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Featured Why aren't there more agnostics?

Discussion in 'Agnosticism' started by Samantha Rinne, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. Samantha Rinne

    Samantha Rinne Active Member

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    I'm pantheist. I've arrived at that, after growing up theist, going through periods of agnosticism, back into theism, and then seeing "Jesus" through the universe, nature, and everyday people. It isn't for everyone. But the idea of atheism always felt like a con, and now that I understand my own faith, saying "I don't know" seems to me like a very intellectually honest position. "I don't know" may become "I don't care" which is still honest. It may also come to belief, but honestly, I don't care about belief or not, I care about honesty.

    Suppose I were to proclaim, "I know there are no unicorns because I haven't seen them, and science says they shouldn't exist." This is very intellectually dishonest because firstly, I the theoretical person making this claim, has not been to other areas outside New Jersey. Not to remote regions of the Earth, not to hidden underground areas inside the Earth's crust with a gooey center where unicorns are just hanging out chilling, and not to different planets also capable of bearing life. And there is also the idea that unicorns exist but in a different time (long ago, or perhaps what horses will one day evolve into), are able to conceal themselves. And there are some who believe that the reason writers came up with such an idea is because they are attuned to alternate dimensions. Further, while pegasus is definitely out, because of laws of aerodynamics, there isn't a single law of science restricting animals from growing horns from their head. So the idea that science disproves it is also wrong. There also isn't a law of science disproving God, but there are rules of causality enough that a random uncaused universe is untenable as an idea. "I don't know" is a fine answer, since whatever did cause such order could be literally anything.

    Why unicorns, btw? Because I'm a fan of the movie The Last Unicorn, of course.

    "I don't know if unicorns exist," is honest. Just as "I don't know if God exists" is honest. But once you start getting into "I know that... isn't so" you get into a weird situation where you are expected to be omniscient yourself. That is, the only way you could disprove unicorns did not exist beyond all doubt, is if you were God yourself, and if we extended that idea to God, we'd run into a paradox.

    Even theists only go so far as to say they "believe" something exists or not. So why don't there seem to be as many agnostics as atheists? I'd like to see far more of you guys.
     
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  2. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    Let's define agnostic as "someone who is uncertain as to whether or not god(s) exist" and atheist as "someone who disbelieves in god(s)." Most people who call themselves atheists are actually agnostics, and will readily admit so, but they just choose to identify with what they believe to be true "God's non-existence" rather than what they don't know. People (such as myself) who identify as agnostic are also typically atheists in the sense that we do believe in the non-existence of gods, but choose to place more emphasis on our uncertainty rather than our beliefs. In short, "atheist" and "agnostic" need not be mutually exclusive.
     
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  3. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

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    Honestly, I think that there are a lot more agnostic people than is obvious. I think that zillions of people who belong to some religion or another don't really believe in everything taught about God or the afterlife or whatever. But the community means more to them than strict intellectual honesty. So they say what they are expected to say, live according to the ethical code, and don't bother with deep unanswerable questions.

    Because life is short and whatever is gonna happen is what's gonna happen.

    Tom
     
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  4. Jesster

    Jesster Friendly skeptic
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    There's plenty of agnostics. Most atheists are agnostic, myself included. Some people just get the wrong idea of what atheism is and think strong atheism is the only definition of it. Strong atheism seems to be the minority in my experience.
     
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  5. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    I think there are more agnostics than are willing to admit it. ;) I do see agnosticism as often leaning towards either theism or atheism, though, but I think it's human nature to want to know something for sure. I would generally describe myself as a theist, as a very strong theist, as a matter of fact. But is it conceivable that I could be wrong? Sure. I think it's unlikely but conceivable. I don't know that God exists with a 100% certainty. How could I? Maybe that makes me an agnostic. I don't know, and I don't care. They're all just man-made labels, after all.
     
  6. BSM1

    BSM1 Who's a good boy?

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    They're not sure....
     
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  7. sandy whitelinger

    sandy whitelinger Veteran Member

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    That clears that up.
     
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  8. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    They are undercover.

    Yucks aside. I am a philosophical agnostic and Socratic skeptic, but yes I am a Baha'i and believe in apophatic 'Source' some call God.
     
    #8 shunyadragon, Feb 24, 2018
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  9. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    I see it more people are debating that whether a claim "about" unicorns exist not the unicoorn itself. For example, in my hand there are no unicorns. I know this as a fact. Now, say millions of people say there is one...

