Why Agnosticism is Correct (and Religious Certainty is Wrong)November 17, 2009
After believing I was a Christian for most of my life because it was forced on me by my parents, I realized about a decade ago that not only was I an agnostic but that everyone else should be as well. That may sound authoritarian but agnosticism is not the embrace of any religion. It is not bold nor arrogant nor anything but practical. It is nothing less than the rejection of all theism but leaves the door wide open to any personal belief in the existence or nonexistence of a supernatural, omniscient being. Believers give short shrift to anyone that disagrees with them and instinctively lump agnostics into the same category with atheists regardless of the obvious distinctions between them. Atheists are actually more like believers in that they claim to be absolutely certain of their beliefs, something which is unreasonable given the fact that the truth is scientifically unknowable. Agnostics refuse to believe anything about which they cannot be sure and sure in this sense means whatever evidence, scientific or otherwise, would be required to provide that level of surety.
The technical definition of an agnostic is someone who acknowledges that it is impossible with the current level of human knowledge to determine the exact nature of any God or even if one exists. That is intellectual honesty, not necessarily absent of any fear of death or uncertainty but definitely weakness that could be exploited by religious charlatans. Religion is basically man’s guesses about God. None of them could possibly be right because they are just that. I know some religions claim that their prophets were divinely inspired. Who in this world has not been at some point? It doesn’t mean you’re right and people two thousands years should be no more favored to receive this knowledge than humans today. God would not play favorites if we were all equally loved in its eyes. Are we more evil today than back in biblical times and that explains why God does not reveal itself to us anymore? No. There was murder, rape, incest, sodomy, usury and everything else evil that humans are capable of during biblical times. You can clearly see that we have no changed much in a few thousand years.
Webster defines an agnostic as “a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god”. The question then becomes is the true nature of God knowable or unknowable? How do we know if something is knowable if we don’t know it? What are the criteria for something that would be knowable and how do we know what those are? As you can see you quickly descend in an infinite loop of unknowability. Religious people believe that the true nature of God is knowable, however. How? Faith. They believe that God exists simply because they believe that God exists and it provides them hope and comfort in their daily lives that death is not the end. It also helps them lower their expectations for this life since that afterlife holds the key to perfect bliss. There is little reason to seek happiness in this life of seventy years when you can have eternal happiness after this relatively brief existence. That fact is very useful to the atheist people in power who want the masses to not expect much from life. The atheistic elite know religion is a weakness that allows them to manipulate elections, start wars, raise money, demagogue others, etc. Regardless of what you may think of Marx as a whole, religion remains the opiate of the hopeless masses.
If there is a God do we really believe that it cares about the distinctions and differences between the hundreds of religious man has created over time? Why would an all powerful God care about something so uniquely trivial and particular to the human condition? God created everything, not just humans. It is nothing short of unrestrained hubris and outright arrogance to claim such a thing as to know what God wants. That is exactly the type of hubris that I came to expect that God would hate. So not only do believers claim to be so great as to know what God thinks but they also all claim to have the divine right to punish those who happen to differ somewhat in their dogma.
But people, despite their hopeless romanticism, are not stupid. Even most believers realize how utterly impossible the story of Noah is just to use a Christian example. Most nonbelievers or doubters just don’t discuss it with religious literalists because it is not politically correct to discuss such intimately personal things. It invariable leads to heated debate, altercation, assault or even homicide. Believers really take religion that seriously! We see the evidence of it daily in the news of the weird and extreme. Religion is a numbers game for us nonbelievers who doubt it without expressing that fact. We know there are social penalties to pay for coming out of the non-belief closet. Some of those penalties are obvious to us and others may not be. We may be passed over for a promotion at work and not know why. We may be refused a loan at the bank if the person who decides knows that we are a nonbeliever. There is no way to know when you have been discriminated against in this way and we certainly don’t want to be accused of playing the “atheist” card do we?
One of the major hurdles to overcoming the scourge of religion beyond how it is promoted by the elite who need it to control us is how humans interpret events in their lives and minds as being spiritual or transcendent. To believers things that are really just chance take on a whole new significance. We believe that our feelings are not contained within and caused by our physical body which manifests itself mentally and emotionally, but that we are actually connecting back to our creator when these feelings become very intense. That is human but proves nothing except that we are still very much similar to our ancestors in inventing myths to explain things we either cannot or refuse to understand. Many believers simply refuse to acknowledge what they know is true. As Richard Dawkins recently stated in a lecture promoting his latest book, that is the worst kind of intellectual dishonesty and those people have no place among the rest of an evolving and progressive humanity.