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
position?

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?

Views: 916

Replies to This Discussion

"You wrote, "Every new claim that is made requires proof and without proof it's just wrong." I got it!"

So, do you think that CERN should stop looking for the Higg's Bosun as well? They didn't find it yet, is this proof that it doesn't exist?


Joan, treating positions, propositions and epistemological heuristics as "labels" is just a deflection. I've been arguing a position, not a label.

"Not that I care for labels"

It's not a label alone, it's a specific position on a single data point.

"Without evidence there is no good reason to believe a claim…"

So, you don't believe in quantum foam? 

"In fact to say  you are agnostic atheist you have to admit that anything is possible but you don't believe it's probable."

Actually no, an agnostic does not think, "anything is possible", an agnostic merely requires evidence of a claim. It's really that simple.

You make a claim, I ask for evidence, …as an agnostic. Faith, …does not count as evidence.

"Physics ensures that 'anything' cannot happen"

Incorrect, in fact, quantum mechanics states that; "anything that is possible is mandatory" This is why absence of matter and energy, or "nothing" is inherently unstable, see: Susskind, Krauss, et al.

"The probability that it will happen is so small that it would take more than your lifetime to write out the zeros behind the decimal point. This business of treating any claim as possible is a ludicrous waste of time and energy."

You should tell the people at CERN this.

"Trying to avoid burden of proof is not necessary."

Burden of proof is explicit in affirmative claims whether positive or contra-positive, this is a fact of both science and philosophical epistemic logic.

"Every new claim that is made requires proof and without proof it's just wrong."

That's not how science works, do you suggest that science re-write its methodology?

"Wrong ideas do not need the suckling of your agnostic ways. So how do you feel about the hypnoturtles? You know, the invisible giant turtles that walk behind each human and are ridden by the human soul which holds the reins to the human body it controls. Are you agnostic atheist about that too?"

How do I feel? or think? …answer's the same nevertheless, it's a non sequitur.

I can see this is going to be an interesting discussion and I expect to be mentally challenged and probably find out a whole lot about chaos. I appreciate you guys, I'm trying to understand, and hoping to get clear on differences between my thinking and mimicking.  

Dear Richard ∑wald

Labels are misused as often as they are used correctly. The word dumbass is a label too.
The validity of a label is directly proportional to context of it's use. I don't care much for them in a discussion where there are so many labels you can't tell what anyone means by them, and you spend so much time explaining them instead of communicating ideas.

==So, you don't believe in quantum foam? ==
There is more reason to believe in quantum mechanics than in gods. You misunderstood. I used the words 'good reason' and there is good reason to think there may be something to this quantum mechanics stuff. A lot of them in fact.

==Actually no, an agnostic does not think, "anything is possible", an agnostic merely requires evidence of a claim. It's really that simple.==
Well, lets think about that first atheist then. Neanderthal #1 asks #2 where that light in the sky comes from. #2 says it's a god. #1 says what's a god. #2 makes up some crap story. #1 says 'mastadonshit, I don't believe you'. There weren't any actual bulls back then. But this first atheist is not required to prove gods do not exist. Neither am I. Arguing that you can't know is a valid position is a cop out, to be cheap with the explanations.

On that label you like so much: Finally, ""in 1889 Huxley had three articles published in The Nineteenth Century that included "Agnosticism" in their titles. These articles were "Agnosticism" in February, "Agnosticism: A Rejoinder" in April, and "Agnosticism and Christianity" in June. In these articles he described rather completely what he had in mind by the use of agnostic and agnosticism as a method and not a creed. The ways that he used the terms himself were quite different from most of the ways that these terms have come to be used."'
from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/reason/agnosticism/agnostic....

==Incorrect, in fact, quantum mechanics states that; "anything that is possible is mandatory" This is why absence of matter and energy, or "nothing" is inherently unstable, see: Susskind, Krauss, et al.==
There is more than one side on that coin. They do not say that any old thing is possible, only that what is possible is necessary and mandatory. That is, the universe is how it is because the very nature of space and energy demand it be this way. No gods needed, reducing the arguments for god by many factors in one sentence... thank you Mr Hawking.