    Should my answer change to "I dont kmow" just because a million made a claim and exerience something that isnt programes in me to experience?

    By what criteria should I change my "I know" to I dont know?

    Is it because its a supernatural claim?

    No. Given we cant see peoples experiences only know by testimony, Id have to A. Have an experience myself and/or B. Trust others testimonies as true based on what I know about life. If these criteria arent met, by what purpose do I need to switch No to I dont know?

    Another example is if there is a book written about the unicorn in my hand. This "bible" was put together by a group of people who too heard the same claim. The difference between then and now is we are more skeptical now then bacj when. Well, some of us. Others its a confirmation bias. A. I hear this. B. I experiences this C. It mirrors this persons experience D. It is true.

    But, on the other hand, why should he switch to I dont know when his experiences and views or life tells him otherwise?

    We dont say John made a claim that two and two is six so we must be agnostic about it. Like religion, some of us Know the answer is false.

    Since we know this based on the above (and vis versa) what criteria would make us change from absolute knowing something is true (like math) or absolute false (facts based on confirmation bias)?

    Edit: Also, wouldnt it be honest to say "I believe in god" than lie and say you didnt because science proves he doesnt exist?

    In other words, saying I dont know causes people to unstable and confused. Saying I know puts a foundation in their life and knowledge kf what is true for their benefit. They Are honest. Just not in the manner we think. Think of someone who is on placebo (sorry gues. Im on it too). They are telling the truth about their cure Why burst their bubble by saying they arent honest unless they say they arent certain?

    When do you draw the line of letting people know facts that dont help themselves only you (people in general)?

    Thats my thoughts. No rush.
     
    #9 Unveiled Artist, Feb 24, 2018
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  10. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    I think there are a great many agnostics. All being an agnostic means is that one recognizes their own insufficient knowledge to determine whether or not gods exist. This does not, however, preclude anyone, atheist or theist, from choosing to believe that a god of their understanding does or doesn't exist. So in fact, a great many agnostics are also theists, and atheists. Even though they recognize that they do not have sufficient knowledge to determine the nature or existence of gods, they recognize that they can still choose a view on either, through faith.
     
    #10 PureX, Feb 24, 2018
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  11. 'mud

    'mud ~~ Life is Stuff ~~
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    I'm not really an atheist, but I like to believe I have a `spirit` within me.
    I like to think my spirit came from the Cosmos and will leave me when I die.
    With that in mind, there isn't any cognizence after one dies, your spirit goes on without.
    Your gnosis is what your learned from life, and all that is left is memories of your life,
    memories in other people of you when you were alive.
    Soooo....I guess I'm kinda like an agnostic, with horns, and `spirit`.
     
  12. Aldrnari

    Aldrnari Active Member

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    I consider myself agnostic, though I'm not strictly so. I can see myself teetering either way eventually, if my path takes me that way; or, instead, i could be agnostic until the day I die.
    Like you, I prize intellectual honesty, so that is the test my views must pass.

    That said, I have some pretty weird views. :D
     
  13. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

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    This is really very similar to my own experiences. I was born and raised Catholic. Couldn't buy basic Christian theology, which I thought made me an atheist. Spent my adult years trying to get a handle on stuff, like "what do I really believe and why?". I wound up pretty deist, but if you substitute God for Jesus in your above statement it would pretty much be the same as my views.

    As far as I can tell.
    Tom
     
  14. columbus

    columbus Conservative Catholic from Hell

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    I definitely agree with this.

    Agnosticism isn't really a midway point between atheism and theism. It's not simply fence sitting. It's the recognition of human limitations.

    Whatever the Truth is, it's far greater and more subtle than will fit into a human mind. At least at this time. Probably, it's beyond the capacity of the mental processes of even the most clever of hominids.
    So, believe whatever you want concerning the unknown and unknowable. But don't expect anyone else to believe something just because you do. And especially, don't think that your beliefs give you license to force others to conform their behavior to your world view.
    Tom
     
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  15. bobhikes

    bobhikes Nowoligist
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    There are a lot of Agnostics but they generally don't force their opinion on you as they realize it is an opinion. Most people proclamating are going to be hard liners, by definition agnostic's have doubt. When I talk with other Agnostics they are usually very apologetic in their stance and open to other's view. My experience.
     
  16. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    Part of the issue here is one of terminology.

