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The Agnostic Myth

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Post Sat Aug 18, 2012 2:35 am
Jim User avatar
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I'm not sure when it happened but somewhere along the line the meaning of agnostic/agnosticism changed in an inexorable manner from an adjective to a noun. Citing the man who actually coined the term:

"Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle. That principle is of great antiquity; it is as old as Socrates; as old as the writer who said, "Try all things, hold fast by that which is good" it is the foundation of the Reformation, which simply illustrated the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him; it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science. 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." (TH Huxley, Agnosticism, 1889)

Now it's easy to see that definition differs markedly from what one general thinks when you encounter the term as what Agnosticism was defined as was a philosophy that is applicable to any process that results in the forming of opinion. To say "I'm an Agnostic" leaves out critical information for the statement to be complete as a noun of some kind is required. I for example, if someone was bad mannered enough to pry, would identify as an Agnostic Atheist. An Agnostic Christian, Islamist, Evolutionary scientist, Plumber; it pretty much states for the record the underlying thought process one uses to form conclusions. It is not a philosophy per se so much as a philosophical guide.

What's even worse, it's use in it's mutated form has no place in the argument of the existence of the supernatural. The premise is "God exists and you shall believe or bad shit will happen". This is a black or white issue without shades of grey. You either believe or you don't and "I'm not sure" is simply restating disbelief in less assertive terms and in the final analysis a way of restating Atheism. If you're claiming to be an Agnostic, like it or no, you're an Atheist.

More over, the popular use of the term is generally used by a school of thought that states that God is unknowable and as fine and dandy as this sounds at first blush if God is unknowable how does the Agnostic know this in the first place and how does this lack of knowledge contrast to the lack of knowledge the Agnostic excoriate both Theists and Atheists for claiming? It's hypocrisy born out of an unwillingness to state the obvious conclusion they themselves possess when asked to address the assertion "God Exists".

Dawkins in his book "The God Delusion" addresses this issue in more detail in the section The Poverty of Agnosticism which I highly recommend giving the once over so you, theist and atheist alike, will be prepared the next time you are confronted by this farcical pseudo-philosophical nonsense.

There is no such thing as an agnostic in the modern transfiguration, the position cannot be defended within the confines of the debate or within the confines of logic and it's simply an evasion technique to avoid identifying themselves as the atheists they actually are and/or to assure themselves a place in heaven in their minds because they can look God in the eye if he actually shows up and say with a straight face "Dude, I never once denied you". Frankly, I'm not sure which is worse...

Post Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:09 am
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Heh noski is telling religious ppl that they are atheists because they don't believe in the 6k year old earth ATM.

I am sick of the labels. If i say im an atheist ppl always want to know "what kind?" I just lack a friggin belief in a deity gosh darn it. I dont see why i should go out and research which exact label i should be wearing. I dont believe in any of them . . . Allah, Bhagavan, Brahma, Ishvara, Maheshvar, Parameshwara, Vishnu, Krishna, Rama, Waheguru, Jehovah, Bahaiullah, Zeus, or any other diety. . . . .

I dont like the word agnostic because the impression with that one is that you sit around wondering if there is a god of some sort. Idiots think they have a "win" if you say that.

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Post Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:47 am
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Yes. It's a genuine problem that agnosticism has become a label for some kind of wishy-washy inability to make one's mind up. Many people simply can't parse a phrase like "I don't believe in God, I'm agnostic". It's for this reason, I'll stick with the atheist label.

My atheism isn't a belief so I feel it's unnecessary to tag it with a clause acknowledging that I can't prove my position. I can't prove there are no invisible pixies under my bed. My acknowledgment of this doesn't make me agnostic about their existence.

Post Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:30 am
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I don't understand atheism or agnosticism. What exactly is it that you don't believe in? (You'll have to explain what you mean by god. I have no concept of the term).

If somebody can explain that, I'll be happy to become an atheist, agnostic and theist all rolled into one.

Post Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:43 am
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God
noun
(in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) The creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being


Dawkins' Spectrum of Theistic Probability

1. Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: "I do not believe, I know."

2. De facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. "I don't know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there."

3. Leaning towards theism. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. "I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God."

4. Completely impartial. Exactly 50 per cent. "God's existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable."

5. Leaning towards atheism. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. "I do not know whether God exists but I'm inclined to be skeptical."

6. De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. "I don't know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there."

7. Strong atheist. "I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung knows there is one."

Post Sun Aug 26, 2012 4:06 pm
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arrowroots wrote:
I don't understand atheism or agnosticism. What exactly is it that you don't believe in? (You'll have to explain what you mean by god. I have no concept of the term).

If somebody can explain that, I'll be happy to become an atheist, agnostic and theist all rolled into one.


So you're more of an Ignostic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism

It's a reasonable position in my opinion and has some merit.

Just for the record. I think anyone who doesn't have the theistic belief that there is a deity - is atheist.


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Post Sun Aug 26, 2012 4:11 pm
Jim User avatar
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What exactly is it that you don't believe in?


The Supernatural.

Post Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:02 pm
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Jim wrote:
What exactly is it that you don't believe in?


The Supernatural.


That's fair enough, but is the Supernatural the same as god?
Is an atheist who believes in magic but not in gods still an atheist?
What's the difference between supernatural and nonsense?

Post Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:24 pm
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Scar~Ritual wrote:
arrowroots wrote:
I don't understand atheism or agnosticism. What exactly is it that you don't believe in? (You'll have to explain what you mean by god. I have no concept of the term).

If somebody can explain that, I'll be happy to become an atheist, agnostic and theist all rolled into one.


So you're more of an Ignostic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism

It's a reasonable position in my opinion and has some merit.

Just for the record. I think anyone who doesn't have the theistic belief that there is a deity - is atheist.


I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.


Actually, I'm a Pittakionophobic (aversion to labels) :) but Ignostic could work. I don't know about atheist. If somebody defined nature or life as god, I don't know if I could bring myself not to believe that nature or life exists.

Your last point tells me that agnostic and atheist are not mutually exclusive terms. I can understand that view.
Last edited by arrowroots on Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Post Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:27 pm
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I guess if Dawkins is the authority on Atheism, then it would be none of the above.

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