Agnostic.com

19 3

The Logic of Indecision:

If you say you are agnostic, you are saying that you do not know, but the implication is that you believe there is insufficient evidence and that no one else should claim to know either.

If you say that you are undecided you are making a statement only about yourself, a statement that needs no proof.

If you say you are an atheist, you are saying that you do not believe. However, in truth you have decided that there is no God, and the implication is that others would agree if they were as rational as you.

Am I off base here? I’m undecided.

WilliamFleming 8 Mar 22

Post a comment Reply Add Photo

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account

19 comments

Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.

0

Yes I agree. I believe everyone should be agnostic because no one really knows for sure.

0

Yes I agree. I believe everyone should be agnostic because no one really knows for sure.

1

I’ve been an atheist almost my whole life, I’m 61 years old. Somewhere along the line there seems have grown amongst atheists, and many other groups like secular humanists, Freethinkers, etc., a hostility towards agnostics. I started hearing and reading things like, “Agnostics are just fence sitters”. “Agnostics are those kind of people who never can make a decision about anything.” “Agnostics just don’t have the balls to pick a side”. “Agnostics are just afraid of conformations.” On and on. Some of it pretty brutal for a of couple groups who question the same ideas and in many ways are same side of things.

When I was 7 years old I went to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School as did most kids at that time. My parents weren’t church goers nor did they push for me to go. But it did get the kids out of their hair and I think in those days parents figured what the hell, let ‘em learn about being good like Jesus and how not to piss off God. Maybe they aren’t as likely to be little assholes.

Seven years old was also when I became conscious of the fact that a lot of what I was hearing about in these stories was, well magic. Coming back from the dead, turning water to wine, basket loads of fish appear, talking donkeys & bushes, and tons more things that were just not possible. That’s when the seed was planted, magic wasn’t real, everyone knew that. By the time I was eleven, I’d seen enough questionable things in the church (Baptist, in Calif. not southern baptist) to know that the story didn’t go like they made it sound. Skepticism had set in.

But even knowing something was rotten there, it still threw me because all these adults swore that this was the truth. Aren’t adults supposed to be smarter than kids and aren’t they supposed to know the answers to that stuff? Then I fell in love, with Science, that brought to me a whole new reality. Once I heard the term agnostic, which I understood to mean “someone who questions the belief of god or gods”, well that felt like a good fit. I wouldn’t be considered an arrogant kid who think they know everything and I’d have time to ask questions, talk with different religious leaders and people with different beliefs, read about different religions views. All these things I did. I invited Joho’s (Jehovah’s Witnesses) and Mormons into my house to talk. I asked questions. I was in the vicinity of 23 or 24 when I started calling myself an atheist. I have absorbed information like a sponge ever since, but never wavered in my lack of belief.

So, I have a real bitch of a time when someone picks on agnostics. Sure, there are some agnostics who hide behide it and use it to “please everyone”, but there’s a lot of atheists who use atheism to be “rebels” and impress the girls with the “bad boy” image, to be different, to piss off mom and dad, you name it. I called myself an agnostic because I wasn’t sure yet what was true. I was being honest. But I’m not sure what would have been my response if at that time some atheist gave me a hard time about called myself agnostic. Probably something like “Get back dude, we’re damn near on the same side. You should be there for agnostics, answer their questions, help them find facts. Not just be a dick.” Yep, that sounds like me. LOL. I just had to absorb the facts that I was coming across, this is the way it took me. Given everything, I’m 100% positive that there is no supreme being, no magic or supernatural or intelligent design.

0

Yes, you are a bit off-base.
While there are agnostics who claim, ‘I don’t know, and you can’t either’, being agnostic because you don’t know, says nothing about what others know or what anyone can know.
And while there are atheists who say, ‘there is no god and if you use logic and reason that is the only conclusion you can come to,’ calling yourself atheist because you do not actively believe in any particular god says nothing about what others can or should believe.

Maybe you should start by being specific about what you mean by ‘God’. If you’re having trouble articulating what or whether you know or believe, maybe it’s because the idea you have of god isn’t constant. --Like maybe you don’t think that god can suspend the laws of physics to perform miracles but believe that some higher intelligence had to create those laws since they exist. Some people believe god has done both of those things, some think god is not so mundane that he does things.--
Maybe clarifying what could be believed will help you understand what you do believe and/or know.

