2
   

Agnosticism: To believe or NOT to believe...

 
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 06:49 pm
I don't get the fuss. To me any opinion can be called a belief. Disbelief can also be called belief.

That's just word play.

So for this discussion to take on significance I think McG is asking whether agnosticism has similar elements to other belief *systems*.

And even then I don't get the debate. The answer depends on the individual.

Someone who believes in a god doesn't necessarily factor that belief into their "belief system".

An agnostic can, indeed, make a "belief system" out of his/her agnosticism. But that doesn't man all agnostics do.

Am I missing something? Doesn't it all boil down to what the individual does with teh belief? How much said belief factors into their life and how much it influences other beliefs?

Seriously, I think the belief that the Chicago Bulls were the greatest basketball team in history can be a "belief system".
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 08:03 pm
Craven

Some insights if you will:

How can, "I do not know the answer to that question" be a belief?

How can, "I do not have enough information to make a reasonable guess" be a belief?
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 10:30 am
It's just wordplay Frank. In both situations you can say that you believe something.

For example, you believe you do not have enough information. I, personally, believe that you have enough information.

That's why you are an agnostic and I an atheist.

But the word play is meaningless, there is a qualitative difference between belief systems. I see a lot more intellectual merit in an agnostic belief "system" than many others.

In addition, it's entirely possible to be an agnostic without making a "system" out of the belief.

That's why I don't get why this is debated, anything can be *called* a belief. It's just wordplay.

To have real meaning it would have to be taken on a case by case basis.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 11:21 am
If someone were to ask an agnostic what religion they practice, most would answer "none". If then asked if they were an atheist, most agnostics would answer "no". If pressed further, most agnostics will say "I am agnostic."

They are comparing their agnosticism to the be the equivelant to another's religion. This puts agnosticism on the same level as religion, making it a system to describe one's beliefs. An agnostic believes (feels, thinks, acknowledges, etc.) "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."
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 11:33 am
McGentrix wrote:

They are comparing their agnosticism to the be the equivelant to another's religion.


This is not true. You are comparing it to other religions and ignoring the qualitative differences.

Sure, it can be compared in very abstract and meaningless ways. For example to assert that both involves a belief of sorts.

But that does not mean it's comparable on the whole.

Quote:
This puts agnosticism on the same level as religion, making it a system to describe one's beliefs.


Yes, if you isolate a way in which you compare it then it is comparable.

Here's another bit of wordplay:

Both religion and the lack of it are comparable in that both situations tend to come into the answers to the question "what religion do you practice".

It's just meaningless wordplay.


Here's another thing you can use to compare them: zeal.

An agnostic and a religious person can both exhibit zeal.

But the comparisons fall on their faces because you are trying to assert something with meaning through meaningless wordplay.

What you are doing is similar to what many people do when they compare Bush to Hitler. Sure they can find an isolated comparison but on the whole the two men are not equivalents at all.

Quote:
An agnostic believes (feels, thinks, acknowledges, etc.) "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."


Yep, and so what?

This is a belief (that there is not enough information to draw a conclusion) but not all beliefs are created equal.


Watch:

Belief 1: The moon is made of cheese.

Belief 2: The moon is not made of cheese.

Both are beliefs. In that they are comparable. But on the whole they are not comparable.

Watch again:

Belief 1: There is not enough evidence to know whether there is a god ort not.

Belief 2: Evidence smevidence, I believe in God. He says not to eat ham. You are going to hell for eating ham. In addition, my god wants to see disbelievers punished. I shall blow you up.

Yes, both involve a belief. As does any opinion held. But there are other ways in which they are not comparable.

Of course an agnostic can make a twisted system out of it, deciding that all those who do not believe what he believes needs to die...

But this isn't inherent to agnosticism.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 12:49 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:
McGentrix wrote:

They are comparing their agnosticism to the be the equivelant to another's religion.


This is not true. You are comparing it to other religions and ignoring the qualitative differences.


So, what then, are the qualitative differences? Both religion and agnosticism deal with/around the idea of God. One believes/disbelieves, the other acknowledges they cannot say if God exists or not based on evidence presented.

Quote:
Sure, it can be compared in very abstract and meaningless ways. For example to assert that both involves a belief of sorts.

But that does not mean it's comparable on the whole.


Let's just deal with the non-abstract and meaningful ways then. Or are you saying that there can be NO camparison? If that's what you are saying, then this debate would appear to be over as if there is no comparing the 2, then there is no debate.

Quote:
Quote:
This puts agnosticism on the same level as religion, making it a system to describe one's beliefs.


Yes, if you isolate a way in which you compare it then it is comparable.

Here's another bit of wordplay:

Both religion and the lack of it are comparable in that both situations tend to come into the answers to the question "what religion do you practice".

