Why you can’t be an agnostic

Agnosticism – A definition

Many people like to postulate on the great metaphysical questions of human. Many people like to think that God exists, others like to think that He does not. But there is a third category of people: those who do not like to deal with such questions because of lack of relative evidence. These people are called “agnostics”. The terms agnostic and agnosticism were created by Huxley to sum up his thoughts on contemporary developments of metaphysics about the “unconditioned” (Hamilton) and the “unknowable” (Herbert Spencer).

Thomas Henry Huxley

What I will demonstrate in this article is that if someone defines himself as “agnostic” he must not believe in anything concerning science and life. Or, in other words, someone who calls himself a “scientist” (thus, he believes in what we call “science” – see below) cannot at the same time call himself an “agnostic” and avoid questions about God in such a crude and un-scientific way…

I will achieve that by analyzing the nature of “knowledge” and by showing that there can be no such thing as “certain” knowledge: for us to say something about anything, we must have faith in something! There is nothing for which we have ALL the evidence required for us to “know” – after all who decides which is the level of knowledge required for someone to “know”? Noone.

The implications of that fact are very important especially for agnosticism: one cannot say “I don’t know” in some areas of knowledge but “claim” that he/she “knows” in others…

Faith or Evidence?

Many people rely solely on evidence to believe something. Others rely only on faith. Others – most of us actually – rely both on hard evidence and soft indications (i.e. evidence + faith up to a point) to believe in something. The first two categories of people are the extremes and these extremes make a very good job in trying to convince everyone that you must either rely on evidence or on faith exclusively so as to actually “know” if something is true. This is far from correct.

I will demonstrate by using simple human logic that such thing as “absolute knowledge” does not actually exist and that believing in anything always contains some degree of faith. This has a great implication as far as “agnosticism” is concerned: you must either choose to believe nothing (since every knowledge contains some “faith”) or to believe something about every question you deal with, but you CANNOT say “I don’t have evidence, thus I cannot have an opinion on this”…

The myth of absolute knowledge

Science uses evidence to reach to conlusions about the world. Scientists apply the tool of “logic” to these “hard” evidence and formulate theories that explain the world and, most importantly, predict the future behaviour of systems. So is the knowledge gained via this scientific method valid? Is what we learn via evidence and logic induction “real”? The answer is that we cannot be certain.

First of all, induction is a logical tool that can be used to draw great conclusions, but it is not a perfect tool. Its limits are the actual limits of our knowledge. Lets say you decide to formulate a scientific theory about frogs. You observe a frog and see that it is green and likes water. Then you observe another frog and see that it is also green and likes water. Then another, another, another and another…So by using logical induction you state your grand theory: “Frogs are green and they like water”. Have you discovered the truth? Should others believe you? Lets say they do and you become the world’s greatest “frogologist”…Everything seem fine, until you discover a black frog…

How do you decide when there is enough evidence to base one theory on? How does one scientist knows when to stop collecting data and start writing his theory? The answer is simple: he cannot know when to stop. So believing the conclusions science draws from the scarse evidence it has entails believing that induction actually “works” for the case we examine [1] [2].

Secondly, what do we know of the limits of our thought? As Wittgenstein well put it, we cannot know the limits of our thought because in doing so we should be able to think of what we cannot think! How do we then know if our senses totally fool us? How can we be certain that our brain functions correctly? And what does “correctly” mean anyway? The answer to such philosophical questions is quite simple: we cannot be certain of anything. So believing the results of science means that one must also believe that we think correctly, that nothing out of our brain reach exists and so on…

See my knol Religional Science for more details on the post-modern philosophy of Wittgenstein.

Following from the above, Science can create theories but cannot tell us anything about the “truth” of the world we live in. Science can create models of gravity, but is unable to say whether “gravity” is something real or not. The knowledge we have via science is relative and not absolute. And even if it is, we will neven know it. Please refer to my knol for The Limits of Science for a more detailed analysis of the matter.

The implications to agnosticism

When some people who BELIEVE in science are asked about the great metaphysical questions of humans (e.g. “Does God exists?”, “Why do we exist?” etc), they answer that the lack of evidence does not allow them to carry an opinion on these issues. Can this be a possible answer? No.

The reason why agnosticism is not a viable answer for someone who believes in science, is simple and based on what I have mentioned above for the myth of “absolute” truth. As described above, believing in science contains the notion of “faith”. So one cannot see the “lack of evidence” as a problem, while deciding to just ignore the same problem in another field of knowledge (you believe that all frogs are green because the great frogologist told you so, even though you do not have observed ALL the frogs in the Universe).

READ ALSO:  Knowing that you do not Know…

So the possibilities are:

1. You are a complete agnostic: You do not believe in absolutely ANYTHING, since believing in anything means having observed ALL possible data, KNOWING that your mind works correctly, being CERTAIN that your mind can think for what you think and so on.

2. You have an opinion, since knowing equals observing + analyzing logically + believing (see above). We can never actually “know” something, but we use that word often. That is acceptable, provided that we understand the true nature of the words we use.

3. You say that you DO NOT WANT to have an opinion. That is an absolutely valid option to choose.

However it must be noted that this has nothing to do with the often heard agnostic motto: “I do not have evidence to draw an opinion”…And it is even more weird (at least) to be a scientist and try to understand how everything in the universe works, but not want to learn why do you exist or what is the reason behind the existence of the whole universe…

In other words, if you have no problem using number π or the suare root of 2, then you do not have the “right” to use the excuse of “lack of evidence” when it comes to questions like “does God exist?”. If you use the idea of “infinite” in mathematics, then you cannot say that people who claim that God is infinite and exists do not have reliable evidence. If you believe in the existence of a number you cannot even write down on paper (see 3,14159…), then how can you use the excuse of “we cannot know” or claim that “I don’t want to know” when it comes to the meaning of your own life? If you discuss about the “Big Bang” for which you will never have empirical or experimental data, how can you not discuss about metaphysical questions?

Agnosticism is incompatible with human relations

Saying “I don’t know because I don’t have all the necessary hard evidence to draw a certain conclusion” can lead to many problems in everyday life. To put it simply, hard-core agnosticism is incompatible with everyday life and healthy human relations because it undermines the basis of human relations: trust. When a close friend tells you that he caught a very big fish the day before, would you believe him? Or would you deny even to discuss about it if your friend did not present hard evidence for the specific fish in discussion? If your wife tells you that she loves you, would you believe her? Or would you wait until specific hard evidence were presented to back-up her saying? How many evidence would it take to convince you? In life and especially in human relations many agnostics believe things without any evidence, but they tend to “forget” it or present these cases as something “different” from the cases discussed above. However the cases are similar. And to make things more complicated I would like feedback from agnostics on the following: If your son is accused of something in a court of law with all the evidence pointing towards the conclusion that he is guilty, but you really *know* your son and know he is a never-lying good kid, would you believe him if he said “I didn’t do it” ? Trust and love are things not based on evidence every time. Human relations are things not based on scientific experimental data and evidence. If you say to your wife that you love her as long as you have a list with evidence “proving” HER love to you, then this is not true love and this is not a healty human relationship. So what do you do? Would you just stop being an agnostic there?


