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thalassa
11 Dec 2013, 14:38
Agnosticism, as coined by my personal hero in 1869, Darwin's Bulldog, the late, great, T. H. Huxtley, that broody, hot Victorian man-muffin in muttonchops, is this:


Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle...Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.
T. H. Huxtley

I like his definition.

Agnosticism is a way of viewing the divine (whether it be one, many, or none). God (whether it be one, many or none) is ultimately unknowable, period.

Robert Ingersoll's* "Why I am an Agnostic" (http://infidels.org/library/historical/robert_ingersoll/why_i_am_agnostic.html) (if you follow the link, you may have to navigate a wee bit to find it (and he has another titled "Gods" (http://infidels.org/library/historical/robert_ingersoll/gods.html)) is probably the best example of Agnosticism as an action (take it with a grain of salt, it was written in the late 1800's and some things have changed a bit (genetics, physics, anthropology, etc)).

*Robert Ingersoll was a famous American orator and writer of the late 1800's

Bjorn
11 Dec 2013, 15:13
I suppose I have always been one to reference encyclopedias and then boil the definition down to its barest parts.

Agnosticism (as defined from Google): a religious orientation of doubt; a denial of ultimate knowledge of the existence of God; "agnosticism holds that you can neither prove nor disprove God's existence"

Essentially, in my line of thinking, agnosticism claims that there cannot be proof of god, or disproof of god. It leaves a sense of maybe and does not portend to have answers OR gods, though, in my experience, most agnostics believe in "something."

I personally believe quite militantly that everyone, everywhere is wrong about god, religion and spirituality -- including myself. I do not believe that we will ever have "proof" that will sway me strongly in either direction but I firmly believe that there is "something." I suppose if I were to try and define what I like to allow myself to believe, it is much closer to panentheism than anything else currently described, though my prevailing belief is that I am probably wrong and full of shit.

MaskedOne
11 Dec 2013, 18:21
Robert Ingersoll's* "Why I am an Agnostic" (http://infidels.org/library/historical/robert_ingersoll/why_i_am_agnostic.html) (if you follow the link, you may have to navigate a wee bit to find it (and he has another titled "Gods" (http://infidels.org/library/historical/robert_ingersoll/gods.html))

The cheap trick to bypass excess navigation (provided your browser accepts cookies and since you're not getting in without em, I'll assume it does) is to open the link in a second tab, agree to the disclaimer and then come back to PF and re-open the link. Once you have a cookie on your system saying you agree to the terms, their server won't redirect you to the disclaimer.

This knowledge is random a** benefit of having just completed a course on interactive web pages and spending about thirty hours mutilating 15 pages of code till they did something new and different from their original purpose.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 00:55
I suppose I have always been one to reference encyclopedias and then boil the definition down to its barest parts.

Agnosticism (as defined from Google): a religious orientation of doubt; a denial of ultimate knowledge of the existence of God; "agnosticism holds that you can neither prove nor disprove God's existence"

Essentially, in my line of thinking, agnosticism claims that there cannot be proof of god, or disproof of god. It leaves a sense of maybe and does not portend to have answers OR gods, though, in my experience, most agnostics believe in "something."

I personally believe quite militantly that everyone, everywhere is wrong about god, religion and spirituality -- including myself. I do not believe that we will ever have "proof" that will sway me strongly in either direction but I firmly believe that there is "something." I suppose if I were to try and define what I like to allow myself to believe, it is much closer to panentheism than anything else currently described, though my prevailing belief is that I am probably wrong and full of shit.

Doesn't that require some pretty huge assumptions? I certainly don't believe I'm even close to understanding the nature of divinity and the universe, but just because I don't doesn't mean there aren't people out there who, at the least, have a decent sized piece of the puzzle. If I don't know, then it follows logically that I also don't know whether anyone else does know. Believing that no human being, anywhere, ever, has known anything for sure about the spiritual/divine nature of the universe seems like just as big a leap of faith as believing blindly in a certain manifestation of divinity. It is, in itself, making a fairly huge claim about the nature of divinity - that nobody does or potentially can understand it. It's almost a paradox - if you don't understand something, how can you understand it enough to make the claim that nobody, ever, can understand it?

Medusa
12 Dec 2013, 00:56
Name me one person who knows a true fact about a god.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 00:59
Name me one person who knows a true fact about a god.

Sure, I'll go survey the 6 billion or so people currently sharing the planet with me, then I'll whip out my big bad book of necromancy and start summoning up everyone who has ever lived, one at a time, until I can confirm that nobody, ever, anywhere, has understood a single thing about the nature of divinity. I'll get back to ya in a couple decades ;)

It just doesn't follow - if you don't know something, then how can you know if anybody else knows it?

Rae'ya
12 Dec 2013, 01:14
Hey, look at the brand new and shiny 'Atheism and Agnosticism' board! :)

I, ironically, agree that the exact nature of divinity is unknowable. I think that there are just far too many plausible theories out there for us to know exactly what is and isn't true. And given the sheer number of said theories, I think it's unlikely that we will ever know The Truth.

BUT... and this is what makes me not-agnostic... I believe in my beliefs anyway. I accept that I'm possibly wrong. I accept that I'm possibly right. I accept that I'll probably never, ever know for sure. But panentheism is the best interface that I've come up with that describes and defines my personal theories and experiences. So that's what I'm running with.

When it comes to 'deities'... to me they are spirits, nothing more, nothing less. To me they are not the same thing as 'The Divine', 'The Great Spirit', 'The Omnipotent God' or whatever it is that you want to call it. They actually don't factor into the atheism-agnosticism-pantheism-panentheism spectrum for me, which seems to be an unusual sort of a theory. And again... I accept that I'm possibly wrong etc etc etc. But that's what I'm running with.

So, bringing this back to the topic at hand. Is it possible to be agnostic and have a 'most plausible theory' that you swing towards? At what point does it stop being agnosticism, even if you have that 'I believe but I don't know' thing going on?

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 01:34
So, bringing this back to the topic at hand. Is it possible to be agnostic and have a 'most plausible theory' that you swing towards? At what point does it stop being agnosticism, even if you have that 'I believe but I don't know' thing going on?

I'd say I'm pretty close. I tend to think of God(s) in the sense of a working model. I believe it's pretty likely that something along those lines exists, based on my personal experience, I don't know exactly what it's nature is, although I do spend a fair bit of time thinking about it, and I do know that if I act in a certain way and do certain things, certain results will occur.

It's the same with most occult and spiritual things. Take Qi Gong for example. I don't know if there is literally a life energy called 'Chi' flowing through my body and connecting me to the universe, but I do know that if I meditate in a certain posture, while breathing a certain way, I will have the subjective experience of the movement of some kind of energy through my body, I will experience the immediate physiological reactions (heat, sweating, tingling, twitching, etc. in the relevant parts of the body), and I will experience the desired benefits (improved mood, improved physical energy levels and alertness, improved physical health). The question of whether this is all caused by some all-pervading vital force, or whether it's a complex chain of psycho-somatic reactions, or some kind of effect as of yet completely unknown to us is an interesting one, but it's also beyond the point to a certain degree. I view God(s), for the most part, in the same way.


2. In this book it is spoken of the Sephiroth, and the
Paths, of Spirits and Conjurations; of Gods, Spheres,
Planes, and many other things which may or may not exist.
It is immaterial whether they exist or not. By doing
certain things certain results follow; students are most
earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or
philosophic validity to any of them.

Medusa
12 Dec 2013, 01:43
Sure, I'll go survey the 6 billion or so people currently sharing the planet with me, then I'll whip out my big bad book of necromancy and start summoning up everyone who has ever lived, one at a time, until I can confirm that nobody, ever, anywhere, has understood a single thing about the nature of divinity. I'll get back to ya in a couple decades ;)

It just doesn't follow - if you don't know something, then how can you know if anybody else knows it?

Next to the invention of white bread, I'm pretty sure if someone actually had proof, we'd have known. By now. Something SO BIG as a god surely would have one little bit of factual proof. Something. Anything.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 03:18
Next to the invention of white bread, I'm pretty sure if someone actually had proof, we'd have known. By now. Something SO BIG as a god surely would have one little bit of factual proof. Something. Anything.




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwzrhuC4dXg

You can apply that same logic to anything. I'm sure at some stage in history said 'I'm sure if the Earth rotated around the sun, we'd know that.' 'I'm sure if diseases were caused by tiny microbes instead of bad humors, we'd know that.'

It's still making massive assumptions about the nature of divinity. not to mention being exceedingly anthropocentric and, imo, rather arrogant :p 'If I don't know about something, then obviously nobody else knows about it.' Come on. At the end of the day, you can't both claim that you know nothing about something and that nobody knows anything about it. To claim that something is impossible to possess knowledge of, you first need to possess knowledge of it yourself to be able to define why it is impossible to know.

If the history of the human race has proven anything, it's that the things people are sure about are frequently proven false, so imo it pays to stay aware of the possibilities and not allow beliefs to become set in stone without good reason.

thalassa
12 Dec 2013, 03:52
Hey, look at the brand new and shiny 'Atheism and Agnosticism' board! :)

I, ironically, agree that the exact nature of divinity is unknowable. I think that there are just far too many plausible HYPOTHESES out there for us to know exactly what is and isn't true. And given the sheer number of said HYPOTHESES, I think it's unlikely that we will ever know The Truth.

^fixed ;)


BUT... and this is what makes me not-agnostic... I believe in my beliefs anyway. I accept that I'm possibly wrong. I accept that I'm possibly right. I accept that I'll probably never, ever know for sure. But panentheism is the best interface that I've come up with that describes and defines my personal theories and experiences. So that's what I'm running with.

So, bringing this back to the topic at hand. Is it possible to be agnostic and have a 'most plausible theory' that you swing towards? At what point does it stop being agnosticism, even if you have that 'I believe but I don't know' thing going on?

Absolutely.

It stops being agnosticism when you think you know what is going on and stop the process of reason to "pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable."

I mean, there is only one thing anyone can know about divinity, and that's this--There is no such thing as an objective event, fact or state(ment) that one can make about a completely abstract idea that is entirely subjective. Period. The ultimate nature of god is unknowable. Anyone that acknowleges that (there's your "true fact" about god, Medusa :p) is agnostic, whether or not they prefer to believe in X or Y, to practice A or B, etc.

Anything beyond that is hubris. Anything beyond the idea that "god is" (including the idea that "god is not") is our human projections (built upon biology and history and culture and landscape) of what we hope or think god is. Because defining god is like defining porn (according to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart)--can't define it, but we know it when we see it (or in this case, by how we, as individuals experience it...or not).

Personally, I don't worship the gods because I think they are "real". Iíve been a polytheist and a pantheist and an ambivalent agnosticÖand its been my observation that either the gods donít care, or I donít, because my interactions with them havenít varied based on the changes in those beliefs. They have, at times, changedĖdeepened, become more (or less) ecstatic, etc, over the yearsÖbut (if I am very honest and disgustingly introspective) these changes have been in relation to what I have needed, and what I have gone searching for, rather than as a result of my theological opinion in the existence and nature of deity.

