The agnostic perspective.

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Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2009 10:27 am
So far I've seen both the atheist and the theist perspective. I'd just like to hear peoples' opinions on the Agnostic point of view and whether or not they think it's a logically valid stance. I'd love to discuss this with any and all comers.

Thanks,
Zach
 
Masquerade
 
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2009 01:53 pm
@Deliteful Despot,
I assume that when were speaking of the agnostic point of view were talking about questioning whether there is or isn't a higher being. An agnostic would say I cannot know whether a higher being exists and nor can you. That would be my view of the agnostic perspective. I think that it is completely logical to be agnostic. All of this talk on this forum about whether there is a higher being or not makes me want to say sure you can philosophize about it but you cannot prove it. So to be agnostic would be completely logical knowing that you cannot prove or disprove that there is a higher being. Great topic idea.
 
Deliteful Despot
 
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2009 01:58 pm
@Masquerade,
I'd have to say that I agree with you. I should have clarified that I meant to discuss agnosticism with regards to a higher being and/or religion. While I consider myself an agnostic atheist, I still find the absolutely atheist position logically flawed. I'd like to debate someone who thinks that it can be proven one way or the other, as I think it would be very interesting.
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2009 02:47 pm
@Deliteful Despot,
As an agnostic i can find footprints but never able to describe or imagine the ..... that made them. I believe there could be something but what it is or what it looks like i have no idea. Maybe one day if the footprints are so visible we would all accept the hidden truth. Should we know ? would it benefit us to know? It has never done us much good inventing one. I have to edit this, I should say i class myself as a pagan agnostic..if that makes sense.
 
Deliteful Despot
 
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2009 02:50 pm
@xris,
With my pitiful understanding of paganism, I think it makes sense. Could you go into a little more depth about the "footprints?"
 
xris
 
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2009 03:09 pm
@Deliteful Despot,
Deliteful Despot;100902 wrote:
With my pitiful understanding of paganism, I think it makes sense. Could you go into a little more depth about the "footprints?"
Our convenient position in the life of the universe. The unbelievable coincidence of our earths size in relationship to the moon, the sun and how it resulted in the consequence of life. How life has overcome so many difficulties to arrive at a being that is consumed with understanding of its self. Why the universe is so hidden in mystery. Why we are given small glimpses of more but never enough to utterly convince us. Why the power of nature runs so strongly and never gives up trying to survive. I feel natures strength all around me and its strength is a force that defies explaination but is so easily is it taken for granted.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 1 Nov, 2009 06:28 am
@Deliteful Despot,
If agnosticism is saying that either atheism or theism is, for whatever reasons, unconvincing, it seems a perfectly acceptable position. In this case, it is a suspension of judgment but with an open mind that either could be the case.

But one could also say that neither is capable of convincing, or that neither can produce sufficient warrants for acceptance. This seems a more dogmatic viewpoint, and one wonders whether the warrants for THIS position are themselves sufficient for accepting it.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 1 Nov, 2009 07:16 am
@Deliteful Despot,
I think there is a lot to be said for 'passionate agnosticism' as distinct from 'cynical agnosticism'. It is an attitude where the unknown is like a vast potential or a realm to be contemplated, rather than the (more common) "well we don't know and it really doesn't matter" type of view.

Have a look at Belief :: Mark Vernon - a very interesting book on agnosticism as a philosophical stance called 'After Atheism'.
 
manored
 
Reply Sun 1 Nov, 2009 10:27 am
@Deliteful Despot,
Deliteful Despot;100830 wrote:
So far I've seen both the atheist and the theist perspective. I'd just like to hear peoples' opinions on the Agnostic point of view and whether or not they think it's a logically valid stance. I'd love to discuss this with any and all comers.

Thanks,
Zach
Personally I think its the only logically valid stance =)

xris;100904 wrote:
Our convenient position in the life of the universe. The unbelievable coincidence of our earths size in relationship to the moon, the sun and how it resulted in the consequence of life. How life has overcome so many difficulties to arrive at a being that is consumed with understanding of its self. Why the universe is so hidden in mystery. Why we are given small glimpses of more but never enough to utterly convince us. Why the power of nature runs so strongly and never gives up trying to survive. I feel natures strength all around me and its strength is a force that defies explaination but is so easily is it taken for granted.
While that indeed suggests strongly an intelligent creatin force, the universe is immense, so it doesnt unlikely that we would come to be out of randow events.

Its like the family where you were born. Isnt it an incredible improbability that, with so many people in the world, you were born exactly in your family? Well, where else could you?
 
xris
 
Reply Sun 1 Nov, 2009 10:35 am
@manored,
As i have not talked or imagined an intelligent creator or found it a strange coincidence of my birth, i wonder what your post is inferring. Could you be a little more succinct? please.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 1 Nov, 2009 03:44 pm
@Deliteful Despot,
Actually the argument from improbability - that life cannot be the result of mere chance - is looking stronger all the time in my view. First you have the arguments presented by the anthropic principlethat the Universe itself requires the 'callibration' of a number of key ratios and properties for anything to exist. Then you have the fact that the possible combinations for the constituents of a living cell could be combined in a number of ways far larger than all of the atoms in the universe without giving rise to life. (I think the number of ways that the basic elements of DNA could be combined randomly adds up to something like 10 to the power of 100 which is an unthinkably massive number.) So I think the idea that life arises 'randomly' is baseless, and in fact I don't even think it is a matter of scientific judgement. There is no evidence for this idea - it can only be an inference.

