Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
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13-04-2015, 12:01 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
I'm curious about that "intellectually dishonest" accusation as well, and I'm not even an agnostic atheist.

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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13-04-2015, 12:46 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(13-04-2015 11:52 AM)Thumpalumpacus Wrote:  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.
I too am much more willing to declare that self-evident BS.

Christianity is like the $17,000 Apple Watch. That model exists only to make the $350 Apple Watch seem like a good deal. For me Christianity exists only to make the deist-style "sortagod" seem less implausible.

Neither maneuver works on me, though, in truth.
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13-04-2015, 01:16 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
I derived the 'intellectually dishonest' statement from Carl Sagan's interesting thought that atheism is a position of knowledge in the sense that atheism means 100% opposite to what theism is: knowing that there is no god.

Nowadays the terms anti-theism, positive atheism, strong atheism etc. are used as the original meaning of 'atheism' while agnostic atheism, negative atheism, weak atheism etc. are used as that position of 'I don't believe there is a god but I am not explicitly saying there isn't.' A-theism means 'not theism', so in reality it is infact a lack of belief in a god, it is not a claim of any sort. But still. You might as well just go on using only the term atheist without agnostic in front of it.

By adding 'agnostic' it makes it contradictory (not fully but even slightly so). It is like when you are debating somebody and the other person starts putting out arguments for both sides in the fear that he might be wrong but at the same time he doesn't want to back off from his position.

Earlier I said that adding 'agnostic' in front of 'atheist' makes agnosticism lose its meaning, its ground. An uncertain atheist sounds about as agnostic as anything. 'I'm pretty sure there is no god, but I can't be fully sure.'

On that imaginary scale that we all think of when it comes to this particualr '-ism' there has to be a place for a 50/50 (while I do consider it to be unfair most of the times since people often use it to stay away from everything; afraid to come out of the closet). There are people out there who one day might think, 'Yes, theism does make some sense.' and the next day they might go, 'No, atheism is more probable.' What are they supposed to call themselves? The first day they will be agnostic theists the next - agnostic atheists? There surely is a middle ground for them that balances out these changes.

When claiming that belief is binary you are being unfair to those who haven't decided yet. Just because you are uncertain in something doesn't mean you positively have to be either 1 or 0. If belief is binary, then where does pantheism stand? If it was like that, then every agnostic theist is automatically an atheist because they have doubts. Not only that but agnostic atheism must not exist as well since you already have the doubts you might as well just be atheist and there you have it: theism or atheism; 1 or 0. You either have to be sure or you are an atheist. It seem awfully unfair to those who are struggling.

A lot of people separate atheism and theism (belief statements) from agnosticism and gonsticism (knowledge statements). Saying agnostic atheist is alright, you can say whatever you want, but if it is a belief we are talking about, I think we can all agree that we can not say that we know with certainty. Since it is merely a belief 'atheism' or 'theism' should just stand on their own - without 'agnostic' in front of them. They are already just beliefs, right? So what do we call those who think they know that there is no god? Gnostic atheists? OK. We are back to that position of knowledge statements and belief statements: atheism (non-belief) and theism (belief); gnostic atheism and gnostic theism (knowledge statements). As we can see, they can co-exist without adding agnostic infront of the terms. You can say that you think there is no God but you don't know for sure (you are an atheist) or you can say that you don't know, you are uncertain (you are agnostic). Agnosticism goes right in the middle. Since you are uncertain of what you believe, you cannot be expected to be certain of what you know.

This is just a scale given for an example of why adding 'agnostic' seems dishonest. In order to avoid confusion and misunderstandings a simpler scale must be used. Recently everybody has been adding their own words and generating their own terms. This gives all atheists a bad name. The words need to be defined properly with the basic understanding from everyone that atheism is a lack of belief and not a claim that there is no god. A good example of that was a picture of a turned off TV and under it it read, 'ATHEISM is as much a belief as a turned off TV is a channel.' Which brings to mind... if you turn the TV on, but there is only noise, you could consider that to be agnosticism - it is not a channel but the TV is not off either.

"I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." - Carl Sagan
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13-04-2015, 01:30 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
I don't believe in any proposed God. I think they are all demonstrably false.

I do not have the time, patience or inclination to investigate every hypothetical god that might spring from the imagination of man. Even if I could find the time to entertain the limitless parade of "what if" scenarios that might be put forward by deists and theists desperate for an argumentative victory that has no bearing on the veracity of any particular religion, I would not WASTE that time, preferring instead to spend it on inconsequential matters like hugging my kids, loving my wife and keeping my job.

Technically, that makes me an agnostic atheist. To the allegation that this is an "intellectually dishonest" position, I humbly submit, fuck you.

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13-04-2015, 01:43 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
I usually refer to myself as an agnostic atheist.

I can't know for sure that any "god" exists or did exist. But I do know for fact there is not a single religion out there that wasn't invented by a person.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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13-04-2015, 01:58 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(13-04-2015 01:30 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  I don't believe in any proposed God. I think they are all demonstrably false.

I do not have the time, patience or inclination to investigate every hypothetical god that might spring from the imagination of man. Even if I could find the time to entertain the limitless parade of "what if" scenarios that might be put forward by deists and theists desperate for an argumentative victory that has no bearing on the veracity of any particular religion, I would not WASTE that time, preferring instead to spend it on inconsequential matters like hugging my kids, loving my wife and keeping my job.

Technically, that makes me an agnostic atheist. To the allegation that this is an "intellectually dishonest" position, I humbly submit, fuck you.