Most of us apply agnosticism selectively to specific aspects of knowledge. As I have demonstrated above, human knowledge must always be based on evidence and faith at the same time – we can never be certain of something beyond any doubt! So agnosticism in some things and “knowledge” of others is not an option! Either believe, not believe or state that you do not WANT to decide – but don’t use the “lack of evidence” as an excuse for you “not knowing” in matters that may discomfort you!
And do not forget that no matter how many times an agnostic might say “I don’t know” he still cannot hide the fact that he/she constantly makes deliberate choices in his life: an agnostic who “does not know” if there is a God goes or goes-not to the church. So in his mind he does have an inclination towards one of the two possibilities.  In the same way an agnostic who “does not know” if causality exists in the worlds, looks for cause or does not look for causes in his everyday life. So in most cases the “I don’t know” is accompanied by more than specific choices that are made.

Moreover, the search for knowledge is what has driven humans to philosophy for thousands of years. Denying that reality and denying the inherent desire of humans to “know”, is simply unacceptable…If Socrates, Aristotle and Plato applied agnosticism, then we would still be eating bananas now…

As Frederick Copleston said, “If one refuses to sit down and make a move, you cannot be checkmated”. [3]
I am eagerly waiting for comments of agnostics who believe that I am wrong and they are right…
I will gladly hear anyone who can propose an objective criterion upon which we can rely so as to decide in which questions we are “allowed” to say “I know” (or, at least, have an opinion) and in which we are not. Feel free to post comments below.

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  7. Zach Siefker

    Untitled — “Science can create theories but cannot tell us anything about the “truth” of the world we live in. Science can create models of gravity, but is unable to say whether “gravity” is something real or not. The knowledge we have via science is relative and not absolute. And even if it is, we will neven know it.” Religion doesn’t prove anything either. It’s about saying something is real and automatically it is. I would rather believe a scientific theory that has a chance, sometimes a big chance, of being wrong, because science acknowledges it’s not always correct. If you look at any religion, it will tell you that its answer to the fundamental questions is the only answer. I would rather believe someone who says these are my observations and one can conclude that this is an appropriate theory based on the observations, rather than someone who says that this is the right answer and it cannot be any other way and the facts behind this answer are known because of something a prophet can see and I cannot. I would look at this prophet and be sure HIS observations are accurate. I think that believing in something is okay as long as you don’t state it to be factual.

    1. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — I agree with the “Believing in something is okay as long as you don’t state it to be factual”. However my intention was not to say that science is not correct – I believe science to be the best so far tool we have to explore the physical world. My intention was not to say that religion is the best tool either. My intention was to pinpoint the fact that we continually express “beliefs” about everything, even when we talk about “scientific” things. So in that context, having an opinion for some things and choosing not to have an opinion for some others does not make sense at all.

  8. Adrian Anderson

    Untitled — I agree with the general argument being made here, but I’d like to call some attention to the third type of agnostic described: those who do not want an opinion (because I consider myself to be this kind of agnostic).In a simple conversation, I might say “there’s not enough evidence to confirm or deny the existence of God,” to keep things simple but that’s not what I mean, much like when people ask you, “how are you today,” and you answer, “fine.” My actual belief is such: “I do not know whether or not God exists, but either way, I believe that His existence or non-existence does not impact my life. Therefore, I don’t care.” It isn’t a renouncement of faith or, by extension, everything that cannot be backed by solid evidence. It’s simply ignoring things that don’t matter.Saying “you can’t be an agnostic” isn’t fair to those agnostics that actually do have consistent beliefs. And, “how can you […] claim that ‘I don’t want to know’ when it comes to the meaning of your own life?” isn’t a solid argument against agnosticism, because I (and perhaps other agnostics that I do not represent) don’t believe that theistic belief is a part of the “meaning of life”.

    1. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — I see your point. Things are complicated so there isn’t a simple answer. However I will try to make my self clear for what I mean when I say that “you can’t say you don’t have an opinion when it comes to the meaning of your life”.The fact is that philosophy has always wandered what “reality” actually is, what we are, what “exist” means. These questions touch the very beginning of our cosmos and are almost impossible to answer. However man always tried to answer them just because people are always interested in expanding their knowledge (even though that may mean nothing practical for their lifes). Great philosophers from all times have tried to answer these questions, but not because it affected their lifes at an everyday/practical level. Insted, they loved to think on such things because the answers to these metaphysical questions are the ones which shape the “reality” we all live in.It would be hard for me to understand wht the question “will this apple fall down?” is something that affects your life, but the question “where did we came from?” does not…It would make an immense difference to me if we were created by God, if we were products of chance, if the universe existed for ever, if the universe started existing 15 billion years ago, etc. I do not claim to know the answers to these questions, but I certainly find it extremely important to answer them…

  9. Bill Ricardi

    Fuzzy logic. — A) You seem to think because you can never have absolute proof of a scientific theory or law, that you need ‘faith’. This is simply false. You can use a theory or law until it no longer works, and adjust your world view at that time. There is no requirement to have faith, no need to be ‘certain’ about predictive science, as you can use your current knowledge in an instance-by-instance context. For example, I don’t need ‘faith’ to use gravity and still include it in my calculations. If suddenly it does not apply, I can objectively recalculate and react at that time.B) This leads into the issue of objective VS subjective reality. Simply put, an agnostic who believes in a subjective reality has no need of faith, as they have already resigned themselves to whatever impulses are causing them to perceive a universe that is essentially either of their own creation or with a rules-set that is arbitrary and beyond their control (depending on the subset of their subjectivity). At that point, they can simply shrug and say ‘It doesn’t matter what is real. I’ll use my perception of reality. If there is a divine being out there controlling my every impulse and perception, they can manipulate whether or not I have belief anyway. So I don’t care and I have no need to care.” They can still be scientist, use scientific method to discover the current rules of their apparently subjective universe, and still have no need at all for faith.By the way, I’m not agnostic, and yet I can set aside my personal beliefs and see these clear gaps in your theory without much trouble.

