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Agnosticism: To believe or NOT to believe...

 
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 09:04 am
Quote:
If agnosticism is NOT a belief system, then what is it?


McGentrix- You bring up a very interesting point. I think that what muddies the picture in the issue of a God or Gods is the fact that so many people DO believe.

Let me play devil's advocate. For argument's sake, let us say that some people believe that human beings were originally living in a sophisticated planet in outer space. The planet was going to be destroyed, (I know that this sounds like a science fiction movie, but bear with me) so some people settle on earth thousands of years ago. What we have now are hybrids, the results of matings amongst earthlings and extraterrestrials.

If I went around espousing these beliefs, I probably would quickly find myself locked in a rubber room. But how much more credible is the entire concept of a God? I think that my extraterrestrial story has about as much proof as a God story. The only difference is that many people have bought into the God story.

IMO, primitive people needed to find some meaning for their lives, as well as to feel protected in a world that they didn't understand. Over the millenia, a whole fabric of myths, history, and wishful thinking was created to ally people's anxieties concerning the ultimate questions.

Back to your quote- There are lots of things for wich we have no proof, that are merely suppositions of one sort or another. I don't think that I can call agnosticism a "belief system", simply the recognition that there are some things that are NOW unknown.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 09:37 am
Phoenix32890 wrote:
(I know that this sounds like a science fiction movie, but bear with me)

No, it sounds a lot like Scientology. Of course, Scientology sounds a lot like a science fiction movie. In fact, it was a science fiction movie. And not a very good one, either.
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 09:48 am
joefromchicago- And how is Scientology any more unbelievable than any other religion? That is exactly the point that I was attempting to make, although I was not familiar with the Scientology movie!
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 09:50 am
I think agnosticism is being used as a crutch in much the same way religion is. For some reason, people without faith in a diety feel the need to be able to explain themselves. To claim that the knowledge of a diety is simply "unknowable" seems like an easy way out of having any convictions. It is a middle ground for those that can't make a decision for themselves whether they want to believe in a God or not. It's like "There might be, or there might not be, I don't want to be wrong so I will just say everyone else is wrong for saying there either is or isn't..."

To add to your advocacy, Phoenix, let me suggest the following:

Our Sun provides Earth with many of the things needed for life to exist. Many cultures in the past have worshipped the sun as a diety. Now, we know that the sun is really a giant ball of gas and we now know plenty more then that about other stars. That does not make the Sun any less important for life to be sustained here. For those people, the sun WAS God.

Does the fact that the Sun is just a ball of gas make those people wrong to have worshipped the sun? I don't think so.
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 09:58 am
McGentrix - From that point of view, I have to agree with you. Believing that the sun was a diety was probably very helpful in developing many peoples' cultures.

Funny thing, I believe that the institution of religion can be a valuable resource for many things that are positive in society, for some people. It is just the God part that makes no sense to me.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 10:00 am
Phoenix32890 wrote:
joefromchicago- And how is Scientology any more unbelievable than any other religion? That is exactly the point that I was attempting to make, although I was not familiar with the Scientology movie!

Well, I'm not exactly sure, but I don't think there are any parallels in the Bible to the Scientological belief in the souls of 1.4 trillion people being forced to watch bad 3-D movies. Although that sounds a lot like the 700 Club.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 10:28 am
I voted "no". I know much of the evidence for or against god or gods, and I'm in a position to tell that it's inconclusive either way. Therefore, assuming that the question itself is meaningful, I know that the answer is open. No believing involved in being an agnostic.

Of course, I think of god(s) as such an ill-defined concept that the question itself is meaningless, which qualifies me as an Atheist according to Encyclopedia Britannica. So in contrast to agnosticism, it does make sense to call atheism a belief system. I can't prove that the question "Do[es] god[s] exist?" has no meaning to anyone -- just that it has no meaning to me. I can only believe that when people say "I believe in god", they don't really know what they're saying. And my belief may well be false.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 10:33 am
McG, your question is whether or not agnosticism is a belief system. It is entirely reasonable for someone to have and express an opinion on subject, and still not to care if it is a belief system. I know of no reason why you should have the authority to define the terms of participation here.
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McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 10:40 am
Setanta wrote:
McG, your question is whether or not agnosticism is a belief system. It is entirely reasonable for someone to have and express an opinion on subject, and still not to care if it is a belief system. I know of no reason why you should have the authority to define the terms of participation here.


