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Agnosticism and Honesty


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#16    IamsSon

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 04:18 PM

If you're not sure about the reality of a creator, then obviously the most logical attitude to take is one of "I don't know."  If you're taking the attitude because you actually do believe in God, but are mad at him because He's not being a good genie, then pretending not to know is simply childish.  If you are convinced there is no such being, but are playing the "better be safe than sorry" game, you would not actually be fooling that type of being and would only be fooling those around you... because you would not even be fooling yourself.

"But then with me that horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" - Charles Darwin, in a letter to William Graham on July 3, 1881

#17    ambelamba

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 05:07 PM

View PostIamsSon, on 01 April 2013 - 04:18 PM, said:

If you're not sure about the reality of a creator, then obviously the most logical attitude to take is one of "I don't know."  If you're taking the attitude because you actually do believe in God, but are mad at him because He's not being a good genie, then pretending not to know is simply childish.  If you are convinced there is no such being, but are playing the "better be safe than sorry" game, you would not actually be fooling that type of being and would only be fooling those around you... because you would not even be fooling yourself.

Trust me. I'm not really sure and I do not know.

Edited by Ron Jeremy, 01 April 2013 - 05:08 PM.

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#18    IamsSon

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 05:59 PM

View PostRon Jeremy, on 01 April 2013 - 05:07 PM, said:

Trust me. I'm not really sure and I do not know.
Sounds like you're agnostic then.  :tu:

"But then with me that horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" - Charles Darwin, in a letter to William Graham on July 3, 1881

#19    Demonic Moth

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 10:13 AM

When I say that I'm an atheist; I'm not at all making any truth claims concerning the existence of God. Rather what I'm saying, is that based on what I currently understand about the world, there is no reason to purport positively that a god exists. As far as making any claims to what I actually know, ​here I acknowledge the uncertainty innate in taking any position honestly. In this regard I'm agnostic.

The problem I have with people calling themselves agnostic in of itself, is that it really isn't descriptive of anything. Everyone makes assumptions at some level, which will either be indicative of belief in God or not. You may claim to have no strong leanings either way, but this assumes that "belief" is necessarily a conscious thing. As anecdotal as this may be; most agnostics I've met, live their lives as if there were no God.

Granted, I've been guilty of using agnostic as a way of skirting around calling myself an atheist. Mostly to avoid the connotations of strong atheism. which is a completely different thing altogether.

Edited by Isotope, 06 April 2013 - 10:14 AM.


#20    Lilly

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 10:48 AM

Some would argue that agnosticism is the only position that requires no faith as atheism requires faith that there is 'nothing'. The atheist position cannot be directly proven, but is rather an indirect form of reasoning.

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#21    eight bits

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 12:22 PM

Quote

Some would argue that agnosticism is the only position that requires no faith as atheism requires faith that there is 'nothing'. The atheist position cannot be directly proven, but is rather an indirect form of reasoning.

We often have discussions here about whether "faith" is best understood as belief, or trust, or trustworthiness. Assuming that you meant "belief," then it is a misconception that (Huxleyan) agnosticism is the absence of beliefs about gods.

Agnosticism is the belief that the existing state of evidence and argument is insufficient to support the formation of a durable opinion about the question of God. That is not an "absence of belief" or a "negative belief" or anything else other than a belief. An assessement of whether there is a warrant for adopting an uncertain contingency is a belief.

There are people who don't have an opinion about that sufficiency or insuffiency, "ignostics," for example, or people who aren't sufficiently interested in the question of God to investigate it. There are also people who've never heard that there is a "question of God." None of those people have any "faith" in the belief sense, and none of those people are Huxleyan agnostics.

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#22    Zaphod222

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 12:45 PM

View PostRon Jeremy, on 31 March 2013 - 01:51 AM, said:

I've been thinking. Deep inside of me I am gradually leaning to agnosticism. Never atheism, I just feel unsure. Sometimes it seems that there is God. Sometimes...not so much. So rather than living with a false certainly I decided to live with a certain level of uncertainty. And AFAIK, human brain hates to process uncertainty. But I have to learn to live with that. Most people don't give a damn, which is rather desirable to live a normal life. And I think I am naturally more inclined to spirituality. I have to live with that without flying into La La Land. I am trying to desensitize myself when it comes to spirituality.

