Relationship of agnosticism to theist/atheism

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by James R, Jan 4, 2021.

  1. Zero Point Native Registered Member

    Yeah, maybe a little. I don't see it as a religion though. It's just something I feel. There's no specific common text or common central figure I look to for understanding reality. I read and listen to everything without bias. I could just as easily listen to a televangellical bible thumper or a cult leader, or some whacked-out drug head, or read the Book of Satan, or the Holy Bible, or a new age text, or a controversial terrorist pamphlet and pull out the information I felt that was beneficial to me. The source of information is irrelevant to me. Only the information matters.

    I don't see the Universe as a supreme being, just Consciousness as a whole with all things being equal. The only thing being different or unequal is that which has been fabricated by Mind into things outside of the native state of Consciousness. I believe that everything exists as, and within, and throughout Consciousness, from the largest cluster of galaxies to every cell, every atom, every electron, every quark, every Planck, and beyond is consciousness. So yes, I guess that would be pantheism. But again, I don't really acknowledge labels or titles as I have no interest in being attached to anything. I only use them in this world when needed to be able to function and participate appropriately in this society, in this reality. For me, everything is just experience. I don't have any interest in religions. For me, there is no such thing as Heaven or Hell, and there is no such thing as an individual "god" entity sitting in a cloud on a throne passing judgment on souls and deciding on who gets to go to this fairytale Heaven or Hell. For me, there is just life and nothing else.

    The way I see it, I'm just here to play a game. This reality is not real for me. Everything is just scenery, props, and stages. I'm just here for the ride. I'm just here for the experience. I'm just passing through.

    When I say I believe in everything I mean I can just as easily believe in contradictions and oxymorons as I believe anything else without causing a disruption or any discomfort to my psyche. I would like to be free to believe in whatever I wish. But I'm not delusional. I know how to abide by common beliefs and societal belief system territories in order to continue to function within this society without being locked up in a mental institution. I know how to play the game without looking like I'm a deranged lunatic or a schizophrenic. But that's all it is. It's just a game for me, and I'll play along with it just fine. And when I'm done with this reality I'll just continue playing the game in the next reality and the next. But if the time ever comes when I'm done playing the game, I can just as easily just sit in place and let the world fall away around me. But in the meantime, I'm having too much fun playing the game, but if I want to play the game I have to play by its rules, so I will... for now.

    I'm convinced that life exists and that it will never end. I am certain that energy can never be destroyed, just reformed into something else. For me, god is just another label. But if you were to consider Universal Consciousness as god then theist it is if you prefer.

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    If I ever do label myself I just refer to myself as an individual just making my way through life.

    I'd have to say that it is possible not to be bound by beliefs. While I agree we believe in something at all times one way or another, I don't feel like I have to be bound by them. I would like to think I am free to pick and choose whatever belief that fancies me the most that day. Of course, there's still the gravity thing, and then there's the eating, drinking, breathing, and sleeping thing. However, this part is still a work in progress, lol

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    Just experience. My only goal is just to be free. I do enjoy hiking, kayaking, jet skiing, four-wheeling, and sky diving, and I would love to do base jumping off a mountain cliff in a winged suit but I feel that may never happen. I enjoyed dabbling in a little bit of rodeo when I was younger but I kinda outgrew that. Those are just a few desires.

    Ya know? Just nothing. That native state where nothing exists. Just letting go of absolutely everything, beliefs, perceptions, ego, etc., and just letting everything just be as it is. It's kinda like committing suicide without killing the body. But I know what you're thinking, and yeah, a person couldn't just remain in that state and be a functioning being within a highly linear, dualistic, active reality.

    So given all that information, what would you say that I am, just out of curiosity?
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  3. psikeyhackr Live Long and Suffer Valued Senior Member

    I decided that I was an agnostic at 12.
    Now I occasionally backslide into apatheism, agnosticism with at attitude.

    Theist believes that there is a God.
    Atheist believes that there Is NO God.
    Agnostic does not know.

    Belief is to accept something as true, or false without sufficient evidence, therefore belief is stupid by definition.

    People do not use the word 'suspect' very much. That presumes some evidence but not enough to be conclusive.

    What evidence is there for "ultimate reality"? It just sounds like someone making up an excuse to believe in God and put atheists on the defensive.
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  5. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    I am ok with that although technically you can be atheist and agnostic.
    I think agnostic is superfluous myself, I hardly use it.
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  7. geordief Valued Senior Member

    If the wars of religion pass through our parish we may be forced to look for language that describes sitting on the fence.

