You will allow me to start with a very irrelevant story. Thank you. At the beginning of the year when guys were busy making resolutions, I made only one that I hoped I could remain faithful to and that was to read 53 books so chosen because a year has 52 weeks and given that I got to work, blog, have a beer and sleep in between, this was a good number. As it stands now, I have surpassed that number by almost 10 books and am happy for it.
I must state from the onset that I do not intend to berate my agnostic friends, but to briefly demonstrate that their position is not justified. In order to do this, I must clarify that there are two applications of the term agnostic [a term I will show is unnecessary] its application in religion and philosophy. It is its use with reference to the belief in deity that interests me. The question of whether one believes in god or not admits of only two possible answers. Either one believes[theist] or doesn’t believe[atheist]. I want to state here that between theism and atheism, there is no halfway point and if any, I will say that position is one of intellectual dishonesty or one of development or transition to the greater truth.
A small digression would suffice here. I am agnostic/ skeptic as to whether I will wake up tomorrow, but I work as fact that I will be tomorrow. I make plans, arrange for meetings and so on. If the skeptic was to suspend judgement on everything, for which they have no evidence, as they claim, life would be impossible.
Words being fluid, people have often employed them to different ends. And the same is true for agnosticism. First and foremost, there was never a need for the word agnostic. If agnostic is used in reference to existential questions, that is, as to the nature of reality or of thing in itself the word skeptic was sufficient to explain and with reference to lack of belief in gods- atheist was and is sufficient. Unless the word agnostic is used in place of atheism because of its earlier connotations, so be it, but to use it to represent a different conclusion than the atheistic one, that I contend is not warranted.
I know there are no gods, in the same way I know there is no ABRACADABRA. Anthropology has shown that the god belief originated for a practical purpose in the age of our primitive infancy and was employed as an explanation for causes to which they were ignorant. Their world was populated by spirits, good and bad, responsible for every conceivable phenomena. This idea of god/ghosts and phantoms evolved to the current conception of a monotheistic god. In essence, as man became more intelligent, so did his god but it’s function has always been the same. It is evident that the more ignorant of causes a man is, the stronger is his belief in gods and the opposite is true, that is, the more enlightened a man is, the less use he has for gods and the more abstract his conception of god becomes.
The moment the theist describes his god, it canl easily be shown that either it is contradictory in its definition or is a logical impossibility. The word god on its own, that is, if not attached to a specific belief is meaningless and does not avail itself either to refutation or affirmation.
The agnostic in attempt to look superior to the atheist by claiming skepticism on the belief in gods is being intellectually dishonest. He says the nature of god is unknown and unknowable and so he suspends judgement. The atheist says he has no knowledge of god, that is, the god-idea has not been properly defined. How in the name of all that is reasonable does one suspend judgement on what is unknown and unknowable? What would be more absurd than such a stand? Why even entertain the thought of a thing that is unknowable? Further still, our conception of a thing could be inadequate or wrong, but to say it is unknowable is to put a limit on the ability of the human capacity to wrest knowledge from nature.
On the balance of things, for one to say he is agnostic and holds this position as being halfway between theism and atheism is to imply that evidence adduced for the existence of god and against almost stand par. But is this really the case? Has even a god been properly defined, even if we put aside the matter of evidence, to permit a suspension of belief?
One is likely to say that the philosophical arguments for god make this a possibility. But does it really? It doesn’t. The god of philosophy is an abstraction that is far removed from what men mean when they talk about god. Whenever men have talked about god they have always meant a being that is personal, that listens to prayers, answers them and loves them. It is only with mental gymnastics, special pleading and dishonesty does one come from one to the other. The god of William Craig and of my grandmother don’t meet anywhere except that they are all used as explanations where we are ignorant of causes. My grandmother being ignorant of how rain is formed, prays to god for rain and William Craig being ignorant of how matter can result in consciousness says god. The common thing is they are both ignorant and the evidence for my grandmother’s god and William Craig’s god is the same, nil.
I invite my agnostic friends to do two things
- To describe the god of whom they have suspended judgement
- To enumerate the evidence they have in support of the god idea
I hope that this will help in moving the conversation forward.