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romansh

Agnosticism

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2 hours ago, thormas said:

Burl seems to be making a valid point:  an atheist is a non-theist whereas there are a variety of theistic positions. As Rom pointed out (other literal, theistic notions of god) include Abrahamic, Greek, Roman, Norse Gods and Burl, earlier, included panentheists, pantheists and polytheists. I never thought deists were theists but if theism means or includes a supreme being(s), then deism is more theism than is panentheism or pantheism. If a religion posits a God/god/goddesses of some sort, are these variations of theism? If so, and, if atheism does not accept that there is a God, then atheism seems to be a-theistic. 

If the above are variations on theism, what other gods/deities are there? I ask this sincerely. Also, definitions are important (ala Burl) but the use of words does evolve over time (ala Paul). So too with the definition of agnostic but I can accept Paul's variation on that word.

Agnostic atheists are a bit confusing because if one does not believe in the existence of any deity then it does not matter if such non existence is knowable or unknowable: they do not believe! I would hope a true atheist would still not believe even if there were evidence - otherwise they were just an agnostic and not firm in their atheism. 

I am a panentheistic who does not believe in 'a' or 'the' Supreme Being and do not accept traditional notions of revelation - so it seems I am not a theist, by definition. Yet I think/believe there is 'more' to humanity than meets the eye. 

Theism assumes a god which exists outside of our observable materialistic existence.  The inclusion of the suffix theism is an excellent clue.  Polytheism, pantheism, panentheism &c are clearly theisms.  Deism is highly theistic as it affirms the classical biblical idea of god as a sapient, supernatural omnipowerful being.

Panentheism is a theism which believes life and humanity is wholly within god but that god is not limited to earthly existence.  Paul affirms the idea of Christian panentheism, and I personally find panentheism expressed as the Holy Spirit to be satisfactory.

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2 hours ago, thormas said:

Burl seems to be making a valid point:  an atheist is a non-theist whereas there are a variety of theistic positions. As Rom pointed out (other literal, theistic notions of god) include Abrahamic, Greek, Roman, Norse Gods and Burl, earlier, included panentheists, pantheists and polytheists. I never thought deists were theists but if theism means or includes a supreme being(s), then deism is more theism than is panentheism or pantheism. If a religion posits a God/god/goddesses of some sort, are these variations of theism? If so, and, if atheism does not accept that there is a God, then atheism seems to be a-theistic. 

Generally I tend to agree with this take. The term theism is a little bit context specific. It can mean belief in any old god or it can refer to revealed gods such as Abrahamic or Norse. So care should be used when using theism or theist. There are also shades of atheism that parallel the shades of agnosticism.

Here is an old take on the various shades:

beliefbubbles.jpg

Again most atheists I have discussed godly type stuff with, have been of the agnostic atheist persuasion, ie they don't believe or lack belief in god or gods. There are Strong or perhaps gnostic atheists who believe or know god does not exist. Also there are agnostic theists ... Mark Vernon is one that comes to mind. Now personally I find agnostic theism (or some variation of it) to be difficult to reconcile philosophically. Having no evidence for something and believing in it because it resonates. Not for me thanks.

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48 minutes ago, Burl said:

Theism assumes a god which exists outside of our observable materialistic existence.  The inclusion of the suffix theism is an excellent clue.  Polytheism, pantheism, panentheism &c are clearly theisms.  Deism is highly theistic as it affirms the classical biblical idea of god as a sapient, supernatural omnipowerful being.

How is a pantheistic god outside of our observable materialistic existence?

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56 minutes ago, romansh said:

How is a pantheistic god outside of our observable materialistic existence?

I am not aware of anyone who takes pantheism seriously so I am not the best person to ask. Believers in Gaia could probably answer your question.

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8 minutes ago, romansh said:

Generally I tend to agree with this take. The term theism is a little bit context specific. It can mean belief in any old god or it can refer to revealed gods such as Abrahamic or Norse. So care should be used when using theism or theist. There are also shades of atheism that parallel the shades of agnosticism.