It's just meaningless wordplay.


I think you are wrong on this.

Frank: What religion do you practice? (For the sake of this arguement, pretend I am a person on the street that you have never met and are answering there simple inquiry)


Quote:
Here's another thing you can use to compare them: zeal.

An agnostic and a religious person can both exhibit zeal.

But the comparisons fall on their faces because you are trying to assert something with meaning through meaningless wordplay.

What you are doing is similar to what many people do when they compare Bush to Hitler. Sure they can find an isolated comparison but on the whole the two men are not equivalents at all.

Quote:
An agnostic believes (feels, thinks, acknowledges, etc.) "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."


Yep, and so what?

This is a belief (that there is not enough information to draw a conclusion) but not all beliefs are created equal.


Watch:

Belief 1: The moon is made of cheese.

Belief 2: The moon is not made of cheese.

Both are beliefs. In that they are comparable. But on the whole they are not comparable.


How are these 2 examples not comparable? Both are dealing with an idea. Both could create assertions and could argue with each other for years and years over the matter.

Quote:
Watch again:

Belief 1: There is not enough evidence to know whether there is a god ort not.

Belief 2: Evidence smevidence, I believe in God. He says not to eat ham. You are going to hell for eating ham. In addition, my god wants to see disbelievers punished. I shall blow you up.

Yes, both involve a belief. As does any opinion held. But there are other ways in which they are not comparable.

Of course an agnostic can make a twisted system out of it, deciding that all those who do not believe what he believes needs to die...

But this isn't inherent to agnosticism.


Obviously in regards to agnosticism, we are only comparing it to ones views on God. You can compare it to green cheese, zeal, or what ever you want. When agnosticism is used, it is generally accepted to be stating ones belief in God. The wordplay after that is immaterial.
Question:"Do you believe in God?"
Answer: "I am agnostic."

It is a way of dealing with others about God. It is an answer to a question. It is being compared to how others deal with God.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 12:56 pm
McGentrix wrote:

So, what then, are the qualitative differences? Both religion and agnosticism deal with/around the idea of God. One believes/disbelieves, the other acknowledges they cannot say if God exists or not based on evidence presented.


Ask the same question about this situation.

One person believes he is Napoleon.

The other believes he is not Napoleon.

Do you see any qualitative difference in these beliefs?

Quote:
Let's just deal with the non-abstract and meaningful ways then. Or are you saying that there can be NO camparison? If that's what you are saying, then this debate would appear to be over as if there is no comparing the 2, then there is no debate.


Sure there's a comparison. But you seem to be trying to equate the two on a grander scale than the comparison that you are using.

E.g. both men and women are bipeds. This is a comparable quality. But this means only that. Not that they are comparable on teh whole.

Quote:
How are these 2 examples not comparable? Both are dealing with an idea. Both could create assertions and could argue with each other for years and years over the matter.


Again, both men and women are bi-peds. Do you use the terms interchangeably?

Quote:
It is a way of dealing with others about God. It is an answer to a question. It is being compared to how others deal with God.


If your entire point was that agnosticism is comparable to other beliefs on god merely because it itself is an available answer to the god questions I agree. But I also find that a thoroughly pointless exercise.

Kinda like saying that Bush and Hitler are comparable because they are both male.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 12:57 pm
McG

I do not practice any religion.

I do not know if there is a god or not -- and I do not see enough unambiguous evidence upon which to base a meaningful guess.

Your attempts to equate agnosticism with religion are absurd -- and attempts to portray it as a belief system are even further afield.


There is no belief in the statement "I do not know the answers to certain questions."

That is simply a statement of fact.

There is no belief in the statement "I do not see enough unambiguous evidence upon which to base a guess."

That is simply a statement of fact.

There is NO belief in my agnostic position.




One other thought:

Nearly as I can tell:

All religions are philosophies; but not all philosophies are religions.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 01:23 pm
Let me try a different example here.

Other than expressing ones views on god, when would agnosticism be used?

Do people commonly say they are agnostic on the end of the universe? Do people claim to be agnostic towards alien life? Is it common to be agnostic towards other things?

It seems to me that the only time agnosticiam is brought up is in relation to ones belief in God.

I can appreciate the whole unknown thing, I can appreciate the statement of fact.

"All religions are philosophies; but not all philosophies are religions." - Very true!
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 01:36 pm
McGentrix wrote:
Let me try a different example here.

Other than expressing ones views on god, when would agnosticism be used?

Do people commonly say they are agnostic on the end of the universe? Do people claim to be agnostic towards alien life? Is it common to be agnostic towards other things?

It seems to me that the only time agnosticiam is brought up is in relation to ones belief in God.