Quite frankly, I donít care that the gods exist or not. I have gotten to a point where my beliefs and experiences are not cheapened or enriched by either position. I do what I do, which includes prayer, offerings, reverence in worship, etc, not because I have faith in the literal existence in an eternal being (supernatural or otherwise), but because it works. It centers me, it enriches my experience of the world around me, it connects me to something bigger and greater than myself, and it allows me to bring those things home to my family, my home, and my community.

B. de Corbin
12 Dec 2013, 05:03
Name me one person who knows a true fact about a god.

God is spelled G-o-d.

What do I win?

- - - Updated - - -




You can apply that same logic to anything. I'm sure at some stage in history said 'I'm sure if the Earth rotated around the sun, we'd know that.' 'I'm sure if diseases were caused by tiny microbes instead of bad humors, we'd know that.'

Uhmmm... we DO know those things... there IS proof... does that mean the logic works?

Rick
12 Dec 2013, 05:58
Name me one person who knows a true fact about a god.

I know many true facts about many gods. But I can't prove or demonstrate or reproduce any of them. Therein lies the rub.

B. de Corbin
12 Dec 2013, 06:09
I know many true facts about many gods. But I can't prove or demonstrate or reproduce any of them. Therein lies the rub.

The relevant question, then, becomes "How do you know they are true?"

The easiest person to fool is always one's self. Everything from wishful thinking, to fear, to oddities of brain functioning conspire to make that so.

thalassa
12 Dec 2013, 06:17
You can apply that same logic to anything. I'm sure at some stage in history said 'I'm sure if the Earth rotated around the sun, we'd know that.' 'I'm sure if diseases were caused by tiny microbes instead of bad humors, we'd know that.'


AND, we know these things because we have evidence. Actual, physical data. We have the capacity to take a picture of the sun, to measure its relative position and the position of the other planets. We can predict future location of the planets based on a proposed trajectory. This is why we have a Law of Planetary Potion. In the case of planetary motion, we knew the planets moved, we knew where they went, and we had records of their motion, well before we had an idea of why and how. The same with germ theory. It took over 300 years of observation and experimentation to figure that one out...it required concerete data, about objectively observable phenomena.

Divinity is not a concrete, objectively observable phenomena...god is more like the miasma "theory" or the geocentric universe. Its the idea you have before you have an idea based on actual data.

That doesn't necessairly mean everyone is wrong, but it means that no one can actually know who is right, as the (lack of) data presents itself in the present time. (At least in terms of whether or not god/s exist and their nature and purpose...its plenty possible to test other ideas that religions have...infact, that's how we wound up with a heliocentric solar system after all)

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 06:46
Uhmmm... we DO know those things... there IS proof... does that mean the logic works?

My point is that our understanding of reality, both individually and as a society, is constantly shifting. The truths of one year are the outdated theories of the next. The idea that something can't be potentially true because we don't already know it is absurd to the point of being laughable if you look at the history of our constantly shifting and evolving understanding of reality. But I suspect you're being a tad facetious.



AND, we know these things because we have evidence. Actual, physical data. We have the capacity to take a picture of the sun, to measure its relative position and the position of the other planets. We can predict future location of the planets based on a proposed trajectory. This is why we have a Law of Planetary Potion. In the case of planetary motion, we knew the planets moved, we knew where they went, and we had records of their motion, well before we had an idea of why and how. The same with germ theory. It took over 300 years of observation and experimentation to figure that one out...it required concerete data, about objectively observable phenomena.

Divinity is not a concrete, objectively observable phenomena...god is more like the miasma "theory" or the geocentric universe. Its the idea you have before you have an idea based on actual data.

That doesn't necessairly mean everyone is wrong, but it means that no one can actually know who is right, as the (lack of) data presents itself in the present time. (At least in terms of whether or not god/s exist and their nature and purpose...its plenty possible to test other ideas that religions have...infact, that's how we wound up with a heliocentric solar system after all)

The problem with this is that the idea of God(s) changes radically depending on who you're speaking to, which is why I've tried to avoid turning this into a discussion about whether God actually does or doesn't exist, because honestly I just don't know (although I lean towards, and primarily live my life on the assumption of, God's existence). What I do know is that claim that it is impossible to know anything about the nature of God is oxymoronic, and that our understanding of reality is constantly altering to replace old truths with new ones.

B. de Corbin
12 Dec 2013, 06:59
But I suspect you're being a tad facetious.

Kind of, but not really.

The problem with gods is that - usually by definition - they exist (if they exist) outside of the comprehensible physics of the universe. Since they are not subject to physical laws, they either do not leave physical traces, or they don't leave reliable physical traces - unlike the earth, sun, and germs.

What cannot be examined can not be known - with any degree of certainty.

Rick
12 Dec 2013, 07:06
The relevant question, then, becomes "How do you know they are true?"

The easiest person to fool is always one's self. Everything from wishful thinking, to fear, to oddities of brain functioning conspire to make that so.

Precisely. Truth is not relative, but observation (more precisely, interpretation of observation) is.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 07:20
Kind of, but not really.

The problem with gods is that - usually by definition - they exist (if they exist) outside of the comprehensible physics of the universe. Since they are not subject to physical laws, they either do not leave physical traces, or they don't leave reliable physical traces - unlike the earth, sun, and germs.

What cannot be examined can not be known - with any degree of certainty.

While you're correct that God cannot, in most understandings of the word, be put under a microscope, I don't think this is enough to rule something out from existing. There are plenty of things which cannot be put under a microscope, yet very few people would deny the existence of. Take thoughts for example - they exist only in their impact on the physical world and in our own personal experience of them, and yet because that impact is so visible, and because all of us experience them, we don't for a second deny their existence. So clearly an immaterial phenomenon can be held to exist, it's just a question of how many people have to directly experience it or observe it's effects until it is commonly accepted.

B. de Corbin
12 Dec 2013, 07:32
Take thoughts for example - they exist only in their impact on the physical world and in our own personal experience of them, and yet because that impact is so visible, and because all of us experience them, we don't for a second deny their existence. So clearly an immaterial phenomenon can be held to exist...

Actually, thoughts are the result of a whole series of bio-electrical events going on in the brain/body, and are pretty well studied, scientifically....

It's not a matter of denying the existence of things that can't be proved - it's the inability to say anything even remotely sensible about anything that produces no evidence that's troublesome.

Possibly there is a non-material purple unicorn somewhere that does not interact with matter, or leave any evidence of it's existence, but... what of it?

Ula
12 Dec 2013, 08:23
I don't view the gods as being something scientific or measurable. It's like asking someone what a painting makes them feel then saying prove it. Other than for me to tell you I can't prove my feelings for a painting or a sunset. Agnostics haven't closed the door completely and call themselves atheist so some kind of experience keeps them open to the possibility.

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 08:43
Doesn't that require some pretty huge assumptions? I certainly don't believe I'm even close to understanding the nature of divinity and the universe, but just because I don't doesn't mean there aren't people out there who, at the least, have a decent sized piece of the puzzle. If I don't know, then it follows logically that I also don't know whether anyone else does know. Believing that no human being, anywhere, ever, has known anything for sure about the spiritual/divine nature of the universe seems like just as big a leap of faith as believing blindly in a certain manifestation of divinity. It is, in itself, making a fairly huge claim about the nature of divinity - that nobody does or potentially can understand it. It's almost a paradox - if you don't understand something, how can you understand it enough to make the claim that nobody, ever, can understand it?

I think it's a greater assumption to assume humans are capable of understanding something we cannot prove. A person's subjective experience doesn't mean a damn thing. Stories don't provide evidence.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 09:08
Actually, thoughts are the result of a whole series of bio-electrical events going on in the brain/body, and are pretty well studied, scientifically....

In a neurological sense, in terms of which thought trigger which areas of the brain and so on, yes, but not in a phenomenological sense.



Possibly there is a non-material purple unicorn somewhere that does not interact with matter, or leave any evidence of it's existence, but... what of it?

Then you wouldn't believe in the purple unicorn without any evidence. But what if you personally experienced it, or knew and trusted people who claim to have done so? The core of any system of mysticism is that God can be experienced firsthand. The problem being that the majority of people aren't suited for spending a few decades meditating on a mountain - so belief has to be based on either first hand experience, or on either trust or faith, as with any other thing which doesn't have a physical existence. Certainly it would be valid to not believe if you had no direct experience, no supporting experience and no trust in anybody who had, I totally understand that point of view and, until certain experiences I had (fairly recently in the scheme of things), I held it myself. I'm not going to tell anyone to believe on faith when I can't manage it myself, but I think it's sad when people can't at least keep an open mind to the idea.

thalassa
12 Dec 2013, 09:25
Then you wouldn't believe in the purple unicorn without any evidence. But what if you personally experienced it, or knew and trusted people who claim to have done so? The core of any system of mysticism is that God can be experienced firsthand. The problem being that the majority of people aren't suited for spending a few decades meditating on a mountain - so belief has to be based on either first hand experience, or on either trust or faith, as with any other thing which doesn't have a physical existence. Certainly it would be valid to not believe if you had no direct experience, no supporting experience and no trust in anybody who had, I totally understand that point of view and, until certain experiences I had (fairly recently in the scheme of things), I held it myself. I'm not going to tell anyone to believe on faith when I can't manage it myself, but I think it's sad when people can't at least keep an open mind to the idea.

What the brain can fool itself into thinking is quite amazing, actually. And no, I wouldn't believe in a purple unicorn without evidence, even if I experienced it. Just as I don't "believe in" the deities that I choose to worship on the basis of my experiences.

B. de Corbin
12 Dec 2013, 09:26
Then you wouldn't believe in the purple unicorn without any evidence. But what if you personally experienced it, or knew and trusted people who claim to have done so?

I would be obligated to wonder if my experience were accurate, and/or if the experience of those I trusted was accurate. If there is no evidence...?


..as with any other thing which doesn't have a physical existence.

In a physical world, do things without physical existence exist? And, if so, in what way can they exist? I still have trouble with that...

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 09:42
Sure, I'll go survey the 6 billion or so people currently sharing the planet with me, then I'll whip out my big bad book of necromancy and start summoning up everyone who has ever lived, one at a time, until I can confirm that nobody, ever, anywhere, has understood a single thing about the nature of divinity. I'll get back to ya in a couple decades ;)

Ok, firstly, you cannot get away with being snide by adding an emoticon. We are here to discuss civilly and sharpen our mental blades against each other so stop being condescending and use some tact before a mod shuts this thread down due to rudeness. I enjoy argument, but I do not appreciate 1. your delivery and 2. that you feel the need to snub your nose at this thread for being what it is -- AGNOSTIC.

Step up your game.


It just doesn't follow - if you don't know something, then how can you know if anybody else knows it?

