Agnosticism

Justin_Anstey

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Jul 30, 2001
Messages
634
Likes
3
Points
49
#1
I would like to describe myself as a Fortean but I think I am too stupid, lazy and my interest too casual. It, it seems, is quite a demanding discipline. How about describing myself as an agnostic?...

agnostic n.
1. a person who holds that knowledge of a Supreme Being, ultimate cause, etc., is impossible.
2. A person who claims, with respect to any particular question, that the answer cannot be known with certainty... [C19: coined 1869 by T. H. Huxley]
-Collins Concise Dictionary.

Do I detect a bit of conflict between those two definitions? Either knowledge of a Supreme Being, ultimate cause, etc., is known with certainty to be impossible or the answer to that particular question cannot be known with certainty, which is it?

-J
 

harlequin2005

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Aug 3, 2001
Messages
824
Likes
9
Points
49
#2
1. a person who holds that knowledge of a Supreme Being, ultimate cause, etc., is impossible.
This sounds like an Athiest to me.

Etmologically - Agnostic literally means 'not knowing'



8¬)
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,243
Likes
8,974
Points
284
#3
I agree with Harlequin (and Huxley) on the definition of agnostic. I think that covers Fortean pretty well too, since I don't think most people would regard it as a particularly demanding discipline! (Not many Uni courses in it!)

My dick'n'harry gives
Agnostic: One who disclaims any knowledge of God or of anything but material phenomena.

Atheist: One who disbelieves the existence of God.

Not a lot of difference there!

I'm not sure either how anyone can believe in 'material phenomena' only, when modern science is largely based on non-material wave phenomena. How would a radio work if it could not detect e/m waves? I think atheists are in a logical bind too, since denying the existence of something is in itself a belief that cannot be proven, and therefore as irrational as an unproven belief that god DOES exist (if you follow me!).

No, Fortean (or agnostic) is the way to go - I don't know something for sure today, but maybe I will tomorrow or next year. In the meantime it doesn't bother me.
 

harlequin2005

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Aug 3, 2001
Messages
824
Likes
9
Points
49
#4
I concur, athieism and theism both tend to be acts of faith, since there is no emipirical evidence either way

8¬)
 

hachihyaku

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Sep 23, 2001
Messages
183
Likes
2
Points
49
#5
Atheism is not a leap of faith. We are all born atheist, we learn the god ideas from others.

An agnostic contends that even if a God existed, he/she would be impossible to comprehend.

A weak atheist lacks a god belief.

A strong atheist contends that there are no gods.
There are differences between the above.

I am a strong atheist, since I believe I can prove that an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God is a logical absurdity.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#6
I would suggest that the difference between a fortean and an agnostic is that while am agnostic is unswayable in their choice, and sees no relavance in organised religion, a fortean is still interested and will seek out any information of, uh, interest...

Us Forteans, we just like poking our noses in! :D
 

harlequin2005

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Aug 3, 2001
Messages
824
Likes
9
Points
49
#7
Hachihyaku,
I beg to differ...

we are born a-gnostic about all things... language, bladder control, walking, religion... We are not born a-language a-bladder control, a-walking or a-thieist, since we don't know enough to hold an opinion.

I'm pleased you have some good solid logical proof. No insult is menat by that, simply that I am happy someone, somewhere is sure

8¬)
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,243
Likes
8,974
Points
284
#8
hachihyaku said:
......since I believe I can prove that an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God is a logical absurdity.
I tend to agree with that, but most humans would accept as (a) god a being that had suoer-human knowledge, power, and wisdom (e.g. a super advanced alien).

Would your atheism disbelieve the possibility of such a being? If you are only concerned with logical paradoxes, set up unknowingly by priests in less mathematically advanced times, I suggest you are just setting up straw men to knock down.

Having said that, an old science fiction novel called (I think) The Star Maker, by Olaf Stapledon, is still well worth reading since it explores philosophical ideas not much delved into now. A more modern science book called The Physics of Immortality by Frank J Tipler also explores regions where science seems to blend into (or at least overlap with) religion.

