THE POVERTY OF AGNOSTICISM

“The poverty of agnosticism" is the title of a paragraph in chapter 2 of “The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.
It is an interesting paragraph as it starts with the realization that theists and atheists respect each other while both despise agnostics!
The robust Muscular Christian haranguing us from the pulpit of my old school chapel admitted a sneaking regard for atheists. They at least had the courage of their misguided convictions. What this preacher couldn’t stand was agnostics: namby-pamby, mushy pap, weak-tea, weedy, pallid fence-sitters
But the worst comes in the next line:
The Catholic historian Hugh Ross Williamson ‘respected the committed religious believer and also the committed atheist. He reserved his contempt for the wishy-washy boneless mediocrities who flapped around in the middle.’
Then Dawkins goes on to say that:
There is nothing wrong with being agnostic in cases where we lack evidence one way or the other. It is the reasonable position.
Which, of course is correct, and as an example he presents the agnosticism of Carl Sagan with regard to existence of extraterrestrial life. Then he goes on to mention the enigma of the mass extinctions:
Agnosticism, of a kind, is an appropriate stance on many scientific questions, such as what caused the end-Permian extinction, the greatest mass extinction in fossil history. It could have been a meteorite strike like the one that, with greater likelihood on present evidence, caused the later extinction of the dinosaurs. But it could have been any of various other possible causes, or a combination. Agnosticism about the causes of both these mass extinctions is reasonable. How about the question of God?
And that is where he goes off the rail:
I shall suggest that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other. Even if hard to test in practice, it belongs in the same TAP or temporary agnosticism box as the controversies over the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions
What he means is that we should wait for more evidence to come by before deciding which side of the fence we should jump into.
He fails to realize that science may not be able yet to answer the question “Is there extraterrestrial life?", but that science can very well find out if the evidence and premises, on which an hypothetical claim “There is extraterrestrial life" is based, are sound, made up, figments of imagination, or just a joke.
The claim “There is God" is based on evidence: scriptures allegedly inspired by God and written by prophets and holy men. Science has an obligation to investigate; to study and analyze these scriptures; and to reveal the provenience of the ideas and concepts appearing in the scriptures by going from old text to the older, until reaching the oldest.
That science can do, but does not!
What Dawkins does not know, or pretends not to know, is that the scientific procedure, if employed in the God subject, will show the God idea for the joke it is!

What he [Dawkins] means is that we should wait for more evidence to come by before deciding which side of the fence we should jump into.
Did you read the rest of the book? With all due respect, that's not what he means at all!

This is for my own practice. Dimitrios doesn’t listen to reason.
We can look at any god claim throughout history and determine with a reasonable degree of certainty that the claim arose from bad thinking, bad data and in many case, outright lies. I know of no god claim that is proven to the slightest degree of my satisfaction. Therefore, I’m an atheist.
If you are not asking me to evaluate any particular claim, but answer the simple question, does god exist, I first have to ask for some definition of god. If you say it’s the creator of the quantum particles that seem to have created our physical universe, I’ll have to remain agnostic on that because I don’t what the hell you are talking about and I don’t think even the quantum physicists can explain where those particles came from. That is, the scientific consensus is, we don’t know.
So I am both an atheist in terms of believing in any particular god claim and an agnostic on the possibility of something beyond my knowledge.

“The poverty of agnosticism" is the title of a paragraph in chapter 2 of “The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. It is an interesting paragraph as it starts with the realization that theists and atheists respect each other while both despise agnostics! The robust Muscular Christian haranguing us from the pulpit of my old school chapel admitted a sneaking regard for atheists. They at least had the courage of their misguided convictions. What this preacher couldn't stand was agnostics: namby-pamby, mushy pap, weak-tea, weedy, pallid fence-sitters But the worst comes in the next line: The Catholic historian Hugh Ross Williamson 'respected the committed religious believer and also the committed atheist. He reserved his contempt for the wishy-washy boneless mediocrities who flapped around in the middle.' Then Dawkins goes on to say that: There is nothing wrong with being agnostic in cases where we lack evidence one way or the other. It is the reasonable position. Which, of course is correct, and as an example he presents the agnosticism of Carl Sagan with regard to existence of extraterrestrial life. Then he goes on to mention the enigma of the mass extinctions: Agnosticism, of a kind, is an appropriate stance on many scientific questions, such as what caused the end-Permian extinction, the greatest mass extinction in fossil history. It could have been a meteorite strike like the one that, with greater likelihood on present evidence, caused the later extinction of the dinosaurs. But it could have been any of various other possible causes, or a combination. Agnosticism about the causes of both these mass extinctions is reasonable. How about the question of God? And that is where he goes off the rail: I shall suggest that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other. Even if hard to test in practice, it belongs in the same TAP or temporary agnosticism box as the controversies over the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions What he means is that we should wait for more evidence to come by before deciding which side of the fence we should jump into. He fails to realize that science may not be able yet to answer the question “Is there extraterrestrial life?", but that science can very well find out if the evidence and premises, on which an hypothetical claim “There is extraterrestrial life" is based, are sound, made up, figments of imagination, or just a joke. The claim “There is God" is based on evidence: scriptures allegedly inspired by God and written by prophets and holy men. Science has an obligation to investigate; to study and analyze these scriptures; and to reveal the provenience of the ideas and concepts appearing in the scriptures by going from old text to the older, until reaching the oldest. That science can do, but does not! What Dawkins does not know, or pretends not to know, is that the scientific procedure, if employed in the God subject, will show the God idea for the joke it is!
