Agnosticism and It's Many Misconceptions

Rook_Hawkins's picture

 Definition of Atheist - Agnostic and other supporting material

 Agnosticism and it's Many Misconceptions

By 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:

"The term 'agnostic' was coined by Thomas Huxley in 1869...when Huxly joined the Metaphysical Society, he found that the various beliefs represented there had names: 'most of my colleagues were -ists of some sort or another.' Huxly, lacking a name for his uncertainty, was 'without a rag of a label to cover himself with.' He was a fox without a tail-so he gave himself a tail by assigning the term 'agnostic' to himself."

Agnostic stems from the greek negative "a" (signifying a negatve) and "gnosis" (meaning "knowledge"Eye-wink. 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;

"maintains that any supernatural realm is inherently unknowable by the human mind, but (the) agnostic atheist suspends his judgement one step further back (from the agnostic theist - ed). For the agnostic atheist, not only is the nature of any supernatural being unknowable, but the existence of any supernatural being is unknowable as well. We cannot have knowledge of the unknowable; therefore, concludes this agnostic, we cannot have knowledge of god's existence."

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"Eye-wink 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:Cool, 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)
  1. If the Christian God exists, he wants ALL humans to know he exists.
  2. If the Christian God exists, he knows what evidences are sufficient for ALL to know that he exists.
  3. Not ALL people believe in God.
  4. God's evidences, thus far, are insufficient for ALL to believe.
  5. God either wants non-christians to exist or there is no Christian God. (from 2,3 and 4)
Note: (If God wants atheists to exist... why all the threats of Hell and damnation in Christian theology?)

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.



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chazk's picture

great article

worth more than 2 cents

Rook_Hawkins's picture

Thanks!  I should really

Thanks!  I should really update it once in a while.  Glad you enjoyed it.

seriously,

that was excellently put. It's nice to see people actually stepping through the arguments of why the Christian god is so easily dismissable but instead of doing so with explanation.

Me thinks thou doest protest

Me thinks thou doest protest too much.  It interesting to me that so much time can be spent by an "Agnostic/Atheist" or whichever designation you choose, working through a subject you have such disdain for.  I'm sure you've had responses like this before.  Someone so troubled by the concept of GOD that they would spend a good portion of their time trying to dispel the rumor suredly has some deep down strong convictions that in fact they are wrong.  Good luck with your trials but I think that ultimately you may come to believe.

Vastet's picture

curious wrote:Me thinks thou

curious wrote:

Me thinks thou doest protest too much.

Me thinks thoust hast no idea what we be protesting.

 

curious wrote:
It interesting to me that so much time can be spent by an "Agnostic/Atheist" or whichever designation you choose, working through a subject you have such disdain for.

The history of the world is replete with people fighting that which they don't like. Most of that bloody history was written with religion.

curious wrote:
  I'm sure you've had responses like this before.  Someone so troubled by the concept of GOD that they would spend a good portion of their time trying to dispel the rumor suredly has some deep down strong convictions that in fact they are wrong.  Good luck with your trials but I think that ultimately you may come to believe.

The concept of god is incoherant. Beyond that, it is meaningless. Beyond that, it is irrelevant. We aren't fighting a god. We're fighting YOU. You and your lies ABOUT some god that simply isn't there. Ultimately, you are more likely to begin to disbelieve than we are to begin to believe.

Personally, I find Star Wars far more entertaining than the bible. And it has better moral lessons too. I suggest that if you want to believe in a religion, you become a Jedi. Or even a Sith. Either's better than what you've got.

Once-Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.

butterbattle's picture

curious wrote:I'm sure

curious wrote:

I'm sure you've had responses like this before. 

Then, surely, you should also be able to figure out how flawed your argument is.

 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare
http://myanimelist.net/profile/butterbattle

Agreeable

Nice one.

I agree on this question, it doesn't take a genius to see the flaw in the claim of agnosticism as a third option. I am an atheist and I despise religion, the term is man-made and has an inheritly bad influence on society, yet some people clutch to it like it's everything good. Those people are blind.