Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Whats in a name?

“Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.” – Andre Gide

So why am I an agnostic and not an atheist? Why, when I have no evidence that there is a god, that there is anything magical in this world, do I still hold out a little part of my mind for the existence of a god? Because the moment the concept of a god was given to me, I could not be an atheist. To me, being an atheist is almost the same as believing in god. Indeed you find almost the same arrogance in atheists as you do in religious folk sometimes, and both can be very preachy. There is very little difference between KNOWING that there is a god and KNOWING that there isn’t. How can one be so sure? It is almost unfair, this concept of god. If no one ever said anything about it, I know I wouldn’t believe in it, wouldn’t search it out. But since I know about this concept of god, how can I be sure it isn’t true. This is also why the flying spaghetti monster idea works. How can you be so sure the world wasn’t created by a giant spaghetti monster with its noodly appendage?

Truth be told, just labeling myself as an agnostic is bullshit. If it weren’t for religion, I wouldn’t need this label. It wouldn’t exist. But because there are others in the world that define themselves and others by religion, I am given a label to describe my position on something that should be a non issue. One could go about making all sorts of labels to describe someone that are completely arbitrary. If they got popular enough everyone else would have to define themselves with respect to this made up label. “Are you a whatzit, anti-whatzit, pro-whatzit….” I try to live with as little labels as I can. The fewer labels in the world, the less people will try to make up differences among us to justify the labels. Now, I am not some idealistic prick who thinks that if we get rid of all the labels the whole world will be peachy keen. I just don’t like the affect labels have on people.


arbulus said...

I agree that labels are frustrating.

When I hear people say "I just don't understand how someone can be Atheist," or "There are no REAL Atheists," I feel a profound sense of confusion. What exactly is going through the mind of the person who would say that?

The lack of faith in a god or of any sort of faith at all is the default position for humans. We are not born with faith or believing in a god, we are taught that faith. Surely, if one grew up and spent their entire young life never hearing about faith or a god, they would find the idea of it completely absurd. There is no intrinsic part of us that makes us have a belief.

That's why Atheist or Agnostic should be considered null labels, a cypher if you will. The number zero does not represent anything, it simply holds an empty spot. The same goes for the term Atheist: it does not grant any meaning or interest of its own, it simply marks an empty spot.

Atheism is default, everything else is a label.

Modern Agnostic said...

That is a really good way of thinking about the labels of atheist and agnostic.

Neighborhood Heretic said...

You should investigate the label of being a non-theist...that might be more appropriate. I understand your claim about atheism...but I think that the label applies that have convinced themselves....for example Carl Sagan spoke on atheism in a similar way. Even though he did not know for a fact....He was convinced.

zenpen said...

i like your blog and i hate having to use the label agnostic too.
However, I find myself using it today, however to differeniate from athiem.
Agnosticm is a philosophy on the limit of human knowledge, both individual and mankinds. It requires coming to terms with, and accepting "Uncertainty" .
"truth" is subjective to an agnostic. It is replaced by virtue and meaningfulness in the experential dialogue of an agnostic.
Science, rationalsm and Faith can be important to Agnostic however they are all held up to Uncertainty and skeptism in evaluation.

I er.. hate to label you but i think you talk more of skeptical athiestism , than "agnostism" here.
many athiest misuse term.
you might want to check out objectivism as well its gaining moment as a social and philospical form of thinking.

Thanks for being one of the few blogs that actually address concerns for agnostics.