Since ancient times, India has known atheists, but I have not heard of any agnostic person tlll in recent past. The idea of
agnosticism seems to have come to India from the west. This word therefore puzzles me. A theist afirms that yes, there
is a god in whom he believes. An atheist says that no, there is no god. Both of these are firm statements and each
person making these has something to say that is specific. However, the statement that "There is probably no god "
sounds hollow. It is as good as saying "There is probably some god." In either case, someone who says this, does not
appear to have much to say. If you have a 10% doubt that god may exist, you are an agnostic. It is the same if
you have 20% , 50% or 90% doubt. So where does agnosticism stand? Does it really mean anything? If an agnostic is
so much in un-resolvable doubt, should he declare himself as an agnostic, that is, a person not capable of resolving his
The usual excuse for such a doubt is that no one can be 100% sure of anything, but we are so sure of many things in life.
If we have doubt on any subject, we take pains to resolve our doubt. Is it so difficult to resolve a doubt on the existance
of god that it can never be resolved and so force a person to remain an agnostic for all his life? If this were so, there would
be no atheists in the world. Does the agnostic lack something that an atheist has? Or, does an atheist overstep a
limit of sound judgement?
"Of course, if I don't respond as you think proper my argument is wrong.. right?"
No, if you don't have the courtesy to even try to make things readable, it's too much of a PITA to wade through non-paragraphed blocks of you avoiding questions and building straw men.
Richard (below) has provided an excellent response but I'm surprised that you think there is any burden of proof placed upon Richard, upon me, and others who are not asserting anything. In the absence of evidence, we can act as if something doesn't exist and we can think for all practical purposes in daily life as if it doesn't, but we can't actually know if something does or does not exist in the absence of proof. And even that proof may be supplanted by more proof, so the best we can 'know' (as opposed to think quite likely) is what we can prove - for the rest, we must say that we don't know with certainty...no matter how many examples you posit. They are irrelevant.
Greg, I really like your comments! They help clarify questions for me. If the claim of god has no evidence that you, I, the rest of us can see, and if the burden of proof is on the one who makes the claims, then the "best one can know is what can be proved."
If I use the word, "energy", we cannot see nature's forces but we can see the effects, i.e. electricity - lightning and thunder, and it is the proof of claim of energy existing.
Using this analogy, if one believes in god, and cannot prove the claim, then we observe the claimant to see how they make decisions. Romney and Santorum come immediately to mind.
I just ran across this:
Born Again and Wealthy: The Science of Getting Rich for Born Again Christians [Kindle Edition]
Wallace D. Wattles (Author)
The religion of making money, ignoring poverty, hunger, ignorance, disease, homelessness.
myatheistlife, how interesting you have always felt this way. My experiences from as far back as I can remember is struggling with making sense out of chaos, mostly caused by faulty, no, sick religious practices. I like reading your description and when you poked fun at trying to label belief, it made me laugh and think that I really can give up the old ghosts that haunt me still.
"Dangerous ideas need to be treated as such, not as valid fodder for discussion."
Yes, I agree wholeheartedly and the sooner I rid myself of dangerous ideas, and replace them with being alive here and now, my painful memories can be left behind.
I liked the term anti-theist the first time I read it from Hitchens. Oh Jeeze! now I've gone too far, I shall surely pay a price ... well, you know how that turned out, there was no price to pay because there was nothing there to pay.
Your post is very welcome and I am pleased you participate with me/us.
I don't know if this is helpful. Trying to leave dangerous ideas behind is easier for me when I think of edge cases. It truly was the believers themselves that disabused me of any theistic life. At a very early age I could see that these believers were just as eff-ed up as everyone else, maybe more so. Clearly belief didn't help them in any meaningful or objective way. Belief then is just wasting time when you can better spend it doing something in the here and now. Mr Hitchens had some very good points yet even he failed to look at the question of gods from the beginning. He argued eloquently against apologists but still the question was never framed correctly. There is no point in arguing if the church is a force for good if their belief and value systems are based on myth, superstition, and misogyny... not to mention all the other crap they believe in. The original and IMO ONLY point of discussion is why does anyone believe in gods in the first place. What gives them this notion? What evidence do they have? The fact that people seem to want to believe is irrelevant mostly. 4 years olds 'want' to believe in santa clause.