Quit trolling Setanta. Please try to stick to the topic or go start your own thread.

thanks.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 10:46 am
Com'on guys. This is an interesting thread. Let's leave the personalities out, and get on with the subject at hand! Very Happy
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 11:09 am
There's no "trolling" there McG, just a reasonable objection to you trying to tell us whether or not and how we can participate in any thread.
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 11:11 am
Seems to me this all hangs on the meaning of "belief" and "system" According to Godel, all "systems" have at least one tenet that cannot be "proved" from within the system, hence all "systems" have an element of "belief".

The question is then whether agnosticism is a "system". In as much that Frank defines this as a "position" of "not knowing" this does not appear to constitute a "system" as no "action directives" are forthcoming. And according to this analysis the "don't care" argument is the epitome of a response to what appears to be philosophically vacuous position.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 11:13 am
heeheeheeheeheeheehee . . . he said philosophically vacuous . . .
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Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 11:16 am
McGentrix wrote:
I think agnosticism is being used as a crutch in much the same way religion is.



Frankly, you lost me after those first two words, McG. I began to doubt you immediately.

But... it really doesn't much matter what you think (or don't think), McG. Agnosticism is simplyan affirmation that one does not know -- and that one does not see enough evidence upon which to make a meaningful guess.

It is not a "crutch" -- and to be honest with you, it is hilarious to see you trying so hard to make it appear to be one.

The rest of your post was drivel.

In any case, several people have already called attention to the fact that many of your assumptions about agnosticism are WRONG.

Why don't you get your ducks in a row and try this some other time.

This attempt is an abject failure.

Once again, if you truly want to discuss this issue rather than attempt this very amateurish pontificating on the subject, I will be happy to accomodate you. And I suspect there are several others in this thread who feel that way also.

But using the thread the way you are is embarrassing to anyone who really feels the topic is worth discusssion.
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Equus
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 11:18 am
A couple of religion-related 1st amendment (to the USA Constitution) questions, just to stir things up.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."

1. If atheism and agnosticism are not religions, or are a lack of religion; are they protected by the first amendment? Could atheism be legally prohibited or persecuted?

2. If CONGRESS is forbidden from establishing or prohibiting a religion, could a State or local government do so?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 11:26 am
At the time of the adoption of the constitution, there were in fact states in which there were established religions, although the adoption of the constitution lead to the adoption of new constitutions, or the amendment of existing constitutions by the states.

I really take a wicked pleasure in your conundrum about whether or not agnosticism or atheism enjoy constitutional protection, Equus--that's a can of worms for sure.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 03:58 pm
Owing to the fact that I started this thread to continue a conversation we were having in a different thread and as not to hijack that thread let's continue...

Frank Apisa wrote:
McGentrix wrote:
I think agnosticism is being used as a crutch in much the same way religion is.



Frankly, you lost me after those first two words, McG. I began to doubt you immediately.


What a good start! This only encourages me to not take anything you say seriously, frank. When you start a post off with an insult I just lose interest in the rest of what you have to say.

Quote:
But... it really doesn't much matter what you think (or don't think), McG. Agnosticism is simplyan affirmation that one does not know -- and that one does not see enough evidence upon which to make a meaningful guess.

It is not a "crutch" -- and to be honest with you, it is hilarious to see you trying so hard to make it appear to be one.


So explain to me how claiming agnosticism is not used as a crutch in the same way a theist would use their beliefs as a crutch? Man has had an eternal struggle to explain the unexplainable. Some have turned to religion, some have turned away from religion. Some, it appears, just shrug and say "well, you can't prove it..."

All are being used by the individual to gain a grasp on the ungraspable. In that respect they are using that {insert appropriate term} as a crutch.

Quote:
The rest of your post was drivel.


Rolling Eyes

Quote:
In any case, several people have already called attention to the fact that many of your assumptions about agnosticism are WRONG.


Uh, no, many people have given me THEIR thoughts on agnosticism (while others have just have just given nothing) as I asked. As far as being wrong, I haven't yet seen that.

Quote:
Why don't you get your ducks in a row and try this some other time.

This attempt is an abject failure.

