Against the Gods|A Rant in Favor of Agnosticism

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Something a philosopher expressed just irked me to the point of having to throw some words together to see if I am making sense, at least internally. This is a man who I respect deeply and whom I consider to be a positive force for change in critical thinking, across the spectrum of perception that we find ourselves in on planet earth. If I am being generous with my opinion, perhaps even charitable, I’d assign a 75% accuracy to this mans points of advocacy on matters of philosophy, parenting, anarchy, history and knowledge in the general sense. This man is not stupid or crazy. So it struck me as odd to find his position and characterization of agnosticism, to be one of cowardice. Let me know how this sits with you if you’ve got the spare time?

A response to Stefan Molyneux regarding his book:
AGAINST THE GODS? Run time: 2hrs 26min

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Here is where I take issue:

(So-called) “Reality” really ought to have quotation marks surrounding it every time the word is uttered.

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Square-Circles, can exist as a matter of perspective. God(s) “exist” as a matter of imagination. In other words: God is imaginary and square circles are real. 😉 Sometimes the words we use are for lack of a better, or lack of our knowledge, of a better one. The mere fact that we are using words, serially developed and evolutionarily derived from generations of use, as defined by: Webster or Bouviers or any other definition writer, is an example of the potential for misunderstanding in all matters —known and unknown.

—Word story (from dictionary.com)

The word agnostic was coined by the English biologist T.H. Huxley in the late 1860s as a member of the now defunct Metaphysical Society, in response to what he perceived as an abundance there of strongly held beliefs.

| The original usage of the term was confined to philosophy and religion, and referred to Huxley’s assertion that anything beyond the material world, including the existence and nature of God, was unknowable. |

Today the word can be seen applied to questions of politics, culture, and science, as when someone claims to be a “political agnostic.”

Especially then, in matters of metaphysics, would a position of skepticism be warranted. It stands to reason that operating from a mental position with as little bias as possible is superior to any position of preconceived conclusions. Any study where knowledge is less than certain requires an integral commitment to honesty. Agnosticism follows as it is the only rational starting point for a true lover of wisdom. (Philosopher.)

For we can not know what we don’t know.

In the dualistic continuum of all consciousness we must not forget that u can not have light without its counterpart of darkness. Therefore to presume that absolutes can exist without uncertainties is a fallacy. Being certain in ones uncertainty is not a contradiction. It is a signal of awareness. It is a synthesis of the two polar opposites of knowledge and ignorance. Agnosticism is not: “maybe in an alternate universe the opposite is true…” It is an admission of the limits of knowledge pertaining to the “matters” of metaphysics.

Logic prescribes that the calculations of rationality be translated into language and symbols. Metaphysics is a realm where subjectivity is all humans have to rely on in conveying the personal experiences of the self. Symbols and words are still useful to this realm as many people throughout history have written on the subjects of metaphysics, spirituality and consciousness itself. There is yet another realm beyond the beyond of the meta called pataphysics. It is exponentially further from metaphysics as metaphysics is to physics. But that is a subject for another time.

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Empiricism is an attempt to unite the experience with experiment.

{What types of experiments could be devised to test the empirical veracity of metaphysical propositions?}

All things are made of molecules. All molecules are composed of 99.9% empty space. Therefore it is truly “nothing(ness)” that connects all things/non-things. This is called entanglement and is a fundamental principle/fact of quantum physics. Does this transmute the anti-property of nothingness into a somethingness? At the very least it postulates a basic spiritual quality that has been known to Mystics, Shaman and some religious traditions throughout the centuries of human record.

That all things are unified by their very composition of matter, energy, space and time. And the vacuum of nothingness is the “thing” that connects it all. And still further consciousness is the one thing that can not be excluded from this equation.

