I have a friend who is agnostic. He is pretty peeved with me right now because he believes i'm arrogant. He says im a hypocrite because my certainty that there is no "God" is the same as being religious. But I truly feel certain despite not being able to prove it. I'd bet my life on it. (now when I say God I mean the traditional sense of the word, christian god, judaism, etc..)
I feel it is not a fair comparison because I base my beliefs on observations of the universe and nature and the fact that religion seems to be an exceedingly growing pocket of ignorance where information comes from an ancient text written by our more primitive ancestors. Obviously that argument only makes him think i'm even more arrogant.
How can I get through?
I showed him this.. but being that DeGrasse isn't even an atheist doesn't help much.. however it is a similar debate..
Is he agnostic about unicorns? The tooth fairy? Of course not. What would he say, therefore, to someone that claimed that his certainty regarding unicorns and the tooth fairy consisted of a certainty on a par with the kind that the religious claim to have, and that his certainty represented a religious faith too?
He'll respond to claim that there is some sort of difference either in kind or in degree between either unicorns or the tooth fairy, and God. Make him substantiate that claim in a way that isn't question begging and isn't special pleading. Can't be done....
I tried the flying spaghetti monster argument on him. He simply denies the argument holds any weight in this context. I simply do not understand his reasoning there and he offered no valid answers. This statement makes him seem to be very unopen minded and closed off. However, in most cases I find him not to be this way at all. He truly strikes me as a person trying to come to grips with religion and atheism.
My best advice... don't push too hard. Give him time.
Is it worth correcting? I've had people tell me this a number of times before, though almost never my friends. It's usually done in with a sort of "Of course I'm not talking about you, Kris; I'm talking about people who hold the same views as you."
At that point I usually clarify that perceived character flaws such as hypocrisy and arrogance don't invalidate a position. If you can get someone to admit at least that much, you can shift the conversation to your position itself. If you can do that, you don't need to prove your position; you only need to demonstrate that it is a reasonable position to hold. If you can demonstrate that it is a reasonable position to hold, you can usually get someone to admit that it isn't so arrogant.
I set it up by setting a standard for certainty (and clarifying that 'certainty' exists in degrees; it does not need to be taken quite as strong as an absolute). I usually apply this standard to every day examples to demonstrate it in uncontroversial terms. I then establish what evidence I find reasonable for generating certainty. It then demonstrate how that evidence exists for naturalistic explanations of the universe, yet does not exist for supernatural explanations. That takes care of the hypocrisy claim at the same time.
If the person refuses to even entertain me that far, I turn the arrogance claim back around on them. I tell them it's arrogant and flat out ignorant to assassinate my character based on my views without giving me the chance to explain my views.
Of course, that's if I bother to pursue the issue. I find it harder and harder to care as time goes on.
Totally, there are varying degrees of certainty at times it seems nothing can be certain but in order to have any progress in anything in life we need to make decisions sometimes. If I want to ever eat I have to decide what it is I want to eat and then eat it. Otherwise I will die.
He did say to me one time.. I like to think there is something more after death. I promptly replied.."Did you hear what you just said? You LIKE to think that."
I am 100% with that.
especially this line "I find it harder and harder to care as time goes on"
I'm getting grumpier and less tolerant of GOD reference as I get older.
Possibly more so since finding other atheists on the internet.
The more I read the more atheist I get
For a long long loonnngg time I truly thought I was alone in my disbelief.
Maybe you could tell him "If there was a God, child abuse would not happen.", or something along those lines. Then the worst he could accuse you of is being naive instead of arrogant. Not that it is naive but I'm just trying to put myself in your friend's frame of mind.
I like this one:
If there is no 'God', it is rather true that such a fact does not stop you from believing.
If there is a 'God', why should you be worried, that fact becomes 'my problem'.
Either way, ignorance might be bliss, atleast for a while...;p)
I try to avoid this by saying I don't believe there is a god instead of asserting that there is no god. This is easy because it is true for me. People still find offence with it though. It goes back to that quote that is attributed to Abraham Lincoln: You can please all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time. Maybe he just gets to think you're arrogant. Ironically, it would be an un-arrogant thing to do.
How are you any more arrogant than he?
I am an agnostic atheist, meaning that I'm an atheist but not one whose mind couldn't possibly ever be changed. I just can't conceive how.
I don't think there's any doubt that agnosticism is a far more defensible position than atheism, though one can be an atheist and still be agnostic. They aren't mutually exclusive unless one's atheism is, like a religious view, beyond being reconsidered.