==You should tell the people at CERN this.==
Again you seem to demonstrate a wilfulness to misquote or misunderstand. CERN is not looking for a violation of the physical world, just a very VERY small part that is hard to see. The math says there should be something there so they are looking to verify the math on which many other things depend. It is no violation at all. Why do you reference scientists if you want then to mis-characterize them?

On the burden of proof - see the little anecdote about the first atheist above.

==That's not how science works, do you suggest that science re-write its methodology?==
Guess you're feeling a bit froggy? A claim of knowledge without proof is not how science works. Did you graduate from Catholic school?
In science the hypothesis is based on observation of the natural world and then that hypothesis is tested to determine the facts or truth of the hypothesis. A claim of truth without evidence is simply wrong.

Please learn how to cite properly here, it's as easy as clicking a button or if you prefer; this. As well it's a simple courtesy to those having to read.

"Labels are misused…"

Indeed.

I'm not discussing labels but positions on two separate and distinct dichotomies.

"Well, lets think about that first atheist then. Neanderthal #1 asks #2 where that light in the sky comes from. #2 says it's a god. #1 says what's a god. #2 makes up some crap story. #1 says 'mastadonshit, I don't believe you'. There weren't any actual bulls back then. But this first atheist is not required to prove gods do not exist. Neither am I. Arguing that you can't know is a valid position is a cop out, to be cheap with the explanations."

Nice creation myth there, but you are side-stepping an important point. You are asserting a claim without evidence for the claim's validity, …not me. TO claim a 100% absolute certainty without 100% absolute evidence requires faith, …I don't trust faith, nor do I consider it proof.

I'm not arguing that you can't know, but more to the point; that you don't know something you're claiming as an absolute certainty.

You're right about atheism, as it is a non-belief, as opposed to a contra-positive claim, it doesn't require any explanation. I've been an atheist for all of my 50 (in 4 days) years, the only justification I need for my non-belief is that I've never believed that which doesn't merit belief. No 100% certain evidence needed.

"On that label you like so much:..."

I'm not the one insisting it's a label, …nice cherry picking though, did you actually find anything that contradicts Huxley's definition of the word, he himself coined? If you did, you should have cited it. The creationists also tries to play that little trick with the word "theory", it fools many, but only fools.

"A claim of knowledge without proof is not how science works."

Is not what I claimed, do scroll up and see what I was responding to, oh, never mind, here it is:

"Every new claim that is made requires proof and without proof it's just wrong."

This isn't how science works. Science is a self-correcting method, what can be proved can be later disproved, or refined; dependent upon new knowledge.

And no, I don't have any playground taunts to add, I'll let you have that toy to play with.

Dear Richard ∑wald

We're out of reply links?

==Please learn how to cite properly here, it's as easy as clicking a button or if you prefer; this. As well it's a simple courtesy to those having to read.

"Labels are misused…"
Indeed.
I'm not discussing labels but positions on two separate and distinct dichotomies.==
Agnostic atheist is a label, nothing more. Without context is means nothing. A label can be shorthand for a longer description, and that works when all parties know the longer description well. You asked for a label and I gave you a description. Gnosis is Greek for knowledge and a gnostic is one who has knowledge. To deal more directly then, yes I know that gods do not exist. We've been asking for proof for thousands of years and none has been given for this outlandish claim. NONE. I am safe to say that gods do not exist for I have not one credible reason to think that they do just as I have no credible reason to think that invisible pink unicorns exist despite the claims by some that they do. Knowledge can be found both in the presence of evidence and in the lack of evidence. I know I don't believe in gods because in thousands of years of positive claims there has never been any credible evidence for the existence of gods. I want to live with the truth and the truth here is that despite all those who claim to know a god, not one of them has any proof. This is not evidence for a god, but just one more evidence that humans are easily confused and mislead.

