Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

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Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby Kurieuo » Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:21 pm

Just an idea that came to mind, then thinking on it, it'd be an interesting position to assume in debates.

Think about it, what such might mean, then post your thoughts?
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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby RickD » Mon Nov 28, 2016 8:48 pm

K,
Sometimes I think you can be such an oxymoron.
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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby Kurieuo » Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:40 pm

y:D
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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby patrick » Tue Nov 29, 2016 9:05 am

Well, fwiw I sorta identify with this position -- I wouldn't consider myself to be agnostic about theism itself but rather to be agnostic about any form beyond the Aristotelian/philosophical notion of God. I think it's possible to have personal experiences that would provide tangible support for a belief in the Christian notion of God in particular, but I've yet to have such an experience. That said, it logically follows that if God exists, God has a specific form, and of the forms I've conceived, the Christian notion remains the most coherent form I've heard of.

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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby patrick » Sun Dec 04, 2016 3:06 am

Revisiting this issue, I think this position could only be fully held by someone who doesn't see gnosis as necessary for trust/faith. Because this logically implies trust, faith, or confidence in God without any rationale supporting the thesis "God exists" as true.

I think this would most likely occur in someone who believes that the world was designed so that knowledge about God's existence would be impossible to find.

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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby jenna » Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:29 am

it sounds like the person who is an agnostic christian is deceiving himself, for the basis of eternal reward only. kind of like pascal's wager, i suppose
some things are better left unsaid, which i generally realize after i have said them

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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby Jac3510 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:37 am

I think there are a LOT of Christians who would fit this description. I meet them all the time. People who think that faith is blind by nature and that God is somehow more pleased with such faith than with a faith that is motivated by reason and argument. They're in our pews every Sunday.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue

And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby RickD » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:16 pm

I think of myself as an agnostic agnostic. I believe it can't be known if I exist.

Although, when I was a child, I was my neighbor's imaginary friend.
1 Corinthians 1:9
9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Audie wrote:
"Christianity is not a joke, but it has some very poor representatives."


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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby Jac3510 » Tue Dec 06, 2016 4:33 pm

RickD wrote:I think of myself as an agnostic agnostic. I believe it can't be known if I exist.

Actually, I think that would be someone who thinks it is impossible to know if it's impossible to know.

Although, when I was a child, I was my neighbor's imaginary friend.

Lot's of people have imagined I was their friend. :twisted:
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue

And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby RickD » Tue Dec 06, 2016 4:49 pm

Jac3510 wrote:
RickD wrote:I think of myself as an agnostic agnostic. I believe it can't be known if I exist.

Actually, I think that would be someone who thinks it is impossible to know if it's impossible to know.

Although, when I was a child, I was my neighbor's imaginary friend.

Lot's of people have imagined I was their friend. :twisted:

:pound:
1 Corinthians 1:9
9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Audie wrote:
"Christianity is not a joke, but it has some very poor representatives."


St. Richard the Sarcastic--The Patron Saint of Irony

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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby Kurieuo » Sat Dec 10, 2016 5:48 am

Well, I had a certain brainstorm which I should have written down at the time. And then, I kept overlooking this thread and now I've lost where my mind was at. Nonetheless...

First point I'd make, is how many Atheists like to retreat into so-call Agnosticism. Yet, they are very different positions, and the Atheist often does a sleight of hand on portraying and thinking that Atheism is in fact Agnosticism. Flew's paper on the presumption of Atheism did a lot towards such thinking. Yet, even in that, if one reads, he is really talking of a weak Atheism that is more Agnosticism. Really, it would have perhaps been better titled the Presumption of Agnosticism.

So how do I pair "Agnostic Christian"? Consider the following words of Thomas Huxley who invented the term "Agnosticism":

    When I reached intellectual maturity and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; Christian or a freethinker; I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until, at last, I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They were quite sure they had attained a certain "gnosis"–had, more or less successfully, solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble. ...

