Okay, so there is always the Atheist vs. Agnostic vibe in here. I don't want to directly add fuel to that particular fire.
But I do have a question, that probably won't be answered by fact, but by opinion and/ or observation and/ or personal experience.
Thus, therefore and because of, my question is:
How long can a person remain Agnostic and not falloff the fence into either belief or non-belief?
Thank you in advance
46 years and agnostic since about 15. I think that there must be a higher intelligence (cannot prove it) you could call it instinct if you may (certainly not knowledge) However, no religion or faith makes any sense to me. I do not believe in the concept of revelation either. Does not makes sense to me if existence is only in this physical body and that is all our existence. Do not fear death or any concept of “damnation”. I try to learn as much as I can from informed fine people like most of you but I do not ignore my instincts of the possibility of higher intelligence beyond my comprehension. And there you have it: agnostic but not yet atheist. Certainly that no religion makes sense to me.
With something like 2900 monotheistic religions, each one saying that it is the only true one, what is the probability of any one of them being right?
2899 of them are wrong. Mathematically the odds would be one in 2900. Realistically, backed with evidence......1 in 100 trillion billion ?
That answer would depend on an individual and his processing of his/her experience and known facts.
Since when did Observation and personal experience get relegated from being a fact btw? Did you want those collaborating and t testing before you’ll consider them valid? Life is an ongoing experiment
For as long as you can keep an open mind and can be comfortable with — or at least tolerate — acknowledging that all your “questions” may not be valid and that you may never find satisfying “answers.” A lot of people find uncertainty disquieting. Oh yeah: And pay your dues to keep your membership current.
In this realm, it will always be a matter of opinion. At least until the deity or science, confirms for us all that the answer is BLANK! once and for all. In other words, it's up to you.
As for How long can a person remain Agnostic and not fall off the fence into either belief or non-belief?
As long as they want. Maybe it's a short journey between theism and atheism (as these things tend to be). Or maybe it's the stance of a lifetime of other focuses.
I can only speak for myself, but being undecided (however, you want to phrase it, given the hostility towards associating this stance with agnosticism) may well be where I plant my stake permanently. It's allowed me to close the book on this topic and develop my other interests, while still leaving room for change.
This position isn't the easiest to defend to others in the community, in places like this. But that does not bother me since I don't require other people to GET it for it to be legitimate for me.
I've pondered this topic over many years since my teen years, evolving my position occasionally in the process. Most I encounter embed themselves on a treadmill of cookie-cutter ideology and easy to regurgitate talking points. And this is coming from both ends of the Dawkins scale!
Note: I don't necessarily consider the Dawkins scale to be a correct measure, particularly towards the mid portions of the scale. It's just a handy prop to grab for such writing as this.
To close it off, stay on the fence/in the middle ground/an agnostic for a little or as lengthy a time as you want.
I don't see the whole spectrum of belief and disbelief as static. Individuals change their minds about their beliefs all the time and it is not just agnostics "falling off the fence." Theists become atheist, atheist take on a theistic belief, and agnostics change to atheism or theism.
I identify as an agnostic but I believe it also falls into the realm of atheism since I have no specific belief in diety. But agnosticism isn't just fence sitting. In my case, I don't believe God is a knowable entity by human beings. I don't believe human beings with our sensory perceptions or our cognitive abilities can discern between God and an impostor who has abilities or knowledge superior to our own - the greater the difference, the more difficult to discern. Consider the scenario of the alien astronauts coming to earth and encountering prehistoric man. Their abilities would necessarily be far more advanced than that of ancient humans and our distant ancestors could easily mistaken these beings as supernatural Gods. Such phenomenon has occurred with primitive peoples when they come into contact with more advanced cultures. Even today with our own advanced knowledge of the natural world, we may be better prepared to determine a divine fraud, but this does not mean that some beings couldn't have abilities or knowledge which could fool our own to discern. For me, agnosticism is as much a belief that God is unknowable and not just a question of not knowing whether or not if God exists.
