Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ontological Question: Atheist Or Agnostic?

In discussions after dinner Darwin asked his guests, "Why do you call yourselves Atheists?" saying that he preferred the word "Agnostic." Aveling replied that "Agnostic was but Atheist writ respectable, and Atheist was only Agnostic writ aggressive." (source)

However, later in the same lecture, discussing modern non-anthropomorphic concepts of God, Russell states: That sort of God is, I think, not one that can actually be disproved, as I think the omnipotent and benevolent creator can. (source)

However, later in the essay, Russell says: I think that if I heard a voice from the sky predicting all that was going to happen to me during the next twenty-four hours, including events that would have seemed highly improbable, and if all these events then produced to happen, I might perhaps be convinced at least of the existence of some superhuman intelligence. (source)

So it depends on who is asking, and what they mean by their question; If it was an average person asking, i say im an atheist! If it was a philosophical question asked by a well-informed person, i say im an agnostic! From an ontological point of view, i am agnostic!

Ontology is the study of what exists... Materialism states that matter is the only thing that exists; I agree with the definition, with a slight twist to clear some confusion that might arise: Materialism states that everything that exists is matter!
So it exists if and only if it is matter...

What does that mean? It simply means that if there is such a thing as creator of this universe AKA God, then this "creator" is part of the universe rather than out of it! If a "super-natural being" created this universe, then this being is a "natural being" in its own dimension!

From an ontological POV i am an agnostic; From a semantic POV i am an atheist; Atheism states that there is no GOD... But the God that atheism rejects isnt a question of what exists; But rather rejects the definition of GOD; An omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, conscious definition of GOD...

The problem of evil shows that omnibenevolence is nothing but a dream! "Can God make a rock so big, that even he can't lift it?" This simple question shows that nothing is omnipotent! Assuming the existance of Injustice, Justice is an unattainable goal even for a GOD! One demonstration of the unattainability of Justice is the problem of hell...

21 comments:

Sheldon John said...

You have done it again! I prefer yo call myself agnostic and i like this term. I needn't say i'm a satanist for its unfavorable tag it has been associated with! I would prefer 'agnostic' and certainly it is very much respected!Kudos to you!

Devil's Mind said...

Agnosticism is justified differently amoung agnostics, so while someone is being stricktly correct when claiming to be an agnostic, this claim says nothing about what is his position from the "religious" God; So atheism is a more "direct" way to voice one's opinion about the "religious" God!

Some agnostics arent sure about the christian God's existance, and are usually apathetic about his existance.

While other agnostics (which i subscribe to) reject the anthropomorphic God while being unsure about the other definitions of God that may exist! Those agnostics are atheists...

From my personal experience, if i tell others that i am agnostic they assume that i am of the first types and come to this debate: "So why not believe in [put a religion's name] just in case?!" - which is a absurd!

Tala said...

according to what you mentioned about Materialism, how could you differeniate between living matters and objects?

Can't the creator be part of the universe from a different class? you are asking if i'm part of it, how could i have created it?
mm.. i guess its possible but not from a materialistic point of view. Is giving birth something similiar by any chance? how materialism explains re-generation of Energy?? does energy have the ability to grow beyond the limits of the generator?

you know, i don't agree with Materialism , i think of energy as a better definition or link to existance. and this way there could be an explaiantion. because materialism cannot define a soul, a feeling.

i donno where did i read this, but there is a thought that says that each one of us resembles a certain frequency, resonance could happen, and it could be amplified. i guess its interesting.

Superiority still may exist, plus that we don't know where do the universe's Dimesions end.

i would go for being Agnostic from the first type.

Devil's Mind said...

"i think of energy as a better definition or link to existance." Correct me if i am wrong: U are saying that energy is better definition than matter?
If so, i'd like to remind you that matter and energy are the same thing! Remmember Einstein's formula (E=m*c^2)

"because materialism cannot define a soul, a feeling." Although i am agnostic to the existance of souls; but a feeling is usually defined as an intelligent reaction to certain stimuli... Living beings are made of matter, and this matter behaves under laws of physics... The idea is that living beings are a complex set of matter that shows certain patterns and functionality....