    1. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Actually it all depends on how the agnostic you talk about is responding to a question like “Why does the glass falls when you leave it from 1m height?”…If he answers “Because of the gravity”, would that mean that he believes that “gravity” is something “real”? For me the most proper answer would be “According to our current model of understanding, the gravity force is the cause”. But does that mean that the current “model” will change? Probably. So does that model represents anything close to the “truth”? My answer is that we can and will never actually “know”, since we do not have an objective way to see the “absolute truth”. So at the end, simply saying that “Gravity is the cause” (without any explanatory phrase in the beginning of your answer), means that you have “accepted” as “true” the existence of gravitational force. So the point of my article is that: If one is willing to make such a choice in that matter, why does he/she choses to not make ANY choice in other things?I do not agree with what you say about “recalculating the theory of gravity if it suddently does not apply”. If we are to change the law of Newton that would mean that that law is no longer the accepted “truth” in our cosmological models and that we need to search for a new one. Renaming the “shift from one accepted truth to another” to a simple “recalculation” won’t change the fact that we know strongly “believe” the gravity to be THE true explanation about the planets moving. That is what we (me included) tell our children that is the “explanation” (truth?) about the moon orbiting the Earth. We are not certain for that “truth”. But we consistently fail to mention that uncertainty to our children…

  10. Anthony Hurst

    Why? — 1.) ‘Belief’ cannot be wrong. It’s a belief which is a claim which an individual finds to be true. Not everyone has to think the same exact thing.2.) Reading through the posts it angers me greatly to see that you claim to not be arrogant. I think your underlying tone towards those who oppose you is greatly arrogant. Ironically, your comments make you sound like the stereotypical atheist.3.) To counter your argument (similarly to your manner), I say this: You’re wrong.4.) Lastly, if you truly believed anything you’ve written, then you wouldn’t have taken the time to try to prove it. Only those who have doubt try to disprove others. I think your religious views should be kept to yourself. Other then trying to start a conflict publicly, I have no idea why you would find it necessary to post this.

    1. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Your first comment that “belief cannot be wrong” sounds a bit metaphysical to me. But I accept it as interesting. My intention was not to “anger” someone. I just post my opinion on matters as you do the same. And the fact that in most of my Knols I say that I do not claim to know the ultimate truth, is a matter of modesty – others posting atheistic articles should consider doing the same. Last but not least, I do not agree that my opinion should be kept to myself, while other atheistic or agnostic opinions are posted here and there.If a discussion starts from this article, that would be a good thing. But starting a “conflict” with “angered” people that would be something I do not want or wish. If you have an argument towards why claiming “I do not know” can be a valid proposition then I will gladly hear it.Either way, your comment is accepted and noted. Thanks.

  11. Dillon Decicio

    Cute… A clear example of intelligent minds being misused. — If I’m not mistaken it’s incredibly hard for me to determine the best place to rip your argument apart. I could start with your failure to represent a long standing and accepted archetype and coincidentally challenge an assumed shared perception throughout mankind. You use an old outdated ‘definition’ of agnosticism. Words are fluid and lively, and so are archetypes. The definition of this word, and the people of said belief change with time as well.One definition I can find in a simple search, “The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist.” Second definition of the American Heritage dictionary.This is the part the black screen kicks your rear end and gives you:Syntax error: Influid word usage. Line whatever.However one can turn the same mirror logic on my and end up with a circle… But the irony? That’s what I want. If we get into circular logic, then your argument is perpetually considered null until you break the cycle depending on your logical dogmatism. Secondly you stated the ‘science belief’ of Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. Albeit, I should correct myself. What I mean is an interpretation of that throws a hatchet to the general concept of what this rather intelligent man got at. If I know more about what I perceive in the world, how can I be precise in my measurement of the ‘metaphysical?’ One could counter you with that fact and point out it falls into line with some of the arcane definitions of agnosticism you presented. Albeit, you denied this one as valuable. That lack of claiming uncertainty in a subject.So you think you’re perceptive at the art of rhetoric, religion, and paradigm (worldly view is the proper definition). Yet you fail to critically… Think, research, investigate, challenge counter claims, generate content and present a transparent argument? I’m grossly insulted as one who is atheist and then gone agnostic after getting tired of watching people idolize rocks. Bigotry is the definition yourself you present here. That’s the only props you get. For it was Coyote who gifted the stars, it was Ra who lifted the sun, and the Tower of Babel was only a technicality.For if one surmises that they rely on faith for their perception, they realize that what they ‘believe’ (their perceptive, extra or otherwise) has the possibility of being wrong. So your lord was a wonderful Jewish philosopher, but he is dead. History places his death at 33 C.E., Common Era. He was born in the year 0, just for the sake of your religion. Check out William G. Perry. Then revise this. Your argument might hold no ground, or you might realize the futility of the argument in the first place and write something that has more… How shall I put this? Academic value?

