Law of excluded middle - Agnostics
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25-09-2011, 08:19 AM
RE: Law of excluded middle - Agnostics
I totally disagree with the entire premise of this thread. There are two questions here, not one, so there is no theoretical middle ground.

A: Do you believe a god exists?

B: Do you know if a god exists?

A theist has answered question A with TRUE everyone else is an atheist.

An agnostic is a person who answers question B with FALSE, while a gnostic would answer TRUE. in my opinion only a fool would answer question B with a yes unless you qualify or limit the word "god" to one that is logically impossible or think you have had divine revelation. This same pair of questions could be applied to any claim of the unknown.

Are microscopic pixies dancing under my bed??? Don't know for sure, but don't believe because it is highly unlikely. I could be called agnostic but don't believe it to be true same as I see a god on this question.

Will my chair hold me up when I sit down??? (I am almost 400 lbs. LOL!) Once again, I don't know, but if I never believed one could than my legs would get real tired. I have been wrong and experienced the pain an embarrassment of that belief. Agnostic theist to this question, although with lumps for that position.

Is evolution true? Since I believe the evidence to be overwhelming, on this question I am gnostic and believe it.

Knowing that the three positions theist, atheist and agnostic are addressing different questions, I hope you can see that the commonly accepted ideas of agnosticism being between the other two is ridiculous. I consider my self to be both agnostic and atheist. I can't prove that no god of any type exists but so unlikely as not worth believing. I would venture to say that most liberal Christians are theist agnostics, who know they can't prove one exists but just believe.

Sorry Ghost, I don't want a conflict over this, but I see your position as only addressing question B. To me it looks as though you are either refusing to answer or ignoring question A. If you tell me you would rather not answer because it it personal, fine I understand. Call me dense but I don't see how you can "take the 5th" on the question of belief, either you do or you do not.

This is how I see it.

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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25-09-2011, 08:49 AM
RE: Law of excluded middle - Agnostics
Here is something we - very much including myself! - tend not to consider.

Theist means believing in the existence of (a) god (s). Therefore, a not-theist is one who does not believe in god(s). I don't believe in gods. I've been content with that, and to ignore all the how many percent sure, you-can't-prove-it/ neither-can-you futility.

However, nobody seems to ask what gnostic means before they choose to define, or identify with, a not-gnostic.
Sez here: "There are numerous Gnostic sects, both pagan and Christian. The Christian Gnostics denied the literal meaning of scriptures and saw only an esoteric meaning based on gnosis (divinely inspired knowledge); e.g. did not believe that a real Jesus was really crucified."

I don't believe that, either. So, like nontheocrat, i'm both agnostic and atheist. And a-pagan, and a-wiccan and a-Vulcan, too.

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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25-09-2011, 09:14 AM
RE: Law of excluded middle - Agnostics
Hey, Nontheocrat.

(For the record, CAPS are for clarity, not yelly shoutyness Cool )

Quote:Sorry Ghost, I don't want a conflict over this, but I see your position as only addressing question B. To me it looks as though you are either refusing to answer or ignoring question A. If you tell me you would rather not answer because it it personal, fine I understand. Call me dense but I don't see how you can "take the 5th" on the question of belief, either you do or you do not.

So when you see pregnant women on the street, you either believe it's a boy or you don't? There's no room for, well fuck how should I know?

I didn't ignore question A at all. Do you believe in God? Yes. No. How the fuck should I know. You say that everyone who doesn't say yes is an Atheist. Ok. I addressed that. I'm just suggesting that there is a difference between no and how the fuck should I know. I'm also saying that if Atheism makes no positive statements, then how can someone say no? So there are in fact those who say no, those who say I don't know and those who simply aren't involved in the question. You lump all three together as Atheists. I recognise that. Now you can recognise my argument.

