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.
It's like this Jaime:
This community was built for atheists or nontheists. Not just atheists of a certain ilk, but for anyone who lack God belief, strong atheist, weak atheist, agnostic atheist, and gnostic atheist. What's wrong with my being a gnostic atheist ? So I claim to my own satisfaction that I know, given what we know about science at this time that there is no God. That could change, but for now I'm a gnostic atheist. This is not a community for winning converts.
Anthony, I see nothing wrong with your being a gnostic atheist.
While knowing that dictionaries differ, I hope you'll tell me how the dictionary you use defines gnostic.
I use NOAD, the New Oxford American, which defines gnosticism as a prominent heretical movement of the 2nd-Century Christian Church, partly of pre-Christian origin. [Its] doctrine taught that the world was created and ruled by a lesser divinity, the demiurge, and that Christ was an emissary of the remote supreme divine being, esoteric knowledge (gnosis) of whom enabled the redemption of the human spirit.
I use the term gnostic on the basis of the root meaning of gnosis. Simply to know. What I mean by that is not that a god doesn't exist, since I am a fallible human. I could be wrong. But I've done enough study, research, and given the matter enough thought, that I feel satisfied that I (personally with no reflection on anyone else) know that there is no God.
Anthony, I don't know if you recall or not, but you ended up leaving a link to a psychology digest on a discussion of a similar topic awhile back which, if I remember correctly, was about the possibility of proving a negative. I wasn't convinced by it, but I'd really love to read through it again if you remember where you found it!
Right now I'm reading Lawrence M. Krauss' A Universe From Nothing. So far it is an amazing book. I'll tell you what I think after I've read the whole thing.
Anthony, I agree, Lawrence M. Krauss' "A Universe From Nothing" is an outstanding read.
I very much like this answer:
"Laplace said it, Hawking said it, and many others, and I agree with them: god is not necessary."
~ Loren Miller
Joan, Loren, I too find gods unnecessary.
Being terminally skeptical, I recall that Hawking is alleged to have given to the pope the first few nano-nano-nanoseconds after the so-called big bang. I haven't heard of his having recanted. Has anyone else?
I'm too stingy, even mean-spirited, to give any pope anything.
BTW, I found Krauss' AUFN at Amazon and downloaded the free sample to my Kindle. I thought it well-written, unlike many books on science. I'd minored in physics and begun graduate study in low temperature physics BC (before computers) and want more than Krauss offers.
The many attempts in recent decades by xians to put creationism into public school science classrooms has had a benefit. The resulting lawsuits, which creationists regularly lose, bring scientists such as Krauss into courtrooms to educate federal judges. Few have even an entry-level understanding of science and they will be deciding climate change lawsuits.
Personally, I wouldn't give the pope so much as an attosecond before or after the BB did its thing. Neither god nor the pope who alleges to represent said god have demonstrated any credibility or even facility in a field Vatican City would probably just as soon see vanish from science (like that's going to happen!). Boil it down, they still want to insist that "goddidit" ... and we're not having any.
Oh, and for those who are curious one attosecond is equal to 1 x 10-18 seconds.
My "Reply" button isn't working again. So, I just want to clarify my take on things. I have found that arguing is a waste of time, energy, and breath. I do believe, and I mean this with my whole heart, it is absolutely important to get my thoughts into the ether. If I fail to do so, others think my silence is agreement. I have no interest in winning; I am interested in speaking my truth. Others may take offense at my words, may want to argue with me, may end our relationship. All that doesn't matter.
The same goes for others; I expect you to state your position, as clearly as you can. If others cannot hear my words, and I cannot hear the other's words, nothing is gained. I want and need to hear what you say, just as much as I want to say what I think.
Agnostic, atheist, anti-theist, theist, gnostic. Words; just words. It is what we do with words that matter.
Well, I think this is just reaching a bit...what you're saying is like if someone said "What happens on Mars when no one is looking is unknowable.", and then you say "Then how do you know that it's unknowable?" We know it's unknowable because we understand our own limitations.
Agnosticism and agnostics characterize God as unknowable, ineffable, incomprehensible to all attempts to understand him.
There may be agnostics who make such characterizations, but that is far from the essence of agnosticism, which merely asserts a personal lack of knowledge of God. It is not fair to say that agnostics claim to know that God is ineffable. Like Huxley, most only say they have no personal knowledge of God, particular attributes ascribed to him, or other theological claims.
Further, it is unfair to attribute this notion to agnostics primarily since claims of God's ineffability were raised by Christian theologians long before Huxley defined agnosticism and constitute the so-called via negativa or apophatic tradition in theology. Dionysius the Areopagite and Saint Thomas made ineffability a major theme in their writing and Pascal did as well.
These issues aside, is it logically possible to know that anything is unknowable? The answer is yes, as illustrated by the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics which says that you cannot know precisely the position and momentum of a particle. Since this is a mathematical theorem, not an experimental result, it is as well justified as anything claiming to be knowledge.