A lot of people argue that agnosticism is the only logically sound and infallible religious choice, since 'we cannot ever really know if God exists or not.'

Directly relating to this is some theists' belief that we must be just as irrational as they are because we too do not have solid evidence for our beliefs.

I also recently heard the phrase 'agnostic in theory, atheist in practice.'

What say you guys?

Views: 25

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

It becomes even messier when we start with strong and weak atheism/agnosticism.

The definitions are very diffuse while they seem rather clear on paper. But in general I would say an agnostic is a person who mostly lives in a world of doubt, and an atheism rather claims the lack of evidence to proof the otherwise, which only speaks for the impossibility for such things to exist.

I also think it's wrong to dump atheist and agnostics together because some of them might clearly show different ideas and beliefs (or lack thereof). When I used to consider myself an agnostic I felt that I didn't want to be called an atheist either, just because of the uncertainty. I wouldn't say that it's easier to be an agnostic, I would say it's harder since you actually live in a world with more possiblities to consider whether you find them true or not.
"It becomes even messier when we start with strong and weak atheism/agnosticism."

The distinction seems pretty clear when you get it right. Theism/atheism is about belief. Gnosticism/agnosticism is about knowledge. Strong atheism = gnostic atheism. Weak atheism = agnostic atheism.

"I also think it's wrong to dump atheist and agnostics together because some of them might clearly show different ideas and beliefs (or lack thereof)."

It's not wrong. Agnostics (in the colloquial sense) are technically atheists too (lacking belief). There are agnostic atheists and agnostic theists, just as there are gnostic theists and gnostic atheists.
To me agnosticism is a statement of knowledge, i.e. I cannot prove or disprove the existence of a god. Atheism is a statement of belief - 'I do not believe in a god'. Michael defines himself as an 'agnostic non-theist' as a result. It really seems to be an apples to oranges comparison.

Cheers...
not knowing is still a statement of knowledge indicating the lack thereof. But the existence of god, santa claus and Russell's teapot are a matter of probability to me. And I find them all highly improbable. This being said - should someone present to me repeatable empirical evidence of god I would re-evaluate my position. But I must admit - I like baiting the believers too :-)
"Technically nobody can prove or disprove anything"

Prove it. ;P
Hmm... well, I can only speak for myself, but I can't really find the connection between Theism and Atheism in terms of "being just as irrational".

Truth is: we do NOT know. But we KNOW that we don't know! And we're rationalists! So - if at any point in the future someone comes along, having the PROOF for God's existence, we will accept it. (It won't be "believe" any more, for it's proven, but that's a different thing.)

But it's not really about being irrational, for we deny the existence of any kind of higher being, right? I mean, there's no Santa, no Easter Bunny, no almighty pink unicorn, no FSM (oh wait, I'm wrong here! There IS a FSM I'm afraid ;-) ), no Russell's Teapot, no Nessie, no Dragons, etc.
If EVER someone comes along having the prove for the existence for any of the named imaginary creatures, we will accept it, right?

Still we are not agnostic to their existence, but simply deny it! Why? It's all about probability and likelihood (jeez, I sound like in class ;-) ). Just because we can't prove a theory wrong, that does not mean, that we will give it a 50/50-chance for being true. We have more then enough studies backing up the "atheistic theory", but none for the theistic view. So chances are rather 99:1 (then 50:50) that we're right.

That's the reason why we're not irrational. Actually - by definition - that makes us the most rational ones here.

Agnostics - to me! - always were those people who simply did not really care for the subject that much. They had no real opinion on it. Or are still simply undecided. Often I found friends of mine being agnostics, because they consider themselves spiritual, but not religious, and did not find "their truth" yet.

However, it's all a wee bit twisted ;-)

But that's just my opinion here.

Cheers,
Aleks
"Agnostics - to me! - always were those people who simply did not really care for the subject that much. They had no real opinion on it. Or are still simply undecided. Often I found friends of mine being agnostics, because they consider themselves spiritual, but not religious, and did not find "their truth" yet."

Guess, that's a good definition as it can get. For me, being an agnostic almost means being a skeptic. I have a friend in this stance. The difference is ultimately the able to decide and choose.
Pretty much in line with the other three opinions here. I have always used atheism as a counter to a religious argument - as far as the religious person goes in one direction, I go in the other. If the religious person is willing to admit that there is no proof for god and that there is just a "personal feeling" that one exists, then I admit that there is no proof there is not one and that I have a "personal feeling" that there is not. It is like being on a balance beam.

