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Old 11th February 2003, 01:13 PM   #1
J3K
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agnostics???

I have never heard of this belief before.(agnostics) What does it mean if you are agnostic?
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:19 PM   #2
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Re: agnostics???

Quote:
Originally posted by J3K
I have never heard of this belief before.(agnostics) What does it mean if you are agnostic?
Depends on who you ask. Most people will say that an agnostic is someone who doesn't know whether gods exist. That's a fairly common usage, but etymologically speaking, that's not what the word means.

The more formal definition says that an agnostic is a person who believes that we cannot, even in principle, know whether gods exist. Bit of a curious position, really. It's unsupportable, and I don't even see the appeal.

Jeremy
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:25 PM   #3
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It might have been this word or some other "a" word. But it meant that you believe in god, but dont know which is the right god. Which makes sense to me, so many of them, how do you know which is the right one. lol Do you know what I'm talking about?
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:27 PM   #4
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1] Theism/Deism - GOD EXIST = TRUE (God exists)
2] A-Theism - GOD EXIST = FALSE (God does NOT exist)
3] Agnosticism - GOD EXIST = UNKNOWN (Not enough information)

Essentailly if you call yourself an A-Theist you are the type of person who believes that tossed coins ALWAYS land TAILS up because there is NO EVIDENCE that they will land HEADS up.
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:30 PM   #5
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Toddjh is correct. However, I have also seen it explained this way.

Agnosticism literally means "no knowledge", so using Todd's informal definition, an agnostic says "I have no knowledge for or against a god."

Atheism is, in contrast, a position of belief. An atheists says "I do not believe there is a god".

These differences seem subtle, but they are important. You may see no evidence for or against a god, so you have no knowledge, yet you believe that something as powerful as a God should leave some evidence, so you also don't believe there is a god.

In fact, most of the atheists on this board would more correctly be called agnostic atheists (sometimes called soft atheists). This effectively means that they don't believe in a God (due to the lack of evidence) but they admit they cannot be sure that one does not exist (due to the lack of knowledge).

There are a few gnostic atheists (or hard atheists) who claim God is impossible, but they are rare here on these boards.

In contrast, you can also have agnostic theists, who believe god exists, usually due to their teaching, but who admit the possibility that they are wrong.

Gnostic theists are certain there is a God.

Hope this helps.
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Tricky: (A-Theist)

In fact, most of the atheists on this board would more correctly be called agnostic atheists (sometimes called soft atheists). This effectively means that they don't believe in a God (due to the lack of evidence) but they admit they cannot be sure that one does not exist (due to the lack of knowledge).
There is no such thing as an "Agnostic-Atheist". As soon as you claim that there might be a "god" you are an Agnostic -- end of story.

Tricky just doesn't want to lose to many fellow devotees to his Cult of Pessimism to the Truth.

To claim that you are an "Agnostic-Atheist" is like calling a coin toss as "probably Tails". Doesn't "probably Tails" just mean TAILS? It certainly doesn't mean "HEADS".
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:38 PM   #7
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So Franko. If you are a Theism/Deism you believe a coin will ALWAYS land HEADS up when tossed, because there is NO EVIDENCE they will land TAILS up? Just curious. Since atheist and Theism/Deism are opposite. Then your analogy should work each way.
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
So Franko. If you are a Theism/Deism you believe a coin will ALWAYS land HEADS up when tossed, because there is NO EVIDENCE they will land TAILS up? Just curious. Since atheist and Theism/Deism are opposite. Then your analogy should work each way.
If there were no evidence either way, that would be True. But there is abundant evidence for God. While there is no evidence for No God. (I define a “God” as a superior entity capable of generating a universe).

First of all, you don’t have any “free will” …

Atoms obey TLOP (TLOP = The Laws of Physics)
You are made of Atoms.
YOU OBEY TLOP!

