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Your thoughts on Agnostics

Dragonfly

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ag·nos·tic/aɡˈnästik/
noun
[COLOR=#878787 !important][/COLOR]

  • 1.
    a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.





Some people will, at times, use the term "agnostic" in a derisive fashion.

Why is that?

When you hear someone claim to be agnostic what's your reaction to that, and why?
 
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Cephus

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Because "agnostic" doesn't mean what a lot of people think it means. Because "agnostic" when it comes to religion is only half of the story and some people want to pretend it describes a complete position. Agnosticism deals with knowledge. Atheism or theism deals with belief. You are both either gnostic or agnostic *AND* either theist or atheist. You can't just take one half of the equation and pretend you've described your entire position on theology. Unfortunately, some people do that and often, pretend to be superior because of it.
 

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Some people will, at times, use the term "agnostic" in a derisive fashion.

Why is that?

When you hear someone claim to be agnostic what's your reaction to that, and why?

I don't really know how I feel about them :shrug:
 

Elora

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Because "agnostic" doesn't mean what a lot of people think it means. Because "agnostic" when it comes to religion is only half of the story and some people want to pretend it describes a complete position. Agnosticism deals with knowledge. Atheism or theism deals with belief. You are both either gnostic or agnostic *AND* either theist or atheist. You can't just take one half of the equation and pretend you've described your entire position on theology. Unfortunately, some people do that and often, pretend to be superior because of it.

True, an agnostic is the only one who lacks belief...;)
 

devildavid

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I'm cool with agnostics. They don't just take make believe stuff and claim it is real. They are concerned with knowledge, which is refreshing.
 

Unitedwestand13

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Speaking as someone who thinks himself to be something of a agnostic.

I am open to thinking that there is a higher power (god, allah, the flying speghetti monster, etc) But this higher power is not something that the Bible or any current religion endorses. This higher power exists, but we are simply specks Of dust to this great power.
 

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...Agnosticism deals with knowledge. Atheism or theism deals with belief. You are both either gnostic or agnostic *AND* either theist or atheist....

Sorry this makes no sense.


How can a Gnostic also be an Atheist ?

How can a Gnostic also be a Theist ?

It seems to be commonly believed that a Theist says there is a god, an Atheist says there is no god and an Agnostic says he/she doesn't know if there's a god or not.
This is wrong.

To understand what an Agnostic is, you have to understand what a Gnostic is. A Gnostic professes knowledge of god. He/she doesn't believe in god in the same way that a man wearing a white shirt doesn't believe he's wearing a white shirt. He KNOWS he's wearing a white shirt.

To understand we must assume that god does in fact exist. A Gnostic knows this to be so because he/she has had a personal connection.
Now many Theists claim to have proof that god exists but the bottom line is they don't. Not incontrovertible proof. UNLESS they claim to have spoken to god or interacted in some way...and then they're a Gnostic (again assuming that god does in fact exist)

So a Gnostic is someone with absolute certainty that god exists
A Theist claims to have convincing evidence that god exists...sometimes that's a flimsy as "I Just Know"

An Agnostic is someone without knowledge of god...without the absolute certainty of his existence...BUT who is looking for it.
The Agnostic may kind of think god exists but they cannot be sure...their level of certainty is less than the Theist because they're aware of the Gnostics and therefore know there is absolute certainty out there
In short an Agnostic doesn't believe that god exists, but wants to

An Atheist doesn't believe god exists. He/she is willing to accept they may be wrong and the day they die, if they wake up in heaven, they'll be overjoyed to find they were wrong.
However, they are resigned to the likelihood that when they die, it will be the end of their existence.



This is my take on what it means to be Atheist V Agnostic, and Gnostic V Theist.
 

devildavid

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Sorry this makes no sense.


How can a Gnostic also be an Atheist ?

How can a Gnostic also be a Theist ?

It seems to be commonly believed that a Theist says there is a god, an Atheist says there is no god and an Agnostic says he/she doesn't know if there's a god or not.
This is wrong.

