Customer Discussions > Religion forum

What is an agnostic? Am I an agnostic?


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 251-275 of 470 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 9:24:32 AM PDT
Spinoza says:
J. Steger says:

I've heard quite a few people throw around the term agnostic in this forum, but I'm not quite sure I understand what it means. The definition I get when I Google it is something along the lines of, 'One who believes that the existence of a god can never be proven or disproven.' Wouldn't every single thinking person fall under this category? Why do people use it as a distinction, it would be like saying, "well as someone who has feet..." it makes no sense.

Spinoza says:

No, because there are people who believe the existence of God can be proven and believe they have done so. Examples would be St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas for Christianity.

"Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims-especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims-are unknown or unknowable.[1][2] Agnosticism can be defined in various ways, and is sometimes used to indicate doubt or a skeptical approach to questions. In some senses, agnosticism is a stance about the difference between belief and knowledge, rather than about any specific claim or belief. In the popular sense, an agnostic is someone who is undecided about the existence of a deity or deities, whereas a theist and an atheist believe and disbelieve, respectively.[2] In the strict sense, however, agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify the belief that deities either do or do not exist. Within agnosticism there are agnostic atheists (who do not believe any deity exists, but do not deny it as a possibility) and agnostic theists (who believe a deity exists but do not claim it as personal knowledge).

Thomas Henry Huxley, an English biologist, coined the word agnostic in 1869.[3] However, earlier thinkers and written works have promoted agnostic points of view. They include Protagoras, a 5th-century BCE Greek philosopher,[4] and the Nasadiya Sukta creation myth in the Rig Veda, an ancient Sanskrit text.[5] Since Huxley coined the term, many other thinkers have written extensively about agnosticism."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

An agnostic is someone who believes nothing can be known concerning God. This does not imply atheism, as an agnostic can believe God exists, but tht we cannot know anything about such a God - His origins, attributes, or powers.

An atheist is someone who professes no belief in a god or gods. That simple.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 9:25:51 AM PDT
Faithradha - "is it safe to say that religion accepts, for whattever reason, the reality of "God" and most Atheists do not? Can we say you have a lack of Belief? If you were simply neutral wouldn't you be an Agnostic as I was"

I *am* agnostic. But since I'm not a theist, I'm also an atheist.

"What is the difference then with remaining as a neutral Agnostic .. neither accepting OR rejecting"

By "reject" I mean that I see no reason to think that a given idea is true. That is not a claim that it is false. But if I'm not a theist, then I have to call myself an atheist. Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive--in actuality, the vast majority of self-described atheists are agnostic atheists.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 9:39:13 AM PDT
Spinoza says:
Mark Hornberger says:

By "reject" I mean that I see no reason to think that a given idea is true. That is not a claim that it is false. But if I'm not a theist, then I have to call myself an atheist. Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive--in actuality, the vast majority of self-described atheists are agnostic atheists.

Spinoza says:

There is a third position: apatheism.

"Apatheism (a portmanteau of apathy and theism/atheism), also known as pragmatic atheism or (critically) as practical atheism, is acting with apathy, disregard, or lack of interest towards belief or disbelief in a deity. Apatheism describes the manner of acting towards a belief or lack of a belief in a deity; so applies to both theism and atheism. An apatheist is also someone who is not interested in accepting or denying any claims that gods exist or do not exist. In other words, an apatheist is someone who considers the question of the existence of gods as neither meaningful nor relevant to his or her life.

Apathetic agnosticism (also called pragmatic agnosticism) acknowledges that thousands of years of debate have neither proven, nor dis-proven, the existence of one or more deities. This view concludes that even if one or more deities exist, they do not appear to be concerned about the fate of humans. Therefore, their existence has little impact on personal human affairs and should be of little theological interest.

Apatheists hold that if it were possible to prove that God exists, their behavior would not change. Similarly, there would be no change if someone proved that God does not exist.[1]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apatheism

Not all atheists are agnostic atheists: some, like myself, approach the issue as a matter of probabilities: I believe that a deity with the attributes ascribed to Him by theists: omnipotence, omnibenevolence, omnipresence, etc. is highly unlikely to exist.

In fact, I think ANY deity with the attributes ascribed to Him is unlikely to exist. In my universe, no invisible super powerful entities floating around, either interfering or not in human affairs. No angels, devils, ghosts, leprechauns, sprites, pixies, devas, or any supernatural entities.

