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Customer Discussions > Religion forum

An Agnostic Manifesto


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Showing 1-25 of 103 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 6, 2011 6:38:12 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 6, 2011 6:38:49 AM PDT
Ambulocetus says:
Theists and atheists both dislike agnostics, because agnostics will not join either of their teams. Theists and atheists alike often treat this unwillingness to join as a lack of courage or integrity, or as confusion about the options, or as knock-kneed fence-sitting. In reality, however, agnosticism is a refusal to play the theists-vs.-atheists game. It is a desire to step outside of Hatfields-and-McCoys rules in the hope of creating something better.

Here is my view of agnosticism. I welcome alternative accounts of agnosticism, as well as critiques of this position.
1) There is no more reason (and no less reason) to accept the existence of the many deities worshipped by Christian, Jewish, or Muslim denominations than there is to accept the existence of Thor, Osiris, or Athena, or leprechauns, fairies, or ancestor-spirits.

2) There is no more reason (and no less reason) to accept an utterly deity-free and spirit-free universe than there is to accept a universe which contains at least one deity and/or spirit-force. No principle of reasoning and no piece of evidence can decide the case conclusively to the satisfaction of even most interested parties.

3) Whether the universe contains any deities or spirits whatsoever, human beings must still work together, in spite of numerous differences, to solve enormous economic, social, ecological, and political problems which threaten to destroy us.

4) Whether one believes in spirit-entities or not, one realizes the importance of working for one's family, loved ones, and social groups, and one is genetically programmed to engage in at least some altruistic activity for their benefit. There are atheists, agnostics, animists, and theists both inside and outside of prison, both inside and outside of the academy, both inside and outside of the laboratory, both inside and outside of Congress.

Conclusion: the question of the existence or non-existence of spirits and deities is not very important, and should be left to one side so that we can concentrate our attentions on the problems which ARE important. Deciding on the existence or non-existence of spirit-beings is a waste of time. Thus, on my view, agnosticism is not a refusal to "pick a side" or an unwillingness to risk being wrong: it is a sense that beliefs which can't be firmly grounded in evidence, and which make no real difference in our lives either way, are really not worth arguing about.

That is why I call myself an agnostic. Not that I personally don't know the answers: but rather, THERE IS NO KNOWLEDGE TO BE HAD about the answers, and no reason to be bent out of shape about this lack of knowledge, and no reason to use wishful thinking to pretend that such chimerical knowledge is available.

Posted on Sep 6, 2011 6:50:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 6, 2011 6:51:37 AM PDT
A customer says:
As an agnostic atheist, I feel I should point out that agnosticism is not mutually exclusive from theism or atheism. It addresses the issue of knowledge, not belief. Agnosticism is not a middle ground between theism and atheism. It is not a seperate stance removed from the "game."

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 7:00:50 AM PDT
Ambulocetus says:
I agree with you, Alex. I think that Tarot cards, while a fun diversion, are basically a crock, utterly useless for telling the future.

This does not make me an anti-Tarot-ist. I just don't have the time and vigor to spare on such trivial crap as that.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 7:15:00 AM PDT
DDL says: "Conclusion: the question of the existence or non-existence of spirits and deities is not very important, and should be left to one side so that we can concentrate our attentions on the problems which ARE important. Deciding on the existence or non-existence of spirit-beings is a waste of time."

JL: So you have an opinion. That's nice.

DDL: Thus, on my view, agnosticism is not a refusal to "pick a side" or an unwillingness to risk being wrong: it is a sense that beliefs which can't be firmly grounded in evidence, and which make no real difference in our lives either way, are really not worth arguing about."

JL: So, you have another opinion. That's also nice.

BTW, are you at all agnostic in regards to the issue of whether your views are really worth arguing about? Or anything at all to anyone other than yourself?

JL

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 7:18:22 AM PDT
Mickey says:
Thank you. I agree. I believe agnosticism is both honest and logical, and I reject the charge of cowardice. And if one is attacked from both sides, one is probably in the right place.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 7:18:26 AM PDT
Ambulocetus says:
I guess you're not familiar with the genre "manifesto," are you?

Oh, well. I should be used to it by now. Both hard-edge theists and hard-edge atheists are very uncomfortable with anything other than cut-and-dried methodological rules and all-or-none acceptance of knowledge claims. To both theists and atheists, anything which is not TRUTH has just got to be opinion.

Never mind that competing historical narratives, for example, can both be equally congruent with the facts, their only disagreement being over WHICH facts are mentioned or left out, and WHICH facts and relationships between facts are foregrounded or backgrounded.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 7:32:19 AM PDT
Yes I'm aware of the meaning and definition of manifesto. However, I do admit to being unaware of the part of that definition that states that manifestos may not be subjected to criticism. Do you have a link, maybe?

I'm also aware that the claim that: "Both hard-edge theists and hard-edge atheists are very uncomfortable with anything other than cut-and-dried methodological rules and all-or-none acceptance of knowledge claims." - is both a sweeping generalization, and also yet another expression of a personal opinion. As is the assertion that: "To both theists and atheists, anything which is not TRUTH has just got to be opinion."

The last statement in your post is pure non sequitur and may be legitimately dismissed as mere hand-waving. Unless of course, you can show that the question of whether or not deities DO, or even CAN exist is primarily a "historical narrative".