To understand what an Agnostic is, you have to understand what a Gnostic is. A Gnostic professes knowledge of god. He/she doesn't believe in god in the same way that a man wearing a white shirt doesn't believe he's wearing a white shirt. He KNOWS he's wearing a white shirt.

To understand we must assume that go does in fact exist. A Gnostic knows this to be so because he/she has had a personal connection.
Now many Theists claim to have proof that god exists but the bottom line is they don't. Not incontrovertible proof. UNLESS they claim to have spoken to god or interacted in some way...and then they're a Gnostic (again assuming that god does in fact exist)

So a Gnostic is someone with absolute certainty that god exists
A Theist claims to have convincing evidence that god exists...sometimes that's a flimsy as "I Just Know"

An Agnostic is someone without knowledge of god...without the absolute certainty of his existence...BUT who is looking for it.
The Agnostic may kind of think god exists but they cannot be sure...their level of v]certainty is less than the Theist because they're aware of the Gnostics and therefore know here is absolute certainty out there
In short an Agnostic doesn't believe that god exists, but wants to

An Atheist doesn't believe god exists. He/she is willing to accept they may be wrong and the day they die, if they wake up in heaven, they'll be overjoyed to find they were wrong.
However, they are resigned to the fact that when they die, it will be the end of their existence.



This is my take on what it means to be Atheist V Agnostic, and Gnostic V Theist.

I always thought of Agnostics as those who say we can never have knowledge of gods. I don't think it says anything about their desire to believe gods exist, one way or the other.
 

Elora

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I always thought the agnostic does not feel that there is enough evidence to say that God does or does not exist...he reserves judgment or says that if God does exist he is unknown and unknowable...
 

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I always thought of Agnostics as those who say we can never have knowledge of gods. I don't think it says anything about their desire to believe gods exist, one way or the other.

No, a Gnostic church would be one where its members are guided to god through their leaders. They will literally claim to interact with god.
The Cathar hearsay preached this.
In the Cathar religion/faith you didn't need priests to act as a go-between for man and god. God connected to each and every individual. The Agnostics weren't people who didn't believe or accept this idea, they were people who had yet to make the connection with god.

Naturally the Catholic church crushed this idea and even launched an official crusade against them in the part of South West France where the Cathar religion was focused.
 

Rich2018

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I always thought the agnostic does not feel that there is enough evidence to say that God does or does not exist...he reserves judgment or says that if God does exist he is unknown and unknowable...


Yes, that is the common view. A kind of: YES/NO/DON'T KNOW

But it's not

An Agnostic is someone who has yet to make a personal connection with god.
 

Cephus

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Sorry this makes no sense.

How can a Gnostic also be an Atheist ?

How can a Gnostic also be a Theist ?

Gnostics, outside of the religious order, are those who believe that it is possible to know whether or not gods exist. Most theists are gnostics. They think they *DO* know gods are real. It all depends on exactly how the word is defined whether most atheists would fit into the gnostic or agnostic mold. The problem is that how the word is used is often nonsensical. Some claim that agnostics are those who do not know gods exist and I'd argue nobody knows because there is no basis upon which to claim knowledge. That would make everyone, by definition, an agnostic. But if you define it as the potential to have knowledge, even though you do not now have it, then virtually all atheists would be gnostics because most, at least the ones that I've talked to, think that in order to believe in gods, they would have to know, or at least potentially know, that said gods are real.

It seems to be commonly believed that a Theist says there is a god, an Atheist says there is no god and an Agnostic says he/she doesn't know if there's a god or not.
This is wrong.

Those are wrong definitions. Theists BELIEVE there is a god of some sort. Atheists LACK belief in any gods. Agnosticism is not a third position. It is an answer to a completely different question, that about knowledge, not about belief. This is where most people get it wrong. A lot of people want to pretend agnosticism is a third position because atheist has negative social connotations. They're just wrong. You are either a theist or an atheist. You can't be both and you can't be neither.
 

devildavid

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No, a Gnostic church would be one where its members are guided to god through their leaders. They will literally claim to interact with god.
The Cathar hearsay preached this.
In the Cathar religion/faith you didn't need priests to act as a go-between for man and god. God connected to each and every individual. The Agnostics weren't people who didn't believe or accept this idea, they were people who had yet to make the connection with god.