Ergo:

TLOP (God) makes/controls YOU makes/controls CAR

So in the same way that YOU are more conscious then your CAR, TLOP is more conscious then YOU.

It’s that simple.
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:43 PM   #9
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I'd also suggest another possible definition for agnostic: the position that statements about god are analogical or metaphorical only, and cannot be given a literal or true meaning.

In short, that all statements about God are necessarily either false or meaningless.

Does anyone know a name for this belief besides agnostic?
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tricky
Atheism is, in contrast, a position of belief. An atheists says "I do not believe there is a god".
I agree with your characterization of what an atheist would say. I disagree that that is a position of belief. Lack of belief does not constitute a belief.

1. "I do not believe there is a god." (Not a statement of belief.)
2. "I believe there is no god." (a positive statement of belief.)

There is a difference between 1. and 2. Did you mean to write 2.?
I would call 1. "atheism", and 2. "hard atheism". Note that 2. is a subset of 1.
The avantage of the more minimalist definition of "atheism" is that then "theism" and "atheism" constitute an exhaustive set. One must be either one or the other, as there is no third alternative.
"Theism" and "hard atheism" do NOT constitute an exhaustive set.
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:49 PM   #11
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There is no evidence of god. It's one's belief. And also no evidence of no god. That is also one's belief. Franko, you are confusing. And yes I do follow the law of physics. If I go jump off a cliff, guess what, I am gonna fall to the bottem just like the law of physics says I will. Unless I have a device that will keep me from falling. But that will still follow the law of physics. Wow, sucks how I have no "free will."
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Franko


If there were no evidence either way, that would be True. But there is abundant evidence for God. While there is no evidence for No God. (I define a “God” as a superior entity capable of generating a universe).

First of all, you don’t have any “free will” …

Atoms obey TLOP (TLOP = The Laws of Physics)
You are made of Atoms.
YOU OBEY TLOP!

Ergo:

TLOP (God) makes/controls YOU makes/controls CAR
So, if I understand it, you are defining "God" to mean "The Laws of Physics"? Since I believe that TLOP exist, under that definition I believe in God and am therefore a theist. But if TLOP = God, why have a separate word "God"? Why not just call them The Laws of Physics?

Also, since you defined "God" as a superior entity capable of generating a universe, in order to make your above statements internally consistent, you must show that TLOP (God) are:

1. A superior entity (whatever that means)
2. Capable of generating a universe. (Better learn some General Relativity! )
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Old 11th February 2003, 01:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Vorticity

I agree with your characterization of what an atheist would say. I disagree that that is a position of belief. Lack of belief does not constitute a belief.

1. "I do not believe there is a god." (Not a statement of belief.)
2. "I believe there is no god." (a positive statement of belief.)

There is a difference between 1. and 2. Did you mean to write 2.?
I would call 1. "atheism", and 2. "hard atheism". Note that 2. is a subset of 1.
The avantage of the more minimalist definition of "atheism" is that then "theism" and "atheism" constitute an exhaustive set. One must be either one or the other, as there is no third alternative.
"Theism" and "hard atheism" do NOT constitute an exhaustive set.
Okay, you got me. I should have been more precise. I use as an excuse that I was trying to provide some general definitions of things that someone new may see flying around in here.