I'm simply pointing out that 'agnostic atheist' is an oxymoron. It is nothing more than a question of word usage. If you want to call yourself that, fine. If someone classifies me like that, fine. People use different definitions and thus the big pile of different words. There is no need for harsh language for something this small. And if you feel that way, then why are you on this thread? You are not obligated to take part nor has anyone put a gun up to your head making you do it. I find it intriguing to discuss these things, so here I am. You don't - well, I don't see how being here is of any use to you.

"I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." - Carl Sagan
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13-04-2015, 02:19 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(12-04-2015 11:33 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  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.

Thanks for your response and congrats in setting up your own web site.
In debate it is important to define the terms of reference, to help avoid going off on too many tangents'
As for 'agnostic atheist' if that's your preferred defining term, go for it.
My friend David Miller who runs Melbourne's Atheist Society atheist_agnostic@lycos.com describes himself thus, much to the annoyance of a good many hard line atheists. He also runs the Exitentialist Society, and Sea of Faith here: a man of many hats.
When it comes to metaphysical versus science issues there are many stances one can take. When posting on atheist forums I see 'agnostic' as adequate in that context.
There are Christians of many persuasions, agnostic Christians within the sub sets,religious Jews, atheist/agnostic Jews, free thinkers, antitheists, nihilists, saspians,Progressive Christians, Progressive Atheists, Hindus (sub sets) atheistic/agnostic Buddhists, Buddha worshipers, Zarathustrians, Muslims, Zen, Wika.........you name it..........even possibly agnostic agnostics
Too much labelling may nullify sincere research IMO if researchers become too tied to one specific cause. My long experience with atheism suggests that a good many strongly deny (not doubt) issues such as telepathy, telekinesis, Kirlian photography.
psychic phenomena, forms of after life etc. These are issues separate from the god of Christianity and less contoversial in my view (agnostic),
My view to God is simply the possibility of a cosmic vivifying force directed towards betterment.
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13-04-2015, 04:25 PM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(13-04-2015 01:58 PM)rezider Wrote:  I'm simply pointing out that 'agnostic atheist' is an oxymoron.

And I'm simply demonstrating that you are wrong. It is not an oxymoron unless you misrepresent what it means to be an atheist. I don't believe in any gods. Period. Name a god. I don't believe in him. That makes me an atheist. No matter which God you name, I don't believe in him. That makes me an atheist.

But does that mean I KNOW there is no hypothetical deist God who vanished and went on to another dimension afterward or some hypothetical nonsense like that? No. I have no way of knowing that. That makes me agnostic.

They are not in conflict.

But let me tell you, calling someone intellectually dishonest is fucking rude. Pardon my language, but I'm not the one who basically called you a liar right from the word go, as you did to everyone who presents himself as an agnostic atheist.

Quote:It is nothing more than a question of word usage.

No, it's a question of proper understanding of what's being communicated. Someone who defines atheist the way you do (which is to say, incorrectly) would never call himself an agnostic atheist. So the issue here is not whether I'm intellectually honest. It's whether YOU comprehend what I am saying.

Quote:If you want to call yourself that, fine.
No, it's NOT fine on one hand and intellectually dishonest at the same time. Your characterization was rude and an apology is in order. THEN you can say fine. You don't just get to insult people and call them liars and then say "but if that's what you want to call yourself, fine.

Quote:If someone classifies me like that, fine. People use different definitions and thus the big pile of different words. There is no need for harsh language for something this small.

And there's no need to call people intellectually dishonest when the problem is YOUR failure to understand them.

Quote:And if you feel that way, then why are you on this thread? You are not obligated to take part nor has anyone put a gun up to your head making you do it. I find it intriguing to discuss these things, so here I am. You don't - well, I don't see how being here is of any use to you.

So, you want to be able to call people intellectually dishonest and not have anyone point out how damn rude it is. Ok. Gee Mr. Rezider, I would really like it an awful lot if you would not call people liars based on the fact that YOU misunderstand what's being communicated. Next time, just ask, okay? Boop-boop-be-doo!

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13-04-2015, 09:53 PM (This post was last modified: 13-04-2015 09:56 PM by Thumpalumpacus.)
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
(13-04-2015 01:16 PM)rezider Wrote:  By adding 'agnostic' it makes it contradictory (not fully but even slightly so).

No, it doesn't. Gnosis pertains to knowledge -- what one knows. Theist pertains to a particular belief. No contradiction is involved.

(13-04-2015 01:16 PM)rezider Wrote:  It is like when you are debating somebody and the other person starts putting out arguments for both sides in the fear that he might be wrong but at the same time he doesn't want to back off from his position.

Ad homeneim attack, eh.

(13-04-2015 01:16 PM)rezider Wrote:  Earlier I said that adding 'agnostic' in front of 'atheist' makes agnosticism lose its meaning, its ground. An uncertain atheist sounds about as agnostic as anything. 'I'm pretty sure there is no god, but I can't be fully sure.'

"I don't know, but I don't believe" is a fair statement. Don't worry, you'll live.

I've snipped the rest of your post, because it indulges in the conflation of two discrete terms which have different meanings. Agnostic is not the middle ground between theist and atheist. Agnostic describes a state of knowledge. Atheism describes a state of belief.

When you understand the difference between knowledge and belief, you'll understand the objection to your oversimplification.

(13-04-2015 01:58 PM)rezider Wrote:  There is no need for harsh language for something this small.

When you insult someone's intellectual integrity, you should expect harsh language.

Don't like it? Moderate your own tone.
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14-04-2015, 12:10 AM
RE: Agnosticism - a valid standpoint?
If you guys want something fun to think about, I'll share an idea. I personally think knowledge is a type of belief. That is, belief with certainty or conviction. This is part of the reason I consider myself a gnostic atheist. But I understand the designation of agnostic atheist just fine, and I think it works (for those who take that position)!

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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