Because humans are limited. Not just me, but all of us. There is simply no way to prove the existence of god because god is not tangible -- how are you going to measure god, with a device? No. You believe or disbelieve something for any number of reasons, one of which is experience. One person's collective experience does not act as evidence -- hell, even a thousand people's shared experience is still not moving enough. It's like going to an evangelical church and claiming that these healing miracles are proof of god just because they have power in numbers -- human experience does not mean anything in the grand scope of things. It is SUBJECTIVE, and therefore up for scrutiny. Sure, you can claim that you were touched by an angel, or that Athena visited you in a dream, that god has answered your prayers but that doesn't mean that it happened. It only means that you had an experience that you interpreted a certain way.

It's not evidence. It's storytelling. I'm sure many believe what they're saying, but it's not good enough for me.

- - - Updated - - -


I know many true facts about many gods. But I can't prove or demonstrate or reproduce any of them. Therein lies the rub.

But see...no, you don't. You know your experience of gods but that does not mean they exist (or that they don't). It is not proof. They are not facts. It is, as Thal said, hubris to assume otherwise.

- - - Updated - - -


My point is that our understanding of reality, both individually and as a society, is constantly shifting. The truths of one year are the outdated theories of the next. The idea that something can't be potentially true because we don't already know it is absurd to the point of being laughable if you look at the history of our constantly shifting and evolving understanding of reality. But I suspect you're being a tad facetious.

You derived that "we can't know it because we don't already" from what I said? I'm not going to rifle through old posts but allow me to clarify: I simply mean that we cannot ever truly know about god. It's unknowable.

- - - Updated - - -


...Take thoughts for example - they exist only in their impact on the physical world and in our own personal experience of them, and yet because that impact is so visible, and because all of us experience them, we don't for a second deny their existence. So clearly an immaterial phenomenon can be held to exist, it's just a question of how many people have to directly experience it or observe it's effects until it is commonly accepted.

You can see how thoughts highlight certain areas of the brain with certain machines (I forget the name but I know it's possible). Therefore, thoughts CAN exist in the material world we just can't see them.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 09:52
What the brain can fool itself into thinking is quite amazing, actually. And no, I wouldn't believe in a purple unicorn without evidence, even if I experienced it. Just as I don't "believe in" the deities that I choose to worship on the basis of my experiences.


I would be obligated to wonder if my experience were accurate, and/or if the experience of those I trusted was accurate. If there is no evidence...?

Completely valid points, certainly you'd hope people would wonder about the accuracy of their experiences, but the potential for delusion doesn't necessitate writing off every single experience as such. It's just something that has to be evaluated personally on a case by case basis.


Ok, firstly, you cannot get away with being snide by adding an emoticon. We are here to discuss civilly and sharpen our mental blades against each other so stop being condescending and use some tact before a mod shuts this thread down due to rudeness. I enjoy argument, but I do not appreciate 1. your delivery and 2. that you feel the need to snub your nose at this thread for being what it is -- AGNOSTIC.

I wasn't being snide. Maybe a bit flippant, but no rudeness was intended. You're being overly sensitive, especially considering the comment wasn't even addressed at you and the one who it was addressed at didn't seem upset by it. And how am I snubbing this thread? By actively participating in it? By repeatedly affirming my believe that agnosticism is a completely reasonable stance to adopt in many circumstances? Stop projecting your own disdain for people who believe onto me, I have a philosophical objection to your particular stance, but no issue with agnosticism as a whole.

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 09:58
I wasn't being snide. Maybe a bit flippant, but no rudeness was intended. You're being overly sensitive, especially considering the comment wasn't even addressed at you and the one who it was addressed at didn't seem upset by it. And how am I snubbing this thread? By actively participating in it? By repeatedly affirming my believe that agnosticism is a completely reasonable stance to adopt in many circumstances? Stop projecting your own disdain for people who believe onto me, I have a philosophical objection to your particular stance, but no issue with agnosticism as a whole.

I have no disdain for people who believe differently than me, only those who claim to have answers. Overly sensitive? No. I was warned on the original inception that this could be altered based on the way people behave in here so I want civility, it is all I asked for. Replying by throwing the blame on me is derailing this thread and I will reply on this matter no further.

Your activity on this thread excites me because I believe militantly, and you disagree (seeing as how I already stated to enjoy argument). Let us begin there.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 10:14
I have no disdain for people who believe differently than me

You've said things that suggest otherwise, but in the interest of not derailing your thread, let's leave it there.



Your activity on this thread excites me because I believe militantly, and you disagree (seeing as how I already stated to enjoy argument). Let us begin there.

Begin what? I've already said that I believe only because of experience, that I wouldn't believe without it, and that I don't think it's reasonable to expect most people to believe based on trust or faith (although apparently many do - no idea how). I can't convince you with my experiences, and you obviously don't have your own or we wouldn't be having this discussion, and so even though I personally believe, I think your lack of belief is fairly rational given your situation, and I held a similar lack of belief in the same situation.

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 10:28
Begin what? I've already said that I believe only because of experience, that I wouldn't believe without it, and that I don't think it's reasonable to expect most people to believe based on trust or faith (although apparently many do - no idea how).

Begin where? I have gathered that you think that it is possible to know the existence of god. I'd like to know how. I'd like you to expound on this.


I can't convince you with my experiences, and you obviously don't have your own or we wouldn't be having this discussion, and so even though I personally believe, I think your lack of belief is fairly rational given your situation, and I held a similar lack of belief in the same situation.

Oh I've had loads of experiences. If you really read my first post you'll find mention that my practice is much more akin to panentheism. I spend time with my spirituality and nurse it like a tender seedling. I feel as if I have a very deep and meaningful relationship with The Great Spirit and ask for guidance, inspiration, make offerings and prayers, etc. The fact that you think I am lacking in rich, spiritual fiber simply because I do not consider them empirical evidence of their validity is, as you said before, laughable and arrogant. I simply accept that I am probably wrong about the Truth and that there is no way to ever know. I do not use agnosticism as a chain to keep me to the ground, I use it as wings to soar on. Now that I am not worried about being right or finding something right, I am free to simply live my life and cultivate my spirit using whatever tools I please.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 10:38
As far as I can tell it seems that the only real major difference between us is that I feel that it's reasonable to extrapolate from personal experience into a broader acceptance of the concept of divinity.

Otherwise I think I've mostly said everything I have to say on this particular subject. If you're that eager to debate me you can always start another feminism thread :p

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 10:45
As far as I can tell it seems that the only real major difference between us is that I feel that it's reasonable to extrapolate from personal experience into a broader acceptance of the concept of divinity.

Do you think other people's personal experiences give them proof of god? Going back to the evangelical church "healing" example, do you think their experiences mean that the Christian path is Truth? When you claim to know the truth about something that means there is no room for other possibility, and you think that human experience is important enough in this giant multiverse we inhabit, to warrant Truth about god?

To me, it's the height of human arrogance to assume that your personal experiences are anything more than that.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 10:54
Do you think other people's personal experiences give them proof of god? Going back to the evangelical church "healing" example, do you think their experiences mean that the Christian path is Truth? When you claim to know the truth about something that means there is no room for other possibility, and you think that human experience is important enough in this giant multiverse we inhabit, to warrant Truth about god?

To me, it's the height of human arrogance to assume that your personal experiences are anything more than that.

In the end, human experience is all we have. If you're going to say that experience is inadequate for determining truth, then we don't know the truth about anything at all. After all, maybe we're all just living in the Matrix, or in a dreamland being projected into our head by a demon ;)

Rowanwood
12 Dec 2013, 11:00
Do you think other people's personal experiences give them proof of god? Going back to the evangelical church "healing" example, do you think their experiences mean that the Christian path is Truth? When you claim to know the truth about something that means there is no room for other possibility, and you think that human experience is important enough in this giant multiverse we inhabit, to warrant Truth about god?

To me, it's the height of human arrogance to assume that your personal experiences are anything more than that.

To be devil's advocate...it is only experience that could ever give anyone a belief in anything that cannot be quantified. Things like love can't be measured (there are hormonal changes in the body, but they don't explain everything and we don't usually take endocrine tests on dates) but the experience of love makes it a real thing. But, I do agree that doesn't make it a real thing for someone OTHER than the person involved and I think that's the primary difference between someone like me and someone who proselytizes.

Does experience provide proof? Sort of. This doesn't mean it's outside of someone's head, if that's what you mean. It can however have a profound impact on the behavior of that person and to me that proves it was a real event, because something doesn't have to happen outside of a person to be a real thing.

It's useless as a "truth" to apply to experience of another person, and I feel zero desire to convince anyone that what I've personally experienced is a real thing. If what I'd seen was a purple unicorn (to quote above) and that unicorn made me more capable of living a fulfilling and happy life? Then to me, that's enough proof that it was "real." But it isn't proof to anyone else that it's real, however that doesn't make it not enough for a logical person to accept when its their personal experience.

I think what I'm trying to say is that when it comes to deity/the divine/whatever you want to call it, that's all the proof there is likely ever to be. I cannot imagine we would even be able to recognize real proof if we saw it, because if the vast majority of faiths and practitioners are to be believed, the divine is greater than we can totally comprehend anyway.

That's what faith is about. If that's a hump you can't get past, then agnosticism it is. I can't foresee anything occurring that could ever change your mind. And that's awesome, as long as that satisfies your soul.

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 11:13
In the end, human experience is all we have. If you're going to say that experience is inadequate for determining truth, then we don't know the truth about anything at all.

Not true -- we don't know about atoms because we experienced them (well, technically we do but I hope you know what I mean here), we know because we can study them and, with the right equipment, see them. We know about gravity because Newton noticed an apple, and we know about calculus because he then asked "why doesn't the moon fall?" Sure, most science is inspired by human experience and observation but we understand what scientific laws we have because we were able to study them. Also, most of the things we "know" are still considered theories because scientists leave open the possibility for new information and account for the unexplained.

If there was a way to truly study god/divinity the way that we study atoms then I would enroll in university tomorrow and become an expert on the subject!


After all, maybe we're all just living in the Matrix, or in a dreamland being projected into our head by a demon

DEMONS DO NOT EXIST, YOU NINCOMPOOP (hehehehe, atheist zone, I'm allowed to be silly -- I really mean no offense)

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 11:20
Not true -- we don't know about atoms because we experienced them (well, technically we do but I hope you know what I mean here), we know because we can study them and, with the right equipment, see them. We know about gravity because Newton noticed an apple, and we know about calculus because he then asked "why doesn't the moon fall?" Sure, most science is inspired by human experience and observation but we understand what scientific laws we have because we were able to study them. Also, most of the things we "know" are still considered theories because scientists leave open the possibility for new information and account for the unexplained.

But all of that is an experience. Studying and seeing an atom is an experience, noticing an apple is an experience, looking at a textbook and learning something is an experience. If we're discounting experience as a basis for belief, then the only proper belief is our own existence - 'I think, therefore I am.' The only difference between the experience of looking at an atom under a microscope and that of a mystical encounter is that the former is vastly easier to induce, and so has been experienced by many people, and so is more widely accepted on the basis on consensus.