    The clowns are still in charge(and "agnostic" might not be placatory enough)
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I think you're focussing too much on evidence rather than justification. I know you're an empiricist, and that empirical evidence would be your justification, but empirical evidence is not the be all and end all of justification. There is a wealth of philosophical discourse on the nature of justification when it comes to knowledge (knowledge being a Justified* True Belief) - *this is where most of the debate seems to be: what constitutes justification.

    So an agnostic theist isn't necessarily one because they can't "prove" the existence of God, for example, but because they lack justification for their belief. For you that might be the same thing given your scientific leanings, but it need not be so for everyone. For example, someone might consider their oral traditions to be sufficient justification. They also can't "prove" the existence of God but they would not be agnostic, as you suggest they would. Their knowledge is justified to them in other ways. An agnostic theist is either one that can't really justify to themselves why they believe, and do so solely on faith, or, they think that there is no justification for understanding the nature of God, or even whether God exists... but still believe anyway.

    The gnostic theist is one that holds that they have knowledge - and this could be empirical evidence, plus logic, such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument - or might be something far more personal - and/or that the issue is knowable, whether through empirical or other justification.

    So if you consider justification rather than evidence, and not focus on empirical justification, then I think you'd be closer to my view on the matter.

    But we're agreed that a/theism and a/gnosticism are diferent axes, and that agnosticism is not just the middle ground between the two. One is an ontological matter, the other epistemological.
  9. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Does one have to be religious to believe in a natural, logical, self-ordering dynamic universe?

    Or is there an option that does not need the concept of a conscious intelligent designer, but can rely on a quasi-intelligent manner of "guiding principles", the interactive rules inherent in a dynamic geometric physical object we call Universe?

    Interesting tidbid: the term "universe" also means "uni-verse" , or "single song". I like that!

    Isn't it true that all people are agnostic and nobody knows for sure. For some it's at best an intuition or cultural tradition. Nobody knows for sure.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2023
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I guess the answer would depend on how you view the word "religious". But I would suggest that one can believe in God without being religious as, to me, "religious" invokes a social structure, and adherence to that structure, as part of the devotion to the belief / act.
    Therefore I would posit that one could believe in the existence of a god without being necessarily religious, e.g. if one does not adhere to any social structure, or have that belief influence their actions.
    Simply believing in something doesn't make it a religion, or mean you are religious.

    This is a rather shallow play on words, and not actually true.[/quote]"Universe" comes from the Latin "Uni-" meaning one, and "versus" meaning turned (past participle of vertere, to turn, or to transform). It literally means "turned/transformed into one", in the sense that the universe is "everything turned into one thing".

    While the English word "verse" also comes from the same Latin "versus", the reasoning is different, in that a verse, or line of writing, was taken from the metaphor of a "turn of the plough" - i.e. the furrowed lines that a plough makes in the field (you make a line/furrow, then "turn" the plough and come back, making another line etc). It has nothing to do with "turning into".

    But as a pun, sure, whatever tickles your fancy.
    As an agnostic myself, this is what I believe to be true... I am agnostic because I hold that the question of God's existence is unknowable. If such agnostics are right then, yes, noone can know, and those who claim to do so are clearly mistaken. But, alas, there is no way to know if such agnostics are right or not.
    However, I may be wrong, and some people may genuinely know. They (the non-agnostics) at least claim to know, and they may be correct in that.

    And thus the circle rotates.
  11. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    No. This is why we have atheists.
    Same as above
    Yes but personally I do not think that brings anything to the table.

    I think we can dispense with our earthly gods without much fuss.
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I wrote this, which you quoted before writing the above:

    Nevertheless, [the agnostic theist] is convinced that the god exists for reasons other than evidence - faith usually being the justification given for the belief. The agnostic theist will therefore be willing to acknowledge that he cannot "prove" the existence of his God to the satisfaction of people who, like him, value evidence, but at the same time he will nevertheless report that he is convinced the god is real for other reasons.​
    Yes. I agree.

    However, I think that the arguments for the existence of god(s) that are not evidenced-based are all either flawed or else very weak. Those include such things as the various philosophical arguments for god (ontological, teleological, cosmological), which are all flawed. They also include "faith-based" arguments. Then there are arguments from claims of personal revelation. All weak, in my opinion.