    So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of "agnostic". It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the "gnostic" of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant. ... To my great satisfaction the term took.
Here, we see that for Huxley, an Agnostic is someone who has strong conviction that we cannot know, "the problem was insoluble". For Huxley, he was defining Agnosticism as a positive position that no one has knowledge. As he also writes:

    I have never had the least sympathy with the a priori reasons against orthodoxy, and I have by nature and disposition the greatest possible antipathy to all the atheistic and infidel school.

I'd also like to point out, Huxley associates Agnosticism with "intellect". It is an intellectual philosophical position on in relation to knowledge that I see touches upon epistemic justification, how we can be rationally justified in our knowledge. It is not a position had by "nature", but when one really starts to think about such, one takes upon themselves a rational position.

This all but turns a presumption of Atheism on its head, simply because a baby does not, in all likelihood, rationally think about such matters at all. In actually, it's really an issue of "not applicable". A baby is neither intellectually an Agnostic, Atheist or Theist, a baby is just a baby. I'd argue by nature we believe in God, that is very different from saying that intellectually we all believe in God.

So then, I believe (and scientific studies appear to back this with children no matter if they have Christian or Atheist parents), that recognition of God is innate and in fact people just bury and run from (i.e., dissuade themselves from belief in) God. Unless we know human nature, and indeed one of the significant differences with modern humans compared to all other creatures is spiritual expression, then the presumption of even a weak Atheism or true Agnosticism cannot be had. Perhaps in intellectual fairness, one should remove their bias from even if such exists in our very own nature, and yet ontologically (in virtue of our nature) we're all believers in some respect even if we resist such. It seems impossible also to really remove ourselves from our nature and disingenuitive to do so with regards to our naturally inclined beliefs, we'll never really ever get away from them if part of our nature.

We must believe in things to survive, even if we may not rationally know why we believe. Being predisposed to believing isn't necessarily a bad thing, but helps us to absorb and learn more quickly while growing up. Trust is key to gaining knowledge. I'd also add, a reason someone talking God really irks us (if we're non-believers), is because we're so much resisting and running that we hate the obstacles being thrown in our path reminding our subconscious inward nature of God who we're trying to intellectually deny and bury. It's like we've killed a person, and we're burying the evidence, but the corpse just keeps popping up and won't allow us to bury it. Which makes us feel ill and crazed. I'm talking here of humans in general as I do not want to single out a group of people.

Now, I feel with Agnostic Christian, one is simply affirming that, "Hey, intellectually, I may not have 100% justification. Yet, I believe." They're admitting to a vulnerability in being fallible in their knowledge in what they believe to be true. A Christian might be like Jac describes, lacking reason for belief in their faith as they sit in church; a Christian might be more intellectual and have many good reasons for belief. And yet, both are nonetheless I'd argue saved. The hearts of both are the same and confess the same, even if one lacks any rational justification for their belief. An Agnostic Christian, I'd put forward, is one who has thought "intellectually" about such matter and see many good reasons. Yet, then intellectually, they believe they can be wrong in what they claim to know -- hence Agnostic.

Do I believe I'm wrong? No, otherwise I wouldn't believe. Can I be wrong in my belief? Yes. I think it is also important to define the Agnostic position as an intellectual one. Assuming such a stance can be acknowledgement of humility, but it also takes away the guise of an Atheist who says they're open to evidence but just don't see it. Similarly, a Christian could say we see evidence of reason, but we're open to being wrong or mislead.

Now with all that said, it was just brainstorming. I'll have to reflect upon, and think on it more myself but had some time to develop a response (a perk of being on holidays ;)).
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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby Kurieuo » Sat Dec 10, 2016 6:23 am

patrick wrote:Well, fwiw I sorta identify with this position -- I wouldn't consider myself to be agnostic about theism itself but rather to be agnostic about any form beyond the Aristotelian/philosophical notion of God. I think it's possible to have personal experiences that would provide tangible support for a belief in the Christian notion of God in particular, but I've yet to have such an experience. That said, it logically follows that if God exists, God has a specific form, and of the forms I've conceived, the Christian notion remains the most coherent form I've heard of.

