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This is weird...

Okay, this takes it, the National Post has actually published an editorial that I agree with.

What? A reasoned and well-thought editorial? Has the National Post gone mad? Have they....*gasp*....Hired a journalist?! Wonders never cease. Maybe there IS a .... oh wait....hmmmm....

I know, I couldn't believe it. I checked the link a couple of times thinking that I was being punk'd, but it appears legit.

There's been a rash of odd "defence" posts lately, I'm contributing one shortly for Cheney oddly enough.

I think it's a new tact by some bloggers who feel honesty is the best policy, instead of blind partisanship.

I learned something today from this editorial. Richard Dawkins is married to Romana of Doctor Who.

This atheist/agnostic debate. I'm agnostic, while most theists would consider me atheistic. As far as I can tell, "God" has never noticed me and my life to the point of divine intervention. If there is a personal God, I can think of occasions when intervention was justified. Hasn't happened.

However, this is an amazing universe, and to declare that this is just a random accident obeying arbitrary laws seems to me the height of hubris.

mrx,
Even as an atheist, I'm sometimes confused by the difference between agnosticism and atheism. I think it's because each of us has different reasons for the choices that we make, and that's cool.

As for "hubris", the ony thing hubristic in your last paragraph is the word "just".

Personal confession: Asking me to make an either/or choice occasionally causes me intellectual angst. Why do I have to choose between atheism and a belief in a God? It's uncomfortable sitting on the fence, but I like to be able to say "Good argument" when I hear one. I just haven't heard that compelling argument yet which will help me climb down off the fence.

I'll say again, though, I see no evidence for the existence of a God who is so enamoured of humans that personal intervention is a primary occupation from moment to moment.

"I'll say again, though, I see no evidence for the existence of a God who is so enamoured of humans that personal intervention is a primary occupation from moment to moment."

Sounds like you've made your choice and are just afraid to admit it.

FWIW, I am an atheist in a sense that I do not consider that a God or gods exists as part of my world view. This is different than "I do not believe god exists". I do not even consider the question - the existence of a deity never enters my worldview - I hold no belief, hence being an "a"-theist rather than an "un"theist. Its like the difference between moral, immoral or amoral.

I'm saying "I don't know, and I'm pretty sure you don't either." The people I don't believe most strongly are the ones who claim a personal knowledge of God. Most likely they're delusional, crazy, have no idea what evidence means, or deliberately lying.

Then there are people like Donald Knuth. He believes. And if he believes, I'm not ruling out the possibility that he's right. He's smarter than I am, more insightful than I am, deeper than I am. He hasn't convinced me, but he's convinced himself. I'm leaving the door open.

Here's how I differentiate the two: atheism is the belief that no god or higher power exists whereas agnosticism is the belief that it is impossible to prove the existence (or non-existence) of said higher power.

I went through what I thought was an agnostic phase, but in reality I was fence-sitting, as Mike hints at above. By my definition, "I'm not sure" is too passive to qualify as agnostic; "I don't know and it's impossible to know" would be more like it.

I'd like it on the record that none of the posters on this thread, except perhaps me, offered anything to justify their position w.r.t. atheism. Is it really so obvious that there is no God? You're atheists because ... why are you atheists? Is humanism as good as it gets?

Everyone seems to think that my take on agnosticism is wimpy. I think it's the more credible position. This isn't a "Canadiens vs Leafs" - like doctrinaire issue we're talking about. It should be, what does the evidence show? Which makes most sense when you think things through? If I take a position because the preponderance of evidence supports that position, that's one thing. If I take a position just for the sake of taking a position, I feel I'm being intellectually dishonest. Why is fence sitting on this issue an issue with you guys? Fence sitting in general is a problem? I thought the participants here were supposed to be seeking honest debate of the issues. For everyone but me, it seems, the issue is closed.

MRx,
I have no problem at all with agnosticism, which is why I tried to define it above (for clarity) as the belief that it is impossible to prove or disprove the existence of a higher power. This is a very fair position to take. (Hell, who would I be to argue with Huxley?) I think you misunderstood my last comment, and I realize now that I worded it poorly - when I thought I was agnostic, I was fence-sitting - I had not thought things through to a conclusion that I was satisfied with. I do not mean to imply that agnostics have not come to an active conclusion or that it is not intellectualy tenable. I do not think your position is "wimpy" at all, you have simply come to a conclusion that is different than I have.

I am not an atheist because I can prove God doesn't exist; proving a negative is not possible. (WMD's in Iraq?) For me it's a more statistical thing: given the evidence that I see, with no suggestion that I see everything of course, the possibility of an animate Creator is vanishingly small. Also, I must admit that I read "A Brief History of Time" at a formative time. Hawking's conclusion that the fact that time and space as well as matter were created at the Big Bang precludes the possibility of divine intervention of any kind seems to me to be logical.

Can I prove it? No, but it seems the most reasonable conclusion.

Having said that, I don't like what has happened to the word "agnostic". If you look it up, you'll see that it has been mixed up with "undecided", which is a misrepresentation, and is indeed "wimpy". Saying "can't be determined" is more rigorous and clear, and I think more what you are saying. The word has been finessed in modern parlance in much the same way as "theory" has, and it confuses the discussion and leads to misunderstandings like we've just had.

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