Questions to an agnostic

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Eduk
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Questions to an agnostic

Post by Eduk » April 12th, 2018, 9:29 am

Agnosticism can be presented like this. No one knows God is real and no one knows God isn't real. Therefore we should act as if either proposition were possible.

Ideally I'd like to ask a few questions of anyone with the above opinion.

1. Which God? By which I mean various religious claim to know specific mutually exclusive Gods. Which God are you being agnostic about and does it matter?
2. How do your actions change, with practical examples, if you are agnostic.
3. If you are agnostic, as defined above, then is it exactly 50/50 whether or not God exists. And does that matter?

I've asked these kinds of questions before but they often go unanswered. Or sometimes they are acknowledged but then ignored.

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Fanman
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Fanman » April 12th, 2018, 10:16 am

I'll wait and see how this topic develops before I comment properly :) . It could be a good one.
Once a theist, now agnostic.

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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Alias » April 12th, 2018, 2:36 pm

Eduk wrote:
April 12th, 2018, 9:29 am
Agnosticism can be presented like this. No one knows God is real and no one knows God isn't real. Therefore we should act as if either proposition were possible.
It can be presented like that, but that doesn't necessarily cover all types and degrees of agnosticism.
Faith doesn't simply rely on the existence of a god or gods; it is dependent on cultural norms, dogmas and assumptions. One does not predicate ones' decision and actions on the existence of a supreme being, but on the demands and edicts of that supreme being, as set out in some particular scripture.
[1. Which God? By which I mean various religious claim to know specific mutually exclusive Gods. Which God are you being agnostic about and does it matter?
It doesn't matter, because every religion has its own skeptics and they operate in much the same range of doubt. The agnosticism generally cited in western nations is directed at the Judeo-Christo-Islamic god of the middle east, but people who are skeptical about the god of their own fathers are generally dismissive - from early childhood, from long before they questioned Jehovah - of any and all other deities.
2. How do your actions change, with practical examples, if you are agnostic.
One stops going to church, except maybe to please one's mother. Otherwise, not at all. One's morals are imbued an ethical sense that is independent of religious teaching.
3. If you are agnostic, as defined above, then is it exactly 50/50 whether or not God exists.
That is not an accurate statement. Agnostics range in their degree of doubt from faltering faith to not-quite-committed atheist; from 1% to 99 %.
In fact, most atheists have gone through that spectrum over some period of time, ranging from hours to decades.
My transition took about three years, just prior to puberty.

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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Eduk » April 12th, 2018, 4:35 pm

I thought I was being clear I was only presenting one, of many, takes. Obviously not clear enough.
There are many takes on theism, agnosticism and atheism. They all mean different things to different people. Please feel free to explain what agnosticism means to you.
From what you are are saying though, to you atheism and agnosticism are practically the same?
Also number 3 was a question, not a statement.

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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Alias » April 12th, 2018, 7:24 pm

Eduk wrote:
April 12th, 2018, 4:35 pm
I thought I was being clear I was only presenting one, of many, takes. Obviously not clear enough.
I thought I clearly answered with my take.
I explained, freely and concisely what I understand it to mean.
From what you are are saying though, to you atheism and agnosticism are practically the same?
No. Atheism is definite unbelief in any gods. Agnosticism is a degree of doubt regarding gods, ranging from uncertainty in their existence to uncertainty in their non-existence.
Also number 3 was a question, not a statement.
Sorry. I jumped to a conclusion from the period at the end. I'll try it again.
3. If you are agnostic, as defined above, then is it exactly 50/50 whether or not God exists. And does that matter?
Only if one disagrees with the previous statement.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Halc » April 12th, 2018, 8:25 pm

Eduk wrote:
April 12th, 2018, 9:29 am
Agnosticism can be presented like this. No one knows God is real and no one knows God isn't real. Therefore we should act as if either proposition were possible.
Well, your question 2 is relevant then. I don't see how either situation requires an action, or a change in action.
3. If you are agnostic, as defined above, then is it exactly 50/50 whether or not God exists. And does that matter?
This doesn't follow. My not knowing the truth of some situation doesn't imply even odds, even if it is a matter of chance, which this one isn't. I have a lotto ticket, and I don't know if it will be a winner of the draw tonight or not, therefore the odds are 50/50 and it is worth half the jackpot. Sorry, it doesn't follow. Bad example, because that one is actually chance.
I don't know if there are a multiple of seven footprints on the moon. Therefore there is a 50/50 shot that the count of footprints is a multiple of 7. That one has a actual fact of the matter, and is not chance at all.

