Agnosticism: The complementary philosophy

@Latrivia (2889)
United States
January 6, 2009 10:39pm CST
I'm not afraid to admit that a lot of atheists in this day in age are both embarrassing and extreme in their ideals. They may not go to the effort of hurting people, but as we've seen with the guy who's suing to take the prayer of out of Obama's inauguration ceremony, they can get pushy with their beliefs. In addition, less extreme but equally annoying atheists will go around claiming that Gods don't exist, and/or religious people are less intelligent for their beliefs. Because of all this, many atheists are wary of identifying themselves as atheists, because they believe (thanks to the atheists I mentioned), that atheism is more of an affirmed disbelief in gods. They prefer to identify themselves as "agnostic", since it sounds less extreme and decisive. The problem with identifying oneself as an agnostic is that agnosticism is more of a complementary philosophy, rather than a philosophy on it's own. You see, agnosticism is literally the lack of knowledge about the nature of gods or spirituality. Agnostics don't know if gods exist or not, and most believe we can't know or prove that gods do or don't exist. You don't have to firmly believe gods don't exist to be an atheist, you just have to not believe in gods. In like manner, you do not have to firmly believe gods do exist to be a theist, you just have some sort of belief in an active god. Generally most agnostics do believe, or lack belief, in Gods, even if they may not know it. If you live your life believing that you can't know whether gods do exist, but you really don't have a belief in a God, then you are an agnostic atheist. Conversely, the same can be said of someone who believes that their may be a god, but know they can't prove the god's existence. In short, you either believe in gods, or you don't. Agnosticism is not the middle ground, it is the complement to another philosophy.
1 person likes this
3 responses
• Thailand
7 Jan 09
So, what if you just don't care if gods exist. If god has no meaning in your life what does that make you? There may or may not be a god or gods but does it really matter? Are we not better off if we concern our selves with living a life that is compassionate towards the other life on this planet and let the gods take care of them selves if they in fact exist?
@Latrivia (2889)
• United States
7 Jan 09
If gods have no meaning in your life, you're technically an atheist. The roots of atheism are 'a' (without), and theos (deity). If you are without a deity, be it because you don't believe in them, or don't worship any of them, that makes you an atheist.
@1hopefulman (28456)
• Canada
1 Mar 09
Interesting analysis. Thank you!
• France
7 Jan 09
Bertrand Russel writes, "An agnostic thinks it is impossible to know the truth in matters such as God and the future life with which Christianity and other religions are concerned. Or, if not impossible, at least impossible at the present time. 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." (http://arts.cuhk.edu.hk/humftp/E-txt/Russell/agnostic.htm) Karen Armstrong, in "A History of God" starts with the observation that God is a human concept dating back to ancient times, one that evolves as human needs evolve. Based on that, one could argue that having many varied beliefs in God is optimal today because the current human need is to for freedom to expression and freedom of religion, at least in the western world, as long as the fabric of society remains intact. Now, with global communications exposing everyone to everyone else's ideals, the potential for conflict and unravelling of society is perhaps greater. So for me whether there is a God or not, or if we can know, is of little relevance. I think labels separate us more than unify us as a race, and I think it better we focus on the underlying values that seem to pervade most religions. I believe we should treat ourselves and others with dignity and respect, be willing to make individual sacrifices for the better good of the whole when necessary, and be kind and generous with one another.