I think, your conflictedness may be one of "intellect" and how you rationally justify (i.e., epistemological) versus what you feel within your "nature", your intuition, perception of things.

That is, you see many good intellectual reasons for God, yet you say you're Agnostic in terms of Christianity. I understand this, because the rational justification is harder to be had on the latter. Consider what must be believed: a man named Christ, who was actually God, came a dwelt among us and then died and was resurrected several days later.

And yet, you know, for some reason you're drawn to Christ. You say "the Christian notion remains the most coherent form", yet such is truly foolishness to those who don't believe. I'm not sure you could get there, unless Christianity also resonated as true in your very being. Such, is an experience, and often feels like an awakening -- you see things differently, seem to have understanding where previously you missed it all. It's not "experiencing God" like Moses did, and yet, it is nonetheless an experience. Don't discount such so readily if you've had something such.

Now, philosophically, it is hard to reason to Christ, because well... it is truth that is revealed. You know, we know it, because the life of Jesus was written down in books, and we read about Him from those we assume were his disciples. We trust dating techniques offer in science, trust that what has been established as knowledge about such texts by scholars, and yet we can't know directly. There's a whole lot of trust involved. Yet, it all seems quite coherent to us, so we do trust in this common knowledge.

So the most we can do, is ask ourselves, as you appear to have, is whether the actual contents of the books regarding Christ, ideas within Christianity, bring coherency to many beliefs we have. God brings a whole lot of coherency, as you know, to many other beliefs we intuitively hold but cannot rationally prove. Moral arguments are based on an appeal to one's intuition, yet someone can always at the end of the day say they believe moral feelings just evolved and there's nothing more to it (i.e., no real "wrong" or "right" except in terms of say happiness or preference).

Indeed, I'm attracted here to coherentism as a method of justification also for Christianity. Again, you said such is coherent. On the other hand, if one only seeks empirical justification, then they may never get to believing in God let alone Christ. If such are true, then empiricism here is impotent, the wrong tool to use to try access such knowledge. We can't see, touch, smell, taste or hear physically. Empiricism is what is often ingrained into us as providing an immovable, safe and sound knowledge, and if empiricism can't be had, why then many believe that belief must be withheld.

Yet, I'd challenge such. Empiricism may be one way in obtaining epistemic justification, but it's not the only way. It also depends upon the area and ways in which the knowledge trying to be obtained is accessible. Further, I'd give empiricists a reality check with post-modern thought that empiricism isn't solid because such includes a fallible subject who merely experiences the world through themselves. Empirical methods, while good, don't provide us with absolute certainty -- they don't allow one to rationally know what they claim to know is right. Indeed, knowing one is right in their empirical knowledge isn't empirically verifiable itself. Saying the only truth that matters is empirical truth, isn't empirically verifiable either.

So then, because 100% rational certainty can't be had, should we withhold belief? No, that'd get us nowhere, indeed drive us insane. Rationally, I believe we should go with that which has greater explanatory power and the greatest coherent system of beliefs (I believe you hit it on the head). Such counts as very strong justification. Then you end up with a good foundation from which to work, which is the biggest island of beliefs that work together.

Thankfully, we can intuit many things, though we may not have intellectual reasons. Not having to prove everything in life allows us to just get on with it and be more productive. Lacking intellectual justification doesn't mean a belief we hold should be rejected, especially if there's something else at work within us telling us otherwise.

