Militant Agnosticism

stu neville

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#1
Following much discussion on the Militant Atheism thread, I've started another on the totally different animal that is Militant Agnosticism.

If, as quite a few of us accept, agnostic is the default setting of the Fortean, is it possible to be militant? Is it really possible to be actively agnostic (as opposed to passively agnostic - actively religious and actively atheist certainly exist.) I was an atheist but became an agnostic as atheism is a bit unFortean - you can't dismiss wholesale what you can't absolutely disprove, but you can deem it unlikely.

Come to that, is agnosticism really the Fort default (I think it is, but that doesn't mean I'm right.) Discuss.
 

rjmrjmrjm

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#2
From a theists point of view - I believe agnosticism does have it's mild and its strong forms. But being itself a 'middle way' it's extremities are hardly noticeable from it's core.

For a very general and not very sound definition:

Mild Agnosticism - "Oh shit, this could go wrong. 'God, if you exist, help me'."

Strong Agnosticism - "Oh shit, this could go wrong. 'Oh well, trust it to luck'."
 

jefflovestone

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#3
Interesting idea. I disagree with the idea of a militant agnosticism though and I think the idea of an agressive agnostic standpoint probably reflects the holder rather than the actual ideology (some people will start a fight over anything). I'm not sure how you can sit on a fence saying 'let's wait and see, we can't possibly know as yet' in a militant way though. I think the strength of an opinion isn't enough to qualify as militant, it's also the way the opinion is acted upon and I'm not sure how agnosticism can be acted on in a way that is defined as militant or aggressive.

It's also interesting that agnosticism is suggested as a default setting for Forteans. Maybe this would be useful on some kind of Venn diagram and a marker to distinguish between those who are Forteans and those interested in Fortean subjects as the two are obviously different kettles of fish (falls).
 

ghostdog19

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#4
stuneville said:
Come to that, is agnosticism really the Fort default (I think it is, but that doesn't mean I'm right.) Discuss.
Perhaps a 'compatible philosophy' might be a good way of looking at it as 'default' makes it sound like an 'exclusive' deal without considering other perfectly viable orientations.
 

stu neville

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#5
jefflovestone said:
Interesting idea. I disagree with the idea of a militant agnosticism though and I think the idea of an agressive agnostic standpoint probably reflects the holder rather than the actual ideology (some people will start a fight over anything). I'm not sure how you can sit on a fence saying 'let's wait and see, we can't possibly know as yet' in a militant way though. I think the strength of an opinion isn't enough to qualify as militant, it's also the way the opinion is acted upon and I'm not sure how agnosticism can be acted on in a way that is defined as militant or aggressive.
That's what I mean about Militant Agnosticism - can you be forcefully undecided? Passionately in two minds?
It's also interesting that agnosticism is suggested as a default setting for Forteans. Maybe this would be useful on some kind of Venn diagram and a marker to distinguish between those who are Forteans and those interested in Fortean subjects as the two are obviously different kettles of fish (falls).
Forteanism is a subjective thing to a degree. Many would describe themselves as Fortean, or having a Fortean outlook, while others describe this entire site as being utterly devoid of either Forteanism or Forteans (somewhat unhelpfully, they rarely clarify what they consider Forteanism or Forteans to actually be: the sneaking suspicion is they mean people who agree with them, or in a few cases are interested in pictures of cats.)
ghostdog19 said:
stuneville said:
Come to that, is agnosticism really the Fort default (I think it is, but that doesn't mean I'm right.) Discuss.
Perhaps a 'compatible philosophy' might be a good way of looking at it as 'default' makes it sound like an 'exclusive' deal without considering other perfectly viable orientations.
A very fair point. If you'll permit me to cross-post, we touched on this in the Creation vs Evolution thread: the exchange ran thus:
stuneville said:
ghostdog19 said:
stuneville said:
Forteanism is one of the very few disciplines that admits that sometimes it just doesn't know one way or the other, and at the same time doesn't compel anyone to have to make a choice either. It often merely acknowledges that some things just are, regardless of explanation.
would you say 'agnostic' is the default setting of a 'fortean'?
Good question. I think the two standpoints do have a good deal in common, yes, but an awful lot of Forteans nonetheless have faith in one area or another - most Forteans, for example, believe that aliens exist in some form or another (or many) but equally many are not at all convinced that they're flying about over Wiltshire: many, or most believe in the objective reality of some anomalous animals but not of all anomalous animals - though there is lots of disputed evidence of Bigfoot's existence, there is still no proof, so it becomes a faith issue.