Here is an old take on the various shades:

beliefbubbles.jpg

Again most atheists I have discussed godly type stuff with, have been of the agnostic atheist persuasion, ie they don't believe or lack belief in god or gods. There are Strong or perhaps gnostic atheists who believe or know god does not exist. Also there are agnostic theists ... Mark Vernon is one that comes to mind. Now personally I find agnostic theism (or some variation of it) to be difficult to reconcile philosophically. Having no evidence for something and believing in it because it resonates. Not for me thanks.

Interesting. However I don't think, as defined, a 'strong' anything (atheism, theism or gnosticism) is truly possible because none have definitive proof/evidence for their positions. These are all beliefs: the theist believes god exists, the atheist believes that god does not exist and the gnostic believes that we cannot know. Also, weak theism is, as seemingly indicated, atheism.

I'm not sure I agree that gnosticism (i.e. special knowledge that one receives or can achieve) fits on the continuum and I don't think I have ever heard of a modern day gnostic.

I'm still not buying into the agnostic atheist: if one doesn't believe, they appear to be an atheist and if one lacks belief or disbelief because they believe we cannot know, they appear to be an agnostic. And, both gnostic atheist and agnostic theists make even less sense: a agnostic believes we cannot/do not know while a theist, regardless if we cannot know (i.e. proof/evidence), believes god exists. 

The bubble is beginning to break down for me -  the definitions are off and, I agree, it is difficult (impossible) to reconcile the various combos like agnostic theist. I believe it doesn't resonate!

1 hour ago, Burl said:

Theism assumes a god which exists outside of our observable materialistic existence.  The inclusion of the suffix theism is an excellent clue.  Polytheism, pantheism, panentheism &c are clearly theisms.  Deism is highly theistic as it affirms the classical biblical idea of god as a sapient, supernatural omnipowerful being.

Panentheism is a theism which believes life and humanity is wholly within god but that god is not limited to earthly existence.  Paul affirms the idea of Christian panentheism, and I personally find panentheism expressed as the Holy Spirit to be satisfactory.

Again. definitions are important but meaning evolves (and I have not gone to the dictionary). Even in the great theistic religions there is an understanding of the immanence of God. The problem (I believe) with theism is the overemphasis on transcendence, while the problem with pantheism is the overemphasis on immanence (to the point of identifying 'god' with creation). What I like about panentheism, called dialectical theism by John Macquarrie, is that there is just that: a dialectic, a balance between the transcendence and immanence of god. Also, I think defining transcendence, not as beyond or above, but 'more than' ( or beyond as long as it is not understood spatially) is more helpful (and does greater justice to the human experience of or insight into God that is captured in the NT (and Christianity). 

 I still don't see theism in deism (literally). I think they are very different (Christianity is not a deistic religion) and is fun information to 'share' with those that say the US was created a Christian nation. Plus, although I see the word theism in the other expressions above, pantheism, for example, is so the opposite of theism that it is simply not truly theistic: there is no 'beyond' there is sameness. 

With panentheism, it is not that god is not limited to earthly existence, it is that god is neither identified with or so removed from man (that we look for miracles, incarnations, virgin births, recognize our world as natural and fallen and long the other supernatural world of God) but that we live, move and have our being in God. And that not just one person or mode of God but God (himself, so to speak) is immanent in creation. For the panentheist, God is always incarnate in creation.

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18 minutes ago, Burl said:

I am not aware of anyone who takes pantheism seriously so I am not the best person to ask. Believers in Gaia could probably answer your question.

Enjoy

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pantheists

Go and meet some ... http://community.pantheism.net/main/authorization/signIn?target=http%3A%2F%2Fcommunity.pantheism.net%2Fgroup%2Fwall

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1 hour ago, thormas said:

Interesting. However I don't think, as defined, a 'strong' anything (atheism, theism or gnosticism) is truly possible because none have definitive proof/evidence for their positions. These are all beliefs: the theist believes god exists, the atheist believes that god does not exist and the gnostic believes that we cannot know. Also, weak theism is, as seemingly indicated, atheism.

I'm not sure I agree that gnosticism (i.e. special knowledge that one receives or can achieve) fits on the continuum and I don't think I have ever heard of a modern day gnostic.

