the first one takes place and participates in the debate between theists and atheists, the agnostic stance consisting in the suspension of judgment.
Typically (and certainly historically) the theists put forward the claim "There exists a God, and He has the following characteristics...".
Then the atheists deny that such a God exists.
The agnostics accept the definition of "God" but do not side with either the theists or the atheists.
And then there is another sort of agnostic, but "agnosticism" in this case is but an euphemism for intellectual laziness. Such an agnostic refuses to participate in the debate and his or her stance can be summed up as follows:
As for "God" : anything goes
I do not know anything
I do not care
The essential difference between the two is that the former takes the debate seriously by accepting the common ground of this debate: the notion of God that is being asserted by the theist and denied by the atheist. In the absence of such a common ground, a meaningful discussion is impossible. A person who calls him- or herself "agnostic" should accept this common ground, or they should stay out of the debate altogether.
So the fact that I spend lots of time thinking about and discussing topics not related to god or religion apparently isn't good enough to win me a place outside the realm of intellectual laziness because I refuse to participate in one particular debate. Good to know.
Might want to look up the definition to the term "false dichotomy."
Sorry but the point of the debate is - god exists, or doesn;t exist - and neither side of the debate can ever be proven ---- unless the sky parts and a quaint old white headed guy drifts down on a fluffy cloud.... it is a circuklar debate doomed to be inconclusive - so what is the point
First your definitions are narrow and exclusive. I'm an atheist because I don't believe in god. I don't deny that god might exist, but in the absence of further evidence, I follow Occham's razor. Hitchens' razor also seems sensible in this case. I don't care what you believe or what label you choose, but quit telling me what the fuck I believe and don't try to redefine these terms to fit your story.
As too those "intellectually lazy agnostics" I think they are wise to not waste time pursuing evidence that cannot exist. If god's existence is irrelevant to them, so what? Who are you to tell them what they should or shouldn't discuss. Your position is extremely arrogant.
The agnostic tells that the question about God given what we can know is useless. Even if there is a good it don't show itself, there is no way to know what it wants. So simply go on with life as if don't exists, because in the end what we can rely is what we build.
The difference of agnostic and atheust is that for the agnostic there is no sense in discussing about a question that is by definition impossible to answer (because it it no fasiable).
Although this text makes sense, I have a problem with you using the word "should". As an agnostic, I have the freedom of choice to participate or not in any discussion. Accusing an agnostic of "intellectual laziness" because of that is ignorance. Some of them might be very intelligent and highly intellectual but they choose not to participate, which is a legitimate choice. I know I'm not highly intelligent and I don't dare to claim that I'm more enlightened than others because I'm agnostic. As you said, and very well, I don't take any of the sides, like any agnostic, as I don't accept the arguments and proof as facts. I don't think that atheists and even theists are less enlightened than the others in general. I know people from all these categories that are quite well informed and open minded. So it's not about how religious or not, it's about the person itself.
I think an agnostic can examine and refute a particular definition offered for a particular God and remain an agnostic. The claims of the existence of a diety are not something that can be readily verified and so we have numerous definitions for God - even within a single religion - with no means for determining which is correct and which aren't. Evidence is completely lacking and very often the evidence offered by believers is of an unreliable nature (such as a feeling). Believers also don't typically address how to differentiate between their God and an imposter who possesses the defined characteristics of their God, but is not God. While the agnostic may side with the atheist in refuting one definition of God, it does not exclude that God may exist, just not under an offered definition.
As I read the dictionary.com definition of agnostic, it says "a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience." This is very much how I feel about my agnosticism.
I agree but with one caveat. Some agnostics and atheists think they are accepting common ground, but actually they've assumed a-priori what "God" is under discussion. They assume things about theism that are not true from the point of view of the theist, and, consequently, debaters on both sides miss each other in the debate.
In any debate there needs to be clarity as to what it is one is debating, and that means making no a-priori assumptions.
But thanks for a helpful post!
I was a Jehovah's Witness and got involved in the ex-JW community online for some time. Many have made it their vocation to try to bring down the Watchtower organisation and challenge JWs online. Some, like myself, don't want to give the organisation any more of my time. So I can relate to what's described here as the 'lazy' approach.
does the agnostic in your first definition hold the suspension of judgements for all different religions, or is it suspension only in the case of their religion? i believe in most cases it is them coming to terms with their own religion. i read your post as the same. agnostic about a christian god. or a muslim god, mormon god... pick one.
i disagree with you. if you are an anti-theist first and believe that all known religions and myths are man made and disprovable and therefor don't believe their gods are true, you can still believe that an unknown, undiscovered god may exist. suspension of judgment without accepting any theist's definition of a god. defining the new god or giving it attributes is an issue. not much different than inventing a religion (cult), so good luck arguing your point if you come up with a definition to test against a theist or an atheist, but, the stance is not intellectually lazy. imo, there is not common ground between an agnostic anti-theist arguing with an agnostic theist.
i actually think it is odd to be an atheist about ALL OTHER gods and hang on to agnostic belief about the one your parents likely assigned. cannot get my head around it.
I try to stay out of the debate but it is not because of laziness. I sincerely think that it is futile to debate about a higher level of reality that can not be understood or known.
The debate is over existence, right? Our human concept of existence involves sustenance over time, but time is nothing but an illusion according to modern physics. Clearly we do not even know what it means to exist. We do not understand our own existence—how can we have an intelligent discussion about the existence of this God figure?
It is perfectly reasonable to point out the mythical nature of old scriptures, to disbelieve the many far-fetched tales of the Bible, to ridicule the idea of hell. But when it comes to ultimate reality beyond the sense world we are totally in the dark and to pretend otherwise demonstrates a lack of basic awareness.
Labels don’t make a person! From my experience many religions and the atheist position are trying to sell something. I understand the religious product but not the atheist.
Both positions open debate which provides an intellectual exercise in critical thinking. Right or wrong is irrelevant unless you want to sell your product.
It’s an intellectual tragedy when one argument must be right or wrong. This isn’t agnostic disinterest. It’s enabling a position within the debate without the investment in an outcome.
The atheist and the deist are talking about an anthropomorphic, personal god-entity, one says it exists, the other says it doesn't.
The agnostic agrees THAT kind of god could not and does not exist, in all likelihood, so in that narrow sense agrees with the atheist.
He or she does NOT agree, however, with the assertion NO god exists. Maybe yes, maybe no.
After a few go-arounds, the "debate" becomes repetitious and boring, which is why if you've been coming to this site for long, you eventually yield the floor and let the next "generation" of agnostics carry on the fight.