1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Featured Agnostics -- let's reframe the question.

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Evangelicalhumanist, Dec 6, 2021.

  1. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2013
    Messages:
    11,212
    Ratings:
    +12,669
    Religion:
    None.
    To be agnostic, or so I am led to believe, means that on the question of whether a god exists or not, cannot be answered either way. In other words, the agnostic cannot know if God exists, or if God does not exist.

    But religion is really about faith -- it's about beliefs. And surely we can be honest about what we believe and don't believe, even though we can't definitively say that we know. I cannot know, definitively, whether small, winged, human-like creatures called fairies exist, but I do know that I don't believe they do. Alchemists did not know whether it was actually possible to turn base metal into gold -- but they knew that they believed it possible, because without believing it, they would not have expended the effort and resources trying to accomplish it.

    So I would ask those who think of themselves as agnostic, not "do you know," but rather "do you believe that God exists?" And I'd go further and suggest that anyone (atheist, believer, agnostic) who thinks they believe (not knows) that a God exists that can reward or punish on the basis of behaviours in life, but acts in ways that invite punishment and forego reward, does not, in actual fact, in their heart of hearts, actually believe it at all. Rather, they think that they believe it, without actually doing so.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Winner Winner x 1
  2. Suave

    Suave Simulated character

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2020
    Messages:
    1,967
    Ratings:
    +1,265
    Religion:
    Christian Matrixism
    There is actually a way indeed to determine if we are likely part of a simulated universe with an underlying grid being controlled by a simulator ( a.k.a. - God )

    Some physicists have proposed a method for testing if we are in a numerical simulated cubic space-time lattice Matrix or simulated universe with an underlying grid.
    [1210.1847] Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation

    Based on the assumption that there'd be finite computational resources, a simulated universe would be performed by dividing up the space-time continuum into individually separate and distinctive points. Analogous to mini-simulations that lattice-gauge theorists conduct to construct nuclei based on Quantum Chromodynamics, observable effects of a grid-like space-time have been studied from these computer simulations which use a 3-D grid to model how elementary particles move and collide with each other. Anomalies found in these simulations suggest that if we are in a simulation universe with an underlying grid, then there'd be various amounts of high energy cosmic rays coming at us from each direction; but if space is continuous, then there'd be high energy cosmic rays coming at us equally from every direction.

    High Energy Physics - Phenomenology
    Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation
    Silas R. Beane, Zohreh Davoudi, Martin J. Savage
    (Submitted on 4 Oct 2012 (v1), last revised 9 Nov 2012 (this version, v2))

     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  3. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    Messages:
    3,569
    Ratings:
    +1,070
    Religion:
    Agnostic with a Theistic bent, toward some form of Dualism
    I think that's a really Pauline assumption about what religion is. To him, faith was the bedrock of the religion idea. To me, I never thought that faith was a very sturdy phenomena. Really, I'm not sure that I have faith that faith exists: how do you even quantify it? Can you see it in a brain scan? How long does it, or is it, supposed to last, if you decide to concentrate on it? How is it any different than thinking about pizza

    Well the other issue is, is the the human body is actually a narrow hole through which to perceive things. You know, you really do only perceive what the flimsy human senses let you. You aren't some orb of objective perception, no, you are a phenomena wrapped up in so many barriers. Like the wall ahead of me, for example, is a little blurry because my eyes are a bit bad. My hearing is imbalanced etc.

    That is a very multi-variate kind of god, and to me, it's too ambiguous of a description. I don't, right off the bat, know what you mean by much of this. Are we talking about the god(s) of the bible, some other set of gods, or the gods that you can attempt to make inferences about? The parameters can differ wildly, depending on where you are starting. And also: what exactly is the heart, or the 'heart of hearts?'
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  4. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2020
    Messages:
    5,338
    Ratings:
    +3,169
    This is why I've stopped calling myself an agnostic and am simply calling myself an atheist now.
    I don't know anything about God or the gods, kami, spirits, etc. but I don't really see a point in believing in them. I feel like at this point in my life, trying to pretend that I entertain a serious possibility that any of these may exist at all would be just dancing around the point and hiding my genuine feelings on the matter.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  5. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2013
    Messages:
    11,212
    Ratings:
    +12,669
    Religion:
    None.
    I find that to be a really blinkered view.

