Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Daily Ramblings

The more I ponder on the terms agnostic and atheist the less I feel like I want to define myself by them. I still enjoy saying atheist, but I always feel a need to clarify and be like ''well, mostly agnostic atheist." I fully admit that atheism, overall, is a belief system [gasp] but I still know that you can disprove a lot of specific gods, or at least the religions that teach about them. Being agnostic is definitely very logical. You admit a lack of knowledge on both sides. But really I don't get why we have to give both sides a real case. Just cause a lot of people believe in one thing doesn't mean that 'thing' garners respect. I had chosen atheism more for the drive it gave me, the less amount of wishy-washyness, but now I am holding more to atheism because it seems more reasonable.

I do have to point out though that I am more agnostic atheist than before, I want to say this before I continue. I was probably 10% agnostic before, now I'd say I am more like 25%. To me, it just doesn't matter as much anymore. Maybe I am becoming 5% apathetic. Leaving about 70% to be atheist about gods in general.

But I say 'reasonable' because I'm getting to the point of saying, "why do I have to uphold my lack of belief in a god or gods?" Being able to communicate intelligently is important, but it's just not as big of a deal to me anymore. I don't see why my lack of faith has to be a big deal, or why I should fight against a theistic belief, or move away from staunch atheism to middle ground agnosticism. Agnostics generally won't be agnostic about the teacup orbiting Jupiter. Comparing that to God isn't a good comparison, necessarily, and many people will admit that eventually, but it still has a point. It's not in the silliness of the comparison, but the facts and likelihood of that cup and knowledge we have about it. There are no facts, we have no proof of the teacup, though many people could say they know it is or isn't there. There is no knowledge to be had about the teacup, and the likelihood, though present, is astronomically small.

So, in my mind, I don't see a reason to be agnostic about the teacup, I don't see why that would be so important. I could be 5% agnostic and 95% atheist, leaving room for a little doubt, but I don't see how this helps. And this is similar to how I feel about gods in general. We look at the world, we're learning how it works, we're living our lives, and everything is appearing to work naturally. This is very materialistic, but so far it is working. And pointing out how Newton was wrong on some things and the theory of relativity changed physics so maybe we could change again is true, but not as likely. We're at the point that we're doubling our knowledge and technology, what, every decade. We are progressing very quickly. We will come up with new theories and rework old ones, but even Newtons laws are still pretty good I'm sure.

So when people come up with some hodge-podge God that works behind the scenes, influences our lives in 'some' way, and exists out there in the cosmos ... why do I have to be agnostic about that? If things can just exist and come to be how they are naturally, why do I have to believe/doubt in some Being behind it all. Why do I have to make a special case for this belief and be agnostic? Anyone could say anything and I'd have to be agnostic about it if I took this line of thinking too far, and some people really do do this.

So even though I am a little more agnostic than before I am not getting why I feel like people respect me more for it. For me it's like they are saying I am more logical if I doubt the teacup instead of saying it doesn't exist. If the teacup is made up in the first place by some random guy, like most ideas about god, then obviously being 'agnostic' about it is not intelligent, obviously that would be wrong and incorrect. It would mean being an atheist about the teacup, an anti-teacupist, would be the correct answer.

Sadly, I cannot say for sure whether there is no teacup or gods, and therefore my agnosticism grows, but I don't think there is a god or gods and therefore I still call myself an atheist, because I don't get why I have to be agnostic about something which, to me, seems like it does not exist. The beginnings of our universe don't prove anything, consciousness doesn't hold a flame for me, I for one am converted to the idea that our understanding and philosophy of consciousness should be thrown out in light of neuroscience and psychology. But more on that later.

For now I will be happy being whatever I am.

On lighter news, and since I need to say some of these things now, there is an Evolution Debate at the JFSB B190 tomorrow from 6-7. I even put some questions into the question box. They didn't advertise it very well cause it actually is about evolutionary psychology and human behavior more than the workings of evolution. The poster just says 'evolution debate' so I think my misunderstanding is justified. Another tidbit is that I have found 6 people through my blog, which makes me very happy. And segueing from that some of us have officially started some Atheists of Utah Valley Facebook groups. One is secret though, so BYU students can add it in safety. I personally have met about a dozen current BYU students who are non-religious and there are more out there. Hopefully we can find them ... and by 'we' I mean me and some of my readers.


  1. I really like this post!

    I've decided to just not define myself... I am what I am. :-D

  2. I started out Mormon then became agnostic and now I'm thrilled to call myself atheist because religious people think I'm a devil worshipper.

  3. Congratulations on becoming more comfortable with yourself. I find that's the first step in being able to discuss these sorts of issues without the anger or emotional investment that too often clouds such conversations.

    As to the teacup argument, Bertrand Russell was a brilliant logician, and like so many brilliant logicians had a tendency toward moral idiocy. The argument is entirely disingenuous as there is absolutely no consequence to the existence of such a teacup, while there are few if any questions of greater ultimate import than the existence of a God. As we have briefly mentioned previously, although not really discussed, questions of the existence and purpose of existence itself, morality and ethics, the spiritual interconnectedness of humanity, relationships and ultimate meaning, all hinge on the question of whether there is a God and an afterlife (both necessary even if you think one is theoretically possible without the other).

    If you'll forgive me for saying so publicly, you have utterly failed to discuss these issues when I've raised them. You have instead focused on cherry-picking obscure examples of religious misbehavior as if they had any impact on the ultimate questions at hand. Everybody, religious or otherwise, readily admits that religion is a best guess, and that while some do pretty well, others are remarkably destructive. Humanity's success or lack thereof at describing the ineffable has nothing to say about the existence of ineffability. Non-participation in religious communities is understandable based upon their failings, but atheism is a label adopted for emotional reasons. Calling oneself an atheist is not an intellectual position, it is a statement about one's relationship with society. Suz's comment is a perfect example of atheism as an antisocial expression. This is why people respect agnostics and are suspicious of atheists.

    I hope that clarifies somewhat, but moreso I hope that now you are beginning to be comfortable with your position that we can begin to discuss the real questions rather than taking potshots at nutcases and blaming the rest of us for their existence.

  4. AJ and Suz, you gals are great.

    Over the last month I've been slowly becoming more moderate over the issue, but I still haven't changed my overall views much.

    Yes, the teacup doesn't really affect me if it exists. I should have clarified that, but mainly I goes going for the literal existence more than anything else. A God does give a lot more to life, but as I've said before I can mind my present life very meaningful and wonderful without an afterlife.

    Yeah, I may do a post on my views of the more 'ultimate questions.' I think some readers such as yourself deserve the time it would take for me to write up a few posts on the topic.It will a good exercise in introspection.