    1. Dillon Decicio

      Untitled — 1 – Consider it a dismissal to your ability to talk effectively about any one of these subjects then. Shall we? Contrary to the attempt to dispel Ethos, it remains I have little to none as well. My point on the matter is quite simple, you’re more ‘philosophy’ than religion of science. I know little of the former, but the latter is indeed the second most greatest influence on my life. After my fiance, and before Art.2 – Yes I did, I noticed it and refused to comment on it. Largely because of our differing demographics. I don’t know what it’s like in Greece, but here in the States we have a majority of us as Christians. (me being about part of the 25% of the population that is excepted from that majority. 5% may be Jew, while another 10% Catholic (why they’re not thrown in with the other Christians is beyond me) The rest fall under a rather large ‘other’ category.) Except in closed circles, I hardly see anyone calling Christians stupid or anything of the sort. 3 – It’s a reasonable conclusion, and it’s not necessarily accusing you of it. It is implied, potentially. Such as was yours, and such is the nature of the imperfections of language itself. We’ll get off the dogmatism of that though, it interferes with the rest of the concept. 4 – “Rhetoric” like, “Math” and “Science” started (debatedly) in Greece. At least, the modern foundations of those subjects did. It’s not bad, but I’m referring to your application of rhetoric. Not so much the method itself, because it is consciously and commonly used. My point is, you need word smithing and better structure to support your argument. As well as I’d advice having better outside support, and perhaps a consideration into the effects of pathos you might have on your intended audience. 5 – You’re an engineer? Do you use mathematics? Does the design ever not work because of incorrect mathematics? Sometimes. Sometimes it’s a failure to adhere and use an art wrong. Secondly, getting into science dogmatism it’s very rare and few I run into anyone that believes that science holds all the answers. Science has always been about the Hows, and the Whats of the universe. Rarely ever the Why. (only when used to construct another How) Indeed, Einstein was a Jew and believed in a god even as he helped create the atomic bomb.Paradoxes are rather humorous. I’d be more inclined to know how such an obvious paradox should be known. 6 – Truth, ie fact. Words are dynamic as I already pointed out. The ‘truths’ a scientist might seek is different than a truth another art would seek, naturally. This does seemingly support your thesis, but with a clear understanding of Archetype it might seemingly deject it just as well. Ever hear of the story of Sophocles? (I may get this one wrong, past greek literature was never something I enjoyed. He’s the guy who was doomed to roll the boulder up the hill day in and out but seemingly didn’t hate his fate or something to that effect.) That might be up your alley, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t. That has little to do with the argument, just kind of a ‘for fun’ thing.7 – Same could be said for attacking Agnosticism based on an old dogmatic understanding of the definition of the word… Perhaps you didn’t intend this article as an attack per say… But intention doesn’t represent interpretation necessarily. 8 – Cynical? How so? Is your conscience not aware of it’s own existence? Perhaps if life were a perpetual dream. Who’s to say it isn’t? It’s still a valid counterpoint once the scope to the perceptual is applied to it. It can be defended, and it is quite certainly a subject that can be put up for defense. It’s one of the funniest ones that could be used if it were to be drawn out upon, but would take a lot of time and back and forth arguing. Ironically, truth based on faith arguments dispel any counter argument anyways so chances are I couldn’t think of a way to get around it anyways. It’s still a point that should be up for consideration in your entire argument. 9 – I’d leave it flatly at ‘philosophy.’ The definition most scientists (and facilities that govern institutionalized science) would define science as I already have. Empirically, and knowledge based. Knowledge science has already sought to argue to prove through it’s own methods, and could be commonly shared experience with discipline. (Hence the Empirical part. For being out of date, it’s still the most frequently listed as the most important half of science there is. When it’s disregarded scientists tend to talk about how the art itself becomes corrupt as a result, and nothing more than philosophical/religion dogmatic debate.) Psuedo-Science isn’t even applicable to your argument, nor Meta-Science. Science shouldn’t be a category at all. Ever. This isn’t science, nor is this a blog where talking about science and philosophy regarding conduct should constitute the classification of such as science. Any further regards to that fact (what constitutes it as a fact brings us back to, low and behold, Archetypes) is just a waste of time and bytes. That may be sloppily composed, I’m strapped for time at the moment. Otherwise I’d probably compose the defense better. (particularly item #9, but that’s because that other than anywhere else is where I see a more strict rope needs to be pulled in.)

    2. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Dear Decicio, thanks for your new comment. My answers are below.1. I did not claim in any of my Knols that I am an “expert”, that I know everything or that I am the judge of everything. I simply state my opinion on things. So for the “arrogance” issue you raise, I believe you knocked on the wrong door…2. The Knol “What a Christian is Not” is a summary of my views posted in two of my other articles. I mention that in the Knol and I believe you noticed that.3. I did not say that someone is “stupid”. This is a result of your free interpretation of my views, which is simply wrong.4. Rhetoric is a Greek method and I cannot see in what way you mention that. Maybe this is something “bad” or “wrong”?5. The “If you can’t know anything for sure and you know you can’t know anything for sure” paradox is a paradox first spotted by Russell in the foundation of mathematics logic. I am not only aware of that, but I also have mentioned it numerous times in many of my articles as a clear example of why our knowledge is limited and arrogant statements like “science helps us reach reality” are not to be taken into consideration without thinking…You use mathematics every day inspite of that antinomy, correct?6. Science is the systematic search for truth. Empiricism is a philosophical dogma and a very outdated one, I might say. My articles have the purpose to clear such confusions. Please refer to the dictionary of philosophy at http://www.ditext.com/runes/index.html for more on that.7. Attacking postmodernism based just on its name and not on its content is surely not something you expect me to consider as a valid argument…8. Saying that “I am consciously aware of my own conscience” seems a little cyclical as a thesis.9. Most of my Knols are related to the philosophy of science and religion. That is why “science” is one of the categories they are into. I thought that was obvious.Thanks again for the comments and looking forward to hearing from you again.

    3. Dillon Decicio

      Untitled — I am consciously aware of my own conscience, save for anything else in reality I know I must exist if I am perceptive. Also the fallacy of you argument, if you can’t know anything for sure and you know you can’t know anything for sure you have conflicting premises. (I shouldn’t of assumed that much was obvious.) Same thing with post-modern. (Post = after, modern = present time, post-modern = future) So I pay the form of psychology, whatever dogma it is little mind for that matter as well. I must know English, since I can communicate with proper syntax (given a range of fair room allowing simplification through symbols and a non grammar nazi mind set.) as well. Furthermore I have no reason to challenge “Christ.” I’m challenging your professionalism (though you can dismiss it just fine) on the subject which you claim to be an expert of some kind in. The critical evaluation of your work overall I characterize that to be counter-intuitive to many of the goals you’ve presented yourself. See your article on What a Christian is Not.Like Christians, non-Christians are not stupid. If you dismiss the logic you’re presented in here, what you’re doing is a rather silly method of rhetoric. Probably greek influenced. To assault life’s postulates is a fool’s game, and yes, postulates require ‘faith’ (in one presentation of the word) but one’s perceptive and cognitive abilities can instill or deny such things with relative ease. When you fall, tell me if gravity is there to catch you. Also, whoever keeps adding these articles of yours to ‘science’ seems to not see the general difference between pseudo-sience and actual science. An empirical study and knowledge base typically doesn’t fall under the same category as philosophy and religion by default. (or inductive based ‘studies’. Such is the nature of deduction based logic.)

