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romansh

Agnosticism

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Joseph recently posted Living with Uncertainty and I could not help identify this as a form of agnosticism.

Anyway being of an agnostic persuasion made, it made sense or most of it, I think.

Here is a quote from Bertrand Russell  a poster boy for atheism (and agnosticism) which parallels Joseph's line of thought. Perhaps the quote is a bit more aggressive than Joseph's

  • “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

and another from Russell

  • I think nobody should be certain of anything. If you’re certain, you’re certainly wrong because nothing deserves certainty. So one ought to hold all one’s beliefs with a certain element of doubt, and one ought to be able to act vigorously in spite of the doubt…. One has in practical life to act upon probabilities, and what I should look to philosophy to do is to encourage people to act with vigor without complete certainty.

Now I personally would not call uncertainty,God, Love or Being.

 

Edited by romansh
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I've always liked Russell and he makes a good point. 

Just as agnosticism is a 'belief' of which one can not be certain (the agnostic states they don't know whether there is meaning to life or not or for those phrasing it in religious terms, whether there is a God or not), so too the same must be said of all 'beliefs' such as theism, pantheism, panentheism, Buddhism and Taoism. It is probable that some adherents of  any belief are 'certain' that they are right. Then there are the others who recognize it as belief, do their best to live their belief and use their reason to continually probe into areas of uncertainty and questions in an attempt to better understand (and express) that which they believe.

Anyway, being of a panentheistic persuasion, which makes sense (or most of it, most of the time), I would call (the subject of my) uncertainty, God, Love and Being.

If, indeed, Russell was the poster boy for atheism/agnosticism, it seems like he was pretty certain (of his uncertainty) and, like many believers, still held a certain element of doubt.

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Well I have found all these isms are a bit more complicated and have various flavours.

Here is my Belief Bubbles from a theistic point of view. For the sake of argument we can include all the deism flavours in theism as well.  I drew up several years ago. Today I would redraw it a bit but I gives you an idea. I would fit into the weak agnostic category.

beliefbubbles.jpg

Now personally I find myself in a position of seeing insufficient evidence for a belief or disbelief in some non-descript god like Love Being etc . I can discount the existence for a personal type of God for all intense porpoises. Moving beyond the supposed divine, even relating to the profane I do not know how to be absolutely certain. There is always some residual doubt. But I am forced to act or to play the game. I have no choice, but to play. Do I know this? Perhaps not but it seems a reasonably accurate picture.

 

 

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For the person of faith who can celebrate Russell's comment, it is never about evidence, sufficient or otherwise; evidence is not a consideration and doubt always plays its part. 

And, for some it isn't a game: the belief, say theism, with abiding questions, is an attempt to understand existence and live it. 

I do like the bubbles. I place myself somewhere in the vicinity of 'believes God exists" and "believes we cannot know."  That's why it's belief.

 

 

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Belief is a cognitive attribution of conscious contact with God.  God exists, and one's experience of God may be attributed to many things or not attributed at all.

Belief is little more than the souvenier one chooses to remember the divine encounter.  Some beliefs discount the importance of the encounter, and others enrich it and preserve the memory.  

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22 minutes ago, thormas said:

... it is never about evidence, sufficient or otherwise; evidence is not a consideration and doubt always plays its part. 

And, for some it isn't a game: the belief, say theism, with abiding questions, is an attempt to understand existence and live it. 

This is where we are coming from very opposite points of view.

Without evidence we have no understanding of existence to reconcile.

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Sure we do: for some, faith provides an understanding of existence and a way to live one's life.

There is no proof, no evidence (as typically understood) to establish meaning or God.

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2 hours ago, thormas said:

Sure we do: for some, faith provides an understanding of existence and a way to live one's life.

There is no proof, no evidence (as typically understood) to establish meaning or God.

The evidence for God is a sense of incompleteness and incomprehensibility.  This is why we respond to archetypal metanarratives, and why we are different from all other animals.

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Yet others have the same sense of incompleteness/incomprehensibility and they despair, with still others don't find it enough on which to pin their hopes.

For me there is no evidence, 'signs' perhaps, but no evidence, no proof - and the signs (seen by faith) just hint and then we leap.

Edited by thormas

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15 hours ago, Burl said:

Belief is a cognitive attribution of conscious contact with God.  God exists, and one's experience of God may be attributed to many things or not attributed at all.