    There are several levels of atheism and also several levels of agnosticism.

    First, agnosticism:

    The term agnostic literally means (and was coined to mean) no-knowledge. So an agnostic is someone who does not have knowledge about the existence of a deity or deities. This can happen in several ways:

    1. Weak agnostic: I do not have knowledge, but maybe someone does.
    2. Medium agnostic: At this point nobody knows, but perhaps knowledge is possible.
    3. Strong agnostic: No knowledge about this subject is possible, even in theory.

    Similarly, Atheist literally means 'no deity'. And atheist is someone who does not have a belief in any deity. This can also happen for several reasons.

    1. Weak atheist: I do not believe because I have not been convinced by the arguments for the existence of a deity. Such evidence may exist one way or the other, but I haven't seen it.
    2. Medium atheism: I do not have a belief in any deity and don't think there is any evidence to support such.
    3. Strong atheist: I believe no deities exist.

    And don't forget variants like
    apatheism: I don't care if deities exist.
    ignostic: the term 'deity' is to ill-defined to be meaningful

    And, don't forget, you can be an agnostic (don't think knowledge is possible), but still have beliefs (either theistic or atheistic).

    And, of course, there are all the variants of pantheism and panentheism, along with polytheisms, and simple non-theisms.

    Don't be upset if I have left out a favorite variant: this is all off the top of my head.
     
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  17. Samantha Rinne

    Samantha Rinne Active Member

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    I dunno, I guess I've been in too many webforums where the atheist types were extremely vocal and theist types were super vocal. It might have something to do with the fact that there is no real incentive to speak up if there isn't a strong opinion.

    Raise your hand if you're unsure? Nah.

    All the same, it's like political moderates. When the people who don't know and don't care don't really say much you tend to get a sense of polarism. Like, not everyone voting always votes Democrat or Republican, but without understanding those people on the fence, you get more extremist types burning cars and stuff. Likewise, I guess the reason for my sentiment is I think the agnostics have the most to offer in terms of a "hey hey, settle down guys, we DON'T know anything like this" perspective.

    And yeah, there are alot of subcategories. I'm not sure whether all of them are necessary distinctions or whether the simple umbrella of agnostic is sufficient to contain stuff like ignostic or apatheist. It's kinda like my own status, I'm LGBT, and my group keeps expanding LGBTQIAC2(whatever). I'm happy being considered T, thankyouverymuch.

    I'm convinced the Bible is an allegory for several centuries of theological thought. Some of it is history, but some is filled with people whose names themselves are symbolic. Samuel, from the same word root as my name Samantha, means "listen, God is calling." And his opening story is about him saying "here I am" to his elder, until elder finally tells him that God wants to talk. Same for certain stories.

    I don't believe it is relevant to KNOW whether God exists or not, so much as to understand that there are many people who have many different ideas, and the idea that all these different religions are foolish for believing what they do... yeah, I don't think much of atheists. Having doubts is part of being human, and this is something even people with faith have in common with agnostics. When you get into strong atheism or even the extreme anti-theism, you start to reach a point where you consciously distance yourself from other people and that doesn't seem healthy.

    Also, I can't seem to find the "Like" button on many of these posts.
     
    #17 Samantha Rinne, Feb 24, 2018
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  18. Hubert Farnsworth

    Hubert Farnsworth Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. Glad I could clear it up for you.
     
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  19. Phantasman

    Phantasman Well-Known Member

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    I was with you until you moved from spiritual to flesh (physical) with Unicorns.

    I have found that Atheists just do not believe in Spirit, and Agnostics doesn't accept what Spiritual they have intertwined with with the knowledge presented to them from many sources. It's just my view.

    Some (not all) term Christianity what is really Orthodoxy. I see Orthodoxy as a threat to certain people who wish to see the entire Gospel (from Christ) over the reformed view that churches accept through the catholic books (Bible).

    "Seek and find" reveals when the limits of the box (Bible) are rend in twain as the Temple veil was. The door is open, one merely walks through it.
     
  20. Hockeycowboy

    Hockeycowboy Well-Known Member
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    Very good post! I wonder that, too. As opposed to hard-line atheism.

    I certainly hope not, keep searching!
    And don't discount the Bible, discount all the crazy teachings, but not the Book they're supposedly based on!

    That's what Isaac Newton did.....he abhorred church teachings, but he loved the Bible! He said he 'studied it daily'.
     
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