I will answer this question more thoroughly in a future post!

"i would go for being Agnostic from the first type." so do u agree with this article that i featured recently?
I think that article fits well, doesnt it?

Generally, the type of agnostics who are unsure about the christian god, and those similar to it, use this debate:
I am a good person, i will behave benevolently.. I will be considerate to other people; I am not sure that God exists, but i dont want to be evil; So i will be good anyways, and if there was such a thing as Heaven, it will be a nice extra! If there was no heaven, then I am equally happy the way i am...

Does that ring any bell?

husams said...

Hi All, first I’m welcoming myself to your blog Devil's Mind, in which you will be obligated to show me some respect as I’m of your elders, as you reminding me of my ancient times in JUST, as an agnostic. ;)

My opinion about Agnosticism; The solid true flawless agnostic, which can’t be debated is the one who says clearly “I don’t know, I have no facts”, real agnostics don’t build assumptions, this is what religious people did and then starting building believes on their assumptions. Real agnostic smarter than to try creating stories of knowledge, weather it’s about anthropomorphic God, or any other kind of natural or unnatural god. Real agnostics don’t lie, don’t say may and may not be, don’t say you maybe living in Amman or may not, they are brave and realistic enough to say “I don’t know, I have no facts”.

Real, to the bones agnostics’ first rule “everything is proven by denial, unless it’s PROVEN otherwise” this law is never mistaken. They are denying those who assume to know that God exists as they don’t have a proven fact, as well they are denying those who assume God doesn’t exist as they also don’t have a proven fact, Real agnostics tease the others by letting them absorbing the fact that “you also don’t know for sure“. Agnostics seek facts and talk facts but not assumptions. Ideal agnostics never say the word “God” as they don’t have a proven definition for it in their ideology.

Dear Tala, by saying “Superiority still may exist” you are making an assumption and you are having a weak believe in your assumption, but that doesn’t make you an agnostic, mmm sorry.

Thanks for reading :)

Tala said...

Hey husams

i learned today what does the word Agnostic mean from Zeid's post,i agree with being Agnostic, that's it. I'm not and i refuse to be anything or to follow anyone or to be called what so ever. and yes i do say that Superiority may exist. Why not assume? i have to assume because there is nothing granted, and anything is possible. Its a thread, you follow it, analyse it and choose whether to take it or leave it.

what is a Fact?

did you notice that the whole universe is non-linear? and its all based on assumptions.

I don't have a definate reason that can convince me that God affirmatively does not exist.
Because there is an inner call that tells me he is there but he does not fully match what is written in books. i simply want to know for myself. If i was born a Christian, i want to really be a Christian with reason and proof, i've been a believer but i lost it somewhere in the way after knowing things i was not given the choice to think about.. i need to re- consider.

So as Zeid said, lets not lose points in defining schools and philosophies rather than looking for the pure content, regardless of what it is called.

Tala said...

Zeid
nice article. i agree.

husams said...

Tala, sure you are free to make up your assumptions, and to adopt them, I’ m not against this at all, but being not sure about them make you skeptical, but not agnostic, though both could get along in the same club. Except that agnostic are noncommittal ie: Refusing commitment to a particular opinion or assumption regarding the existence.

“did you notice that the whole universe is non-linear? and its all based on assumptions.”

Universe is based on facts not assumptions, while some people creating assumption to try explaining the facts.

“I don't have a definate reason that can convince me that God affirmatively does not exist.”

Me also, I don’t know and I can’t know. “Neither if it’s existing, nor if it doesn’t exist” frankly I don’t have and I don’t know how to make a true (valid assumption) (fact) for the definition of God.

“So as Zeid said, lets not lose points in defining schools and philosophies rather than looking for the pure content, regardless of what it is called.”