Belief is little more than the souvenier one chooses to remember the divine encounter.  Some beliefs discount the importance of the encounter, and others enrich it and preserve the memory.  

Sorry, I missed this first time around.

Not sure I agree: I am certainly conscious of my contact with created reality (be it people, animals, buildings or the sky at night) but conscious contact with God or Being or Ungroundness or the Really Real - such a conscious encounter would be akin to the 'beatific vision' and overwhelm our freedom. For me, all 'contact' with God is in and through creation, so, of necessity, it is veiled (so to speak). Therefore, one believes or not that God Is and that God is present in creation and the response is called faith: the giving of self or living life in response to the Presence.

Never thought of belief as a souvenir: when I had conscious contact with the girl I met in college, I didn't need souvenirs, I had the actual contact. I didn't believe I had contact, I knew I did;  I didn't need souvenirs to remember, I remembered.

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38 minutes ago, thormas said:

Sorry, I missed this first time around.

Not sure I agree: I am certainly conscious of my contact with created reality (be it people, animals, buildings or the sky at night) but conscious contact with God or Being or Ungroundness or the Really Real - such a conscious encounter would be akin to the 'beatific vision' and overwhelm our freedom. For me, all 'contact' with God is in and through creation, so, of necessity, it is veiled (so to speak). Therefore, one believes or not that God Is and that God is present in creation and the response is called faith: the giving of self or living life in response to the Presence.

Never thought of belief as a souvenir: when I had conscious contact with the girl I met in college, I didn't need souvenirs, I had the actual contact. I didn't believe I had contact, I knew I did;  I didn't need souvenirs to remember, I remembered.

When conscious contact is continual, repetitive and unchanging perception turns off.  An orienting/analytical response is only useful in changing circumstances.  Live near train tracks or an airport and after a short time they will not wake you at night.

People to habituate to the presence of God in the same way.  It takes an active effort to avoid that habituation.  Some people have God running through their thoughts like a Montana coal train and deny God even exists.

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It seems to me that is a very related and insightful observation Burl.

Joseph

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1 hour ago, Burl said:

When conscious contact is continual, repetitive and unchanging perception turns off.  An orienting/analytical response is only useful in changing circumstances.  Live near train tracks or an airport and after a short time they will not wake you at night.

People to habituate to the presence of God in the same way.  It takes an active effort to avoid that habituation.  Some people have God running through their thoughts like a Montana coal train and deny God even exists.

People have conscious contact with things, such as trains or planes near their home, and they can get use to them. However, trains, planes and automobiles are things that we know and there is no doubt when we are in contact with them.  One also has continual conscious contact with their spouse and kids, however, because they are not things, unchanging perceptions does not turn off (if it does have fun having that conversation with your spouse or kids). So, we have continual conscious contact with ever-changing (not things or circumstances) beings that we choose to be in relationship with. 

You seem (at least in my reading) to put God in the same category as things; one can habituate to God "in the same way." One knows when things are present, one knows (hopefully) when their spouse is present but how does one know God is present if God is beyond both thing and person? How does one 'get use to' God (who is beyond categories) in the same way as one gets use all the categories of things (and people) they encounter in life? Some deny, others doubt such Presence and still others have widely different understandings of It. The theist accepts a transcendent God who makes 'contact' in rare moments and then miraculously, but always incarnationally, through created being, so, always a bit hidden or veiled. Where is the 'getting use to the presence of God' except by a decision for faith?

Some, I would say all, people have God running through their lives and yet deny God but not running through their thoughts - unless they are people of faith.

 

Edited by thormas

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18 hours ago, thormas said:

Sure we do: for some, faith provides an understanding of existence and a way to live one's life.

There is no proof, no evidence (as typically understood) to establish meaning or God.

And what is the proof and evidence you have that is not typically understood?  How do you verify God?

Meanings are definitional games (semantics).

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16 hours ago, Burl said:

The evidence for God is a sense of incompleteness and incomprehensibility.  This is why we respond to archetypal metanarratives, and why we are different from all other animals.

Last phrase first. This is how we are different from animals not why!

https://www.ted.com/talks/robert_sapolsky_the_uniqueness_of_humans?utm_source=tedcomshare&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=tedspread

In fact the TED talk also indirectly touches on the archetypal metanarratives.

