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Agnosticism - An Alternative Path

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posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 02:12 AM
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a reply to: Ghost147




We don't need evidence that points away from a notion that a god exists (unless of course that specific notion details an intrusion on natural matters). All we need is to know how to recognize a rational claim that holds some value. An unfalsifiable claim does not have this trait. 


Collectively and to reach consensus this may be true, but for an individual this isn't necessary. It is possible to have completely unverifiable personal experience that removes the element of faith and unknowability from the question of the existence of a God in some form for the individual.




posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 02:21 AM
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a reply to: scorpio84
Ha! I was an atheist in my early college years, and the most hard-fought argument I had in that time was with my room-mate, who was a mathematician and an agnostic. He was trying a version of the fallacious argument that atheists do not exist. I notice that agnostics on ATS tend to be rather dismissive of atheists, though at least one atheist (who hasn't appeared on this thread yet) argues most passionately the reverse case that agnostics ought to call themselves atheists.

You will find that the following account does not clarify the argument very much;

In the early hours of this morning (and resuming this afternoon) Malcolm and I created the new science of Mathematical Theology, or rather Theological Mathematics. It followed on from the argument we had after the last party. He’s been talking to someone in Somerville called Nicky, and they came to the conclusion that religious faith could be expressed as a circle. Taking agnosticism as a fixed point, Christian faith and atheism went off in opposite directions to meet at the other side of the circle, proving themselves to be the same thing. So I set out to disprove this. I argued that faith was not a circle but a straight line. Since he would turn an infinite line into a circular one, I made it a finite straight line, with absence of faith at one end and maximum faith at the other. But I then made the mistake of introducing complications. Taking into account the different kinds of belief in God, I gave them separate lines, all originating from the “0” fixed point of atheism, and so becoming a cone, which made the figure three-dimensional. “Maximum faith” would then be a circle or circular plane at the other end. The length of the line was arbitrarily fixed at 200 units of faith, because Malcolm had wanted to place agnosticism half-way along as the zero point, and measuring 100 units in each direction, and I wasn’t having that. In fact I got agnosticism off the line altogether by giving it a separate band, hovering detached and equidistant from the surface of the dome. All this was putting areas into the picture. Malcolm then pointed out that human beings are not capable of standing on a point. Therefore nobody could stand exclusively on my point of “Zero faith”, but must extend a little beyond it; therefore nobody could be a pure atheist. This was really cheating, because I had originally meant the lines merely as directions. He questioned the possibility of maximum faith, so I compared it with an egg-cup being full or empty with water. He also attacked the idea that faith was quantifiable, but I retorted that the idea appeared in his circle as well and was inherent in any attempt to portray the question in geometrical terms. As he argued, he was writing to Judith in Manchester, sometimes inserting a running commentary on the discussion (“S has just admitted…”). We argued until about four o’clock in the morning.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 02:32 AM
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a reply to: Metallicus

I'm aware of that. It's the same reason I believe in Ghosts, despite not having any actual proof of them myself, other than experiencing 'an event'. However, I don't believe in ghosts like many theists believe in god, which is basically unquestionable faith. I realize that personal experience is an extremely poor way to judge what is or isn't reality, so even though I experience it, there's still skepticism, just less of it. Not to mention, most people who "found god" were already seeking it out in the first place. So there's a lingering bias/self fulfilling prophecy as well.
edit on 27/11/15 by Ghost147 because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 08:18 AM
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a reply to: scorpio84


If you think about it, the umbrella term would properly be "agnostic." You can be a theistic agnostic or atheistic agnostic. The OP is not talking about the terms literally, but more how they are commonly used by those who identify as such and such. A couple links that I think will help you understand the difference between atheism and agnosticism are this one and this one

Thanks for the links, but I have read both of those previously, and many others in this debate. If someone wants to call themselves agnostic to stay away from the stereotypical view of atheists, I can't say as I blame them necessarily. The response one gets from these two words is worlds apart. Mainly because few people understand the definition of either, but "atheist" carries with it the stigma of centuries of demonization by the church. But from my perspective, agnostics are closet atheists, that are uncomfortable with the word "atheist".

