Thursday, April 10, 2008

Agnostic vs Atheist

Russell made an interesting distinction between agnostic and atheist:

""""An atheist, like a Christian, holds that we can know whether or not there is a God. The Christian holds that we can know there is a God; the atheist, that we can know there is not. The Agnostic suspends judgment, saying that there are not sufficient grounds either for affirmation or for denial. At the same time, an Agnostic may hold that the existence of God, though not impossible, is very improbable; he may even hold it so improbable that it is not worth considering in practice. In that case, he is not far removed from atheism. His attitude may be that which a careful philosopher would have towards the gods of ancient Greece. If I were asked to prove that Zeus and Poseidon and Hera and the rest of the Olympians do not exist, I should be at a loss to find conclusive arguments. An Agnostic may think the Christian God as improbable as the Olympians; in that case, he is, for practical purposes, at one with the atheists."""""

An important clarification. When He manifests Himself via some righteous Wagnerian trumpet section, maybe some will change their mind. More seriously, the intelligent agnostic refrains from the table-pounding characteristic of some vulgar gung-ho atheists (except when Falwell-like morons, or Wright-like morons, call into question the separation of church and state). He might respect certain aspects of religious tradition, say gothic cathedrals (he might not respect others).

A rational Deity would seemingly want His creatures to be rational, would be not?? A rational approach to the God debate requires examining the evidence (instead of blindly following dogma, whether religious, or anti-religious). Alas, little evidence exists which would confirm the presence of a Deity (is the black plague, not to say 20th century history---part of Providence?): the agnostic, even the strong agnostic, however, grants that a Deity (or deities) cannot be conclusively disproven to exist (very difficult to prove a negative assertion as Russell, that glib wizard, also noted).

6 comments:

Max said...

Daring to argue with a great thinker like BR, I would ask the following: what is a theist, then? If a theist is one who believes in God, then an a-theist should be one who does not believe in God. This would imply that all agnostics are atheists. Some atheists, however, are not agnostic. They're damn certain there is no God. In summary, agnostics are the subset of atheists who hold open the possibility that God exists, though not believing in he/she/it. It might be clearer if we refer to agnostics as non-theists and the subset of atheists who are not agnostic as anti-theists. I consider myself to be an agnostic atheist. I don't believe in God, but you won't find me plotting to bomb churches and mosques, either.

Max said...

Dude, I'm ten to one on approving your comments today. Show me some love, ya fucking stalinist ;)

Anonymous said...

Ah ReaganRon the churchie grrl a bit irked when someone disses his hick Hero, Heinlein.



Get the fuck out of dodge, Tusconius

J said...

OK. But it's sort of a trivial logical point. The gung ho atheist says X does not exist. A decent inference, but it's not logically impossible a god could exist. Maybe he is not the God of the old testament. But the universe is rather large domain: maybe in a few hundred years a Federation ship approaches a craft, and it's home to an Apollo-like being. Or something even stranger. Yeah highly- unlikely, but not impossible (this is all similar to BR's teapot example).

So I say I am strongly agnostic instead of atheist, since one cannot really disprove a God (or gods). And I appreciate gothic cathedrals.





(I would like to be on friendly terms again, man, but there's one sort of big problem. Youknowwhoius. He has spouted BS and lies about me for months, if not years. Now suggesting that I am rightist again. I'm not supporting McCain, nor am I GOP. That's all part of his usual hype and silly hick BS. I don't have to defend myself against this confused baptist nursey, McDude).

Max said...

"I don't have to defend myself..."

No, you don't. So why do you?

Anonymous said...

Don't post here, dreckonius. Ever. Capiche?

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