A week or so ago, I did a couple entries surrounding a problem that I have with mainstream Atheistic culture. To make a long story short, the entirety of the disagreement circulated around the word Agnostic.
It started some weeks ago, when I stated something that I always thought to be true, that is, “Agnostic” is its own line of thinking. But I was “corrected” by a number of Atheists, who said that it was only half of the equation. Though this didn’t really make sense, I at first, agreed and moved on.
But later on, I found myself looking up the word again, for some reason. And as defined, frankly, I realized that Agnosticism IS in reality, a position that one could theoretically take, without fear of being “Illogical”, “Unreasonable” or “Irrational”. Yes, acceptance of this, does go against written language (how the terms are defined). But as far as I am concerned, if you have a well thought out reason for adopting the position, why does it matter that it does not conform to the English language?
Most vocal people in the Atheist community will proudly tell you of how they threw out their faith and theism, for the reasonable, rational and logical explanations of Atheism. Which is great. The problem is, I am starting to realize now, that the only thing that seems to have changed for many, is the ideology.
Let me explain.
When you are a theist of any banner, you tend to think within the confines of your knowledge of your brand of theism. I say it that way, because as any Atheist online in the forum community can relate, not all theists necessarily have a good grasp on the scriptures that are supposed to be the centerpiece of their lives.
But in any case, people of this background, tend to look at everything around them though that lens. And information that is presented from differing prospectives, tends to be weighed (and more often then not, dismissed), because of this “theistic” view on reality.
Now, enter Atheistic ideology.
The person, though education, pushes out the ideologies of theism, with the ideologies of Atheism. To be more clear, Atheistic ideologies, may not be the best way to describe these things. But let me try my best, with the vocabulary I have to work with.
People of Atheistic backgrounds, tend to end up in that place, because of education. An understanding of sciences and biology (among many other things), does a lot to reduce (and eliminate) the “necessity” of a deity, in the creation AND maintenance of life, the planet, the universe and really, everything. And scientific knowledge also works wonders in the debunking of claims found in various religious texts. And further more, upon embracing critical thought processes, one will start to criticize the conclusions that they had previously never given a second thought to, pushing out more ideological trash.
Which is a good thing.
BUT, it seems to me that many just get rid of the contents of the ideology.
Lets say that there is a crappy restaurant somewhere. It was built miles from any customers, and its layout makes its everyday operation, difficult. So as a result of these setbacks, the owner closes the business, and removes everything that was associated with his business from the building.
Now another restaurateur comes along, and purchases the property, with the intent of setting up shop. He will make his own little eatery in the very same spot.
You see where this is going, right?
Upon opening for business, he encounters the exact same problems as were faced by the previous owner. Their location is not optimal, and the customers they do get, are hard to serve, due to the terrible layout of the facility. But this owner is smart.
Though he had not foreseen this problem, he solves it.
He closes his business, demolishes the old facility , and builds a replacement in a location that is both closer to his desired clientèle, and more suitable to his day to day operations. As a result, he makes more money, as his customers can access his services more easily, and he can serve them easier.
In my line of thinking, theism is the previous business owner. Though people told him that he was crazy for continuing to man this sinking ship of a restaurant, he could not see it. From his point of view, his business was doing fine.
Now, enter Atheism.
In this situation, the addition of scientific knowledge to the mind, can be equated to those little signs that the restaurant is hitting the rocks, but that the owner chooses to ignore or explain away. The more signs of trouble, the harder it is to cling to your previous conclusions (A god may not be necessary . . . / well, this place may be in trouble).
Until the restaurateur can explain away the signs of trouble no longer, and has to accept that he was wrong, and that the business as it stands, is not viable. And the theist, has to accept that what they previously concluded is not correct.
Now we both know how this played out before. The new restaurateur trashed the useless mold, replacing it with one that was more fitting to his needs. But lets say the new owner (or the same owner, whatever works for you), merely changes the location.
The location is a dead end, so he demolishes it, and rebuilds in a better area. BUT, he rebuilds according to the exact same blueprint of the old restaurant. So he has more access to customers, but he is still paralyzed in serving them, by the facilities he is in.
This is how I am starting to view a great many (perhaps a majority) of Atheistic mindsets. They have dropped the irrational and false conclusions of theism, and adopted the true and verifiable conclusions of science. But instead of being open minded to many concepts, various aspects of “knowledge” become the new barriers, walls.
