I've heard a bunch of quite well-known scientists and other famous people (e.g. Niel deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye) who have claimed that scientists, to be true to themselves, "must" be agnostic, not atheist. Their defense of this is that since there is no evidence, a decision can't be made one way or the other on the existence of any mythical beings.
Isn't this kind of claim not entirely valid, though? Does there have to be positive evidence either supporting or contradicting something to make a claim about it, or can a staggering (significant...) lack of any evidence -- when evidence would essentially be expected -- defend a similar claim from a negative aspect as well?
It seems to me that saying "there is no specific evidence, therefore: agnostic" is being dishonest to oneself. This brings up arguments like Bertrand's Teapot, IPU, FSM, or even a "square circle". While there isn't any universe-encompassing body of evidence that rules such things out, the complete lack of any evidence of any sort is really just a different kind of evidence, isn't it?
Do you have any unique perspectives, particular experiences, or tidbits to offer to help solve this fluke of reasoning?
Just because they're famous doesn't mean you can't disagree with them. For example I hate Tyson and agnostics alike for being so passive when it comes to fighting religion at all. I remember seeing a video of him saying something to the effect of atheism being childish. What an asshole. If you want to stand on the sidelines without doing anything, that's cool, but no agnostic should tell any atheist they're wrong to be so sure of themselves. Just grow some balls. Agnosticism is basically saying "There COULD be a batman. We just can't know."
Have you ever come across igtheism? I hadn't, here's a link. It basically says that it doesn't acknowledge that a definition of what "god" is has yet been provided, so no determination can be made as to its existence.
In the real world 1+1=2 In religion God + 0= father, son, holy ghost. I can truly say the first is real and based on fact, I can not bring myself to think that the second is true.
Sounds like another pathetic attempt to pussyfoot a really simple issue.
Look, different gods have different attributes, and different people have different definitions of god(s). Do we know the clear definition of a superhero? Superman obviously is. But is Batman a superhero? He has no magical powers, he's self made. Is Spiderman a superhero? He's half half. Where do we stop playing stupid word games?
Here's the thing, agnostics and the like feel so enlightened because of the whole "we can't know so we shouldn't assume" bullshit. But if they had to be honest, they'd say that about anything. Try being agnostic about superheroes and let us know how that works you for you.
The last Batman movie was really cool man, I wish he were real.
-- You don't know he isn't.
-- Well I mean there is no evidence for it, but you can't really disprove him either so he could be real.
-- See because there is no evidence for one way or the other.
This isn't funny... are you serious?
-- Yes look saying with absolute certainty that Batman isn't real is just ignorant.
OK you're a retard...
Like the OP already mentioned, not everything that cannot be disproved is worth considering. That's the whole point behind funny examples like the FSM and the teapot.
Agnostics are lying to themselves and others by acting as if the chances were 50-50 for either a god being there or not. That's simply not true. At this point we clearly know that the likely hood of there being a god, to there not being a god is like one in a googol. It's like looking at a paternity test, that tells you with a certainty of 99.99999999% you're the biological father, but then you say "oh well, you know it's not a 100% so we can't be certain either way, I might be the dad or I might not be the dad." No asshole, that 0.0000something0001% isn't realistic. You're dad because science told you so. And science also tells us that with 99.9999999% certainty that "god" is not our dad.
And what these assholes do is just stall progress. It's like jury duty. With the defendant being Religion/God, and he's being tried with crimes against humanity. The atheists on the jury all agree, the story is BS, he has no alibi, he's sweating and avoiding eye contact with his victim, Ms. Science, and he keeps changing his story. This guy's guilty!
But then there's one fucking agnotic dumbass in the group who says "Well there's just not enough evidence, ya I know we found his pubic hair, semen and blood all over Ms. Science' battered body, and all those little boys. And yea I also know he was caught red handed trying to rob a prayer-room full of people, pickpocketing their intelligence and logic. I also know he tried forging several documents, and was caught. Yeah I know we have 7 billion witnesses claiming he masturbated in public. And I know he admit to killing and torturing his victims in his autobiographies. But I think it's still not conclusive, we can't judge him!"