    4. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — I think you missed some of my arguments. The whole idea of the article was not to “prove” something (and certainly not to prove anything regarding metaphysics which – as I state in my other Knols you read – is the one realm where we cannot be certain about anything). What I wanted to point out was the fact that we everyday use faith to draw to “conclusions”, even if that means “faith in logic”, “faith in our senses” etc. This is mostly a post-modern philosophical stand and not a religious one. If you challenge Christ that is fine by me. That was the point of the whole argument after all: to challenge everything and to show that drawing “final” conslusions is a matter of faith at the end. So saying “I don’t know” in something actually means “I don’t want to know”, since you never know and will never know anything actually. You choose what to “know”. If you think critically, can you present me with ANYTHING at all that you KNOW for certain? Do we have guarantees that anything that we currently “know” will not change tommorow? Are there any ultimate truths out there? If yes, I will gladly hear you and mention them in my article in order to give it more “academic” value…

  12. Anonymous

    I am God to my dogs. — A belief in science is the belief that there are truths about our world not yet revealed. Or, to put it another way, it is a belief that we can move our individual and collective consciousness to a higher level than we enjoy in the present. And is not consciousness observed as a scalable phenomenon? Humans have a higher level of consciousness than dogs, for example. Present day humans have a higher level of consciousness than our fore bearers. Your level of consciousness will vary considerably in your lifetime. Indeed, even a cup a coffee in the morning has a discernible impact on mine. And given the limitations of the human condition – our acknowledged inability to readily “see” the greater orders of truth, knowledge and beauty that surely surrounds us – where should we place ourselves on the “consciousness continuum”?Sure we’ve never encountered anything more aware and manipulative of his surroundings than a human, but in a vast and mysterious universe, can we not imagine the existence of a consciousness higher than our own? Perhaps one of many orders of magnitude higher, dare I say even infinitely so – beyond the point of recognition? Would it not be profoundly arrogant for us not to admit to the possibility? And would this not be God?The atheist impulse is to discard this by saying “we can imagine just about anything”. Richard Dawkins writes: “I am an agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden.” But this is not a trivial matter – consciousness is as real and observable as the apple falling from the tree. This is what it means to me to be “agnostic”. It is a form of weak atheism and the terms can be more-or-less interchangeable depending on the context. To a co-worker who eagerly anticipates the rapture I am an atheist for I deny the validity of her beliefs and the existence of her God with strongly felt certainty. To her, agnostic would mean “fence sitter” with regard to her beliefs and I would not want to leave that impression. Indeed to most people, those who believe in a personal God, I am an atheist, just as we are all atheist to the Gods of Greek mythology – an oft-heard rejoinder made by atheists everywhere. So in the context of a philosophical discussion the position of the personal God fence sitter is easily and trivially discarded, as you have shown. Still if one is deeply sceptical of humans in possession of divine knowledge, yet is inclined to contemplate the implications of a consciousness greater than our own, how shall we term this if not to say they are agnostic?Lawrence

    1. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Thanks for the invitation! I will try to come if I have time!

    2. Anonymous

      Untitled — Spiros – I have started a discussion on this at religiousforums.com. Here’s the direct URL…http://www.religiousforums.com/forum/agnostic/79669-why-i-call-myself-agnostic.htmlCome and join us!Lawrence

    3. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Actually I can also argue philosophically about my religious views as well. But that is not the point. As there are philosophical systems which entail a divine entity or a “First Cause”, there are also philosophical systems which do not. Science has its limits and so does our knowledge. We *choose* to “forget” that limits when we say “I know”. How are the cases when you are allowed to say such a thing defined is what troubles me.About the “misuse” issue you mention, actually discussing in Knol is the most basic and fundamendal way of knowledge exchange promoted by Knol itself! So keep posting.

    4. Anonymous

      Untitled — That you can argue philosophically that nothing is for certain is not a compelling defense of religious belief. You can’t simply say that we tolerate uncertainty in science so we must tolerate uncertainty in all manner of thought. The degree of certainty has to matter. And on this score, religion and science are worlds apart.I enjoy your thoughts and comments but at this point I feel that I am contributing to the misuse of the “Knol”. Surely there are better forums for this sort of exchange.Lawrence

    5. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — I agree that agnosticism is a form of weak atheism. I could also find some kind of meaning in your very interesting formulation of “levels of consiousness”. My arguments are just posted against the opinio of some people that somehow think “believing something” is ok, but “believenig something else” is not. I cannot understand how some agnostics make the (so obvious to them, but not to me) distinction between “questions when having an opinion is ok” and questions that are completely incompatible to “believing something based on what you have as data”.

  13. Anonymous

    A bit off. — I will address a few of your statements one at a time.(1) You stated “To put it simply, hard-core agnosticism is incompatible with healthy human relations because it undermines the basis of human relations: trust”. That is illogical. Deciding that something does not have enough evidence backing it to be considered credible is an individual analysis, and it differs by each situation. Just because someone is of the opinion that there is inadequate evidence to support one argument does not mean that there is inadequate evidence for everything across the board.(2) You stated “When a close friend tells you that he caught a very big fish the day before, would you believe him? Or would you deny even to discuss about it if your friend did not present hard evidence for the specific fish in discussion? If your wife tells you that she loves you, would you believe her? Or would you wait until specific hard evidence were presented to back-up her saying? “I believe you are a bit confused on this line of thought as well, or at the very least you are confusing me with your dizzying logic. If a friend said he did something, my decision to believe him would in fact be based on evidence– evidence in the form of past experience with that specific friend, and “trust” based on that evidence. As for the wife, if she says she loves you and her actions are indicative of and support that idea, then that is the evidence that is used to determine whether or not you will believe her statement. It is qualitiative and subjective, but it is still data that can be considered “evidence”. At the very least, both situations offer evidence of past behavior.(3) You stated “And to make things more complicated I would like feedback from agnostics on the following: If your son is accused of something in a court of law with all the evidence pointing towards the conclusion that he is guilty, but you really know your son and know he is a never-lying good kid, would you believe him if he said “I didn’t do it” ? Again, this is not a well thought-out argument. What are you basing the “belief” that your son is innocent on– the “idea” that he is a “good” kid? Better have a long track record of being perfect, and there better be some serious holes in the prosecutor’s evidence, or I would have to go with the “overwhelming” evidence. Emotion and feelings about something or someone do not and should not have anything to do with fact and decision making.(4) You stated “Trust and love are things not based on evidence every time. If you say to your wife that you love her as long as you have a list with evidence “proving” HER love to you, then this is not true love and this is not a healty human relationship.”If trust and love are not based on evidence to support those choices (because they ARE choices), you are an idiot. Love is a choice, trust is a choice, and they should both be based on evidence as discussed earlier– evidence in the form of a track-record to support the choice to love or trust as appropriate. Proving love or trust is not necessary unless either has been violated, and that is a whole other argument. That’s all the time I have for this, but the point to take from this is that your logic is flawed, and I think you could benefit from looking at it again. Choosing to believe your buddy’s fishing story and not believing in a god for which no compelling evidence exists are not the same. Your buddy’s trustworthiness is based on evidence to support it in one direction or the other. The idea of an omniscient being is deeply and completely rooted in fantasy. I also choose not believe in the Easter Bunny or Santa Clause because those ideas are irrational, but I do not see your argument for their existence.I was going to knock you on your spelling, but there is no spell-check feature on here so there you go– I am sure I may have missed a couple errors too. 😉