DEMONS DO NOT EXIST, YOU NINCOMPOOP (hehehehe, atheist zone, I'm allowed to be silly -- I really mean no offense)

You'll have to take that up with Descartes, it's his demon :p

B. de Corbin
12 Dec 2013, 11:23
After all, maybe we're all just living in the Matrix, or in a dreamland being projected into our head by a demon ;)

Well, if not a demon, maybe a hologram?

Is The Universe A Hologram? Physicists Say It's Possible (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/11/universe-hologram-physicists_n_4428359.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular)

Rowanwood
12 Dec 2013, 11:26
But all of that is an experience. Studying and seeing an atom is an experience, noticing an apple is an experience, looking at a textbook and learning something is an experience. If we're discounting experience as a basis for belief, then the only proper belief is our own existence - 'I think, therefore I am.' The only difference between the experience of looking at an atom under a microscope and that of a mystical encounter is that the former is vastly easier to induce, and so has been experienced by many people, and so is more widely accepted on the basis on consensus.


You are only right if you believe in the theory that nothing exists except for our experience of it....which actually makes Bjorn right, because if she hasn't experienced what you have, it hence doesn't exist for her, hence is no kind of proof at all.

So way to prove her point.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 11:29
Well, if not a demon, maybe a hologram?

Is The Universe A Hologram? Physicists Say It's Possible (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/11/universe-hologram-physicists_n_4428359.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular)

I really need to start learning more about physics, it's fascinating stuff but too much of it goes completely over my head. It's just fascinating how many paralegals there are between cutting edge physics and older spiritual philosophies.



You are only right if you believe in the theory that nothing exists except for our experience of it....which actually makes Bjorn right, because if she hasn't experienced what you have, it hence doesn't exist for her, hence is no kind of proof at all.

So way to prove her point.

I never said that one persons experiences should serve as proof for another, precisely the opposite in fact.

Rowanwood
12 Dec 2013, 11:34
I never said that one persons experiences should serve as proof for another, precisely the opposite in fact.

Then what exactly is your point? Experience might be proof enough for you and it can be for me too, but there's no argument there. It's not proof of anything in an empirical sense.

(Also, I think you meant parallels, not paralegals. Might want to spank your autocorrect.)

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 11:38
(Also, I think you meant parallels, not paralegals. Might want to spank your autocorrect.)

I'd rather spank a paralegal, but yes, I meant parallels :p

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 11:49
To be devil's advocate...it is only experience that could ever give anyone a belief in anything that cannot be quantified. Things like love can't be measured (there are hormonal changes in the body, but they don't explain everything and we don't usually take endocrine tests on dates) but the experience of love makes it a real thing. But, I do agree that doesn't make it a real thing for someone OTHER than the person involved and I think that's the primary difference between someone like me and someone who proselytizes.

Does experience provide proof? Sort of. This doesn't mean it's outside of someone's head, if that's what you mean. It can however have a profound impact on the behavior of that person and to me that proves it was a real event, because something doesn't have to happen outside of a person to be a real thing.

I agree that experience is usually what inspires belief and that belief is not something that needs to be dissected in order for it to have personal effect and be life-changing. I never meant to imply that personal experience negates reality, only that it is not evidence of it. It is, in my experience, just evidence of the person's interest in spirituality. I notice that most atheists don't have religious experiences, that people who believe in certain gods are visited by their certain gods, that when I ask The Great Spirit to speak to me through nature that it happens, I mean, WE create that. Sure, I believe it's entirely possible that the purple unicorn visited you but I highly doubt it. The human mind is a fickle thing and easily tricked into sensationalizing things.



I think what I'm trying to say is that when it comes to deity/the divine/whatever you want to call it, that's all the proof there is likely ever to be. I cannot imagine we would even be able to recognize real proof if we saw it, because if the vast majority of faiths and practitioners are to be believed, the divine is greater than we can totally comprehend anyway.

I will agree with that. Personal experience is all we have when dealing with the unknown and that the divine is greater than we can understand.



That's what faith is about. If that's a hump you can't get past, then agnosticism it is. I can't foresee anything occurring that could ever change your mind. And that's awesome, as long as that satisfies your soul.

See, I dislike the assumption that I am lacking in spiritual depth because my mind remains resolute. I have a practice, I just don't presume that it is relevant to the divine at all. As I said to Aeran, I do not identify with agnosticism as a chain to keep my feet on the ground, I find it very freeing to be able to practice whatever I want, however I want, and know that it is what is best for my spirit.

- - - Updated - - -


But all of that is an experience. Studying and seeing an atom is an experience, noticing an apple is an experience, looking at a textbook and learning something is an experience. If we're discounting experience as a basis for belief, then the only proper belief is our own existence - 'I think, therefore I am.' The only difference between the experience of looking at an atom under a microscope and that of a mystical encounter is that the former is vastly easier to induce, and so has been experienced by many people, and so is more widely accepted on the basis on consensus.

I'm a little lost with this explanation -- we didn't invent gravity when Newton studied it and narrowed it down, it was there all along and then we stumbled upon it after observation of the world around us.

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I never said that one person's experiences should serve as proof for another, precisely the opposite in fact.

Do you think, then, that they serve as proof of anything? Do you think that personal experience acts as proof of a specific god(s) or simply "something?" Because I believe strongly in the "something." It's why I'm agnostic instead of atheist (though no, I do not believe in any idea of god currently existing and do not believe in mythology).

Rowanwood
12 Dec 2013, 11:50
See, I dislike the assumption that I am lacking in spiritual depth because my mind remains resolute. I have a practice, I just don't presume that it is relevant to the divine at all. As I said to Aeran, I do not identify with agnosticism as a chain to keep my feet on the ground, I find it very freeing to be able to practice whatever I want, however I want, and know that it is what is best for my spirit.

I think you missed my point. It's hard to get my tone across in a post, especially this loopy on codeine, but I will try harder.

My little personal phrase under my pic there <---- Whatever satisfies the soul is the truth. That's all I'm talking about. I never meant to insinuate that you were lacking in anything. What I meant was if this was your truth and it satisfied you then there's no need to dig beyond it. If you can nurture your spirituality in the framework of agnosticism as fully as someone else can in the framework of their faith, then that's awesome. I think it may have come across wrong because a lot of people assume agnostics are just in a transition from one belief to another, not that it is their actual philosophy, so I suppose you are probably used to that assumption. I wasn't making it.

The only point I wanted to make was that if it WAS NOT satisfying your soul for some reason, then you might want to consider more searching. But if it does, then I take that as a sign you are right where you need to be.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 12:06
I'm a little lost with this explanation -- we didn't invent gravity when Newton studied it and narrowed it down, it was there all along and then we stumbled upon it after observation of the world around us.

Our lives are a long string of personal experience, is my point. we interact with reality through the lens of subjective experience, which is why thought exercises like Descartes' Demon exist, because ultimately, there is no way for us to be 100% sure of what any particular experience is being inspired by. I have the experience right now of sitting at my computer pounding away at my keyboard, and while it seems unlikely, there is a remote and undeniable possibility that I am not, in objective reality, sitting at my computer, but instead am asleep and dreaming, or inside a demonic dreamworld, or a holographic projection, etc etc etc. Experiences are the only thing we know for sure, which means that all of our beliefs are also based on experience.

For example, I believe, and most people would consider it true, and a fact, that the speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second. But how do I know this? I have no way of observing, or interacting with, the speed of light, what I can do is induce the experience of reading wikipedia, and trust that that experience is inspired by something true and reliable (that I am, in fact, perceiving a screen which does, in fact, due to a long causal chain, contain that information). Therefor my belief about the speed of light is based on an experience. And even those who originally calculated it had no way of directly perceiving the speed of light except through the lens of their own personal experience of performing experiments and calculations.

You see what I'm getting at? Everything we know is based on experience. Now of course not all experiences are created equal, some of them are inspired by incorrect things (dreams, delusion induced by drugs or mental illness, poor memory, etc), but they are all, in nature, the same thing at their core. I believe in God for the same reason that I believe that the speed of light is 299, 792, 458 meters/second, because I've had an experience which suggests that that is the case and have decided, based on the evidence, that that experience most likely was inspired by something true, instead of something false. You can compare and contrast experiences, but you can't invalidate experience itself as the basis of belief unless you're willing to cast off the entirety of human knowledge.

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 12:13
My little personal phrase under my pic there <---- Whatever satisfies the soul is the truth. That's all I'm talking about. I never meant to insinuate that you were lacking in anything. What I meant was if this was your truth and it satisfied you then there's no need to dig beyond it. If you can nurture your spirituality in the framework of agnosticism as fully as someone else can in the framework of their faith, then that's awesome. I think it may have come across wrong because a lot of people assume agnostics are just in a transition from one belief to another, not that it is their actual philosophy, so I suppose you are probably used to that assumption. I wasn't making it.

The only point I wanted to make was that if it WAS NOT satisfying your soul for some reason, then you might want to consider more searching. But if it does, then I take that as a sign you are right where you need to be.

Ahh, I see. Thank you for clarifying -- I certainly am used to the assumption I've just never realized there was a word for my philosophy so I'm kind of relieved to finally have a word for it without all the prefacing and whatnot (and it was right in front of my face the whole time, it's kind of embarrassing).

For me, I think agnosticism is actually incredibly open minded because it takes the burden of proof completely off the table and postulates only that the possibility of god, gods, demons, angels, and unicorns is there, just that the proof is not. It doesn't pretend to know the "something" that is out there, only that it can't be known (in my experience, the word of the day).

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Our lives are a long string of personal experience, is my point. we interact with reality through the lens of subjective experience, which is why thought exercises like Descartes' Demon exist, because ultimately, there is no way for us to be 100% sure of what any particular experience is being inspired by. I have the experience right now of sitting at my computer pounding away at my keyboard, and while it seems unlikely, there is a remote and undeniable possibility that I am not, in objective reality, sitting at my computer, but instead am asleep and dreaming, or inside a demonic dreamworld, or a holographic projection, etc etc etc. Experiences are the only thing we know for sure, which means that all of our beliefs are also based on experience.

For example, I believe, and most people would consider it true, and a fact, that the speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second. But how do I know this? I have no way of observing, or interacting with, the speed of light, what I can do is induce the experience of reading wikipedia, and trust that that experience is inspired by something true and reliable (that I am, in fact, perceiving a screen which does, in fact, due to a long causal chain, contain that information). Therefor my belief about the speed of light is based on an experience. And even those who originally calculated it had no way of directly perceiving the speed of light except through the lens of their own personal experience of performing experiments and calculations.

You see what I'm getting at? Everything we know is based on experience. Now of course not all experiences are created equal, some of them are inspired by incorrect things (dreams, delusion induced by drugs or mental illness, poor memory, etc), but they are all, in nature, the same thing at their core. I believe in God for the same reason that I believe that the speed of light is 299, 792, 458 meters/second, because I've had an experience which suggests that that is the case and have decided, based on the evidence, that that experience most likely was inspired by something true, instead of something false. You can compare and contrast experiences, but you can't invalidate experience itself as the basis of belief unless you're willing to cast off the entirety of human knowledge.

