An Agnostic Manifesto


“Let’s get one thing straight: Agnosticism is not some kind of weak-tea atheism. Agnosticism is not atheism or theism. It is radical skepticism, doubt in the possibility of certainty, opposition to the unwarranted certainties that atheism and theism offer.”

More at:  The rise of the new agnostics. – By Ron Rosenbaum – Slate Magazine.

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Comments

  1. levelsofillusion says:

    http://levelsofillusion.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/homo-suggestibilis/

    I would be interested in your opinion of this.

  2. levelsofillusion says:

    …”Faced with the fundamental question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” atheists have faith that science will tell us eventually. Most seem never to consider that it may well be a philosophic, logical impossibility for something to create itself from nothing.”…

    I take exception, as an Atheist, to that statement. I don’t think it is true at all. As a matter of fact, I think it is silly. …”for something to create itself from nothing”… is utterly besides the point of Atheism. You have two choices.. IS or ISN’T. Clearly IS seems inarguably to be the current state of things.
    The “paranormal” or “supernatural” explanation of the state of reality is what theism is about. So, am I to conclude that an Agnostic simply doesn’t want to philosophically commit to the universe running on magic or not? That isn’t weak tea… it’s not even tea at all.
    Atheism has nothing to do with “one day science will know”. It doesn’t matter. Atheism simply rejects out of hand supernatural beliefs and paranormal happenings offered as proof of a Gods existence by theists.
    It seems to me that all an agnostic can bring to the table is …I-dun-oh.

    • Greetings levelsofillusion,

      First of all let me extend my apologies for the late “approval” of your comments … for some reason the wordpress dashboard classified them as spam. Thankfully I happened to notice sooner rather than later and rectified the issue.

      I-dun-oh what agnosticism is or isn’t exactly 🙂 , in fact the term itself is rather misleading if one is to be aware of the difference between knowledge and information. To me the only way the word agnostic makes sense is in fact to point to this very dichotomy … namely, that no amount of externally acquired information is a factor in realizing true knowledge.

      Inner knowledge isn’t susceptible to the capriciousness of “belief” or “disbelief” for it isn’t subject to verification … it lies outside if conceptual mutually defining relativistic positions. Outside of coin dualities such as theism/atheism …it requires neither faith, evidence, proof, or lack thereof.

      Not sure if what I am expressing makes sense, for where it is a simple understanding, it is extraordinarily difficult to convey. But I should note that I try to find content such as the above linked article to stimulate discourse such as the one we are now engaged in, but not as an expressed or tacit endorsement of the thought itself.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting, I will do likewise if I am welcome to on thy blog, and once again my apologies for the “spam” snafu.

      Regards

      schrodog

  3. levelsofillusion says:

    Great Blog name S.D.

    Drop by any time. There IS a problem with this “spam-o-matic” thingy. Half the time I wonder if anything comes or goes the way it should.

    I love the ability to blog so easy, but, the picture is often wrong and you never really know … if you “know” what I mean.

    Check these guys out.
    http://whoistheabsurdman.blogspot.com/2009_08_01_archive.html
    You may find them interesting.

    All the best
    “L” of “I”

  4. bigfatfurrytexan says:

    The very definition of “agnostic” is to not know. Idunno is what the term means. My 12 year old makes claims of being such, and i don’t correct him as it is true: he doesn’t know. He doesn’t even know, truly, what being agnostic means. That is how little he actually knows. Of course, i feed him philosophy (which means, by definition, “to seek to know”, appropriately) so that one day he may know.

    To Sdogs point, this would be “knowledge”. The books are not meant to give him information, they are meant to give him insight.

    I see agnosticism as being a state that one embodies while on their travels. I was at one time Christian. Then Atheist. Then i realized that i know nothing, and had not even bothered to put in the effort to ponder the real questions of life on my own. That i had taken the word of others and allowed that to be assimilated as my own thoughts. In essence, i allowed them to think for me. When i say “other people”, i refer to authors, pop culture, etc.

    It was at this point that i admitted that i didn’t know. I was agnostic. And if i ever wanted to know I would have to seek to know. So i delved into philosophy. Of course, i have spent the time since working out my own logical errors so that my philosophy will be more sound. But that will never end, and will represents my remaining lifes work.

    Of course, there are those that do what is trendy. Atheism/agnostism are misunderstood in popculture and seem to be all the rage right now. These participants are not the people we discuss here. Having said that, i view it thusly: Agnosticism may be viewed as “weak tea” by a true atheist, but this is only due to a misunderstanding. Perhaps the true atheist should understand that their certainty represents a fallacy due to ego, and that agnosticism is just another progression in true understanding.