I sometimes wonder: What if Satan actually won and threw Yahweh out of heaven and all of that information, healing and guidance that has come down since then was actually Satan's wods & deeds and not God's? How would anyone know?
What if God is actually being held by Lucifer in a celestial dungeon and the Big Red Guy is sending out pronouncements as God himself? What if Satan was the Lucky Dude that impregnated Mary ?????
All we really know is what "someone, something" is telling us !
@twill - We can play the 'what if' game all day long and the questions have as much validity of any other speculations. Something many people do (to screw themselves up, I've been guilty) is to look back at their lives and say "If only I had done something different." The truth of this game is that if we had made a different decision in our lives at some time in the past, while it may seem to have solved problems we have today from the path we took, we cannot honestly say that the ultimate outcome of a supposed path wouldn't have been far worse for us in the long run. We tend to see such scenarios in the best light without knowing what the pitfalls and downsides are. It would be like when we compare our worst selves (because we know what that might be more than anyone else) to our perception of someone else's best self. For my purposes, I think the real question is how do we discern which is true and which is a lie? It's a more difficult question to answer and shouldn't dissuade us from speculating about what could be. But what could be is infinite while what is has many fewer options.
@RussRAB I probably didn't make this clear but I'm not saying "what if"....I'm saying this is the truth and we just don't know it. Satan could be seated on the throne in heaven right at this moment!
All of the religious speak of his trickery. So .....yeah it's just Lucifer playing God up there and none of us are the wiser.
Reality is....NOBODY knows who is sitting on that throne at this moment. Not a "what if"
@twill - I agree, no one knows that there is any throne much less who sits on it. Speculating that Satan sits on a throne in heaven and speculating what that might mean is a "what if" question because no one knows. "What if" there is a heaven and God sits on a throne there, then certain conditions might be described different from "what if" Satan sits on that same throne in heaven. But Satan may be a figment of our imagination like the boogieman under our bed or hiding in the closet when we were 8 years old. Likewise, God may be part of our imagination, as well as heaven and all those things we were taught in Sunday School. What if only requires our imagination and is infinite vs. what is which has many fewer options - and the standards required for each of these two are also very different.
I think to believe that there is a sentient being out there that not only controls the universe and everything in it is beyond all reason. However, to believe something exists beyond what our human senses can detect is not so unreasonable. I don't know who or what discovered the true nature of water but, I'm pretty sure it was'nt a fish. Will we ever discover the true nature of our being? I doubt it. Does it matter? Only in so far as we can develop enough knowledge to prosper as individuals and as a species. The unexamined life is not worth living. So, examination is beneficial regardless of the result of the inquiry. Therefore to be agnostic is not a gateway to atheism. It's the only worthwhile state of being, Yes I am studying to become a minister but, New Thought is sort of a Spiritual Humanism. Just so you know where I'm coming from.
I haven't noticed that at all. Maybe I'm too distracted by external politics.
Good question, though I doubt a scientific test exists for which to exclude personal conjecture.. With that, I’ve always viewed Agnosticism as that transitional point between make believe & reality. The reasons anyone would follow either are too varied to speculate. It’s not easy sitting on a fence, or watching life pass you by…
[edited,text to test]
I am Atheist entirely, 100%, but as a Freethinker I accept the fact I can be wrong no matter how sure I am. Does that make me Agnostic?
@FrankA This is my take on why: Atheism is the lack of belief in any gods--nothing more. It is not a claim about knowledge. If a person does not actively believe that some sort of god exists, they are an atheist.
If a person states "there might be a god, or there might not be one, we simply cannot know for sure" they still lack the belief that there actually IS one (or more) which is the definition of atheism.
And, atheists, even though "some" deny it, are also agnostic in that, if we are being intellectually honest, we must accept that it simply cannot be "known" whether or not some being or universal consciousness, we would call a god, exists.
We can only say that, as it stands, we see no evidence for such a being and our science shows us that no god/consciousness is necessary for the universe to behave as it does; so there is no reason to insert one.
