Archive for Agnosticism

Regarding Agnosticism, Atheism

Posted in Atheism with tags , on November 2, 2013 by theicidalmaniac

If there is some other-worldly being, or group of beings, out there that are responsible for our creation, however intentional or unintentional that creation was, however active or inactive a role that being or beings played in the subsequent development of this creation, we could spend our entire lives imagining what those beings might be, how they might behave, what they may have done, etc etc, but after all our imaginings we are left with only this:
We simply don’t have any evidence to support the existence of such.

Without the restraints of reality placed upon what we ponder, what we imagine a creator or creators to be, our imaginations can go absolutely wild and we, as a species, may invent or imagine or hypothesize or hint at an endless parade of such beings or forces. The chance that any one of those guesses would be right is vanishingly infinitesimal, and I honestly think it takes a great deal of overconfidence for an agnostic to hold out “yeah that’s possible” for any such beings.

We have to go with what we have evidence for, because everything else is a crapshoot. Actually, a guess in a crapshoot has remarkably better odds at panning out, since the craps table has a known and finite, and relatively small, number of possible results.  All we can know is that which we can measure and test – that’s it. So all the pondering in the world gets us nowhere, all the uninformed openness in the world gets us nowhere on its own, because without actual input we are completely and forever lost in the unknowable.

What we DO know, (that is, what we can work with) is that people do present their ideas of gods, – what they are, what they do, what they can do, what they are like, etc – and those presentations offer us testable claims. I think that it should be readily apparent that virtually any atheist has found that the arguments for these gods, for every god that they themselves have ever been presented with, are either insufficient or are contradictory to the known world, and therefore must be rejected.  This is the very definition of an assertive atheism. We do not know of, that is we have absolutely no evidence to suggest the existence of, anything remotely like a god outside of the things that people have presented to us. And for each god that has been presented the conclusion is clear to us;

If we were to conclude from this anything other than “gods are imaginary” it would have to be based more or less solely on our previous introductions to, and indoctrinations by, the world religions. I know it’s a type of analogy that is all-too-often trudged out, but in this scenario where our only input is from religious tradition, then holding on to the possibility that there may be a god out there somewhere in the Ether is absolutely no different than holding on to the idea that St. Nicholas the jolly fat old elf might exist out there somewhere. We KNOW it is made up.  Without evidence, all we can say is that if there just so HAPPENS to be such a being out there somewhere, accurately asserting so could never be more than the universe’s luckiest guess.  This position is a tautology; the religious tradition is evidence for God because God inspired the tradition.   We know people invent fantastical stories, and without proper evidence we shouldn’t assume that there is a nugget of truth at the center.  So why cling to that security blanket? This position is not intellectual honesty, nor is it humility, and it certainly is not, in itself, courageous.

It IS courageous to be open to the possibility that you may be wrong, and I understand that the objection by agnostics toward the atheist position runs along those lines. But it is a misplaced criticism. The overconfidence lies not so much with the atheist’s unwillingness to be open to the external reality of a phenomenon about which all evidence indicates origins in human culture, but rather with the agnostic’s continued insistence that known myths have a real counterpart in the unknowable depths of existence.  To make that latter assertion you HAVE TO have given some credence to the myths in the first place, a move that is wholly unwarranted, and decidedly theistic.

Sure, this universe had to start somewhere, but it didn’t have to be started by Santa Claus, or a grendel, or a jabberwockie, or any other human invention, even if you give that invention the special name of God, as if the name itself were sufficient to establish existence.  We have no grounds at all to posit it, to expect it, to think it remotely possible.  And thus we revert to the default position of non-belief, not agnosticism, but atheism.