Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
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13-04-2015, 06:08 AM (This post was last modified: 13-04-2015 07:00 AM by rezider.)
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(13-04-2015 05:57 AM)bbeljefe Wrote:  
(13-04-2015 05:38 AM)rezider Wrote:  I agree. In the end of the day it all comes down to how we define the terms we use to describe ourselves; what we mean by them. When we talk about agnosticism it is more likely that the person who defines himself as such is not inbetween atheism and theism, rather than between atheism and deism.

You can be a strong atheist towards theistic gods but you could be agnostic towards a deistic 'higher power' that has assissted in some way in the creation of the universe and that's just it, it doesn't interact with it. And it is not about how probable or improbable it is for such a thing to exist, rather it is about whether it is possible or not. And since the possibility exists agnosticism feels as valid as any standpoint.

As Huxley describes it, agnosticism is 'the fundamental axiom of modern science'. He then proceeds to say, 'Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him.'

Agnosticism is, in a sense, saying, 'I will not make any claims at this point. I will follow the evidence wherever it may lead.' While you can make a pragmatic assertion and say that there is no god, it would be more rational to say that there is no evidence for a 'higher power' (be it supernatural) interacting with the universe.

Agnosticism simply takes the position of: 'There is no god evident... yet.'

I can define myself as a 6.5' tall muscle bound gift to the female gender. I can define short as tall, flab as muscle and poverty as wealth but I'd be the only person who sees those definitions as valid. And I'd be wrong on all accounts.

Likewise, when an agnostic claims, "There is no god evident... yet", he has applied easily understandable and universally defined attributes to that which is unknown.

If that's a valid position then why not be consistent and apply agnosticism in other areas of life? Rape could be a moral good in some other universe so how can we negatively judge the rapist in this one? Two and two may make 5 in that other universe as well so how can a teacher mark that answer wrong on a test in this one?

After all, just because those things aren't evident doesn't mean that aren't possible. Right?

What you presented as arguments cannot be considered valid to what we are discussing. We are addressing our own universe. There is evidence in our universe, so we know what a tall person is - it is strictly defined, while atheism, agnosticism, communism, hinduism, theism, deism, daoism and so on are '-isms' which have nothing to do with what you said and are often not strictly defined, whether by the people practicing the "-ism" or simply because the "-ism" is open in that sense.

We know that 2+2=4 because of evidence. It, too, is a fact and can not be subjected to a decision. 'I am agnostic towards that because it might not be true in some other universe that I can't be sure exists, so I will be agnostic about that, too. And while we are at it, in some other universe rape might be considered morally right, so I will be agnostic about whether rape is moral or not.' This is not how it works.

"I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." - Carl Sagan
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13-04-2015, 06:20 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(13-04-2015 05:55 AM)onlinebiker Wrote:  Bottom line - you can call yourself anything you want.

The trick I suppose - is getting other people to agree and call you what you wish.

Then again - who gives a rat's ass what they think???


...

I consider myself a lapsed atheist. That is, I don't practice my non-belief on a regular basis. It's too time consuming.

I've got other shit to do.


Big Grin

Big Grin I like how you think.

Getting people to call you what you want to be called is probably the hardest part. In the very first post I quoted Carl Sagan: '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 think we can all agree that he certainly acted like an atheist. I think he merely rejected the lable.

Albert Camus, a XX century philosopher, defined himself as an absurdist, while everyone was calling him an existentialist. I respect people's own opinion about themselves and mostly I would call them whatever they call themselves because there is nothing worse than being denied the freedom to be what you want to be.

Like Camus considered himself to be an absurdist (which in reality he is; he gave birth to absurdism in a way) and Sagan considered himself to be an agnostic there is no harm in accepting people that way.

"I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." - Carl Sagan
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13-04-2015, 07:21 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(13-04-2015 06:08 AM)rezider Wrote:  
(13-04-2015 05:57 AM)bbeljefe Wrote:  I can define myself as a 6.5' tall muscle bound gift to the female gender. I can define short as tall, flab as muscle and poverty as wealth but I'd be the only person who sees those definitions as valid. And I'd be wrong on all accounts.

Likewise, when an agnostic claims, "There is no god evident... yet", he has applied easily understandable and universally defined attributes to that which is unknown.

If that's a valid position then why not be consistent and apply agnosticism in other areas of life? Rape could be a moral good in some other universe so how can we negatively judge the rapist in this one? Two and two may make 5 in that other universe as well so how can a teacher mark that answer wrong on a test in this one?

After all, just because those things aren't evident doesn't mean that aren't possible. Right?

What you presented as arguments cannot be considered valid to what we are discussing. We are addressing our own universe. There is evidence in our universe, so we know what a tall person is - it is strictly defined, while atheism, agnosticism, communism, hinduism, theism, deism, daoism and so on are '-isms' which have nothing to do with what you said and are often not strictly defined, whether by the people practicing the "-ism" or simply because the "-ism" is open in that sense.