The fun of being a Fortean is that you feel free to delve into all points of view without getting committed to one idea, and hence constrained in ones beliefs.
 

hachihyaku

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Sep 23, 2001
Messages
183
Likes
2
Points
49
#9
rynner said:
I tend to agree with that, but most humans would accept as (a) god a being that had suoer-human knowledge, power, and wisdom (e.g. a super advanced alien).

Would your atheism disbelieve the possibility of such a being?
No, but that's not really a god, is it? In that sense, we're all gods, compared to Fred Flintstone. (Well maybe not Fred, since he DID have a car and telephone and stuff. But his uncle, maybe. ^_^ )
 

carole

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 1, 2001
Messages
2,306
Likes
58
Points
79
#10
hachihyaku said:
An agnostic contends that even if a God existed, he/she would be impossible to comprehend.
But if God, the Supreme Being, Allah, Jahweh, whatever, is of infinite wisdom, etc, it follows that we cannot fully comprehend the idea with our finite minds?

Carole
 

carole

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 1, 2001
Messages
2,306
Likes
58
Points
79
#11
hachihyaku said:
I am a strong atheist, since I believe I can prove that an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God is a logical absurdity.
Go ahead!
 

hachihyaku

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Sep 23, 2001
Messages
183
Likes
2
Points
49
#13
carole said:
Go ahead!

1. Does God know firsthand what it's like to fail?
2. Does God know firsthand what it's like to give in to temptation?
3. You see a horrible car wreck. The driver is unconscious and if you don't open the door and let him out he will die. Opening the door would be the easiest thing in the world for you; in fact, it would take a conscious effort on your part NOT to open the door, in effect letting this person die. Do you open the door?
4. Does God know the day of your death? Even if you kill yourself? What if you change your mind?
 

carole

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Aug 1, 2001
Messages
2,306
Likes
58
Points
79
#14
hachihyaku said:
1. Does God know firsthand what it's like to fail?
2. Does God know firsthand what it's like to give in to temptation?
3. You see a horrible car wreck. The driver is unconscious and if you don't open the door and let him out he will die. Opening the door would be the easiest thing in the world for you; in fact, it would take a conscious effort on your part NOT to open the door, in effect letting this person die. Do you open the door?
4. Does God know the day of your death? Even if you kill yourself? What if you change your mind?
Sorry, but I don't see how these prove the non-existence of a god, especially point 3. And point 4, if God is omiscient, presumably he/she does know the date of your death, but why should he/she tell you??

Carole
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#15
hachihyaku said:
1. Does God know firsthand what it's like to fail?
2. Does God know firsthand what it's like to give in to temptation?
3. You see a horrible car wreck. The driver is unconscious and if you don't open the door and let him out he will die. Opening the door would be the easiest thing in the world for you; in fact, it would take a conscious effort on your part NOT to open the door, in effect letting this person die. Do you open the door?
4. Does God know the day of your death? Even if you kill yourself? What if you change your mind?
According to judeo/christian doctrine the answers would be:

1. yes
2. yes

(god is omniscient. even though he has never failed, he knows and experiences the lives of people who have)

3. what's this got to do with god?

4. yes. yes. and yes.

I have a more damning argument:

God gave man free will. But he has also appeared to humans and given commandments. In the face of this, the people involved had no real choice. Or: every time god intervenes, he removes Free Will which he bestowed -> god cannot contradict himself (being omni-everything), hence even if he once existed, he is now obsolete.

This is a fairly crudely put, but have a ponder and tell me what you think.
 

hachihyaku

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Sep 23, 2001
Messages
183
Likes
2
Points
49
#16
DanJW said:
According to judeo/christian doctrine the answers would be:

1. yes
2. yes

(god is omniscient. even though he has never failed, he knows and experiences the lives of people who have)

3. what's this got to do with god?