Dawkins is quoted as saying , "There is nothing wrong with being agnostic in cases where we lack evidence one way or the other. It is the reasonable position." But Dawkins should know that there does not need to be evidence against a claim for it to be rejected on rational grounds. If the person making the claim cannot provide objective evidence to support his claim, it is rational to reject it on its face. There is no "lack of evidence one way or another." There is a lack of evidence FOR, and that's all it takes. The reasonable position is to reject the claim right then and there, which, in the case of a god means being an atheist. Saying one is agnostic in this case is giving credibility to a claim with no evidence. I am surprised to hear Dawkins say such a thing. If we take his suggestion to its logical conclusion. We would have to say we are "agnostic" when it comes to angels, ghosts, demons and the theory that man descended from primates. After all, "there is no evidence one way or the other" that man descended from primates. It's a theory. Is Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, of all people, saying he is agnostic on the theory of human evolution? Lois
did you read the rest of the book? With all due respect, that's not what he means at all!
Yes I did read the book and it gets much worse later (with all the Thomson’s nonsense he endorses). Dawkins has repeatedly stated that he is not an atheist]. In that same chapter No 2 we read: I'd be surprised to meet many people in category 7, but I include it for symmetry with category 1, which is well populated. It is in the nature of faith that one is capable, like Jung, of holding a belief without adequate reason to do so (Jung also believed that particular books on his shelf spontaneously exploded with a loud bang). Atheists do not have faith; and reason alone could not propel one to total conviction that anything definitely does not exist. Hence category 7 is in practice rather emptier than its opposite number, category 1, which has many devoted inhabitants. I count myself in category 6, but leaning towards 7 - I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden. What is meant by the sentence: “I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden"? That he was told “There is God" and he replied “Probably! I do not know". That he was told “There are fairies at the bottom of the garden" and he again replied: “Probably! I do not know". Science investigates, researches, and studies any given propositions, theories and claims, so science is not agnostic when it comes to human ideas, concepts and theories. Dawkins is an ignoramus in religious matters because he never investigated into the history of religion to know who said what and who believed what so that the smart modern people ended up believing nonsense that our primitive ancestors never believed.
We can look at any god claim throughout history and determine with a reasonable degree of certainty that the claim arose from bad thinking, bad data and in many case, outright lies.
That is correct! Pity that you never looked at any god claim.
If you say it's the creator of the quantum particles that seem to have created our physical universe, I'll have to remain agnostic on that because I don't what the hell you are talking about and I don't think even the quantum physicists can explain where those particles came from. That is, the scientific consensus is, we don't know.
We, modern people, are not the producers of the God idea. Agreed? You have to agree. So the God idea passed to us from our ancestors is that: “The God is a person who consciously and intentionally created, humans, gods and the entire universe". This idea is obviously ridiculous and should be discarded right away. The idiots amongst us, however, discard the “person" part and retain the “creator" part because they cannot free their brain from the mental rubbish they were fed as kids. Those who mention the “Vibrating Cosmos" or the “Conscious Universe" or the “Mathematical Universe" or the quantum mechanics as the creator, are the most idiotic of them all (Spinoza and Einstein included). He who knows, either in his heart because he is a mentally healthy human being or in his mind after studying the history of religion, that God does not exist, is an atheist.
So I am both an atheist in terms of believing in any particular god claim and an agnostic on the possibility of something beyond my knowledge.
That is a petty excuse for keeping you prayer rug under your bed. :-)
Dawkins is quoted as saying , "There is nothing wrong with being agnostic in cases where we lack evidence one way or the other. It is the reasonable position." But Dawkins should know that there does not need to evidence against a claim for it to be rejected on rational grounds.
