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Featured Why aren't there more agnostics?

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

  1. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    Agnosticism isn't a bad position to take, but I'm going to be frank about why it isn't very large as a thought movement. Taking the position of 'I don't know' not only appears weak to most people, but the way agnostics treat it as a starting point or even a virtue is not intellectually useful.

    'I don't know' isn't a virtue or a starting point, except if one is honest- a start toward trying to gain the knowledge they feel is lacking. Agnosticism has almost made a gospel out of 'I don't know', and some of them do actually behave like that's a place to remain. That one doesn't need to pursue any knowledge to try to 'know'.

    There comes a point where agnosticism can be for an individual, a form of intellectual laziness.
     
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  2. QuestioningMind

    QuestioningMind Well-Known Member

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    Surely you understand that there is a huge difference between proclaiming that "I don't believe in unicorns" and "Unicorns do not exist". This first statement simply indicates that thus far no one has presented me with sufficient evidence for me to state that I believe unicorns exist. It does NOT preclude the possibility that at some point in the future sufficient evidence to believe in unicorns might be presented. The same holds true for god(s).

    An atheists is NOT claiming that god(s) CANNOT exist... simply that there isn't sufficient evidence to believe that they DO exist. An agnostic on the other hand is stating that based upon the evidence they have been presented with they are not SURE if they believe it or not.

    It's just like our justice system. When a jury finds a defendent NOT guilty, they are NOT claiming that the defendent is INNOCENT. It indicates that there simply not sufficient evidence presented during the trial to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that they are GUILTY.
     
  3. QuestioningMind

    QuestioningMind Well-Known Member

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    I diagree with your definitions. An atheist states that based on the evidence presented he/she has no reason to believe than any god(s) exist. Should new evidence be presented, that opnion might change. An agnostic states that based upon the evidence they have been presented he/she is not sure if they believe any god(s) exist.

    The satement "I do not believe in any god(s)." is NOT the same as "God(s) do not exist."
     
  4. Milton Platt

    Milton Platt Well-Known Member
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    Most atheists are also agnostics, because they don't claim to know that there are no gods, only that there has not been presented sufficient evidence to believe one exists. The terms are not mutually exclusive.
    Unicorns and gods share something in common in that neither have been demonstrated to exist. That does not mean a god or a unicorn cannot or does not exist. But it also means that there is no reason to think either one does. I see no problem with the logic. There are, however, versions of gods that one can be certain do not exist, as they are logically inconsistent.
     
    #24 Milton Platt, Feb 24, 2018
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  5. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    My husband (a Mormon like me) tends to have a few rather deist beliefs.
     
  6. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    IMO Deism makes the most sense within a monotheistic framework
     
  7. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    I'm curious as to why?
     
  8. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    An atheist can also state that gods are an impossibility. Aka strong atheists. 'There will not be evidence for gods because gods are impossible.'
    'I don't know for sure but I don't believe there are God' is a position usually called weak atheists or agnostic atheists. And there are far more agnostic atheists than strong atheists.
    You can also be agnosic theist. 'I don't know for sure but I do believe god(s) exist.'

    There's also whole other categories like ignostic or noncognitivist who think gods are too poorly defined a concept to weigh in on existence.
     
  9. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    I believe in imaginary gods, why not? They're whatever the individual imaginer wants them to be.

    But real gods? I can't even find a workable definition of a real god, a god with objective existence, such that if we found a candidate we could tell whether it was a god or not. As for being spirit, or immaterial, or whatever, no test can distinguish that from the imaginary.

    So I'm not an agnostic, and that's because I can't work out what exactly I'm supposed to be in doubt about.
    Ahm, science doesn't say they shouldn't exist. Science says there's no evidence of their existence, and that's over thousands of years and all the vigor of archaeology and digging around since the 18th century.

    Absence of evidence on that scale is evidence of absence. And it can be refuted for scientific purposes by the satisfactory demonstration of just one unicorn.
    But those two propositions are in difference categories.

    In the case of the unicorn, we're looking for a white equine with a single straight horn naturally growing on its forehead, which is only tame in the presence of virgin human females. The quest has a clear goal but no results.

    In the case of God, we don't even have a useful definition of what we're looking for, so the quest is incoherent, has no real goal. Nothing real has been specified so no demonstration in reality is possible.
     
    #29 blü 2, Feb 24, 2018
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  10. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    Who created that spirit and of what substance is your spirit composed of?
     
  11. QuestioningMind

    QuestioningMind Well-Known Member

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    An atheist simply says they do not believe in any god(s). An atheist CAN take it a step further and state there are no god(s), if they so choose, but that's not part of being an atheist. This idea that there are strong atheists and weak atheists is silly. You either believe that god(s) exist or you don't. If you're not sure if you believe that god(s) exist you're an agnostic.