Naturally the Catholic church crushed this idea and even launched an official crusade against them in the part of South West France where the Cathar religion was focused.

I'm going with the modern version of agnostic.
 

Rich2018

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For anyone who wants to know more about the crusade to destroy the Cathar (Gnostic) hearsay start here:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albigensian_Crusade


Most people think the crusades were military adventures launched by the royal houses of Europe, with the Pope's blessing, to the land we now call the Middle East.


The Albigensian Crusade was launched against SW France. It was an official crusade with the crusaders getting absolution from all previous sin.




Some may have seen a Vietnam War era t-shirt reading "Kill them all, let god sort them out".

This phrase originated in the Albigensian Crusade. When a crusaders asked a cleric how he should know a French believer from a French heretic, he was told "Kill them all, god will recognize his own".
 

Elora

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According to this article agnosticism was brought on largely because of religion...

The term “agnostic” (from the Greek word agnostos, “unknown”) was coined by the 19th-century British scientist Thomas H. Huxley, who also helped to popularize the Darwinian theory of evolution. Huxley noted that the churches claimed to have a special gnosis (knowledge) about God and the origin of things. He gave one reason why he could not accept this gnosis, and hence was an agnostic:

“If we could only see, in one view, the torrents of hypocrisy and cruelty, the lies, the slaughter, the violations of every obligation of humanity, which have flowed from this source [the churches] along the course of the history of Christian nations, our worst imaginations of Hell would pale beside the vision.”

Doubtless Huxley’s faith in the existence of God was shaken by his acceptance of the theory of evolution. Nevertheless, his faith was further shaken by the conduct of those who should have been in a position to help him, the churches. Their record through the centuries was no recommendation for belief in God.

Socialist Harold Laski, political theorist and educator, wrote in a similar vein. “I was brought up in an orthodox Jewish household; but I cannot even remember a period in which either ritual or dogma had meaning for me,” he confessed. Why? He explained: “Both in England and America I have never been able to see in any of the organized churches a faith in its principles sufficient to make it do serious battle for justice.”

Again, he said: “I cannot see, in the historic process, that the churches have been other than the enemies of reason in thought and of justice in social arrangements.”

It also makes a valid point...

the shortcomings of established religion are no reason to conclude that God does not exist. If a sick person has been cheated by a quack doctor, he should not thus conclude that no cure is possible. Rather, he should look around for a genuine doctor. Similarly, the fact that the established churches have turned many people away from God does not mean that God cannot be found. It merely means that you have to look somewhere else for him.

https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/101984164?q=agnostic&p=sen#h=24
 

Rich2018

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Gnostics, outside of the religious order, are those who believe that it is possible to know whether or not gods exist....

No

A Gnostic professes knowledge of god...the ones who acknowledge that it's possible but have yet to make a personal connection with god are called Agnostics.



...most theists are gnostics. They think they *DO* know gods are real. It all depends on exactly how the word is defined whether most atheists would fit into the gnostic or agnostic mold....

Again no, if a person gains a personal knowledge of god, they no longer simply believe in his existence, they KNOW he exists.
(Again to understand you have to assume for the sake of argument that god does in fact exist - otherwise you'd have to say Gnostics are deluded individuals)


...the problem is that how the word is used is often nonsensical. Some claim that agnostics are those who do not know gods exist and I'd argue nobody knows because there is no basis upon which to claim knowledge....

In a way they'd be right
An Agnostic doesn't know if god exists, I would argue that neither do Theists.
You are again failing to understand Gnosticism. If we assume, for the sake of argument, that god does in fact exist, then yes an individual could make personal contact with god.
Moses and the burning bush, Lot outside Sodom and Gomorrah, Jonah in the belly of the great fish...
If you have a conversation with god you have categorical proof (ie: knowledge) that god exists. Belief is now superfluous, as are holy books, priests etc etc


...if you define it as the potential to have knowledge, even though you do not now have it, then virtually all atheists would be gnostics because most, at least the ones that I've talked to, think that in order to believe in gods, they would have to know, or at least potentially know, that said gods are real....

