Am I an Agnostic?

I believe that God exist, is good, and want’s to be know because I encountered Jesus. Absent God’s work, I am very skeptical that human reason alone can build a rational case for or against God. Yes, I know the rational cases. I’m just not sure any of them are definitive.

Am I a Christine agnostic? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle … Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.
— Thomas Henry Huxley

For example, I insist that science is silent, is agnostic, about Adam.

I often say that had it no been for Jesus, I would likely be an atheist. Maybe I would have been more likely an agnostic. Which brings me to some pointed questions.

  1. Am I an agnostic in any sense of the word?

  2. @Dan_Eastwood you identify as an “agnostic atheist”. Why? Why not an “agnostic theist” or just an “agnostic”? Why say “atheist”?

  3. @Patrick and the other atheists here, why are you “atheist” instead of merely “agnostic” or even “nontheist”?

To keep the conversation about non-Christian religions going, here is a quote from a Hindu Agnostic:

The Rig Veda takes an agnostic view on the fundamental question of how the universe and the gods were created. Nasadiya Sukta ( Creation Hymn ) in the tenth chapter of the Rig Veda says:[39][40][41]

Who really knows?
Who will here proclaim it?
Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation?
The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
Who then knows whence it has arisen?

Curious what I will here.

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Taking agnosticism about the existence of God as an epistemological stance: one cannot use reasoning alone to get their way to the existence of God, I think anyone who take God axiomatically such as @AndyWalsh would be classified as agnostic theists.

However, it seems that that this definition of agnosticism encompasses too many things to be useful. Science, for example, is motivated by unreasoned axioms. So am I agnostic about science? I also decide essentially arbitrarily on a logic system that I believe applies to the real world. Am I agnostic about logic? I even took the existence of the “real world” axiomatically. Am I agnostic about the real world?

What am I NOT agnostic towards? It seems that with this definition of agnosticism, I am agnostic towards everything. In this sense, the question of whether one is agnostic towards God or not becomes moot.

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I’ve recently heard an atheist say ‘I’m not an atheist, I am an agnostic atheist because I don’t claim to know whether there is a God’. So, going by that definition, most of us Christians are agnostic Christians.

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I too am an agnostic. I have come to that conclusion by studying science and my own reasoning. I have never had any thoughts that I believed were not my own. I have never had any experience that I considered out of worldly or that lack a natural explanation. Even as a child, I didn’t believe in ghosts, angles, the Devil or God(s). Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit were suppose to come to me may times but didn’t. Was I open to them? Probably not, as I was a very skeptical child and was very skeptical of the motivations of religious people. All this made me clearly agnostic for about 50 years of my life. Regarding atheism, it is merely an opinion. Given agnosticism, it is just the last step. Agnosticism says “there probably isn’t a God”. Atheism goes one baby step farther and says, “given that there probably isn’t a God, live your life like there isn’t a God”
For me, that was an amazing realization. How would you change your life if God didn’t exist? I actually got happier, got more moral, took care of myself and family better. And for the most part I treated other people better. I came to the conclusion that “this life is precious”. And when I meet somebody, I try to say, how can I help this person. Sometimes is it just listening to them that helps, some times it is just talking with them.
For me, atheism is a good way to live life.

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I color myself agnostic because that’s how I feel about it. I tend to use both agnostic and atheist when describing myself in discussion because its bothersome go through the defining myself every time. I’m not insulted to be called an atheist because its a fair description of my thoughts and actions in daily activity. The difference is in my inner thoughts.

That’s a really good description of how I think about it. How far can intellect take me?
In a certain sense I am still just as much a Presbyterian as I ever was, none of that has left me. If anyone wants to say I make a lousy Presbyterian, that’s a fair criticism.

There is a personal story here too, which I won’t share in full. As a teenager I once made a promise to myself (and maybe to God) that I would try to believe. All that really matters is this promise matters to me, I value it, and I do my best to keep it. Once again, I would accept the crticism that I do a lousy job of believing in God, but this is me, trying.

Looking back, that promise is an indication that maybe I’ve always been agnostic, though it took me a long time to recognize the fact.

There it a little more here. Sometimes I talk about the value of faith. I may not have much faith, but I place great value on what little I may have. There is no reason or rational for this, it’s just a feeling that this is the right thing to do. I value that feeling. In practical terms, not every question have a rational answer, and can only be decided by feelings. I recognize this in myself and try to keep a place for those feelings in my life.

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I would not consider that to be agnostic.

It is sometimes said that scientists who are Christians really accept deism+Jesus. But, in your case, maybe it is deism+Jesus+Adam.

Before I left Christianity, I was probably a good fit for the deism+Jesus description. Adam never mattered to me.