The first sentence falls foul to the informal fallacy of an appeal to ignorance. What ever we don't understand is the First mover. No it is a sense of incomprehensibility.

And this being an agnostic thread ... what is the evidence that something you don't understand is evidence for God. Does this explain correlation that we experience between belief and a lack of education? (Present company excluded of course). 

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I was saying there is no evidence, typically understood along the lines of gathering evidence to establish guilt or innocence in a court, but, regardless, no evidence, no matter how it is defined, to establish God. God cannot be proven (or disproven). 

in past posts, I have mentioned different kinds of knowing. The one that pertains here is experiential knowing, for example, I only (truly) know running when I am running. So too, one can 'know' that love has the power to create, redeem (i.e.. heal) and enhance life. One know this because they have done it (and we know what happens to life when love is withheld or denied to another being). In Christianity, God is said to be love - however, this is a statement of belief. In spite of what we might experience (and know) with love, there is no evidence that Christianity (or any belief system) is correct. If one believes that God Is and that God is Love, then comes a faith decision: you respond, you give yourself over to it. This is the leap of faith. 

 

Edited by thormas

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31 minutes ago, romansh said:

The first sentence falls foul to the informal fallacy of an appeal to ignorance. What ever we don't understand is the First mover. No it is a sense of incomprehensibility.

And this being an agnostic thread ... what is the evidence that something you don't understand is evidence for God. Does this explain correlation that we experience between belief and a lack of education? (Present company excluded of course). 

The religious person, considering the incompleteness and incomprehensibility of existence, has one 'answer' while the atheist and the agnostic have a rather different take - nobody has evidence of anything; these are beliefs. 

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1 hour ago, thormas said:

The religious person, considering the incompleteness and incomprehensibility of existence, has one 'answer' while the atheist and the agnostic have a rather different take - nobody has evidence of anything; these are beliefs. 

I won't speak for atheists but an agnostic might answer I don't know.

Nobody has evidence of anything? Really?

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Precisely correct on agnostics.

The 'anything' referred back to the positions of incompleteness and incomprehensibility of existence, which for the theistic, agnostic or atheist are ......beliefs.

One assumes there is evidence of somethings.

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What are agnostic beliefs?

 

Are you sure we don't find there is evidence for somethings?

Edited by romansh

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Then you can't say they have beliefs.

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7 hours ago, Burl said:

When conscious contact is continual, repetitive and unchanging perception turns off.  An orienting/analytical response is only useful in changing circumstances.  Live near train tracks or an airport and after a short time they will not wake you at night.

This I think is an accurate observation Burl. I think back to when I was learning to drive. All that consciousness was not necessarily a hindrance but something to get past to become a fluid driver. Similarly for the sports I have played.

Whereas this :

Quote

People to habituate to the presence of God in the same way.  It takes an active effort to avoid that habituation.  Some people have God running through their thoughts like a Montana coal train and deny God even exists.

I can't say correlates with my experience. I don't ever recall being aware of a first mover never mind being habituated to its presence.

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Well my answer was twofold: since I am not an agnostic (but empathize with the position of some friends) I don't know (which is the answer you seemingly assumed) but I have been told their 'belief' is that they just don't believe - either the theistic, atheistic or other 'definitive' answers. So, as conveyed to me (although it is not by belief system), they don't believe in the beliefs, found in your bubbles, because they simply don't know!

So, I guess they don't know what to believe, so they believe they don't know (a bit of a tautology). But I respect their belief.

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, thormas said:

I was saying there is no evidence, typically understood along the lines of gathering evidence to establish guilt or innocence in a court, but, regardless, no evidence, no matter how it is defined, to establish God. God cannot be proven (or disproven). 

 

Thomas,

If i define God as Creation, Being, Love, etc. and define those terms, indeed i can say God is self-evident. It is the the word God as commonly defined that begs evidence that cannot be met. To me, God is a subtle presence that has always been in my life as source of that life but for a time was masked by a phantom i called Me. I can relate to what Burl said, which  to me was metaphor when he spoke of perception turning off. Mystically or metaphorically it could be compared to the expulsion of mankind from the garden or his eyes/senses being darkened by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or choosing to abide in dualism.

Just some comments...

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