I see the idea you're chipping at here but I disagree and suggest that the reason we know what the speed of light because it can be calculated and scientists have studied it. Then, someone published the knowledge and you came upon it. It is also constant: if every single person had the same experience of god then I would be forced to agree with the majority, but such is not the case.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 12:38
if every single person had the same experience of god then I would be forced to agree with the majority, but such is not the case.

Which is exactly my point: "truth" is determined by the consensus of experience. We're not debating whether God does or does not exist (or at least, I'm not).

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 12:49
Which is exactly my point: "truth" is determined by the consensus of experience. We're not debating whether God does or does not exist (or at least, I'm not).

I start to be reminded of churches when the whole "shared experience used as evidence" argument is brought up. The only way for that to work is if every single person in the entire world had the same experience.

Aeran
12 Dec 2013, 12:57
I start to be reminded of churches when the whole "shared experience used as evidence" argument is brought up. The only way for that to work is if every single person in the entire world had the same experience.

I still get the feeling we're each having slightly different arguments :/ Let me clarify.

If someone ran into my room and said an alien had landed and tried to kill them with a raygun, I'd figure they're insane and ignore them. But if I was sitting here in my room and an alien popped down through the roof and pointed a raygun at me, I would consider the notion that I was maybe dreaming, or having some weird LSD flashback, but I would also get the hell out of the way. You see what I'm getting at? I'm not claiming that any one individual's personal experience should be the grounds for other people, or society at large, accepting the existence of divinity. I do, however, feel that someone's personal experience, assuming sufficient intellectual rigor, is a valid reason for that person to accept the existence of divinity (or at least to feel that it is the most likely option), and to live their life as such. Whether you want to call that 'Truth' or not is probably just a semantic argument.

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 13:19
If someone ran into my room and said an alien had landed and tried to kill them with a raygun, I'd figure they're insane and ignore them. But if I was sitting here in my room and an alien popped down through the roof and pointed a raygun at me, I would consider the notion that I was maybe dreaming, or having some weird LSD flashback, but I would also get the hell out of the way. You see what I'm getting at? I'm not claiming that any one individual's personal experience should be the grounds for other people, or society at large, accepting the existence of divinity. I do, however, feel that someone's personal experience, assuming sufficient intellectual rigor, is a valid reason for that person to accept the existence of divinity (or at least to feel that it is the most likely option), and to live their life as such. Whether you want to call that 'Truth' or not is probably just a semantic argument.

I only meant that consensus of experience isn't the way to truth on any subject, though it is a good starting point for that which is intangible -- I'll give you that.

I absolutely respect people's right to believe what they want based on whatever they want to base it on. I don't even ask that people have reasons to believe what they believe, really, though I will question it myself. In the outside world I rarely talk about my beliefs and philosophies unless asked -- I'm much more of a "live and let live" type of person. So long as you're not being a dick I don't care. I do not jump all over people's asses for evidence of their beliefs or scrutinize them anywhere but in THIS thread, where I should be allowed to express freely my philosophy.

All THAT to say, I never said that people's personal beliefs shouldn't be founded in personal experience.

Medusa
12 Dec 2013, 13:27
I know many true facts about many gods. But I can't prove or demonstrate or reproduce any of them. Therein lies the rub.

Not the rub. There in lies the truth.

Rick
12 Dec 2013, 13:50
Not the rub. There in lies the truth.

True dat...

ThorsSon
12 Dec 2013, 14:08
BUT... and this is what makes me not-agnostic... I believe in my beliefs anyway. I accept that I'm possibly wrong. I accept that I'm possibly right. I accept that I'll probably never, ever know for sure. But panentheism is the best interface that I've come up with that describes and defines my personal theories and experiences. So that's what I'm running with.

My understanding of the term agnostic, is that it is a belief about the possibility of KNOWING (or as Bjorn states it, proving) one way or the other. As far as I understand the word (as Huxtley coined it, not the way it is often used in modern speech), one can be an agnostic believer, or an agnostic non-believer.

Personally, I would say that I am an agnostic atheist. I don't believe that there are any gods, and I don't believe that it is possible to prove or disprove the existence of god(s).

I don't believe in god(s) because the evidence for them keeps getting replaced by natural scientific explanations... but, on the other hand, even if our science were perfect and complete in explaining everything in the observable universe, it still wouldn't be sufficient to prove that there is no deity, it would only, at best, prove that there is no observable evidence of a deity.

But, for simplicity, I describe myself as an atheist, rather than an agnostic, because of the way people tend to use the word, and assume that "agnostic" means "undecided." I'm not undecided. I do not believe, thus I am an atheist. But, I do agree that it can't be proven.

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 14:27
But, for simplicity, I describe myself as an atheist, rather than an agnostic, because of the way people tend to use the word, and assume that "agnostic" means "undecided." I'm not undecided. I do not believe, thus I am an atheist. But, I do agree that it can't be proven.

Yeah, I'm starting to experience that as I identify with the label. I'm not undecided either. This is not a transitory phase. I simply believe that it is unknowable more than I believe in anything else about spirituality. Agnostic Pagan. I think I like the sound of that.

Denarius
12 Dec 2013, 20:57
One of the main problems I have with Agnosticism, right off the bat, is that it is contingent on two concepts that vary wildly in meaning and are the subject of many debates: God and knowledge.

How we are defining god and how we are defining knowledge is absolutely integral to any sort of discussion about the knowing about gods and their existence.

A few times here god/s has been described as specifically supernatural, as in not existing in our (physical) universe, and I feel that that is an unnecessary limitation to the discussion.

We have no reason to say that a god can't just be some dude on a mountain somewhere who throws lightning bolts and has a cool beard. That's what a lot of our ancestors believed, that gods physically existed within our universe as literal beings. Whether or not that is what you believe, that is a valid belief regarding the nature of deity and thus should be a part of the discussion.

As for knowledge, that's a tricky thing to define but it is not the same thing as scientifically proven. That too I believe is an unnecessary limitation to the discussion. I'd say that we can for the sake of this discussion equate "knowledge" with "Sufficient evidence to cause the average person to accept something, such as the existence of at least one god or the nonexistence of all gods, as fact without coercion."

Bjorn
12 Dec 2013, 21:45
One of the main problems I have with Agnosticism, right off the bat, is that it is contingent on two concepts that vary wildly in meaning and are the subject of many debates: God and knowledge.

How we are defining god and how we are defining knowledge is absolutely integral to any sort of discussion about the knowing about gods and their existence.

A few times here god/s has been described as specifically supernatural, as in not existing in our (physical) universe, and I feel that that is an unnecessary limitation to the discussion.

We have no reason to say that a god can't just be some dude on a mountain somewhere who throws lightning bolts and has a cool beard. That's what a lot of our ancestors believed, that gods physically existed within our universe as literal beings. Whether or not that is what you believe, that is a valid belief regarding the nature of deity and thus should be a part of the discussion.

As for knowledge, that's a tricky thing to define but it is not the same thing as scientifically proven. That too I believe is an unnecessary limitation to the discussion. I'd say that we can for the sake of this discussion equate "knowledge" with "Sufficient evidence to cause the average person to accept something, such as the existence of at least one god or the nonexistence of all gods, as fact without coercion."

Agnosticism is the most reasonable explanation I can find about those two subjects -- which are not that far removed from each other, really. Religion claims to give answers, specific paths claim to have answers and knowledge that they simply cannot demonstrate or provide evidence for outside of unverifiable personal gnosis.

Agnosticism simply states that truth of god is unknown and cannot be proven. It is not a lawyer placing the burden of proof onto the believers so that we may finally find peace, it is a philosophical perspective of reasonable doubt.

ThorsSon
12 Dec 2013, 21:51
One of the main problems I have with Agnosticism, right off the bat, is that it is contingent on two concepts that vary wildly in meaning and are the subject of many debates: God and knowledge.

How we are defining god and how we are defining knowledge is absolutely integral to any sort of discussion about the knowing about gods and their existence.

A few times here god/s has been described as specifically supernatural, as in not existing in our (physical) universe, and I feel that that is an unnecessary limitation to the discussion.

We have no reason to say that a god can't just be some dude on a mountain somewhere who throws lightning bolts and has a cool beard. That's what a lot of our ancestors believed, that gods physically existed within our universe as literal beings. Whether or not that is what you believe, that is a valid belief regarding the nature of deity and thus should be a part of the discussion.

As for knowledge, that's a tricky thing to define but it is not the same thing as scientifically proven. That too I believe is an unnecessary limitation to the discussion. I'd say that we can for the sake of this discussion equate "knowledge" with "Sufficient evidence to cause the average person to accept something, such as the existence of at least one god or the nonexistence of all gods, as fact without coercion."

the vagaries inherent in the definition of "god" is a huge reason why it cannot be disproven (I focus on this end of the spectrum, due to my disbelief)... no matter how little evidence remains of "god," no matter how many of the things previously presented as evidence of "god" get explained by natural science, the definition of "god" can always be reformulated.

It is a moving goalpost.

But... for myself, when I refer to "god," I refer to the supernatural... everything else falls into the purview of science, and can, potentially, be known.

Denarius
12 Dec 2013, 21:59
Agnosticism simply states that truth god is unknown and cannot be proven.

And therefore does not meaningfully define god or knowledge, yet makes a an absolute judgement about both of them. Which is the entirety of my first problem with Agnosticism.

The second problem is that it takes an absolute stance on a subject with no evidence, so essentially I am agnostic about Agnosticism. I don't think it can be proven or rightly taken as fact that the existence of gods is unprovable, though you could certainly believe that that is the case.

I am however open to the possibility that that will change. I don't make an absolute judgement, because I have no basis of evidence or reason to make that judgement.


But... for myself, when I refer to "god," I refer to the supernatural... everything else falls into the purview of science, and can, potentially, be known.

And would therefore invalidate Agnosticism.

ThorsSon
12 Dec 2013, 22:07
And would therefore invalidate Agnosticism.

No, because my agnosticism is in reference to the supernatural. Natural things (such as your old man on the mountain) are... well, natural.

We have visited pretty much every mountain (and have satellite images of the ones we haven't visited), and found no lightning hurlers. We have seen no evidence of beings that can hurl lightning. We have discovered the natural processes in clouds that create lightning... the evidence keeps pushing the things that were previously defined as "god" to smaller and smaller corners, and to more and more supernatural realms.

You are pointing to the unknown to try to argue against the stance that there are things that are unknowable.

What I am saying is that there are limitations to our ability to know things, and I am convinced that "god" (and all things supernatural) lie outside that limitation.

If you chose to define "god" as something that is not supernatural, then my agnosticism disappears... but so does "god's" godliness.

Denarius
12 Dec 2013, 22:26
If you chose to define "god" as something that is not supernatural, then my agnosticism disappears... but so does "god's" godliness.