Ok, watch:

Question: Are you crazy?

Answer 1: No I am not crazy.

Answer 2: Yes, I am crazy.

Both answers are only brought up in relation to the issue about whether or not someone is crazy.

This does not mean they are comparable answers on the whole.

An IQ score is usually the result of an IQ test. So all IQ scores share the similarity of being the result of a test.

This does not mean an IQ of 60 and an IQ of 180 are comparable.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 01:42 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:
McGentrix wrote:
Let me try a different example here.

Other than expressing ones views on god, when would agnosticism be used?

Do people commonly say they are agnostic on the end of the universe? Do people claim to be agnostic towards alien life? Is it common to be agnostic towards other things?

It seems to me that the only time agnosticiam is brought up is in relation to ones belief in God.


Ok, watch:

Question: Are you crazy?

Answer 1: No I am not crazy.

Answer 2: Yes, I am crazy.

Both answers are only brought up in relation to the issue about whether or not someone is crazy.

This does not mean they are comparable answers on the whole.

An IQ score is usually the result of an IQ test. So all IQ scores share the similarity of being the result of a test.

This does not mean an IQ of 60 and an IQ of 180 are comparable.


Yes, yes, I understand that you can give examples of things that are not comparable. I understand what you are saying, believe me, you do not need to keep up with the incessant examples.

Just answer me this...

Other than defining ones belief in God, how is agnosticism used?
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 01:49 pm
McGentrix,

What is the point? Feel free to answer that question in any way that you feel is necessary to illustrate the point.

Assume I gave you the answer you select and then illustrate the point.

A long time ago I said that if you are merely comparing the fact that agnosticism is an available option to the god question then it was pointless (mainly because that's a no-brainer).

So, use whatever answer best illustrates your point and make it. If that itself is the only point my answer is:

ok

And then a:

<yawn>
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 02:45 pm
McGentrix wrote:
Let me try a different example here.

Other than expressing ones views on god, when would agnosticism be used?

Do people commonly say they are agnostic on the end of the universe? Do people claim to be agnostic towards alien life? Is it common to be agnostic towards other things?

It seems to me that the only time agnosticiam is brought up is in relation to ones belief in God.

I can appreciate the whole unknown thing, I can appreciate the statement of fact.

"All religions are philosophies; but not all philosophies are religions." - Very true!


I would say that most of the time, when the word agnostic is used -- it is used in the context of a discussion of religion.

What is your point?


P.S. -- I have recently heard a couple of different TV pundits use the word agnostic to mean "The jury is still out" on various questions that did not apply to religion in the lease.
0 Replies
 
Ruach
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 11:03 pm
McGentrix, This is a good topic.
Quote:
: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and prob. unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god.

Once what was once unknown realities is now, known realities. I do not think agnosticism is a religion. Religions have a higher power that they believe in. Agnostics claim no higher power, just their own knowledge or in this case of agnostics, the inability to have the knowledge.
But I do believe it is a belief system. Because they use their zeal as craven has said to promote agnosticism.
Most agnostics portray so much zeal that they seem to be either theist-agnostics or atheist-agnostics. Some lean toward really wanting to know and others lean towards the knowledge being unobtainable. Agnostics claim they do not know if there is a god or not and that others do not know either. And in the true sense of the definition they should suspend judgment on the issue because they feel it is unknowable.

I think agnostic is simply a less confrontational word for atheist. Doing that is perfectly consistent with our tradition of non martyrdom.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Feb, 2004 11:13 pm
Ruach wrote:

Religions have a higher power that they believe in.


This is not always true.

Quote:
But I do believe it is a belief system. Because they use their zeal as craven has said to promote agnosticism.


I said their zeal can be comparable to a religious person. I did not say that they are always this way.

Quote:
Most agnostics portray so much zeal that they seem to be either theist-agnostics or atheist-agnostics.


Most of the agnostics I know are apathetic about religion. Religious people far outnumber the non-religious in their zeal.

How many agnostics do you know who become missionaries? Or who donate money to the agnostic cause, print out agnostic literature, and go door to door spreading the word?

Quote:
I think agnostic is simply a less confrontational word for atheist.


That's funny. Frank's not allowed in my church. We don't permit agnostics, only atheists. Mr. Green

I think "atheist" is a "confrontational" word only to the inordinately zealous and those themselves given to theological confrontation.
0 Replies
 
Terry
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 12:24 am
McGentrix wrote:
If someone were to ask an agnostic what religion they practice, most would answer "none". If then asked if they were an atheist, most agnostics would answer "no". If pressed further, most agnostics will say "I am agnostic."

