And again, to the same correspondent, May 6, 1863:
I have never had the least sympathy with the a priori reasons against orthodoxy, and I have by nature and disposition the greatest possible antipathy to all the atheistic and infidel school. Nevertheless I know that I am, in spite of myself, exactly what the Christian would call, and, so far as I can see, is justified in calling, atheist and infidel. I cannot see one shadow or tittle of evidence that the great unknown underlying the phenomenon of the universe stands to us in the relation of a Father [who] loves us and cares for us as Christianity asserts. So with regard to the other great Christian dogmas, immortality of soul and future state of rewards and punishments, what possible objection can I—who am compelled perforce to believe in the immortality of what we call Matter and Force, and in a very unmistakable present state of rewards and punishments for our deeds—have to these doctrines? Give me a scintilla of evidence, and I am ready to jump at them.
Of the origin of the name agnostic to describe this attitude, Huxley gave the following account:When I reached intellectual maturity and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; Christian or a freethinker; I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until, at last, I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They were quite sure they had attained a certain "gnosis,"–had, more or less successfully, solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble. So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of "agnostic." It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the "gnostic" of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant. To my great satisfaction the term took.
Huxley's agnosticism is believed to be a natural consequence of the intellectual and philosophical conditions of the 1860s, when clerical intolerance was trying to suppress scientific discoveries which appeared to clash with a literal reading of the Book of Genesis and other established Jewish and Christian doctrines. Agnosticism should not, however, be confused with natural theology, deism, pantheism, or other forms of theism.
By way of clarification, Huxley states, "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" (Huxley, Agnosticism, 1889). Although A. W. Momerie has noted that this is nothing but a definition of honesty, Huxley's usual definition goes beyond mere honesty to insist that these metaphysical issues are fundamentally unknowable.
Well I asked my dog this question he said, "woof." Then I asked him if he was absolutely sure there are no supernatural phenomena he said, "woof." He then tuned around and started "cleaning" his...
Then I asked my fundamentalist neighbor and he said "Yes there is and would I like to hear the glory of his word."
I asked him, "Is that word woof?"
Then this question popped into my mind, "Am I 100% certain that even I exist?"
Think it this way that even if there are god/gods (by whatever percentage of believe-ability) which every culture seem to have produced, they are but HUMAN CREATIONS!
we, us human beings produced the gods and just like money same become too powerful over us...
"God created man, and man being a gentleman returned the favor" - Voltaire
Now that we free ourselves from this tyranny of religion, we can explore thoughts, actions, and feelings without a lot of extra baggage.
James, the theistic beliefs of the masses are easier to dismiss than the ephemeral monsters of Timbuktu or Portland, Oregon for that matter. Why? Cuz we know our fatuous forebears lived in a state of fear and without benefit of natural explanation for the seasons, weather, crops etc. We also know about the power of ritual and the tendency of the strong to dominate the weak. Further we know how creation myths and the attendent superstition were adopted by later cultures. Endless copying. We also know of the biologically supported tendency of children to indoctrination. Born a muslim in a muslim country you are overwhelmingly likely to be a muslim. Reiterating a lie trillions of times does not increase its reliability or credibibility.
The monster of Timbuktu has only one proponent who speaks with a verisimilitude and quiet confidence. Ya gotta investigate. Just like ufo claims. Now god is a construct that cannot be investigated. And it is silly to think we have to investigate a known and self serving lie which is contrary to nature and impossible by virtue of its nonexistent characteristics.
Absolute skepticism is not only a blatant contradiction, but renders language fundamentally arbitrary. We should be skeptical of a claim in the presence of contradiction but not when we have contextual noncontradictory knowledge, especially when the acceptance of which is necessary for reason and logic to function.
It is not simply tautology when it is based on objective reality. The fundamentals are self evident. Existence exists and has concrete identity. Any belief that this may not be true is arbitrary, incorrect and not able to be defended rationally. And your religious conflation is tired.
Your position is tautological if it comes from ONLY an "objective reality" takes precedence over "subjective reality" approach. What you call "self-evident" will always come from the perspective of an individual requiring recognition and approval of others - the same thing others do in churches. Can you create a system approach to convert the religious by an extremist position? I ask you and anyone else purporting your consistent absolutist perspective. Remember: I stand staring, steadfast and speechless, with those religious extremist so codified in their rancor that they put me in a position to have to physically defend myself. Their "objective reality" precedence, in not even trying to investigate ontological "subjective reality", opens the door for some to go terrorist. Those extremists do it out of belief. And if the likes of you and others continue going down this same road, you put me in the position of having to also stand staring, steadfast and speechless, wondering which one of you are going to make a move causing me to have to physically defend myself regardless if your motive is based on knowledge. I ask you to please consider leaving off this tautological, absolute only T or F (100% vs 99.99999%) mindset as to not marginalize yourself in the whole Non-Theist group. The subset of religious groups which become terrorists are the codified absolutists. The subset of our group (Non-Theists) are the same - codified absolutists. No, I'm not calling you a terrorist. But your sermons (and others with the same extremist position) are quite dangerous.