Mia culpa.
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Old 11th February 2003, 04:23 PM   #14
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Agnosics and atheists are pretty much one in the same, except that atheists are REALLY sure about it.
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Old 11th February 2003, 04:35 PM   #15
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Since I'm on an etymology trip tonight:
Quote:
Word History: An agnostic does not deny the existence of God and heaven but holds that one cannot know for certain whether or not they exist. The term agnostic was fittingly coined by the 19th-century British scientist Thomas H. Huxley, who believed that only material phenomena were objects of exact knowledge. He made up the word from the prefix a-, meaning “without, not,” as in amoral, and the noun Gnostic. Gnostic is related to the Greek word gnsis, “knowledge,” which was used by early Christian writers to mean “higher, esoteric knowledge of spiritual things” hence, Gnostic referred to those with such knowledge. In coining the term agnostic, Huxley was considering as “Gnostics” a group of his fellow intellectuals—“ists,” as he called them—who had eagerly embraced various doctrines or theories that explained the world to their satisfaction. Because he was a “man without a rag of a label to cover himself with,” Huxley coined the term agnostic for himself, its first published use being in 1870.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company
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Old 11th February 2003, 04:50 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Franko
1] Theism/Deism - GOD EXIST = TRUE (God exists)
2] A-Theism - GOD EXIST = FALSE (God does NOT exist)
3] Agnosticism - GOD EXIST = UNKNOWN (Not enough information)

Essentailly if you call yourself an A-Theist you are the type of person who believes that tossed coins ALWAYS land TAILS up because there is NO EVIDENCE that they will land HEADS up.

Where do Logical Deists fall in that spectrum? Are LD's in 1, 2, or 3?
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Old 11th February 2003, 05:20 PM   #17
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Re: agnostics???

Quote:
Originally posted by J3K
I have never heard of this belief before.(agnostics) What does it mean if you are agnostic?
Hi J3K,

My definition of an agnostic is one who doesn't believe that we can know whether or not there is a creator. I don't believe that necessarily this makes the agnostic believe that no creator exists, only that we cannot know for sure.

I have spent most of my adult life wrestling with this matter personally. My Catholic upbringing and subsequent Protestant church attendance has filled my head with decades of doctine and teachings and beliefs. I don't know that this has necessarily been a good or a bad thing. I have been accused of "riding the fence" by taking an agnostic viewpoint, and I think that is okay.

I have close friends who are devout Catholics, devout Baptists, and strong Atheists. While in once sense I admire their desire to defend their closely held beliefs/opinions, I also find it a bit extreme to try to hold to the notion that you've got it all figured out. I certainly don't.

I'd like to believe that the bad will get what's coming to them one day and that the real saints of this world will find a better world on the other side of the grave. That's what I was always taught - but in my heart, I cannot help but question whether anyone has any of it really figured out and whether anyone can be sure. I don't think it is possible.

Just my opinion.

Take care,
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Old 11th February 2003, 05:28 PM   #18
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Re: Re: agnostics???

Quote:
Originally posted by SortingItAllOut

...
My definition of an agnostic is one who doesn't believe that we can know whether or not there is a creator. I don't believe that necessarily this makes the agnostic believe that no creator exists, only that we cannot know for sure.
...
Yes, this is a common definition of "agnosticism", the belief that it is impossible (even in principle) to know that god(s) exists.
One thing I've never understood about this position is:
Wouldn't it always be possible - in principle - to know that god exists, if god were to appear and make him/her self known in a clear and unambiguous manner?
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Old 11th February 2003, 07:09 PM   #19
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Re: Re: Re: agnostics???

Quote:
Originally posted by Vorticity

Yes, this is a common definition of "agnosticism", the belief that it is impossible (even in principle) to know that god(s) exists.
One thing I've never understood about this position is:
Wouldn't it always be possible - in principle - to know that god exists, if god were to appear and make him/her self known in a clear and unambiguous manner?
Good question.

But, how would god appear and make it clear that it was really god?

Here is a hypothetical and someone contrived situation to illustrate my point. Suppose that a sufficiently advanced being (not god, but perhaps an alien from a civilization that is considerably more advanced than we are) shows up, does a quick scan and figures out the local mythology and then claims to be the messiah. Suppose that he has the ability to heal the sick (via some advanced medical techniques that appear to us to be miraculous), the ability to walk on water (via some anti-gravity device), and the ability to sustain considerable physical abuse through some horrific torture (say, a crucifixion), and then his body goes into some sort of deep sleep while repairing itself, appearing to the casual observer to be, effectively, dead. Suppose that a few days pass and this alien now nearly healed, save some scars, awakes from his deep sleep, finds himself in a tomb and using his alien strength, rolls back the stone blocking the entrance. Showing himself to folks who had seen him die causes quite a stir. To finish his show, he is taken up by his alien craft after some parting words to the dumbstruck humans.