    1. Anonymous

      Untitled — Thanks for your reply. I have read some of the comments on here and I can see how it would be very easy to be on the defensive if you are being attacked non-stop. I hope I did not come across that way– that was not my intention.Good debate to me is a lot of fun and makes us think, separating us from the gorillas if you will, and I think that is important to keep-up, regardless of whether or not we all agree. If any of us take anything from these discussions, then they have served their purpose. To me, causality does not indicate the existence of god, but rather the existence of an outside source. An example would be like saying that a watch is so intricate it has to have a maker, and because it has to have a maker, we will invent one and call that maker god. We go around and show everyone our watch and say “look at the beautiful thing god made!”. One day someone points out to us that the watch is engraved with initials, and those initials belong to the watchmaker down the street. In fact, god was not the maker of the watch, but Joe the watchmaker was. It is an absurd example, but I hope it illustrates my point. What I am saying is that just because something seems like it is too intricate to not have a creator does not in and of itself prove the existence of one, and definitely does not point directly at and identify an alleged creator in every setting. Again, my opinion only.At any rate, I think we have “beat this horse” enough so to speak, so I will sign off for now and look forward to debating with you again sometime.

    2. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Thanks for your reply. I am into discussing everything with everyone and sorry for being somewhat agressive. Agressiveness is what I have as input from almost everyone writting comments here.To start from the bottom up. Your analysis for love for me is completely wrong. I am sorry but I cannot offer you some more analysis, evidence (I cannot even imagive how those would be) or arguments to convince you that love is something *you* – as a person – feel and not something that anyone – as an objective observer – can decide upon based on specific “scientific” analysis.For the rest of what you said, I completely and utterly agree with what you say that “No evidence = not real”! That is correct! I never doubted the mechanism of modern science! It is based on evidence and it works well that way! However what I say has nothing to do with what you mention. I simply draw attention to the fact that the “not enough evidence” that agnostics use as an excuse for not having an opinion for some subjects is not a good enough excuse. Notice that I refer to the “not enough” evidence, not the “no evidence at all”!For example: There are plenty of evidence to show that causality exists in the world. Based on that evidence there is an argument formulated to show the exisence of God, known as the “First Cause Argument” (first postulated by Aristotle, the founder of Logic by the way). I have met many agnostics in my life who do not want to even discuss the subject of God because they “do not have enough evidence”. When I present them with the argument they again answer “there is not enough evidence” and stop the discussion. That is to what I am referring to…

    3. Anonymous

      Untitled — You obviously have a lot of questions, so I will do my best to answer them. Also, you know nothing about me, so please try to keep it semi-professional and not assume or I will just leave you to your discussions with people who think you “went to scholl and still sound like a …”.. well, you read the post.So moving right along, in my opinion “enough” evidence is defined by the amount of evidence a particular person needs to see to accept an idea. Like I said before, it is defined differently by everyone because nothing can ever be truly “known”– there is allways a possibillity of another variable that we did not know about. There was a time when men truly “believed” the world to be flat. Maybe the day will come when god, santa clause and the tooth fairy will be accepted as absolute truth, but I doubt it.You can not use “feelings” and “evidence” in the same argument as both being scientific and expect to be taken seriously. I thought this forum was for imparting knowledge, not saying silly things like: “… denying the inherent desire of humans to “know”, is simply unacceptable…If Socrates, Aristotle and Plato applied agnosticism, then we would still be eating bananas now…”That does not even make any sense. I see your correlation that we would all be cave men and eat bannanas (which are very tasty), but I think your religious views are getting in the way of whatever scientific mind you may have. No evidence = not real. Period. Having a “little more faith” simply does not cut it and is an excuse for what you can not explain but just “feel”. Again, there is a difference between saying that there is not ENOUGH evidence, and saying there is NO tangible evidence, so just have more “faith”. That is absurd in any serious circle.You are utterly mistaken in your analysis of love. First of all, love is a chemical reaction between what the eyes see, the ears hear, touch translates to our brains. After that it is a choice to be made. I know it is not a popular analysis, but that is reality– deal with it. You do not always “feel” like you are in love, but you make a choice to love someone based on whatever factors you choose to consider, but if it were all based on feelings we would all be divorced. You simplify it by saying cost-benifit analysis is involved, but in fact that is exactly what it is. All animals, humans included, try to get the “best” mate they can considering all the variables (looks, intelligence, fertility) so as to continue the species in the most productive manner possible, and if that is not cost-benefit analysis on the most carnal level, I do not know what is.

    4. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — What is “enough” evidence? Who defines “enough”? Agnostics? Me? You? Who?You call feelings ridiculous? Really? What do you mean by that? So when you meet a woman and fall in love with her you do not feel anything for her? When someone falls in love with a woman, is that the result of a cost-benefit analysis? Do you apply cash flow prediction models to see if the relationship will get you through with enough compensation? Love is about giving without expecting anything back. You have completely the wrong knowledge (if any) about love. Sorry about that.

    5. Anonymous

      Untitled — You need to look up the definition of agnosticism. It is not about believing in something without evidence, it is about not thinking enough evidence exists to support the idea– enough evidence, not no evidence. I am not extrapolating anything for my own convenience any more than you are. I say your logic is flawed, you disagree obviously, that is your opinion (albeit in error).Again, yes, love and trust are choices decided upon for whatever reason, I just choose to base mine on facts. You can (and obviously do) “believe” whatever you want based on your “feelings” but THAT is the least scientific idea you have come up with yet. Feelings, really? You have got to be kidding me, that is ridiculous.

    6. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Trust means exactly what an agnostic cannot do: “Believe in something without having evidence”. In case there was evidence to back the claim of my friend up, there would be need for “trust”. What is it that confuses you? Past experiences and past knowledge is not evidence for the specific story I am called to believe in when my friend talks to me. You have a very confusing way of extrapolating “facts” and “evidence” at your own convenience. The same with love. Love is a “choice based on evidence” according to you? So you do not *believe* in love as something you feel but as something you decided upon based on specific pros and cons, on specific “evidence”? Nice…

  14. Anonymous

    A good Knol — This is one of your best knols, in my opinion. It’s clear and easy to understand.As far as the actual content, I have my own opinions. A better name for agnosticism would be “lack of religiousness.” It’s perfectly possible to be indifferent or nonreligious.But anyway, this is a great knol.

    1. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Thanks very much for the comment Angela!