There are those who absolutely do not think, aren't interested at all, in considering the same types of intellectual questions we do. Nonetheless they believe one way or the other and quite passionately so. We're also not always interested to intellectually justify everything we believe or act upon. I act out, regularly, based upon gut intuition or feeling. I got up out of bed to lock the door last night, not because I knew it was unlocked, but I just had a feeling. It was unlocked. I locked it. I trusted my gut intuition, more than my wife ;) who is often more vigil at locking up. I was right without any rational justification.
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Re: Agnostic Theist / Agnostic Christian

Postby patrick » Tue Dec 13, 2016 5:41 pm

Kurieuo wrote:And yet, you know, for some reason you're drawn to Christ. You say "the Christian notion remains the most coherent form", yet such is truly foolishness to those who don't believe. I'm not sure you could get there, unless Christianity also resonated as true in your very being. Such, is an experience, and often feels like an awakening -- you see things differently, seem to have understanding where previously you missed it all. It's not "experiencing God" like Moses did, and yet, it is nonetheless an experience. Don't discount such so readily if you've had something such.


Thanks for this -- quite helpful. It rings true that I felt something of an awakening back when I was first motivated to truly understand the faith I had been raised in.


Kurieuo wrote:the most we can do, is ask ourselves, as you appear to have, is whether the actual contents of the books regarding Christ, ideas within Christianity, bring coherency to many beliefs we have. God brings a whole lot of coherency, as you know, to many other beliefs we intuitively hold but cannot rationally prove. Moral arguments are based on an appeal to one's intuition, yet someone can always at the end of the day say they believe moral feelings just evolved and there's nothing more to it (i.e., no real "wrong" or "right" except in terms of say happiness or preference).

Indeed, I'm attracted here to coherentism as a method of justification also for Christianity. Again, you said such is coherent. On the other hand, if one only seeks empirical justification, then they may never get to believing in God let alone Christ. If such are true, then empiricism here is impotent, the wrong tool to use to try access such knowledge. We can't see, touch, smell, taste or hear physically. Empiricism is what is often ingrained into us as providing an immovable, safe and sound knowledge, and if empiricism can't be had, why then many believe that belief must be withheld.

Yet, I'd challenge such. Empiricism may be one way in obtaining epistemic justification, but it's not the only way. It also depends upon the area and ways in which the knowledge trying to be obtained is accessible. Further, I'd give empiricists a reality check with post-modern thought that empiricism isn't solid because such includes a fallible subject who merely experiences the world through themselves. Empirical methods, while good, don't provide us with absolute certainty -- they don't allow one to rationally know what they claim to know is right. Indeed, knowing one is right in their empirical knowledge isn't empirically verifiable itself. Saying the only truth that matters is empirical truth, isn't empirically verifiable either.


Yeah, I think that's really the crux of it. I prioritize coherence, but I'm also keenly aware of where I'm missing external/tangible (basically empirical) justification, and I periodically reflect to think of other ways the dots may be connected.

The thing with me and Christianity is that my worldview is still fairly stable even supposing that the personal God is simply a psychological force. I used to be very into Jungian psychology, and Jung gave a great deal of attention to interpreting the power that God and myth has in a (pseudo)empirical manner. And I see atheistic methods of justifying morality, like social contractarianism, as being enough to justify the most critical of my moral sentiments. So for the most part I am pretty lax when it comes to defending core Christian beliefs like a literal Jesus Christ and so on.

And yet I nevertheless do consider myself a Christian, because regardless of whether Biblical events are literal or literary, the overall narrative of Christianity strikes me as the most coherent. I suppose to an atheist I've never really "grown up" in my core thinking -- I've spent years thinking of the basic meaning of reality as "it just is," and yet for all that empirical thinking makes sense of in the empirical world, for the human condition it seems incoherent, if not absurd.

To me, ultimately empiricism just resolves the empirical; reason itself is really the only recourse to answering ultimate questions about reality and matters we can't ever gain empirical data of. I don't know that I'd be willing to say that activity leads to gnosis per se, but then again with Christianity we're largely talking about knowledge after death, a place where our empirical data leaves us blind. Really, I think most inferences made about the afterlife and such really hinge not on data, but people's beliefs about what we, in essence, really are (i.e. material or spiritual). And so yeah, I guess for the most part I agree with what you've laid out here.


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