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The Agnostic's Dilemma

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Gogf, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. Gogf

    Gogf Indescribable

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    It's important that we follow our beliefs for a reason. They must be logically consistent. When presented with a choice of candidate world views, we must be able to select our own by applying our logic. If we cannot, do we really have reason to follow this doctrine? To distill the question somewhat:

    Using your logic, which of the following world views would you choose?

    • Atheistic conclusions based on evidence
    • Religious faith
    • Agnostic demands of absolute proof

    Let's examine how each philosophy would approach this question.

    Atheists would employ skepticism. They would consider the evidence—the technological triumphs of their method (also known as "the scientific method"), the experiments that have confirmed various theories with remarkable precision—and conclude that their method has been by far the most successful. Despite the fact that few ideas are ever actually proven wrong, it is by the separation of the logical from the illogical that progress is made. By and large, accepting what the evidence, or lack thereof, tells us has been extremely successful.

    Theists would consider this question a matter of faith. They would have faith that God has made their method correct. For this thought experiment, this is a perfectly acceptable view. We are, after all, just testing to see if each doctrine is consistent with itself.

    Agnostics struggle with this test. There is no conclusive proof that any of the different philosophies is absolutely correct. Why should we preferentially choose one over another when there is a possibility, however remote, that another one is how we should approach the world? This is not a logically consistent viewpoint. Applying their own logic, agnostics find that they have no reason to accept their own philosophy.

    Note: I don't mean this as an attack on anyone. Keep your flaming and trolling elsewhere. I'm interested in starting a discussion and seeing how agnostics reply to this. :)

    EDIT: Here I have defined the terms I am using for clarity's sake.
     
  2. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    I am "agnostic" in a very real sense. I do not claim that it is possible through human knowledge anything certain about God - I just act as though I am certain.

    And in another; I cannot disprove the claims of all other religions or philosophies than my own. Rather, I set them aside, and in the absence of compelling evidence that they are true, act as though they are not.
     
  3. Masquerouge

    Masquerouge Deity

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    Using your definition, I'm definitely an atheist.
     
  4. Red Door

    Red Door Man of Mayhem

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    QFT. No one can "prove" or provide evidence that there is a God or not a God.
     
  5. Gogf

    Gogf Indescribable

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    Okay, I'm going to need to define the terms here. I'm not interested in getting into a debate about the meaning of "agnosticism." This is what I meant in my post.

    Atheist One who does not believe in God. In this case, someone who reaches conclusions based on the most logical possibility.
    Theist Practitioner of a religion. In this case, someone who accepts religious ideas based on faith.
    Agnostic One who does not believe in or disbelieve in God. One who requires absolute proof before reaching a conclusion.

    I do not profess that it is possible to prove or disprove the existence of God. Nevertheless, I do not believe in his existence.
     
  6. GenMarshall

    GenMarshall Night Elven Ghost Agent

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    What about former Agnostics?
     
  7. Gogf

    Gogf Indescribable

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    Anyone can reply if they're interested :).
     
  8. PrincepsAmerica

    PrincepsAmerica Nothingness made flesh

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    I'm an agnostic leaning towards theism. Could you clarify the question?
     
  9. Sidhe

    Sidhe Deity

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    I'm an agnostic, but I'm not assuming you can get proof either way so in fact the question is unanswerable thus still agnostic. And agnostic means not sure in my case, anything else is atheism technically sort of, although again it's a grey area depending on what you believe so it's a tricky one, if you don't care either way then your ignostic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism

    Nice thread though :)
     
  10. Gogf

    Gogf Indescribable

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    Sure. How do you reconcile your belief with the fact that you cannot apply your own logic to choose it from those three options?

    Huh? I confess that I really don't understand what you mean here...
     
  11. shadowdude

    shadowdude cynic in training

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    By those standards I would be an agnostic, though i don't demand absolute proof, just reasonable proof.
     
  12. Sidhe

    Sidhe Deity

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    I mean I haven't come to the conclusion that God doesn't exist or does since I can't know that for sure, sorry it was indeed a bit indecipherable :)

    It's hard to pin down agnosticism or atheism exactly thus the confusion, I could of written it better though.

    Ignosticism is a form of agnosticism, shared by Nietzsche apparently.
     
  13. mangxema

    mangxema I

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    Since when has this been a requirement?

    Also, what is wrong with saying you don't know? That's agnosticism in a nutshell: "Is there a god? Maybe, I don't know."
     
  14. Masquerouge

    Masquerouge Deity

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    Probably since Gogf specifically defined the terms in the OP :)
    His thread, his rules :)
     
  15. Gogf

    Gogf Indescribable

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    That is the definition of agnosticism I use in this thread. I posted it for clarity's sake, and to avoid people pulling out dictionary or Wiki definitions saying that agnosticism is something other than what I describe.

    While I'm sure we could write pages on it, that's not the kind of debate I'm trying to start here. In the first post, I suggest that agnosticism is not a logically consistent world view.

    I don't claim to "know" that God does not exist. That's impossible as it cannot be proven. I do not believe in God, because I feel that is the most logical conclusion.
     
  16. GenMarshall

    GenMarshall Night Elven Ghost Agent

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    If were going by your definitions strictly. I place myself as a Theist.

    I used to be an agnostic, though I was mainly a passive agnostic in that I did not require any proof to reach a conclusion that there is a God. I did not actively tried to search for God when I was younger. (Though I was Baptized Catholic, I did not professed my belief after I fell out of the Church by no fault of my own).

    I only came to find God through reading Sacred Scripture as well as felt the holy spirit in my heart after realizing the value of life. Right now, I would consider such questions as a matter of faith. Do I believe in God? Yes. Do I have proof? In a short answer, no. Since each person's proof is different for each person. Right now I am just entering a phase in my Journey in faith that I cannot claim that it is possible with the limited human knowledge anything certain about God. I just, as Eran would summarize, "Act as though I am certain".
     
  17. Syterion

    Syterion Voodoo Economist

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    I'm afraid I don't follow your logic on agnosticism. Are you saying that since Agnostics require absolute proof in one or the other, they choose agnosticism, but it is logically insupportable because they cannot prove agnosticism? I fail to see how that makes sense, since agnosticism is not a belief, it is an absence of insupportable beliefs, and therefore requires no proof. I assume this is not what you said, so that is why I think I am not completely comprehending your argument.
     
  18. Xanikk999

    Xanikk999 History junkie

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    Why is it not a logically consistent point of view?

    If you have two unknowns that are unprovable why is it logically inconsistent to take a stance on one side without proof?

    Logically the burden of proof rests with those making the claim.
     
  19. PrincepsAmerica

    PrincepsAmerica Nothingness made flesh

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    Uh, well I think logic can lead me to either of the options.
     
  20. Gothmog

    Gothmog Dread Enforcer

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    Me - irritated

    Agnostic - all conclusions based on evidence. Strict interpretation of scientific method - no evidence, no conclusion. Doesn't believe in 'absolute proof', only conditional proof (see: paradigm shift).

    Gogf - constructing straw-man.



    I think, though, that you are getting at something here Gogf. You are encountering the issue of first principles or a priori assumptions. You cannot escape them, you can only live in denial of them.
     

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