what does agnostic mean to you?

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Fluminator
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what does agnostic mean to you?

#1 Post by Fluminator » Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:26 pm

If you claim to be agnostic, do you foresee any piece of evidence hypothetically convincing you of God, or are you just claiming to be agnostic to be less controversial and so you don't have to deal with any pieces of evidence in favor of.

Carl Tuckerson
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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#2 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:29 pm

Fluminator wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:26 pm
If you claim to be agnostic, do you foresee any piece of evidence hypothetically convincing you of God, or are you just claiming to be agnostic to be less controversial and so you don't have to deal with any pieces of evidence in favor of.
Lmao dis gon b gud
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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#3 Post by maykiz » Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:40 pm

Read yourself up on Pascal's wager.

Oh, and while you're at it with pieces of evidence: please do explain what (or who) caused the Big Bang to happen.

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#4 Post by Carl Tuckerson » Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:44 pm

The real issue here is one of categories. My understanding of the definitions of agnostic, atheist, and theist is that "agnostic" is a statement of (lack of) knowledge while theist and atheist are statements of belief, independent of that knowledge.
But the problem there is that under this system, every Christian is an agnostic theist--they don't objectively "know" God exists in the way they know their own name, but they believe He exists as a result of experience, hence not claiming knowledge He exists but a belief He does. And all atheists are agnostic atheists, since you can't affirmatively know something doesn't exist, you can at best not know if something exists and then believe something doesn't exist. In other words, those definitions are unhelpfully reductive, since it makes everyone agnostic, which means "agnostic" no longer conveys information.

I'll say this, from my own journey and from that of others I know, that typically I find when people self-identify as "agnostic" they mean "I'm atheist but not confident in that belief and more open to it being wrong than the theists and atheists are." People view atheism as the antipode to theism; people who are as equally confident God does not exist as those who are confident He does. So they call themselves agnostic when they're unconvinced by either end of the continuum. But generally that lack of certainty is a transition point away from theism to atheism, not the reverse; inherent to "I don't know" is some degree of disbelief in the premise (otherwise what's the big deal here--you believe but just have doubts in your belief sometimes? that's normal).
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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#5 Post by maykiz » Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:53 pm

Carl Tuckerson wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:44 pm
The real issue here is one of categories. My understanding of the definitions of agnostic, atheist, and theist is that "agnostic" is a statement of (lack of) knowledge while theist and atheist are statements of belief, independent of that knowledge.
But the problem there is that under this system, every Christian is an agnostic theist--they don't objectively "know" God exists in the way they know their own name, but they believe He exists as a result of experience, hence not claiming knowledge He exists but a belief He does. And all atheists are agnostic atheists, since you can't affirmatively know something doesn't exist, you can at best not know if something exists and then believe something doesn't exist. In other words, those definitions are unhelpfully reductive, since it makes everyone agnostic, which means "agnostic" no longer conveys information.

I'll say this, from my own journey and from that of others I know, that typically I find when people self-identify as "agnostic" they mean "I'm atheist but not confident in that belief and more open to it being wrong than the theists and atheists are." People view atheism as the antipode to theism; people who are as equally confident God does not exist as those who are confident He does. So they call themselves agnostic when they're unconvinced by either end of the continuum. But generally that lack of certainty is a transition point away from theism to atheism, not the reverse; inherent to "I don't know" is some degree of disbelief in the premise (otherwise what's the big deal here--you believe but just have doubts in your belief sometimes? that's normal).
I applaud your thinking!

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#6 Post by CLRJames » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:12 am

Engels called them “shame-faced materialists”, which definitely fit me when I was agnostic.

On the other hand, I think a lot of agnostic people are more apathetic than wussy. A lot of people don’t put that much thought into religious matters and just settle on a simple “well, maybe” postition.
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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#7 Post by Durga » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:19 am

Yes they are

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#8 Post by Kingdroid » Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:19 am

Pascal wager is for cowards

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#9 Post by jmo1121109 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:46 am

Okayyyy this definitely breaks the no targeting groups rule but seems like it's something people are interested in discussing so lets see.
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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#10 Post by jmo1121109 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:54 am

jmo1121109 wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:46 am
Okayyyy this definitely breaks the no targeting groups rule but seems like it's something people are interested in discussing so lets see.
Okay fixed now. Please do note that if this devolves into insulting people who are agnostic it will be locked.

