Rational agnostic

I think my friends Bob and Liberty will agree that

All rational agnostics are atheist by default.

I guess they live their lives as if there are no gods and their position in relation to things supernatural is that we can’t know.

And I don’t think they are in the same boat with this rational agnostic who claims to have known god at some point.

Pascal’s Wager is not a great argument.

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Is there a god? Any god?

The Ark has invited Christians to a challenge. So far, as at this posting,  none has taken it up. The one Christian who has commented has only questioned his motives.

My challenge on the other hand is to the godless; non believers, atheists, agnostics and whoever else in between. 

My agnostic friends tell me whether a god is or not and what it is or could be is unknowable but live their lives as if there is no god.

My atheist friends tell me no evidence for a god has been provided. They lack a belief in the existence of gods/ deities. 

My igtheist friends say the notion of god is incoherent and hasn’t been properly defined to warrant a debate on whether a god could exist. 

All these people live their lives as if there is no god. 

My question or challenge simply is to be told why all these groups are reluctant to say there is no god? What is a god to do if one or several were to exist? 

 

Why I am not an agnostic atheist

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

  1. To describe the god of whom they have suspended judgement
  2. To enumerate the evidence they have in support of the god idea

I hope that this will help in moving the conversation forward.

Robert Green Ingersoll

I want to start the year by paying tribute to one great American statesman whose books have been reading in the past month or so

Col. Robert G. Ingersoll

. This gentleman graced the earth between 1833 and 1899 when he was laid to rest. I don’t want to talk about his life, just a review of the books.

He attacked religion with all he had, satire and superior wit. His lectures are a good read for anyone who is interested in free thought, human rights and other social issues of his time that are relevant to us now.

In Ghosts, he sets to show us that, the first explanation man came up with concerning his environment was supernatural. We can’t blame the savage for believing in good and bad ghosts, he didn’t know better. To the savage, good ghosts brought good tidings and bad ghosts brought pestilence and disease. We have moved far maybe we have not from this explanation.

In the mistakes of Moses, he for the sake argument assumes that Moses wrote the first five books of the OT. He then goes out to point out the mistakes Moses made in the name of a deity and he insists a god couldn’t command such atrocities. To top it up, he asks god to write it down in his book he refused to accept that was the work of a deity.

In Why am an Agnostic, he gives reasons why he can’t believe in god. He says in it he studied the other religions and so that christianity didn’t look any different from the other religions except in its insistence on being the only true religion. He says so many men, women and children were killed in service of this god. No god would command such a thing. He says he read Paine, Voltaire, Humboldt and other great men of the 18th and 19th century and their critiques of the bible and of the christian religion and is convinced they were right. That they valued man more than gods.

In the Lectures of R.G Ingersoll vol 1 and 2, we have a collection of lectures he gave on several issues. In the lectures he pays tribute to the great men such as Paine, Voltaire, Humboldt, Hume,  Darwin; he talks about the Declaration of Independence of the US of A,  pays tribute to Abraham Lincoln and responds to his critics from the religious side. He in many instances show that the bible wasn’t believed when it was written and it can’t be believed now. He further shows that truth does not require a miracle only falsehood does.

In About the Holy Bible, he attacks almost every tenet written in that book. He shows us why the book could not have been inspired by any deity. He seeks to say the truth about the bible because the pastors dare not. The professors in colleges dare not, but for him he has no fear so he will speak for them all and he surely does speak for everyone who has a doubt about the bible and for one reason or another can’t say it.

In Men, Women and Gods and other lectures, he visits the themes I have mentioned above and more. He says consistently that we can’t help the gods, we can’t injure them and that it is our duty to help fellow-man. He then talks about the rights of children, the measure of greatness and responds to his critics in the same manner. He attacks the doctrine of atonement.

In Chinese Exclusion he attacks congress for coming up with laws to exclude the Chinese which is a friendly state. I don’t know how far the US of A has come from the fear of the Chinese.