Again, you are saying that gods are necessarily supernatural. Which is a restrictive and Abrahamic notion.

I just don't agree that gods have to be supernatural to be godly, because that ignores and invalidates real theistic beliefs that real people have. I really shouldn't have to mention this, seeing as where we are having this discussion.


We have seen no evidence of beings that can hurl lightning. Which is not proof that no such thing exists.

ThorsSon
12 Dec 2013, 22:48
Again, you are saying that gods are necessarily supernatural. Which is a restrictive and Abrahamic notion.

I am saying that a being would have to be supernatural, or possess supernatural traits, to qualify for what I would call a god... yes.


I just don't agree that gods have to be supernatural to be godly, because that ignores and invalidates real theistic beliefs that real people have. I really shouldn't have to mention this, seeing as where we are having this discussion.

I cannot control what other people call "god." I CAN, however, define what I would be willing to call "god" and formulate opinions about it.

I, and most people, would define "god" as supernatural.

The supernatural is, by definition, outside the purview of natural science/observation.


IWhich is not proof that no such thing exists.

It is true, it is not proof that no such thing exists... however, the likelihood of it existing diminishes every day, as there continues to be no evidence for it, and more and more evidence against it... hence my disbelief.

However, that is not really applicable to the conversation, since it is I who argues against the ability to prove/disprove the supernatural.

Denarius
12 Dec 2013, 23:01
I, and most people, would define "god" as supernatural. The only time I've seen that restriction in definitions, from dictionaries mind, is when it is used in the context of the abrahamic God.


I was specifically arguing that it CAN'T be disproven. Which is all well and good, but doesn't mean that it can't be proven.

Finding a specimen would suffice for that.

ThorsSon
12 Dec 2013, 23:10
It seems that you are arguing that "god" cannot be defined, AND that "knowledge" and/or "proof" cannot be defined.

SO, you argument against agnosticism (god's existence/nonexistence cannot be known) is, "[undefined] CAN be [undefined]."

I am starting to see that I am swinging against mist.

You offer no argument, only an attempt to move the goal post.

Your argument against "I don't know," is "but what if you REALLY don't know?"

Perhaps if you offer a concrete definition of the terms that you are arguing that I am defining incorrectly, we can have a discussion... every debate requires that the terms of discussion be defined. I have given the definition of what I am speaking of, you have not. You will need to do the same, or we can no longer continue.

Denarius
12 Dec 2013, 23:22
I am arguing that this discussion requires agreeing on specific definitions of god and knowledge, I even gave potential definitions. I also argued against the notion of gods as being necessarily supernatural. Never said either cannot be defined, the problem is that they have too many definitions.

My argument against Agnosticism is that it makes an absolute statement without an evidential basis.

ThorsSon
12 Dec 2013, 23:29
I am arguing that this discussion requires agreeing on specific definitions of god and knowledge, I even gave potential definitions. I also argued against the notion of gods as being necessarily supernatural. Never said either cannot be defined, the problem is that they have too many definitions.

My argument against Agnosticism is that it makes an absolute statement without an evidential basis.

You have not offered definitions. You have only stated that you do not agree with the general definitions of the terms used.

I, and damn near everyone else, define "god" as being supernatural.

You have stated that you don't agree with that definition, and offered examples of things that YOU would call "god" that don't fit that definition... but haven't offered an alternate definition.

And, I'm sorry, a dude that can hurl lightning falls into the supernatural... no matter how kickass his beard is.

Denarius
12 Dec 2013, 23:41
Apparently I didn't define god, but I did offer a definition of knowledge we could use.

The O.E.D. defines god as "A superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes," supernatural and otherwordly or other such things are not used.

ThorsSon
12 Dec 2013, 23:53
The O.E.D. defines god as "A superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes," supernatural and otherwordly or other such things are not used.

"power over nature" IS supernatural... hell, the word is Latin for "above nature": "supra" meaning 'above' + "naturalis" meaning 'nature'

seriously, dude.

Denarius
13 Dec 2013, 00:01
"power over nature" IS supernatural... hell, the word is Latin for "above nature": "supra" meaning 'above' + "naturalis" meaning 'nature'

Now who's moving the goalposts? You know that I mean supernatural as exiting outside the natural world.

ThorsSon
13 Dec 2013, 00:06
Now who's moving the goalposts?

Not I, for a certainty!


You know that I mean supernatural as exiting outside the natural world.

As do I.

A being that has "power over nature" (which means "power over the natural world"), certainly must exist outside of the natural world... or at least possess power that exists outside of the natural world (but, then, if he/she/it "possesses" power that is outside the natural world, then either the power is actually inside the natural world, or the possessor is not... and thus, supernatural).

Denarius
13 Dec 2013, 00:09
certainly must exist outside of the natural world

One word: Baselessassertion.


or at least possess power that exists outside of the natural world.

Irrelevant, they would still be natural beings. If they exist, which I'm sure they don't... Which is also irrelevant.

ThorsSon
13 Dec 2013, 00:15
I give up.

Yes, it is possible that there are natural beings that someone might call "(G/g)od((s)/(ess(es))"

Thus it is impossible that one can't know if a "(G/g)od((s)/(ess(es))" exists.

QED

Denarius
13 Dec 2013, 00:36
edit: Well never mind then.

Rick
13 Dec 2013, 01:07
I can't decide if I do or don't like eggnog... therefore, I'm eggnostic...

Rae'ya
13 Dec 2013, 02:00
Well this thread took off overnight! ;) This is gonna be a bit piecemeal but I'll get there...


^fixed ;)

Hah! You'd think I've have learned by now... how many times have you fixed that for me? lol. I need to stick a sign to my computer... "Do not use the word 'theories' where Thalassa might see it" :p


It stops being agnosticism when you think you know what is going on and stop the process of reason to "pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable."

I mean, there is only one thing anyone can know about divinity, and that's this--There is no such thing as an objective event, fact or state(ment) that one can make about a completely abstract idea that is entirely subjective. Period. The ultimate nature of god is unknowable. Anyone that acknowleges that (there's your "true fact" about god, Medusa :p) is agnostic, whether or not they prefer to believe in X or Y, to practice A or B, etc.

Anything beyond that is hubris. Anything beyond the idea that "god is" (including the idea that "god is not") is our human projections (built upon biology and history and culture and landscape) of what we hope or think god is. Because defining god is like defining porn (according to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart)--can't define it, but we know it when we see it (or in this case, by how we, as individuals experience it...or not).

Personally, I don't worship the gods because I think they are "real". Iíve been a polytheist and a pantheist and an ambivalent agnosticÖand its been my observation that either the gods donít care, or I donít, because my interactions with them havenít varied based on the changes in those beliefs. They have, at times, changedĖdeepened, become more (or less) ecstatic, etc, over the yearsÖbut (if I am very honest and disgustingly introspective) these changes have been in relation to what I have needed, and what I have gone searching for, rather than as a result of my theological opinion in the existence and nature of deity.

Quite frankly, I donít care that the gods exist or not. I have gotten to a point where my beliefs and experiences are not cheapened or enriched by either position. I do what I do, which includes prayer, offerings, reverence in worship, etc, not because I have faith in the literal existence in an eternal being (supernatural or otherwise), but because it works. It centers me, it enriches my experience of the world around me, it connects me to something bigger and greater than myself, and it allows me to bring those things home to my family, my home, and my community.

By this definition, I'm actually agnostic... and I agree with every single thing in the above quote. The only thing that I am willing to say that 'I absolutely know for sure' is that I can't absolutely know anything for sure. All I can do is go by my experience and the hypotheses that resonate with that experience. Hence I pedantically start every statement I make with 'I believe' and accept that everyone else's subjective experience is just as valid as my own, even when it's in direct opposition to mine. I'm willing to base my practice on my own subjective beliefs, knowing full well that it's entirely possible I'm deluded. But I'm gonna run with that until proven otherwise.

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 02:09
Which is all well and good, but doesn't mean that it can't be proven.

Finding a specimen would suffice for that.

Does that mean you view gods as tangible?

And, upon further review of your Apatheistic beliefs, I realize what the heart of your argument is (as I understand it): I am taking a militant stance on something that you are disinterested in providing evidence for. This sentence from wikipedia helped lead me to that conclusion: an apatheist is also someone who is not interested in accepting or denying any claims that gods exist or do not exist. Therefore, would it be true to say that you take my militant stance on the impossibility of ever knowing to be as concerning as someone who claims that they have answers?


I am arguing that this discussion requires agreeing on specific definitions of god and knowledge, I even gave potential definitions. I also argued against the notion of gods as being necessarily supernatural. Never said either cannot be defined, the problem is that they have too many definitions.

My argument against Agnosticism is that it makes an absolute statement without an evidential basis.

Yeah, but there is no evidence of anything aside from unverifiable personal gnosis. So your argument against agnosticism is that it claims that knowledge of god/gods/divinity cannot be known, even by YOU? It does not claim to have any answers, I do not claim to have any answers -- I simply extend that sentiment to everyone, including myself. Therefore, humans are fallible and have no affect on the nature of god, if there even is one.

You are not really contributing on here with your pedantry, despite my appreciation of your activity on here. I do not mean to attack or offend, only to point out that you do not offer anything but contrary beliefs without any evidence (again, proving agnosticism's point), and since this is an agnostic thread... you're simply wrong. Just like I am. And that guy, and that guy, and that guy over there. Welcome to the club.

If you had said: I disagree with Bjorn's militant stance that we cannot ever know/we do not know, we would understand that you are simply concrete in your beliefs and disregard your opinions on here since they are out of context on a thread that assumes that the knowledge of god is unknowable. Instead, you postulate and distract. Eh.

Dumuzi
13 Dec 2013, 02:11
I can't decide if I do or don't like eggnog... therefore, I'm eggnostic...

Haha, that was brilliant! :D

Rae'ya
13 Dec 2013, 02:32
Oh I've had loads of experiences. If you really read my first post you'll find mention that my practice is much more akin to panentheism. I spend time with my spirituality and nurse it like a tender seedling. I feel as if I have a very deep and meaningful relationship with The Great Spirit and ask for guidance, inspiration, make offerings and prayers, etc. The fact that you think I am lacking in rich, spiritual fiber simply because I do not consider them empirical evidence of their validity is, as you said before, laughable and arrogant. I simply accept that I am probably wrong about the Truth and that there is no way to ever know. I do not use agnosticism as a chain to keep me to the ground, I use it as wings to soar on. Now that I am not worried about being right or finding something right, I am free to simply live my life and cultivate my spirit using whatever tools I please.

I'm finding it very interesting to see the way that we identify differently, yet have fairly similar beliefs. Both Thalassa and yourself primarily identify as agnostic, yet I identify primarily as panentheistic (specifically in relation the 'The Divine' or 'god' as we are discussing here, rather than spirits). I had never even considered agnostic as an identifier until this thread. I had always assumed that to be agnostic was to take a stance of 'I don't know and will never know' and leave it at that... which is patently not true. You have a hypothesis that you believe is plausible enough to create a spiritual practice around. But that begs the question... does belief require 'knowledge'. I don't think so. I have beliefs that I don't know the truth of. If I knew the truth of them I would call them 'known facts' rather than 'beliefs'.