Now, we don't know of any alien lifeforms like this, but they could exist - who knows? There's an entire universe out there. The likelihood is that nothing like this would ever happen, but I suppose it could. How would we know that this alien wasn't god or at least the "son of god"? It would be difficult.

Any sufficiently advanced creature might appear to be godlike if it had answers to questions we haven't been able to answer ourselves. We can look no further than tribal cultures in Africa and South America. These people often thought that helicopters and airplanes carried their gods, that the technological advances that we take for granted - flashlights, radios, television, even butane lighters - were miraculous signs and wonders.

It is examples like these that make me hold the position that I do. How can I ever know for sure? Just my thoughts.

Take care,
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Old 11th February 2003, 07:23 PM   #20
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Then there's Apathetic Agnisticism:

I don't know and I don't care.
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Old 12th February 2003, 04:20 AM   #21
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Apologetic Agnomeicism:

The conviction of those who do not believe in gnomes and apologize for not doing so.
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Old 12th February 2003, 05:53 AM   #22
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J3K

Quote:
I have never heard of this belief before.(agnostics) What does it mean if you are agnostic?

I will talk only of pure agnosticism (involving both knowledge and belief).Agnostic atheism and agnostic theism are not pure agnosticism and I will not refer at them.


Basically (as many other have already shown) a pure agnostic is 'without knowledge of God(s)' .That in what knowledge is concerned (objective and subjective).But real agnostics are implicitly 'without knowledge of no God(s)' too.This is a feature shared by all types of pure agnosticism in what knowledge (objective and subjective) is concerned.

I cannot include all 'weak' atheists here since they only claim 'I do not believe in God(s)' without a clear reference at knowledge (objective and subjective).I could suppose that they have no objective or subjective knowledge of God (intrinsically) but clearly they do not claim to be 'without knowledge of no God'.Agnostic atheists on the other part are talking about objective knowledge of no God only.

Agnostic theists cannot be included here since they accept only that there is no objective knowledge to settle the problem of God's existence/nonexistence today but (additionally) they consider (without making objective claims) that there is evidence that can be interpreted (subjectively) as supporting [for the moment] the belief in a God [this does not imply certitudes but only that God hypothesis is the most likely to be true in their opinion].


In what belief is concerned,in my acception (some disagree with this-I still wait for a rational argumentation against) pure agnosticism splits in the following two branches (depending on the additional claims made):


1.'Hard' agnosticism- 'God(s) cannot be known [forever]'.Here knowledge refers at objective and subjective knowledge.This type of agnosticism is often mistken as the only type of agnosticism.Given that it is self-defeating logically (implying that we already know objectively that 'God can never be known' is TRUE) many concluded from here (wrongly) that agnosticism is not a valid position.


2.'Weak' agnosticism-'I suspend judgement regarding disbelief/belief until I will have sufficient reason to believe/disbelieve'.
Weak agnostics DO NOT sustain that God cannot be known [forever] but only that today we have no sufficient reason to believe/disbelieve.'Sufficient reason' to believe/disbelieve does not mean necessarilly 'objective' (scientific) knowledge but only enough evidence that can be interpreted (subjectively varying from person to person-there is no unique,rigid standard) as supporting belief/disbelief
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Old 12th February 2003, 06:34 AM   #23
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Quote:
Whodini:

Where do Logical Deists fall in that spectrum? Are LD's in 1, 2, or 3?
#1 - Deists
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Old 12th February 2003, 06:44 AM   #24
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People are confrontational and like to fight. It's the human nature. Religion is just another pretext to go into fights. Agnostics are the people who choose to admit that they don't really know for sure if God exists or not. They are the one who are either apathetic to the religious debate or in a search for Truth. Either way, you can't debate with an agnostic.
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Old 12th February 2003, 08:02 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by evildave
Then there's Apathetic Agnisticism:

I don't know and I don't care.
Then there's the Militant Agnostic:

I don't know, and you don't either.
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Old 12th February 2003, 08:09 AM   #26
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What am I? I guess I'm an atheist, but I do have one question:

Is there a reason why there is something rather than nothing?