No, a Gnostic doesn't have the potential to know god (remember "knowledge of" a person in ancient times meant positive interaction not simply information of or about anyone. If you said you have known a women, it meant an intimate encounter).
A Gnostic professes to have interacted with god. Spoken with him. It didn't just mean that they'd prayed to god and seen their prayers come true.

So if you speak to god and god speaks back to you, you KNOW he exists. It is no longer a matter of belief.
So you can't be a Theist and a Gnostic.


...Theists BELIEVE there is a god of some sort. Atheists LACK belief in any gods....


Correct.


...Agnosticism is not a third position. It is an answer to a completely different question, that about knowledge, not about belief. This is where most people get it wrong....


Where you're getting confused is the meaning of the word "knowledge"


You will be aware of a country called Australia on the far side of the world. Even if you have never been there you know it exists because of books you've read, actual Australians you've met etc.

Gnosticism is not this kind of knowledge.
In this context, you can't know Australia exists unless yo actually go there.
I can't know you, unless we actually meet and interact.

I can't know god unless we converse in some way.
 

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According to this article agnosticism was brought on largely because of religion...

Gnostic comes from the Greek word Gnosis (from which we get to modern English word "knowledge".

An Agnostic is simply following the Greek grammatical rule that you can form an opposite (or simply "without") by prefixing a noun with an "A".
 

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Not really. The word agnostic has nothing to do with ancient gnostic religions.

How can that be the case ?

A Gnostic is someone with knowledge of god.

An Agnostic is someone without that knowledge. It is not someone who rejects that knowledge of god is possible.



Again there are many personal opinion on what Agnosticism means, that is what it means to me.
 

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A Gnostic professes knowledge of god...the ones who acknowledge that it's possible but have yet to make a personal connection with god are called Agnostics.

A gnostic CLAIMS TO HAVE knowledge. They do not actually have knowledge. They have no basis whatsoever to claim knowledge. Belief and knowledge are not the same thing. Someone can claim to have knowledge about unicorns too. Doesn't make it so.

Again no, if a person gains a personal knowledge of god, they no longer simply believe in his existence, they KNOW he exists.

There is no such thing as personal knowledge. That's belief. That's not knowledge. I can claim to have personal knowledge of the Loch Ness Monster. That doesn't make it valid.

(Again to understand you have to assume for the sake of argument that god does in fact exist - otherwise you'd have to say Gnostics are deluded individuals)

Because they are. The definition of delusion is "an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder." That absolutely fits religious belief, regardless of how the religious want to think about it.

An Agnostic doesn't know if god exists, I would argue that neither do Theists.

Nobody does, claims about knowledge mean nothing without actual knowledge. If you cannot back up your supposed knowledge with objective demonstration that it is at least likely true, then your claim is false.

You are again failing to understand Gnosticism. If we assume, for the sake of argument, that god does in fact exist, then yes an individual could make personal contact with god.
Moses and the burning bush, Lot outside Sodom and Gomorrah, Jonah in the belly of the great fish...

You are entirely misunderstanding the whole concept. This isn't a bald assertion that gods do not exist or gods do. This is a recognition that no one ought to believe anything for which there is no good, independent, demonstrable, objective evidence. That goes for gods, it goes for Bigfoot, it goes for alien abductions, it goes for everything. The default position is "if you can't prove it, I have no reason to take your claims seriously". No theist can prove that they have had any personal contact with any gods, in fact, in every single case where I have talked to a theist about their supposed personal experiences with god, their rationalization leaves a lot to be desired. They will effectively say "something happened, I can't explain it, therefore God". They have never taken any steps to verify that it was actually God responsible.
 

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How can that be the case ?

A Gnostic is someone with knowledge of god.

