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Agnosticism: To believe or NOT to believe...

 
 
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 01:14 pm
It has been argued that Agnosticism is a belief system.

Definition of Agnostic:
Agnosticism is a concept, not a religion. It is a belief related to the existence or non-existence of God.

An agnostic is a person who feels that God's existence can neither be proved nor disproved, on the basis of current evidence. Agnostics note that some theologians and philosophers have tried to to prove, for millennia, that God exists. Others have attempted to prove that God does not exist. Neither side has convincingly succeeded at their task.

Are they Theists? No, because Agnostics do not believe in a God, or a Goddess, or in multiple Gods, or multiple Goddesses or in a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses.

However, some Agnostics consider themselves to be Atheists. That is because the term "Atheist" has two slightly different meanings:

1. A person who positively believes that no God(s) or Goddess(es) exists. E. Haldeman-Julius suggests that "The atheist perceives that history, in every branch of science, in the plainly observable realities of life and in the processes of common sense there is no place for the picture of a God; the idea doesn't fit in with a calmly reasoned and realistic view of life. The atheist, therefore denies the assumptions of theism because they are mere assumptions and are not proved; whereas the contrary evidences, against the idea of theism, are overwhelming." This is the definition of Atheism used by most Christians, other Theists, and dictionaries of the English language.

2. A person who has no belief in a God or Goddess. Just as a newborn has no concept of a deity, some adults also have no such belief. The term "Atheist" is derived from the Greek words "a" which means "without" and "Theos" which means "God." A person can be a non-Theist by simply lacking a belief in God without actively denying God's existence. This is the definition of Atheism used by most Atheists.

Some Agnostics feel that their beliefs match the second definition, and thus consider themselves to be both Atheist and an Agnostic. Such confusion is common in the field of religion. We have found 17 definitions for the term "Witch," eight for "cult," and six for the "Pagan." -- all different. A lack of clear, unambiguous definitions for religious terms is responsible for a great deal of confusion and hatred. It makes dialog between Agnostics and Theists very difficult.

An agnostic usually holds the question of the existence of God open, pending the arrival of more evidence. They are willing to change their belief if some solid evidence or logical proof is found in the future. However, some have taken the position that there is no logical way in which the existence or the non-existence of a deity can be proven.

Link for definition above.

Quote:
Agnosticism - The philosophical belief that knowledge of God is impossible because of the inherent, insuperable limitations of the human mind. The term was coined by T.H. Huxley about 1870, who, though not the concept's originator, was perhaps its most widely known champion in the latter half of the 19th century.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 01:19 pm
There is a great deal of the disingenuous in such a position however:

McG wrote:
An agnostic is a person who feels that God's existence can neither be proved nor disproved, on the basis of current evidence. Agnostics note that some theologians and philosophers have tried to to prove, for millennia, that God exists. Others have attempted to prove that God does not exist. Neither side has convincingly succeeded at their task.


To claim that there is a deity is to make an extraordinary claim unless one can produce said deity upon demand. Knowing of no indisputable case in which this has occurred, my position as an atheist is that i'm not obliged to disprove anything. Those who make extraordinary claims have the burden of proving their claim, if they will be believed. There are many who call themselves atheists who make a religion of their "rationality." I personally am not one of those. I've never tried to make a case which disproves the existence of a deity, and, given that circumstance, it is ridiculous to assert that i've not convincingly succeeded at a task, which task i've never set myself.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 01:21 pm
Oh, and i did not vote--you had no response which read "Don't care."
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 01:31 pm
Every opinion is a belief.

But there are big differences in beliefs.

Believing that I will see tomorrow is not the same as believing that a god should rule my life.
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 01:48 pm
Well argued Setanta.

As we await the arrival of Frank let me slip in that there is another form of atheist (myself) who claims that "proof" and "disproof" have nothing to do with "existence", the latter being a temporary state of mutual structure between observer and observed in the dynamic flux of "reality". Such "structures" have greater or lesser "utility" and for me "God" is "useless" or even " a pernicious hindrance", but I cannot deny its "existence" as a structure/concept of utility to others.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 03:09 pm
In fact, Fresco, i would consider it the height of folly not to recognize such "utility." Good way to get in deep doo-doo in nothing flat.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 03:27 pm
Re: Agnosticism: To believe or NOT to believe...
McGentrix wrote:
Definition of Agnostic:
Agnosticism is a concept, not a religion. It is a belief related to the existence or non-existence of God.


The Greek agnōstos means "unknowable". So agnostism would be the doctrine that humans cannot know of the existence of anything beyond the phenomena of their experience.

Which has nothing to do with belief, IMHO.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 03:44 pm
Quote:
The Greek agnōstos means "unknowable".


Using that definition, I am not an agnostic. I do not believe that the mysteries of the universe are unknowable, simply unknown. If you think about how much more we know about the world just in the last fifty years, you realize that there are things that we know, that people considered "unknowable" just a few decades ago.

I do not believe in a creator. I see not a shread of evidence to even consider that there is one. Problem is, that the issue of a God seems to be coming up more and more often. It is not incumbent upon a person to prove that something isn't. So until someone can offer some rational proof of a God, the entire concept has absolutely no meaning for me.

Actually, like Setanta, I would fall in the "I don't care" category.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 03:54 pm
Agnosticism is the position of believing that knowledge of the existence or non-existence of God is impossible.