We know that 2+2=4 because of evidence. It, too, is a fact and can not be subjected to a decision. 'I am agnostic towards that because it might not be true in some other universe that I can't be sure exists, so I will be agnostic about that, too. And while we are at it, in some other universe rape might be considered morally right, so I will be agnostic about whether rape is moral or not.' This is not how it works.

The term god is strictly defined. It doesn't matter that there are ten thousand religions, none of which are able to agree on minutia.

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. - Chinese Proverb
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13-04-2015, 07:38 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(13-04-2015 06:20 AM)rezider Wrote:  In the very first post I quoted Carl Sagan: '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.'
Which proves that Carl Sagan could be wrong too.

Atheism is not a knowledge position, it's a belief position.

And if old Carl could get them confused* , it's understandable that many mere mortals do it all the time. I think that our brains really want to conflate knowledge and belief, because while they are 2 different things they DO influence each other and in fact (un)belief flows from the nature, quality and completeness of available knowledge. You can't have one without the other, but the fact is that they vary independently of each other and the relationship between them is quite fluid.



* although I'd be unsurprised to find that he was less confused about it than a single out of context quote demonstrates; for all I know he was engaging here in a concise way with someone talking about the typical theist claptrap that atheists are arrogant.
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13-04-2015, 07:45 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(13-04-2015 07:21 AM)bbeljefe Wrote:  The term god is strictly defined. It doesn't matter that there are ten thousand religions, none of which are able to agree on minutia.
I will concede, though, that the particular god one has in mind does influence the relationship between knowledge and belief. I am willing to declare invisible, supernatural, personal, interventionist gods both logically impossible and evidentially non-existent. I am less willing to do that for the generic concept of a deity as an ineffable, unknowably superior being that is as far above us as we are above ants and that pays no more attention to us than we do to ants, or to the cells in our own bodies. THAT sort of deity is simply irrelevant to me in any practical sense, not necessarily impossible or nonexistent. A mere philosophical construct unless and until someone can provide evidence of its existence and influence. Although I still think such a thing vanishingly unlikely and improbable.
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13-04-2015, 08:53 AM (This post was last modified: 13-04-2015 09:05 AM by rezider.)
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(13-04-2015 07:38 AM)mordant Wrote:  
(13-04-2015 06:20 AM)rezider Wrote:  In the very first post I quoted Carl Sagan: '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.'
Which proves that Carl Sagan could be wrong too.

Atheism is not a knowledge position, it's a belief position.

And if old Carl could get them confused* , it's understandable that many mere mortals do it all the time. I think that our brains really want to conflate knowledge and belief, because while they are 2 different things they DO influence each other and in fact (un)belief flows from the nature, quality and completeness of available knowledge. You can't have one without the other, but the fact is that they vary independently of each other and the relationship between them is quite fluid.



* although I'd be unsurprised to find that he was less confused about it than a single out of context quote demonstrates; for all I know he was engaging here in a concise way with someone talking about the typical theist claptrap that atheists are arrogant.

I was merely trying to reflect on the fact that he proclaimed himself to be agnostic (which he has done in several interviews) and that all that things come down to is that we give ourselves these titles. So it doesn't really matter if you call yourself agnostic atheist or just an agnostic - the claims for your position make up your position; what you call yourself is completely irrelevant since we are the ones defining the words we use.

In one of the earlier posts Robvalue stated that the word atheist is often used out of place and that is why some people prefer to make some distance between what others seem to be considering to be atheism which I really hate, to be honest.

While I have been defending the agnostic position by trying to give it a certain definition so it can fit in my own perspective of the world, I find it irritating that so many people, like in this case Carl Sagan, misunderstand the term 'atheist' as a whole.

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13-04-2015, 09:10 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
Quite frankly, this has been more of an attempt to justify myself in deeming to be an agnostic. It is very helpful to discuss it with other people. Exploring different view points is important. Thus far it has been of great help.

"I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." - Carl Sagan
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13-04-2015, 09:12 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
I don't like or use labels much. Reality is pretty squishy, and there's always the "yabut" .... but I always thought agnosticism meant, not that one does not know, but that it is not even *possible* to know.

We stand before the void.
Deal with it, bitches. Tongue

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13-04-2015, 10:35 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(13-04-2015 09:12 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  I don't like or use labels much. Reality is pretty squishy, and there's always the "yabut" .... but I always thought agnosticism meant, not that one does not know, but that it is not even *possible* to know.

We stand before the void.
Deal with it, bitches. Tongue

I salute you xD

"I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." - Carl Sagan
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13-04-2015, 11:52 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(10-04-2015 08:30 PM)rezider Wrote:  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.

"Intellectually dishonest"? How so?

In terms of the Christian god, I am not agnostic -- I am a gnostic atheist regarding that particular mass of contradictions.

But when you consider the fact the the word "god" has so many different concepts attached to it, it only makes sense to say, I don't know, but I don't believe without evidence". I don't see that as dishonest at all.
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