==        "Well, lets think about that first atheist then. Neanderthal #1 asks #2 where that light in the sky comes from. #2 says it's a god. #1 says what's a god. #2 makes up some crap story. #1 says 'mastadonshit, I don't believe you'. There weren't any actual bulls back then. But this first atheist is not required to prove gods do not exist. Neither am I. Arguing that you can't know is a valid position is a cop out, to be cheap with the explanations."

    Nice creation myth there, but you are side-stepping an important point. You are asserting a claim without evidence for the claim's validity, …not me. TO claim a 100% absolute certainty without 100% absolute evidence requires faith, …I don't trust faith, nor do I consider it proof.==
    
I am not asserting a claim  without evidence. Seriously, you need to think about this a minute and get with the program. I'm saying that there is no evidence for the claim that gods exist so there is not one good reason to believe such claims. On that I fall back to the position I was born with - there are no gods. Until someone has proof that there are I will continue to tell you and anyone else that there are NO gods. I know this because not one person has been able to provide proof or even convincing evidence of such a being. It's just myth and superstition and apes being stupid. Pay no attention to their claims... they have no proof.

==    I'm not arguing that you can't know, but more to the point; that you don't know something you're claiming as an absolute certainty.==
You still are not seeing the point. I'm not claiming anything. I refute the claim that gods exist because there is no evidence. Absolute certainty is not needed. Imagine that first atheist was from Missouri and said "show me". We're still waiting for that evidence and proof. I do not believe gods do not exist. It is not a claim. I'm simply calling bullshit on the claims that god does... and more on point, on those that won't get on one side or the other of that fence. Agnostic = 'maybe there is a god that is throwing fire from the sky because it is angry' where agnostic is the common day definition. Epistemology does not help you pay your rent. When you claim that I'm wrong because I can't know there are no gods you are completely missing the point. There is no evidence for gods so I maintain the position that I was born with - there are no gods, and such thoughts are lunacy.

==    You're right about atheism, as it is a non-belief, as opposed to a contra-positive claim, it doesn't require any explanation. I've been an atheist for all of my 50 (in 4 days) years, the only justification I need for my non-belief is that I've never believed that which doesn't merit belief. No 100% certain evidence needed.==
The problem with epistemological argument is this: You can't know that the fence in your back yard is there so you can spend all day checking to see that it is. You also can't know that what you see is actually the fence you are worried about, so you are wasting your time checking for it. While you cannot be 100% certain that your fence is in the back yard you sill manage to feel safe that your pet is not wandering around the neighbourhood lost. We have to draw a line in the sand somewhere to avoid infinite regression. Even if I can't know that gods do not exist with absolute certainty, I know it with all the certainty that is possible for me to have. I cannot be more certain than this, no one can. If someone brings their god to my house to demonstrate the breathing life into mud trick, I'll have evidence and will change my mind. Until then I am as certain as it is possible to be that there are no gods. Just as certain as I am that there are no invisible pink unicorns or butt-gnomes. I don't have an invisible pink unicorn detector nor have I checked all the butts in the world for gnomes, but I'm certain that they do not exist either. Please explain why I should reserve my conclusions on these things?

==        "On that label you like so much:..."
    I'm not the one insisting it's a label, …nice cherry picking though, did you actually find anything that contradicts Huxley's definition of the word, he himself coined? If you did, you should have cited it. The creationists also tries to play that little trick with the word "theory", it fools many, but only fools.==
    
Uhmmm "It's not a label alone, it's a specific position on a single data point." where Huxley said it was a method, not a creed or position. Its about epistemology, not common belief. Again, epistemology will not pay your rent.


