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Author Topic:   An Exploration Into"Agnosticism"
Jumped Up Chimpanzee
Member (Idle past 4258 days)
Posts: 572
From: UK
Joined: 10-22-2009


Message 10 of 179 (554040)
04-06-2010 6:01 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
04-03-2010 8:33 PM


Would the following people be classified as agnostics?

Someone who has no knowledge or awareness of the proposed entity/hypothesis (so has not yet had the opportunity to form any opinion).

Someone who is at least vaguely aware of the proposed entity/hypothesis, but is completely disinterested and has given no thought whatsoever to whether or not it is true.

Someone who is aware of the proposed entity/hypothesis, and has given some thought to it, but doesn't have either the mental ability or resources to form their own opinion.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Straggler, posted 04-03-2010 8:33 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by bluegenes, posted 04-06-2010 11:22 AM Jumped Up Chimpanzee has replied
 Message 17 by Straggler, posted 04-06-2010 2:28 PM Jumped Up Chimpanzee has replied

  
Jumped Up Chimpanzee
Member (Idle past 4258 days)
Posts: 572
From: UK
Joined: 10-22-2009


Message 13 of 179 (554085)
04-06-2010 11:51 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by bluegenes
04-06-2010 11:22 AM


What about the Dawkins spectrum?
I guess you've probably seen or heard of the Dawkins spectrum on this subject, as follows (copied from Wikipedia):

1. Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung, 'I do not believe, I know.'
2. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. De facto theist. 'I cannot know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.'
3. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. Technically agnostic but leaning towards theism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.'
4. Exactly 50 per cent. Completely impartial agnostic. 'God's existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.'
5. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. Technically agnostic but leaning towards atheism. 'I do not know whether God exists but I'm inclined to be sceptical.'
6. Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. 'I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.'
7. Strong atheist. 'I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung "knows" there is one.'

What do you think of these definitions.

Personally, I find this spectrum unsatisfactory for 2 reasons.

Firstly, the fact that "strong theist" is rated at "1" and "strong atheist" is listed at "7" seems to imply that you have to work from being a strong theist towards being a strong atheist. I don't agree with that and I'm sure Dawkins wouldn't have intended that! I don't know if everyone sees it that way around.

Secondly, I don't think you can have a gradual scale from atheist, to agnostic, to theist. Those positions simply do not share the same spectrum. For one thing, as I mentioned before, there will be some people who have no knowledge or interest in the particular entity in question. Where do they fit on the scale? And I think it is fair to say that atheists reach their conclusion via a different mechanism to theists. Atheists base their position on empirical evidence and logic; theists base their position on something else...it's not really for me to say what!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by bluegenes, posted 04-06-2010 11:22 AM bluegenes has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by Straggler, posted 04-06-2010 2:32 PM Jumped Up Chimpanzee has not replied
 Message 24 by bluegenes, posted 04-07-2010 12:33 AM Jumped Up Chimpanzee has replied

  
Jumped Up Chimpanzee
Member (Idle past 4258 days)
Posts: 572
From: UK
Joined: 10-22-2009


Message 25 of 179 (554281)
04-07-2010 4:32 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by bluegenes
04-07-2010 12:33 AM


Re: What about the Dawkins spectrum?
Is there, so far, one person on this thread who claims a state of knowledge on the question of whether or not there are gods? Probably not. The 2,3,4,5 and 6 position on that scale are opposed to the 1 and 7 positions when it comes to a debate on whether or not we can know the answer to the "god question".

The problem is that "god" is not defined - or it is described in so many vague and different ways there is no clear definition. It is impossible to express knowledge of something that isn't defined. I would suggest it is also impossible to "believe" in something that is undefined - or at least it is meaningless to express such a belief. Anyone who says they believe in god is not conveying anything of meaning to anyone else (for who could say whether or not they share even the same image or concept of god?).

So an agnostic position is very strange. An agnostic is someone who cannot confirm whether or not they believe in something that cannot be defined to them by someone else and which they cannot define to anyone else.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by bluegenes, posted 04-07-2010 12:33 AM bluegenes has not replied

  
Jumped Up Chimpanzee
Member (Idle past 4258 days)
Posts: 572
From: UK
Joined: 10-22-2009


Message 26 of 179 (554282)
04-07-2010 4:42 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by Straggler
04-06-2010 2:28 PM


Re: Unknowables
I would say that you have to be agnostic about something defined. As we discovered in an earlier discussion the question "Do you believe X exists?" is entirely meaningless unless we know what X is.

I agree entirely. Which is why on considering this matter further an agnostic position towards "god" is very strange - for what is "god"? But then I suppose a theist or atheist position may be equally strange for the same reason.

Do you subjectively perceive the colour red as I do?

And do any 2 people on the earth perceive "god" the same? Do any 2 atheists disbelieve in the same god? Are any 2 agnostics undecided about the existence of the same entity? Do any 2 theists believe in the same entity?

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.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by Straggler, posted 04-06-2010 2:28 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 27 by AZPaul3, posted 04-07-2010 8:57 AM Jumped Up Chimpanzee has replied
 Message 34 by Straggler, posted 04-07-2010 1:50 PM Jumped Up Chimpanzee has not replied

  
Jumped Up Chimpanzee
Member (Idle past 4258 days)
Posts: 572
From: UK
Joined: 10-22-2009


Message 28 of 179 (554308)
04-07-2010 10:21 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by AZPaul3
04-07-2010 8:57 AM


Re: Unknowables
If you were forced to use Dawkins then could you define your beliefs on god to be permanently agnostic in principal?

In the context of this argument, I don't really have any beliefs on god, as I don't know what god is or means.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by AZPaul3, posted 04-07-2010 8:57 AM AZPaul3 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by AZPaul3, posted 04-07-2010 10:47 AM Jumped Up Chimpanzee has replied

  
Jumped Up Chimpanzee
Member (Idle past 4258 days)
Posts: 572
From: UK
Joined: 10-22-2009


Message 30 of 179 (554323)
04-07-2010 12:28 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by AZPaul3
04-07-2010 10:47 AM


Re: Unknowables
I hadn't heard the phrase "ignostic" before.

I like it and I'll adopt it!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 29 by AZPaul3, posted 04-07-2010 10:47 AM AZPaul3 has not replied

  
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