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#11 Post by Fluminator » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:18 am

Hey! No fair! I wasn’t targeting them, just asking a question about them. I didn’t state they emphatically were wusses.

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#12 Post by Durga » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:41 am

jmo1121109 wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:46 am
Okayyyy this definitely breaks the no targeting groups rule but seems like it's something people are interested in discussing so lets see.
Mod abuse

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#13 Post by bo_sox48 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 4:22 am

I consider myself agnostic, so I don't believe in a higher power, obviously. There is no evidence of the existence of anything relating to or made as a result of a higher power among what we see with our own eyes every day. Likewise, the length to which our discoveries throughout this universe have gone in the past half-millennium (all that cumulative knowledge culminating in an excess of apparent understanding in the past half-century or so) without encountering anything resembling a higher power or the effects of a higher power is striking. Philosophy is now dominated by testable theory and the scientific process in an effort to make better sense of what we already know, whereas it used to be dominated by logic and rational extensions beyond what was already known in an effort to do the job that science and discovery have done. Religion too is now policed by what can and cannot be verified because we, collectively, believe that we are ready to move past hypotheticals. Thus, we should be moving past the idea that we, such small and insignificant cogs in an otherwise massive conglomeration of matter that makes up the vastness of our universe, are being watched and thus being commanded or passed knowledge of any sort by a higher power. Make no mistake - we, as humans, are earning every tidbit of knowledge we acquire all on our own, and yet a large number of us still pretend to be under the gaze of something unexplained and unobserved. Strange.

On the other hand, and perhaps contrarily, I fully ascribe myself to the incredible wondrousness of our world. The universe that we live in is unconscionable, almost incomprehensible. It is so utterly fantastic that it is easier to limit oneself to a small realm of existence instead of understanding how big this place we occupy really is. This is where I divulge from atheism as I look to the natural world around me as, for lack of a better word, a sort of deity, something far above me and yet also something of which I am a small piece. My own life experiences lead me to believe that nature is not a sentient being or of any state of mind; rather, nature simply is. I have seen and been in close proximity to the craziest, most beautiful, most destructive, and most awesome phenomena of the natural world, as well as some of the rarest, most seclusive, and most hard to find wildlife in the world, and at no point in time have I attributed any of these things to anything but nature itself. The world as I have seen it is not composed of multiple layers to pull back in an ongoing quest for knowledge, as religious folk seem to believe. Our planet and our universe is a singular system operating in an incredibly complex, marvelous manner. It does not require a higher power other than itself, and perhaps in some ways it is its own higher power (and by extension our higher power). I guess how you see it depends on how you compartmentalize and comprehend how far down the totem pole we as individuals really are.

Given the evidence that we have at hand, the only people saying "I don't know" to how to answer the questions of our world are the ones who elevate their beliefs beyond what is here to see and understand. Simply put, if you believe in something you have never observed and can't begin to explain, you don't know. You're guessing. That's your choice and you're free to make it, but let's just say it like it is.
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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#14 Post by RoganJosh » Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:32 am

If you
Fluminator wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:26 pm
foresee [a] piece of evidence hypothetically convincing you of God,
are you really an agnostic?

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#15 Post by flash2015 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:54 pm

I am not sure why there is really a distinction between atheists and agnostics here. Most atheists could be convinced that a God/creator/etc. exists if given relevant proof. There is a weekly show called the "Atheist Experience" where essentially Christians call up to prove that God exists (the main host, Matt Delahunty is a former theist)...and the host(s) explain why their arguments don't make logical sense.