An Agnostic is someone without that knowledge. It is not someone who rejects that knowledge of god is possible.

No one demonstrably has any knowledge about god. No one. So that definition of gnostic is empty.
 

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A gnostic CLAIMS TO HAVE knowledge. They do not actually have knowledge. They have no basis whatsoever to claim knowledge. Belief and knowledge are not the same thing. Someone can claim to have knowledge about unicorns too. Doesn't make it so....

As I said you have to, for the sake of argument, assume that god does in fact exist (and an Atheist, when they think about it, have to accept that god or a god(s) might exist)

A Gnostic professes to KNOW god exists.
That is they have interacted with god.

If you say categorically that they cannot know that god exists, you're really saying categorically that god does NOT exist and you cannot say that.

Because if god exists, then he can communicate and converse with a human on Earth.


...there is no such thing as personal knowledge. That's belief. That's not knowledge. I can claim to have personal knowledge of the Loch Ness Monster. That doesn't make it valid....

Do you have personal knowledge that your parents exist ? On thew assumption that you met them and talked with them and touched them, THAT is knowledge, it is not belief.
Do you have personal knowledge of what color the shirt your wearing is ?


...because they are....

So are you saying categorically, 100% that god does NOT exist ???

Because if you're not, how do you know Gnostics are deluded ?



...nobody does, claims about knowledge mean nothing without actual knowledge....


You're stating this as fact, not as your personal belief.

You're stating that god, absolutely, does not exist. And you cannot say that.



...if you cannot back up your supposed knowledge with objective demonstration that it is at least likely true, then your claim is false....


No it's not

Just because I can't back up a claim with evidence doesn't make it false or untrue. It is merely unsubstantiated.

Let's say you chew bubble gum and blow a 3' wide bubble. It bursts and no one saw you.
Does that mean it never happened ?


...you are entirely misunderstanding the whole concept. This isn't a bald assertion that gods do not exist or gods do. This is a recognition that no one ought to believe anything for which there is no good, independent, demonstrable, objective evidence....



No, you are missing the point.

I'm an Atheist and don't believe in god.

I'm simply trying to explain the concept of a Gnostic and therefore an Agnostic.


The fact is the Gnostic churches - like the Cathars - DID believe that god existed and that a human can/could and did interact with them.
Whether they were right or deluded is missing the point. A Gnostic professes to have interacted with god. That is what the term "Gnostic" means.
 

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No one demonstrably has any knowledge about god. No one....

How do you know that ?

If god spoke to you and you spoke back...and you had a conversation, would that not convince you that he exists ?
 

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As I said you have to, for the sake of argument, assume that god does in fact exist (and an Atheist, when they think about it, have to accept that god or a god(s) might exist)

A Gnostic professes to KNOW god exists.
That is they have interacted with god.

No, you cannot assume that something that is not demonstrated is so. That's back to being delusional. If that's your standard, then your standard has some serious, serious problems.

If you say categorically that they cannot know that god exists, you're really saying categorically that god does NOT exist and you cannot say that.

There are people who say that god is inherently beyond the knowledge of mankind. That doesn't mean they don't believe in gods anyhow, it means they do not think they can ever rationally discover any gods. There are plenty of people who think all gods are outside of human knowledge and still believe.

Because if god exists, then he can communicate and converse with a human on Earth.

If the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists, then he can communicate and converse with a human on Earth. That doesn't make that a worthwhile assumption.

Do you have personal knowledge that your parents exist ? On thew assumption that you met them and talked with them and touched them, THAT is knowledge, it is not belief.
Do you have personal knowledge of what color the shirt your wearing is ?

No, I have an evidence-based knowledge that my parents exist. I can prove it. I have direct, demonstrable, objectively verifiable evidence that they are, or were, real. Now do the same thing with any god.

So are you saying categorically, 100% that god does NOT exist ???

Do you get tired of being dishonest? Because nowhere did I say anything even remotely close to that.

Because if you're not, how do you know Gnostics are deluded ?

I provided the definition of the word delusion. Go back and re-read it.
 
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