Once again, if you truly want to discuss this issue rather than attempt this very amateurish pontificating on the subject, I will be happy to accomodate you. And I suspect there are several others in this thread who feel that way also.

But using the thread the way you are is embarrassing to anyone who really feels the topic is worth discusssion.


Why don't you post again when you can do something more then these attempts at cuteness and abject humor at my expense. We have all seen how you can be insulting, condescending and smug, now try answering the questions raised in this thread.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 04:30 pm
McGentrix wrote:
Owing to the fact that I started this thread to continue a conversation we were having in a different thread and as not to hijack that thread let's continue...

Frank Apisa wrote:
McGentrix wrote:
I think agnosticism is being used as a crutch in much the same way religion is.



Frankly, you lost me after those first two words, McG. I began to doubt you immediately.


What a good start! This only encourages me to not take anything you say seriously, frank. When you start a post off with an insult I just lose interest in the rest of what you have to say.


Oh, please, McG. Remember that some of us have a drink at the keyboard. My nose is all stuffed up with HiC from laughing at the notion of you being bothered by insults.

Gimme a break.



Quote:
Quote:
But... it really doesn't much matter what you think (or don't think), McG. Agnosticism is simplyan affirmation that one does not know -- and that one does not see enough evidence upon which to make a meaningful guess.

It is not a "crutch" -- and to be honest with you, it is hilarious to see you trying so hard to make it appear to be one.


So explain to me how claiming agnosticism is not used as a crutch in the same way a theist would use their beliefs as a crutch? Man has had an eternal struggle to explain the unexplainable. Some have turned to religion, some have turned away from religion. Some, it appears, just shrug and say "well, you can't prove it..."


Another amateur attempt at defining agnosticism in a way that you can mock.

Give it up. It ain't gonna work. Besides, you haven't gotten anything right about agnosticism so far except the spelling.

Agnostics do not "just shrug and say "well you can't prove it."

We simply acknowledge the TRUTH - that we do not know the answers to certain question (Ultimate Questions) - and then further acknowledge that we do not see enough unambiguous evidence upon which to make a reasonable, meaningful guess.

Why do you have so much trouble with that concept?


Quote:
All are being used by the individual to gain a grasp on the ungraspable. In that respect they are using that {insert appropriate term} as a crutch.


Wow, that was a bad sentence even for you.

I am not trying to "gain a grasp on the ungraspable" - I am acknowledging that there are certain questions I cannot answer nor guess at. (What's that make - about 2 dozen times I've mentioned that to you recently?)

Please, get someone to explain that to you. You are gonna burn out your brain fighting it.




Quote:
Quote:
In any case, several people have already called attention to the fact that many of your assumptions about agnosticism are WRONG.


Uh, no, many people have given me THEIR thoughts on agnosticism (while others have just have just given nothing) as I asked. As far as being wrong, I haven't yet seen that.


Oh, we know that! It is all too apparent.



Quote:
Quote:
Why don't you get your ducks in a row and try this some other time.

This attempt is an abject failure.

Once again, if you truly want to discuss this issue rather than attempt this very amateurish pontificating on the subject, I will be happy to accomodate you. And I suspect there are several others in this thread who feel that way also.

But using the thread the way you are is embarrassing to anyone who really feels the topic is worth discusssion.


Why don't you post again when you can do something more then these attempts at cuteness and abject humor at my expense. We have all seen how you can be insulting, condescending and smug, now try answering the questions raised in this thread.


DONE!

What next?

Do it all over again because you cannot comprehend it?
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 06:17 pm
Quote:
We simply acknowledge the TRUTH - that we do not know the answers to certain question (Ultimate Questions) - and then further acknowledge that we do not see enough unambiguous evidence upon which to make a reasonable, meaningful guess.


This is it then? This is how you are defining agnosticism?

I just want to be clear.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 06:43 pm
McGentrix wrote:
Quote:
We simply acknowledge the TRUTH - that we do not know the answers to certain question (Ultimate Questions) - and then further acknowledge that we do not see enough unambiguous evidence upon which to make a reasonable, meaningful guess.


This is it then? This is how you are defining agnosticism?

I just want to be clear.



Let me give it to you in crystal form, McG.

I do not know if a God exists.

I do not know if there are no gods.

I do not see enough unambiguous evidence upon which to base a reasonable, meaningful guess.
0 Replies
 
 

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