The bar of proof of a God/Creator/Deity is very high of course. Science uses the concept of "Occam's razor", the simpler explanation is going to win over the more complex explanation. For example, this is one reason why Copernicus/Galileo theory that the Sun is the center of the solar system won vs Ptolemy's epicycles. In the case of proof for a God/Creator/Deity if there is a potential natural explanation for a phenomena and a supernatural one, the natural one will win by default. You have to prove that the ONLY explanation is a supernatural one.

Even if you were able to prove that there was a Creator/God, the next question of course is does it matter? If the Creator started up "Universe Simulator 2.0" and then just lets it run its course and we cannot interact with the creator in any meaningful way, then whether there was a creator being or not is irrelevant. For the existence of a Creator to be meaningful there are two possible questions:

(1) Can/will the creator bend nature to my wishes based on some action I take (e.g. prayer)?
(2) If "I" will still exist in some form after death, will the actions I take in the current life influence my existence after death?

As we have become more and more knowledgeable about the universe religious claims for (1) have generally decreased. You could argue though that prayer has benefits without the creator bending the world to your wishes...and you would be right. Prayer can also be like meditation, e.g. praying the rosary can be like a mantra and get you too into a focused meditative state. But you don't need to believe in a creator to get to this state. I should know as I practice meditation regularly myself.

For (2), many religions claim that you have to believe in their version of God to have a successful afterlife. Thus Pascal's wager falls down on this point - even if you decide to have "two bob each way" to cover your bases that won't help you if you choose the wrong theology to believe in.

Anyway, getting back to the question at hand, if relevant proof became available for the existence of God/creator, I, like most atheists/agnostics, would not reject it. But again the hurdles for that proof are going to be very, very high.

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#16 Post by dargorygel » Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:04 pm

And thus... the issue is one of knowledge vs. faith. Sometimes 'believers' act like 'faith' is really, really, really, strong knowledge. But it's not. Faith is what we choose to believe.

I recall in school reading all of the classical 'proofs' for the existence of God. And none of them really carried water in their buckets. In short, mostly, at their core, such proofs are of the form: If God exists, then this-and-such. And if we observe this-and-such, God therefore must exist. I am sure y'all see the logical error.

I am not agnostic. But I am not a gnostic, either. I choose to have faith, to believe. Having made that choice, my belief becomes internally logical. But it is a choice, not an unavoidable logical deduction.
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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#17 Post by dargorygel » Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:07 pm

And directly to the original question...
An agnostic is one who says, "I just don't know."
An atheist is one who says, "I know there is not a god."

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#18 Post by ubercacher16 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:18 pm

I want to give a little background for all of you on what most people raised in the Protestant Christian community, and I assume most other "religious" communities, view this question.

What I was taught growing up is that Atheists believe that God doesn't exist and Agnostics "aren't sure," which as far as I can tell is the common idea among most religious groups.

Obviously those two ideas are not very fleshed out. The basic assumption that I made, before I actually talked to and listened to atheists(not a given among protestant Christians in America), is that atheists are more hostile toward any sort of belief in a higher power and actively deny it, while agnostics are more apathetic to religion because they simply claimed lack of knowledge.

I have since learned that, while there are people who have both attitudes toward religion, neither term describes exactly what I thought it did. Unfortunately many Christians(again I think this extends to most religious groups) never take the time to actually listen to the "other side" and try to understand them.

While the terms agnostic and atheist have fixed meanings, the people who describe themselves as one or the other(oddly enough I haven't heard very many people say they are "agnostic") are not robotic masses that all think the same way. This unfortunately is the attitude many Christians approach the situation with.

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#19 Post by Jamiet99uk » Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:54 pm

Interesting question.

My own position is simple - I can't believe in God becuase I can't conceive of God. I don't know what "God" is supposed to mean. No intelligible definition of God has ever been provided to me.

Thus, I cannot consider evidence for the existence of a thing of which I cannot conceive.

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Re: what does agnostic mean to you?

#20 Post by ubercacher16 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:07 pm

What's funny Jamie is that there are multiple verses in the Bible that talk about how God is in fact incomprehensible and totally beyond human conception. That's where the idea of faith comes in, believing in something you can neither fully prove nor fully understand. So you've got something right!

Sounds crazy, I know.
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