4. yes. yes. and yes.
1 and 2 I mean firsthand, only. I know what it's LIKE to have a baby, but being a man I have no way of every experiencing it to say I KNOW it. If God has never failed, personally, he doesn't know what it's like. I do, making one thing I know more than God.
The same argument for 2, and omnibenevolence. A truly all-good being could not give in to temptation.

For 3, God lets millions of people every day go to Hell, even though their going to hell is the worst possible thing that could happen to them. Meaning either he can't do anything about it, or he doesn't care. Both options contradict omnipotence and omnibenevolence respectively.

If God knows the day I'm going to die, I have no real choice in the matter, do I? His not telling me doesn't mean I have a choice.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#17
I find it amusing that we humans believe we can dictate to God who or what He is and the manner in which He should behave. If it doesn't fit in with our blinkered view of things, well, it must not exist.

I also think the idea of a God that expects things from us is off-putting to a good amount of people. The Judeo-Christian tradition seems so archaic in a world such as our own, where convenience is regarded higher than duty. I suppose the concept of God offends the egos of some, as well, in that He is portrayed in an exacting light.

We want salvation without strings attached, and if this demand isn't met, we throw a metaphysical tantrum. It's not enough to receive an invitation to the party, so to speak; we want the party to be in our honor.
 

harlequin2005

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Aug 3, 2001
Messages
824
Likes
9
Points
49
#18
Posted by Carole:- And point 4, if God is omiscient, presumably he/she does know the date of your death, but why should he/she tell you??
This nods in the direction of the problem I have with an oniniscient, possibly omnipotent, God;why shouldhe/she care what we do, who we sleep with, when we die etcetera? On the scale that creation seems to be, we are not that big. Also, if he/she is omniscient, then he/she should know that he/she a good job with creation, without having to be praised 4 times a day/once a week/pick a frequency. Unless, I'm missing the point here and we have something which is all-knowing, all-powerful with a little-bitty ego and very slightly neurotic.

Its all a little bit human to my taste.


8¬)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#19
Remember Genesis. "And he created the sun and saw that it was good. And he created the waters and saw that it was good." Or something like that. Seems he is a bit insecure.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#20
hachihyaku said:
1 and 2 I mean firsthand, only. I know what it's LIKE to have a baby, but being a man I have no way of every experiencing it to say I KNOW it. If God has never failed, personally, he doesn't know what it's like.
Again, according to the current Judeo/Christian view, god is everything. That includes you. Therefore if you have failed, so has he.

But I do agree totally with your third point. Even if the J/C god exists, I disagree with his policies. Saying I'll go to hell for this is just bullying. But I don't mind, all the best people wil be in hell anyway, it'll be a ball!


Originally posted by TorgosPizza

I find it amusing that we humans believe we can dictate to God who or what He is and the manner in which He should behave. If it doesn't fit in with our blinkered view of things, well, it must not exist.


Apparently God made us in his image. We should be fairly similar in mindset. And then there's the whole apple dabacle, which gave humans knowledge (possibly l"ike that of God"), especially "of good and evil". So God designed us to understand him to some degree.

Was just thinking about God's ultimate plan in view of all this debate.... To allegedly quote Leonardo De Vinci: "it is a poor student who does not suppass his teacher"!
 

mikelegs

Ephemeral Spectre
Joined
Jul 31, 2001
Messages
364
Likes
23
Points
49
#21
First, if a god could create the universe and man and give him free will, he could also give man the wisdom and power to always choose the best, or one of the best choices.

Second, about agnosticism and forteanea. I don't think it's wrong to be absolutely certain about any given thing. As long as no evidence contradicts your belief, you SHOULD belive it.. otherwise how could you live? The problem is that you're almost certaily wrong and some day there will be some experience, or datum, or something that does contradict. Then you must re-assess your certainties and establish new ones which account for the former contradiction. This is how progress is made. Throw out or ignore the contradiction because of attachment to your belief, and you have thrown out a chance to improve not only yourself, but humanity as a whole.