Hope we won’t lose the main points, I didn’t mean to be against you, but rather trying to find out where you are standing. Cheer up.

Devil's Mind said...

Its true, agnosticism is based on no assumption; I am actually a fan of the no assumptions rule! I would not argue against agnosticism because i actually understand that it is unfalsifiable.

But thats also the problem of agnosticism; It says nothing! So although it is a good philosophical point; it is not the most rational view point... It doesnt follow the scientific methode, it has no conclusions that can make it verifiable.

Let me give you an example, we all know that ( Force = Mass * Acceleration ), this formula was contructed by Newton, and proved to be wrong by Einstein!
I guess even Newton would have not given you 100% positive on that equation... BUT, although that formula wasnt completely correct, it followed the scientific methode, and had conclusion that were applied in say: cars, sky rockets, etc... Newton had a rational reason to state ( F=ma ) as a theory... So if Newton said, I am not sure about the truth of my equation and thus chosen not to declare any relation between force, mass and acceleration; that choice would be irrational!

So while agnosticism is a sure-way not to be wrong, it lacks any conclusions that make that view point useful; I cant be sure about existance of God, but i have rational reasons to favor atheism over theism...

To further understand your point, i am curious to know your position on this debate:
You are unsure that Christian God exists; Thus you are unsure Christianity is true or not; If it was false your belief mean nothing; If it was true, then your belief can mean the difference between going to heaven or hell; thus it makes sense to believe in Christianity "just in case", because that might mean the difference between hell and heaven!
This debate can work on anyother "only and true" religion...
What is you position on that debate?

Tala said...

husams
never mind, we don't have to agree, its rare you find a place to talk about such topics. Here you can shape you thoughts better.i think you guys are on a more profound level than i, it would be nice to listen, it gives you something to think about:)

back to the subject

you are free to make up your assumptions, and to adopt them

i don't have to adopt all what i assume, it gives you a better understanding to assume. you are opened to wider range of possiblities. i would limit myself if i stick to facts

a true (valid assumption)(fact)

Fact : is an objective and verifiable observation, observations rely on human senses, measuring tools, and on deductive and inductive logic, all are subject to doubt. facts are the initial cells for theories.

Theory : a theory is a proposed description of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena

i guess its all assumptions based on facts which are still doubtable.

what is a valid assumption?? does it ==? fact? how would you know.

Tala said...

Zeid

you know what i'm thinking of right now, how was i introduced to God? i knew about him through the Bible. now, the bible locks you at some certain points where you have to surrender to belief that this is true without questioning why?

now. i want to forget about the God which is in the Bible, Quran and the Old Testament. I used to want to prove it right. let us move in the opposite direction first, one step behind

Is there a God? is there a creator? this is what im questioning

concerning my belief about Christianity: whether there is a God or there isn't, i do believe in what Christianity teaches. it has wonderful meanings. its very wise. i don't believe in hell or heaven, i see death and what is after (if existed) as another dimension.

by the way, no one should practice any religion out of the fear of the penelty. i'm not trying to make a compromise of the best buy neither. i'm not fooling God with what i see.

now after verifying that there is a God. What is God? Christian God? etc...

after that comes Why worship God?
do i owe anyone anything?

these are all questions, they are so much in my face whenever i meet people who restrict themselves to written word. i see the diversity, i really wonder. i dont interfere with others. i have to respect everyone's right to believe in what they want. but it tells you when X reacts in a way toward any topic. what does he refer to. what is his/ her philosophy. im looking for my reference. i'm making my reference because apparently there isn't any.

Devil's Mind said...

Personally, i define God as the "first cause"! To me the first cause is an impersonal event in the history of the universe... And allow me to emphasize an impersonal factor in life!! (consider this)
I do have good reason to believe in the impersonal model of God; Yet i'd not call that an ultimate truth, but rather as i said i have "good reasons" to think its true, and will discuss those reasons if you wish (probably in future posts)!