==    "A claim of knowledge without proof is not how science works."
    Is not what I claimed, do scroll up and see what I was responding to, oh, never mind, here it is:
        "Every new claim that is made requires proof and without proof it's just wrong."
    This isn't how science works. Science is a self-correcting method, what can be proved can be later disproved, or refined; dependent upon new knowledge.==
Uhm, I don't even understand what you are disagreeing with. If something can later be disproved, it was wrong... right? Now you're getting us off in the weeds of how existence is subjective... what is right today is wrong tomorrow, or wrong depending on your point of view. sigh. If it was proved right then proved wrong the testers were not working hard enough. If it does not have proof it is wrong/not truth/not fact/anecdotal/subjective. The epistemological argument fails pragmatically. You cannot even know that  you are talking to another human in these exchanges. You can't know anything with 100% reliability but that does not help you pay the rent or feed your kids. We have to draw a line in the sand and say that this or that is good enough to work. The NASA space program had a lot of things that they did not know for certain, but they drew a line and said we go ahead anyway. Epistemology can freeze you with indecision. It is useless in most situations. My anti-theistic position is not based on epistemological argument. I base it on the fact that the claim of gods has never had any credible evidence and all religions have harmed the world in one or more ways. They are no better than non-belief and on most days harmful to society at large.
The hypothesis that there are invisible pink unicorns has neither proof nor disproof. If you wish to say that you can't know that they don't exist... well that is your issue. On my side of the fence you look no different than those that claim a god can exist. Yes, get off the fence unless you want to argue with the police officer whether you can really know if that was a stop sign that you drove through.

    And no, I don't have any playground taunts to add, I'll let you have that toy to play with.

If you make no effort to post in a readable fashion, it's not even worth the time to respond, save for one glaring contradiction that you seem to not realize is the crux of the matter.

"I am not asserting a claim without evidence."

No?

"there are no gods."

This is a claim you've yet to give evidence for.

Why not?

And please, let's not rebuild that straw man non sequitur about me saying there are gods, or saying that it's possible there are gods, or leaving room for the possibility of gods, or any of that sort of baseless prevarication. Because I haven't.

That straw man is old, tired and worn out, and anybody with an ounce of intelligence and a grasp of the dialectic can see it for what it is, utter bullshit.

So, the ball's in your court, let's see the evidence that goes with your claim.

Dear Richard ∑wald

==    If you make no effort to post in a readable fashion, it's not even worth the time to respond==
Of course, if I don't respond as you think proper my argument is wrong.. right?

==save for one glaring contradiction that you seem to not realize is the crux of the matter.==
        "I am not asserting a claim without evidence."
    No?
        "there are no gods."
    This is a claim you've yet to give evidence for.==
Apparently you have not read my posts. Read them. Evidence is not required to not believe a claim. Your argument here is that just because someone claims something I must disprove it before I say I do not believe. BULLSHIT! You are starting to sound like a theist.

==    Why not?==
Because I do not have to believe every fucking thing that anyone says. There is no reason that I should believe anything that is said without good reason and evidence. This chicken and egg thing you are arguing is stupid. Someone first said there is a god, I'm still waiting for evidence or proof. I don't have to prove a negative to not believe and be certain of my understanding. Show me evidence and I will change my thoughts.

==    And please, let's not rebuild that straw man non sequitur about me saying there are gods, or saying that it's possible there are gods, or leaving room for the possibility of gods, or any of that sort of baseless prevarication. Because I haven't.
    That straw man is old, tired and worn out, and anybody with an ounce of intelligence and a grasp of the dialectic can see it for what it is, utter bullshit.
    So, the ball's in your court, let's see the evidence that goes with your claim.==
    
You did not bother to answer my points because you apparently think them not worthy of your time. You did not defend or support your argument. All you have done is say I'm wrong because I have not argued in the manner you think correct. You offer nothing. You are no different than a theist, despite your protestations. I made salient points which you did not answer. You insult me by telling me they are not worthy of your time. hmmm and people call me arrogant? You have insinuated that I am unintelligent yet you fail to defend your position. If explaining and defending world view is not worth your time is your world view worth anything? Answer my points and questions. We cannot excahange ideas if you refuse to participate.



"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.

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.

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