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.

      • 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.

      • 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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