  15. Ryan H

    Alternate title for this article: — How to apparently have gone to school, and STILL sound like an dumbass.

    1. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Excellent answer that puts me in my place. I rest my case. You certainly don’t expect me to answer your post. I will not erase it however because of mu education: I respect your opinion. Thanks!

  16. Zia Shah

    The biophilic universe — Antony Flew who used to be formally a well known champion of atheism, writes:“Imagine entering a hotel room on your next vacation. The CD player on the bedside table is softly playing a track from your favorite recording. The framed print over the bed is identical to the image that hangs over the fireplace at home. The room is scented with your favorite fragrance. You shake your head in amazement and drop your bags on the floor.You’re suddenly very alert. You step over to the minibar, open the door, and stare in wonder at the contents. Your favorite beverages. Your favorite cookies and candy. Even the brand of bottled water you prefer.You turn from the mini bar, then, and gaze around the room. You notice the book on the desk: it’s the latest volume by your favorite author. You glance into the bathroom, where personal care and grooming products are lined up on the counter, each one as if it was chosen specifically for you. You switch on the television; it is tuned to your favorite channel.Chances are, with each new discovery about your hospitable new environment, you would be less inclined to think it was all a mere coincidence, right? You might wonder how the hotel managers acquired such detailed information about you. You might marvel at their meticulous preparation. You might even double-check what all this is I going to cost you. But you would certainly be inclined to believe that someone knew you were coming.Let’s take the most basic laws of physics. It has been calculated that if the value of even one of the fundamental constants-the speed of light or the mass of an electron, for instance-had been to the slightest degree different, then no planet capable of permitting the evolution of human life could have formed.This fine tuning has been explained in two ways. Some scientists have said the fine tuning is evidence for divine design; many others have speculated that our universe is one of multiple others-a ‘multiverse’-with the difference that ours happened to have the right conditions for life. Virtually no major scientist today claims that the fine tuning was purely a result of chance factors at work in a single universe.That vacation scenario is a clumsy, limited parallel to the so-called fine-tuning argument. The recent popularity of this argument has highlighted a new dimension of the laws of nature. ‘The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture,’ writes physicist Freeman Dyson, ‘the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense knew we were coming.’ In other words, the laws of nature seem to have been crafted so as to move the universe toward the emergence and sustenance of life. This is the anthropic principle, popularized by such thinkers as Martin Rees, John Barrow, and John Leslie.In his book Infinite Minds, John Leslie, a leading anthropic theorist, argues that fine tuning is best explained by divine design. He says that he is impressed not by particular arguments for instances of fine tuning, but by the fact that these arguments exist in such profusion. ‘If, then, there were aspects of nature’s workings that appeared very fortunate and also entirely fundamental,’ he writes, ‘then these might well be seen as evidence specially favoring belief in God.’”(Antony Flew. There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. Harper One, 2007. Page 113-115.) For additional details go to my knol, ‘A challenge for Dawkins: Where did carbon come from?’http://knol.google.com/k/zia-shah/a-challenge-for-dawkins-where-did/1qhnnhcumbuyp/3#

  17. Venkataramana Vurity

    Science is not something to be believed in… — Science is not about faith or belief. Do You need to have faith to use e-mail? do you need to have faith using Your mobile phone. do you need to have faith or belief to use the marvels of modern technology? Science is about an endeavor to understand the working of nature. it might also include a search for God. Science Models the nature fo us and we get a certain degree of control over nature, through the models provided by science, and when it is applied, it works. Models are improved upon, and newer and better models of nature keep evolving, as our understanding improves.If I have to use the term belief in science, I would use it in the sense of its capability to give us a working model of nature, and improving upon it, and giving us some control over nature. Science tells us why there are rains, with evidence. science tells us with evidence why there is a rainbow. science made intercontinental travel a possibility.. So there is little meaning for me not to believe in science. One thing science has not yet answered is, why all this?? one day it might give the answer — all this was created by God or some other answer. I think an agnostic would change his/her views, if science is able to come up with some form of evidence of gods existence or otherwise. Till then the search continues.

    1. Venkataramana Vurity

      Untitled — “By the way, when you see all parameters of the universe being set to the exact specific values they need so as to have life in the cosmos, do you “believe” that there is a God or that there isn’t?”Just because life exists doesn’t in any way affect my feelings about God, as to whether a god exists or not. Let us say the god is a good god. then why do we cause pain to animals by killing them and eating them. why is the good and bad. why can’t every thing be good? just because all these things are happening doesn’t point to the existence or non existence of a god. But if you believe that there is a god, you can give various explanations as to why things are things the way they are, with god included in the argument. Suppose you believe that there is no god, then you would come up with other theories as to why the things are the way they are, without a god included in the theory or argument. If you are an agnostic, then you are open to god as well as no god, but since you do not see any evidence of god, you would tend to doubt the existence of god, but would gladly change your opinion if you have objective evidence. I need to continue this, but right now I am not able to hold my thoughts together. So I am posting this, and will continue later

    2. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Faith is believing as “true” something which cannot or has not been proved 100% as being “true”. So you can have something being “proved” up to a certain point (let’s say 80%) but not have the final evidence that would make you 100% certain: then you could decide to “believe” it as true. Believing something without ANY evidence or argument AT ALL is the extreme and that is not called “believing” – that is called “being gullible”.By the way, when you see all parameters of the universe being set to the exact specific values they need so as to have life in the cosmos, do you “believe” that there is a God or that there isn’t?PS. Water freezes below 0 degrees because it freezes below 0 degrees and not because science has “proved it”. And indeed science is a good way of knowing things, but even science has its limits. Do Do you *believe* is has no limits?

    3. Anonymous

      Untitled — WTF, faith is believing in something that can’t be proven, it’s the exact opposite of science, which heavily relies on disciplined research!!!!the same way u need math to establish truth when dealing with numbers and points you do need science to establish truth when dealing with nature.one needs faith if you are to believe the “trueness”??? REALLY?so, sometimes food on your fridge is frozen, but sometimes it isnt? you pray for you food to remain frozen? no, you don’t, because it’s a truth according to science that water freezes below 0 degrees Celisus. it;s not a matter of you having faith or not, science ha proven it!!!!!!!!!!!scientific truth is as simple as knowing that by pressing a certain button on your wall, light will emerge from your light bulbs. Or by taking a certain amount of pills you won’t get pregnant!!!

    4. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Science needs faith if you are to believe the “trueness” of its theoritical models. If you care only about using devices, this is not science.

  18. Alexander Pratt

    Nicely Stated — I’ll have to reply to this knol with another. I’ll be sure to post it and cite you as a source of inspiration. Thanks again for your work.