As to the last part of your statement. It seems you, along with so many others still put atheists and anti-theists under that same "umbrella". When in fact, they are not. I am an atheist in the sense that I do not believe in deities. I am also an anti-theist in the sense that I actively reject the concept of god/goddess. There is a difference.

I find it interesting that most atheists are comfortable being referred to as "agnostic atheist", but agnostics are not comfortable with the same term. The many terms that have come out of this debate over time are actually amusing, in that like religion, we seem to have developed denominations. If I were still a Christian, I could certainly see the irony in it.

You mentioned in another post that you have not seen atheists or theists debate from the opposite perspective successfully. Both have been done right here on ATS. I have done it, because I was a Christian for many years. There is also a theist in this thread who was once an atheist. Given what i have seen of his posts over the years, I'd say he is also more than capable of it.

S&F for the interesting thread.
edit on 11/27/2015 by Klassified because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 08:38 AM
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scorpio - Your own beliefs and what you call yourself is totally up to you and I don't take issue with it at all. But I will say that when someone self-describes as an agnostic, I can only think... "Duh! We're ALL agnostic!" That tells me nothing more about you than I already knew. I take the terms (agnostic and atheist) literally. I'm an agnostic atheist. I don't KNOW whether or not a deity exists, but I don't BELIEVE one does.


originally posted by: scorpio84
However, the atheist cannot work within the framework of theology, because theology presupposes that God exists, a notion which atheists reject as either untrue or - more commonly -absurd/improbable.


I just want to say that an atheist CAN work within the framework of theology, because the IDEA of God existing, exists. We can discuss religion and God as CONCEPTS. Especially atheists who have a long background in religion. Just because we don't believe this concept of "God" is real, doesn't mean we don't have the ability to discuss the concepts of religion or God.

Discussing the Star Wars movies and the characters therein doesn't mean we believe they actually exist. It's silly and simplistic to think that because something isn't real, that we can't discuss the IDEA or CONCEPT of it.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 08:52 AM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic




I take the terms (agnostic and atheist) literally. I'm an agnostic atheist. I don't KNOW whether or not a deity exists, but I don't BELIEVE one does.


Yes, of course I'm aware that the strict definition of "agnostic" is "one who doesn't know" - which, yes, we all are. However, I believe god existing as just as possible as god n


I just want to say that an atheist CAN work within the framework of theology, because the IDEA of God existing, exists.
ot existing.

Then why don't they?




It's silly and simplistic to think that because something isn't real, that we can't discuss the IDEA or CONCEPT of it.



I agree, yet I have not seen a clear example of an atheist arguing against a theist while confining him/herself to arguing from the perspective of a theistic world view. I submit it is because the atheist cannot do so.

Please don't forget that I said the same is true of the theist. A theist arguing with an atheist cannot argue from the perspective that God doesn't exist.

Prove me wrong and I'll be glad to recant.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 09:03 AM
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a reply to: Klassified




. If someone wants to call themselves agnostic to stay away from the stereotypical view of atheists, I can't say as I blame them necessarily. The response one gets from these two words is worlds apart.


That there is a different response is quite true. However, this is not...




But from my perspective, agnostics are closet atheists, that are uncomfortable with the word "atheist".



...at least not in my case. I was an atheist - then a theist - then realized the problem was that I believed God existing or not existing was equally plausible. Thus my current state of non committal. When I did label myself as atheist - both as an antitheist and simply what you would probably label "agnostic atheist" - I certainly didn't feel uncomfortable with it.




The many terms that have come out of this debate over time are actually amusing, in that like religion, we seem to have developed denominations.


Ha - quite true. It's really simple - agnosticism is the gray area. Perhaps better to say is that agnosticism is the only pov that can properly be said to not be a belief system. Yes, I know the argument that "non-belief" is not a belief, but then tell me the difference in meaning between:

(non-belief): I do not believe in God.
(belief): I believe there is no God./I believe God does not exist.