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Now the only thing needed to pull this all together is the additional fact that the act of observation (the observer effect) indeed changes the outcome of any occurrence. (experiment) “If you want to see fear in a quantum physicist’s eyes, just mention the words, ‘the measurement problem.’ The measurement problem is this: an atom only appears in a particular place if you measure it. In other words, an atom is spread out all over the place until a conscious observer decides to look at it. So the act of measurement or observation creates the entire universe.” -Jim Al-Khalili, Nuclear Physicist

The main problem with taking a purely empirical worldview is that science, in all its success, is predicated on the supposition of materialism. It posits that matter creates life by a random process of subatomic combinations of vibrating energy units called molecules. (Possibly strings according to String Theory) “The molecule came before the thought” exclaims the materialist-atheist in a hubristic form of myopia. These molecules then combine in a variety of ways through nuclear fusion in the cauldrons of dying stars and thus create the 118 different elements of our known universe. Helium being one of the most abundant kind and evidencing a direct effect correlation of the cause that has become known as the Big Bang. Furthermore these elements swirl and dance around throughout a vast cosmos forming galaxies and planets and organic carbon based life forms that reside on it which eventually evolve into cognitive self aware brings endowed with the mystery of consciousness for the Darwinistic notion of “survival.” All the while utilizing the prefrontal cortex and combinations of other areas of the brain to concoct a theory explaining everything but the notion of consciousness itself in any convincing detail whatsoever thus overlooking the very organ which spawned its own ideas about perception. This all MAY turn out to be true, (at least all the measurable MEST parts) but it has yet to be formalized as a proven truth. (The emergence of consciousness) It is not yet a “justified true belief.”

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There is no acknowledgement of an expanding universe necessitating a contraction from somewhere else nor is there a viable theory that explains the origin of consciousness. (Biocentrism Theory excluded) The series of words I just used to describe the origin of matter is one of the better explanations humans have conceived but still has some foundational issues. What is ignored most of all is the continuum nature of all matter in existence. The wave function of “reality” is something we neglect when taking the measurements of matter. Where can a circle be reduced to a series of points?
(Unless you consider a multifaceted googolhedron a circle?)
Reductionist world views presuppose straight lines where curves would be more accurate.

“Nobody knows how life got started. Science works on the frontier of knowledge and ignorance. There’s no shame in that. The only shame is to pretend we have all the answers.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson (Cosmos: Season 1, Episode 2)

On a personal note:
My Athieistically leaning agnostic belief is: that nothing is god or god is nothing. The necessary clear state of existence with which all existance is predicated upon. “Nothing” is a dualistic counterpart to “something”. As confusing as the language is this is as simple as we can state things. The imperative of language in communication illustrates how intricately woven the subject of semantics is in conveying ideas/thoughts/intentions. This being the case, highlights the need for less dogmatism in the realm of theist, agnostic and atheist conversations. It is the agnostic that readily declares the true state of awareness in the arena of belief. In Stefan’s straw man examples of agnostic cowardice, we see a pedantic and pointless division drawn between people on a matter that truly cannot be divorced from the faculty of uncertainty. From semantics, science, religion and consciousness etc, there cannot be any greater display of humans inability to grasp it—than in the realm of metaphysics. Atheists should be grateful for agnostics, not quarrelsome. The last thing people need is more infighting between groups with similar cognitive dispositions that realistically should be getting along just fine due to resemblance alone. This book by Molyneux just seemed like an exercise in shortsightedness. It demonstrates the superfluous thoughts of a man who has fallen victim to his own mind. (On this subject) Perhaps I’m being too nuanced and exacting in my response to his position? Maybe I’ve got him pegged all wrong? I just can’t shake the feeling that he somehow convinced himself while writing this book, that this is a subject worthy of people’s time. Much like this reply to his book, I feel like I’ve just fooled a few people into reading a bunch of words about a non issue in regards to a personal choice in some of the ways that humans can choose to believe in the way the world really is. “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts.”—Bertrand Russel

“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”—Voltaire

At least so we could have this conversation right;)?

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful”—Seneca

An appropriate resting place for the points raised.

So after reading this, what would your opinion be of agnosticism? Is it really even worth going into further detail or should the points stated be enough to draw a reasonable conclusion?

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