Another angle is that God might both exist and not exist, depending on one's definition of existence.

The agnostic position itself needs definition. The position is usually held by one who have given active consideration to the issue, and can come to no preferred conclusion. This is opposed to the atheist (not-theist), who simply does not hold belief in a god, but does not hold an active belief in the nonexistence of any god, similar to the way I hold no particular belief that the count of lunar footprints is a multiple of 7. The agnostic cares more than the atheist. My use of the terms here. Others will probably disagree, so I don't speak for them.

The agnostic cares more, so perhaps the situation requires some sort of action after all. Pascal's action was to practice the one religion, just in case, thus playing the odds of which you speak. But I don't think Pascal was agnostic, but just looking for excuse to believe without sound reason. The whole point of faith is belief without sound reason.

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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Greta » April 12th, 2018, 8:41 pm

Eduk wrote:
April 12th, 2018, 9:29 am
Agnosticism can be presented like this. No one knows God is real and no one knows God isn't real. Therefore we should act as if either proposition were possible.

Ideally I'd like to ask a few questions of anyone with the above opinion.

1. Which God? By which I mean various religious claim to know specific mutually exclusive Gods. Which God are you being agnostic about and does it matter?
2. How do your actions change, with practical examples, if you are agnostic.
3. If you are agnostic, as defined above, then is it exactly 50/50 whether or not God exists. And does that matter?

I've asked these kinds of questions before but they often go unanswered. Or sometimes they are acknowledged but then ignored.
1. The ground of being? The inner whatever? It's all most nebulous. There is a mental state that I can approximately access that occurred during a peak experience in 2012 which I can only describe as "more in touch with actual reality", perhaps more the state of mind one might have on one's deathbed (minus the pain and misery of course). Is that anything to do with God? I don't know. Hence agnostic.

To me as one small individual, God may be something of which I am part, maybe the universe, Laniakea, the Milky Way, the solar system, the Earth, the biosphere or humanity as a whole, or some or all of them. Indigenous people's deeply respectful view of their ancestors and environment strikes me as more ontologically sound than some of our ideas today.

Also, if de Chardin was right, God might be still developing, and life and post-life may yet evolve to effectively be gods. The universe is young with perhaps another trillion years of star creation ahead. As Dan Gilbert noted, humans have a capacity to project possible futures (which is why we don't need to try a sardine ice cream to know it's a bad combination). So maybe the God concept is an intuition of life's potentials?

2. Sometimes I will "go inside" to commune with God, while suspecting this may just be imagination, and not worried either way :) There is a sense in that mental space that everything is alright, to not worry about the fact that "sh1t happens" and keeps on happening, that everything I or anyone else has ever done is completely understood in some way, somewhere, somehow. For example, there will be an appreciation of the interplay of brain disorders and conditioning abuses that might lead an individual to become a sadistic "monster". Who or what is doing that understanding? An intuitive sense of the higher thought that is present in morally better people than I am? Maybe. Another level or dimension? Who knows?

3. It's more like 0/0 - I have no idea. Whatever I experience subjectively is simply not proof. It doesn't matter, though. If God exists then It will entirely understand my doubts. If not, it probably still doesn't matter, although any possible afterlife is not necessarily reliant on the existence of a possible deity. Writing this, it seems like a modern take on Pascal, but based on trust rather than what was basically a naive attempt to hoodwink a similarly naive anthropomorphic deity :D

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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Dark Matter » April 12th, 2018, 8:53 pm

Ah, but you do have a "story," Greta. :wink:

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Greta
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Greta » April 12th, 2018, 9:49 pm

We don't always know or faithfully remember our stories, though, DM. There are so many webs of connections stemming from our every moment of existence (alive or dead, it should be said) that it's impossible to imagine what damage of good we have ultimately caused, or if it even matters.

I walk through the bush and skin cells slew off me, each one potentially a home for a bacterial colony, and who knows what consequences may stem from that? Maybe they will proliferate and either feed or kill harmful parasites in the ecosystem?

In every move or non-move we make, resonances flow through the web of causality. Basically, from the perspective of the very small, every animal strides through nature like a colossus, randomly dealing out life and death with each step. When this is considered in context with chaos theory's butterfly effect, who knows what has come or not come of our resonances?