I'm still not buying into the agnostic atheist: if one doesn't believe, they appear to be an atheist and if one lacks belief or disbelief because they believe we cannot know, they appear to be an agnostic. And, both gnostic atheist and agnostic theists make even less sense: a agnostic believes we cannot/do not know while a theist, regardless if we cannot know (i.e. proof/evidence), believes god exists. 

The bubble is beginning to break down for me -  the definitions are off and, I agree, it is difficult (impossible) to reconcile the various combos like agnostic theist. I believe it doesn't resonate!

Do you think strong anything does not exist as a concept or people can not achieve it despite what they claim?

I suppose as a pantheist Jung has a reasons for knowing the universe exists. Unless he catches a bad case of solipsism.

Despite not buying into the concept of agnostic atheism ... most are. Technically I am one. Though I prefer the label of agnostic in that it better describes my world view. You are an agnostic theist (broader definition} in that you understand you cannot be sure of your beliefs yet you have them. Remember agnosticism is about not knowing and being not certain; and not about belief.

Unless one is a militant agnostic ... I don't know and neither do you    A sticker that can be found on militant agnostics' car bumpers.

 

edit  ... just to add I am a strong atheist with respect to certain revealed gods ... Norse, Roman, Greek, Abrahamic ... though I have a soft spot for Auseklis.

Edited by romansh

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6 hours ago, thormas said:

Burl seems to be making a valid point:  an atheist is a non-theist whereas there are a variety of theistic positions.

In isolation, that sentence is correct.  It was mainly Burls other words that were wrong.

 If he cannot consider a theistic god to be a possibility he is an atheist. - Incorrect.  He may indeed think it is a possibility, but he just doesn't believe in a theistic god.  It can be confusing because it is very close to agnostic.  That's why strict definition and criteria, like all words, are indicators but not always good at defining every single thought or variation to the theme.

Sometimes an atheist will call himself an agnostic out of social cowardice.  Darwin was a good example of that. - Incorrect, Darwin's views on God were changing throughout his life and he didn't know precisely where he landed on the matter but felt that as he didn't know, agnostic was a better label for him (Darwin understood the shortcoming of hard-line categories and definitions in this area).

Atheists need a pride flag to wave like the gay rainbow flag.  Maybe just waving a stick with nothing on it would be appropriate.- This comment overlooks everything else in an atheists life such as logic and reason and evidence.  It's a juvenile put-down.

There is nothing wrong with being a proud atheist, but if one feels the need to use sophistry and weasel-words to avoid the label they must be having some sort of inner conflict.  - Apart from being another juvenile put down, it fails to recognise that we all don't fit neatly into little boxes and definitions.  As Rom points out, the majority of atheists he has come across do not believe there is no god; they simply don't hold a belief in god.  That meets Burl's definition of atheist, so why the insult?

Back to your comments, Thormas - "Agnostic atheists are a bit confusing because if one does not believe in the existence of any deity then it does not matter if such non existence is knowable or unknowable: they do not believe! I would hope a true atheist would still not believe even if there were evidence - otherwise they were just an agnostic and not firm in their atheism".  This is the problem with rigorously trying to exclude one from the other, as Burl tries.  They may be separate words but they overlap also.  One can have a foot in both camps and not be bound by a word that was coined to try and capture some thoughts.  You're probably aware that the term Agnostic was only coined as recently as 1869 (13 years before Darwin died) by Thomas Huxley. "Being a scientist, above all else, Huxley presented agnosticism as a form of demarcation. A hypothesis with no supporting objective, testable evidence is not an objective, scientific claim. As such, there would be no way to test said hypotheses, leaving the results inconclusive. His agnosticism was not compatible with forming a belief as to the truth, or falsehood, of the claim at hand. Karl Popper would also describe himself as an agnostic.  According to philosopher William L. Rowe, in this strict sense, agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist".  But these people would have also fallen under the definition of Atheist as they didn't believe in a theistic God - so rather than being cowards we can see they are meeting both definitions.  That is the problem with trying to narrow down these groups.  There is overlap.  True - atheists are non-theists, but so are agnostics.  Agnostics can also be atheists.  These definitions guide or indicate to us what a person thinks, but they are not perfect boundaries.  Just like the term Christian also means a wide variety of different thoughts pertaining to the same definition (eternal damnation or universal reconciliation, progressive or fundamental Christianity,  etc).