    To state that you truly know something is a bold statement. It is no less preposterous for a Scientologist to state his beliefs than for an Atheist to do the same. As Sdog alluded, neither represents knowledge. They both represent information.

  5. levelsofillusion says:

    I think you may be missing the point “bfft”.

    Atheism simply means no theistic beliefs. It is most assuredly NOT a belief system in and of itself. Case in point: As an atheist I don’t “believe” that there is no God… any more than I “don’t believe” that there are leprechauns in your closet that are controlling the worlds weather.
    As an Atheist I don’t “believe” any of the hundreds of theistic explanations [as in A-theistic] that I have been exposed to. That’s all

    • You are somewhat correct in saying that atheism is not strictly speaking a belief system, neither is Buddhism btw but doesn’t stop folks for embracing it as such … “isms” have a way of doing that.

      It is however a belief system in a more fundamental sense because it is a personal position based on a concept. Since concepts are mind made constructs they are by definition beliefs. But that of course is true of everything in our sense based perceptions and mind interpretations … as one named “levelsofillusion” surely you connect to that understanding.

      More importantly atheism is defined by theism, that coin cannot be separated. This interdependence makes it inextricably attached to its opposite and defines itself through it.

      Agnosticism, the way that I mean it and its natural appeal to me, is the detachment of personal [egoic] positions towards concepts. The “I don’t know” is based on an inherent humility towards the universe. It doesn’t inspire apathy or inquisitive laziness, it in fact produces the opposite.

      Namely the earnest inquiry without the hurdles of personal positions/feelings/morals/caveats/etc getting between the awareness and its acceptance. It requires no completion, no resolution, no closure … in fact it requires nothing but discovery for its own sake, without anything needing to fit with anything else, and without personal resistance to what is.

      In my realization … “I don’t know” is the only impersonal and honest approach to what we call life. The upshot? It isn’t limited to one conversation such as theism.

  6. levelsofillusion says:

    You know what Schrodog? There is a reason Organized Atheists have been attempting to find a new name for Atheism. It’s to get away from that other side of the coin stuff you allude to. Hence the name “Brights”. [but it won’t work]

    It is impossible for theists [read: believers in the paranormal and the supernatural] to even conceive of a person or a reality that doesn’t include paranormal and supernatural happenings. They HAVE TO BELIEVE. It’s an imperative. Ergo, they can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t. So, on the wings of illusion, they project their mental state on everybody… including atheists. And, by the way, Buddhism is chock-full of “paranormal & supernatural” beliefs. Zen too.

    I am forced S-dog to take issue with you on this… “More importantly atheism is defined by theism, that coin cannot be separated. This interdependence makes it inextricably attached to its opposite and defines itself through it.”…

    That is the political equivalent of saying that a person who doesn’t think the war in Afghanistan is a “good idea”… JUST HATES AMERICA AND FREEDOM.

    An atheist simply does not credit ANYTHING to magic.

  7. bigfatfurrytexan says:

    That could make me an “atheist” then. I had always thought of myself more as a “deist” than anything (if you can fit my big butt in a box). I do not credit anything to magic, either. All events are causative in nature.

    It is this realization that further drives my feelings of agnosticism, because it represents another facet that i just do not know. There are these “supernatural” events that happen, but i/we just do not understand the mechanisms behind them. Take ghosts, etc…there is compelling video. Many, many instances of events that are repeated. The disembodied legs in that library, for example. So we know there are events. The real question is, what is causing it? Well, if we consider our cumulative body of information to be all that is “natural”, then it would be “supernatural”. Doesn’t mean it is magic. But it is an exotic event that we cannot currently explain.

    In the case of PSI, Ingo Swann makes a compelling argument for how psychic events work. You should read it.

    Me? I believe there is a “God”. It is the sentient universe. That is the Deity. The “Creator”, as it is the creative force. :)_

  8. levelsofillusion says:

    That would make you a theist bigfatfurrytexan.

    [You post] …”Take ghosts, etc…there is compelling video. Many, many instances of events that are repeated. The disembodied legs in that library, for example. So we know there are events.”…

    That would make you a believer in the paranormal/supernatural/magical.

    Congratulations! You are a member of the Majority Party. 89% of the human race agrees with YOU.

  9. bigfatfurrytexan says:

    Do you deny that well recorded events exist?