A claim is always followed by evidence unless it is a prophesy and, besides, who is to decide what is "rational grounds" and what not?
There is no "lack of evidence one way or another." there is a lack of evidence FOR, and that's all it takes.
“One way or another" I take it to mean that there are no data that can be considered as evidence no matter how you look at these data.
The reasonable position is to reject the claim right then and there, which, in the case of a god means being an atheist. Saying one is agnostic in this case is giving credibility to a claim with no evidence.
The claim of the theist is not a claim without evidence. The pastor in your community says to the congregation “There is God" and, raising up the Bible in his hands, continues by saying “here is the evidence!".
I am surprised to hear Dawkins say such a thing. If we take his suggestion to its logocal conclusion. We would have to say we are "agnostic" when it comes to angels, ghosts, demons…
As long as we do not care to know something about something we remain agnostic about that something, no matter what it is.
After all, "there is no evidence one way or the other" that man descended from primates. It's a theory. Is Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, of all people, saying he is agnostic on the theory of human evolution?
It is a theory well documented because there is lot of evidence. I do not have to be an evolutionary biologist to know that I descended from primates, it is enough for me to touch my brow ridges that are almost as large as those of a Homo erectus. ;-P
“The poverty of agnosticism" is the title of a paragraph in chapter 2 of “The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. It is an interesting paragraph as it starts with the realization that theists and atheists respect each other while both despise agnostics! The robust Muscular Christian haranguing us from the pulpit of my old school chapel admitted a sneaking regard for atheists. They at least had the courage of their misguided convictions. What this preacher couldn't stand was agnostics: namby-pamby, mushy pap, weak-tea, weedy, pallid fence-sitters But the worst comes in the next line: The Catholic historian Hugh Ross Williamson 'respected the committed religious believer and also the committed atheist. He reserved his contempt for the wishy-washy boneless mediocrities who flapped around in the middle.' Then Dawkins goes on to say that: There is nothing wrong with being agnostic in cases where we lack evidence one way or the other. It is the reasonable position. Which, of course is correct, and as an example he presents the agnosticism of Carl Sagan with regard to existence of extraterrestrial life. Then he goes on to mention the enigma of the mass extinctions: Agnosticism, of a kind, is an appropriate stance on many scientific questions, such as what caused the end-Permian extinction, the greatest mass extinction in fossil history. It could have been a meteorite strike like the one that, with greater likelihood on present evidence, caused the later extinction of the dinosaurs. But it could have been any of various other possible causes, or a combination. Agnosticism about the causes of both these mass extinctions is reasonable. How about the question of God? And that is where he goes off the rail: I shall suggest that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other. Even if hard to test in practice, it belongs in the same TAP or temporary agnosticism box as the controversies over the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions What he means is that we should wait for more evidence to come by before deciding which side of the fence we should jump into. He fails to realize that science may not be able yet to answer the question “Is there extraterrestrial life?", but that science can very well find out if the evidence and premises, on which an hypothetical claim “There is extraterrestrial life" is based, are sound, made up, figments of imagination, or just a joke. The claim “There is God" is based on evidence: scriptures allegedly inspired by God and written by prophets and holy men. Science has an obligation to investigate; to study and analyze these scriptures; and to reveal the provenience of the ideas and concepts appearing in the scriptures by going from old text to the older, until reaching the oldest. That science can do, but does not! What Dawkins does not know, or pretends not to know, is that the scientific procedure, if employed in the God subject, will show the God idea for the joke it is!
Dawkins is quoted as saying , "There is nothing wrong with being agnostic in cases where we lack evidence one way or the other. It is the reasonable position." But Dawkins should know that there does not need to evidence against a claim for it to be rejected on rational grounds. If the person making the claim cannot provide objective evidence to support his claim, it is rational to reject it on its face. There is no "lack of evidence one way or another." there is a lack of evidence FOR, and that's all it takes. The reasonable position is to reject the claim right then and there, which, in the case of a god means being an atheist. Saying one is agnostic in this case is giving credibility to a claim with no evidence. I am surprised to hear Dawkins say such a thing. If we take his suggestion to its logocal conclusion. We would have to say we are "agnostic" when it comes to angels, ghosts, demons and the theory that man descended from primates. After all, "there is no evidence one way or the other" that man descended from primates. It's a theory. Is Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, of all people, saying he is agnostic on the theory of human evolution? Lois I am not an evolutionary biologist, but, Human evolution is not theory unless you mean scientific theory. I do and that's what Dawkins deals in. What other kind of theory is there? Lois
Dawkins is quoted as saying , "There is nothing wrong with being agnostic in cases where we lack evidence one way or the other. It is the reasonable position." But Dawkins should know that there does not need to evidence against a claim for it to be rejected on rational grounds.