    I am a product of this universe, adapted to perceive what is beneficial or harmful to my continuance. There are no barriers to that.

    In fact, I think it might well be to our detriment to be able to perceive that which has no relevance to our well-being, considering that such perceptions may well come at some expense.
     
  6. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2013
    Messages:
    22,146
    Ratings:
    +15,145
    Religion:
    atheist
    Eerily close to my thoughts. If I'm talking to any interested or with some basic knowledge of the terms, I'd call myself an agnostic atheist. I'm happy to admit I don't know. That I really can't know.

    But I don't believe there's a God. Or Gods. And if there is, I suspect it has very little in common with the all too human conceptualizations of it.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2013
    Messages:
    22,146
    Ratings:
    +15,145
    Religion:
    atheist
    Sure. Thats why I'd describe myself as a methodological naturalist rather than a hard materialist. And an agnostic atheist rather than a gnostic one.

    There are limits to what we can perceive and measure.

    But should that really stop us stating what our senses and sciences are suggesting?
    Our knowledge will develop. And it will always have gaps. Assuming God awaits us in those gaps hasn't proven accurate in the past. And so I'm an atheist, whilst also allowing that I really have no idea what's in the gaps.
     
  8. Yazata

    Yazata Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2018
    Messages:
    509
    Ratings:
    +433
    Religion:
    agnostic with Buddhist tendencies
    Or at least Protestant Christianity is revolves around salvation by faith. I'm not a Christian.

    And philosophically, I don't make a hard distinction between knowledge and belief. To me knowledge is justified true belief. The problem there is that we have no way of stepping outside ourselves and adopting some ideal point of view from which to observe which of our beliefs is in fact true. We can only observe which of our beliefs seem to be suitably well justified. Except that what does and doesn't constitute the sort of 'justification' that justifies ascriptions of knowledge is unclear and a moving target.

    So I guess that I treat 'knowledge' as kind of an epistemic ideal. It's what we try for, even if we can't ever be sure that we've attained it.

    That depends on how the word 'God' is defined.

    For pretty much all of my life I've felt that I'm surrounded by mysteries. That's what's motivated my lifelong interest in philosophy and I feel it today as much as I ever have. Ask 'Why?' about anything. You receive an answer, perhaps some hypothesis from science. Ask 'Why?' again about that and you get some explanation or justification. Continue asking 'Why?' a few more times and there aren't any more answers. It usually only takes a few iterations to arrive at the frontiers of human understanding. And that can be done with almost any question, including the methodological and metaphysical assumptions built into natural science. What is logic? How do humans know about it (by intuition)? Why does physical reality seemingly conform to it?

    So when it comes to the big metaphysical questions, first "cause", ground of being, why existence exists in the first place, why the universe displays the order that it seems to display, I don't have a clue what the answers are. What's more, I'm reasonably certain that no human being does.

    And one of the traditional God-concepts has been the ultimate Source or Explanation for everything else. It's derived from ancient pre-Christian Greek philosophy and found today in both natural theology and in the "mystical" currents in both Christian and Islamic traditions. Very similar ideas are very prominent in some of the varieties of Vedanta in India too. I have quite a bit of interest in the contemplative traditions, both Western and Indian, and even meditate a bit myself.

    I can't say that I believe that such an ultimate principle exists but I can't dismiss it either. I believe in the possibility I guess (which often puts me on a collision course with the more militant sort of atheist). While I do sort of intuitively lean towards the feeling that there's some kind of ultimate principle(s), I can't really say that it's a suitable object for religious devotion and worship.

    But that being said, I don't believe that most of the world's religious myths really have much of anything to do with whatever the universe's ultimate principles are.

    Yes, that's a valid point.

    I don't really believe that whatever the ultimate principle of reality is concerns itself with my behavior or is going to reward or punish me for it after I die.