People are different. Some people are comfortable with uncertainty and others simply need some definite answers. Well, here's what I think. When it comes to the mechanics of spirituality, we will EVENTUALLY come up with a definite answer. But not in this decade, century, or even in this millenium. Probably it will take tens of thousands of years for us to figure out the very nature of metaphysics and such. Just not now.

But some people really can't live without the definite answer and these tend to be religious fundamentalists. Even more interesting thing is that these people also tend to be politically conservative and hate progress. I think neurology can shed some light on this kind of tendency.

Some people in here claim that they cannot think outside of the biblical mindset. Well, I guess I should understand them because the scripture deals with the absolute truth, And there's this human nature called insecurity, which is the driving force of so many human achievements and even atrocities.

I am a rare case that the deconversion came in during the later part of life. Most people don't really abandon their religious inclination after a certain age has passed. Something happened to me, and my overall thinking process has changed once I stopped being a Christian. I became whole lot less homophobic and open to many possibilities of spiritual matters. I became pro-choice and a liberal. I used to be a staunch political conservative, although I always believed in the separation of church and state. Religious deconversion changed so much in my life. I became whole lot more tolerant to casual sex, too. (with only a few successes, though)


It seems to me you confuse quite a few things, starting with your definition of "agnostic".and "atheist". Also, your political comments seem strange. Your stereotype that all conservatives are religionists and all liberals non-religious is plain wrong. I suppose you never heard of liberation theology, or of atheist conservatives like Hitchens?

From your message it seems to me that rather abandon religion, you have moved from your old religion to your new religion of liberalism, which is just as much filled with irratioinal dogma as the one you left.

"The moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible." (Salman Rushdie)

#23    Lilly

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 06:21 PM

View Posteight bits, on 06 April 2013 - 12:22 PM, said:


Agnosticism is the belief that the existing state of evidence and argument is insufficient to support the formation of a durable opinion about the question of God. That is not an "absence of belief" or a "negative belief" or anything else other than a belief. An assessement of whether there is a warrant for adopting an uncertain contingency is a belief.

What I was trying to get at is more along the lines of "truth" verses "faith".

"That it is wrong for a man to say he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can provide evidence which logically justifies that certainty. This is what agnosticism asserts and in my opinion, is all that is essential to agnosticism" ~Christianity and Agnosticism Huxley 1889~

"Ignorance is ignorance. It is a state of mind, not an opinion." ~MID~

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#24    eight bits

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 09:34 PM

Quote

What I was trying to get at is more along the lines of "truth" verses "faith".

Fair enough. But, as the quote you provided showed, the language available to Huxley was sorely impoverished in its ability to express the experience of belief precisely and accurately, compared with what is available to us today.

An elite scientist today would reserve "certainity" in "the objective truth of a proposition" for necessary truths, the stuff of mathematics and logic, not contingent truths, where evidence suffices for proof. If that were all that was "essential to agnosticism," then agnosticism would hardly assert anything at all, and nothing that distinguished it from either theism or atheism.

Huxley is plainly operating in a regime where he and his immediate audience take for granted that  "knowledge" is "justified true belief." He is not at all addressing what actually distinguishes theism, atheism and agnosticism, which is the different contents of beliefs, not different bodies of knowledge. That a shared body of knowledge might justifiably result in three incompatible beliefs in three people is beyond Huxley's framework. We do better today. Much.

Even looking at him by the standards of his own time, Huxley made no use of geometer William Kingdon Clifford's path-breaking description of scientific truth as not that which can be ideally contemplated without error (that is, the stuff of mathematics and logic, and maybe philosophy), but that which can be acted upon without fear. But Huxley doesn't use that idea or similar ideas which date back to LaPlace. Those lines of thought were integrated and formalized only in the Twentieth Century. So, it falls to us to rehabilitate Huxley.

Regardless of how much of the task falls to us, the credit for setting the goal, and for seeing that the goal could be realized belong to him. In that sense, then, are there living Huxleyan agnostics. Nevertheless, Huxleyan agnosticism is not a revealed faith, and the record of his personal and culturally limited struggles with the nature of uncertainty are not our inerrant scripture.

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