 

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Just an aside Paul ... Huxley did not limit the use of agnostic to god. He also included other supposedly metaphysical concepts like afterlife.  Science in essence is agnostic ... it never ultimately provides the truth. It just sculpts away what is not true.

It is a very powerful tool ... not being [absolutely] certain.

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1 minute ago, romansh said:

Just an aside Paul ... Huxley did not limit the use of agnostic to god. He also included other supposedly metaphysical concepts like afterlife.  Science in essence is agnostic ... it never ultimately provides the truth. It just sculpts away what is not true.

It is a very powerful tool ... not being [absolutely] certain.

Yes, that is how I understand Huxley also. 

Indeed, uncertainty is a very powerful tool, even threatening to some.

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Here is Huxley in his own words on the agnostic-atheist dichotomy

  • ... I have by nature and disposition the greatest possible antipathy to all the atheistic and infidel school. Nevertheless I know that I am, in spite of myself, exactly what the Christian would call, and, so far as I can see, is justified in calling, atheist and infidel.

 

Edited by romansh

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13 minutes ago, PaulS said:

Indeed, uncertainty is a very powerful tool, even threatening to some.

Yet there are many who are not threatened by uncertainty -  and it is a very powerful tool - recognized as such by many 'religious'/spiritual people: faith, properly understood, is a leap from uncertainty to uncertainty.

And Huxley's quote is dated: some fundamentalists might call him atheist and infidel, but many other Christians and religious people, more liberal or progressive, would either accept his agnosticism at face value and/or simply not care. 

23 minutes ago, romansh said:

... Huxley did not limit the use of agnostic to god. He also included other supposedly metaphysical concepts like afterlife.  Science in essence is agnostic ... it never ultimately provides the truth. It just sculpts away what is not true.

It is a very powerful tool ... not being [absolutely] certain.

Most would assume that if (one believed that) one could not know if there was a God,  so too, one could not know if there was an afterlife with him or what is called heaven. 

Although I get the point about science and truth, it does seem that science provides some truth for example gravity: either it exists (is true) or the earth sucks. 

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16 minutes ago, thormas said:

Yet there are many who are not threatened by uncertainty -  and it is a very powerful tool - recognized as such by many 'religious'/spiritual people: faith, properly understood, is a leap from uncertainty to uncertainty.

I know many Christians who would argue with you that their faith is anything but uncertain! :)

Quote

And Huxley's quote is dated: some fundamentalists might call him atheist and infidel, but many other Christians and religious people, more liberal or progressive, would either accept his agnosticism at face value and/or simply not care. 

But as we can see from Burl's reaction, precise categorisation is required, less one wish to be called a coward.  There are many Christians that would simply not care about a person's agnosticism -  It's just a shame there aren't more.

Quote

Most would assume that if (one believed that) one could not know if there was a God,  so too, one could not know if there was an afterlife with him or what is called heaven. 

I'd say the point Huxley was making is that there could be an afterlife without there being a God, because we simply don't know what happens after we die.  Afterlife and God might not necessarily be related should one or the other or both exist.

Quote

Although I get the point about science and truth, it does seem that science provides some truth for example gravity: either it exists (is true) or the earth sucks. 

I'd say rather than science demonstrating truth, it demonstrates how we currently understand something and rules out what cannot be (as is currently known).  Plenty of scientific conclusions have changed throughout history (nutrition science, medical science etc).  Gravity explains what we experience but if some day there was to be an alternate scientific explanation, then the truth might change.

 

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2 hours ago, PaulS said:

I know many Christians who would argue with you that their faith is anything but uncertain! :)

But as we can see from Burl's reaction, precise categorisation is required, less one wish to be called a coward.  There are many Christians that would simply not care about a person's agnosticism -  It's just a shame there aren't more.

I'd say the point Huxley was making is that there could be an afterlife without there being a God, because we simply don't know what happens after we die.  Afterlife and God might not necessarily be related should one or the other or both exist.

I'd say rather than science demonstrating truth, it demonstrates how we currently understand something and rules out what cannot be (as is currently known).  Plenty of scientific conclusions have changed throughout history (nutrition science, medical science etc).  Gravity explains what we experience but if some day there was to be an alternate scientific explanation, then the truth might change.