This said, I think it can be successfully argued that specific gods cannot exist. The god of the bible, for instance, is not only too human, but too contradictory to exist. It cancels itself out.
@maturin1919 If a human calls a Leprechaun a "god", then that Leprechaun is a "GOD". The same if a human calls a fish or a Wallaby a "god".
In this regard Frank is correct about gods existing....because some people have said so!
That question is unanswerable, because it assumes that agnostics are just dithering between making the decision to become fully atheist or going back to fully believing, which is not so. You can actually be both atheist and agnostic, they are not mutually exclusive. There has started to be a niggling between those who identify as either one or the other, but in my opinion it’s being driven by a small number of agnostics who seem to think that because they are smaller in numbers here they need to compensate by being overly aggressive. I identify as both, incidentally, although I don’t find labelling ourselves very helpful, as it merely highlights our differences when we should unite around our commonalities.
Thank you. A recent reply I made said the same thing. I got that from a report on the differences between the two and actually agnosticism is a subset of atheism.
I am an agnostic atheist. I have no belief in god. I also understand that not everything is knowable. It has nothing to do with fence sitting, but I generally hesitate describing myself as agnostic for the very reason that many people do not understand what it means, and I am not in the mood to educate people.
I spent most of my life in that position. Finally.... It felt right to just claim Atheism for me and be done with it. it was fence sitting. For me anyway.
Anyone who describes “no belief in god” as opposed to, ‘no belief in a god’ is an Agnostic … not an Atheist.. Explaining such a contradiction as an “agnostic atheist” must be exhausting ..as it would never add up
Gnosticism (knowledge)and theism (belief) are different things and not mutually exclusive
If you believe a god(s) exists you are a theist
if you don't believe gods exist, you are an atheist.
I am an atheist - so I do not believe the claims of theists that gods exist. I do not know that gods could not exist in some form in some universe so as such I am an agnostic atheist. As soon as someone can define their god and provide sufficient evidence for their claim, I will be a theist.
I'm not agnostic and consider those who are to be mostly people who recognize that life or animation and vegetation are manifested by unknown yet perceivable causes. Function is, unlike deities, something we can observe in living things and intentionality can be reasoned from life processes/manifestations.
Rejection of deities and theologies propagating notions that such entities exist is what I consider atheist to mean; almost equally adjective and noun. Agnostics seem to remain suspicious that functional phenomena occurring around them might not be a very broad, unknowable cosmic Nature at work, but a human-like super personality with tender feelings about rejection.
I think one can accept such things as life, love, thinking and reasoning, and work to be rooted in Nature and Nature's unknowable intentions without envisioning the source as ANYTHING even close to human. There HAS TO BE better than us out there in the cosmos.
Faculties of thought and reason are all that is necessary to see ourselves and our place in Nature if we can do away with the blinders of 'isms', both theological and secular. They all harness and enslave our creature potential as addictive and secondary rooted, contrived pockets, considered by their captives to be "reality".
... just supposing that you get an answer you like, whether it be opinion or observation/ personal experience ... what good is it? What do you gain from that answer?
... curious minds want to know.
Someone can be on the fence forever if it is something they don't think about or analyze. Some people just don't care, and I think that would leave then "on the fence."
Agnostic and always agnostic. I don't take any of the sides. I would take Socrates words, I only know that I nothing know (hopefully I quoted this right).
I think we may have more beliefs in common than not. I also identify as agnostic and don't rule out the possibilities of entities or beings with greater knowledge or abilities than ourselves. Even "lesser" beings (are they really or just different?) have abilities we don't possess. Dogs hear higher frequencies than we do and bats probably even higher than that. Dogs have superior olfactory abilities like nothing we can imagine and they have hearing far superor to our own. I have read that migratory birds are suspected of being able to detect gravitational forces which assist in their migration. I have no problem if another being somewhere in our universe is smarter than we are or has abilities we don't. I can respect them just as I can respect other human beings here who are smarter, or have abilities I don't possess. But this does not make then Gods, and while I can respect their abilities, I shouldn't need to worship them.