One of the most clear examples of this that I can think of, is the way that most Atheists view the word “Agnostic”. To them, it is only half of the picture. Theist entertains that you conclude that SOMETHING exists, Atheist suggests that you entertain that nothing exists. Agnostic Atheist (me) means that though you are inclined to think that there is nothing existent, the window is open.
An Agnostic, is someone that does not know the answer either way, but does not want to commit to either direction.
If they said that a deity likely does not exist, then they can be seen as Agnostic ATHEIST. If they say that there IS something, but that is is unknowable, then we can call them an Agnostic THEIST. But if they remain neutral, I do not see any problem.
I got some flack from members of the Atheistic community, for making the claim that an Agnostic stance is more “logical” then an Militant Atheistic stance. My reasoning was that, Agnostics (as well as Agnostic Atheists) work on the basis of a deity being unknowable. Agnostic Atheists presume that there is nothing TO know, but one can not prove it. Agnostics just, do not know.
Where as, militant Atheists work on the basis that lack of evidence means lack of a deity. Basically the idea that is, if there is 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent chance of anything existing, why not just say “THERE IS NOTHING!!” and be done with it.
Well, because strong theists look at the very same evidence, and come up with the very same conclusions, only reversed. AND if you want to remain credible while telling theists that they are wrong in their solid mindsets based around non-evidence , you can not do the same thing yourself.
Agnostics simply say that they do not know the answer. Militant Atheists choose an answer, despite no solid supporting evidence. Call it a “fallacy” all you want, its still strong theism in reverse.
We often (and rightfully!), give theists grief for viewing things though “theistic” glasses. We mock and ridicule them for not being able to see past the bible, in the processing of any information. But it strikes me that many of us Atheists do the very same thing. Especially when it comes to these definitions and labels.
You know, Atheist is this, Agnostic is that, so there is no middle ground! Your either one or the other!
And yet, you have people like Neil Degrasse Tyson and Darwin. Both have professed themselves as Agnostics.
In the case of Darwin, many use the same frame of mind that I have identified above, to place him as an Agnostic ATHEIST. Its kind of funny. Because even if he were inclined to disagree, he can’t, CAUSE HE’S DEAD. But here is a quote of his:
“I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. – I think that generally … an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind.”- Charles Darwin
Then there is Neil Degrasse Tyson. Unfortunately for the Atheist community, he is not only still alive, but has stated AND explained his views publicly. He has even edited his own wikipedia page, only to be “corrected” again!
And in citing him as an example, I have found myself “corrected” as well. Or when presented with the above video “evidence” to back up my argument, many ignore. Some claim that he must not understand entirely what he is saying (even though I think he understands perfectly, given the video).
And one person, even went as far as to calling the whole big think explanation, a cop out. That Neil used the term “Agnostic” because it was better for his career (because Atheist scientists are SO controversial!). This was said, in an exchange where they told ME how illogical I WAS.
And today, there was a conversation between them and a theist. The theist was trying to argue that prayer is not ALWAYS unproductive, being that some people pray and then take action to help whatever the cause is. I noted that as a good thing, but it did not prove prayer was productive. If anything, it made it seem that the said people may have viewed prayer in more of a “positive thinking” sort of way. Or that they didn’t understand the concept (when you pray, you either ask “god” for help, or you ask “god” to help whomever).
In any case, I was forced to note that I could not conclusively say that prayer is unproductive. This is not something that I am ashamed to admit to, or something that I am FORCED to concede. It is just, the truth. I can not prove it either way, and neither can anyone else. I guess one could say that I view it in an Agnostic Atheist fashion.
But, in the realm of rational thought according to mainstream Atheists (as I call them), this is a “fallacy”. Even if it is a position aquired by viewing and critically examining what little “evidence” I have at my disposal, it is silly. Hell, even if our arguments AGAINST prayer (and a deity, for that matter) are shared, I am still the one with a fallacy. Therefore (apparently), nothing I say is of any intellectual significance.
While these disagreements were with but a fraction of all those in the community of Atheism, I have looked around and read enough material, to know that this is not just a small minority of all Atheists. These people, make up a majority of (at least) online Atheists. And frankly, I am somewhat embarrassed to have myself attached to such a group.
Its for this reason, that I have decided that from this point on, I will refer to myself as a non-theist. Yes, I am still “technically” the Agnostic Atheist I was since my early teen years. But I do not want myself lumped in with the rest of the herd, when I identify my views.
Many will not care. But any Agnostics (or Atheists, on this side of the fence) will understand. Those with a sour taste in their mouth after dealing with members of the other group, will not automatically associate me,with those ideals.
The title to this post may be abrasive. But at the moment, that is how I am feeling.