- - - Updated - - -


My understanding of the term agnostic, is that it is a belief about the possibility of KNOWING (or as Bjorn states it, proving) one way or the other. As far as I understand the word (as Huxtley coined it, not the way it is often used in modern speech), one can be an agnostic believer, or an agnostic non-believer.

Personally, I would say that I am an agnostic atheist. I don't believe that there are any gods, and I don't believe that it is possible to prove or disprove the existence of god(s).

I don't believe in god(s) because the evidence for them keeps getting replaced by natural scientific explanations... but, on the other hand, even if our science were perfect and complete in explaining everything in the observable universe, it still wouldn't be sufficient to prove that there is no deity, it would only, at best, prove that there is no observable evidence of a deity.

But, for simplicity, I describe myself as an atheist, rather than an agnostic, because of the way people tend to use the word, and assume that "agnostic" means "undecided." I'm not undecided. I do not believe, thus I am an atheist. But, I do agree that it can't be proven.

Yep, and this is where I'm heading after 6 pages of this thread. I never realised that agnosticism could be applied in such ways... and yet here I am going... 'well I guess that makes me an agnostic believer'.

I think this is one of the best discussions we've had here recently. Certainly the most though-provoking. And I love that.

(of course... I still have two pages of replies to read... lol)

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 02:33
I'm finding it very interesting to see the way that we identify differently, yet have fairly similar beliefs. Both Thalassa and yourself primarily identify as agnostic, yet I identify primarily as panentheistic (specifically in relation the 'The Divine' or 'god' as we are discussing here, rather than spirits). I had never even considered agnostic as an identifier until this thread. I had always assumed that to be agnostic was to take a stance of 'I don't know and will never know' and leave it at that... which is patently not true. You have a hypothesis that you believe is plausible enough to create a spiritual practice around. But that begs the question... does belief require 'knowledge'. I don't think so. I have beliefs that I don't know the truth of. If I knew the truth of them I would call them 'known facts' rather than 'beliefs'.

Medusa helped me clarify (unbeknownst to her) in another thread by differentiating her beliefs from her moral code.

My philosophy is that we have never and will never truly understand the nature of divinity. My beliefs are constantly changing due to new evidence and personal experience -- I simply do not portend that my personal experience has any effect on the nature of god. I do not think I am discovering god/divinity as I explore the path I walk, I think I am discovering more of myself. And hey, knowing your enemy is the best part to know how to triumph over her. ;)

Once the burden of proof is removed entirely from the equation I find it much easier to listen to people as we speak of the esoteric. I don't necessarily care that I filter their personal experiences through my bullshit-meter, nor do I act as if their experiences are less than PERSONAL truth... but personal truth is not universal. Period. And in that, I believe more strongly than I do in panentheism, witchcraft, or any path that ever existed, or will ever exist. I do not believe in humans that much, or any other creature either, for that matter. I am absolutely militant in my stance that knowledge of god is personal, and therefore unknowable since personal gnosis is not evidence of anything.

Rae'ya
13 Dec 2013, 02:39
The second problem is that it takes an absolute stance on a subject with no evidence...


Just want to point out that you can apply this exact statement to ANY form of -theism. They are all taking an absolute stance on a subject with no evidence. I think that's thats the point of Agnosticism... their absolute stance is that there is no evidence and therefore no absolute stance can be taken.

Also... for an apatheist you are showing a great deal of interest in the definition or non-definition of the nature of deity. :p

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 02:52
Just want to point out that you can apply this exact statement to ANY form of -theism. They are all taking an absolute stance on a subject with no evidence. I think that's thats the point of Agnosticism... their absolute stance is that there is no evidence and therefore no absolute stance can be taken.

I think the trouble he is conveying is that I DO take a stance, quite militantly that we cannot, have never, and will never know. Mostly though, this is a prevailing view of agnosticism through the ages as impertinent to time, culture, technology, and religion. A lot of people don't take too kindly to being told they're wrong. I guess I understand, though I do not empathize at all. We ARE wrong, and I DO believe that, and I refuse to be silent on my own damn thread. :D

Denarius
13 Dec 2013, 03:16
Does that mean you view gods as tangible?

I don't view gods as anything other than ideas, hypothetical beings. Therefore, as far as I am concerned gods can be whatever you imagine them to be. It's incredibly presumptive to say gods must be anything, when we don't even know whether they exist or not.


And, upon further review of your Apatheistic beliefs, I realize what the heart of your argument is (as I understand it): I am taking a militant stance on something that you are disinterested in providing evidence for. This sentence from wikipedia helped lead me to that conclusion: an apatheist is also someone who is not interested in accepting or denying any claims that gods exist or do not exist.

I'm not a scientist, I am just some dude. If I had evidence, I would provide it. All I have are my thoughts on the subject. If you feel that they are adding nothing to the discussion, given what you say further down that seems likely, then fine. I will refrain from discussing the subject unless I am addressed specifically. If I keep bothering you, it's no longer my fault.


Therefore, would it be true to say that you take my militant stance on the impossibility of ever knowing to be as concerning as someone who claims that they have answers? Concerning? No. I don't find either of those concerning, I find them both overly presumptive.


<Agnosticism> does not claim to have any answers, I do not claim to have any answers -- I simply extend that sentiment to everyone, including myself. Therefore, humans are fallible and have no affect on the nature of god, if there even is one.

But again, the major claim of Agnosticism is that the existence or non-existence of gods is absolutely unknowable. All I am saying is that that claim is no more substantiated than any other claim relating to gods. Mine, yours, or anybody's. No more or less deserving of a derisive chortle.

Because, any one of us could very well be right. I see no reason why we couldn't be. As I learned from multiple choice tests in school, never underestimate the potential of dumb luck.

Rowanwood
13 Dec 2013, 07:51
All this thread seems to prove to me is that there are people who love to argue about stuff but have no actual argument to make.

Which is, truthfully, like having a conversation with anyone who claims to know a 'universal' truth that cannot be proven...hence making the point yet again of the validity of an agnostic path for anyone who has not experienced or does not trust any personally experienced interaction with a supernatural force.



As an honest question, I can't help but wonder if it isn't threatening to some people who feel they have found a truth to be challenged by someone who says "but how do you know for sure?" which leads to hysteria. Do you think that perhaps if you aren't sure, that challenge itself could be a very disturbing shake to your faith?

thalassa
13 Dec 2013, 09:11
But again, the major claim of Agnosticism is that the existence or non-existence of gods is absolutely unknowable. All I am saying is that that claim is no more substantiated than any other claim relating to gods. Mine, yours, or anybody's. No more or less deserving of a derisive chortle.


Erm. No. No, that isn't the major claim of agnosticism. Or, if you think it is, then you don't understand it as well as you think you do. Agnosticism, as per the dude that invented the term, is a process, not a belief. Or:


Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle. That principle is of great antiquity; it is as old as Socrates; as old as the writer who said, 'Try all things, hold fast by that which is good'; it is the foundation of the Reformation, which simply illustrated the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him, it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science.

Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him.

The results of the working out of the agnostic principle will vary according to individual knowledge and capacity, and according to the general condition of science. That which is unproved today may be proved, by the help of new discoveries, tomorrow. The only negative fixed points will be those negations which flow from the demonstrable limitation of our faculties. And the only obligation accepted is to have the mind always open to conviction.

T. H. Huxley,"Agnosticism", 1889]



The basic tenet of agnosticism is tha tthe existance and nature of god is ultimately unknowable, as we stand right here, in the last several millenia of human history, and for the forseeable future. BUT that this could change with any paradigm shifing event, at any time, and we should expect to change our opinions in accordance with the evidence prodived.

While I tend to think its highly unlikely, or other agnostics may think seems just plain impossible, those are matters of personal opinion rather than the "major claim" of agnosticim. And, if we want to play that sort of linguistic hair-splitting game, "Agnositicism" is incapable or making any claims, since it lacks a brain or a mouth or hands or an internet connection.

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 11:26
All this thread seems to prove to me is that there are people who love to argue about stuff but have no actual argument to make.

Yes, I do love to argue. I like to have stones to sharpen my blade against and I love the spirit of civil debate, which so far, I believe this thread has been very respectful and civil while still trying to really get underneath some of these ideas. And I DO have an argument to make -- my argument is that proof of god is ultimately unknowable and therefore we should all be willing to accept the fact that what we believe might be a total crock.

That is really all I'm asking. Put your beliefs to the test, cast them into the fire and see what sticks around after the heat is gone, challenge yourselves! Consider the possibility that we are wrong and that it is perfectly all right.


Which is, truthfully, like having a conversation with anyone who claims to know a 'universal' truth that cannot be proven...hence making the point yet again of the validity of an agnostic path for anyone who has not experienced or does not trust any personally experienced interaction with a supernatural force.

I don't think it's about the trust -- I trust my personal god, I just accept that I am probably only seeing one very, very tiny side of it, if I'm seeing anything at all. I do not pretend that my personal gnosis has any affect on the nature of god/divinity, nor do I confuse my personal revelations with universal truths. I accept above all else that there is still a highly likely possibility that there is no god (although I personally believe there is) and that furthermore, we probably do not "know" what we think we do.

Again, I find it very interesting that everyone experiences THEIR path, not someone else's path. You hardly ever hear about a Christian waking up one day because Artemis answered their prayers. You probably won't hear about an atheist being visited by an angel. We all experience our own personal flavor of divinity if we believe it and it simply doesn't make any sense to me why we wouldn't question that we just made all this shit up in our heads.

My philosophy is agnostic, militantly so.
My path is eclectic, openly so.


As an honest question, I can't help but wonder if it isn't threatening to some people who feel they have found a truth to be challenged by someone who says "but how do you know for sure?" which leads to hysteria. Do you think that perhaps if you aren't sure, that challenge itself could be a very disturbing shake to your faith?

I think you're SPOT ON and I HOPE that's what is happening because that is exactly what I intend to do. The only way to know what you believe is to put it to the test. Do not blindly accept. Do not be complacent. Search, and do it hard and with passion and with severity. I struggled with this for the last year until I finally realized that a weight of burden had been lifted from my shoulders.

B. de Corbin
13 Dec 2013, 14:28
Just for fun, I'll toss this out -

In the 1930s, Kurt Godel proved (Godel's Incompleteness Theorem) that any logical system with enough complexity to make complex statements can not (and this is absolutely true 100% of the time) prove all things that are undeniably true.

In other words, it has been mathematically demonstrated they we can just never really know for sure.

It's kind of comforting, really - a big weight off one's shoulders.

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 14:33
Just for fun, I'll toss this out -

In the 1930s, Kurt Godel proved (Godel's Incompleteness Theorem) that any logical system with enough complexity to make complex statements can not (and this is absolutely true 100% of the time) prove all things that are undeniably true.