As far as being Agnostic ABOUT things, that's like saying you're scientific about certain things and not others. Science is a way of approaching things. So is Agnosticism. It is not a position on a given topic. Agnostics CAN be certain about things. I'm certain I have a penis and I'm certain that I do not have a vagina. I'm still an Agnostic. If someone says there's a pixie under my bed and I look and there isn't one, I believe there isn't one and I'm still Agnostic. The REASON Agnostics answer "I can't say one way or the other" to A is because they don't have evidence one way or the other. If you showed me absolute proof of the existence of God, I'd believe in him and I'd still be an Agnostic because Agnosticism is applied to all things, not just the God question.

So when people say they do not believe in God but they are Agnostic, I call bullshit because they have made that decision in the absence of evidence.

Quote:Don't know for sure, but don't believe because it is highly unlikely.

That is patently unagnostic. Agnostics don't give a shit about likelihood. Only evidence. The fact that you chose not to believe it is a departure from Agnosticism because you have made that choice in the absence of evidence. You are pretending that "conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable," (Huxley) and justifying it by saying, "yeah, but, like, I don't, like, totally know. Just mostly. You know?"

Quote:Once again, I don't know, but if I never believed one could than my legs would get real tired.

That's silly. If I hand you an engineer’s test that says the chair can hold 3 tons, are you still going to not know? That's not Agnosticism, that's wilful ignorance. If I'm handed that engineering test, I'll believe that the chair can hold you and I'll STILL be an Agnostic.

Quote:Agnostic theist to this question, although with lumps for that position.

That's gobbledygook. Theism pertains to Theos, not chairs. Can the chair hold you? Yes, no, maybe, I don't know, what's a chair, who gives a fuck.

Remember, Agnostic doesn't mean, "I don't know." It means, "I am only certain of the demonstrated." The truth value of any single issue is irrelevant. You aren't Agnostic about one thing and not another. You're an Agnostic because of what you demand: evidence. In all cases. If you have it, you know. If you don't, you don't know.

Quote:Is evolution true? Since I believe the evidence to be overwhelming, on this question I am gnostic and believe it.

I'm going to hammer this point into the ground.

I believe in evolution and I am STILL an Agnostic. I believe it BECAUSE there is evidence.

You know what? I'm just realising for the first time WHY this Agnostic/Gnostic thing is horseshit. The assumption is that Agnostic means "I don't know" and Gnostic means "I do know". But that's BS. Agnostic means, "prove it and we'll talk."

My position on question A is what it is BECAUSE I'm Agnostic. I don't have any choice but to answer I don't know because my Agnosticism DEMANDS it.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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25-09-2011, 09:49 AM
RE: Law of excluded middle - Agnostics
Ghost, I do see likelihood and belief as being interlinked. When we as humans look at every claim in life we make a quick thumbnail assessment of the likelihood of the claim and either believe it, disbelieve it or decide that it is to be left up in the air until we know enough to decide. Often we do not measure or take time to consider every claim thoroughly because it isn't worth the effort or we don't care enough to examine it. In my example of the chair I don't want to take the time to test the chair and it would be socially awkward to do so so I base my lose belief on my past experience that mist chairs support more than 250 lbs. Call it laziness on my part but I don't care enough to find out for sure.

This undecided area (time not knowing) is what you are defining as agnosticism. I've never heard it described that way before, but fine we will go with it and see where it takes us.

Am I agnostic about there being a god? Maybe.

If by god you are asking is there an undefined being that is outside our universe with an immaterial existence that dies not intersect the physical world? Sure, I'll buy an I don't know as the only possible answer, not only do I not know, but I don't care if it exists.

But as soon as you apply and causality or put any attributes to a god I begin to disbelieve. If you claim that the universe was started by an intelligence I disbelieve because I have never seen disembodied intelligence. I think that is as silly as talking about motion without a physical object to be moved. Thinking is what brains do, thinking without a brain is as nonsensical as sound without air.

Thanks for the conversation.

