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Thread: Agnosticism

  1. #1
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Default Agnosticism

    Anyone here consider themselves agnostic, or at least see value in the agnostic approach to the 'big' questions?

    I've been wrestling with the question of God on an almost daily basis for 21 years. For the last couple of years I have debated online. To my disappointment I find both theists and atheists take a similar approach: if you're not for me you're against me. I have been accused of being a wolf in sheep's clothing, having a Judas complex, having an imaginary friend, and many other slams that make assumptions about my mind, experiences and motivations. If they are that willing to settle on false assumptions about me (them being a human just as I am), then why should I trust their assumptions about issues that lie at the edge of human perceptions? I see more parallels in the thinking of the strong atheist and theist than between those and the agnostic. These are some assumptions they share:

    1. The human mind has the capacity to determine the nature of all things.
    2. The answer to this question is simple and obvious.
    3. Those who do not share our conclusion are flawed (evil vs. stupid) and the world would be better off without them.
    4. Certain questions are considered off limits.
    5. It is based on a system of dismissal.[

    Humility of thought is the quickest path to truth from what I can tell. The ability to examine the limitations of the human mind is a necessary first step towards growth. Agnosticism is not a reluctance to choose sides, it is not a desire to not offend, it is not a lack of desire to explore the topic. It is a different mental process altogether. It focuses on examining assumptions, withholding judgment, approaching all aspects of the question and the people who hold them with respect. It is a willingness to ask questions, the process of formulating questions that lie at the boundary of human perception. It is a willingness to accept that not only can we not find every answer, but we are also unable to ask every question.

    Let's avoid having this thread evolve into a debate about the existence of God. If that happens, I'll rename it and try again.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    Anyone here consider themselves agnostic, or at least see value in the agnostic approach to the 'big' questions? I've been wrestling with the question of God on an almost daily basis for 21 years.
    Yes, I SO much relate to this! Except it's been mostly my entire life. Even when I was firmly in one camp, I was still wrestling over profound questions.

    I see more parallels in the thinking of the strong atheist and theist than between those and the agnostic.
    Yes, the new categories are "strong/committed belief in something [whether that be "god" or "no god") versus "unsure/still testing/searching for something to believe in." [loosely; I'm sure someone could tweak this further.]

    1. The human mind has the capacity to determine the nature of all things.
    2. The answer to this question is simple and obvious.
    3. Those who do not share our conclusion are flawed (evil vs. stupid) and the world would be better off without them.
    4. Certain questions are considered off limits.
    5. It is based on a system of dismissal.
    This is one reason why I usually just observe these sort of arguments but no longer regularly participate in them. Their goal has usually been to find the way to triumph over the "false" point of view, rather than to communicate and reach an understanding, if not a consensus.

    Dennett discusses the same sorts of flaws in "Breaking the Spell." Questioning things is supposedly demeaning or insulting to the faith being questioned. Those who raise questions/objections, either within or without the faith, are often simply identified as the "enemy" and thus must be ignored, so as to not fall into their "trap," and so on.

    He also raises the interesting thought about how nowadays it's not just belief in God (or No-God) that is part of faith, it's coupled with the BELIEF in a BELIEF in God/No-God. In other words, there's a belief that a belief is necessary, so those disillusioned still go on seeking or creating yet another belief to take the old belief's place. There's a compulsion to have a belief.

    Agnosticism is not a reluctance to choose sides, it is not a desire to not offend, it is not a lack of desire to explore the topic. It is a different mental process altogether.
    I always hated sitting inside an established side, because I always felt the need to point out the other point of view, and with that just came the perception that other people would view me as the outsider as well. And it never was. I never wanted to stir up trouble for its own sake. It simply offended me intellectually that people were so lazy and/or committed to their viewpoint that they would "fudge" the rules or the beliefs of the opposing viewpoints all in their best interests... or just make all these numerous assumptions as to motivations.

    It focuses on examining assumptions, withholding judgment, approaching all aspects of the question and the people who hold them with respect. It is a willingness to ask questions, the process of formulating questions that lie at the boundary of human perception. It is a willingness to accept that not only can we not find every answer, but we are also unable to ask every question.
    I like your last sentence very much.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Doesn't Read Your Posts Haight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    Anyone here consider themselves agnostic...
    "The only time I'm wrong is when I'm questioning myself."
    Haight

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    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Intellectually agnostic. My guts believe in God but my guts have been wrong before.
    The one who buggers a fire burns his penis
    -anonymous graffiti in the basilica at Pompeii

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    See value in the agnostic approach to the 'big' questions?
    That is how I view things. How can I know or not know unless it was empirically or scientifically proved? But if I am not open, I am closed. If I am closed, I am no longer learning, living. I'm just treading water.

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    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    Anyone here consider themselves agnostic, or at least see value in the agnostic approach to the 'big' questions?
    I would consider myself, more recently, an agnostic atheist. I'm not sure if I'd call myself a weak or strong atheist.

    1. The human mind has the capacity to determine the nature of all things.
    2. The answer to this question is simple and obvious.
    3. Those who do not share our conclusion are flawed (evil vs. stupid) and the world would be better off without them.
    4. Certain questions are considered off limits.
    5. It is based on a system of dismissal.[
    This is where I differ;

    1) The human mind has the capacity to determine the nature of things. Not all, least we can't claim all yet!

    2) There are no simple or obvious questions... or answers.

    3) There is a degree of this in me - not all ideas are equal. As such, I tend towards rationalism, but I focus on the areas where it can be applied rather than embrace it in its entirety.

    4) Never. But as above, not all questions are equal and they must be graded to some degree.

    5) We can't hold infinite ideas - there has to be some dismissal. Every form of thought is dismissal - you can't be of one religion without dismissing others, etc.

    It focuses on examining assumptions, withholding judgment, approaching all aspects of the question and the people who hold them with respect.
    Agnosticism is skeptism. Nothing wrong with that

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    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haight View Post


    Here's a hypothesis of mine...

    Human beings have an instinctual drive to control their environment. It is what has made us successful as a species. One element of this control is our ability to control information. That is the reason superstitions have come into existence. It is also the reason that science often operates on the assumption that human beings can 'know'. It is why we are bent on creating boundaries. We place fences around our properties, our fields and crops are outlined, our countries' borders are patrols, and we place our thought processes into closed systems. It is not possible to control that which has no boundaries. So, we have this primary instinctual drive to draw conclusions and absolutes, even if these fall wildly outside our perceptions and cognition. That is our history as a species. Why would that change now?
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Intellectually agnostic. My guts believe in God but my guts have been wrong before.
    Oh. That was a much shorter way to say it. My mind is agnostic, but for some reason my gut tells me there's something there. So I keep dancing this odd clumsy dance back and forth between the two.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Member Entropy's Avatar
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    I am agnostic myself. I was raised Christian and since I was young the fact that there was no solid proof of a God really tugged at me. Though I didn't seriously question it until my mid-teens. I had those same "gut" feelings but over the past few years those have diminished. I've taken more of a route that if a God does exist it would probably be more like the Pantheist/Spinozist God, rather than the anthropomorphic God of the Bible.
    I find that I hate debating with bull-headed atheists just as much as bull-headed Christians. They call themselves free-thinkers and rationals, but they are just as dogmatic and irrational as those they criticize!

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    I'm a solipsist.

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