Religion, too often, is the belief that is so attached to impede advancement. But science becomes the same way to many people, which is an intrinsic contradiction. Now my mind is spinning, so I'll go away.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#23
Originally posted by DanJW


Again, according to the current Judeo/Christian view, god is everything. That includes you. Therefore if you have failed, so has he.

But I do agree totally with your third point. Even if the J/C god exists, I disagree with his policies. Saying I'll go to hell for this is just bullying. But I don't mind, all the best people wil be in hell anyway, it'll be a ball!


Dan, I've never seen the Judeo/Christian view at all to represent God as "everything." On the contrary, I think it's evident that He's distinctly apart from Creation, being the Creator. It's a bit like saying that (I'm grasping for an analogy) Nick Hornby is Fever Pitch, if you get my meaning.

Not to sound like a jerk towards you personally, but your last bit about His expectations of humanity being "bullying" sort of underscored everything I said about atheism being a metahysical tantrum of sorts. I also think you're joking about Hell being a ball, or at least I hope. Just think about the tenants of Hell: do you really want to spend eternity with Carrot Top? Because he is evil.
 

greenrd

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Aug 18, 2001
Messages
104
Likes
0
Points
47
#24
Atheism, a metaphysical tantrum? Hardly. Why is the disbelief in some book of legends and half-truths (the Bible) considered a tantrum, but the disbelief in the Tooth Fairy is not? And moreover disbelieving the Koran, the Hindu holy books etc. etc. is perfecly okay? It's only when you disbelieve in Christianity that you become a childish tantrum-thrower?

Most religious people believe in one religion to the exclusion of all others. Thus we are all atheists with respect to all the religions we don't agree with.

I don't believe in God for the same reason I don't believe in invisible pink silent elephants - no evidence, and no reason to. In fact, there are a lot of reasons not to believe in God:

1) If God is good, why did he create a world filled with so much suffering? Unlike some people I am prepared to use my brain and not simply switch it off when difficult questions come up.

2) As previously mentioned, omnipotence conflicts with omniscience, etc.

3) The idea that merely converting to Christianity absolves you of all sins - and the statement in the Bible that unChristians will be damned - is to me absolutely morally abhorrent. If the God of the Bible exists (which of course he doesn't), he is evil in my eyes and I would rather spit on him than worship him.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#25
TorgosPizza said:
about His expectations of humanity being "bullying" sort of underscored everything I said about atheism being a metahysical tantrum of sorts
In respect to atheism you said "We want salvation without strings attached, and if this demand isn't met, we throw a metaphysical tantrum"

I don't want salvation. Salvation from what? I'm not demanding anything at all from God, what I object to is the idea that my lack of wanting could land me in Hell.

And yes I was mostly joking about Hell. Depending on who you believe, it's eternally burning alive or an end to personal existence, both leaving a lot to be desired. But I'm not about to worship a god out of fear.

Also: Those who reach heaven will probably have loved ones who end up in Hell. Can you experience the perfect happiness of paradise while knowing that your comrades are experiencing perfect pain?

Anyway, apologies to anyone I have annoyed during the course of this discussion. Please note I am not opposed to Judeism or Christianity, or any religion at all. I merely get carried away trying to put forward various possible arguments, and have a soft spot for the underdog (who, after 1500 years of christian rule, I here feel to be the atheists).

I'll finish with some words of true wisdom:

Be excellent to one another
-The Most Righteous Bill and Ted
 

intaglio

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Oct 14, 2001
Messages
1,592
Likes
21
Points
69
#26
Just hold on here a second.:mad:
Why is it that the deism/agnosticism/atheism argument always revolves around the Judeo-Christian god? There are other examples of Godhead, no more or less valid than that. Oh, and using biblical quotations to support the argument on either side is rather stupid. The bible was constructed by men at the Council of Nicea and has been ammended thru numerous translations.

