Many people, when asked if they believe in God, answer “I am an agnosticist”. Agnosticism seems the best place for “free thinkers” and is promoted as the safest harbour to protect from dogmatism.
Well, I have some objections to that. I will show here that agnosticism as a philosophical idea is something like a cloak to deep Dogmatism. Something like a camouflage for the hypocritical “free” thinkers who are actually more like fundamentalists trying to sneak into the night into the Academy of Plato – and the burn it down.
I have already shown why one CANNOT practically be an Agnosticist in the first place, at the article Why you can’t be an agnostic. Here I will elaborate more on the hypocritical uses of this philosophical idea and expose what seems like a “method to hide from public eyes the dogmatism one has”.
Take the infamous atheist priest Dawkins for example. You will never see him state that “there is no God”. You will see him however state that he is an agnostic (see here and here) or that “there is PROBABLY no God” (see here).
All nice and well, you would say?
Not at all, I would answer.
The point is that Dawkins HAS made his choices. He HAS made up his mind. He “knows he knows” even though he does not admit it. He HAS made up his mind for the philosophical subjetc of God. He HAS decided on whether afterlife exists or not. He HAS decided whether he wants to go to Church every Sunday or not. He HAS decided whether to debate for or against theists. He HAS decided whether or not he wants to have educated friends. After all, when Playboy asked him here if he has any religious friends he answered the glorious “No. It’s not that I shun them; it’s that the circles I move in tend to be educated…“.
If he wanted to be TRULY agnostic, then he would explore both views. He would explore both possibilities. He would pursue other paths, so as to find out which one is the right one. But he does not.
All in all, Dawkins HAS made up his mind.
However he keeps on hiding behind the cloak of “agnosticism”. But WHY? Why would he lie? Well, I guess the answer is simple: saying he is “agnostic” lets him off the hook for some very embarassing questions and helps him keep on the face of the “free thinking scientist”. After all, it suits him well. Agnostics are not “fundamentalists”, right?
Well, as it seems from his case that they can. And stating you are not an elephant does not mean you are not one…
One can find many other similar cases of known “agnostic” atheists everywhere you look. It is actually no accident that the very term “agnostic” was invented by a man known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” (imagine how… “gentle” he was in his views). He too claimed that he was agnostic, even though his battles against religion were epic…
Russell is another great example. He claims that he is an agnostic and when he is asked “Why shouldn’t one raise the question of the cause of the existence of all particular objects?” he answers “Because I see no reason to think there is any” (see Copleston vs. Russell radio debate here). Later on, he says “I don’t admit the idea of a Necessary Being and I don’t admit that there is any particular meaning in calling other beings “contingent.” These phrases don’t for me have a significance except within a logic that I reject”. So he HAS decided that specific questions have “no meaning” (what does that mean really?!?). So he HAS made up his mind about whether or not the cosmos has a Cause. And he DOES NOT want to look into the problem. If he was genuinly agnostic, he would search for every possible answer. But he does not. Because if he searches for an answer, he knows he might find an answer he does not like…
Most agnostics like to say “I do not have an opinion on whether a flying teapot is orbiting Mars”, in a way to quote an example invented by Rusell. They say that so as to show you that this is how the also treat the problem of God. They “do not know” as “they do not know the answer to the teapot story”. But making the philosophical question of whether the cosmos has a First Cause equal to the question of a flying teapot (or a “tooth fairy” – another infamous parallelism used by fake “agnostics”) shows there is more to that “agnostic” opinion. The one who makes this equations HAS decided that the question of the existence of the world is not worth his effort. He HAS decided that the First Cause is EQUALLY important to a teapot. This is Hypocrisy. Not “free thinking”.
An atheist friend of mine used to tell me the example of the teapot in his attempt to convince me that he was an “agnostic”. Well, the fact that he was attacking religion whenever he got the chance, did not help him convince me…
A scientist who searches for the explanation of consicousness on a metarialistic basis, cannot say he is agnostic on the matter of God. He believes everything is matter, so he HAS a very SPECIFIC opinion about God. A biologist who every day attacks religion and its proponents, CANNOT claim that he is an agnostic!
Agnosticisim is almost impossible to practice. But not impossible at all. That is why the article is not titled “Agnosticism is a cloak to Dogmatism”, but “Agnosticism, as a cloak to Dogmatism” instead. However when used, it must be used HONESTLY and not as a method to evade questions.
All ideas deserve respect. But how people use philosophical ideas, is their problem… Or maybe it is all in the ideas themselves?
Well, I “don’t know”…
Or maybe I do? …
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You are right that there are degrees of “belief”. We can actually never be sure about anything so a percentage of faith always exists in every opinion we have. One can see the cosmos and believe it has a Cause. This opinion will be based on the fact that all events you observe in your life do have a cause. It is logical, but not certain of course. Others might as well believe that the cosmos has no cause. That it simply existed for ever for no reason at all. Again, they cannot be sure. But what does the agnostic say? “I don’t know”. But no one knows! No one can know for sure! So the “I don’t know” as an answer seems more of an evasive maneuver to avoid saying out loud your opinion, than a true/ honest stance…
Some of them are,indeed,avoiding the answer,but some are just being honest. More than most people,I would suggest,especially when you start questioning self-identified “believers” believes more deeply…you come to know they are just in it for emotional comfort and actually don’t believe in a god they pray to…
You say people who are agnostic are actually atheist because they don’t go to church? That doesn’t have to mean anything. Maybe they just don’t want to conform to a particular religion? I know a few agnostics who don’t debate religion and don’t insult theists…but maybe you were just talking about different “breed” of agnostics here?
Also,on the “impossibility” of being an agnostic…well,what if someone finds both arguments for and against God to be convincing? Aren’t we all agnostics on some scale?
What if a person simply doesn’t think we can find a definite answer to the question of God’s existence? In other words,those who’ve stopped looking…Do you also think they’re atheist due to them not searching for an answer any more?
Sorry for many questions. I’m naturally curious,and I find your blog very interesting.
Thanks for the questions!
Indeed someone might not have concluded with certainty in a question. In fact, one cannot ever be 100% certain for the answer of any question. What I am saying is that although we cannot be certain about anything (even for the computer in front of you – what if your senses do not work correctly?) we still make choices by which we live every passing day.
Most agnostics (not to say ‘all’) may claim that they “do not know” and yet at the same time make many conscious choices not to attend church, not to discuss religion, not to even consider the possibility of “something” (God?) creating the cosmos et cetera.
Have you ever met an agnostic going to church every week?
None I know of. However,I don’t know how many doubts are church-goers having. And I also know many self-identified Christians who never go to church. Though you may be right,I would call them “weak believers” similar to agnostics-“weak atheists”.
It also depends on what we consider as God. Philosophical God (“unmoved mover”) or religious versions of God (Christian,Muslim…)? These are quite different. It makes sense to me that an agnostic on philosophical God wouldn’t attend religious services. Religious versions of God are far more detailed and it takes more to believe in them. Actually,philosophical God is only a subset (but an important subset!) of religious God.
Agnostics on religious God often explore different religions,I think. I can imagine them going to church.