~~ Paul
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Old 12th February 2003, 08:18 AM   #27
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Here you are, Paul - read it all - it's a classic

http://host.randi.org/vbulletin/show...&threadid=9858
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Old 12th February 2003, 08:19 AM   #28
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Quote:
Is there a reason why there is something rather than nothing?
Maybe there's not.

Maybe only the person reading this post exist, and everything else is just a figment of your imagination?
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Old 12th February 2003, 08:25 AM   #29
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agnostics???

Quote:
Originally posted by toddjh

The more formal definition says that an agnostic is a person who believes that we cannot, even in principle, know whether gods exist. Bit of a curious position, really. It's unsupportable, and I don't even see the appeal.
Unsupportable? If God does not exist, how might that be known?
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Old 12th February 2003, 08:57 AM   #30
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Quote:
I will talk only of pure agnosticism (involving both knowledge and belief).Agnostic atheism and agnostic theism are not pure agnosticism and I will not refer at them.Basically (as many other have already shown) a pure agnostic is 'without knowledge of God(s)' .That in what knowledge is concerned (objective and subjective).But real agnostics are implicitly 'without knowledge of no God(s)' too.This is a feature shared by all types of pure agnosticism in what knowledge (objective and subjective) is concerned.

I cannot include all 'weak' atheists here since they only claim 'I do not believe in God(s)' without a clear reference at knowledge (objective and subjective).I could suppose that they have no objective or subjective knowledge of God (intrinsically) but clearly they do not claim to be 'without knowledge of no God'.Agnostic atheists on the other part are talking about objective knowledge of no God only.

Agnostic theists cannot be included here since they accept only that there is no objective knowledge to settle the problem of God's existence/nonexistence today but (additionally) they consider (without making objective claims) that there is evidence that can be interpreted (subjectively) as supporting [for the moment] the belief in a God [this does not imply certitudes but only that God hypothesis is the most likely to be true in their opinion].


In what belief is concerned,in my acception (some disagree with this-I still wait for a rational argumentation against) pure agnosticism splits in the following two branches (depending on the additional claims made):


1.'Hard' agnosticism- 'God(s) cannot be known [forever]'.Here knowledge refers at objective and subjective knowledge.This type of agnosticism is often mistken as the only type of agnosticism.Given that it is self-defeating logically (implying that we already know objectively that 'God can never be known' is TRUE) many concluded from here (wrongly) that agnosticism is not a valid position.


2.'Weak' agnosticism-'I suspend judgement regarding disbelief/belief until I will have sufficient reason to believe/disbelieve'.
Weak agnostics DO NOT sustain that God cannot be known [forever] but only that today we have no sufficient reason to believe/disbelieve.'Sufficient reason' to believe/disbelieve does not mean necessarilly 'objective' (scientific) knowledge but only enough evidence that can be interpreted (subjectively varying from person to person-there is no unique,rigid standard) as supporting belief/disbelief

Few clarifications are needed (sorry for my english):

1.What mean 'subjective evidence' in the above context?

In the above context I used this term as meaning either personal evidence (for example direct experiences pointing toward the existence of a God) and objective evidence (for example the constatation that all important constant of nature are 'fine tuned' poiniting toward the possible existence of a God,the 'design' argument derived from the existence of a 'Big Bang' or the constatation that God hypothesis does not play any role in our today's science,that materialism has always worked so far,that current trends in neurology and AI point out that consciousness is computable and so on).
In both cases induction was used therefore even if the premises are considered 'objective knowledge' the conclusions are still 'subjective knowledge' valid only at personal level,anyway enough to base a rational system of personal belief.