They are comparing their agnosticism to the be the equivelant to another's religion. This puts agnosticism on the same level as religion, making it a system to describe one's beliefs. An agnostic believes (feels, thinks, acknowledges, etc.) "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."


If you asked me what football team I belonged to and I said that I don't play football, would you still insist on pigeonholing me as a football team member and make up an imaginary team to assign me to?

We are interested spectators but see no reason to choose one team over any other. We simply do not have a religious belief system, nor do we see any need for one. Why is that so hard for you to understand?
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 01:02 am
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
agnostic


So, taking the etymology of the coinage, you can say that "agnostic" means "without knowledge"; "ignorant."

One can be ignorant of a lot of things, not just about the existence of god(s).

Also, taking this definition further in regard to god(s), an agnostic cannot say that one cannot know for certain if god(s) exist or not, because an agnostic doesn't know either which way. In regard to god(s), the agnostic simply and utterly does not know.

Frank said it early on here, "if a supposed agnostic claims that this kind of knowledge is IMPOSSIBLE -- the person is not an agnostic."

So, the dictionary definition of the word "agnostic," the one that McG is operating on, is contradictory.
0 Replies
 
Ruach
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 01:32 am
craven, Chewing my cabbage twice is something I really try to avoid. But such simple statements I made were misread.
I said...
"Most agnostics"
"Some lean"
I did not say "always"

Am I blind, what religion has no higher power?

So you say , "Most of the agnostics", which is the same thing I first said. And I said "Most agnostics"

I said, "I think agnostic is simply a less confrontational word for atheist"

If the person behind the title agnostic is confrontational then lets call the agnostic confrontational. Don't put the blame on people who are not agnostics.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 01:54 am
Ruach wrote:
craven, Chewing my cabbage twice is something I really try to avoid. But such simple statements I made were misread.
I said...
"Most agnostics"
"Some lean"
I did not say "always"


Yes, you did say that. But those were not the statements I was commenting on. I was commenting on this one:

Ruach wrote:
Because they use their zeal as craven has said to promote agnosticism.


That is not a statement with any of those qualifiers. And as it was atributed to me I clarified that I do not agree with it.

Quote:
Am I blind, what religion has no higher power?


Perhaps, as there are many. One is Buddhism, you can read about this in a book called Buddhism - A Non-theistic Religion by Helmuth von Glassenapp.

There are many other Non-theistic religions. So much so that there is that term for it. Many Asian religions tend to take this form.

Quote:
So you say , "Most of the agnostics", which is the same thing I first said. And I said "Most agnostics"


This is a really horrible way to debate. I said most are not what you claim most are. They are contradicting statements. I do not agree with you at all on this, your assertion.

For this reason I correct you when you try to portray myself as in agreement with you.

Quote:
I said, "I think agnostic is simply a less confrontational word for atheist"

If the person behind the title agnostic is confrontational then lets call the agnostic confrontational. Don't put the blame on people who are not agnostics.


Huh? That's absurd. I'm putting the blame squarely where it belongs. with the person who made the absurd contention that "atheist" is a confrontational term.

In short I am addressing you, and your statement. I can see why you'd want to deflect it to agnostics, but the argument was against an absurdity of your own creation.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 13 Feb, 2004 05:42 am
InfraBlue mentioned something that should be noted.

Dictionaries do occasionally make contradictory statements about words -- and in the case of their definition of the word "agnostic", the American Heritage Dictionary made a huge mistake.

Its comment:
Quote:
An agnostic does not deny the existence of God and heaven, for example, but rather holds that one cannot know for certain if they exist or not.
...is simply wrong.

The word "cannot" in that context is totally inappropriate. "We may not be able to know" or even "it probably is not knowable" both work -- although even the latter of those two statements does not sit well with me.

As Terry and I have both pointed out...if there is a God (one of the two possible answers to the question "Is there a God?") -- that God certainly could make itself know if It chooses to do so. If there is a God -- and if It ever chooses to reveal Itself and Its design -- I will certainly be interested.

Until then -- I do not know if there is a God -- and I do not see any unambiguous evidence that would cause me to guess there is. Also, I do not know that there are no gods -- and I do not see any unambiguous evidence that would cause me to guess there are no gods.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

700 Inconsistencies in the Bible - Discussion by onevoice
Why do we deliberately fool ourselves? - Discussion by coincidence
Spirituality - Question by Miller
Oneness vs. Trinity - Discussion by Arella Mae
give you chills - Discussion by Bartikus
Evidence for Evolution! - Discussion by Bartikus
Evidence of God! - Discussion by Bartikus
One World Order?! - Discussion by Bartikus
God loves us all....!? - Discussion by Bartikus
The Preambles to Our States - Discussion by Charli
 
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 12/07/2022 at 07:24:36