    I do not deny that they exist. I just propose that they have explanations that are currently beyond our information base. Nothing is miraculous. We live in a reality ruled by causation. The Universal Law Of Consequence.

    Believing what you see to be real does not make you a theist. Ascribing it to God does.

    Of course, I ascribe everything to God. God is the Universe, Reality, etc. But that is beside the point.

  10. levelsofillusion says:

    It looks to me bigfatfurrytexan like what you have there is a “private religion”.

    Have a care. A private religion is what many mental disorders can be classified as.
    If I were you I would keep my minor deviations from the cultural norm, the primary religion, largely to myself. Can’t be too careful when it comes to “beliefs”. I confess, you have got me nervous with all this “God is the Universe” talk, and what’s this ….. [There are these “supernatural” events that happen, but i/we just do not understand the mechanisms behind them. “]…?

    You have to shit or get off the pot here buddy. Are they “Supernatural” or not? You are either “on the juice”, or you are not.

    It works like this. For reasons only speculated upon our brains give us a little squirt of chemical “juice” when we can, and do, embrace a totally absurd reality scheme. It happens in that “I believe” moment that you hear about from new converts and see in old movies like “Elmer Gantry” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told”. The rush is reputed to be outrageous. The deal is… the more ridiculous and the more patently absurd the belief, or reality scheme, the BIGGER the squirt of juice. For example, think Scientology, Mormonism and todays “Left Behind” Rapture cult. In a way of speaking, those guys are on the hard stuff.
    Now, you seem to be just playing around with the needle. Thinking about how you can use your belt to tie off the top of your arm and pop a nice vein up.
    Take warning. It’s nothing to play around with. Especially if you are going to be shooting up stuff you brewed in your own lab. That’s why many mental illnesses are referred to as “Private Religions”.

  11. bigfatfurrytexan says:

    It isn’t anything like “private religion”. 🙂 You are misunderstanding me. But i don’t think clarification will help. This conversation has grown toxic.

    I just wanted to know if you are denying events that are well documented and well recorded which most people would call “supernatural”. Is it that you claim they don’t happen, or that you claim they are misrepresented?

    I offered my explanation: that supernatural events are merely occurances which science cannot currently explain. Humanity is on a march of knowledge, and we have come a long way. We have yet a long way to go.

    Gravity could be considered supernatural. Like esp, it can and has been observed. However, no mechanism can be put forth to define it, nor its causation. And “PSI” research by Hal Puthoff has more than proven esp to be a real event that is measurable. There is no denying Puthoffs research, nor his reputation.

    And that is what i am getting at. What i am trying to find out. Is the Atheism that you practice and have defined above one that would simply ignore facts that are incompatible? How do you reconcile the proven existence of many “supernatural” phenomenon? And how can you be so sure that none of it exists?

    It would seem to me that Atheism requires as little logic and as much faith as Scientology (i only use Scientology, instead of some more accepted religious belief, because that is the example you wanted to use in your reply).

    I really hope that if you choose to reply to me you will leave out the ad hominems and fallacious constructs. To try to label me “mentally ill”, or marginalize my viewpoints, is not of a caliber of discussion I am prepared for.

  12. Yes … please no more insults, indirect as they may be.

    And please don’t make me moderate posts … I hate it so MUCH!

    Let’s talk about fluffy bunnies. 😀

  13. levelsofillusion says:

    bigfatfurrytexan, I extend to you (and all) my humblest apologies. It was neither my intention to insult you or even hint that you are mentally ill. If I really thought, it I would have said it.
    It was my intention to explain religion, or lack there of, to you from my perspective.
    [You post] …”Gravity could be considered supernatural.”…
    I disagree. The “suspension” of gravity, a yet to be fully explained physical phenomena, that can be predicted to the Nth degree anywhere you look, by religious entities like angels or ghosts would be considered “supernatural”. Not gravity itself.

    [You ask] …”How do you reconcile the proven existence of many “supernatural” phenomenon?”…
    I don’t have to. If they are indeed “proven” to exist then they can be observed and measured. They become facts that can be reproduced. The magic is gone and they are no longer supernatural phenomenon. They are just physical, natural happenings.

    [You post] …”It would seem to me that Atheism requires as little logic and as much faith as Scientology”…

    Now, it would be awfully easy for me, an atheist, to take that as a direct insult, but, I know that is not how it was meant.
    Look at it this way. Scientology (all supernaturalism actually) requires a “suspension of disbelief”. Atheism requires the exact opposite. It requires proof of a fixed and reproducible nature and the ability to be falsified. Nothing taken on faith. Do you see?