1

You are off base a bit here.

I’m an athiest because I don’t believe that a god exists. I’m not deciding there is no god. Others can disagree and even be correct because they may have more information or my logic may be flawed.

I’m agnostic because the only thing I know is that I exist. It’s entirely possible that someone else knows that god exists for the same reasons as above.

This is what confuses me about your position (which is not your uniquely, I'm just picking on you... sorry): if you are not deciding there is no god, then you are willing to accept there is a god and that would make you a theist. But you can't be an atheist and a theist at the same time. Can you help me reconcile these seemingly oxymoronic position?

@TheMiddleWay I do not accept either proposition that a god exist or one does not exist. One must be true, but I see no convincing evidence for either.

If there is a jar of marbles, the number must be odd(god exists) or even(god does not exist). If someone says the number is odd and I don’t believe them, that doesn’t mean I think the number is even.

@indirect76
And I think we've had this discussion before so no need to go on and on about it... but I also don't accept either proposition but I call myself agnostic for it, not atheist because to call myself atheist I would be leaning towards gods not existing which is contrary to the agnostic position.

I know I know, my disdain for that "agnostic atheist" label is well documented on this site and I'm sorry for beating that dead horse with broken records around you. 😀

@TheMiddleWay No worries my friend. I enjoy the discussion. People use words differently and that’s fine by me.

1

The entire theist-agnostic-atheist spectrum is problematic for several reasons, not the least of which is that they are all meaningless unless you specify which god you're referring to and describe its nature in some detail. A very reasonable person might respond to this by saying, No, they refer to all gods of any description. To which I would probably reply, I don't think it does. I think those words, in popular use, refer only to fundamentalist gods, that is to say, the gods envisioned by religious literalists.

I doubt any rational person would claim that metaphor "doesn't exist." But there is a well established history of believers who take the word "god" to be a metaphor for truth, or reality, etc. If theism only refers to a fundamentalist god, then some of the most famous Christian leaders of all time were atheists.

Another side of this collection of problems is that we rarely use the same agnostic cautions when we refer to concepts we consider to be patently false. Is the jury really still out on whether the Flying Spaghetti Monster might be literally real? Well, just as with God, we can't prove it isn't, so if we use the same reasoning, we should be agnostic about it too.

I see no reason for investing energy in holding the door open for the possibility that a literal god-person might exist. There's no more evidence for it than for the FSM. Why be agnostic about one and not the other?

Plenty of people would say then that I must be a confirmed atheist, which by certain accountings I am, but I see no reason to take up an identity based on something I don't believe, when I very much do believe that the metaphorical god is an indelible part of the human psyche, as well as a useful and enriching, not to mention central, component of human culture, and has been for as long as there have been humans. So does that make me a theist?

I'm undecided.

skado Level 8 Mar 22, 2019
2

The implication is not "that others would agree if they were as rational as me". If others have a different starting point, both sides can arrive at different points while being rational in their thinking. It all depends on your basic assumptions, your premises.

Theologians are as rational as scientists, except that the former operate within a different intellectual framework.

Theology is a faux discipline. You are correct that within that particular framing / bubble / set of assumptions there is great rigor and people can spend lifetimes and write bound sets of volumes about a particular hermeneutical system. But I don't see how that's different from a conspiracy theorist's basement workroom with maps and images all over the walls with strings of yarn connecting them. You can devise any random domain space if you accept a few premises at the outset but if those premises are unsubstantiatable to begin with then you are just expending energy that provides little other than some personal mental stimulation and self-ratifying nonsense.

My contention is that religious faith is not grounded in reality, it is at its best confusing association with cause.

In this sense, I cannot see theologians as "rational as scientists" apart from some insignificant detail like their entire intellectual framing. I see them as just as committed and rigorous and devoted, I suppose; I certainly don't think most of them are cynically manipulating people out of greed or something like that. But because one of the biggest costs to me of becoming the apostate that I am today was to acknowledge that all my quasi-intellectual notions of capital-T Truth were bullshit, it's hard for me to regard what I came out of as anything but very superficially equivalent to science.