But yes, I really am an agnostic and not an atheist in disguise, as many seem to have suspected due to my emphasis on science and disinclination to believe in things based on subjective impressions.

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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by LuckyR » April 13th, 2018, 1:24 am

The OP underscores the obvious logic problem with multiple monotheistic religions. At minimum 100% minus one is totally false.
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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Eduk » April 13th, 2018, 3:27 am

Thanks for the long answer Greta. It seems to me that the God you are agnostic about is not necessarily a God any theist believes in? So I was wondering
4. In your opinion is your God and say Christian God the same God?
5. Is your God and all/any God the same God? Or are some Gods the same God and some Gods not the same God.
6. Is there any God you aren't agnostic towards?
7. Can I ask for some clarity on your answer to 3. You are saying there is a 0 percent chance your God exists and a 0 percent chance he doesn't exist? That is logically impossible?

Alias when I said practically the same I meant your actions are the same. Which was your answer to question 2.

Halc I assume you mean irrelevant? The thing is I was only attempting to describe a view which I had heard others express. Hence the questions.

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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Namelesss » April 13th, 2018, 4:30 am

Eduk wrote:
April 12th, 2018, 9:29 am
Agnosticism can be presented like this. No one knows God is real and no one knows God isn't real. Therefore we should act as if either proposition were possible.
Okay, I can hang with that definition.
Ideally I'd like to ask a few questions of anyone with the above opinion.

1. Which God? By which I mean various religious claim to know specific mutually exclusive Gods. Which God are you being agnostic about and does it matter?
No, it does not matter... unless you feel compelled to harm those (with) different Perspectives.
The seven blind men surrounding and describing the bit of elephant that they perceive before them have very divergent stories.
It can well be thought that they all described different creatures, but wisdom finds;

"The complete Universe (Reality/Truth/God/'Self!'/Tao/Brahman... or any feature herein...) can be completely defined/described as the synchronous sum-total of all Perspectives!"
ALL INCLUSIVE!!!

As the 'blind' explore, they find that they are referring to the same One Reality.
So, it doesn't matter what they are looking at, it is always Self!, whether recognized as such, or not.

tat tvam asi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tat_Tvam_Asi)
2. How do your actions change, with practical examples, if you are agnostic.
That's like asking if being a black man changed your skin to black!
It was never otherwise.
An agnostic is what and who an agnostic is. Agnostics do not have actions of 'True Believers' (tm), and fall into being an agnostic by degree. Believer, agnostic describe a state of being.

A skeptical bent of intellect is a healthy thing.
If you are seeking symptomatic behavior, we can plenty among those infected with 'beliefs'!

No one has ever deliberately harmed another unless he hosted some strain of 'belief' or other!
3. If you are agnostic, as defined above, then is it exactly 50/50 whether or not God exists. And does that matter?
It seems to me to be absurd to attempt a 'ratio', the point is an open mind, as yet unrotten with 'beliefs'.
To attempt to codify 'how open' seems rather a fool's (or a scientist's, or a mathematician's...) endeavor. *__-
I've asked these kinds of questions before but they often go unanswered.
You're welcome.
Or sometimes they are acknowledged but then ignored.
Damn! I can't say that I won't do that!
Guess we'll find out...

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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Eduk » April 13th, 2018, 9:22 am

Nameless you don't sound agnostic, to me. You sound like you know the 'elephant' is real.

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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Alias » April 13th, 2018, 10:24 am

[How do your actions change].

That's like asking if being a black man changed your skin to black!
It was never otherwise.
I have never known this to be the case. All the agnostics I've encountered, in walking life or in print, started out as theists. Most, though not all, were brought up in the Abrahamic tradition and told from infancy, about an omni-god in the sky. They awaken at some point in life, ranging from about age 6 when they discover the truth behind Christmas presents, to adulthood, when some event shakes their belief in the benevolent deity of their particular faith, and they begin to question. Onec they begin to question, the whole mythology unravels, inconsistency by contradiction.
It is not a state of being; it is a process of thought.

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Re: Questions to an agnostic

Post by Eduk » April 13th, 2018, 10:53 am

And Alias you don't sound agnostic. Sounds like you know God isn't real?

Also you perhaps grew up in a religious area? I have met many people who grew up without religious parents who would probably describe themselves as agnostic (as their parents might also).

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