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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25-09-2011, 10:53 AM
RE: Law of excluded middle - Agnostics
Hey, Nontheocrat.

You are more than welcome. Thanks right back atchya!

Quote:This undecided area (time not knowing) is what you are defining as agnosticism. I've never heard it described that way before, but fine we will go with it and see where it takes us.

From the guy who coined the term Agnostic:
Thomas Henry Huxley Wrote:Agnosticism is not a creed but a method, the essence of which lies in the vigorous application of a single principle... Positively the principle may be expressed as in matters of intellect, do not pretend conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable.

Hey, Matt, do you have a penis? Yes (demonstrated)
Hey, Matt, do you have four hands? No (demonstrated)
Hey, Matt, is there life on Europa? I don't know (undemonstrated)
Hey, Matt, is there a God? I don't know (indemonstrable)

Quote:Am I agnostic about there being a god? Maybe.

I argue that this is akin to saying, “Am I scientific about there being gravity?” You are no more scientific about something than you are Agnostic about something. One is a scientist and one uses the scientific method to approach questions. One is an Agnostic and one uses the Agnostic principle to approach questions. The truth value of a statement is not what makes one Agnostic any more than the truth value of a statement is what makes one a scientist.

I am an Agnostic. There is no evidence for God and none against God. Do I believe that God exists? I must remain neutral because I am an Agnostic, I am not Agnostic about it.

Quote:If by god you are asking is there an undefined being that is outside our universe with an immaterial existence that dies not intersect the physical world? Sure, I'll buy an I don't know as the only possible answer, not only do I not know, but I don't care if it exists.

But as soon as you apply and causality or put any attributes to a god I begin to disbelieve.

Speaking personally, I don't attribute any traits or qualities to God except for the ones that are required by definition. If you explain liquid water to me, regardless of whether or not I have proof, by definition, it has to be wet. When drunk, it doesn’t have to remind me of that time you spent in Acapulco. I have no reason to attribute that trait to water. Similarly, I don't have to attribute any of the following to God, because they aren't required by the definition: he sometimes appears as a burning bush, an Ox, an owl, he loves us, he's vengeful, he gave Moses some tablets, he sent his Son to us, he said that Mohammed, peace be upon him, was his only prophet, he looks like levitating spaghetti, there are actually many of them and their family relations are X... the list goes on across tens of thousands of belief systems.

By definition, all God requires is to be supernatural and to have had at least some hand in the creation of the universe. If he doesn't have those traits, then he isn't God. The problem is that both of those are indemonstrable. So details aside, I can’t even answer the basic question.

Maybe he's undefined, maybe the KJV is right. Maybe he's outside the universe, or inside or both. Maybe there is no God. The point is, I have no evidence for any of it. So I don't know. I can pretend that I do, but I won't because I'm an Agnostic and we don't do that sort of thing.

Personally, I care whether or not God exists, cause it'd be good to know. But I don't know. And I can't. Unless he introduces himself to me. So I go through life with the knowledge that I don't know and that other people have different theories.

Quote:If you claim that the universe was started by an intelligence I disbelieve because I have never seen disembodied intelligence. I think that is as silly as talking about motion without a physical object to be moved.

For me, this is post hoc ergo propter hoc. Brains lead to intelligence; therefore, intelligence is caused by brains. I have no reason to believe that intelligence cannot arise from other means and even if it is the only natural cause of intelligence, I know that if God does exist, he is not constrained by the requirements of the natural universe. He no more needs a brain to think than he needs legs to walk or lungs to breathe... or oxygen for that matter.

But I think I'm going off topic here...

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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25-09-2011, 06:01 PM (This post was last modified: 26-09-2011 08:25 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Law of excluded middle - Agnostics
(24-09-2011 09:55 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Girlyman.

I gotta disagree. Atheism makes no positive statements. So it's not a denial of anything. It is merely the not being of something.

Agnosticism denies nothing. It simply says, if we don't know, I don't pretend to. And it says nothing about new definitions.