They're simply more likely not to exist than to exist.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 10:19:54 AM PDT
Mark, I was sorry to see your conversation with SCL peter out. I was curious how he can claim that the Kalam Cosmological Argument is "well-reasoned" when it relies on begging the question not just once, but twice.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 1:38:48 PM PDT
Rachel Rebecca Riordan - "I was curious how he can claim that the Kalam Cosmological Argument is "well-reasoned" when it relies on begging the question not just once, but twice. "

I suspect you can only get so much traction arguing that the truth of your premises doesn't matter when evaluating an argument. I've seen some believers really run the epistemic nihilism thing for all it is worth, but I don't think SCL's heart was in it.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 1:43:55 PM PDT
Spinoza - "I believe that a deity with the attributes ascribed to Him by theists: omnipotence, omnibenevolence, omnipresence, etc. is highly unlikely to exist."

I tend to agree. My agnosticism is a technicality--I'm about as agnostic about God as I am about invisible magic dragons in my basement. But technically (see?) I can't prove they don't exist, so...

It's a game we play with the theists. They spend all their time trying ever so hard to shove the burden of evidence to someone else, because goodness knows they can't do anything else with it. Acknowledging that I'm agnostic, only by virtue of not being omniscient, denies them the foothold of "Aha! You're making a claim you can't prove! I *knew* it!" It's silly, but then again we have to contend with silly people.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 1:44:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 10, 2012 1:44:57 PM PDT
AxeGrrl says:
Mark Hornberger wrote: "I suspect you can only get so much traction arguing that the truth of your premises doesn't matter when evaluating an argument"
~~~~

My question is _why_ would anyone argue that in the first place?

What good is internal-consistency if your foundationational premises are dubious or incorrect?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 1:45:56 PM PDT
You might be right, but he did seem committed to defending his somewhat bizarre contention. Maybe he'll come back and explain...

BTW, in your opinion, is he any relation to the poster who used to call himself such names as "Tourmaline Dream Shards?" This ScoopingCatLitter moniker seems up his alley, but this current guy hasn't referred to Aquinas, Aristotle, or Augustine yet.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 1:47:26 PM PDT
It allows them to bamboozle other gullible persons, just as they have been bamboozled.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 1:48:21 PM PDT
AG: What good is internal-consistency if your foundationational premises are dubious or incorrect?

RR: That's the technique they use to "logic up a God," in Irish Lace's wonderful phrase, because they lack any *real* evidence.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 7:38:32 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 10, 2012 7:44:23 PM PDT
Mark Hornberger,

So far from our discussion, there appear to be some clear things. You do not care if someone's claim is true. You prefer to look at the reasoning that lead that person to that claim. These claims are usually of the sort in which we go from something known or experienced to something not known or experienced, which you appear to equate with "assumption". You first look at their argument to see if it is valid. You next look at the premises in the reasoning, but you are not looking at the form any more. You are trying to asses if the premises are true or map reality. You next appear to seek some sufficient reason for the premises or claim. These last two things have not really been explicated.

This appears more like what is sometimes called inductive skepticism. As you pointed out, you have noticed that there is some faulty reasoning going on, which is usually the case with inductive arguments. It always goes beyond what we have experience of.

You already have some method, which appears to be three basic things. You already pointed out that you look at more than just the form of the reasoning, and look to see if the premises are true. I do not see how "true" depends on a particular situation. The claim, it would appear, is either true or false. So how about you state what truth/true means and what sufficient reason means. These are what you appear to have said that you use. So I am not asking you how you determine what is true or what has sufficient reason, with something in particular. I am asking you what they mean, i.e. true/truth & sufficient reason.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 7:41:30 PM PDT
AxeGrrl,

Mark and I were talking about logic; we were not talking about epistemology. Epistemology deals with if the "premises" are dubious or not. We do know that if the premises are not dubious then the conclusion is true. That is what logic will tell us. You would have to go beyond logic to judge the premises.

I am having trouble trying to break some people of the habit of associating logic with caring about if the premises are *actually* true. Mark appears to have finally understood.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 7:44:30 PM PDT
What do you want to do, then--argue castles in the air?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 10:08:30 PM PDT
SCL - "You do not care if someone's claim is true. You prefer to look at the reasoning that lead that person to that claim."

No, that's a bit closer to your position than to mine. I said many times over that validity was not enough. I said repeatedly that I look at the truth of the premises. That was the very thing you've been objecting to, because you don't want me looking at the premises of the Kalam argument.

"These claims are usually of the sort in which we go from something known or experienced to something not known or experienced, which you appear to equate with "assumption".

No, an "assumption" is something we don't actually know to be true, but which the claimant calls true for the sake of the argument. As in "we'll just act as if these premises are true, and go from there..." In a mathematical argument, they're called axioms, and the conclusions are true only within the context of that system. Assumptions about physical reality are more problematic, because reality doesn't generally conform to those assumptions.

"You next appear to seek some sufficient reason for the premises or claim. These last two things have not really been explicated. "

The reasoning depends on the argument given. I've said that many times over.

"I do not see how "true" depends on a particular situation."