So instead of just sending the criminal fuck to the Azkaban of Superstition, the whole process gets delayed and drawn out. Thanks a lot agnostics. Grow a pair, and stop being disingenuous.
Agnosticism is PC atheism without the balls and pretending the 00000000000000000000.1% is equivalent to 50/50 is just intellectual dishonesty. The whole "we can never know, you can't be certain so you shouldn't take a position" is a cop-out.
For starters, agnostics don't look at human history and all of those obsolete anthropomorphic gods. What became of them? Agnosticism fails to see the god hypothesis as the man-made, non-evidenced wish-thinking nonsense for what it is.
What we have here is the concept of the "arbitrary claim."
It's a claim made without any evidence either for or against it, so people can pull out bullshit arguments like "well you can't disprove it."
It's not just religious claims that fall into this category, it's also claims that we are "in the matrix" and the like, and claims that the stars and planets don't exist, they are just expertly crafted illusions.
There was a famous scientist who would say to such things "not even wrong!" He was onto something; you can't evaluate claims like these because there is no evidence. It's a mistake to try to or admit the possibility of doing so; as these "agnostics" claim to be doing (even if they've backburnered the question for now).
The proper thing to do with an arbitrary claim is dismiss it out of hand, since it cannot be intelligently handled by reason.
Atheism is about "belief", Agnosticism is about knowledge.
One can be an agnostic atheist (one who does not belief knowledge about god(s) can be obtained and does not have (or lacks) a belief in god(s))
One can also be a gnostic atheist, (one who beliefs that knowledge about god(s) can be obtained (theoretically) and lacks belief in god(s)).
So, the two terms are not mutually exclusive, as they are about different subjects, being knowledge and belief.
Sure, there isn't much that we can know with absolute 100% certainty, but only an idiot would require absolute certainty. Do you wake up in the morning and wonder whether you should take the door on the ground floor to exit your building or the window on the 3rd floor? Can you be absolutely 100% certain about anything? Can you be certain that exiting the house via the frontdoor is the correct thing to do?
Requiring absolute certainty is not only unnecessary, it is impossible, as such one should attempt to get to "reasoned/justified" beliefs, for which science (empirical data) is the best tool.
A Christian is an atheist towards all gods, except Jehova, an atheist like myself just goes one step further by subtracting Jehova as well. I don't have to proof that the gazillion of imaginary gods are just that, imaginary, I just have to withhold belief until evidence comes in.
Do I "know" that god(s) do not exist, No, I don't. Especially since some people's definitions about what god(s) are/is are so vague. Do I believe in god(s)? No, I do not, as I'm awaiting evidence, but that does not mean that I say that no god(s) exist(s).
Anything that can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence, that applies to fairies, leprechauns and god(s).
I was going to answer this, but you have absolutely hit the nail on the head. It amazes me that so few people know the difference between atheism / theism and agnosticism / gnosticism. Very good post!
And it is a good season for talking about hitting nails on the head, so to speak :)
Oh, and welcome of course!!!
Girl of the World,
I am not sure if my point got lost with you or not. When I say dismiss arbitrary statements out of hand, it's precisely because there is no evidence for or against them (or worse, may be impossible to decide in principle) that they are to be dismissed. You can't gain knowledge from considering them.
Now I will actually reject (as opposed to dismiss as not worth spending brainpower on) some forms of the god concept, such as those that involve a logical contradiction. In other words I would reject them for the same reason I'd reject the existence of four sided triangles.
I think your example is in a different category. It would maybe be arrogant for us to claim that humans will never be able to colonize space or something. I think atheists in general are very open to the idea that we will discover new laws of physics and develop new technologies that don't seem possible today. God, on the other hand, is an intelligent being who supposedly exists right now and always has existed, but has left zero evidence. I think it's different.
Your point is open to the criticism that you must therefore be agnostic toward any ridiculous idea that pops into anyone's head. Technically, it's true we can't disprove invisible dragons in my garage, but by all reasonable measures it would be stupid to consider oneself agnostic about them.