Here's my take on it.
Agnosticism is illogical and refutes itself. Agnosticism and agnostics characterize God as unknowable, ineffable, incomprehensible to all attempts to understand him. This doctrine is self-refuting. The agnostic is making a knowledge claim about what he/she claims is unknowable. How do agnostics know that God is unknowable if he is unknowable ? How do they even know that God's existence cannot be disproved if God is unknowable, or that God even exists if he is unknowable ? To claim any attribute for God is knowledge and claims to know this unknowable God possesses certain attributes. That's a logical contradiction, and any being containing two incompatible attributes cannot possibly exist. So one need not resort to agnosticism. He/she would be justified in not believing in that God if the concept of it contradicts itself in any way. One is justified in accepting and adopting the atheist position.
You've made a valid and important point. We are not obliged to give equal attention to all ideas. How is the question decided? To me the answer is: Weltanschauung—the worldview in which we are embedded.
For example, the story of the Gadarene swine in the New testament shows that in Jesus's time the notion of demons was taken as the true explanation for extraordinary behavior. No one today gives that idea serious consideration. Is it because we have disproved the existence of demons? No, it's because our view of how the world works has shifted away from the supernatural.
Your choice about what you give your attention to, what ideas to entertain. It's a subjective, interpersonal matter.
Indeed it is subjective and personal, but much of it comes from the ideational environment in which you live.
Terence, Luara said it well.
I withhold my attention from X. Do you deny the existence of X?
Which of us fabricates evidence?
Hi Tom, I am not sure I understand your question...I am not saying if i don't attend to something that something doesn't exist...i don't adhere to that particular solipsistic view...real things can exist outside of my awareness of them...however, when folks make claims without evidence, how do you evaluate which to attend to? what process or method exists for discriminating the information value among those claims..for instance, if i was naive to the world and folks made claims about zeus, osiris, the god of abraham, buddha etc. how would i go about evaluating the explanatory power of those claims? do i plead agnostic for all of these? is the onus of me to disprove each of these in turn? or do i say these claims hold no merit for me and move on...and of course Luara is correct, everything we do by definition is personal
And Anthony persists in dividing the freethinker community....
Hmm are you sure this is categorically divisive? I myself have had a number of my own thoughts on this matter turned on their heads in the last few months - due entirely to conversations such as these - and am actually very grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to take part. Even if it were dividing us somewhat, is the potential present for that to serve us well in the long term?
Anthony says above that agnostics "characterize God as unknowable, ineffable", et cetera.
On the previous page, Dr. Clark provides support for his saying that Christian theologians made that characterization.
Anthony could have asked if agnostics here characterize as he says we do.
He says that to choose agnosticism is illogical. I saw my choice as rational.
"Tactless" describes his method rather well.
I'd like to address a thought I had this afternoon and procure the thoughts of those still taking part in the conversation.
The atheistic position generally seems to be "are you also agnostic with regard to Santa Claus, Thor, Ra, Allah, Incubus, Casper, etc". Insofar as I can determine, no one yet has provided a description of what, precisely, they are agnostic towards in this conversation (that sounds stupid, so please let me explain). Are we referring to the christian god as found in the bible, and if so, which one, precisely? All of them? Ok. What if the definition of "god" in this sense were any incomprehensible force which gave inertia to space and time, to reality? What if "god" is simply a creative force, as found in deism? Would that change anyone's response as to whether they were still agnostic? If so, why? If not, why? Finally, I can't help but feel as though the language becomes muddled in many, if not all, of these discussions. Would it not be more profitable for us to define precisely what each of us means when we invoke the term "agnosticism", and in which ways and to which extents we are supplanting it with atheism, and vice versa?
"And Anthony persists in dividing the freethinker community...." Tom Sarbeck.
Apparently Mr. Sarbeck has it in for me because I don't conform to the masses.
Anthony, if you knew me, you would know that I too don't conform to the masses.
Your use of the word "Apparently" softens your unsupported charge.
Had you omitted that word, I might have concluded you are paranoid.
"And Anthony persists in dividing the freethinker community...."
I have stressed throughout this discussion that my certainty that there are no gods is my own. My words are not authoritative, I'm no god or religious leader. I've also stressed that new scientific discoveries could come along compelling enough to make me change my mind. I do not objectively know that there are no gods. It is a subjective certainty, and one that satisfies me ideologically.
Everyone is free to his/her own opinion. If someone is not subjectively certain there are no gods that is their own business and they're entitled to think as they choose. As for me, I am (subjectively) certain there are no gods, and as everyone in this community is free to express their views on anti-theism, non-theism, atheism, agnostic atheism, I am free to express my certainty that there are no gods.
As an aside, in some places, if you call yourself an anti-theist, the first thing that will pop into the Christians' head will be Antichrist. In traditional Christianity the Antichrist is the enemy of God and man, and since most Christians believe Jesus to be God, to call yourself an anti-theist is even worse than calling yourself an atheist or a non-theist.