    But, that being said, I think that it's possible to base religious ethics on different sorts of principles. That's what attracts me to Buddhist ethics, I guess.
     
    #8 Yazata, Dec 6, 2021
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2021
    • Winner Winner x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    Messages:
    3,569
    Ratings:
    +1,070
    Religion:
    Agnostic with a Theistic bent, toward some form of Dualism
    For me, it is a view that actually seems to serve me the most. And nor is it based on faith, but it's based on, what to me, seems like a fairly sure knowledge that there is more.

    I personally find humans to actually be the most existentially compensated species, as they can engage, willingly, in behavior that is hard-lined not to maximize their future existence, or personal well-being.

    One branch of that, among several, has to do with how I feel

    I learn to rarely put so much full trust in what I feel, at any given time. For example, how do I approach reading a book if I start to 'feel' confused? When I exercise, is it so useful to tune into exactly what I don't like about doing it, in the moment that I do it? When I wake up and feel cold, do I trust that it is best to merely lie there for 20 minutes, like my body 'wants' me to?

    And yet, you evolved to do just that, at least to a degree that allows you to be curious, and to wonder. Do you think that this is just overheating the hard-drive? A byproduct that arises from the ability necessary to formulate the utility of fire?
     
  10. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    Messages:
    3,569
    Ratings:
    +1,070
    Religion:
    Agnostic with a Theistic bent, toward some form of Dualism
    It depends wholly, perhaps, on whether the general conflation of human wants would make life on earth less viable, or would end it. Are you really (or are we as a species) wired for short-term gain, or long term? If it turns out that all this trust is a debit to the short, or shorter-term, then it all must be questioned, from the very root.

    Not only are there gaps, but I would argue that we don't even really know what we are. Or, what we are really doing. As to what we should do, that is a far more advanced question
     
  11. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2013
    Messages:
    11,212
    Ratings:
    +12,669
    Religion:
    None.
    Excellent post....thank you.
     
  12. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2017
    Messages:
    32,085
    Ratings:
    +9,241
    Religion:
    Baha'i
    Do you really want to know what I believe and think about God, because it ain't gonna be pretty.

    I believe/know that God exists but often I wish He didn't exist. I cannot love a God that created a world that is a storehouse of suffering and through fate and predestination allows some people to suffer so much more than others. It is not as if everyone causes their own suffering, far from it, because all suffering is not brought about by human free will choices and actions.

    A few months ago I wrote up a post entitled "Why I cannot forgive God" but I have never felt right about posting it because according to my fellow believers I am supposed to love this God. Sorry, I cannot pretend to love a God that allows so much suffering, not only my own. Nor is it logical to believe that a God who created a material world in which He knew people would suffer is loving. I already know the religious apologetic about how suffering is good for us so I have no need to hear this again.

    Frankly, I do not care if God is loving because I have no need for God's love. What difference would it make to me if God loved me? God is not coming around to show it, so all I would have is a belief that God loves me. I am torn by the logical inconsistencies and I defer to logic rather than faith. The only reason I still believe in God is because I know God exists, but I cannot say I believe that God has all the attributes that believers believe He has. I really try to believe it but I just can't.

    I think a lot of believers are brainwashed because they have brainwashed themselves. It would make more sense to be an agnostic or a deist than believe in the Abrahamic God of love.

    I certainly am not proud of myself for feeling this way, I feel very badly about myself, even ashamed, but I cannot be less than honest about my feelings. These are feelings that are caused by thoughts. I do not always think and feel this way, but I do some the time. I am sure it is something going on in my unconscious that triggers it.
     
    #12 Trailblazer, Dec 6, 2021
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2021
  13. Yazata

    Yazata Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2018
    Messages:
    509
    Ratings:
    +433
    Religion:
    agnostic with Buddhist tendencies
    When I was a graduate student, one of my professors was an elderly man who had been a colleague of Einstein's at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton. And he related something that he said he heard Einstein say that kind of summarized Einstein's view of religion and metaphysics in a nutshell.

