Can an agnostic pray?
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25-04-2017, 05:13 AM
RE: Can an agnostic pray?
By the way, you'll find a lot of people don't refer to agnosticism as a middle ground between theism and atheism, but rather as a description of how certain you are of your position. Gnostics "know" they are correct, whereas agnostics, be they atheist or theist, don't claim to know for sure. In such a case, one is either a theist (having an active belief that there is a god), or an atheist (everyone else).

In fact many (perhaps most) atheists are not only agnostics, but don't have a positive belief that there are no gods. That's an optional, stronger position. If you don't have a belief either way it's in fact redundant to say you're an agnostic, because you cannot claim knowledge without belief.

As usual I have a video about all this shit I can put up if anyone wants to see it Tongue

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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25-04-2017, 05:27 AM
RE: Can an agnostic pray?
(25-04-2017 04:54 AM)OakTree500 Wrote:  Being Agnostic isn't a bad thing.

Let you tell it.

When I tell it, agnostic means
god is unknowable
and/or
knowledge is incomplete

Which says absolutely fucking nothing, so when someone says "I'm an agnostic," I hear "I'm a wannabe intellecksual neckbeard" or "I'm a pussy atheist trying not to offend the theisticles." Laugh out load

Talking in general, not about people in here. Most people around these parts have a clearly defined position. Wink

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25-04-2017, 05:30 AM
RE: Can an agnostic pray?
(25-04-2017 05:02 AM)OakTree500 Wrote:  
(25-04-2017 04:57 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  ...do whatever helps you as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.
100% this. Thumbsup

And another thing that spins my wheels...

Imma suicide, should we talk about it? And not even specifically... don't fucking love. Guaranteed, motherfuckers gonna get fucked off. Angry

Now that the steam has cleared the ears, it is not a bad sentiment - but flawed... and steam.

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25-04-2017, 05:42 AM
RE: Can an agnostic pray?
It's impossible for anyone to send telepathic messages to nothing.
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25-04-2017, 05:56 AM
RE: Can an agnostic pray?
(25-04-2017 01:47 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  2. An atheist cannot pray because they do not believe there is a listener.

I see prayer as a form of meditation and if you've been used to praying then the ritual is probably comforting in its familiarity. If it helps you to focus your thoughts and calm your anxieties by going through the motions of prayer then do it. No external listener is required because the only real listener is the internal one.

I suspect you'd find that praying to a god works no better than praying to a teapot or to the curtains. I also suspect that over time you'd lose the need to pray "to" anything and just leverage the benefits through other forms of meditation.

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25-04-2017, 05:58 AM
RE: Can an agnostic pray?
(25-04-2017 01:47 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  Hi,

I’m not a Christian or believer in any theism. But, sometimes I feel the need to go into a quiet church and pray, either for others or myself. This happens at difficult times, now and then.



But what does logic count for? OK, an agnostic can pray because there may be a listener or there may be something therapeutic just in the act of prayer itself. I don’t know, but I do feel something happening.



I would change your statement:

1. A theist will pray because they believe there is a listener.

2. An atheist will not pray because they do not believe there is a listener.

3. An agnostic may (or may not) pray because they believe there may (or may not) be a listener.


I suggest this only because, as others noted, the original phrasing seems to imply permission.

I also not that "agnostic" has multiple definitions. Some refer to degree of certainty, some state that we cannot know for certain. I think that your phrasing makes it clear what definition you intend, but others may differ.

As to what you feel? The effects of praying on the pray-er are well documented and consistent through most religions. That in itself should be evidence that the sensations are intrinsic to our human body rather than exterior supernatural forces.

In prayer you are essentially holding a conversation with a deity, the ultimate power You are conveying your beliefs, hopes and dreams and asking for their intercession, blessing, etc. Many people pray about problems that are out of their control and insurmountable through traditional means. Prayer allows the pray-er to feel like they are doing something to help their situation.

As to the effectiveness of prayers? I think that should be pretty clear. Smile

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25-04-2017, 06:00 AM
RE: Can an agnostic pray?
(25-04-2017 01:47 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  Hi,

I’m not a Christian or believer in any theism. But, sometimes I feel the need to go into a quiet church and pray, either for others or myself. This happens at difficult times, now and then.

There is some logic, possibly irrelevant.

1. A believer can pray because they believe there is a listener.

2. An atheist cannot pray because they do not believe there is a listener.

3. An agnostic can pray because they believe there may (or may not) be a listener.

But what does logic count for? OK, an agnostic can pray because there may be a listener or there may be something therapeutic just in the act of prayer itself. I don’t know, but I do feel something happening.

Any thoughts?

D.