I will not concede subjective reality for the purpose of not becoming marginalized. It is like you are telling me to not be so adherent to truth as to not get along with people who don't get it. I will not sell out. Go ahead marginalize me. The truth remains. There is one reality and we can have knowledge of it. I am right on point. I cannot be marginalized from what is the real nature of reality. I am not purporting to know everything (that is impossible). I am saying that we can manipulate nature so well because we are built to understand this place. This is what our brains do, make objective knowledge of reality. That is how we communicate and how we do science.
There is no subjective reality. There is only subjective perception of objective reality. It is not that we are aware of our thoughts that make us sure that we exist and then maybe reality exists. Our first perception is of something, in reality. We are not first aware of our thoughts. We are first aware of something,. An entity. With identity. Existence has primacy over consciousness. Consciousness having priority over existence is a most mystical idea. Plato was wrong about the noumenal world as Christians are wrong about heaven as new age postmodern skeptics are wrong about subjectivity and the primacy of consciousness. My arguments have a firm basis on the axioms of cognition that stem directly from what is self-evident about reality. Existence comes first, then perception, then concept formation. Once we reach concept formation and use reason based on noncontradiction, we can have objective knowledge. This is the only thing we all have in common. A reality, based on subjectivity would be meaningless.
I like how you are saying that my certainty is wrong. Are you sure about that? Over and over and over, skeptics use skepticism when they shouldn't. It is a blatant contradiction to assert with certainty that I cannot have certainty.
I admit; I am a radical for reason. If your definition of religious is demonstrating a commitment to intellectual honesty, noncontradiction and the law of identity then, fine, I'm religious. However, I consider no book, leader, person, group of persons, tradition to be an absolute authority. I do not pray. I do not use metaphor alone as a sufficient source of knowledge. I do not congregate with others to sing and chant about mysticism which I also do not have. This is the problem with you people. You refuse to define your concepts with essential characteristics only. I am not at all religious. I am as far from religious as one can get. Your arbitrary definition of concepts would certainly make reality appear subjective, but this is not the case. We can have certain contextually valid knowledge about this world. Not perfect knowledge or knowledge everything, but neither of those are necessary. In fact our limited brains and our limited ability to perceive preclude them.
That I may have certainty in common with a religious fundamentalist is arbitrary. That you have mysticism in common with religious fundamentalists is not. Things do only what is dictated by their structure and momentum. Things cannot both be and not be at the same time in the same way. We form objective concepts about reality by retaining the essential aspects of a thing an omitting the arbitrary measurements of those characteristics. We integrate these concepts into a knowledge base contextually and hierarchically without contradiction, with the use of reason. This is the basis of science and our ability to communicate to each other. And no amount of new science will get us to an understanding that the foundations of science, noncontradiction and causality, are invalid, for those are what we use to verify, even when probing the limits of our perception where probability theory is necessary to predict outcome.
Certainty does not create violence. Irrationality does. I am a peaceful person, for the most part, and frequently express my understanding of how the non-aggression principle is moral, because it is rational. Adhering to reason and objective reality does not a terrorist make. Believing we can have knowledge based on non-essentials, metaphor, revelations, intuition or feelings is how we get violence.
We can communicate our agreement about the nature of reality by using objective language. There is a process involved. Church folk agree about their mystical metaphysics without the support of reason. That I need a third party perspective to prove something is still dependent on noncontradiction and causality. This is not in common with faith. It is faith that is the problem. Not certainty and not third party perspective or proof. It is not religious or subjective that we both have objective knowledge about where Chicago is in the world; it is rational and cannot lead to violence. You would need to base an aggressive act on emotion, irrationality or rational defense. Your plight of worrying about which gnostic atheist would attack you is silly. No one would ever use rationality as a basis for attacking you in any other way other than self-defense or in the very rare circumstance of severely scarce resources.
You are a postmodern multi-culturalist. 'Don't judge too firmly, we all want to get along.' I bet you have a 'COEXIST' bumper sticker. Well some ideas are bad and should be pointed out as such. In today's society, as you are showing now, it is OK to have beliefs, and we should respect them, as long as there is at least a little mysticism involved. Words have actual meanings and things actually do exist, one way or another, but not both, and that is for sure. Skepticism opens the door to mysticism. And mysticism and subjectivity leads to violence. Not reason and objective reality. Our culture is swamped and mired in postmodern phantasmagorical gobbledy-gook so much so that our academic scientists are purporting mystical foundations to the universe, which is epistemologically impossible. But hey, they have fancy degrees from fancy universities and everyone's religious beliefs fit well under this umbrella so great, let's all hold hands and be gay for the non-intelligible spiritual universe. The colors I feel about it light up my heart with the embodiment of consciousness becoming. Oooooo, how wise. It's pathetic. It is the denial of the objective reality we all share that leads to war and hampers prosperity, not certain knowledge that, while many things are yet to be learned, the impossible cannot happen.