A claim is always followed by evidence unless it is a prophesy and, besides, who is to decide what is "rational grounds" and what not?
There is no "lack of evidence one way or another." there is a lack of evidence FOR, and that's all it takes.
“One way or another" I take it to mean that there are no data that can be considered as evidence no matter how you look at these data.
The reasonable position is to reject the claim right then and there, which, in the case of a god means being an atheist. Saying one is agnostic in this case is giving credibility to a claim with no evidence.
The claim of the theist is not a claim without evidence. The pastor in your community says to the congregation “There is God" and, raising up the Bible in his hands, continues by saying “here is the evidence!".
I am surprised to hear Dawkins say such a thing. If we take his suggestion to its logocal conclusion. We would have to say we are "agnostic" when it comes to angels, ghosts, demons…
As long as we do not care to know something about something we remain agnostic about that something, no matter what it is.
After all, "there is no evidence one way or the other" that man descended from primates. It's a theory. Is Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, of all people, saying he is agnostic on the theory of human evolution?
It is a theory well documented because there is lot of evidence. I do not have to be an evolutionary biologist to know that I descended from primates, it is enough for me to touch my brow ridges that are almost as large as those of a Homo erectus. ;-P But that's not a scientific theory. Yes, there is evidence of evolution, but none for the specific evolution of man. That is conjecture. Sensible conjecture in my opinion, but it's still possible and rational to say there is "no [scientific] evidence one way or another" proving that humans evolved from primates. so Dawkins, by his own words, would have to say he is "agnostic" on the evolutiion of humans. Incidentally, he HAS, on many occasions, said he is an atheist. He is also a member to several atheist organizations. LL
It is a theory well documented because there is lot of evidence. I do not have to be an evolutionary biologist to know that I descended from primates, it is enough for me to touch my brow ridges that are almost as large as those of a Homo erectus. ;-P
This is word play used by conspiracy theorist and psuedo-scientists. If you don't understand what a degree of proof is, what a percentage of consensus means, what a body of evidence adds up to, if you don't understand that, you don't get to play with the big boys and girls.
But that's not a scientific theory. Yes, there is evidence of evolution, but none for the specific evolution of man. That is conjecture.
The humans, while still in the stage we call the stage of Homo erectus, left Africa and populated Asia and Europe. The descendants of the Homo erectus that remained in Africa are the modern Africans, the descendants of the Asian Homo erectus are the modern Eurasians, and the descendants of the European Homo erectus were the European Neanderthals. Your problem is the evolution of Homo erectus into Anatomically Modern Humans or the evolution of the earlier primates into the Homo erectus?
Incidentally, he HAS, on many occasions, said he is an atheist. He is also a member to several atheist organizations.
All agnostics identify themselves as atheist (it is cool to be an atheist). ;-)
It is a theory well documented because there is lot of evidence. I do not have to be an evolutionary biologist to know that I descended from primates, it is enough for me to touch my brow ridges that are almost as large as those of a Homo erectus. ;-P
This is word play used by conspiracy theorist and psuedo-scientists. If you don't understand what a degree of proof is, what a percentage of consensus means, what a body of evidence adds up to, if you don't understand that, you don't get to play with the big boys and girls. I am used to agnostics getting mad at me and I never fail to enjoy their reaction. You are making my day. Keep up with the good work. :-)
But that's not a scientific theory. Yes, there is evidence of evolution, but none for the specific evolution of man. That is conjecture.
The humans, while still in the stage we call the stage of Homo erectus, left Africa and populated Asia and Europe. The descendants of the Homo erectus that remained in Africa are the modern Africans, the descendants of the Asian Homo erectus are the modern Eurasians, and the descendants of the European Homo erectus were the European Neanderthals. Your problem is the evolution of Homo erectus into Anatomically Modern Humans or the evolution of the earlier primates into the Homo erectus?
Incidentally, he HAS, on many occasions, said he is an atheist. He is also a member to several atheist organizations.