In other words, it has been mathematically demonstrated they we can just never really know for sure.

It's kind of comforting, really - a big weight off one's shoulders.

OOOOOH, nice!

I also consider it to be a very freeing concept. Now that I don't have to worry about finding THE ULTIMATE TRUF I am free to simply live and practice that which nourishes my well-being the most.

Medusa
13 Dec 2013, 18:05
All the theists are laughing at us.

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 18:24
All the theists are laughing at us.

I fear it may be worse -- I think they pity us.

ThorsSon
13 Dec 2013, 18:25
I fear it may be worse -- I think they pity us.

It's ok. It's a two way street.

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 18:31
It's ok. It's a two way street.

I try not to be incensed. I feel the same way when my imbecilic family members tries to talk to me about Christ, knowing full well that I have my own brand of spirituality.

It's like going into someone's house, looking around, and suggesting a different wall color. WTF, this is my house!

Medusa
13 Dec 2013, 18:36
Mickey is real!
No he's not!
But my Disneyland Official Brochure has him right on the cover!
But my Magic Mountain doesn't mention him. It's all about Montezuma yo.

This is how it sounds to me.

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 18:50
Mickey is real!
No he's not!
But my Disneyland Official Brochure has him right on the cover!
But my Magic Mountain doesn't mention him. It's all about Montezuma yo.

This is how it sounds to me.

Haha, you never fail to sum it up succinctly and with a brand of humor I thoroughly appreciate.

Aeran
13 Dec 2013, 19:00
I'm not sure I understand why you seem to be going out of your way to establish a gap between yourself and the "theists," especially since I'm fairly certain that you'd find that most of the "theists" are much closer to your own beliefs than they are to a fundamentalist Christian 'world created 6 thousand years ago in 7 days" type, here certainly, and probably in the wider community of paganism and alternative spirituality too. It feels like you're going out of your way to adopt a label which intentionally puts a wall between you and other people where one otherwise doesn't exist.

I also think you're vastly overestimating how many people actually believe that they know "the truth" about the divine, or even a truth. Most people with an alternative spiritual practice, in my experience, just adopt the model of divinity which best suits them and matches their experience and understanding, and will freely admit that they don't know for sure and that other models are likely just as valid. The only difference I see is that you go out of the way to stress that you know God to be inherently unknowable, whereas most people simply stop at 'I don't know,' without presuming to know whether anyone else out in the vast universe does.

Medusa
13 Dec 2013, 19:25
Who are you talking to?

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 19:48
Who are you talking to?

Me, he doesn't appreciate it when I say that everyone is wrong.

Medusa
13 Dec 2013, 19:55
Me, he doesn't appreciate it when I say that everyone is wrong.

But you are just pointing out a fact. Everyone is wrong about something or other. And you aren't saying you are right about everything.

Meh.

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 19:58
But you are just pointing out a fact. Everyone is wrong about something or other. And you aren't saying you are right about everything.

Meh.

I know. He's been really active on this thread so I think it's like a child worrying a tooth to death -- he can't help but try and prove me wrong about saying that everyone is wrong. Sure, I haven't pussyfooted around it, but this is my damn thread, and it's agnostic, so yeah, I'm going to flex my militant stance as much as I want without being an intentional asshat.

But agnosticism DOES say that knowledge of god is ultimately unknowable. If there were one religion or one path that was showing signs of evidence then it would make sense, but not a damn thing has come to the light. We are every bit as removed from god and the knowledge thereof as we ever have been or will be.

People don't like to be told they're wrong. I don't really care because I KNOW I'm wrong about my path -- but I do NOT believe that I am wrong in that we will never know or have concrete evidence of god. Everyone likes to live in their little bubble of glitter and unicorns and I imagine many people feel as if I'm poking at those bubbles. And I am. Because I think belief in Thor, Athena, Horus, or any other mythological pantheon as REAL BEINGS is just...well...stupid.

ThorsSon
13 Dec 2013, 20:32
It blows me away how volatile of a topic this has turned out to be.

Agnostic: from the Greek, literally, "without knowledge"

Basically, the stance that we do not, and cannot know everything, and thus cannot know for sure if there is, or is not, a god... Why does this offend so?

Bjorn retains spirituality... she is an agnostic spiritualist.
There are those (most Christians that I know, for instance) that are agnostic theists.
Medusa and I are non-believers... we are agnostic atheists.

Agnosticism does not separate from theism... in fact, it makes no claims about theism/atheism... it is a philosophical argument about the knowability of god.

Aeran
13 Dec 2013, 20:51
I know. He's been really active on this thread so I think it's like a child worrying a tooth to death -- he can't help but try and prove me wrong about saying that everyone is wrong. Sure, I haven't pussyfooted around it, but this is my damn thread, and it's agnostic, so yeah, I'm going to flex my militant stance as much as I want without being an intentional asshat.

You're entirely missing the point. of the two of us, you're the one claiming a greater knowledge about God, I (and, I believe, most people on this forum and who follow an alternative spiritual path in general) simply say 'I don't know,' but you say, 'I don't know, but I know that nobody else knows.'

It isn't your claim that everyone is wrong which bothers me. I'll freely admit that it's possible that everyone, ever, is wrong, and that it's likely that the vast, vast majority of people who claim to know something, are in fact wrong. And it's certain that I'm wrong. But I don't know whether everyone, ever, is wrong, since I don't know enough about the divine to know whether it is possible that someone knows something about it. 'I don't know,' logically extends to 'I don't know if anyone else knows.'

You enjoy deriding people you give the artificial distinction of "theist," but you actually claim to know more about God than they do. That is literally the only difference between you and most of the people here.



People don't like to be told they're wrong. I don't really care because I KNOW I'm wrong about my path -- but I do NOT believe that I am wrong in that we will never know or have concrete evidence of god. Everyone likes to live in their little bubble of glitter and unicorns and I imagine many people feel as if I'm poking at those bubbles. And I am. Because I think belief in Thor, Athena, Horus, or any other mythological pantheon as REAL BEINGS is just...well...stupid.

And here again, you massively misrepresent people's beliefs to differentiate yourself from them. Very few people view deities as literal, independent beings. My experience is that the majority of people view them as either psychological constructs or as personifications of natural forces. As a kind of working model which allows them to interpret and understand the world around them.




Basically, the stance that we do not, and cannot know everything, and thus cannot know for sure if there is, or is not, a god... Why does this offend so?

Agnosticism doesn't offend me at all, in fact if you want to get technical I fall under the label itself. What does offend me is Bjorn's insistance on projecting an entirely false interpretation of "theism" onto other people so she can use it to differentiate herself from them. It's just flat out false to claim that even a sizeable minority of people, here or in the wider community of alternative beliefs, believe in God(s) as literal, independent beings. I think most people here would agree with Bjorn entirely if she'd stop using labels to erect artificial barriers and stop projecting her own false and, frankly, insulting conception of "theism" onto people who believe nothing of the sort.

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 21:02
You're entirely missing the point. of the two of us, you're the one claiming a greater knowledge about God, I (and, I believe, most people on this forum and who follow an alternative spiritual path in general) simply say 'I don't know,' but you say, 'I don't know, but I know that nobody else knows.'

And I included myself in that category. Everyone else = humans. Humans cannot know. PERIOD.

All the rest is noise.

Aeran
13 Dec 2013, 21:46
And I included myself in that category. Everyone else = humans. Humans cannot know. PERIOD.

All the rest is noise.

So putting aside the philosophical debate - why do you keep projecting the label of your distorted understanding of "theism" onto people? Everybody is agreeing that nobody here ultimately knows the truth about God, the rest is just a tiny philosophical distinction about whether it is ever, potentially, possible that is is possible to know something. Hardly a good reason to use labels to establish artificial distinctions between people, not to mention looking down on and mocking people for beliefs they don't hold.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74ZhrGR0D0Y

- - - Updated - - -

Oh, and for someone who told me off for being 'snide' earlier, you've spent a lot of time belittling certain beliefs, and misrepresenting people as holding those beliefs when they in fact don't. Not to mention talking over my head instead of responding to me directly and attributing false beliefs and misguided (and insulting) motivations to me. I don't know if you just genuinely don't understand what I'm saying, or whether it's an attempt to make yourself seem mature and intelligent, but it's extremely condescending, not to mention hypocritical (in light of what you got angry at me for earlier in the thread) and not at all conducive of maintaining the "civil discussion" you claim to want.

Bjorn
13 Dec 2013, 22:02
So putting aside the philosophical debate - why do you keep projecting the label of your distorted understanding of "theism" onto people? Everybody is agreeing that nobody here ultimately knows the truth about God, the rest is just a tiny philosophical distinction about whether it is ever, potentially, possible that is is possible to know something. Hardly a good reason to use labels to establish artificial distinctions between people, not to mention looking down on and mocking people for beliefs they don't hold.

Pretty sure you and Denarius are the only ones who've been bothered so far and I will readily admit that I have done nothing to try and pacify your feelings.

Secondly, they're only labels if you IDENTIFY with them -- otherwise they're just words used to help best describe things, and yes, there is a reason to hold a distinction. That is why we have a separate section for Atheism and Agnosticism, which you seem to delight in visiting. The separation exists so that we understand where the other person(s) are coming from so to sit here and continue to have an argument about splitting hairs and hurt feelings is, as I said, NOISE. With one exception that I apologized for today I have refrained from posting on most of the theistic sections and threads on PF seeing as how they do not apply to my beliefs and therefore, I would have nothing beneficial to add to the discussion. These ideas I'm projecting onto theists? I think you're taking them on. Yeah, I think it's stupid -- that should be implied when you click on the Atheism and Agnosticism thread. WATCH OUT: here be asshole. And you're in the wrong section if you don't want to hear about how strongly I believe these things.

I know you can read. I know you're smart. It's like going into a church and getting pissed off that they're talking about Jesus. You actions here make no sense whatsoever. You don't have to keep reading. You don't have to keep responding. You're incensed and you refuse to let it be. That's on you, homes.


Oh, and for someone who told me off for being 'snide' earlier, you've spent a lot of time belittling certain beliefs, and misrepresenting people as holding those beliefs when they in fact don't. Not to mention talking over my head instead of responding to me directly and attributing false beliefs and misguided (and insulting) motivations to me. I don't know if you just genuinely don't understand what I'm saying, or whether it's an attempt to make yourself seem mature and intelligent, but it's extremely condescending, not to mention hypocritical (in light of what you got angry at me for earlier in the thread) and not at all conducive of maintaining the "civil discussion" you claim to want.

We're not discussing anything anymore -- it has whittled down to insults and pedantry. And, like I said before, you are in the wrong section if you want to be mad at atheists and agnostics vehemently sharing their beliefs. Perhaps I am the only one who feels that way, but you're in OUR town now, buddy. When in Rome.

MaskedOne
13 Dec 2013, 22:29
I do not actually have the patience to see how much further this thread can fall tonight so I'm not going to.

Thread sealed, pending further review by staff.