Agnosticism, to me, is the inability to know if there is a correct answer, not out of ignorance (unaware of existing evidence), but out of a lack of sufficient evidence to have confidence in any answer.
We know in science that all conclusions are tentative pending additional evidence. This, falsely imo, leads some to posit that the only position proper for science is agnosticism. Many then exacerbate the error by extending this to mean the only proper position in philosophy is to be agnostic in all things whether the subject be gods, unicorns or aliens.
The error being committed here is to not account for the strength of evidence that is available and thus in the confidence level of the conclusion.
The Germ Theory of Disease has an extensive body of evidence supporting its conclusions. This evidence is so strong the confidence level in the theory's conclusions are taken as a reality of our world. No one on this planet except the ignorant and the religious demon-possession dillusionists deny the efficacy of this theory.
Some argue that the Germ Theory must be subject to an agnostic view. Within a straight-jacket definition of agnosticism and the philosophy of science this may be true. But on the continuum of the confidence scale there is a point, subjective to a degree and different to each subject being considered, where the evidence becomes so strong that reasonable people, unfettered by superstition and obstinacy, can no longer deny the reality of the conclusions. At this point agnosticism, imo, whithers away. It is not replaced by faith in the subject or conclusion but by the acknowledgment of the reality we have seen.
As applied to the supernatural or "unknowable" I would say that the evidence favouring such concepts being the product of the human mind is sufficiently strong to warrant such a conclusion.
But on to your question of message 19.
Using your IPU analogies I think Dr. Dawkins was basing his TAP/PAP division on the following:
If the Invisible Pink Unicorn has the option to reveal her sacred pinkness but has not chosen to do so then this is TAP solely on the outside possibility that she may at some time somewhere change her mind. There is still the vanishingly slim possibility that some kind of evidence can be had at anytime in the future. Thus the scale of belief (from 2 to 6 anyway) can be useful.
If the poor dear is unable to reveal herself then this is PAP. No chance, none, nada, totally impossible that there will ever be any evidence, any conclusion is impossible to achieve and a scale of belief is meaningless.
Remember that what Richard was doing was justifying placing the concept of the Abrahamic god, indeed all gods, in the TAP category thus subject to scientific evidence of the type in your quote above.
If the concept of gods were PAP (which they are under a different definition of the word pap, but I stray) then no level of inquiry, even theological, is possible.
After re-reading this I find the description is weak. Let me try this by way of explanation.
These are personal planks of a personal philosophy. You define your category by your beliefs, world view, philosophy, whatever you want to call it.
-PAP: permanently agnostic on principal. There can not be any evidence on the question. Inquiry is not possible. No conclusion can ever be reached.
-TAP: temporarily agnostic in practice. There may be evidence, there may be a possibility of evidence whether for or against the subject. Rate yourself by your level of belief (2-6) based upon any evidence, lack of evidence, feelings, acculturation as you perceive their strength.
This, I think, is a clearer picture of what Dawkins was setting up.
I think this discussion highlights the absurdity of "god". But I think it is precisely because god is undefined and unknowable that is why it is so successful. You cannot disprove something that is undefined. It is unbeatable in that sense.
If you were forced to use Dawkins then could you define your beliefs on god to be permanently agnostic in principal?
Is not Dawkin's scale of agnostic appropriate? It covers from de facto Atheist to de facto Theist. Only the 100%'ers are outside the agnostic umbrella. Is there an issue with being an agnostic on the issue of Jesus while maintaining that such a story is most probably incorrect and therefore choose to proceed in life without this theism thus being atheist in its regard as well?
And then to contrast this with Her Divine Pinkness and His Holy Noodleyness where we are both not the least bit agnostic but hard 100% atheist because we know, with absolute certainty, the absurd analogies by which they were brought into human consciousness.
I have got to get my thoughts together before I hit that submit button. I crossed messages with you.
But, yes. I agree. Unlike Pinkie and the Noodle guy where there is an absolute certainty, such certainty cannot be claimed for all such deities. The best we can do at this point is acknowledge that the preponderance of the evidence is against such a supposition subject to change but don't hold your breath.
If there exists substantial evidence of a possibility, yet unverified, then that possibility has not been negated. Once the evidence has been evaluated then the possibility can either be further considered or rejected.
Still, I can appreciate your point and your wording.
I have a major issue with "subjective" evidence (no surprise there), but I'll leave that discussion to you and Straggler ... again ... maybe.
I don't think we can say with absolute certainty that the IPU or his noodleness do not exist. What if these entities do exist and are supernaturally invoking disbelief in themselves because they are shy? Or what if the IPU only reveals itself to atheists trying to disbunk the existence of deities in a grand display of self verifying ironicism?
Then we will disagree. What if this... What if that ...
What if there was a water canopy? What if the fine structure constant were different back then?
For (what is becoming my favorite movie title) Pinkie and the Noodle, we know the time, the place, the reason and the creators.
Please don't get me wrong. I understand what you are saying and why. And for most other issues I might be as skeptical.
My opinion, freely given and worth every penny, sometimes there comes a point when the evidence is such that skepticism becomes overly tenacious to the point of failure to acknowledge the reality, where denial becomes obstinacy.
I was reluctant to respond because I did not want to detract from the very interesting discussions elsewhere in this thread that I am happily watching you and others develop. I do not what to sideline your efforts here.
But, what the hey.
Funny you mentioned Russell. I just happen to be re-reading Our Knowledge of the External World. I think he might agree with me in this instance for the twist on reasons you brought up.
no matter how "absurd" or "made up" they may seem subjectively
I want to emphasize this only pertains to Pinkie and the Noodle.
“Absurd” and “made up” cannot be called “subjective” in this case. The objective evidence of when, where, why and who created these images cannot be denied. Consequently, the entities cannot be considered irrefutable which is made based solely on the supposed (objectively demonstrable as made up) trait of being supernatural.
Because the same objective facts may have been lost to antiquity concerning other proposed entities, even given (a) the preponderance of (lesser) evidence against such an entity and (b) the lack of evidence for such a thing, a level of agnosticism, small to be sure, seems to be the only logical place to stand.
But for some things, like Pinkie and the Noodle, no level of agnosticism, no matter how small, is warranted. Again, I submit the facts are conclusive to all but the most irrational or obstinate.