Friday, November 26, 2010

Research notes: Agnosticism ( Agnostic )

Research notes: Agnosticism ( Agnostic )

Agnosticism ( Agnostic ) is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable. agnosticism is a stance about the similarities or differences between belief and knowledge, rather than about any specific claim or belief.

Demographic research services normally list agnostics in the same category as atheists and/or non-religious people.

Agnosticism often overlaps with other belief systems. Agnostic theists identify themselves both as agnostics and as followers of particular religions, viewing agnosticism as a framework for thinking about the nature of belief and their relation to revealed truths.

Agnostic atheists - are atheistic because they do not have belief in the existence of any deity, and agnostic because they do not claim to know that a deity does not exist.

Agnostic theism - The view of those who do not claim to know of the existence of any deity, but still believe in such an existence.

Apathetic or Pragmatic agnosticism - The view that there is no proof of either the existence or nonexistence of any deity, but since any deity that may exist appears unconcerned for the universe or the welfare of its inhabitants, the question is largely academic.

Ignosticism - The view that a coherent definition of a deity must be put forward before the question of the existence of a deity can be meaningfully discussed. If the chosen definition is not coherent, the ignostic holds the noncognitivist view that the existence of a deity is meaningless or empirically untestable.

Strong agnosticism - The view that the question of the existence or nonexistence of a deity or deities and the nature of ultimate reality is unknowable by reason of our natural inability to verify any experience with anything but another subjective experience. A strong agnostic would say, "I cannot know whether a deity exists or not, and neither can you."

Weak agnosticism - The view that the existence or nonexistence of any deities is currently unknown but is not necessarily unknowable, therefore one will withhold judgment until/if any evidence is available. A weak agnostic would say, "I don't know whether any deities exist or not, but maybe one day when there is evidence we can find something out."

Robert G. Ingersoll, an Illinois lawyer and politician who evolved into a well-known and sought-after orator in 19th century America, has been referred to as the "Great Agnostic."

In an 1896 lecture titled Why I Am An Agnostic, Ingersoll related why he was an agnostic:

    Is there a supernatural power—an arbitrary mind—an enthroned God—a supreme will that sways the tides and currents of the world—to which all causes bow? I do not deny. I do not know—but I do not believe. I believe that the natural is supreme—that from the infinite chain no link can be lost or broken—that there is no supernatural power that can answer prayer—no power that worship can persuade or change—no power that cares for man.

    I believe that with infinite arms Nature embraces the all—that there is no interference—no chance—that behind every event are the necessary and countless causes, and that beyond every event will be and must be the necessary and countless effects.

    Is there a God? I do not know. Is man immortal? I do not know. One thing I do know, and that is, that neither hope, nor fear, belief, nor denial, can change the fact. It is as it is, and it will be as it must be.

In the conclusion of the speech he simply sums up the agnostic position as:

    We can be as honest as we are ignorant. If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know.

Agnosticism is criticized from a variety of standpoints. Some religious thinkers see agnosticism as a limitation of the mind's capacity to know reality other than material objects. Some atheists also criticize the use of the term agnosticism as functionally indistinguishable from atheism.

Many theistic thinkers repudiate the validity of agnosticism, or certain forms of agnosticism. Religious scholars in the three Abrahamic religions ( Judaism, Christianity, Islam ) affirm the possibility of knowledge, even of metaphysical realities such as God and the soul, because human intelligence, they assert, has a non-material, spiritual element. They affirm that “not being able to see or hold some specific thing does not necessarily negate its existence,” as in the case of gravity, entropy, or reason and thought......

"I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there"..."I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden." - Richard Dawkins, Atheist criticism

Why I am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell (March 6, 1927).

Why I Am An Agnostic by Robert G. Ingersoll, [1896].

The Natural Religion by Dr Brendan Connolly, 2008

List of agnostics

Lists of people by belief