Both have been done right here on ATS. I have done it, because I was a Christian for many years. There is also a theist in this thread who was once an atheist. Given what i have seen of his posts over the years, I'd say he is also more than capable of it.



Then I'll keep a look out for this. Thanks for alerting me - I'm still pretty new on ATS.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 09:08 AM
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a reply to: DISRAELI




I notice that agnostics on ATS tend to be rather dismissive of atheists


Interesting. Could it just be they don't like atheists constantly trying to argue that agnostics are really atheists? Agnostics are pretty much the bisexuals of the belief spectrum. Actually, pansexual may be a better analogy.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 09:09 AM
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a reply to: scorpio84


(non-belief): I do not believe in God.

This is passive. Not active.


(belief): I believe there is no God./I believe God does not exist.

This is active. Not passive.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 09:20 AM
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originally posted by: Klassified
a reply to: scorpio84


(non-belief): I do not believe in God.

This is passive. Not active.


(belief): I believe there is no God./I believe God does not exist.

This is active. Not passive.


Wouldn't passive be:

No God is believed in by me
or
God is not believed in by me

But yes...I like your thinking on it
Still, they mean the same thing.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 09:39 AM
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Atheists think they have enough non-proof to believe that no God exists which is a total logical fallacy.

Theists might be right but there's nothing that proves that what they believe in isn't misguidance.

Experience and information from others makes me believe that there is more to this existence than what we see but nothing of that can really prove that God exists. There is nothing that proves that whatever is on the other sides are from a God. Even if I had a vision, a voice talking to me claiming that it is God, I would have no proof that it wouldn't be more than manipulation.

Even if it was proven that we we're created by aliens, it doesn't disprove God. Even if there wasn't an afterlife, that still doesn't disprove God.

I simply do not have the faith in the disbelief or the belief needed to claim I know the full truth. Faith is manipulatable trait that I'm glad I do not possess.

Agnostism seems to be the most logical stance and as a true mediator, I am proud to be an Agnostic.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 10:07 AM
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originally posted by: scorpio84

originally posted by: Klassified
a reply to: scorpio84


(non-belief): I do not believe in God.

This is passive. Not active.


(belief): I believe there is no God./I believe God does not exist.

This is active. Not passive.


Wouldn't passive be:

No God is believed in by me
or
God is not believed in by me

But yes...I like your thinking on it
Still, they mean the same thing.

The atheist position is passive, because there is a lack of evidence, and therefore, a lack of belief.
The anti-theist/deist goes one step further, and actively rejects. Hence, the difference between the two, and why one is passive, and the other active.

The problem is that many atheists are also anti-theists, yet fail to acknowledge it. That's why for many people the word atheist becomes convoluted to such a point that threads like this one, number in the hundreds on ATS. The strict atheist does not say "god does not exist" or "I believe there is no god". They will simply note there is a lack of evidence to support such a belief".

This is a debate that brings in a lot of presuppositions and biased baggage. Consensus is nearly impossible to reach. Just as with religion, the debate diverges, and chaos ensues.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 01:17 PM
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Atheism is the rejection of the claims made by theists, nothing more nothing less. The rejection of such a claim isn't itself a claim.

If you're not a theist you are by default an atheist, it's that simple. So whenever someone says something along the lines of ' I'm not an atheist I'm an agnostic' they're talking out of their ass, almost much as the OP.



I've found agnostics to be largely either those that like to be special snowflakes and want to be exempt from criticism from either side or just don't have the stones to accept the label of atheist.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 05:16 PM
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a reply to: Klassified




The strict atheist does not say "god does not exist" or "I believe there is no god". They will simply note there is a lack of evidence to support such a belief".


I'll agree to this. Still, I think even the strict atheist would say that evidence leads to non-belief being most logical. I'm sure there are some people calling themselves atheists who believe both are equally logical (as with theists).