I dont like the idea of "punishment and reward" introduced in most religions...
I dont like the idea of "worshipping" (consider this)
I hate fundamentalist laws that enforce religious views on others;

Many other things that i cant list all just in here :D
I have debated religions with quite varying approaches and people of different prespectives... And each debate, even if it was flawed will make one gain insight...

husams said...

Well, first of all and to be truthful, I come up with dozens of theories and assumptions and I’m always enjoying doing this to my amusement, and challenging my sense of reason. But always at the end of the day, I go back to my unfaultable basis of being agnostic.

So really agnostics do allow themselves to think, to make conclusions, but their thoughts are rather based just on the facts of logic, as when religious people say that god is PERFECT, a serious agnostic person could simply decline this statement, just based on the facts of logics without assumptions, by saying perfection means you don’t act, you won’t act unless you want something -think about it regarding anything- , wanting something means you are in lack of that thing, lacking of the thing means you are not perfect, so given the fact that your god is acting then he is not perfect! They say “But he doesn’t need us, he just WANTS to see us worship him” The answer “(WANT) means he isn’t having it, there is a change of state before and after achieving the (want) he is getting to a better state, while (perfect) is a one state which is the lack on nothing”. So here is an example about how can an agnostic person thinks, without contradicting agnosticism.

By the way Zeid, you said agnosticism says nothing, yes exactly it doesn’t ACT, that’s why it’s being perfect, that’s why it’s flawless, impeccable.

Never to hide that agnostics are a lot better in destroying assumptions as the one above, than building ones. Agnostics act like predators near the words of “absolutions”, they are feeding on demolishing them, acting like the Zero in mathematics multiplied by any number.

Newton used scientifical methods to reach (f=ma) , and had experimentally proven it as a fact in conventional physics ( 1 kg mass pushed by 10N will have an acceleration of 10m/s2 , it’s a fact can be measured in reality and approved) , agnostics actually fond of reaching the facts by science, they adopt these facts to the limit of it’s proven extent, which is conventional physics in Newton’s case, which is still valid till now, Newton is not valid in Nano physics range and other ranges as I think, agnosticism wont stand against him unless he claimed that he is absolutely valid on all ranges.

Ok now to your question, sometime during my school days, I used to consider this thought. Anyway I have to mention that this question could be convincing to Christianity more than it is to Islam. As in Christianity it’s almost enough to say I’m Christian to enter the heavens, while in Islam you have to avoid a massive amount of forbidden and contradictions and even you could reach Afghanistan level while still feeling doubtful if it’s enough to allow you entering heaven, thus the clear answer will be I wont put my self in misery for something I don’t know about, and sure you and me can be skeptical giving them like hundreds of reasons against their sensibly fragile believes. But the true answer while defending agnosticism is that by being agnostic you are not in confusion to if it s/he (god) may exist or not, you are far more realistic below this level of making an assumption of his/her its existence.

Tala

“what is a valid assumption?? does it ==? fact? how would you know.”

The fact is what you believe, but absolute fact is unreachable.

“the bible locks you at some certain points where you have to surrender to belief that this is true without questioning why?”

Because who put it don’t have answers to these questions

“Is there a God? is there a creator? this is what im questioning”

I don’t have an answer to this. But I can make an assumption as saying, maybe we are just a project and our creator is populating us on earth for his experiment. You can assume god being evil or good…… that he creates us doesn’t make him a saint!

“concerning my belief about Christianity: whether there is a God or there isn't, i do believe in what Christianity teaches.”

Yes religions in general founded for good causes, and some are better than others. They all implement heaven and hell, to guide people by desire and fear.

"after that comes Why worship God?
do i owe anyone anything?"

No you don’t own anyone and god anything as you didn’t ask to be existed, but Who ever created you owns you an explanation.

Devil's Mind said...

So if someone reaches the conclusion: A God that Is PERFECT and WANTS us to worship him cant exist (because its a self-contradicting definition of God), but other definitions of God may exist....

