Agnostic! Are you sure? (The atheist delusion)

by dhw, Saturday, May 23, 2009, 08:44 (4028 days ago) @ George Jelliss

George has kindly drawn our attention to an article on "What is agnosticism?" He finds it "an unnecessary and confusing term".

As we all know, language is an inadequate instrument, but it's the best one we have for enabling communication. Partly because of its inadequacy, it's constantly evolving, and that's what's happened to "agnostic". In the context of religion, every dictionary definition I can find runs along the lines of "someone who believes that it is impossible to know whether God exists". However, since we do not have a word that means "someone who is unable to decide whether God exists", we tend nowadays to give it that meaning as well. There are lots of people in this position, and so I would say the term is necessary. I don't find it confusing, but if people do get confused, then we simply have to define what we mean ... as we constantly do in all our discussions.

The author of the article, Nick Spencer, writes: "...we all need a dash of agnosticism ... of appropriate intellectual reserve in the face of the big questions. The dogmatic alternative, familiar to us as 'fundamentalism', is neither appealing nor helpful." I agree.

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