2.Agnostic atheists on the other part are talking about NO objective knowledge of no God only.


Otherwise if,in what knowledge is concerned,agnostic atheism said that there is no objective and subjective evidence either way then there would be a big problem with it.
To sustain an affirmation like 'I do not believe in God(s)' one must still have a reason for that.In my opinion the simple fact that no theist has ever managed to give 'sufficient evidence' (not necessarily objective knowledge) to an agnostic atheist is not enough to base such an affirmation.There should exist something extra,'subjective' evidence in my above definition,which to support it.Implying a contradiction with the supposition that agnostic atheism concede that there is no subjective (in my above definition) evidence either way.
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Old 12th February 2003, 09:00 AM   #31
ReasonableDoubt
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Originally posted by whitefork
Does anyone know a name for this belief besides agnostic?
noncognitivism
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Old 12th February 2003, 09:08 AM   #32
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Originally posted by ReasonableDoubt
noncognitivism
Thank you - I thought that only applied to propositions about morality, but evidently not.

That'll prove to be a real conversation stopper next time some one asks.
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Old 12th February 2003, 09:08 AM   #33
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Given Huxley:
Quote:
"Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle. That principle is of great antiquity; it is as old as Socrates; as old as the writer who said, "Try all things, hold fast by that which is good" it is the foundation of the Reformation, which simply illustrated the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him; it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science. Positively the principle may be expressed In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him." (TH Huxley, Agnosticism, 1889)
I would suggest that he might now prefer the phrase "methodological naturalism".
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Old 12th February 2003, 09:10 AM   #34
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Unsupportable? If God does not exist, how might that be known?
By demonstrating that the mutually exclusive alternate option is more True.
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Old 12th February 2003, 09:11 AM   #35
ReasonableDoubt
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Originally posted by whitefork

Thank you - I thought that only applied to propositions about morality, but evidently not.
See, for example, Atheism, Agnosticism, Noncognitivism.
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Old 12th February 2003, 09:14 AM   #36
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Originally posted by Franko


By demonstrating that the mutually exclusive alternate option is more True.
"More True"? How can anything be "more true" than anything else that is "true"?
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Old 12th February 2003, 09:14 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally posted by Franko
Quote:
If God does not exist, how might that be known?
By demonstrating that the mutually exclusive alternate option is more True.
Wrong.
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Old 12th February 2003, 09:40 AM   #38
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But real agnostics are implicitly 'without knowledge of no God(s)' too.
Here I haven't 'digged' till the end.Obviously there could exist pure agnostics that accept that there is no objective knowledge either way but who accept that there is some acceptable (logically) subjective knowledge (in one direction,or in both ways),still not enough to make a decision of belief.A better approach would be:

But real agnostics are implicitly 'without reliable (judged from a personal,subjective,perspective) knowledge of no God(s)' too'.


In the case of agnostic theists or agnostic atheists the subjective knowledge (valid logically,being a valid possibility) is considered (again on a personal,subjective,basis) as being reliable to sustain a belief in God or 'I do not believe in God(s)' respectively.
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Old 12th February 2003, 09:47 AM   #39
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"More True"? How can anything be "more true" than anything else that is "true"?
In the same way that boinking some gorgeous hottie is "FUN", while boinking some gorgeous hottie and her sorority sister simultaneously is "MORE FUN".

In summary:

Boinking hottie is FUN = TRUE

Boinking hottie1 + Boinking hottie2 is FUN = MORE TRUE
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Old 12th February 2003, 09:48 AM   #40
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Quote:
Reasonedout:
Wrong.
Great argument A-Theist.

Damn you boys are sooo predictable. hehe ...
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