As OakTree500 implied, prayer is a form of meditation and creates real changes to the body. http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/tr...ditation#1

"The relaxation response [from meditation] helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves," Benson says. Tension and tightness seep from muscles as the body receives a quiet message to relax.

There's scientific evidence showing how meditation works. In people who are meditating, brain scans called MRI have shown an increase in activity in areas that control metabolism and heart rate.”

"Any practice that can evoke the relaxation response is of benefit, be it meditation, yoga, breathing, or repetitive prayer. There is no reason to believe that one is better than the other. The key is repetition, but the repetition can be a word, sound, mantra, prayer, breathing, or movement.”

Personally I wouldn’t be able to relax praying, I’d be knocking myself out with all the eye rolling going on in my skull, but that’s me. Milage may vary.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
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25-04-2017, 06:02 AM
RE: Can an agnostic pray?
It all depends upon what you mean by prayer.

If the prayer is just a plea to the void; that is, if voicing your fears or worries in a solemn place somehow eases them, then anyone can do that to help themselves.

If the prayer is a way of organizing your thoughts and feelings in a spot that helps to clear your head of all other concerns, then anyone can do that to help themselves.

If you believe that there may be a loving deity that might interact on your behalf and you want to keep in contact just in case, then anyone can do that and maybe it will help you face whatever is causing difficulties.

Prayer is very personal activity, which some theists have told me is akin to meditation. I say whatever it takes to help get through life is okay by me, as long as it "neither breaks my bones, nor picks my pocket."

If prayer takes away from you actually working on your problems, then I would wonder why an agnostic would waste time praying.

But...truly, it is your business what you do in your free time and if it helps you then don't worry about the opinions of others.

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25-04-2017, 06:16 AM (This post was last modified: 25-04-2017 07:36 AM by mordant.)
RE: Can an agnostic pray?
(25-04-2017 05:27 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(25-04-2017 04:54 AM)OakTree500 Wrote:  Being Agnostic isn't a bad thing.

Let you tell it.

When I tell it, agnostic means
god is unknowable
and/or
knowledge is incomplete

Which says absolutely fucking nothing, so when someone says "I'm an agnostic," I hear "I'm a wannabe intellecksual neckbeard" or "I'm a pussy atheist trying not to offend the theisticles." Laugh out load

Talking in general, not about people in here. Most people around these parts have a clearly defined position. Wink
There is a widespread notion in some quarters, especially theists, that agnosticism is of the opinion, inherently, that the probability of god existing is equal with the probability of him not existing, and therefore, the position is inherently one of uncertainty / doubt. Theists like this because it suggests that their case for god's existence is stronger than it is, and because in their minds, agnostics are still potential (re)converts.

This IS a possible (but rare) configuration. Huxley, who originally coined the term, defined it as the notion that god is unknowable. As formulated (invisible, immaterial), this is true. No one can make a credible knowledge claim for OR against the existence of a being concerning whom information is inherently unobtanium. I'd go so far as to say you cannot even assert such a being, much less stake out any sort of legitimate knowledge claim about it.

Today, many self-labeled agnostics simply say they don't personally know if god exists or not, and misguidedly hold out some possibility that this conundrum could ever be resolved, either evidentially or logically. It can't.

All agnosticism is, is the admission that gods are made up and it's impossible to distinguish truth-claims about them from human imagination.

Virtually any atheist who is self aware and curious enough to think through their position reasonably well, IS an agnostic. That's the knowledge claim piece. We don't know, because we can't know. Atheism simply couples that knowledge position with a belief position: there is no valid reason to afford belief to deities, or to think them at all likely. Certainly not even close to equiprobable between existing and not existing. Therefore, we lack belief.
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25-04-2017, 06:19 AM
RE: Can an agnostic pray?
(25-04-2017 05:56 AM)unfogged Wrote:  
(25-04-2017 01:47 AM)Dworkin Wrote:  2. An atheist cannot pray because they do not believe there is a listener.

I see prayer as a form of meditation and if you've been used to praying then the ritual is probably comforting in its familiarity. If it helps you to focus your thoughts and calm your anxieties by going through the motions of prayer then do it. No external listener is required because the only real listener is the internal one.

I suspect you'd find that praying to a god works no better than praying to a teapot or to the curtains. I also suspect that over time you'd lose the need to pray "to" anything and just leverage the benefits through other forms of meditation.
Meditative prayer is just one kind of prayer. There is also imprecatory prayer. The Bible teaches both (for example). Other religious faith-systems (e.g., eastern ones by and large) do not each imprecatory prayer, or teach it very little.

Imprecatory prayer is asking for things, favors, insight, anything you don't have, or a change of some kind to your situation that involves a deity tipping the scales in your favor. The Bible teaches this as well -- unambiguously, and lavishly.
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