On Being Agnostic

March 24, 2009 · 8 comments

I am agnosticAn agnostic?  Whatever.  I’m open-minded about…well, everything.  Technically, this makes me a fence-sitter:  I neither believe nor disbelieve in “god”.

Agnosticism basically says that there’s no way to objectively “prove” the existence or nonexistence of a deity (or deities).  This is not athiesm, which argues that there is no god.  Nor is it any kind of theism, which would argue for the existence of a supreme being or beings or ultimate intelligence or whatever.

Agnosticism is the total middle-ground; it can be interpreted as that razor-line between belief and “disbelief”.

I think both sides of the argument are too, well, one-sided.  Neither takes into account the possibility that the other might be right.  And I can’t get with that.  I generally try to stay open to the idea that I might be wrong – about pretty much anything and everything.

So I suppose that in the case of my agnosticism, it could be argued that I’m definitely wrong – god either is, or isn’t, right?  Ponder that for a bit, then ponder this:

I don’t care.

Good for you if you have faith in the divine.  I hope it keeps you warm at night: that’s what it’s supposed to do.  If anything, I’d prefer to be on your team.  However, there’s just something about blind faith that doesn’t appeal to me.  Maybe it’s because I tend to be an extremist, and the extreme end of faith is just too anti-pragmatic for me (it just about borders on determinism).  Consider these:

  1. God is omniscient.
  2. God is omnipotent.
  3. God is omnibenevolent.
  4. Evil exists.

Let’s say you’re some sort of theist, and you agree that all 4 postulates are true.  There’s a contradiction here:  if god is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good, then how can evil exist?  This mostly turns on the omnipotence and omnibenevolence aspects:  why would a being completely capable of eradicating evil allow something non-good to exist?  Because without evil, we wouldn’t know what good is?  You need the dark to know the light?

Hell if I know.  I took these from my freshman year Philosophy of Religion class (it was probably a 200-level class).  Makes sense, no?  Or rather, it doesn’t make logical sense.

I’m not really all that worried about it.

And good for you if you’re an athiest: you live in “the real world”.  No ultimate judgment, no consequences in the “hereafter”.  You consider yourself a true pragmatist.

I don’t.

I think you’re probably more closed-minded than the theists.  Athiests close their minds to too many possibilities for me.  And don’t try to get argumentative with me and talk about the Tao or energy flow (prana/chi/whatever).  All of those are just the first steps in that slick slope to some sort of theism.  To get away from it, you have to dig your heels in and screw your face up like a little kid who doesn’t want to take his/her medicine.  At the end, it’s either tautologies all the way down, or you just say “NO!” a little too adamantly to be believed (sorry, emotion doesn’t work in logic exercises).  Spend some time with your therapist and work out your catholic schooling issues.  Most of the athiests I’ve met say they “don’t believe in god” because they want to be contrarian.  Go ahead, be contrarian. 

I don’t care.

Athiesm’s a cold place to be when you’re sick, hurt, dying, or in real real-life trouble.

Agnosticism’s a cold place all the time, but at least it’s consistent.  After a while, I really don’t feel the cold anymore:  like an autumn day when the sun is shining.  If I stand still, the sun warms me, despite the chill in the air.  It can be rough when the wind’s blowing, but that’s why I try to dress appropriately.  I feel safe in being non-committal.

“To each, his own.”

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

scott March 24, 2009 at 08:35

the beast has arrived we will hear the words of the dark lord by his mouth

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lily.nicole March 24, 2009 at 08:52

ARGH! I remember learning the “Four Postulates” in my first and only Philosophy class freshman year at college. Once the professor finished presenting this infallible proof of a greater deity’s existence, I was enraged.

This wasn’t proof; it was just using the strictest definition of each word to play-for lack of a better word-a trick. What kind of a sucker-douche would buy this? They had used logic so strictly in a field where logic is so malleable (the written word) the writer inside me wished that 18 years wasn’t considered “too old” for throwing spitballs. It’s like whoever wrote that was a retired criminal defense attorney and then turned to Philosophy to ease his guilt.

I closed my notebook that day and refused to do any more of the reading for the rest of the semester and somehow walked away with a B. Those four sentences molded one of my favorite concepts, “Philosophy is for suckers.”

Either way, I have a question. (nicole stretches her palm in the air, half jumps out of her seat). If I believe in my past lives and tarot cards, which side does that leave me on?

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Tom March 24, 2009 at 09:35

I agree with you wholefartedly, Ted. If there is a god, in my book “it” is nothing like the douchebag all the religions make “it” out to be. I am totally in the “I don’t know” camp and I am not interested in putting forth any effort to clear that up for myself. I am perfectly content with not knowing. I’ll find out when I’m dead. Meanwhile, I’ve got more fun things to do.

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niceguyted March 24, 2009 at 21:05

Your last sentence is the one I was looking for the whole time, Tom.

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$@bs March 24, 2009 at 16:32

Definitely not into the bearded white old man theory and very much afraid of those who believe in Creation.

But philosophically speaking, those who deny the existence of a god contradict themselves in that some higher power must exist necessarily in order for atheists to have something not to believe in.

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niceguyted March 24, 2009 at 21:06

Take that, evildoers!

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Margaret March 26, 2009 at 22:40

Gosh, I feel like we are sitting in Felmon Davis’ class again…those were good classes!

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niceguyted March 26, 2009 at 23:40

Yup. Felmon Davis (davisf@union.edu) – Philosophy of Religion.

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