@mordant You are confusing your personal idiosyncrasy (and your experiences etc..) with reason / rationality as such.

It would be absurd to claim that only scientists (and their fans) can be rational, because that would imply that people were not rational before the invention of science in the early modern period. What about Platon or Pythagoras or Lao Tzi or Epiktet.. were they not rational?

Even conspiracy theorists can be right - if there is a conspiracy, which is a question to be answered by empirical research. But you cannot answer the question about god or the Divine or a transcendent order by empirical research

@Matias I am not suggesting that no one is, has been, or can be reasoned or rational apart from science. However what I WAS doing, was addressing your statement about theologians being as rigorous AS scientists.

Rational thought pre-existed the scientific method, but that's not what I was addressing or responding to.

To the extent that it involves supernatural presuppositions, you cannot answer the question about god or the divine or the transcendent, period. It is not as if there's a methodology out there for that purpose, given that god, the divine and the transcendent are not available for observation or evaluation to begin with. You can gum around the edges by talking about people's thoughts, feelings, or personal subjective experiences of those things, but that's about it.

@mordant Imagine the following situation: A man, let's call him N, writes scientific books in the morning and treatises on theism and esoterism in the evening. Is he rational or not? or is he only rational in the morning and then mutuates into a an a-rational or irrational being in the evening (like Dr. Jekyll mutates into Mr Hyde)?

It is true that in the morning N. reasons on the basis of natural presuppositions, but in the evening on the basis of supernatural presuppositions.
The central question is: Is rational reasoning only possible when applied to empirical observations? Is naturalism or empiricism a prerequisite for rationality?
I would say 'no'

"Theologians are as rational as scientists, except that the former operate within a different intellectual framework"

Noice.

I would add to this that rationality does not necessitate truth: one can be very rational about something that is false or a lie as the Gettier problem or innumerable failed scientific theories teach us.

@TheMiddleWay My dictionary has no entry for the word 'noice'. What does it mean?
Noise? Nice? Slang for nonsense?

@Matias
Ha! It's just a slang way to say "Nice!" as in reflecting respect and agreement for that viewpoint.

@Matias People compartmentalize all the time, so they can be rational in some ways and irrational in others. It isn't mutually exclusive. I just trust rational thinking and distrust irrational thinking, and so try to do more of the former than the latter.

One can be what I suppose could be termed "relatively" or "contextually" rational. When I was a fundamentalist I made pretty rational decisions within the framing of all my irrational and unsubstantiatable presuppositions about reality. That made my decisions SEEM rational to me, until lived experience diverged enough from what religious faith explained and predicted concerning it, and then I had to start questioning it.

They say "nothing succeeds like success" and the corollary is "nothing fails like failure". The constant surprises I experienced forced me to re-evaluate the rationality of my decisions. My religious faith told me for instance, "marry a good Christian girl and everything will work out in your marriage". I married a good Christian girl (or at least what I understood to be one) and everything most definitely did NOT work out in my marriage. That kind of got my attention. It was rational, I thought, to follow the advice of people I had been taught were wiser and more experienced than I and worthy of my respect and trust. It was rational, I thought, to follow precepts and guidelines that were alleged to be "tried and true". But it most certainly wasn't, ultimately, in my rational self-interest. And so it needed re-evaluating.

So I think I pretty much fit the pattern of your hypothetical "N". I wrote software by day and lived out authoritarian presuppositionalist religion by night for a good, embarrassing chunk of my adult life. I was very much rational in one realm and irrational in the other.

1

None of the above. My stance is I don't care. Which classification is that?

"Animal" (they do not care. Humans usually do care, in one way or another)

@Matias Funny... No, I am not an animal but still I don't care if God exist, does not exist, etc. Not sure what animals got to do with anything here anyway. You're entitled to your opinion, that part I can agree upon

@maturin1919 If that's the name then that's what I am.... Thx

@maturin1919 Maybe IamBot

Well, if you “don’t care” why are you asking for classification? There’s probably millions of different reasons why people end up identifying with a name or group. Mine was simple. I don’t believe in a god or gods. No surpreme beings. No supernatural. No power in crystals. No tarot cards. No bending spoons with one’s mind. Given my non belief I didn’t want try and figure out what title suited me. Plus I came of age in the ‘70s, we weren’t all about titles. So why not put names in a hat and you draw what your label is. Then you have explain, every single time it comes up, what a Freethinker, Skeptic, Secular Humanist, Anti-theist, Naturalist, Pantheists, Deist, just name a few, what they mean and then answer untold number of questions, “So does a pannithist celebrate Christmas still?”