Pedantically I agree with you, but practically they are interchangeable. I don't think of myself as an atheist, more like an indifferent areligious asswipe. And I'm starting to think more and more of late that we are God. So that would make me a weist, or at least a meist if solipsism holds and I turn out to be the only one out here.

(25-09-2011 10:53 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Matt, do you have a penis? Yes (demonstrated)

Technically, I can't find where that has been demonstrated. ... But please don't. Wink

Peace and Love and Empathy Matt, it's all we got.

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
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Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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26-09-2011, 07:51 PM
RE: Law of excluded middle - Agnostics
(25-09-2011 07:52 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Atheism makes no positive statements, but Atheists make positive statements all the time. When you call them on it, the response is, "But Atheism makes no positive statements."

Come on, seriously? You start with a stereotype of atheists, and then go on to try making this statement true by redefining the term "positive statements" (to make it sound like any position on this argument is positive).

I know it's not fun to be left with the burden of proof, but that's reality. When atheists do try to prove that there is no God, feel free to take the side that they can't or haven't proven it. But don't try to paint us as all as strong atheists just so you can dismiss our position as hypocritical. Atheism isn't a belief, just like disbelief in unicorns is not a belief. It's skepticism in the face of lacking evidence.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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26-09-2011, 10:42 PM
RE: Law of excluded middle - Agnostics
Hey, Starcrash.

Quote:I know it's not fun to be left with the burden of proof, but that's reality.

Uhh. What does that have to do with anything? For real, I'm scratching my head.

Quote:When atheists do try to prove that there is no God, feel free to take the side that they can't or haven't proven it. But don't try to paint us as all as strong atheists just so you can dismiss our position as hypocritical.

I didn't dismiss anyone as anything. I really don't understand what you're saying.

Quote:Atheism isn't a belief, just like disbelief in unicorns is not a belief. It's skepticism in the face of lacking evidence.

It's not that I don't disagree with this, it's that I didn't disagree with this. I said Atheism doesn't make any positive statements.

Quote:You start with a stereotype of atheists, and then go on to try making this statement true by redefining the term "positive statements" (to make it sound like any position on this argument is positive).

I see why you think that way. I didn't mean to say that all Atheists make positive statements. I meant that some do but none should. But my language was sloppy. You're right to point that out.

But I didn't redefine anything.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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27-09-2011, 01:42 PM
RE: Law of excluded middle - Agnostics
I like Ghost's reasoning.

But I call myself an agnostic, simply because I don't really care about the question.
If a god ever thinks he must be known we'll probably get that message, else there's really no need to care at all and I'll continue to live happily ever after without knowing nor caring.

Of course there are moments I start caring what someone believes. When they make (i.e. political) choices because of their religion. Luckily in my country strong believers are rare folks.
Still I, just as someone else stated, mostly take the atheists side in discussions with theists.
And being an ass, I really love shattering arguments for god in those moments - solely for pleasure, not educational reasons although in hope it sticks.
I really hate seeing people condemned because some imaginary friends or a book tell someone to not accept anothers life"style".

That said, I still abide by "live and let live."
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27-09-2011, 09:24 PM
RE: Law of excluded middle - Agnostics
(24-09-2011 02:41 PM)Starcrash Wrote:  TheThinkingAtheist compares atheists to non-stamp collectors, just to throw out an analogy that you're probably familiar with. Whether you identify yourself as a "non-stamp collector" or whether you simply don't collect stamps, you're still the same person with the exception of your self-image. Even if you tell people that you'd collect stamps given a good reason, that still doesn't make you a stamp collector right now.

Amen brother.

It's always fun to see people rationalize why belief/disbelief in a god is somehow special. They're perfectly okay to say they don't believe in Santa/unicorns/elves or whatever other BS you can think of, but when it comes to god it's "Well, I don't know, I can't say, etc.".
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