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?
Some that insist on the term agnostic rather than atheist are willing to accept the "life force" argument, or personal experience without clarification or evidence. The vague concept of god sidesteps the need for hard proof and leaves room for fuzzy boundaries of reality.
I am surprised that people want rational, evidence based thinking for medical professionals (to receive helpful rather than harmful care), pilots and maintenance persons (so that the aircraft on which they are flying don't crash), banking and insurance (safety for their money and income stream...though that hasn't worked out so well lately), and more but are willing to accept irrational, non-evidence based thinking regarding god/creator/supreme being/life force and similar ideas. Sam Harris nicely addresses this in several of his books and articles, so I won't try to add anything.
Like many terms, "agnostic" is one often misappropriated by those who wish to obfuscate something in order to serve an agenda, other than that which the term actually serves. -> "do not pretend conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable."
The antithesis of "faith".
Madhukar, I will remember your words as they are much more eloquent than those I have used to say the same thing. Thanks.
Madhukar wrote, "Does the agnostic lack something that an atheist has? Or, does an atheist overstep a limit of sound judgment?'
For me, words like "agnostic" and "atheist", conjured up fear and doubt, even until this past week's discussions with so many people.
Asking myself, "Does god possibly exist?" my answer is clearly no; therefore fear and doubt have no reason for existing. By changing thoughts, feelings dissipated. This feels ... I can't find a better word than good.
"Asking myself, "Does god possibly exist?" my answer is clearly no; therefore fear and doubt have no reason for existing. By changing thoughts, feelings dissipated. This feels ... I can't find a better word than good."
Faith, is like that.
BTW, atheist and agnostic are not at all mutually exclusive positions, they are the only pair of the possible 4, that are logically tenable.
Ouch! Faith is like that. OK, what I want is ... it all comes back to belief and faith. What I want is ... I'm going to the garden to think about this.
Theist = Faith-based Belief + Burden of proof
Agnostic Theist = Faith-based Belief
Gnostic Theist = Faith-based belief + Burden of proof
Atheist = Non-belief
Agnostic Atheist = Non-belief
Gnostic Atheist = Faith-based non-belief + Burden of Proof
I am an atheist (a position, it isn't an identity), because of logic, reason and critical thinking. I will not abandon or loop-hole; logic, reason and critical thinking in order to: " ...pretend conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable."
If an atheist does not believe god exists and has no burden of proof
why does gnostic atheist have a burden?
Because a gnostic atheist believes there is evidence of no god?
Joan, you understand the issue. Either assertion, that there is / is not a god, requires evidence and can be disconfirmed in a variety of ways. Generally, questions which cannot be falsified should be restated or reframed into one or more questions about which a (null) hypothesis can be made, and experiments and investigations made to gain evidence which would confirm or disconfirm the null hypothesis. Predictions made on the basis of the idea can be further tests (as Joseph succinctly put it, a month or two ago) to confirm, modify, extend, or even disconfirm the original question, idea, hypothesis, etc. But going any farther, for any statement, is an act of faith. That's where the point about extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence comes in. If we're together in a windowless building (a shopping mall, for example) and I tell you that it is raining and that we should get out our umbrellas, you'd likely get out your umbrella because there really is not much cost to you if I'm wrong...you simply put your umbrella away. Whether I was acting on old info (it was raining when we arrived) or something changed (it was raining, but stopped before we reached the door) is unimportant. But if I tell you that the world will end in 2012, and that you should give me all of your money, you might want more evidence.
Greg, great example.
I watched Dawkins' debate with Archbishop Pell last night and I surely do miss Hitchens.
Monday 9 April, 2012.
A gnostic atheist thinks that there is definite evidence that there is no god. That puts them in the same camp as a gnostic theist. If they say there's evidence, they will be expected to produce it and submit it for scientific inquiry. For a scientific mind, agnosticism is the only way to go. There are things, like the sun going around the Earth, that we had observational evidence for. Then we came up with bigger and better ways of observing and found out that our previous observations were incorrect.
For me at least, the "agnostic" part of my atheist views have nothing to do with doubt. It has to do with having a logical margin of error that has to exist based on the fact I stated above. It is my opinion that knowledge is almost synonymous with fact. You can't say you "know" something if there isn't evidence to support it. If there isn't evidence you have to be willing to accept that you could be wrong. However, you can go outside and observe a threatening sky and say "It's gonna rain today". You know what the sky looks like when it rains, therefore, it's logical that you would think that. But you're not ALWAYS right. That's where the margin of error comes in. Science without a margin for error isn't science at all.