 

Yet there are many who understand the uncertainty of faith - and I have broadened beyond Christian to religious/spiritual. But to be clear, I am associating certainty with evidence/proof. Such certainty, as has been discussed, is not the stuff of faith. 

I am not Burl and I have both acknowledged the importance of definitions and allowed for the evolution of meaning. Precise categorization is not always possible (cf, the belief bubble). I think there are more Christians than you realize but I never came from a fundamentalist, literalist expression of Christianity.

I  don't think I know any historic examples of an afterlife separate from a people's concept of God. Did Huxley indicate that this was his point? 

So gravity by another name or a more nuanced understanding - actually, an alternative explanation is what has been happening with biblical scholarship and with classical theism.

Edited by thormas

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40 minutes ago, thormas said:

Yet there are many who understand the uncertainty of faith - and I have broadened beyond Christian to religious/spiritual. But to be clear, I am associating certainty with evidence/proof. Such certainty, as has been discussed, is not the stuff of faith. 

I am not Burl and I have both acknowledged the importance of definitions and allowed for the evolution of meaning. Precise categorization is not always possible (cf, the belief bubble). I think there are more Christians than you realize but I never came from a fundamentalist, literalist expression of Christianity.

I  don't think I know any historic examples of an afterlife separate from a people's concept of God. Did Huxley indicate that this was his point? 

So gravity by another name or a more nuanced understanding - actually, an alternative explanation is what has been happening with biblical scholarship and with classical theism.

Ghosts would be a historic example of an afterlife seperate from the people's concept of god, and it occurs in most cultures and religions.

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7 minutes ago, Burl said:

Ghosts would be a historic example of an afterlife seperate from the people's concept of god, and it occurs in most cultures and religions.

Possibly, thanks. Such as? Examples, please.

The ghost that comes to mind is Marley and that obviously has ties to redemption and god. Even Shakespeare wrote in the age of Elizabeth and a Protestant England. Then there was Casper, the friendly ghost, can't remember any obvious god connection but, again, written from within a 1930's culture steeped in religion. Even animism is a religious belief. And ghosts in ancient Greece and Rome - part and parcel of their religion?

But I remain open and hopeful.  One still wonders though about Huxley - was he referring to ghosts with no connection to religion and thus God?

 

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6 hours ago, thormas said:

Yet there are many who understand the uncertainty of faith - and I have broadened beyond Christian to religious/spiritual. But to be clear, I am associating certainty with evidence/proof. Such certainty, as has been discussed, is not the stuff of faith. 

Indeed there are many Thormas and I know you are more aligned with this sort of Christianity.

6 hours ago, thormas said:

I am not Burl and I have both acknowledged the importance of definitions and allowed for the evolution of meaning. Precise categorization is not always possible (cf, the belief bubble). I think there are more Christians than you realize but I never came from a fundamentalist, literalist expression of Christianity.

Agreed.  Sorry, I wasn't trying to align you with Burl but rather explaining why I was arguing for what I was arguing for.  

6 hours ago, thormas said:

I  don't think I know any historic examples of an afterlife separate from a people's concept of God. Did Huxley indicate that this was his point? 

Buddhism?  Whilst they don't exactly spell out the afterlife, I think they allude to one that they acknowledge they cannot know anything about which follows a person's final rebirth and the attainment of Nirvana.  Possibly also people who believe humans were created by aliens and maybe tribes who practised ancestor worship instead of theistic worship?.  I'm yet to read his book, but I've recently learnt a little about Robert Lanza's Biocentrism which seems to explain death and continuation without God in a new way.

6 hours ago, thormas said:

So gravity by another name or a more nuanced understanding - actually, an alternative explanation is what has been happening with biblical scholarship and with classical theism.

Yes, or a new paradigm as Marcus Borg might say.

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Thanks Paul for the clarification and the information. I will check on Lanza.

It is intriguing as even with Buddhism there is, I believe, a recognition of the transcendent nature of man: he is 'called' or it is 'in his nature' to become more than he is and ultimately achieve Nirvana. When we get to transcendence and becoming, it immediately speaks of divinity (for lack of a better word) to me and so even with Buddhism. Buddhism always struck me as a form of pantheism - but again I am not versed in Buddhism.

