Sunday, May 27, 2012

Penitent Agnosticism

Conversations with other nonbelievers can sometimes leave me scratching my head in bewilderment.  So far, I've seen two types that consistently baffle me.  First, there are those that love to play devil's advocate just because they love to argue.  These are the people that would argue with a sign, even if they had painted it.  Then there are those nonbelievers that love to hear themselves talk (or write); as they go on and on and on and never really make a point.  Give the talkers a keyboard and you're sure to strain an eyeball as you struggle to find the point of their argument.

But the one conversation that completely baffles me - whether from a devil's advocate or a talker - is the argument of agnosticism.  If you have been a nonbeliever for a while, you probably already know what I mean. If not, here's an example of how these conversations tend to progress:

Agnostic: "Do you believe in god?"
Me: "No. I don't believe in god."
Agnostic: "Okay...  So you'd say you're an atheist?"
Me: "Yes."
Agnostic: "Well... I'm an agnostic, because I don't think we can ever prove there is no god."

Granted, I have heard variants of the argument.  Take, for example, the agnostic talker:

"A proper definition of what humanity considers a deity has evolved into systems of science and identity; where science itself has become the backbone of modern faith which requires the devotee to seek refuge in the community of human knowledge rather than the company of religious companions.  Human knowledge is demonstrably ineffectual when considering the quantum indeterminacy within our own cosmos, which by definition leaves the possibility of unknown states of reality.  Thus, the very existence of god is ultimately unknowable."


Then there's the agnostic devil's advocate:

"God could easily live outside the measurable universe.  You can't prove that he can't."

Okay, I would like to offer a compromise to all the agnostics out there.  I will cede the point with all of you that I cannot prove that there is no god, so long as you agree that you cannot prove that there is no Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, no Thor, no Zeus, and that I do not own an invisible, flying purple dragon in my garage.  If you're going to argue the possibility of existence for one mythical deity, you'd better be consistent in your acceptance of all possibilities of the unknowable.

What bothers me so much about the modern agnostic argument for the possibility of a god is that there seems to me to be this self-declared intellectual high ground that agnostics just love to hoist their victory flag upon.  Hogwash!  Proclaiming yourself as holding the more intellectual position simply because you're uncomfortable with the notion of disbelief is vain and hollow.  Not to mention the fact that this position is one of modern Christian subservience.  Don't believe me?  Then ask yourselves how many times you've had to stand firm on your agnosticism of Brahma, or your agnosticism on reincarnation?  I've even had one agnostic recently assert that the term "atheism" just sounds too antagonistic...

Are you kidding me?  First of all, I will grant that I have heard that there are some atheists who will state that they know for a fact that there is no god.  But these are few and far between, as most atheists that I know would say that based on the evidence at hand, they do not believe there is a god.  In other words, we are willing to accept new evidence so long as it can pass the rigors of the scientific method.  Second, and most importantly, who do you think it is that has you convinced that the term, "atheist" is antagonistic?  I would never presume to speak for the entire atheist community, but for me, I'm quite sure it wasn't from us.

My point here is this:  If you're going to argue for the possibility of a deity, you'd better be consistent on your intellectual high ground - lest be labeled an apologetic.

DISCLAIMER:  All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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