    1. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Thanks Alexander. Looking forward to reading your Knol. Please tell me here when it is ready. You are welcomed to write a review of this Knol also if you like.

  19. Venkataramana Vurity

    God is a hypothesis — from a scientific point of view, I think God is a hypothesis. Science might try to test the hypothesis. science works that way. when there is no clearcut explanation, science forms hypotheses, and devises experiments to test the hypotheses. If the results of the experiment seem to corroborate the hypothesis, then the credibility of the theory or the hypothesis increases, and further experimentation would be conducted, and it goes on till there is evidence either way, agaisnt the god hypothesis or for the god hypothesis.

    1. Eddie Staples

      Untitled — About God being a hypothesis, I suppose that’s fair in terms of science… But if we’re looking for the scientific method to be the end-all, be-all avenue into all knowledge, we’re going to run into a most-objective and inevitable problem.The scientific method is not merely about observation; it requires that a hypothesis be tested (experimentation, which requires manipulation), and not only that, but be tested repeatedly and consistently. The scientific method has benefited us a lot, but the simple fact of the matter is that we, as humans, are limited in our ability to manipulate and control the world around us. ..If we’re limited in our ability to prove or disprove ideas about the natural world we live in, what gives us the idea that the scientific method should be sufficient to prove or disprove an idea such as God? If there is a God, how do you qualify or quantify God? What’s our basis for assuming we should be able to make God do what we want God to do? If God is to be known at all, there has to be a better way… unless you have faith that some day technology will allow us to accomplish this (bringing God down from the lofty and abstract, to the concrete… but then could anything concrete and comprehensible fulfill our collective idea of God?)…In this regard, maybe it’s fair to say that God can’t be proven. There’s a lot of ideas that we hold onto in an attempt to explain the world around us, things that by our own admittance are mathematically impossible (i.e. the odds of life coming about on it’s own at all, much less developing to the incomprehensible complexity that we take for granted every day). Yet we hold onto those ideas still… Why?

    2. Anonymous

      Untitled — of course human beings do understand hate/love, good/bad (and many more similar things) on a an experimenting level. Different people are exposed to different experiences and by experimenting with different circumstances, such notions of what is love, what is good or even the idea of God are defined. Thus, different cultures.. different times.. different places… will have different views of what is acceptably good or evil, or what is perceived as beautiful or what or who God is. Nevertheless, the scientific method remains the same.. science is the only plausible way/tool to objectively understand nature!!! By using science, one will need to observe nature, observe it, observe it… observe it, and because of this systematic knowledge-base or prescriptive practice is that one is capable of making correct predictions… one is now able to know that the orange juice bottle contains 2g protein, 26g carbs… one is able to share their thoughts on this scientific marvel called cyberspace..it’s all about science!!! it’s not just another tool!! the same way u need math to establish truth when dealing with numbers and points you do need science to establish truth when dealing with nature.scientific truth is as simple as knowing that by pressing a certain button on your wall, light will emerge from your light bulbs. Or by taking a certain amount of pills you won’t get pregnant!!!

    3. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Don’t misunderstand me. I am not against or for science. I just understand science as another tool to understand nature, that’s all. In that context, I understand that some scientists could have studies trying to understand what is “good” and “bad” but these studies are more of a anthropological / sociological perspective than from an “physics-like experiments” perspective.

    4. Venkataramana Vurity

      Untitled — Good and bad are subjective. what is considered good in once culture is considered bad in another. what is considered good in one period is considered bad in another. Just because good and bad and love and hate are important things concerning human nature, does it mean that they cannot be understood by experiment? we do not know. We can believe that we know that they cannot be understood by experiment, but we really do not know.I think (but not sure) there are studies about why and how we feel love and hate, and the logic behind what is considered good and what is considered bad.

    5. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Do you understand “good” and “bad” by experiment? Do you understand “love” and “hate” by experiment? Aren’t these (and many more similar things) some of the most important things concerning human nature?

    6. Venkataramana Vurity

      Untitled — I do not know if all things can be discovered by experiments. But right now, that is the only way I know to understand nature.In the title you said, “know or know-not there is no try”. A “try” is a “know not”. “know not” is agnosticism. This is what I think.

    7. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Do you “believe” that all things can be discovered by experiments?

  20. Felsen Axt

    The gnostics believed that one could attain direct knowledge of divinity… — In the original sense of the word agnostic meant that you do not deny the existence of divinity but that you do not embrace it be cause you have not recived direct knowledge of it’s existance. In that definition you are incorrect you can be agnostic. your sole assumption need only be that god is capible of imparting such knowledge. And even if god exists and you are wrong then you can still be agnostic, but you will forever be barred from acnowledging god’s existence. But for it’s common usage you are, of course, correct. Modern agnostism is little more than cowardly atheism.

    1. Felsen Axt

      Untitled — because “agnostic” is only refering to god. The gnostics believed that one could attain direct knowledge of god from god. a-gnostics are people who say that they are not theists because they have not experienced this. a person deep in prayer who claims to feel the presence of god could be said to have experienced gnosis. if you have not, and therefore do not believe in god you are an agnostic.agnosticism is not the same as nihilism.

    2. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — But how can agnostics believe that? How can agnostics “believe” anything?

    3. Felsen Axt

      Untitled — No seeing, listening are not direct. You are still drawing inference from your senses. The agnostics believed that you could actualy touch the spirit of god himself, or rather achieve a state of direct communion with him, bypassing the physical senses. Of course the whole thing relies on the assumption of your own consciousness, but with out that you can nearly reason your self into maddness anyway.Don’t missunderstand me, my comment was not intended as a critisism. I simply wanted to clarify the original intent of agnosticism and its modern usage.

    4. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Thanks for the comment Felsen. Indeed if you say that you cannot be certain of something when you do not have “direct knowledge” of it, but what is “direct” in this case? Is seeing “direct”? Is listening “direct”? Is thinking logically “direct”?

  21. Ryan H

    No — The answer is: that your an idiot elitest who thinks he knows all of philosophy.I can believe in science AND believe that agnosticism (the belief in a general higher power, just not attached to the fairy tale of christiany).So in conclusion: post Knol’s about FACTUAL information. Don’t use it as an excuse to push your your ideas on other people.Kthanks.

    1. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Thanks.

    2. Spiros Kakos

      Untitled — Another excellent answer (like the above) that puts me in my place. I rest my case once again. You certainly don’t expect me to answer your post. I will not erase it however because of mu education: I respect your opinion. Thanks!

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