All agnostics identify themselves as atheist (it is cool to be an atheist). ;-) Not all agnostics identify as being atheists. Many seem to think it's a third choice between theism and atheism. It is not, of course. Agnosticism is a statement on knowledge and atheism or theism are statements on belief. It's invalid to insert knowledge into a question of belief. If you ask a person if he is an atheist or a theist and he says he's an agnostic, he is saying he doesn't know whether he's an atheist or a theist. In fact, if he can't truthfully say he has a positive belief that a god exists, he's an atheist, even if he shriinks from the word. Saying he's agnostic isn't going to help him--at least not with rational people. It appears that Dawkins HAS described himself as an agnostic, which knocks him down a few more notches in my estimation. It proves to me that he doesn't know what an atheist is. It is not a person who claims there are no gods. IMO, he should know better than to make such an uneducated statement. Lois
“The poverty of agnosticism" is the title of a paragraph in chapter 2 of “The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. It is an interesting paragraph as it starts with the realization that theists and atheists respect each other while both despise agnostics! The robust Muscular Christian haranguing us from the pulpit of my old school chapel admitted a sneaking regard for atheists. They at least had the courage of their misguided convictions. What this preacher couldn't stand was agnostics: namby-pamby, mushy pap, weak-tea, weedy, pallid fence-sitters But the worst comes in the next line: The Catholic historian Hugh Ross Williamson 'respected the committed religious believer and also the committed atheist. He reserved his contempt for the wishy-washy boneless mediocrities who flapped around in the middle.' Then Dawkins goes on to say that: There is nothing wrong with being agnostic in cases where we lack evidence one way or the other. It is the reasonable position. Which, of course is correct, and as an example he presents the agnosticism of Carl Sagan with regard to existence of extratrrestrial life. Then he goes on to mention the enigma of the mass extinctions: Agnosticism, of a kind, is an appropriate stance on many scientific questions, such as what caused the end-Permian extinction, the greatest mass extinction in fossil history. It could have been a meteorite strike like the one that, with greater likelihood on present evidence, caused the later extinction of the dinosaurs. But it could have been any of various other possible causes, or a combination. Agnosticism about the causes of both these mass extinctions is reasonable. How about the question of God? And that is where he goes off the rail: I shall suggest that the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other. Even if hard to test in practice, it belongs in the same TAP or temporary agnosticism box as the controversies over the Permian and Cretaceous extinctions What he means is that we should wait for more evidence to come by before deciding which side of the fence we should jump into. He fails to realize that science may not be able yet to answer the question “Is there extraterrestrial life?", but that science can very well find out if the evidence and premises, on which an hypothetical claim “There is extraterrestrial life" is based, are sound, made up, figments of imagination, or just a joke. The claim “There is God" is based on evidence: scriptures allegedly inspired by God and written by prophets and holy men. Science has an obligation to investigate; to study and analyze these scriptures; and to reveal the provenience of the ideas and concepts appearing in the scriptures by going from old text to the older, until reaching the oldest. That science can do, but does not! What Dawkins does not know, or pretends not to know, is that the scientific procedure, if employed in the God subject, will show the God idea for the joke it is!
Dawkins is quoted as saying , "There is nothing wrong with being agnostic in cases where we lack evidence one way or the other. It is the reasonable position." But Dawkins should know that there does not need to evidence against a claim for it to be rejected on rational grounds. If the person making the claim cannot provide objective evidence to support his claim, it is rational to reject it on its face. There is no "lack of evidence one way or another." there is a lack of evidence FOR, and that's all it takes. The reasonable position is to reject the claim right then and there, which, in the case of a god means being an atheist. Saying one is agnostic in this case is giving credibility to a claim with no evidence. I am surprised to hear Dawkins say such a thing. If we take his suggestion to its logocal conclusion. We would have to say we are "agnostic" when it comes to angels, ghosts, demons and the theory that man descended from primates. After all, "there is no evidence one way or the other" that man descended from primates. It's a theory. Is Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, of all people, saying he is agnostic on the theory of human evolution? Lois I am not an evolutionary biologist, but, Human evolution is not theory unless you mean scientific theory. I do and that's what Dawkins deals in. What other kind of theory is there? Lois The kind that is much more common to many people when they call a hunch a theory. Lois, you know that. But Dawkins is SUPPOSED to be a SCIENTIST and he should know that a scientific theory is not a hunch, no matter how many laymen claim it is. Doesn't he also claim to be a teacher? i'm beginning to think he's as bad a scientist as he is a teacher. Lois

Agnosticism, we must be admitted, is the only philosophically rational position. But it becomes untenable from a practical point of view. At a certain point, the principle of simplicity (Ockam’s razor applied by eliminating arbitrary hypotheses such as “God”, etc.) should normally moves the position of the Agnostic towards Atheism. Because, arbitrary assumptions make us waste our time, from a practical point of view. So much things we can achieve without this Hypothesis (God).