Agnosticism and It's Many Misconceptions
Agnosticism and it's Many MisconceptionsBy Rook Hawkins
There is a lot of misunderstanding about the terms "agnostic" and "agnosticism" floating around that I feel I need to clear up. Many people think that to be an agnostic is somehow a third option between atheism and theism, some middle ground. The truth, however, is that agnosticism is not even within the same category.
To begin with, a general understanding of agnosticism should be covered. To quote George Smith, writer of the book, "Atheism: The Case Against God", he says:
Agnostic stems from the greek negative "a" (signifying a negatve) and "gnosis" (meaning "knowledge". The term "agnostic" literally means "without knowledge." However in the general use of the term, it has been applied to almost anything that could be unknowable.
Most within the state of religion apply the term "agnostic" rather ignorantly to some middle ground between the two said extremes of atheism and theism. The failure in this is that agnosticism deals with knowledge, and theism/atheism deals with belief and no belief respectively.
Agnosticism can be applied to either category, for example, you can be an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist. An agnotic theist believes in a God, but holds the opinion that the nature of God is unknowable to the human mind; where an agnostic atheist, as Smith puts it;
For myself, agnosticism is only part of what I define as my lack-of-belief. When I think of God, any personalized God (with a capitol "G" like the God of Christianity, I am an atheist. I know that the God of the Bible does not exist, just like the God of Zoroastrianism doesn't exist. They were concepts, made by early man, to explain primatively things that science has already answered in many ways. This is seen simply by looking at the Bible, any reasonable person could see the errors within.
Any book that claims that bats are birds (Lev. 19:19, Deut. 14:11, 18) or that the earth was formed out of and by means of water (2 Peter 3:5 RSV), rests on pillars (1 Sam. 2:, won't be moved (1Chron. 16:30), has ends or edges (Job 37:3), and is flat or has four corners (Isa. 11:12, Rev. 7:1) could not possibly be a book of truth and certainly couldn't be inspired by any omnipotent god.
However, when it comes to god (lowercase "g" equals generic use of the term ), I am an agnostic atheist. I do not see how any omnipotent or omnipresent being would have a need to show it's nature to us feeble life forms. It is only human arrogance that propell feelings in people that they are somehow superior enough to rate that knowledge, and it sickens me when these "holier then thou" people come to my door and ask, "have you found Jesus?"
Further, any being who does not effect the evident world I live in, to me, is irrelevant to my continued existence. In other words, I live my life from day to day, god-free, without the slightest inkling of his presence, his influence, his supposed fate for me. I live, I make my decisions, and I base my choices on things that surround me, things that effect me, and my life.
And I do it all without a god, and if by some weird unbeknownst factor, a god or some sort of omnipotent being is out there, he certain doesn't make himself known to me. Therefore, his existence is really superficial, and inconsequential to what I need to continue to do - live a happy and full life. And thus, again, I am unaware of him, and have no knowledge, so again, agnostic atheism is a preference for me.
And of course, this whole commentary wouldn't be complete without bringing in some sort of logical equation.
ARGUMENT FROM NON-BELIEF (Known as the ANB)
- If the Christian God exists, he wants ALL humans to know he exists.
- If the Christian God exists, he knows what evidences are sufficient for ALL to know that he exists.
- Not ALL people believe in God.
- God's evidences, thus far, are insufficient for ALL to believe.
- God either wants non-christians to exist or there is no Christian God. (from 2,3 and 4)
If a personal God existed, and in it's holy book, he states he's omnipotent, that would mean he'd know exactly how to prove his existence to me. He'd be able to know what I look for, and what I require. As a God, and being a supernatural entity, he would also know that - being as though he GAVE us a mind to reason with - some of his creations would doubthis existence. After all, he made us logical beings. And even the Bible states, "Prove all things." (1 Thess. 5:21) If a self-proclaiming omnipotent God cannot follow his own rules, then there is no need for me to give him my time.
Of course, this argument in and of itself is perhaps left for a seperate blog entry, and to return now to the focus of this one. To put this as simply as I can, as I posted to somebody on the Atheist Network messageboards, "Agnosticism is, as I stated before, a subcategory. You're apprehension of what an agnostic is is correct, but it's usage is wrong. It doesn't go "atheist" - "agnostic" - "theist." Agnosticism isn't the middle ground between atheism/theism.
You can be an atheist and be an agnostic, and you can be a theist and be an agnostic. It's like car in relation to sport. You don't have a sport. You have a sports car. "Sport" would be the type of "car" you drive. "Luxery" would be another example, and "economy" another. They are still all cars, but they aren't just sports because the very next question would be, 'Sport what?'"
“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” [Stephen F Roberts]
Just my two cents.