A Brief Defense Of Agnosticism

The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.”

Charles Darwin

I want to point out to many atheists that while I support a critique of the metaphysical doctrines of religion (transcendant God, afterlife, original sin), I don’t find that I can be certain of the non-existence, or existence, of that which is beyond our knowledge and understanding.

Much of atheism has the difficult work of clearing space for thought from religious doctrines.  A healthy skepticism here is worth much more to me than the terrifying certainty of true believers.  I do not have faith in a God where my reason fails me, but rather, I am not certain reason itself can prove God’s existence or non-existence successfully.

I don’t think I’m seeking comfort here, nor a way out of the moral obligations of Godlessness, but rather I’ve found the reasoning is deeper than I suspected.

Here’s a quote from Betrand Russell:

As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God.

On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.”

See Also:  Wikipedia’s article on Agnosticism, from which the Russell quote is taken, and where you can find more information about Robert Ingersoll and Thomas Huxley.

6 thoughts on “A Brief Defense Of Agnosticism

  1. I believe that the real question about the non-existence, or existence, of god isn’t whether or not it exists, but even if it does what problem this really solves.

      1. Probably, but for all these questions we should forget to look up embarrassed and simply look at ourselves and our fellowmen, face to face and openly.

      2. Well said, but we still have unexamined beliefs, ideas about the world that aren’t true etc. There’s never a shortage of ignorance. Debate doesn’t hurt, and like you said, getting ideas out into the open doesn’t either.

        What we know is very little.

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