    What do you have in mind for justifying a belief in god(s), without appealing to evidence?
    If the agnostic theist really believed that he lacked justification for believing in his God, he would not believe in it. Being a theist, he is necessarily convinced that his God is real. He thinks he has some good reasons for believing that his God is real. He believes he is justified in believing that his God is real, despite acknowledging the lack of objective evidence for it. The justifications that he gives, then, are not evidence-based justifications.

    I take your point that what this agnostic theist considers to be a valid justification for his belief is unlikely to be something that I will consider a valid justification for his belief. After all, if I did consider his justification valid, it would at the very least be ungracious for me not to join him in his belief in the god. It would, in fact, be irrational for me not to join him in his belief.
    Some people consider the bible to constitute sufficient justification, in itself, to believe in the god depicted therein. Or at least they say they consider it sufficient.

    I'd say that some alleged justifications are superior to others. Wouldn't you?

    Of course, at this point we're heading down into the weeds of "where most of the debate seems to be": what kinds of things actually justify claims to knowledge, and how do they do that, exactly?
    I don't think I suggested that. A person who believes their God is real because of an oral tradition passed down through generations in their culture would be a gnostic theist. He believes that some time in the past, God directly communicated to his ancestors, who eventually passed on God's messages to him. He is not particularly fussed about trying to find historical evidence of the alleged direct communication from God. The Word that has been passed down to him by the Elders is sufficient justification for God, in his opinion.
    It strikes me as a bizarre position to be in: being simultaneously convinced that something is true, but at the same time knowing you have no defensible reason (according to your own professed standards of justification) for being convinced. It must surely be a state of cognitive dissonance - if you care about being rational.

    One common description of agnosticism involves the agnostic believing that it is impossible ever to know whether God exists or not. No rational agnostic who accepts that definition could have a valid justification for believing that God exists (or that it doesn't exist). That rational agnostic could only ever shrug his shoulders and say "I can't believe in God, even if God exists". Because what could justify belief in anything whose mere existence is unknowable? The rational agnostic would have to be an agnostic atheist, or else be hopelessly inconsistent and in cognitive dissonance with his own professed values.

    The Kalam isn't an argument for God, BTW. In the form it is most often presented, it doesn't even mention God. Not very logical (as an attempt to justify God).
    I think our views on this might be closer than you think they are. I guess we'll see after you've read this post.
    I can work with that.
  13. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I know what you wrote. I quoted it. My point stands: I think you're focussing too much on evidence. Which is understandable, given that you personally value evidence in such matters. It's no biggie. I'm really just trying to de-focus what you said, toward the more general. I.e. it seemed to you justification is about the empirical evidence, whereas agnosticism in general has no such limit to what is deemed justification.
    Of course. And in mine.
    I couldn't say. I just don't rule out the possibility that there is something that might convince me. Whether it would convince you, or anyone else, though, is neither here nor there.
    If agnosticism refers to lack of knowledge, and knowledge is Justified True Belief, then what do you think it is the agnostic lacks such that they claim not to have knowledge? What separates the agnostic from the gnostic theist, in my view, is that they don't think there is any rational ground to answer the question of God's existence, but choose to believe anyway. The gnostic theist believes that God exists through what they consider to be rational justification. And no, I don't consider faith itself to be justification, but rather to be belief through conviction rather than justification.
    That is simply not true. The theist simply believes that God is real. There is no necessity to be convinced by the truth of the belief, only to be convinced sufficiently to believe. One doesn't only believe that which one is convinced by. Take those who believe because of Pascal's Wager as an example. Perhaps you wish to argue that such people are not "true believers" or "true theists"?
    Not "objective evidence" but what they consider to be rational justification. Again, you're focussing on empiricism because that is what you would require.
    I think you mean "convincing" rather than "valid"? Valid is a matter of form of argument, not of its truth or its ability to convince.

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    Sure. There's vast library on the matter of "knowledge". The weeds often hold an ecosystem entirely of their own.
    Not necessarily. The oral tradition might be justification to believe, but not sufficiently rational to justify knowledge. Again, the weeds.