JL

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 7:46:34 AM PDT
Frank Paris says:
"Theists and atheists both dislike agnostics, because agnostics will not join either of their teams."

Speak for yourself, white man. I'm curious about all perspectives.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 7:47:04 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 4, 2011 8:37:10 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 7:50:24 AM PDT
Ambulocetus says:
No one can provide adequate evidence for the existence of any deity whatsoever--though personal experience, the omnipresence of religion throughout human history, and a plenitude of theological arguments have attempted this feat.

No one can provide adequate evidence for an entirely deity-free and spirit-free universe--though atheists have been hacking the world to pieces with Occam's razor, whirling it until one begins to wonder why such a sharp blade should require such complicated whirling and such intense effort.

Fact and opinion have between them a large field of uncertainty--uncertainty which cannot be recuperated or reduced at any time in the foreseeable future, or by any means of knowledge-discovery or meaning-construction which are currently available to us. Within this large "middle field" lies the question of whether our universe includes at least one deity or spirit or not.

This field also includes questions like: "Is the Tea Party just another far-right protest movement like the John Birchers (albeit with a few minor differences), or is it something entirely novel in conservative politics (albeit with a few noticeable similarities to earlier movements)?"

The difference: the historical place of the Tea Party can be checked by the future evolution of that party, new evidence about the events of its founding, etc. The existence or nonexistence of deities and spirits cannot.

NOBODY likes uncertainty, not even when it comes to historical narratives. But when it comes to the STILL GREATER uncertainty in which the theism-vs.-atheism debate is mired, well, forget about it.

Posted on Sep 6, 2011 7:55:46 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 4, 2011 8:37:10 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 8:47:16 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Sep 25, 2014 12:11:23 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 9:47:25 AM PDT
Ambulocetus says:
ferengi,

I would be curious to hear this evidence for the existence of a deity which you mention. Please note that this evidence should be
1) evidence for the existence of A deity of some sort, but ALSO
2) evidence for the existence of A PARTICULAR deity, one whose nature can, to some extent, be extrapolated from this evidence. Finally,
3) there should not be a simpler, non-theistic explanation for this evidence which has strong evidence in support of it.

I look forward to hearing about your evidence. You might also want to examine the criticisms of existing arguments for God's existence which have been tried throughout the history of human thought. None of them, as it turns out, work particularly well when measured against the three standards listed above:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existence_of_God#Arguments_for_the_existence_of_God

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 9:50:20 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 4, 2011 8:37:12 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 9:53:06 AM PDT
A customer says:
"No one can provide adequate evidence for an entirely deity-free and spirit-free universe..."

Unless one is dealing with a "strong" atheist who claims emphatically that there are no gods, why would one need to.

I hate to be the one to bring up the familiar points about trying to prove a negative and the burden of proof, but it is relevant. I see no need to prove or provide evidence that this is a deity free universe.

Theists claim that a god exists. They're evidence is unconvincing to me. Thus I don't believe them, thus I am an atheist. Its that simple.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 9:55:28 AM PDT
A customer says:
(snicker)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 9:55:48 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 4, 2011 8:37:12 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 10:00:50 AM PDT
Ambulocetus says:
Evidence. Evidence which does not automatically call to mind a simpler, more likely, scientific explanation.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 10:04:25 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 6, 2011 10:05:31 AM PDT
A customer says:
It has been my consistant experience that it is never a good sign when one quibbles over "evidence" before being willing to provide any.

If you were to aske me for evidence for gravity or germ theory, I wouldn't first ask you, "what do you mean by 'evidence'?"

Oh, and just a bit of friendly advice. I've been down this path with ferengi before. Many have. Don't waste your time.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 10:08:36 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 6, 2011 10:09:55 AM PDT
Ambulocetus says:
Actually, I have just found a FASCINATING piece which argues that you CAN prove a negative--indeed, it is usually very easy to do. If you prove that P is true, for example, you have also proven that P is NOT false--a negative statement.

Further, certain logical structures, like modus tollens, allow us to deductively prove a negative statement.

But even inductive arguments like "there are no unicorns" and there is no such thing as Bigfoot" can be successfully argued--just as long as we don't think that "to argue inductively and successfully for P" means the same thing as "to PROVE P."
http://departments.bloomu.edu/philosophy/pages/content/hales/articlepdf/proveanegative.pdf

I guess where this leaves the agnostic is this: it is easy to see WHERE we have to hunt and HOW we have to hunt if we want to argue against Bigfoot's existence. This is NOT the case for all deities whatsoever. Particular deities--those whose attributes are logically self-contradictory, for example, or those which require that the theory of evolution be utterly false--can and have been proven not to exist. But ALL deities? ALL spirits?

If belief in their existence actually made a difference, of any empirical sort whatsoever, then there existence could be disproved. Since it doesn't actually make a difference, why bother about them?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 10:10:32 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 4, 2011 8:37:13 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 10:45:50 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Sep 25, 2014 12:11:32 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 11:04:25 AM PDT
A customer says:
You can claim that. Doesn't mean i believe you or accept your reasoning.

See? Simple.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 11:13:09 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Sep 25, 2014 12:11:33 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 6, 2011 11:15:29 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Sep 25, 2014 12:11:33 PM PDT]
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
Participants:  16
Total posts:  103
Initial post:  Sep 6, 2011
Latest post:  Sep 13, 2011

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