An atheist can believe in ghosts, the afterlife, spirituality, whatever you want.

I have no problem with people calling themselves agnostic rather than agnostic atheist if they don't like the label. But I do have a problem with people saying agnostic is somehow a better or more rational position than agnostic atheism. Because if you're going to say "just agnostic" is a position, by your definition, then I am also "just agnostic"; as are all agnostic atheists. We have to agree on what terms mean, or else we're talking past each other.

If you simply refuse to answer the question about whether you believe the God claim, then that's up to you but you can hardly criticize people who do answer it. Either you actively believe in a god, or you do not. The fact that you won't tell me which doesn't make you more rational.

Again: not actively believing in God does not necessarily mean actively believing there is no God.

I just flipped a coin. Do you believe it is heads or do you believe it is not heads? Neither, hopefully. To suggest it must be one or the other is a false dichotomy.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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