There has never been proof for the very first claims of gods. There still is not any proof nor even good evidence. Children in China today can be shown a picture of 'tank man' and they will not know what it is about or why there are tanks in the square. In one generation an entire population has been beaten into changing their history. The holy texts are not evidence. So while many will argue about epistemology, I'm still waiting for the evidence/proof from the first claims of a god. Arguing from popularity is like saying Madoff must have been right, so many people believed him.
Belief in gods is absurd at every level. The power of positive thinking? Well, there is something to that, but no gods are needed. Much of common religious belief is Pavlovian slobbering. There are at least two effective ways to stop the slobbering: 1) quit ringing the effing bell 2) start hitting the dog with a stick after you ring the bell - soon the slobbering will stop.
I stopped listening to the bell and started observing the other dogs in the lab when the bell rang. It got much easier to deal with after that.
Doubt is a big topic for theists and many admit it is part of their faith. So in effect many theists are technically agnostic. Joseph's chart is very descriptive. I also like the below spectrum. We fall in varying degress of pretty darn close to the right side and Santorum is very very very close to the left end.
gnostic atheists = Does claim proof exists + Doesn't believe in god(s).
1) Some time before, Alice had posted a discussion on Indian atheism and in my last rely to that discussion, I had quoted the Nasadiya Sukta as the example of most ancient agnosticism. Nasadiya sukta is impersonal as it is not attributed to any person. Every atheist in India thereafter was a complete nonbeliever and not an agnstic.
2} It is understood that the difference between atheism and agnosticism is that of proof. Agnostics want a hard proof and therefore probably are not satisfied with the voluminous proof provided by atheists.
Jaen Paul Sartre says that god's existance has been disproved by science. Stephen Hawking says that starting from the big bang to tody's state of the universe, the universe did not need any god. That is, for 13.7 billion years, god did nothing to contribute to the formation of the universe. Apart from this, several brilliant atheists have also given logical proof for the non-existance of god. If this is not hard evidence, the agnostic must come forward and say why this is not satisfactory for him and what more he needs. I have not heard of any agnostic commenting on atheiststic proof to show that it is inadequate.
The common reasoning of an agnostic is that a) No one can be 100% sure about anything and b) He wants to retain an amount of doubt, in case there is some development in future. These reasons are without any foundaation and are irrational.
"It is understood that the difference between atheism and agnosticism is that of proof."
Incorrect; the main difference is:
"Agnostics want a hard proof …"
"the voluminous proof provided by atheists."
Okay, we'd all like to read the proof, there's probably a Nobel Prize in it for you if you can actually do it. (And, no …appeals to authority are not proof, they are logical fallacy).
"The common reasoning of an agnostic is that a) No one can be 100% sure about anything and b) He wants to retain an amount of doubt, in case there is some development in future. These reasons are without any foundaation and are irrational."
It's also a straw man argument.
A) is incorrect
B) is incorrect
The conclusion, …a non sequitur.
No such thing, if there was proof, there wouldn't be the need for a non-belief in, in the first place.
Here is the difference between believing in and knowing:
Nobody "believes in" evolution, it's an observable fact that can either be accepted or not, …belief/non-belief doesn't enter into to it.
There might be some semantic issues here that depend on the definition of god that is in use.
If you define god as a certain specific god of a given religion, then most people are going to be absolutely atheist. Even theists are relative atheists to other religions as Dawkins likes to point out.
If you define god, as is often done, as something nebulous such as love, or nature, or a life force that connects people to each other and their environment, then more people are willing to say okay, I might believe in something like that. Deists and agnostics can be in this category. With such a definition absolute proof is not required because the term is so vague.
"There might be some semantic issues"
Absolutely, "semantics" in all three of its branches, formal, lexical and contextual. The "god(s)" in question; the ones theists, deists, polytheists, etc; believe on the (+) side of the atheist (-) are creator/designer deities, either personal (moral agent) or not. As a semantic exclusion, "Eric Clapton is God" …does not apply.
So, as for your description, I believe Eric Clapton exists, I don't believe he's a God (not even metaphorical). This has nothing to do with atheism, agnosticism or theism rather; language.
"If you define god, as is often done, as something nebulous such as love, or nature, or a life force that connects people to each other and their environment, then more people are willing to say okay, I might believe in something like that."
See: Equivocation (semantic shift)
Also, if you are a rational skeptic, critical thinker as well as an atheist, "a life force that connects people to each other and their environment", you will insist on a clarification of what is meant by "force", …as force is measurable, there will be evidence of such a force if it actually exists.