The three arguments can be summerised as follows,
Atheists believe that absence of evidence is evidence of absence - so most of them take various aspects of science on blind faith,
Deists believe faith is enough even if there is evidence to contradict that,
Agnostics say "I don't know" and have the courage to say so,

Forteans are thus similar to agnostics, but are not the same. They look at things which are reported and when someone says "It didn't happen" or "It was the will of God" or "It was the sun reflecting from ..." or even "It was really weird" replies "Oh, yeah?". Forteans can be any of the three denominations of believer but personally I find the "Unknown God" a better option. I
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#27
greenrd: I guess I'm suggesting atheism comes off like a metaphysical tantrum because we always hear "If God is love, why is there pain in the world? If He exists, this wouldn't happen" arguments, much like your own. And swear to you that as offensive as I'm sure I sound right now, it's not my intent in the least. The fact is, in the J/C view of free will, we humans make errors (read this as "pain," "war," or whatever you like); however, this does not automatically mean a perfect God doesn't exist. How else were we to be made, other than to learn and grow? This requires errors. I think it's much like the difference between owning a doll and having a child, in a way. Another thing I think is questionable here--and this is a trap both theists and atheists (and even agnostics) fall into--is that we're relying soley on our own definitions of concepts such as Perfection. Of course, we're sort of stuck with what we've got, aren't we?

DanJW: IIRC, you mentioned the 1,500 years of Christian rule. You know, if those years were dictated by tenets such as the one you included in your post (the one from Bill and Ted's:)), I honestly think this entire thread would be moot. If Christians came through with the goods their religion promised, the world would be a very different place. Also, we might ask--if I can paraphrase C.S. Lewis--how bad would it be if we never had those 1,500 years? I'm not sure of the answer, myself; still, food for thought on which our entire culture should chew. Understand I'm not trying to bicker, as much as ask questions with you.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#28
Two very good posts TorgosPizza and intaglio, I think I agreed with almost every word.

I realise that I havn't defined my own beliefs to you. This is because they are rather complicated and always changing, but I think I fit under the general heading of Agnostic (and Fortean obviously).

TorgosPizza: I understand your stance, re: asking questions not bickering, and I agree. That's why we come here is it not?:)

I too try not to say "you're wrong", but rather add something on top of what has been said. In fact I had already reached your conclusion about suffering being a necessary possibility if Free Will is to exist.

So: in answer to the statement about our own definitions of perfection not being sufficient...

this is true, but I guess I agree with the Gnostic thesis that it is possible for humans to in some cases grasp some divine concepts in entirety. Surely this is the basis of Prophets and seers from all religions and philosophies.

In conclusion, I think that philosophy is not a waste of time... perhaps we may discover something truly usefull, rather than merely feeding ourselves and collecting possessions until we die, whatever comes after.
 

intaglio

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Oct 14, 2001
Messages
1,592
Likes
21
Points
69
#29
:) Thanks DanJW

Heres a little thought experiment I once dreamt up

A mathematician publishes a proof of life after death, perhaps he was trying to find a logical basis for discussions on conciousness. The proof is a general one and says nothing about perception of the state or about other "life"forms that might be present.
1) What is your own response to that proof?
2) What effect on the world do you think that proof might have?
The first part of the experiment has little effect on me. What frightens me is the contemplation of the second part.
I.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#30
Yeah, Dan, I'm with you 100% on not taking arguments personally. I realise I often come off the wrong way in such discussions, as well; I shoot from the hip far too often, and that's not translated well on the Net. A few of my mates are agnostics, as well, and we have a fairly high amount of mutual respect for one another. Neither side proselytises to the other, yet we debate points. It's all about exploring.

Intaglio, that's a great question; yet, I'm not so certain it would make any difference. We all believe what we like, facts be damned. The reason I say that is that many atheists offer logical arguments for their cause, while theists offer their own. Both can't be correct. An interesting story: while in college, I had this old Ugandan philosophy prof that was brilliant. A friend of mine asked him why people believed in God since there was so much proof to the contrary, and the prof told us, "God exists; in fact, you can prove it with a formula." So, we're chomping at the bit, asking him how to prove it, and he just blew us off. "You're not smart enough to understand it." I'm sure he was right; still, I'd love to have that formula. :)
 
Top