The Agnostic Atheist

excerpt from the article The Agnostic Atheist at The Guardian UK.

His historical inaccuracy aside, however, Huxley’s point remained valid (as the word’s rapid adoption testifies). A-gnosticism was originally a stance against certainty, against those who would admit no doubt, who believed their theism or atheism was incontrovertibly true, and that those who disagreed with them were either damned or irredeemable. In this it was not so much a position as an attitude, a stance of intellectual humility in the face of the most important questions of life; an adjective rather than a noun.

Whether it was an adjective that was appropriate to Huxley himself is somewhat questionable. His account of its creation is apologetic and emollient in a way that the man himself rarely was. Darwin’s Bulldog was not known for his humility or uncertainty.

And that points us to a difficulty with agnosticism. Attitudes are fine but they need to be about something. Adjectives need nouns. If Huxley was indeed an agnostic, he was an agnostic atheist, tending away from the divine but unwilling (so he claimed) to be too dogmatic about it.

Thus understood, we all need a dash of agnosticism – of appropriate intellectual reserve in the face of the big questions. The dogmatic alternative, familiar to us as “fundamentalism”, is neither appealing nor helpful.

But we should not imagine agnosticism is a complete and sufficient metaphysical position. The question is not simply whether you are an agnostic, but what kind of agnostic you are.

Yes, I see that the agnostic label is most often used as an adjective and is usually the reason why atheists see it as a superfluous word with little value. The most proper use of it would be in the pairing of it as ‘agnostic atheist’ as I’ve pointed out many times here. An ‘agnostic theist’ means little since believers rely on faith rather than verifiable knowledge for the basis of their belief, so qualifying theism as not being based on knowledge is rather useless.

Even though ‘agnostic atheist’ is the most logical use of the adjective, I do imagine agnosticism as a complete and sufficient metaphysical position when used as a noun. Agnosticism as a metaphysical position means that knowledge is important in understanding the metaphysical so blind faith is a meaningless replacement for a lack of knowledge. We must be honest in our beliefs and ability to understand the metaphysical. Between theism and atheism as the only choices, atheism is the only logical choice for the agnostic as a noun to pair with the agnostic adjective.

However, I do not believe atheism is the final answer since it is merely a rejection of theism. The atheist noun doesn’t properly answer for me the big questions of existence. Why does this Universe exist if there is a reason why? How did it come to be if there was a cause for it? Was there even an event we would call creation that put into motion everything I see around me today?

The theists believe in the idea of supernatural creation and give the cause a name and persona of some sort. The theist’s supernatural creator ranges from a very human-like god with thoughts and emotions like ours to a very general view of the Universe itself as the god such as in pantheism. The theists tend to worship and revere their supernatural cause of existence.

Atheism, in rejecting theism and its various definitions of a supernatural creator for our existence, logically rejects the idea of supernatural creation. Any atheist that rejects all theistic beliefs must say they reject the supernatural creation concept in total, since they are completely without theism. The atheist must believe in a natural creation or no creation at all with their atheistic cosmological position.

Agnosticism holds that the answer to the question of creation is that we do not know and possibly cannot know the nature of creation. Creation could have a natural cause, supernatural cause, or may not even be an event in our existence. We do not have the knowledge or proof for cause so any claim that it is a natural cause or uncaused must be seen as a false claim. Likewise, any claims in regards to the belief in a supernatural cause must also be seen as a false claim.

Ultimately one of the cosmological viewpoints does have to be true in the end, but without the knowledge of that truth the Agnostic (as a proper noun, not adjective) stands for the ideal that the metaphysical is unknown to us and is possibly inherently unknowable. Agnosticism simply says that we know nothing of what may be beyond physical existence, whereas atheism and theism both attempt to take a stance on certain metaphysical concepts with the most profound concept being their beliefs concerning creation.

Mr. Deity and the Good – Season 2, Ep 8

Mr. Deity and Larry discuss the finer points of religious fundamentalism and idealism.

Here’s another pick of mine from Mr. Deity season two where they go through a list of items to decide what is good or not. If a deity is the source of morality then he would have to go through this process of deciding such things. It’s a funny clip.

Mr. Deity and the Murder – Season 2, Ep 6

Mr. Deity and Lucy play a little game with Cain and Abel.