I said that the method of evaluating an argument would depend on the argument given. Similarly, the method of solving a math problem would depend on the problem at hand. This has been addressed multiple times, and I'm not sure how you could have missed it.

"I am asking you what they mean, i.e. true/truth & sufficient reason"

True means 'in accordance with facts or reality," (per my dictionary) and I'd add "to the best degree we can ascertain". In empirical reality we cannot really get utter Platonic certitude, which is why science is always tentative and probabilistic. Concerning "sufficient reason," I believe I said (I don't have time to read back in the thread) that validity was necessary but not sufficient reason for us to believe something... or something to that effect. All I meant was that validity alone is not enough for us to identify truth. Which I explicated at length, repeatedly.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 10:12:37 PM PDT
SCL - "we were not talking about epistemology. Epistemology deals with if the "premises" are dubious or not."

Actually I *have* been talking about epistemology, and you've kept trying to keep the subject on logic alone. My point, repeatedly, was that if you don't know that your assumptions are true, then you have no way of knowing that your conclusion is true. That *is* an epistemological question, and has direct bearing on the title of this thread. Logic is important, but if your assumptions are dubious then logic won't take you far at all. Logic can only build a solid structure on a solid foundation--without a foundation of strong premises, you don't have anything of value.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 10:19:51 PM PDT
AxeGrrl - "What good is internal-consistency if your foundationational premises are dubious or incorrect? "

When your foundational premises can't withstand even cursory scrutiny, I guess you have to keep the attention somewhere else. Which is why SCL is trying to keep the argument on logic, and away from epistemology. Because religion doesn't do well with the "how do you know that?" types of questions.

However, SCL is also trying to preempt an epistemelogical end-run, via the "how do you know what truth is?" tack. If he can repudiate our very ability to discern truth when we see it--the basic scorched-earth tactic--then internal consistency is all that's left standing. Or so the hope goes. But pushing forward the epistemic nihilism theme isn't very easy, and takes some very careful argumentation. Plus, it has zero credibility, because we know that no one actually walks around with a paralyzing inability to discern truth from falsity. Pierce said something to the effect that we shouldn't pretend to doubt something in philosophy that we wouldn't doubt in real life. I tend to agree with that.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 10:39:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 10, 2012 10:50:53 PM PDT
Mark Hornberger,

Actually, your first post in response to me brought up "Yes, if the reasoning doesn't lead to the conclusion." That was the first criterion that you held on that I questioned you about. Once we settled that you moved on to epistemology and I have been asking you about that since we finished with reasoning that leads to the conclusion, i.e. deduction.

And here we come back to another problem, which you have repeatedly not answered. You keep talking about "don't know your assumptions are true", but you have never once said what this even means. Your whole position appears to be based on some position that you never explicate, i.e. criterion of true. Your position is just question begging and meaningless until you explicate this criterion. It does not even appear to be clear that the person you would say is assuming something is true when they know it is true.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 10:49:17 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 10, 2012 11:00:02 PM PDT
Mark Hornberger,

The first two sentences you made in response to me was that "Yes, if the reasoning doesn't lead to the conclusion. That your premises are badly reasoned does NOT mean that I therefore know that your conclusion is wrong." But you latter admitted that there was some crossed wires on this, which was based on deductive logic does not deal with truth. You admit that you do not know that the persons position is false, but you choose to not believe in it because of the reasoning processes, which you brought up eventually leads to question begging or fault in reasoning. I do not see how I have misattributed your position when you imply it in the first response you made to me on this thread.

Now you appear to have linked sufficient reason with deductive logic. So you appear to hold to two criterion, which is sufficient reason and true. But now that we know what true is you would have to explicate the criterion of determining what is true, which you already appear to hint at with "which is why science is always...". But this brings up a problem because it appears that science, if that is what you use for epistemology, falls for the type of problem you have which is of assuming something is true without knowing that it is true.

You are right that you have said that the method of evaluating an argument would depend on the argument given, but you never back this up. You just keep stating it but I have not seen anything to support this from you as of yet. It appears that you are doing what you have said that you have found other people to do. There only appears to be two ways, from what you have said; sufficient reason and truth. But it would appear that one would have to know the truth in order to say that something is not true.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 11:13:59 PM PDT
AxeGrrl says:
SCL wrote: "You keep talking about "don't know your assumptions are true", but you have never once said what this even means."
~~~~

You don't know what "you don't know your assumptions are true" means?

really?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 11:35:45 PM PDT
This so reminds me of Bruce Bain. I can imagine him complaining that Mark had provided no "Scientific Evidences" of the existence of "true". Without such Scientific Evidences, this must remain the "Fallacy...From...The...Bare...Assertion." Oh brother.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 11:40:10 PM PDT
Yeah, logic-chopping until it turns into sausage, which no one wants to see made.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 10, 2012 11:42:44 PM PDT
Good analogy!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 2:54:35 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 11, 2012 3:27:35 AM PDT
SCL - "You admit that you do not know that the persons position is false, but you choose to not believe in it because of the reasoning processes...I do not see how I have misattributed your position when you imply it in the first response you made to me on this thread. "