It is often put forth as a middle ground between theism and atheism. Understood this way, agnosticism is skepticism regarding all things theological. The agnostic holds that human knowledge is limited to the natural world, that the mind is incapable of knowledge of the supernatural.

Understood this way, an agnostic could also be a theist or an atheist. The former is called a fideist, one who believes in God purely on faith. The latter is sometimes accused by theists of having faith in the non-existence of God, but the accusation is absurd and the expression meaningless. The agnostic atheist simply finds no compelling reason to believe in God.

source
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 04:16 pm
McGentrix wrote:
Agnosticism is the position of believing that knowledge of the existence or non-existence of God is impossible.


It absolutely, positively is NOT that at all.

If a supposed agnostic claims that this kind of knowledge is IMPOSSIBLE -- the person is not an agnostic.

It is quite possible to assert from the agnostic position that it MAY BE impossible to know. But there is no way to know that.

Atheists will never be able to KNOW they are right.

Theists -- if they happen to be right -- MAY BE able to convince their god to reveal itself in an unambiguous way.

Frankly, my GUESS is that we will not know the answers to these questions -- but I may be wrong.

AGNOSTICISM is not a belief system, no matter how much you want it to be one, McG.


Quote:
It is often put forth as a middle ground between theism and atheism. Understood this way, agnosticism is skepticism regarding all things theological. The agnostic holds that human knowledge is limited to the natural world, that the mind is incapable of knowledge of the supernatural.


You simply do not know what you are talking about -- and you seem rather proud to display the fact that you don't.


If you ever decide to actually discuss this rather than this preposterous pseudo lesson, I'll be glad to accomodate you.



But mostly, you are talking through your hat.
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 04:21 pm
BTW -- so there are no misunderstanding here:

From this point on in this discussion, I will be speaking for MY agnosticism alone.

I do not presume to speak for all agnostics.

But there is absolutely NO WAY that my agnosticism is a belief system (and I rather suspect the VAST majority of all agnostics are not espousing a belief system.)

I certainly am looking forward to this conversation.
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 04:40 pm
I'm tempted to compare looking "forward" with looking "backward" but I won't ! Twisted Evil
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Wilso
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 04:45 pm
I also need a "don't care" option in the poll.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 07:57 am
For those that "don't care", please do not post unless you want to add something to the conversation. I am happy for you that you don't care, but please refrain from posting.

Apparently this was a bit unclear.

If all you are going to do is chime in with a blurb about the fact you don't care, then please explain WHY you don't care.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 08:05 am
McGentrix wrote:
For those that "don't care", please do not post unless you want to add something to the conversation. I am happy for you that you don't care, but please refrain from posting.
New rules here?
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 08:13 am
McGentrix- Obviously, I would not post unless I wanted to add to the conversation, and I resent your instructions that people who do not care, should not post. If you want to understand the entire spectrum of thought, folks like me need to be included.

I think that past of the problem is that most people are comfortable being placed into categories, agnostic, atheist, theist. The point that I am making, is that, to me, the existence of a God or Gods would be a non-issue, except for the fact that that most people seem to have the need to take sides.


Quote:
The agnostic atheist simply finds no compelling reason to believe in God.


By your definition, I suppose that I belong in that category.
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Terry
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 08:31 am
McGentrix, there is a huge difference between the statement that we DO NOT know whether there is a god, and that we CANNOT know.

No agnostic worthy of the name would deny the possibility that a god could reveal itself in a manner that left no doubt as to its existence.

I cannot imagine why any god that wanted love and worship would fail to do so. Until one does, I remain an agnostic who, on the basis of history, science, and logic, guesses that there are no gods.

I could be wrong.

PS, I am curious as to why you would want to exclude ANYONE from this conversation.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 08:36 am
Phoenix32890 wrote:
McGentrix- Obviously, I would not post unless I wanted to add to the conversation, and I resent your instructions that people who do not care, should not post. If you want to understand the entire spectrum of thought, folks like me need to be included.

I think that past of the problem is that most people are comfortable being placed into categories, agnostic, atheist, theist. The point that I am making, is that, to me, the existence of a God or Gods would be a non-issue, except for the fact that that most people seem to have the need to take sides.


Quote:
The agnostic atheist simply finds no compelling reason to believe in God.



By your definition, I suppose that I belong in that category.


I'm sorry, but please explain to me how Wilso's post adds to this conversation? That is what I was referring to. If you feel I was referring to you, then I apologize.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 08:43 am
McGentrix - As long is a member is not in violation of the A2K Terms of Service, he is entitled to post what he/she pleases. We may not agree with what a poster writes, or even think that the post is irrelevent, but the member still has a right to state his/her views as he/she sees fit.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 08:44 am
Terry wrote:
McGentrix, there is a huge difference between the statement that we DO NOT know whether there is a god, and that we CANNOT know.

No agnostic worthy of the name would deny the possibility that a god could reveal itself in a manner that left no doubt as to its existence.

I cannot imagine why any god that wanted love and worship would fail to do so. Until one does, I remain an agnostic who, on the basis of history, science, and logic, guesses that there are no gods.

I could be wrong.

PS, I am curious as to why you would want to exclude ANYONE from this conversation.


I agree with you in that there is a difference. What I am saying is that either way, one must believe. In the lack of evidence, all that is left is belief. You can call it a guess, you can call it what ever you want, but when you boil it down to its base, it is a belief.

If agnosticism is NOT a belief system, then what is it?
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