Is that a rational conclusion to what you just said above?

"No you don’t own anyone and god anything as you didn’t ask to be existed, but Who ever created you owns you an explanation."
I agree with you here, and i can say: Not many people are comfortable to the idea that God owes us more than we owe him!!!

husams said...

Oh, I just noticed that you added a comment here,,, anyhow

Yes it’s a rational conclusion and an unconditional one that can’t be defected, it’s not a hypothesis. Just it is nullifying the hypothesis of the perfect god.

Yes, even a God who is PERFECT and CREATED us, is a self contradicting definition of God, absolutely you can challenge anyone, any act that is ever done on this universe, human acts, physics, etc.. is a result of imperfection, and the aim is moving to a more stable state closer to perfection.

Here I can add a hypothesis of my own, that the universe is built on imperfection, something was missed from perfection at first, which caused the first act. But not in anyway I will worship my hypothesis or believe in their absolute rightness.

Sure we are reaching understanding my friend ;)

Devil's Mind said...

Thats what im saying, we cant accept every definition of God... We can apply rational reasoning to exclude some definitions of God, and reaching the conclusion that they dont exist (without the need for messy assumptions), based on our judgement...

So if you ask me, i'd say: You and I are both atheists and agnostics at the same time, because the two dont contradict!! (based on that religions claim that God both created us and is perfect)

Tala said...

how did you get to the conclusion that God is imperfect while you are talking about an arguement in the holy book,, this Arguement is not a fact,,i thought you rely on facts??

what you are saying that we don't have an evidence that God (creator) does not exist.

God is Perfect and WANTS us to worship him according to religions. (not stated Fact) you cannot argue it. so you cannot say God is imperfect for sure because you didn't conclude that he is perfect

you said Perfection is One State , wanting something refers to a chaneg of state which does not make it perfect.

By the way God does not want you to worship him, he TELLS you to worship him. Telling you to do something does not make you imperfect.
worship or dont worship. its your choice, according to religions he/she gave you your life. gave you the power of choice. ok , you didn't ask for it, go kill yourself if you don't want it. otherwise you cannot deny that there is something given to you. you dont own yourself. you even don't have full control over yourself. you can steer but not the whole time.

Does imperfect mean not Superior? Does imperfect mean evil? Does imperfection justifies you being imperfect? it relieves you to know that your creator is not superior and is not better than you in any way so you can justify what is inside you.

you believe in polarities dont you? there is + and - , there is Good and there is Evil. they are all inside you. i actually think that God is an inner call inside you. you belong to God. it is something enforced. don't rely on your mind only. you have more powers than logic.

by the way, who said that the creator is One? could God have created Evil by mistake? you do believe that everything happens for a reason.

Devil's Mind said...

"Because there is an inner call that tells me he is there but he does not fully match what is written in books."
Assuming that our world exists, it is reasonable to say: Then "something" created it... Our common logic leads us to think of cause and effect... The current state of the universe is the effect of past states, and cause of future states...

Now if we apply simple logic, we trace time back, we eventually would hit a brick wall of the first cause, the cause that was not preceeded by anyother cause...

Now let me ask you Tala,
you say: "he does not fully match what is written in books."; Thats all we are saying: What is written in books doesnt make perfect sense, so reality is different.... But how much different? I cant give you an answer for that; It can be slightly different... or it could be completely different.

So my question is:
Do you believe in prayer? Do you think that God "listens" to you when you pray?
Do you have to behave, so as to "please" God? (maybe "please" isnt the best choice of words, but u got the point)
Do you think God "deserves" respect for what he has done?
Do you think the world was created with humans "in mind", OR that our existance is merely by-product of the existance of the universe?

Additionally, few more questions which are personal rather than philosophical:
Do you think you need a holy figure in your life?
Does lacking faith make you feel confused?
Do you have an emotional connection to your creator?

Finally, maybe those question im asking mean nothing to you.. If so what questions you think are the right ones to ask? Because the term God is so vague and each person has his own agenda when using that term

Tala said...