A lot of people take the same tack with religion, or course. It comes back to accepting the essence of a message without having to dogmatically adhere to every word. Most faiths boil down to a message about being nice to other people and rubbing along together. You can practise that without having to buy all the bells and whistles - the ritual and allegory and barracking of other creeds is religion. Faith is about you.

So I'd say, yes, I think agnosticism, or a near analogue is a Fortean default. It's willingness to listen and a give a fair hearing, and even to accept an occurence, but to reserve the right to disbelieve a given explanation.

Things that you're liable
To read in the Bible
Ain't necessarily so.
So in that respect perhaps compatible philosophy and analogue are pretty much the same thing?

I should be watching Dr Who now. Both the TVs are being monopolised though... thank a higher intelligence whose theoretical existence I can tentatively accept but whose nature I reserve the right to question for Telewest Replay.
 

ghostdog19

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#6
stuneville said:
So in that respect perhaps compatible philosophy and analogue are pretty much the same thing?
On further thought, I think you're bob on, since agnosticism addresses God, Gods or deities, which would tick all my 'catch-all' boxes (my only concern, now quelled).
 

lupinwick

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#7
Hmmm,

Just thought of wandering round with a banner saying "I don't know and neither should you!" makes me laugh.
 

QuaziWashboard

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#8
lupinwick said:
Hmmm,

Just thought of wandering round with a banner saying "I don't know and neither should you!" makes me laugh.
On a t-shirt would be good, in lovely 'carved in stone' style gothic lettering . ;)
 

James_H

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#9
How about:
some agnostics are 'single, not looking', while some want religion but just don't know which one.
 

ghostdog19

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#10
lupinwick said:
Hmmm,

Just thought of wandering round with a banner saying "I don't know and neither should you!" makes me laugh.
It's "I don't know, and neither do you"
 

ghostdog19

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#11
H_James said:
How about:
some agnostics are 'single, not looking', while some want religion but just don't know which one.
"Just browsing" would be the 'catch-all' I think.
 
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#12
stuneville, atheism & a fortean mindset are not at all incompatible. The fortean mindset is a statement about open-mindedness, & the quest for truth & knowledge. I do not see how that contradicts atheism (unless you're thinking of apathetic & close-minded atheists, but, mind you, there are apathetic, close-minded agnostics, too).
I think the misconception is this: An agnostic, by defintion, concerns objective knowledge (a.k.a. fact) not subjective knowledge (a.k.a. faith). One can be both an agnostic and an atheist or theist; as agnosticism deals w/ what you know & theism/atheism deals w/ what you believe. Furthermore, one can be a fortean (skeptic & agnostic) as well as an atheist. For instance, I do not know (statement of agnosticism) whether gods, aliens, ghosts, insert-supernatural-phenomena-here exist. However, I do not believe (statement of atheism), given the current evidence (skepticism), that gods, aliens, ghosts, insert-supernatural-phenomena-here exist. I do not rule out these occurrences.
Additionally, it should be noted that the burden of proof is always on the claimant. It is not an atheist's duty to disprove anything. It is on the shoulders of the theist, alien enthusiast, Yeti chaser, etc. to prove the existence of said occurrence.

I can't say I've encountered any militant agnostics, but hell, anything can be taken to an obscene degree. I'll bet there are some fence sitters out there who are trying to get everyone else to denounce statement of belief.
 
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#13
Thats one of my disagreements with Dawkins. his teapot around Uranus story is actually used to diss agnostics.

I am however, an unapologetically militant agnostic. I'm off to burn a cross now. Err, no, that might portray the wrong image...
 