I had forgotten about this webshow and they’ve moved the newer episodes to a site called Crackle. This episode touches on a few funny points about Cain and Abel, the origin of their wives, and god actually being married to and in cooperation with Lucifer (Lucy).

Religious Liars

The previous post on the question of asking if gods exist came from an e-mail. It was ambigiously written in such a way to imply the person was an unbeliever of some kind but I was not the least bit surprised by the return e-mail. I suspected it was from a typical religious liar that has to resort to lies, half-truths, and confusing information to try to open up a dialog. They do this to try to share their ideas with you in some vain attempt to validate their own beliefs by getting others to agree with them. He may not be certain in what exactly he believes but ultimately the person does believe in a god of some kind.

Here is part of the return e-mail:

I have been a bit deceptive to you because I came across as an atheist or agnostic – but I am neither. I am certainly not religious, but I do say that there is a God, with reasons (real reasons that you can see with your own eyes). You see, I used to be agnostic then deist – but then I put all beliefs aside and said to the night sky, “Whoever you are, please speak to me. I will assume nothing about you, and I will only accept what you tell me about yourself.” This was my beginning (back in 2005). The kick in this is that I call God, “Yahweh”, but not the warrior God of the past, but the ethical God you could only find written in Micah, Amos, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Isaiah, Hosea, and a few others…. blah, blah, blah.

This person professes to annoy the religious by not being a believer in religion. He has a blog and quotes scripture in it even though he claims to not be religious so he obviously believes in these writings even though he’s very selective in which ones. He apparently thinks he’s special with some special knowledge about it all even though he’s smart enough to say you can’t take these religions as a complete truth and even knocks them as false idols. What’s funny and sad is that he doesn’t see that his belief is yet another false idol.

This is from his blog:

People would rather have a thousand beliefs and no proof, no evidence, no moving God – and they prefer an invisible stone to praise. It is certainly what God gives them over to. It is quite obvious that Yahweh has given people over to their invisible stones to save them in their days of trouble and death… which has proven to be no salvation at all. They would prefer to worship the useless magician/idol inhabiting their minds, and never know the living God who saves life and spares my bones.

It is quite obvious to me that this person is yet another religious person with his own invisible stone to praise that like the old joke is “unique like everyone else’s”. He’s smart enough to see the useless magician/idol inhabiting the minds of others but because of his flawed perspective he doesn’t see that his own “living God” is just more of the same. I still don’t understand how these people are so willing to take that leap of faith to believe in a god they specifically define for themselves and at the same time say other believers are so very wrong in their own leap of faith. I always see this as more proof that none of the believers have any real knowledge and it’s just more fiction and delusions.

Asking the Gods

I received an e-mail question that asks:

Let’s say that we don’t know if there is a God or not – or if there are many Gods, or if God is spirit, or if God is physical, etc. There are potentially a thousand questions we could logically ask, and not ignorantly accept a bunch of religious beliefs.

It is obvious that there is no God(s) on this planet, and definitely no God(s) to be found in religion. Religion is very philosophical, and emotional, and dogmatic, and certainly without any God(s) besides the ones that sit as quiet as a tree stump.

So perhaps you could try something different that religious people don’t try. Perhaps you could ask God(s) if God(s) exists – and if God(s) does exist, perhaps you could ask God(s) to show you that He/She/It/They exists.

I think people that move from religion to disbelief of any kind do actually do this and I had actively done this myself over several years. Alone in a room or outside in the majesty of the natural world I have asked the questions and received no replies. I was open to whatever message or sign would come to me and still am.

I can definitely say that the only messages and signs I have ever received and see around me today are that the universe and our existence is the greatest mystery. The simplistic notion of a creator that is made in our own image complete with petty emotions and desires is an insult to the real mystery and power of the universe. Likewise, to simply be without such a creator does not say enough about my view because it says to me that the universe is a completely natural and random event. This is why I use the Agnostic label to say that my belief centers on the humble fact that I do not know.

Quoting Huxley: The theological “gnosis” would have us believe that the world is a conjuror’s house; the anti-theological “gnosis” talks as if it were a “dirt-pie” made by the two blind children, Law and Force. Agnosticism simply says that we know nothing of what may be beyond phenomena.