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ambelamba

Agnosticism and Honesty

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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)

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Well, agnostic is not a synonym for uncertain. A synonym for that is human. Nobody knows with certainty any contingent fact, which is to say, anything with certainty except tautologies, some subtle (the Pythagorean Theorem), others surface (no thing is not itself).

Religious agnosticism is professing that the current state of evidence and argument is an insufficient foundation for the speaker to form a stable opinion about whether a god exists and if so, whether they interact(ed) with the natural world. I usually combine the two ontological questions into one, calling it the "Question of God," as many others do, too. A being that didn't interact naturally wouldn't be, IMO, what any big number of people have ever meant by "god."

From your post, I can't tell whether or not I'd describe you as agnostic. You, of course, may describe yourself however you please. If all you really meant to ask was your subtitle, "Can't we just say 'not sure'?" then of course we can. However, it doesn't really add anything to what another person already is "practically certain" about you, that you aren't literally sure.

I don't think you're an agnostic, for what it's worth. You seem to be between religions, or if you prefer, a "searcher." It is simply religious bigotry to treat my religion as if it were some kind of way station between "real" kinds of religious belief systems, like theism or atheism. While anything is posible, there is no serious reason to think that I will ever be anything except an agnostic for the rest of my life. You, I suspect, won't be a searcher for the rest of yours.

You didn't much like the variety of Protestantism you grew up in, have obviously abosrbed its anti-Catholic bigotry, and I suspect you have never looked into what the other apostolic-succession churches teach. You live in the United States, and seem politically liberal. I'd recommend Unitarian-Universalist. "Non-creedal," which is how they describe themselves, is much closer to the religious views that you describe in your OP than "agnostic." UU gatherings are also an efficient place to meet socially upscale women without religious hangups about fraternization, which seems to be a major and stable factor in your spirituality.

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I just like to be open minded. I believe there's something after death, maybe a divine being. But I don't believe in 'God' as he is described. The god created for the bible may very well be based off something, but the bible is an interpretation. It was not written by god and cannot be proven as thus.

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I'm atheist, I don't believe in god. That's honesty.

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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)

Ron it seems to me from your discourse here that you are more concerned with what others think of you than what you think of God. I'm probably wrong on that but it is the way it sounds. I'm one of those who does think in absolutes. That mind that hates uncertainty has to accept that life is full of it for those who require ultimate understanding in all things. That's why the CHOICE of faith gives so many comfort. Respectfully, you might ask yourself how many Christians really attack others for their non-commitment to Christ. Is it really such a large number? I don't condone their ignorance btw.... but if you don't believe anyway, then why should their opinions matter?

The day today is about rebirth for Christians. It is about a promise made and the expectation that it will be kept. In short, it's about HOPE. And hope is the one thing humans cannot truly live without IMO.

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I'm atheist, I don't believe in god. That's honesty.

You stole my line! Your honest but a thief lol;)

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Posted (edited)

You didn't much like the variety of Protestantism you grew up in, have obviously abosrbed its anti-Catholic bigotry, and I suspect you have never looked into what the other apostolic-succession churches teach. You live in the United States, and seem politically liberal. I'd recommend Unitarian-Universalist. "Non-creedal," which is how they describe themselves, is much closer to the religious views that you describe in your OP than "agnostic." UU gatherings are also an efficient place to meet socially upscale women without religious hangups about fraternization, which seems to be a major and stable factor in your spirituality.

I am already attending one in my area already. But to meet some quality women I will have to drive all the way down to Santa Monica! :D There's one major UU congregation in Santa Monica but I haven't checked them out yet.

Edited by Ron Jeremy
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Posted (edited)

In fact, my anti-Vatican (not necessarily Catholics themselves) attitude came mostly from my anti-Christian mindset. I know that there are many good Catholics out there (in fact,too many of them) but I see Vatican as more of a political entity with some agenda than a purely religious and spiritual center of a major religion.

See, I had an epiphany today. When I was attending a UU service for Easter, something dawned on me: God doesn't judge. And this revelation is rather incompatible with certain facets of the Scripture itself. I dunno, Bible is a very multi-faceted book with some nice sides and really ugly sides mashed up together....

Edited by Ron Jeremy
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Ron it seems to me from your discourse here that you are more concerned with what others think of you than what you think of God. I'm probably wrong on that but it is the way it sounds. I'm one of those who does think in absolutes. That mind that hates uncertainty has to accept that life is full of it for those who require ultimate understanding in all things. That's why the CHOICE of faith gives so many comfort. Respectfully, you might ask yourself how many Christians really attack others for their non-commitment to Christ. Is it really such a large number? I don't condone their ignorance btw.... but if you don't believe anyway, then why should their opinions matter?

The day today is about rebirth for Christians. It is about a promise made and the expectation that it will be kept. In short, it's about HOPE. And hope is the one thing humans cannot truly live without IMO.

Sorry to bring out some sci-fi mumbo jumbo, but sometimes I wonder if humans were ENGINEERED to find comfort in faith, so that we can be easily controlled by technologically superior beings posing as gods.

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I just like to be open minded. I believe there's something after death, maybe a divine being. But I don't believe in 'God' as he is described. The god created for the bible may very well be based off something, but the bible is an interpretation. It was not written by god and cannot be proven as thus.

This.

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I used to be atheist, but I found spirituality in everything.

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I can fairly easily explain my views summarized....I believe spirits can easily exist,there may be 1 supreme creator(maybe all the religions through time have had their own bit of truth about who/what it really is) though from the religions i have studied in the past a lot of their teachings have way to many contradictions in them for me to set my whole way of life around.Then in turn tell everyone else mine is the one true way or else smoke,fires,and demons.Sorry but if there is one supreme being i think with all the universes,dimensions,time,and space he/she/it would be much more interested in all of this than us humans and our silly little lives and ways.I think we as humans have put far more self importance on ourselves and our ways of being than any one creator ever would have intended.I try not to demean others religions or beliefs though not my place to judge,Live and let live :tu:

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I think some agnosticism is good for everyone, theist and atheist alike. We should all keep in mind that we don't really KNOW. When confronted with the unknowable we make mental bubbles for ourselves and defend them to the death against all comers. Uncertainty is keeping open to growth. A rigid belief closes the door. Maybe that is what idolatry is. As Voltaire says, "Doubt is uncomfortable but certainty is ridiculous". Whatever image we have of the ultimate, it is just that, an image.

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I think some agnosticism is good for everyone, theist and atheist alike. We should all keep in mind that we don't really KNOW. When confronted with the unknowable we make mental bubbles for ourselves and defend them to the death against all comers. Uncertainty is keeping open to growth. A rigid belief closes the door. Maybe that is what idolatry is. As Voltaire says, "Doubt is uncomfortable but certainty is ridiculous". Whatever image we have of the ultimate, it is just that, an image.

Well said im not exactly what one would call religious,not exactly athiest either.I can never see myself proclaiming to be of any group of organized religion much like politics to much corruption,to much hatred for others based on senseless ideas,to much there is only 1 way OUR way.I can live and die without all of that ;)

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I used to believe that Bigfoot might exist although I wasn't completely convinced. After 40 years of no new evidence and researchers making money from books, television shows and public appearances, I've now leaned strongly toward believing Bigfoot doesn't exist.

My view of religion has gone through a similar transformation.

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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.

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Posted (edited)

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

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

Sounds like you're agnostic then. :tu:

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Posted (edited)

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

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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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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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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.

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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~

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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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