This is a debate that brings in a lot of presuppositions and biased baggage. Consensus is nearly impossible to reach. Just as with religion, the debate diverges, and chaos ensues.



Quite true. Skipping through any disagreements in definition, the take away from the OP should be this: arguing about the existence of God is a moot point and we (humans) would be better focusing on the things of this world - peace, cancer research, curing AIDS, etc. than trying to prove or disprove something that defies science and twists logic in new directions.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 05:24 PM
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a reply to: Prezbo369




I've found agnostics to be largely either those that like to be special snowflakes and want to be exempt from criticism from either side or just don't have the stones to accept the label of atheist.



You've met some characters, then. I'm not quite sure where this gets so difficult. Agnostics give equal credence to both the idea that god exists and the idea that there is no deity.




If you're not a theist you are by default an atheist, it's that simple. So whenever someone says something along the lines of ' I'm not an atheist I'm an agnostic' they're talking out of their ass, almost much as the OP.



Educate yourself on the subject of agnosticism. It is not the same as atheism, though often confused. I realize many atheists want to bring agnostics to their camp, but it simply is not the same thing. If the evidence you see around you leads you to conclude God probably exists, you are a theist. If it leads you to conclude God probably does not exist, you are an atheist. If your conclusion is that there is no "probably" and the likelihood is equal either way, you are agnostic.

Also, if you are going to skirt the boundary of personal attacks, provide the part of the OP you don't quite understand and I'll do my best to clarify as could, I hope, any other agnostic who is on this thread.

Also, agnosticism is not about not having the guts to admit to atheism, but about having the wisdom to not make a claim either way.
edit on 27-11-2015 by scorpio84 because: added last line



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 05:46 PM
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originally posted by: Klassified
Atheist: Lacks belief in deities.
That is not a rejection of god, no more than lacking belief in faeries is. However, it is true that many atheists take it a step further, and reject the idea of divinity altogether. Which would be closer to anti-theism rather than atheism.

To me, an agnostic IS an atheist in the sense the agnostic cannot profess belief in a deity he/she doesn't know exists. Therefore, you lack belief. You're an atheist. Just not an anti-theist like myself.



This is how I see it also. If you believe then you're a theist, if not you're an atheist. If you don't know, that is the same as not believing which makes you atheist.

All further sub classifications are just semantics.

If you believe anthropomorphic beings then you're a theist, if you don't believe or don't know that makes you an atheist.



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 05:48 PM
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originally posted by: theMediator
Atheists think they have enough non-proof to believe that no God exists which is a total logical fallacy.



What the hell is Non-proof???



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 05:57 PM
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originally posted by: scorpio84
a reply to: Prezbo369
You've met some characters, then. I'm not quite sure where this gets so difficult. Agnostics give equal credence to both the idea that god exists and the idea that there is no deity.


The difficulty lies in you creating your own definitions for both agnosticism and atheism. Agnosticism refers to knowledge, in this context knowledge of the existence of a god. Atheism refers to the rejection of the claims made by theists, the lack of belief. It does not mean you believe there is no god, there's a big difference.




Educate yourself on the subject of agnosticism.


Funny


It is not the same as atheism, though often confused. I realize many atheists want to bring agnostics to their camp, but it simply is not the same thing. If the evidence you see around you leads you to conclude God probably exists, you are a theist. If it leads you to conclude God probably does not exist, you are an atheist. If your conclusion is that there is no "probably" and the likelihood is equal either way, you are agnostic.


There you go again, having to change definitions in order for you to stay on the fence, so you can stay out of the conversation due to what seems to be a lack of stones.

Theists posses a positive belief in a god, if you do not posses this belief then you're an atheist. Grats!


Also, if you are going to skirt the boundary of personal attacks, provide the part of the OP you don't quite understand and I'll do my best to clarify as could, I hope, any other agnostic who is on this thread.


See above....


Also, agnosticism is not about not having the guts to admit to atheism, but about having the wisdom to not make a claim either way.