    Stating that I do not believe in Bigfoot simply means that I don't think their is enough verifiable evidence of Bigfoot to conclude that Bigfoot DOES exist. My belief that there isn't sufficient evidence for such a conclusion is STRONG. However, that does not mean that I'm saying Bigfoot does NOT exist. ONLY that there isn't sufficient evidence to say that I believe Bigfoot DOES exist. That doesn't make my lack of belief that Bigfoot DOES exist WEAK. It just means that I'm open to the POSSIBILITY that at some point in the future there might be sufficient evidence for me to believe that Bigfoot does exist.

    I'm an 'atheist' when it comes to Bigfoot in the exact same way that I'm an atheist when it comes to god(s).
     
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  12. Buddha Dharma

    Buddha Dharma Dharma Practitioner

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    I think Deism fits more with how the world is, if one accepted an all-powerful divinity as creator. One might look around at cosmic accidents, evil in the world, and such to easily conclude that God is not currently active in the world. That of course, is the usual Deist position. That God made a watch, wound it up and let it go.
     
  13. taykair

    taykair Member

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    I do not.

    I see theism and atheism on the "I know" side (or, if you like, the "I believe I know" side).

    Agnostics are on the "I don't know" side.

    Between those who know and those who do not, there is a great gulf fixed...
     
  14. taykair

    taykair Member

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    Could not have said this better.

    "I don't know" should be our prime motivator for getting to "I do know".

    Ignorance is not strength.
     
  15. taykair

    taykair Member

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    Or it may be that there are too many definitions.

    Is your God a single being? Or is there some kind of Council of Gods which acts, more or less, as a single being? Is He anthropomorphic? Is He a ball of energy? Is He even a He? Plus a thousand other questions, each of which is answered in a slightly (or greatly) different way by the codes, philosophies and traditions of the various belief systems.
     
  16. blü 2

    blü 2 Well-Known Member
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    Now you see the problem.

    To be real, a god / God has to exist in reality, which is to say, has to have objective existence. If God doesn't have objective existence then the best [he] can be is imaginary. And if Gpd has objective existence then God has real qualities, and the outline of these real qualities would provide us with that useful definition.

    But not only is there none, but no one seems to be looking for the answer either.

    And without that definition, no one is talking about a real god, only their particular imaginary undefined one.
     
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  17. taykair

    taykair Member

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    This is true. No one seeks the Objective God - the God Whom We Can All Agree Upon. But millions seek the Subjective God - the God of My Own Understanding. One would think that, by understanding, one would no longer need to seek. When we understand that our continued search is an indication that our definition of God is incomplete or faulty in some way, we take a step closer to the Objective God.
     
  18. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    You do realize that atheism and agnosticism aren't mutually exclusive, right? People can be both.

    Personally, I probably technically qualify as an agnostic as well as an atheist, but I don't identify as an agnostic or refer to myself as one because I think it's misleading.

    I find that typically, people interpret the "I don't know" of agnosticism as something like "I think the odds are about 50-50 that Gods exist." My position is actually something like this:

    While I can't disprove the existence of all gods with absolute certainty, I see no reason whatsoever to presume that they do exist. I also see many reasons to presume they don't exist and reasons to presume that gods are fabrications. However, it's possible for a fabrication to end up being coincidentally true, so there's a small - but negligible for all practical purposes - room for doubt on the conclusion that gods do not exist... just like leprechauns, invisible dragons, or the unicorns you mentioned.

    People tend to demand a ridiculous level of certainty about gods that they don't demand in pretty well any other circumstance. If I said "there are no malls in my small town," they wouldn't bring up any of these inane objections ("how can you be sure? Maybe they built one last night while you were asleep. Maybe your small town just annexed the big city nearby that has several malls." "My personal definition of 'mall' is 'place where you can buy stuff' so you're really saying that your town has no stores at all. How can your town have no stores? That's unreasonable!"). It seems to be only on the issue of God that people's standards change to this ridiculous degree.
     
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  19. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

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    So you don't see agnostics as potentially being on the "I don't know and I probably never will, but I'm kind of leaning towards the possibility that..."?
     
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  20. taykair

    taykair Member

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    No. I don't see agnostics in that way. I see everyone in that way.

    Your quote is, I think, the most that anyone - if they really look within themselves honestly - can say on the subject.

    It is said that there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world and those who do not. No matter how contradictory it may sound, I am of the group which does not.

    There are no sides. There is no gulf.
     
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