Mighty_Emperor

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#14
stuneville said:
jefflovestone said:
Interesting idea. I disagree with the idea of a militant agnosticism though and I think the idea of an agressive agnostic standpoint probably reflects the holder rather than the actual ideology (some people will start a fight over anything). I'm not sure how you can sit on a fence saying 'let's wait and see, we can't possibly know as yet' in a militant way though. I think the strength of an opinion isn't enough to qualify as militant, it's also the way the opinion is acted upon and I'm not sure how agnosticism can be acted on in a way that is defined as militant or aggressive.
That's what I mean about Militant Agnosticism - can you be forcefully undecided? Passionately in two minds?
Hell yeah!!

I don't believe and neither should you!!

The battle against belief starts here!!

Rather dead than decided.

There is only the fence.
 

crunchy5

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#19
ghostdog19 said:
Mighty_Emperor said:
There is only the fence.
hence why agnostics smell of creosote.
A little extra water proofing never hurt anyone, and you get a much better view from up on the fence, while all the blind believers scrabble about in the soil, arguing about who is right. :D
 

ghostdog19

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#20
Christians have their Ichthys, you also have the Darwin fish for them clever lot... it's about time there was a symbol more fitting the agnostic, and I think I've found it....



Look at him, he can't get enough of that creosote.
 
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#21
ghostdog19 said:
Christians have their Ichthys, you also have the Darwin fish for them clever lot... it's about time there was a symbol more fitting the agnostic, and I think I've found it....



Look at him, he can't get enough of that creosote.
Looks more like a cleric peering over a school playground wall.

You will find that plenty of Agnostics do not sit on the fence, they are quite prepared to expose the hypocrisy of various religions.
 

ghostdog19

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#22
ramonmercado said:
You will find that plenty of Agnostics do not sit on the fence, they are quite prepared to expose the hypocrisy of various religions.
Hence the image of someone peering over a fence rather than sitting on it.
 
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#23
ghostdog19 said:
ramonmercado said:
You will find that plenty of Agnostics do not sit on the fence, they are quite prepared to expose the hypocrisy of various religions.
Hence the image of someone peering over a fence rather than sitting on it.
Well, agnostics wouldn't just peer over the fence. They would metaphorically leap it and get stuck into the more fundamentalist of the religious types who want to impose Theocratic rule.

Heres an interesting piece from an "agnostic":

As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God.

On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.


Bertrand Russell

And lets not forget the Norse gods. Jehovah or Allah might not hide fake fossils to confuse people but Loki would. :twisted:
 

Kondoru

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#25
Probably of dragons....

(what do you mean, it has been done?)

Buddism could be described as Agnostic, particularly the more extreeme elements
 

crunchy5

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#26
From a bumper sticker, mentioned by Deepak Chopra.

Militant Agnostic: I Don’t Know and You Don’t Either.
 

stu neville

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#28
Grimly_Fiendish said:
stuneville, atheism & a fortean mindset are not at all incompatible...
excellent points, which I shall address when I'm all better (I believe on available evidence that I presently have an extremely heavy cold.)
 

Doctor_Occupant

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#29
It's going to be hard to get any kind of militancy going.

"Come on! We're marching against the general position that one must either believe or disbelieve!"
"Well...I'm not sure that I want to..."
"Ah. And as a militant agnostic, I have no basis to force you to. How long have you got to spare? Only, I have this interesting presentation that might persuade you of the validity of this standpoint."
"Gosh, that does sound interesting."

etc

Didn't the KLF also mention something about "The Religion of Doubt" at some point?
 

QuaziWashboard

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#30
ghostdog19 said:
ramonmercado said:
And lets not forget the Norse gods. Jehovah or Allah might not hide fake fossils to confuse people but Loki would. :twisted:
Nice. :)
So....purely from an 'investigation of motive' point of view, there is more supporting evidence for the existance of the Norse god of mischief than there is for any of the other gods? Infact, come to think of it if Loki was indeed running the whole show, that'd explain quite a few other things too, like why men have nipples, why a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen make water rather than an extremely flammable substance, and why I once found what looked like the image of Groucho Marx on my toast.
Exellent!! :lol:
I can't wait for the next doorstep visit from the local God Squad now! :twisted:
 
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