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    I don't think it's as bad as that because I see it possible to be justified sufficiently into believing but not sufficiently into knowing. Do you assume that all theists are 100% convinced as to the truth of their belief?
    Pascal's Wager. It works for some. "I don't think it's possible to know (in this life) if God exists or not, but if I don't believe and am wrong, Hell awaits, while if I believe I at least have a chance of eternal happiness... and maybe this is my test of faith!" I'm not saying I find this sufficiently convincing for me to believe, only that it can be for some.
    It's often used as the precursor for "proof of God", though. William Lane Craig being the most vocal proponent these days, I think.
    Oh, they are close. We're both agnostic atheists, I'm reasonably sure for mostly the same reasons.
    My initial comments were merely that you seemed to be approaching the issue through the lens of the empiricist which I felt results in a limiting view of agnosticism - i.e. justification v evidence. There may be some other differences in the minutiae (e.g. whether belief in X means 100% convinced, or just being sufficiently convinced to believe etc) that might throw up an interesting issue.
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

  15. psikeyhackr Live Long and Suffer Valued Senior Member

    Just to keep the pot sufficiently stirred:

    If God created the universe then didn't he have to know Einsteinian physics long before Einstein figured it out?

    If you search the Bible for 'transla' you will find variations of the word 'translate' and three of them are associated with an Enoch character.

    The European Bible says strange things about Enoch. Enoch did not die. Enoch was no longer here for God took him. Enoch was "translated" by God.

    How do you Translate a human being?

    What word was used in the original language?

    Suppose God "translated" Enoch through space and time via Einsteinian physics and set him down on Earth 2000 years later and he told everyone that his name was Melchizedek?

    What does the Bible say about Mel? No Mother?

    Enoch would have been an adult popping in through a space-time transition. No need for a mother. He would not have a geneology. Not from any people who had lived through normal space-time for previous centuries.

    Maybe God is not really mysterious, but just sneaky!
  16. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    If we are just talking about belief in God, I guess that we could call such a person 'Somebody who has no opinion on the matter'. (I would not call them an 'atheist'.)

    It gets a little more interesting if we are talking about beliefs in general. I'm not convinced that there has ever been such a person. We couldn't live our lives without beliefs.

    But there are definitely people who believes that they have no knowledge. They are skeptics in the original sense of that word.

    If we follow the tradition and define 'knowledge' as 'justified-true-belief', then one can (and many have) argued that we don't possess absolutely conclusive justification for any of our beliefs. Regardless of the justification we think that we have for our beliefs, we might always be mistaken. (What's more, our justifications will always rest on additional unjustified assumptions.)

    And just by the nature of our human condition, we can never step outside our own experience to verify that our experience and ideas do in fact truly correspond with some more objective reality. That would require that we adopt the proverbial "God's-eye-view" that would allow us to perceive reality as it is directly, and not just our human experience of whatever reality might be.
  17. Zero Point Native Registered Member

    Yeah, makes sense. Really, the main reason I asked the question was just out of curiosity. I wasn't sure if there was actually a term for it. For myself personally, I have no interest in binding myself to any beliefs. For the last 20+ years, I've been working on freeing myself of any and all beliefs that I possibly can. It's a life long process to be sure. Of course, there's that pesky belief in gravity, eating, drinking, breathing, and sleeping that just can't seem to be shaken off.

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    I have no interest in labels so I don't label myself or consider myself to be anything at all other than what is necessary to function properly in society. So yeah, I'll play the game. It's why I'm here. I'm just here for the ride, the show, to play the game. I don't consider myself to be a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim, an Atheist, an Agnostic, a Satanist, or anything. I also don't recognize myself as a Republican, a Democrat, liberal, conservative, independent, or any other such political affiliation. If I had to label myself as anything it would just be a male human. Maybe I could label myself as an explorer? I do love to explore.

    I also realize that if I want to play the game then I have to play by the rules if I don't want to end up in prison or a mental institution. Every game has its rules. However, I don't let the rules define me. In other words, I could easily break a rule if I felt it necessary and appropriate for the situation and I wouldn't feel the least bit guilty about it as I also have no interest in laws, rules, morals, or ethics. I don't feel they apply to me as I don't feel like I need them to keep me in line and obedient. But I also realize we need them for a corrupt society in order to keep society from breaking down and collapsing and everyone killing each other into extinction. A judge sure wouldn't want me on his/her jury as I don't believe in "right" or "wrong". However, the ironic thing is they might decide to keep me on the jury as I would be totally unbiased, lol. The conundrum would be that I wouldn't find the defendant guilty on the basis of any laws being broken, but I would most likely go along with whatever the jury decides if it aligns with the evidence because it's part of the game.

    I also don't have any interest in politics, nations, borders, flags, or patriotism. But again, I realize they are necessary to keep society in its current state functioning properly... for the time being.

    So anyone can label me whatever they wish. Makes me no never mind. I'd like to think there is no term for it. But that's just me.
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