Aliens - I don't even have a reference point but I'm not sure the idea of alien 'creation' and how they came to be (or their afterlife) has been explored. Ancestor worship is an intriguing one.

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On ‎2017‎-‎12‎-‎29 at 2:01 PM, Burl said:

I am not aware of anyone who takes pantheism seriously so I am not the best person to ask. Believers in Gaia could probably answer your question.

Also the fact that you are not aware of anyone who takes pantheism seriously is irrelevant Burl to the question posed. 

You said authoritatively:

On ‎2017‎-‎12‎-‎29 at 12:06 PM, Burl said:

Theism assumes a god which exists outside of our observable materialistic existence.

And you went on to include pantheism in theisms. So how is pantheism outside of the observable materialistic existence? It is your claim as to what theism is and what is included.

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8 minutes ago, PaulS said:

There's plenty of exploring and websites and forums on the matter.  Whether it has credibility or not I'm not so sure, but the thought is there as I mentioned.

I guess there are but websites on aliens is a bridge too far - whether they have credibility is indeed the sticking point.

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29 minutes ago, thormas said:

I guess there are but websites on aliens is a bridge too far - whether they have credibility is indeed the sticking point.

I'm not trying to prove they exist, just saying that the thought is out there for some.  Maybe given a few thousand years of alienology they'll have their own revelatory book from the King Alien which guides them in their thought processes. :)  What I am saying here is that I'm sure monetheism sounded utterly ridiculous to many when they first heard of it, but look where we are thousands of years later.

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Didn't think you were but I think any book from the King Alien, might have the same inspiration as did King David :+}

Now that is an interesting point on monotheism but I wonder if it sounded ridiculous. I suspect the Progressive Monotheists had tablets they passed back and forth on many topics......

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3 hours ago, romansh said:

Also the fact that you are not aware of anyone who takes pantheism seriously is irrelevant Burl to the question posed. 

You said authoritatively:

And you went on to include pantheism in theisms. So how is pantheism outside of the observable materialistic existence? It is your claim as to what theism is and what is included.

 

3 hours ago, romansh said:

Also the fact that you are not aware of anyone who takes pantheism seriously is irrelevant Burl to the question posed. 

You said authoritatively:

And you went on to include pantheism in theisms. So how is pantheism outside of the observable materialistic existence? It is your claim as to what theism is and what is included.

I guess it depends on what pantheism one is talking about.  If god is no more and no less than the sum total of existence, my first question would concern life and death.

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On 12/29/2017 at 6:03 PM, romansh said:

Do you think strong anything does not exist as a concept or people can not achieve it despite what they claim?

I suppose as a pantheist Jung has a reasons for knowing the universe exists. Unless he catches a bad case of solipsism.

Despite not buying into the concept of agnostic atheism ... most are. Technically I am one. Though I prefer the label of agnostic in that it better describes my world view. You are an agnostic theist (broader definition} in that you understand you cannot be sure of your beliefs yet you have them. Remember agnosticism is about not knowing and being not certain; and not about belief.

 

missed this one ....... 

If, as indicated in the bubble, strong means that one knows and knows means proof /evidence - then there is no strong ism. 

You believe most are agnostic atheists........................ 

An agnostic believes they cannot know whether god exists or does not exist.  The theist, on the other hand, believes that 'god' exists.

'Knowing for sure' suggests proof or evidence and there is no proof for any belief.  However, many/most are sure of their beliefs: aren't you sure that you're an agnostic and that your agnostic stance is correct?  So too, I am sure of my belief and that my stance is correct.* If one were not sure of their belief, it would be meaningless: he could not live it. and living it is the whole point of belief/faith.

 

*my stance is correct for me but I also believe it is correct for all;  this recognizes that there is only one way to be human but the One Way is seen in many ways, particular to where it finds different men and women. 

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14 hours ago, Burl said:

I guess it depends on what pantheism one is talking about.  If god is no more and no less than the sum total of existence, my first question would concern life and death.

Well then I would argue your original guess was wrong. Theism per se does not refer solely outside of the observably material. Thanks Burl for owning up.

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