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.
Yes, being tolerant and welcoming with loving, ethical. nurturing theists fits my value system. I am probably quicker to lash out at those who impose themselves on me than you are Daniel. Your gentle nature remains consistent.
We have come a long way in scientific achievement and learning since the time of Huxley, and correspondingly the uncertainty of agnosticism has shrunk and there's less reason to subscribe to it. But even Richard Dawkins is not 100% certain about the non-existence of some kind of god. Evidence may come to light later that suggests the possible existence of God, but for now all evidence points away from the existence of a supernatural reality, and the evidence is such that a man can determine for himself that there is no God. That doesn't stop others from being agnostic on the subject of God. They determine for themselves that the evidence against a god is not conclusive.
I can say though with complete confidence that certain types of gods absolutely do not exist. If there were an omniscient god then it would stand to logic that one thing an omniscient god would be as the creator of logic is supremely logical.
Certain kinds of gods can be safely ruled out, such as a god with mutually incompatible attributes that lead to logical contradictions. Such a god as this can safely be ruled out of even possible existence. So, when it comes to the existence of those gods I am a strong atheist. I can say with confidence that those kinds of gods do not exist. We cannot rule out an evil god, but why call it God if evil ? We cannot rule out a god who is not omnipotent, or a god who is not omniscient, but why call such entities gods then ?
Anthony, I would like to differ with you slightly.
Evidence may come to light later that suggests the possible existence of God......
How and from do you think that such evidence can come? Can science bring such evidence? One of atheist friend here has said that if he were to meet the god after his death(the friends death, not gods!) I would tell him that apart from making a mess of your world, you have done a wonderful job of hiding yourself. A long time of 13.7 billion years was enough of an opportunity for the god to show that he exists. If he has not done this it is certainly not out of shyness. He simply isn't there.
Certain kinds of gods can be safely ruled out, such a......
There really are only two kinds of gods conceived by humanity : one a personal god and the other a creator god. Other kinds of gods are merely extensions of these ideas. In most cases, both aspects were imagined in the same god. There is no need for us to split hair to distinguish one from the other. They do not exist.
We do not see a problem with an agnostic; we see a problem with agnosticism. Human knowledge and ability to think has substantially increased since the time of Thomas Huxley, leaving no room for any doubt.
Atheists, or for that matter even agnostics, are rational and intelligent people. You can't think of Hitler while thinking of agnosticism. I mean to say that we now possess enough knowledge, thanks to science and enough thought power, thanks to many rationalists, secularists, freethinkers that we do not need to grope in the dark while thinking about god. We can take a bold decision.
Madhukar, human knowledge and ability to think has indeed substantially increased since Thomas Huxley's time (1825-1895). The increase includes Heisenberg's uncertainty in particle physics, Godel's undecidability in mathematics, and Derrida's deconstruction in language. Derrida has even refused to say what deconstruction is.
You asked for my view of agnosticism so my reply has nothing to do with the definition in Webster's Dictionary. It is strictly how I have used the term in my own situation. I first used the term as a transition from extreme theist indoctrination to simple non theism. For those us of who grew up in very religious families and communities, this was not an easy transition or, at least, not for me. Although, religion never made any sense to me, it apparently made sense to most of those with whom I associated. (And still does.) Although, I consider myself a proper atheist, I find that it is easier to define myself as an agnostic when dealing with my neighbors. This seems to be more easily accepted and some will even admit that much is not known about the origin of life in the universe. (Especially since we now know there is a universe and not just this little flat rock with a sun going around it .) Maybe more people than we know are really considering themselves to be "agnostics" rather than hard core theists. I would like to think this is movement in the right direction. I don't know why agnostics have to say they don't know if a god or gods started the universe as we know it today. Why can't agnostics just say they don't know the origin of the universe? Of course, we atheists don't really know the origin of the universe, either.
I have no problem with people taking on the agnostic identity. I can see why one, who has tenure at risk, not to mention the contacts he gets in the Church's Men's Ministry meetings.
I applaud people who can pass. My grandson is biracial. He could pass as Black or White. He chose black. I'm so proud of him.
One of my favorite author is Bart D. Ehrman, an agnostic biblical scholar who chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He still says he's an agnostic. I've got no problem with agnostics who put on the agnostic suit just like I used to put on a three-piece and go to work
I understand. I applaud your efforts at assimilation.
I just don't believe agnosticism is anything more than a Social Identity.
It doesn't exist in the real world.
Think about this. If you are to get a response from what you write in the real world, being an agnostic is a good ruse.
An agnostic gets out of the argument but bluntly stating "I don't think it's possible for science to know for certain anything about...." insert the current TheoFad.
I get on an airplane all the time. Do you think I want the Captain getting on the intercom and stating the weather, course, ETA then adds: "Of course, there's nothing modern science can tell us about all this. After all, if a plane only crashes once in ever 200 million times how can you be sure this isn't the 200 millonth time?"
Now what I'd like to see is a doctor who healed your daughter of a disease that once killed 95 percent of the girls her age just a couple of Centuries back before germ theory and vaccines. You know, when 'God' was in charge? And the doctor who had just healed your daughter of what once would have been an allmost certain 'death sentence'....looking into all the news cameras and saying.
"Well, it took me 20 years to learn my speciality...
Of my assisting staff there's a quarter of a century of experience in there...
The procedure used has been followed countless times with a minimal number of side effects.
Do you need me to tell you about the equipment? Equipment you wouldn't even be smart enough to understand what the damned thing does much less how it does it.
She is young and healthy and is recuperating in post-op and will be moved to a room tomorrow.
There is a lot of people to thank...doctors, nurses, techs, anestheisiologists, the brains who designed micro robots and the people at the factory who made them...
A lot of people to thank and I'm sure I'm missing some of them.
But I can tell you one thing 100 percent certain-sure:
God didn't have a damn thing to do with it.
Philip, your reply, as usual is very thouhtfull and illuminates one aspect of the subject.
Even among non-theists, the difference in opinion here is striking. This is one of the reasons I prefer to be labeled an "antitheist." Currently that term bears little of the baggage that other terms like "atheist" or "agnostic" have. Many people think atheists hold that universally, unequivocally, God does not exist, as though it were a scientifically proven fact. (This was my understanding as taught via straw man arguments in Christianity.) And other perceptions exist. Agnostics are often thought of as people who haven't thought enough about the question of God to have made up their minds, or else people who are too afraid to commit to any clear position.
I wouldn't deny either the label of agnostic or atheist for myself, provided the meaning of the terms were clear and, of course, accurate for me. But to most people, hearing that I'm antitheist only indicates that I'm against religion and I don't believe in God, which are both of course true. An added benefit is that many people are unfamiliar with the term and want to know what it means, giving me the opportunity to clarify my position without the baggage that terms like "atheist" and "agnostic" can bring.
Antitheist works for me too. Some of it is semantics.
For me, "atheist" states that given the scientific evidence for evolution, and the lack of evidence for any of the deities, the only conclusion that I can come to is, we exist due to natural processes. There is no reliable evidence for any of the gods. Add to that the harm of religions in modern and premodern societies, I want to reduce that malign influence. So I am atheist, and also antitheist.
If you give us some time, I'm sure we can dig up some baggage for antitheist. It's just not used as frequently as agnostic or atheist.
All this arguing about definitions is like spinning our wheels. We should just stick to what we know and what we don't. It takes more time to explain but in the end, it's more accurate than a single word.