*stones



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 06:21 PM
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originally posted by: Metallicus
a reply to: Ghost147




We don't need evidence that points away from a notion that a god exists (unless of course that specific notion details an intrusion on natural matters). All we need is to know how to recognize a rational claim that holds some value. An unfalsifiable claim does not have this trait. 


Collectively and to reach consensus this may be true, but for an individual this isn't necessary. It is possible to have completely unverifiable personal experience that removes the element of faith and unknowability from the question of the existence of a God in some form for the individual.


Actually, even personal experiences could be explained away. Especially when they go against what you would expect to be possible. Audio and visual hallucinations are a well known physiological phenomenon. Also illusions, and your all too common "brain fart" would be a much more plausible explanation than being visited by a divine being. The brain is not some unexplored area anymore. We know that it is far more common for our brains to get things wrong than to hold and understand the events going on around us.

An honest and logical person would take this into consideration before accepting that some type of miracle has occurred to them. We know that perfectly healthy minds hallucinate for many reasons.
edit on 27-11-2015 by Woodcarver because: (no reason given)

edit on 27-11-2015 by Woodcarver because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 08:30 PM
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a reply to: Prezbo369




The difficulty lies in you creating your own definitions for both agnosticism and atheism. Agnosticism refers to knowledge, in this context knowledge of the existence of a god


Funny, I said pretty much that same thing in the OP:




First of all, if we are taking the term literally, every single person is agnostic - that is, no one knows whether a god exists or not. That is not going to be the point of this argument.


The problem isn't that agnostics don't have the cajones to admit to being atheist, it's that atheists deny existence of any deity (if they don't, then which deity do they not deny?), yet lack to conviction to commit to anti-theism. Furthermore, in order to do this, atheists tend to define themselves in almost agnostic terms:




Atheism refers to the rejection of the claims made by theists, the lack of belief.


I say almost because it is not the same, as I'm apparently having trouble helping you understand. If you lack belief based on claims, you have made a judgment call. Agnosticism makes no such judgment.






There you go again, having to change definitions in order for you to stay on the fence, so you can stay out of the conversation due to what seems to be a lack of stones.


What change in definition? I've maintained the whole time that theists believe there is evidence for God (and thus believe), atheists believe there is no evidence for God (and thus do not believe), and agnostics don't hold that the evidence presented does not sway them one way or another.

The argument given that agnostics are atheists goes somewhat like this: agnostics do not have a positive belief in God, ergo, atheism. The problem with this is that agnostics do not have a belief either way. Also, keep in mind that I am aware of the definitions and that, technically speaking, every person on Earth is either a). agnostic b). full of it or c). seriously holding out on some major mind-blowing discovery. In the context of the OP, the question of agnostic vs. atheist is not about definitions, but about how words are actually used - and moreover, why agnostics don't commit to atheism.

It is interesting that you argue that agnostics are really atheists, yet don't mention anything about us really being theists. Let's look at the other side of the coin:

Theists accept claims of God. Agnostics do not reject claims of God. If you do not reject something, it follows that you accept it, does it not? Ergo, agnostic=theism.

So, is agnostic=atheism, is it the same as theism - or is it just something on its own.

I've also seen the assertion that we are all born atheist. I reject that assertion and state that instead we are born agnostic (and we remain so). It comes down to labels. Both theists and atheists use rationale to defend the claim that there probably is or isn't a god. You can try to mince words and say that "disbelief" and "lack of belief" are different all you want. Do you believe in God? If you answer "no" then you do not believe - disbelief.

If I believed that evidence was tipped in the favor of not believing in God, I would certainly identify myself as atheist. The thing here is, I do not believe evidence is tipped in the direction of atheism or theism - it is firmly balanced. Yet, if you persist in saying that so long as I do not say "I believe in God" that I'm an atheist, and there's no middle ground - then sure, by your understanding of atheism, I am an atheist.

However, why label yourself atheist and not agnostic, if the two terms are interchangeable? Could it be that you place more importance on assumptions than knowledge?



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