hey everyone, I'm an agnostic atheist. Is anyone of you a gnostic atheist? if there is, would you share your view please? cause i would really love to have some kind of definite answer, but i'm just not there yet for considering myself as a gnostic atheist. so..opened up for discussion! :)
Agnosticism isn't a middle-ground between "belief in" and "non belief in". There is a difference between "belief in/non belief in" and "know/not know" (absolute certainty/non absolute certainty = gnostic/agnostic).
Gnosticism/agnosticism isn't exclusive/inclusive by necessity for belief/non belief, they're different aspects of epistemic knowledge.
So you get gnostic atheists from two camps (mostly), those who subscribe to Ayn Rands misapplication of tautologies (A = A …well d'uh), or who subscribe to the belief that science deals in 100% certainties with regards to existential claims (it doesn't - see "argument from ignorance").
That's why I answered:
There are also those who change the definitions of things like belief-non belief/know/certainty, in order to justify their position, but this is just "moving the goalposts".
I like the Venn diagram which shows the possibilities very concisely.
Definite answers are kind of a tall order. :) Sodahead has an interesting discussion about this. I lean toward #4. How can #1 or #3 have credibility without evidence?
As others here point out, the question "Is there reason to believe that there is a God?" is different from "Is there reason to believe that there is no God?". You can have positions on both issues, and the gnostic positions for either demand argumentation or evidence. So "There is a reason to believe in God" needs substantiation and so does "There is a reason to believe that no God exists".
Now as a matter of fact, I think that a case can be made not only that there is no reason to believe in a God, but actually that none exists at all. I think about it in terms of Russell's Teapot: it's obvious that there's no reason to believe that the teapot isn't actually circling Jupiter at this moment, but really, we can more than that. We can say with very high certainty that such a teapot does not exist, because (i) we are not in the habit of releasing teapots into high orbits or bringing it outside of our atmosphere and (ii) matter elsewhere in the universe doesn't spontaneously coalesce into porcelain teapots.
So these are reasons to believe that no teapot actually exists at all, rather than simply that its existence has not been substantiated (which would be achieved simply by pointing to the lack of evidence).
Ditto for God. Since we have so many different kinds of religions on Earth, and modern psychology so clearly shows that our religious impulses can be traced back to various cognitive intuitions (the belief in agency, just world theory, etcetera) and ancient rituals like rain dances, and that our universe shows no sign of being created, we can actually say that God is simply a human illusion, rather than simply something we don't have reason to believe in yet.
I think you might be looking at the teapot argument from the wrong angle. It is not about whether objects are man made or not (would a space unicorn orbiting Jupiter make you feel differently?) it is about evidence and what forms the basis of beliefs.
I see the theist argument as saying: look at a house. It is complex, made up of complimentary parts, would not be fit for purpose if one of many things were missing and therefore couldn't have come about without a builder. (And since we know houses have builders, this is consistent and what we expect to find).
Now look at our planet and organic life. It is complex, made up of complimentary parts, would not function if one of many things were missing and therefore couldn't have come about without a creator. Since we know houses have a builder, we must have had a creator.
Where this view fails, is by assuming that order, complexity and interdependence require intelligent design. A snowflake is ordered, complex and each one nearly unique, but no-one believes that a snow flake fairy makes them, because science has shown how natural processes do it.
Conversely if you see a hill (simple, interchangeable parts, would still be a hill if you removed some dirt), you assume that it is just a feature of the landscape when in fact it could be artificially built. You would need information to find out what the truth is.
In order to start seriously considering an idea at all (e.g. a god exists), there needs to be
some reason or evidence to support this idea otherwise you are just believing in something simply because you feel like it or because other people feel like believing it and tell you it's true.
In my view, to adopt an agnostic position on an issue (defined as we do not or can never have enough knowledge to show it true or false), you must first have enough evidence for the issue to be worth considering as true.
Logical reasons supporting the existence of gods (e.g. science shows the universe had a beginning so what caused it as we can't have come from nothing) can equally be used to support the existence of currently unknown natural processes, or any supernatural entity such the magical asteroid/leprechaun/teapot etc that fulfills the same function as a god.
Throughout history, religion has had to correct itself on many topics (earth being flat, cause of lightning) as science has uncovered the reality of the situation via evidence. Therefore I find it more logical to believe that an unknown natural process causes something (as we keep discovering new natural processes) than a supernatural cause (which has never been shown to cause anything, or even exist).
Personally, I like that fact that scientific theories often get modified. It shows that we are willing to learn from new information and old mistakes, and the amazing technological advances we have made in the last couple of centuries show what happens when cultures promote evidence based knowledge. (Many ancient cultures also benefited from this).
It is interesting to contrast to the bible, which most christians would say has been unchanged since it was written, since christianity has changed its mind on things like:
- slavery (at one point justified with bible quotes in various pulpits across the US)
- celebrating christmas (Oliver Cromwell, a famous puritan, made christmas illegal)
- who can read the bible (for many years only priests were able to)
- purchasing forgiveness (indulgences)
Not to mention current disagreements on wealth, women priests, when the world will end, modern day "miracles" etc.
* Given the number of bibles and biblical manuscripts that existed at the time, I find it hard to believe that any significant changes took place within the last few centuries that affected anything outside the sect making the change. It seems too implausible for all/most of these documents to have been altered. However, I don't really know.
"I would add to your list things like homosexuality and women's rights"
Absolutely agree. My list was not intended to be exhaustive.
There have been many well known agnostics in the past, like Thomas Huxley, Bertrand Russell, Robert Green Ingersoll and Clarence Darrow. Each has expressed his own opinion in an essay. In present times, Richard Dawkins also describes himself as anagnostic and deals with this subject in his book "The God Delusion". If you ask an agnostic "what would make him an atheist?", that is, a firm believer that no god exists, each person would give a different answer, but said or unsaid, the reason for their doubt is a question about the creation of the universe.
Most atheists are agnostic, they do not claim to know that no flavor of god could possibly exist anywhere at any time. We simply do not have faith in any flavor of god. If a new religion popped up that worshiped wooden spoons, we could probably agree that such spoons exist, but we would not have any faith in them so would remain atheists. However, as far as gods go, I must admit that wooden spoon god would be MUCH more useful and answer just as many "prayers"(none) as any other god out there.
Wooden spoon god could be awesome.
Thomas Huxley said that he needs a logical proof to disprove the existence of god, Bertrand Russell said that he would believe in a god if he saw personal miracles during a 24 hour period in his life and Richard Dawkins disagrees with Huxley and says that only scientific proof is needed. If every agnostic wants a different proof, wherefrom it is to come? This is a self help matter. A combination of scientific information and rational thought should help an agnostic to come to a firm decision. Science has given tremendous help. Now it is up to us to go further from there.
Anyone claiming to be gnostic anything is very probably confused or simply does not understand the issues. This is ultimately why the word agnostic is utterly useless. Everyone is agnostic. Emotional certainty does not equal actual knowledge.