    [you ask] …”I just wanted to know if you are denying events that are well documented and well recorded which most people would call “supernatural”…

    Absolutely! What “most people” think is irrelevant. Facts that can be proven, or at least a good testable theory, are necessary for me.

    With regard to “private religion” being another word for mental illness… I didn’t make that up. Culture dictates along what lines paranormal beliefs and supernatural beliefs may flow. For example… if you were transported to Mexico City in 1400 AD and told everybody that you didn’t believe that cutting out human hearts was important to making the sun rise you would, rightfully, by accepted cultural standards, be considered… “sick in the head”.
    I meant no disrespect.

  14. bigfatfurrytexan says:

    I think that, at the base, our prime disagreement here is that I believe all things “supernatural” have a possibility of truly existing and have a scientific explanation (once science catches up). If i read correctly, you don’t mire yourself in that which is not readily observable.

    As well, it seems that i believe something to be “known” when we have a causative mechanism for it. I do not believe it to be “known” until that point. For the Hal Puthoff experiments, what we have done is quantify the existence. Defining the causation is still left undone, and theories range into the purely supernatural.

    Does this make sense?

    For what it is worth, this is a very interesting discussion to me. 🙂 I am one who “seeks to understand”. The explanation I have read thus far hasn’t given me the understanding. That is all. I am just trying to understand the viewpoint you provide me. I do not seek to change peoples beliefs at all.

  15. levelsofillusion says:

    Yes it makes sense “bfft”. We are getting closer to being on the same channel, we just have to fiddle with the rabbit ears a little.
    I think we are making a mistake lumping ESP, ghosts and gravity into the same soup as religion. Todays science fiction often becomes tomorrows science.
    Religion is another kettle of fish.
    So, let me articulate where I am on religion. I believe that man evolved to exist at a particular “Level of Illusion”. The question is, WHAT is the best level?
    I do not think it is possible for most humans (the overwhelming majority) to successfully deal with death. To picture the universe without them in it and be OK with that. I, like Ernest Becker in his Pulitzer Prize winning work, “The Denial of Death” think religion and supernaturalism and paranormal beliefs are created by man to shelter his ego from the fact that he is meat. Meat no different from any other and, in fact, no more important to the universe. Religion makes man special and YOUR religion (speaking generally) makes YOU more important than people of other [read: WRONG] religions. Since, mathematically, only one of the thousands and thousands of mutually exclusive religions that are and have been can be right… it gets absurd rather fast when we fight, with no proof what so ever, over who is right.
    Christians are Atheists with regard to EVERY other religion. I just add one more. Christianity.

    In the end, perhaps it can be accurately said that humans are how the universe observes itself. But eagles have better eyes and beagles better noses. Or, the Hindus could be closer when they say that EVERYTHING is GOD and the universe is just GOD playing hide and seek from itself. I don’t know. But, my particular level of illusion does not include anything past my death, nor does it include anything preceding my birth. I’m meat and happy as a clam to be so.

  16. bigfatfurrytexan says:

    My concepts of deity follow closely with the Brahmin ideas of Hinduism. The whole “AllisOne” concept.

    Of course, i readily admit i just don’t know. I am trying to make sense of it all, myself.

    What convinces me that there is something we would call “supernatural” behind it all has 6o do with mind. Wher is it located? I don’t believe it lies within the brain. I think the brain is more like a “modem” and serves to access the mind.

    For example, consider the finding of Hal Puthoff. Ingo Swann, one of the experimental subjects, has eloquently provided his ideas on what is happening, and that has largely inpsired my own thoughts.

    There is just so much that is not known, you know? to me it is more likely that death here results in birth elsewhere….but who knows.

  17. levelsofillusion says:

    Mornin “bfft”… OK if you are really into [” mind. Where is it located? I don’t believe it lies within the brain.] Then you need to read everything by this guy.] http://www.sheldrake.org/

    But, you are dealing with the death thing.

    [“to me it is more likely that death here results in birth elsewhere….but who knows.}…

    That is the center of Beckers “Denial of Death”, the work of Otto Rank and SO many other psychologists and philosophers. I believe it to be the reason for religion in the first place.

    read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Denial_of_Death

    Buy this: http://www.amazon.com/Denial-Death-Ernest-Becker/dp/0684832402

    You will be happy you did. (check out the reviews)

    Let me know what you think
    All the best

  18. levelsofillusion says:

    For a good explanation…… and a thought provoking experience, take 4 minutes and 17 seconds and listen to this.

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