I went with atheist because it’s simple, to the point, everyone has heard of them, most theists no longer think we’re devil worshipers, which is nice, although I miss being asked about the orgies at midnight mass when we eat babies (I used to say BBQ was still my favorite), but it cuts to the chase. That’s really all it was based on for me. It’s worked well for close to 50 years.

@Loridae Gee, talking about overthinking just a little bit. Not that you have to explain anything to me but thanks. Good for you.

5

Strictly speaking, the agnostic argument is the most "correct", because no one knows for sure if a supreme being does or does not exist therefore it is not scientific to be either because neither position is testable. Your position is perfectly justified and logical.

However, being agnostic has very little pragmatic merit, because admitting that you don't know and in fact can't know implies you lack motivation to gain societal benefits from either belief.

I am atheist because I believe that the benefits of being atheist far outweigh the merits of believing in any religion. For example, killing someone has absolute consequence if there is no afterlife. If there isn't a supreme being directing everything that happens it means you have to take control of your life by exercising your agency to achieve the best outcome possible in the finite time you have been granted. This philosophy provides a much deeper meaning to life than just "to get into heaven" and that alone is more than enough reason to abandon faith altogether.

The pragmatic merit, as I practice my agnosticism, is not in lacking motivation from accepting either belief bur rather the ability to not dismiss either belief and be willing to accept each on it's merits. The agnostic is more likely to understand both sides and find a peaceful compromise IMO. The agnostic is less likely to be guided by bias about gods and thus be a more impartial judge of the evidence for both sides IMO.

3

IMO all three AGNOSTIC ; ATHEIST and UNDECIDED are all logical and strong positions , but at least you are pointing out that there are differences between them as many people think they all (or a pair of them) are the same. I would say that AGNOSTIC is the best position perhaps because it is most flexible - awaiting the discovery of future facts.
Just choose the one you are most comfortable with . Worry does not help choices. and await further developments.

I disagree that atheism isn’t open to future facts. Atheists do not subscribe to some dogma that states ‘There is no god, there can be no god, no evidence will ever convince us.’ We all draw conclusions about the world around us based on observations. Atheism is the conclusion that all the god hypotheses that have been presented thus far don’t hold true after observation. If presented with a new god hypothesis that did hold true after observation, an atheist would believe in that new god.

5

I'm an atheist.
I do not believe ANY gods have EVER existed, anywhere, at any time.
There is no credible, verifiable evidence to convince me otherwise.

I cannot control what other people think, do, or say.
The "debate" over it is completely pointless to me.

As far as you are econcerned, the debate is over. To continue debate is pointless. This is what I see you saying. Good for you.

@BudFrank Exactly. There are no gods. Never have been any, never will be any. ALL gods have been man-made, ALL religion is man-made.
Religious faith is a mental illness. Insisting delusions are real is a mental illness.

What is there to debate?

Debate Useless; Discussion Useful .

@Mcflewster Depends on the discussion. In this instance, debate and discussion are both pointless.

@KKGator A sad conclusion which you have every right to make

@Mcflewster My "conclusion" is not "sad". It is what is practical.
It is a waste of time to discuss delusions. Either with those who believe in them, or those who try to explain them.
Being practical is more important than trying to understand crazy people.

@KKGator Sorry but are you saying that our MDs should not discuss delusions? Our doctors MIGHT even help us to stop talk about any god or maybe not? They do know more than me about the way the brain works.

@Mcflewster Wasn't talking about MDs. But hey, you go right ahead and jump to all the conclusions you please.
Enjoy your voyage into irrelevance.

@KKGator It is not a conclusion. It is a surmise. Everyone needs to know how to sort out delusion from reality. We ALL need all the help we can get from whatever source we can get. Have a nice day!

2

Not "there is no god". Instead "there is no evidence to support the existence of god". There's a difference.

