- Religion and Philosophy»
- Atheism & Agnosticism
Agnosticism: A Fertile Middle Ground.
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps?
I was Agnostic for many years. It appeared to me at the time to be the spiritual stance du jour for a quite a while. It gave sufficient room for my burgeoning freethinking, as well as permitting my own connection to the spiritual and divine to dwell in some semblance of comfort. On the surface of things, Agnosticism appears to be a safe perch away from the crossfire hurled to and fro between the religious and Atheist camps, whiling away your life in peace, with a nook carved out for celestial solace of my own... carving?
Besides, no such solace exists, the sonic boom vibrating from each of the forces mounted on either side shakes your tenuous perch. Accusations are hurled at you from either side, that you're sitting on the fence and don't want to apply yourself to belief, that you're trying the easy way out. When in truth it's anything but.
Epicentre Of Calm In A Philosophical Earthquake.
In truth, all of us are Agnostic. None of can argue with pure unadulterated certainty for the existence of God on either side of the divide, which is formed of true Agnosticism. As a species, our current understanding of what is out there in the ether is insufficient to be sure of anything. This is utilised by those who are proponents of a divine Prime Mover/Intelligence that it exists outside of time, or the universe or our sphere of comprehension. The argument for Atheists postulates the evidence shown from the cosmos to us - fragile knowledge notwithstanding - that no sign of any such intelligence or power graces our understanding yet, nor does it seem a prerequisite. If such a revelation has yet to occur, why has it not done so already?
In the throes of my Agnosticism, it gave thinking space to observe reality in my own way and in my own time. It's the gateway drug to free thinking, but also can be a tumultuous arena for your own indecision.
Deism, Theism & A Lack Of The Above, Thereof.
The majority of believers in our modern zeitgeist ascribe to the Deist theory of existence. This school of thought gained motion amid the 17th and 18th centuries, beginning with the likes of Isaac Newton, then continuing on through the Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson and other great thinkers/figures of the time, such as Thomas Paine. The Deist position is simple, that a Grand Designer, or "Architect" (to use a Masonic term) constructed, fabricated or whatever label one wishes to affix, the universe and, much like a key turn in an ignition, or a spark near lethal gas, BOOM goes the cosmos!
The idea of a Deist God is that it doesn't really have to have any involvement in existence itself. It is therefore a staunch ally of moderates and progressives in religion, as the strong implication pervades that a creator specifically struck a match, lit an inferno and then watched the salubrious, elegant flames of reality consume the void. It is a wonderful proponent of a God that bestows free will, curiosity and the entire gamut of human experience in the bubble the Deity blew from it's lips from the space-time making ring.
Theism possesses some more caveats. The theists purport that God knows who you are, what you are doing, knows what you think and feel and can judge you on all of the above. There may be some in between ground of course in what individuals believe, a smattering of both may coincide with one another.
Atheism, of course is the rejection of both these ideas and all that lies in between. It seems steep for an intelligence of any kind to be this expansive and minute and fill gaps between such large and small comparisons. But I am not here to talk about my own disbelief.
Agnosticism is a philosophy that seeks to establish an uneasy balance in the midst of much of these self-defeating practices and theories.
The Grass Is Greener On Neither Side.
Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion, constructed a Religion versus Atheism Scale, similar in design to the one designed by Dr. Alfred Kinsey to define ranges of human sexual orientation. The Dawkins' Scale starts at 0: Convinced there's a God - to 7: Convinced there is no God. The default position of even the most vociferous non-believers has to 6: De Facto Atheist: Pretty sure there's no god. Why not drift further to the middle then? Some people may ask. This is all dependent on the personal viewpoint of the individual and their interactions. For years I felt that there was a spiritual undertone to what we see around us. It grew, as I did, to understand this undertone as representing our own sentience and curiosity and interactions among the universe.
Agnostic has always sounded to me like a chronic condition, and in a way, it is. It is the eternal uneasiness regarding our fate with our lot. Doubt clogs the variety of our decisions and our actions throughout life. Even as a Number 6 Atheist on The Dawkins' Scale myself, one still entertains the notion of some meaning enriching our existence, of an entity beyond description. Perhaps there is? Because despite Atheism being a freeing ideal, Agnosticism is also the essence of curiosity.
© Brad James, 2014.