You conflated two different points. I did not say that truth didn't matter--quite the opposite. If I didn't care about truth, I wouldn't care about the premises. Earlier, I said that the lack of reasons sufficient for me to believe is not evidence itself that the conclusion is wrong. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. That I can find no good reason to believe something doesn't make the something false. Any number of things could be true but for which there is no evidence, no way for us to know of its truth, etc. Such is life when your knowledge of the world is incomplete--as it always is and always will be.

"Now you appear to have linked sufficient reason with deductive logic"

I didn't "link" deduction and reason. Deduction is one of the tools of reason.

"you have said that the method of evaluating an argument would depend on the argument given, but you never back this up"

You can't tell what method you would use to address a problem until you know what the problem is. I suspect that everyone knows this. Do you actually feel this truism is a leap of faith, no more tenable than belief in Athena?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:05:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 11, 2012 3:19:54 AM PDT
SCL - ""don't know your assumptions are true", but you have never once said what this even means."

Look at the assumptions made. Are they true? Do you have any way of knowing if they're true? Not a lot of slippery concepts here, SCL.

" Your whole position appears to be based on some position that you never explicate, i.e. criterion of true."

Actually I said explicitly that "True means 'in accordance with facts or reality..." So yes, it was addressed. Or do you need me to define all those words, too? And then perhaps the words in that definition also? And again? Is this infinite regress your best effort to make skepticism into a faith-based position?

What question have I begged, SCL? If we both believe that truth exists, it's not a begged question. Question-begging is when you assume that which is in contention to be true. Are you disputing the concepts of truth and falsity? Here is a great quote by Charles S. Peirce - "Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts." I think that applies here.

I can't quite reconcile how you're so concerned to pin down what truth means, but you don't think it's important to see if the premises of an argument are true, or if we have any way of ascertaining their truth. If you think internal consistency is enough to warrant belief, why would truth matter?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 6:28:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 11, 2012 6:29:53 AM PDT
Spinoza says:
Mark zhornberger says:

I tend to agree. My agnosticism is a technicality--I'm about as agnostic about God as I am about invisible magic dragons in my basement. But technically (see?) I can't prove they don't exist, so...

Spinoza says:

No need to explain. I understand your rationale. However, to feel compelled to leave open the possibility of the impossible seems unnecessary and unjustified to me.

There are no invisible magic dragons in your basement, as there are no ghosts, pixies, faries, sprites, elves, leprechauns, extraterrestrials, demons, Pazuzu, Ba'all, Satan, or God in your basement. Trust me on this.

However, if you'd like, I can put you in touch with some paranormal investigators for the ghosts, pixies, fairies, sprites, elves, leprechauns, and extraterrestrials. For a fee, they'll be more than happy to come to your home, take readings and measurements, and confirm your belief.

I can also put you in touch with an exorcist for the demons, Pazuzu, and Satan. They'll be happy to make the same deal with you as the paranormal investigators. The Catholic Church might even do it gratis if you're a Catholic.

I'm unaware of anyone who'll come to your home and help you exorcise a god or gods, since most people consider it an honor to have God living in their basement - He's invisible, He doesn't eat anything, He's inordinately quiet (you'll rarely hear a peep out of Him), and basically unobtrusive. And if you follow all His rules and commandments, He'll shower you with blessings - maybe even help your kid's Little League team make the championship.
‹ Previous 1 ... 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 ... 19 Next ›
[Add comment]
Add your own message to the discussion
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Prompts for sign-in
 


Recent discussions in the Religion forum

Discussion Replies Latest Post
Announcement
Amazon Discussions Feedback Forum
1153 8 hours ago
Almighty God 8694 25 seconds ago
"Designed" by God or Natural Selection? 6862 14 minutes ago
Shroud of Turin: For the doubting Thomases? 8478 22 minutes ago
Distortions in the New Age Movement 271 51 minutes ago
Hobby Lobby, Phase II ? 9 1 hour ago
!!!! atheists won !!!! 1138 2 hours ago
Does God surpass all understanding? 677 2 hours ago
Prayer in Public School-Again 8816 3 hours ago
keep one change one started 14 september 2012 8527 3 hours ago
The Hobby Lobby decision 1897 3 hours ago
Another 10,000 Quotes... 2919 3 hours ago
 

This discussion

Discussion in:  Religion forum
Participants:  45
Total posts:  470
Initial post:  Jun 4, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 20, 2012

New! Receive e-mail when new posts are made.
Tracked by 6 customers

Search Customer Discussions