I have long said that any honest person must be an agnostic. There are degrees of agnosticism though - and one can be an agnostic christian just as easily as one can be an agnostic atheist.

The strong and weak arguments are merely diversions, though perhaps important ones.

When all is said and done, I am happy to call myself an Atheist - because I am, however to myself I know that the only way to know is to have proof and that is not forthcoming. I can therefore not know and must proceed in the only direction that makes logically consistent sense to me. If someone wants to call me an Agnostic because of that - then that is fine too.

JC
"I have long said that any honest person must be an agnostic."

I beg to differ.

"I know that the only way to know is to have proof and that is not forthcoming. I can therefore not know and must proceed in the only direction that makes logically consistent sense to me. If someone wants to call me an Agnostic because of that - then that is fine too."

To say the only logical conclusion you can reach is an agnostic one is fine, but to say no one else can logically reach a gnostic one goes too far. Virtually every definition given for "God" has been disproven countless times. One is hard-pressed to come up with a definition which is coherent and useful.
It sounds as if you’ve all got a pretty clear understanding. There’s no contradiction between atheism, which addresses belief, and agnosticism, which addresses knowledge. I think that every atheist that I know is also an agnostic. I myself am a strong atheist, but a weak agnostic. But a Christian, too can be an agnostic is she accepts that knowledge of god is impossible but holds Christian beliefs on faith.

Atheism is not, however, a belief held on faith. If a god were to prove his existence, all of us atheists would have to admit that we were wrong. Rather than a faith, atheism is an empirical conclusion.
To be an absolutist regarding alleged "certain" knowledge of anything, even the most insane idea imaginable, in either positive or negative terms, is unwarranted. Don't go there. E.G., never say that you "know for sure Santa Claus does not literally exist and is a myth." It is a matter of language usage. Just say "My opinion, beyond all (my) reasonable doubt is that Santa is mythic, not literally real. Anyone who disputes this has the burden of proof - and good luck with that."

I think the most rational position is to be an agnostic atheist, in the negative sense, and an agnostic monist, in the positive sense. This should always be offered as your profound conviction and not as an absolutist assertion of knowledge - if not, then you accept a burden of proof - and why would you want to do that?

As to discussions of these matters, I NEVER bring up the atheist-theist-agnostic words - I just respond to those who do. I think is may be time to work at getting beyond such simplistic childlike arguments, e.g. “I believe in an invisible all-powerful person that will get you if you are bad." - Well, you are nuts - there definitely is not such thing." - "Well, no one can know anything for sure so either of you could be right so let's split the difference and all just be wishy-washy intellectual elitists, otherwise you are low-class."

I think a billion discussions alone these lines have been enough. Let's try and move on to something slightly more sophisticated, philosophically speaking.

I understand (grok even) all "religious", supernatural, superstitious, and/or metaphysical dualistic traditions/concepts as being mythic narratives that are to be understood and interpreted strictly in psychological terms. Those who disagree bear the sole burden of proof. And since the sophisticated religionist admits such concepts are "transcendent" to such a degree they are by definition beyond scientific, empirical or logical proof, then such is dismissed out of hand, in the exact same way ideas of astrology, witch-power and similar magical actions or divinations should be.

In "serious" discussions of religious philosophy I now direct the conversation, almost immediately to the works of Joseph Campbell, Heinrich Zimmer, Alan Watts, etc. If the person with whom I am discussing/debating draws a blank on these names, I offer to give them a reading list, or I just say "Have a nice day." and scuttle quickly away. IOW, my ability to suffer fools gladly is now approaching zero rather quickly. LOL.
I guess that's one strategy :p I think if I start argue though, people would either classify me as agnostic or atheist, which are both wrong. Somehow that's the issue. Thinking you "might" know the opposite argumentor's religious stance can backlash terribly, when it turns out your assumptions were wrong.

However, it should be as good as it can be avoided from derailing into "I know your god doesn't exist" and "but I do because I have personal proof!" arguments. No one is right and thus they can go on and on forever. Having such discussions hardly make the Christians sway either so.

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

AJY

 

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service