    What Einstein said was that cockroaches can't understand physics. The cockroach can't even comprehend the possibility of things like fermions or black holes. The insect simply lacks the cognitive capacity. Yet the little animal lives quite successfully in precisely the same universe we do. Of all the animal species on Earth, only humans can comprehend physics.

    So Einstein asked, Can't it be possible that there are beings, space aliens let's say, whose cognitive powers are as far in advance of ours as ours are to the cockroach? So simply by analogy, how can we dismiss the possibility that there are whole aspects of reality that we are as oblivious to as the cockroach is to general relativity? Things the human organisms simply lack the cognitive capacity to even suspect.

    The moral of that little inductive analogy is that unless we can be certain that we humans are the absolute pinnacle of all possible cognition, unless we can be certain that alone among all animals we possess the unique ability to comprehend everything that's real, we can't be certain that there aren't important aspects of reality that we humans are totally incapable of comprehending by our very natures. To think otherwise would seem to be anthropocentric hubris.

    If this account of Einstein's later views is accurate, then he would seem to have been the agnostic's agnostic.
     
    #13 Yazata, Dec 6, 2021
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2021
    • Winner Winner x 3
    • Like Like x 2
  14. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity ✔ a-OK RF member .99/lb
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2012
    Messages:
    34,301
    Ratings:
    +14,792
    Religion:
    liber-scripta grim Christian
    I agree on that.

    I don't think everyone is able to be honest about it, no. It seems to me that many people don't feel comfortable thinking as individuals. Some people I think are even unable to face their own thoughts about various subjects and that this is typical for the human condition. In the past humans lived in tribes with strict leadership, and leaders decided morality for the group. I think for long periods of time it was natural to deny one's own thoughts and to accept the thoughts of a greater person. It was comfortable. It wasn't you stabbing your enemy but your leader, but you were doing the right thing by doing your duty. Think about the way people have lived for tens of thousands of years. We aren't living normally, now. Today we like live like each person is a tribe.

    I grasp what you're saying, but let me remind you of the painful personal history which you have shared here on RF. You as a young person were not allowed the comfort of acceptance and the giddy acquiescence of thinking like everyone else in your house, in your town, in your city. You experienced rejection from those who should have accepted you, even at one point trying to reject your own identity. Painful thoughts are just another spoon of Cheerios, but for many people that is not the case.

    Look at how people behave in political conversations. I struggle to understand how they think that way (trusting their own side so much), but its historically natural for the crowds to group think. I like to think they are pretending, but are they? No. They fall into some kind of hypnotic trance believing in their own side, sometimes. Its alien to me. I can't get comfortable enough to relax like that, but many people relish letting their minds melt into the group.

    So no I don't think everyone is able to be honest about it.

    Yes, true. That is an agnostic.
     
    • Winner Winner x 1
  15. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2013
    Messages:
    11,212
    Ratings:
    +12,669
    Religion:
    None.
    Well, that was a surprise!
     
  16. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2013
    Messages:
    11,212
    Ratings:
    +12,669
    Religion:
    None.
    Have you read some of my previous posts on human nature? You may be dangerously close to seeing what I see...that we really are not the pinnacle of creation, not the product of an omniscient Creator -- but rather, just another evolved species with the usual blindness to some of the things that drive us, but that are essential to our very being.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2018
    Messages:
    20,469
    Ratings:
    +10,531
    Religion:
    None
    unfettered by any obligation to think
    certain way, a lot of us have come to similar ideas independently.
     
  18. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2018
    Messages:
    20,469
    Ratings:
    +10,531
    Religion:
    None
    Which is actually so obvious.
    If one allows himself to think.
     
  19. Audie

    Audie Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2018
    Messages:
    20,469
    Ratings:
    +10,531
    Religion:
    None
    Here in the Hive, thinking as an individual
    isnt really encourarged
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  20. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2017
    Messages:
    32,085
    Ratings:
    +9,241
    Religion:
    Baha'i
    I'm full of surprises.
     
Loading...