Do you believe in prayer? Do you think that God "listens" to you when you pray?

praying is not slavery, on the contrary it raises your spirit high, makes you wiser. its not a custom, its not an obligation
i used to pray, i'm not able to pray anymore. i never liked to pray in public with groups, or be part of religious youth. i always saw it as something personl. i show respect. i dont have to bend on my knees, though im ok with it. its not degrading, and i simply talk what's on my mind. He is like a father. a caring father who loves me a lot and would never want to hurt me.

Do you have to behave, so as to "please" God? (maybe "please" isnt the best choice of words, but u got the point)

i don't do anything to please God. i don't have to,i'm not meant to please him. i am allowed to sin, im human. and he knows that and he doesn't expect me to be perfect.
but he knows what is best for me and tries to guide me in a way not to stray. where? i have no idea.

Do you think God "deserves" respect for what he has done?

Absolutely, he is an artist. he made us :)

Do you think the world was created with humans "in mind", OR that our existance is merely by-product of the existance of the universe?

actually this sentence is the source of my misery. it is what made me think A LOT , after a philosophy course. but spontaneously i always say no we are not the center and it was not meant to be for us alone, we are more fortunate. i do believe that animals are as equal as us on this planet. our minds are the only difference.

Additionally, few more questions which are personal rather than philosophical:
Do you think you need a holy figure in your life?

no , thats why i cant pray.

Does lacking faith make you feel confused?

Yes. i cant differentiate between right and wrong at some points

Do you have an emotional connection to your creator?

i didnt understand this question.

Devil's Mind said...

Do you have an emotional connection to your creator?

"He is like a father. a caring father who loves me a lot and would never want to hurt me."

Aparently, the question of God to you is more than a philosophical question, or an objective research... It has an emotional dimension!

You seem to like the idea of: God, whoever that is, wants what is good for you, and what is good for everyone else as well!
Have you ever wondered why would God even care?

"i've been a believer but i lost it somewhere in the way after knowing things i was not given the choice to think about.. i need to re- consider."
Can you put some of those stuff into words, and explain them?

Tala said...

i'm not givig it an emotional dimension, this is what i learned at school. Father, Son and The holy Ghost. Christianity is a very spiritual religion, its all about giving, Loving others and Patience.

well, what really shocked me is that i took it for granted, i took it as absolute. i was never given the choice of anything else. i always defended all arguements BECAUSE its written in the Bible. people take religion in a weird way. some people make a huge fuss of following the rules. my aunt always said : 12 years at school are enough to let you learn what is christianity about. dont participate in groups because they are oriented for other purposes using the name of religion.the people who close their minds to religion and hate others because they are not from the same religion, my grandmother used to teach nuns, she was very idealistic and religious, very straight. when i saw how she used to donate to church's priest for icons. i didnt think it was sincere how she welcomed the preist like a king who collects money. priests should be humble, its not an enterprise. when people kiss the hand of the pope. when they talk about aborsion. about virginity. about adam and eve about heaven and hell , not to get involved with someone with different religion. when religion rules in a country. when people have been fighting all their life using religion. when people become narrow minded, and above all. there are a lot o atheist people who are better than most religious and one of them was my uncle.

he never talked it out. i always said that he is a saint. till once we were sitting and he asked me a question: do you believe in God?
i said : absolutely. he said : why? i said: how come we could be alone.

and the second incident was my philosophy professor : the way he was asking. he didnt say it literally, he was listening to us who we were talking like a tape recorded people , giving excuses for all arguments and i just stumbled. till he asked :' could it be that humans are the absolute truth of the universe.' or ' is it possible that we are created to be a resemblance of a divine pattern' ? i raised my hand and said: you are making me assume that God is not there. he said yes. i said: who will steer.
he said : what if he was not there? why is he there?

but in general philosophy is one of my favourite topics and you were right, i should not think emotionally of it. i should be more objective