1

I have heard of Atheist, Hard Atheist, Soft Atheist, Agnostic Atheist, Gnostic Atheist, Agnostic, Hard Agnostic, Soft Agnostic, Sceptic, Agnostic Sceptic, Humanist, etc.. Many meant different things when used by different people, and many meant the same things when used by different people. Word soup,. Use what you like, but always explain carefully where you stand before you start to talk about something more important than the usages/meanings of the accidents of cultural history we call words.

2

You know, I'd go so far as to posit that should a god suddenly and incontrovertibly appear (and if it's made from or by computers, the same applies) - the agnostics might accept it... The atheists probably can't, in the sense of a religion or having 'faith', because we don't know how to do that, it isn't in our worldview. We'd perhaps just see it as a new form of ruler.

I beg to differ over
"{ because we don't know how to do that {faith}"
I take faith to mean "Belief without evidence"

In fact we use faith a lot in our lives because we have not time to fully investigate the truth of every matter. Our 'Beef' is about using it within religion where it leads to delusions and lack of responsibilities for decisions

I think that saying that an atheist cannot accept a change is a misnomer. Atheists strongly believe that there is no god because of overwhelming evidence often despite others insisting to believe. This is just an intellectual exercise but I would say that it has little to no value. If presented with evidence I would change my mind but I will never change my mind because there is no god.

@CK-One normally I'd agree but I think this is a special case... you remember an old sci-fi short story, sorry forgotten by whom, where they plug in the big big computer to end all computers and some guy has been chosen to ask it the big question.... he says "is there a god?" and then he tries to pull the plug too late - "There is now!"

@Mcflewster that's one definition of faith, sure. Not what I meant.

@Allamanda Please let us hear your definition of faith -in a separate posting if you prefer.

@Mcflewster isn't this a great thread? I finally managed to make it interesting! at least I hope not only to me!

@mzbehavin that's getting nearer to what I meant by 'faith' - worship is a good way to put it, thanks

@mzbehavin there are many older and wiser and cleverer than I - I wouldn't presume! But glad it's a day that's right!

4

I take it a step further: I'm an apatheist: on the god question I don't know, I don't care and it doesn't matter.

I'll no more argue this point with a gnostic atheist than a theist. At this point in the very limited knowledge (and wisdom) of humankind I can think of no greater waste of time.

It is only a waste of time to argue about this if you are trying to come to an absolute answer. It is exactly the same as arguing about which comic book superhero could win in a fight.

However religion plays an important role in both personal goals and geopolitical policies. (Anyone want to go on a crusade later?) Just making it harder for people to be convinced to commit atrocities is reason enough to move away from religious dogmas, and for that reason I believe your philosophical stance does matter, and arguing about it is not a waste of time.

@Happy_Killbot Preach it, Bro!

2

Because I reached my atheism by way of science and philosophy, I am a person who reached the decision indirectly and not immediately. Would a religious person who took the same path I did also come to the same conclusion? I am not sure. I was raised in a religious household and only questioned the existence of God after I was taking university courses that fostered skepticism and the need to seek out the answers to the big questions: existence and the meaning of life. And once religion is viewed as a social construct it's difficult if not impossible to put that genie back in the bottle and renew religious faith.

I picture this path more as a set of junction railway lines and which way you set the points dictate your thinking from the time the points are changed.

@Mcflewster Ahh, train analogy.

6

I am agree with atheists in asserting that there is no reasonable evidence or argument for god. Yet I remain agnostic, because as the Bard said "There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy". Human knowledge is limited.

cava Level 7 Mar 22, 2019

Nailed it!

2

It's Ourobourian... and does it matter anymore?

"A snake eating its own tail" ,for those of us who are unfamiliar with that term. And a great image in this context.

2

To me the importance of the term is not that important, to me I'm an atheist I have no God or gods or proof there of, for me to think further about it would be a waste of time.
to quote the lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott "the more you over check the plumbing the easier it is to stop up the drain"

I remain agnostic. I have no gods or god and if a superior being showed up I wouldn't call it a god. I question the interwoveness of the universes. Question I say, no postulates from me. I don't know.

Write Comment
You can include a link to this post in your posts and comments by including the text q:315696
Agnostic does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content. Read full disclaimer.