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I am not a deist though, and Adam is not the center of my world. I was thrust into this Adam debate by accident, against my expectation.

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Interesting - because your reasoning here would seem to suggest that human reason is alone, ie that in itself it is “absent God’s work.” But that doesn’t follow if human reason is one way in which God has revealed himself - and the traditional doctrine of creation (including, of course, the creation of human reason) is that creation is itself a visible revelation of the invisible things of God.

If God is the necessary reason for everything, logically speaking, perfect reason would find its way to God (or we’d have to assume that God can’t demonstrate his existence to himself!). So you have to introduce other reasons for such skepticism, such as the fallenness of creaturely weakness of human reason, or the deliberate hiddenness of God, which are subject to their own reasoning.

That, surely, is simply about the methodological limitations of science. Even if there could be scientific evidence for Adam’s existence, that would not, simply because of the propositional content of the claim, be evidence for God. Nobody (as far as I know) has ever argued the existence of Adam to be a rational evidence for God.

So it seems to me the conceptual content of your post is that you’re agnostic about what God has not revealed about himself, which is the orthodox position. What is undetermined is how much God has revealed that you (or any of us) haven’t cottoned on to yet.

For example, someone who is agnostic about the nature of the atonement might simply need some directed Bible study on the matter from a skilled theologian. Or someone unconvinced by rational arguments for God by, say, Aquinas, might well have miscontrued their premises. Or (as Scripture itself says) reason may be blinded by unbelief, so that until God reveals himself in some supernatural way, one cannot see the logical force of such arguments - though that, of course, begs the question of their utility as apologetic tools.

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I’m atheist because I don’t believe in any of the ideas about gods I’ve ever heard. I’m agnostic because I don’t know any more than that about our and reality’s ultimate origins. I have to believe something is going on there, but I have no idea what it could be.

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This is not the claim of all of agnosticism. This constitutes a particular choice of Bayesian prior, which while you are free to pick arbitrarily for yourself, is one that not all agnostics agree with.

There seems to be two types of agnostics complying to either:

  1. A stronger form of agnosticism: that there is no evidence that could be used to evaluate whether God exists.
  2. A weaker form of agnosticism: there are circumstantial evidence in the Bayesian sense that could be used to evaluate whether God exists, but the resulting posterior is never conclusive.

It seems to me that agnosticism is a statement about evidence and their ability to update priors, not on the priors themselves.

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An Eastern Orthodox perspective on natural theology from Fr Thomas Hopko of blessed memory. From his dissertation on Orthodoxy and process theology:

"“Divine revelation is not the gift of knowledge which man could never have naturally, or the gift of knowledge more than man can have naturally; it is rather the gift of knowledge which man must have naturally [emphasis, mine], or would have if he remained “natural,” as created ‘in the image and likeness of God,’ and did not bestialize and dehumanize himself by sin. Paradoxically put, man should naturally have the knowledge of God which surpasses human nature, and if he does not have it, he is “unnatural” because of evil.”

​For Hopko, divine revelation is rooted in the Logos’s presence in the world, and the Logos is everywhere present. Yet, because of our sin, we are blinded to the presence of the Logos, and hence to the knowledge that we should have through the Logos. As Hopko says, “if there is truth anywhere at all in human nature, it is the same truth revealed in ‘divine revelation,’ enabled by the same Logos.” This understanding of knowledge enables Hopko to emphatically say that that “the God of the philosophers must be the same God as that of the Christian revelation and religious experience, the same God as that of the theologians and mystics of all religions. If it is not the same God, then it simply is not God.” Later in his dissertation, when commenting on the Eastern tradition’s exegesis of Romans 1:18-22 (God’s “eternal power and deity has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made”), Hopko affirms that God’s existence can indeed “be ‘reasoned out’ or ‘reasoned to’ by reflection upon the existing world,” but he goes beyond this assertion by also saying that “his power and divinity, can be directly and immediately known in and through the created world which exists as a manifestation of God’s superessential being and life.” The main point for Hopko was that our knowledge of God from creation can carry us beyond a mere reasoning to God, but for our purposes, it is more important to see that he in no way denies that God’s existence can be reasoned to, which is something that seems to be denied by Lossky and Behr. This is perhaps because they are accepting the western distinction between general revelation and special revelation, and in light of this acceptance, they want to opt for special revelation over general revelation. But as Hopko shows us, there is no mind that operates completely apart from the Logos, although some people’s rational faculties have been distorted by sin to the point where they cannot perceive the Truth. If we follow Hopko’s logic, whether or not certain people like Plato or Aristotle realized it, to the extent that they spoke truthfully, they were enabled to speak these truths through the Divine Logos. Their nous was not too darkened to perceive God’s truth."

From a paper I wrote. I think it’s an interesting perspective

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