This is not to argue for 'creationism' however. In fact I think our culture has created a false dichotomy between 'God' on the one hand and 'chance' on the other. I think an alternative view that is emerging is that the universe is inherently life-producing, that it has deep qualities or characteristics, which, given the right circumstances, are likely to produce living beings, through the evolutionary means that we are familiar with. (This view is put very eloquently by Simon Conway Morris.)

In this understanding it is not as if God is an active participant in the 'design of life' ("hey, looks like I better help design that cellular engine/eye mechanism - blind chance is having a problem with it" :bigsmile:). It is more like the emergence of intelligent life is governed by laws, in the same way that the movement of bodies is, albeit laws of much greater complexity and subtlety than Newton's laws of motion.

So this view is not in contradiction with the idea of a "divine intelligence". But neither is it in conflict with agnosticism, because any such intelligence will by nature be beyond science and indeed beyond knowledge in any ordinary sense. You might feel a conviction that there is indeed such an intelligence, but perhaps you can never know it for certain, nor demonstrate it objectively.

(On the other hand, the characteristic atheist view that the Universe must consist of 'blind processes' and life and human intelligence is the unintended and accidental consequence of these processes can't really tolerate this view either. But note that it is neither a 'religious' view, nor a 'scientific' view, in the sense that both terms are understood.)
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 04:04 am
@jeeprs,
Very well explained jeeprs..thank you
 
Krumple
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 06:05 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;101094 wrote:
Actually the argument from improbability - that life cannot be the result of mere chance


I object. If you take a close up view of a snowflake youll see a very incredible structure. A structure pattern that you will never again see. This alone reveals just how limited we are in mind. We make assumptions based off nothing more than an inclination. We want the universe to be easily explained and we always ask why.

I personally don't see a single problem with probability of life being improbable. But why? Because I think the way we are viewing life is not actually what life is. We slap these labels on it as if it is some miracle or rare happening. I think it might be more common than anything else. On this planet you can not escape it no matter where you go. I wouldn't be surprised if the universe was packed full of it.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 06:19 am
@Krumple,
Krumple do you believe there is a formula for life? Given certain circumstances life will form?
 
Krumple
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 06:32 am
@xris,
xris;101217 wrote:
Krumple do you believe there is a formula for life? Given certain circumstances life will form?


Chemistry... of course. Does it always happen with the same chemistry? Here it does, but that doesn't mean the chemistry is always the same through out the universe.

So to answer your question. Nope, no recipe for life. Why? Because we can't even determine if a virus is a live. There are many things humans do that are very virus like in behavior, but would I call humans viruses? No.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 07:26 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;101222 wrote:
Chemistry... of course. Does it always happen with the same chemistry? Here it does, but that doesn't mean the chemistry is always the same through out the universe.

So to answer your question. Nope, no recipe for life. Why? Because we can't even determine if a virus is a live. There are many things humans do that are very virus like in behavior, but would I call humans viruses? No.
My question was, is there a formula for life, for life as we know it? If there is no recipe, as you say ,then given the same circumstances that produced life here on earth occurred again, you claim life would not emerge. How strange, can you explain why?
 
Krumple
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 08:14 am
@xris,
xris;101234 wrote:
My question was, is there a formula for life, for life as we know it? If there is no recipe, as you say ,then given the same circumstances that produced life here on earth occurred again, you claim life would not emerge. How strange, can you explain why?


You missed the settle difference. I am saying there is no specific one way that life arises. I never said that given the circumstances it would never occur how it happened. The first forms of plants on the earth did not obtain nutrients through photosynthesis, they didn't even have root systems. So why don't these plants exist any more or why do we not find them? Chemistry.

My point was our definition of life in my opinion is narrow. I can't exactly say for certain it is incorrect but given the past and changes that have already happened point to it as a highly plausible occurrence.

Did the circumstances for the arising of life on earth have to happen a certain way? I think so, but I don't think it is necessary for all cases to happen the way it did. Change a few elements of the process and the result could be drastically different.
 
manored
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 12:22 pm
@xris,
xris;101016 wrote:
As i have not talked or imagined an intelligent creator or found it a strange coincidence of my birth, i wonder what your post is inferring. Could you be a little more succinct? please.
I couldnt think of anything else you could mean with "footprints" other than "footprints of an intelligent creator". Forgive me if it was a wrong assumption =)

jeeprs;101094 wrote:
Actually the argument from improbability - that life cannot be the result of mere chance - is looking stronger all the time in my view. First you have the arguments presented by the anthropic principlethat the Universe itself requires the 'callibration' of a number of key ratios and properties for anything to exist. Then you have the fact that the possible combinations for the constituents of a living cell could be combined in a number of ways far larger than all of the atoms in the universe without giving rise to life. (I think the number of ways that the basic elements of DNA could be combined randomly adds up to something like 10 to the power of 100 which is an unthinkably massive number.) So I think the idea that life arises 'randomly' is baseless, and in fact I don't even think it is a matter of scientific judgement. There is no evidence for this idea - it can only be an inference.
I think that no matter how puny the probabilities, they can still come true. After all we are only observing this universe.

But I agree that there must be an intelligent creator. My view of it is that as the universe is infinite, our know universe must be "inside" an unknow one where an intelligent creator has pulled strings... wich is also inside one, wich is also inside one... and it goes on ad infinitum.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 01:27 pm
@manored,
There is a distinct and subtle difference between admitting the possibility and accepting it is inevitable. My thinking takes me down roads of thought that at times it becomes so obvious that I see a purpose or find a creative force so strong it can not be denied. I then find it impossible to imagine why or for what purpose. So I must tell myself it beyond my comprehension and is that the secret ? we must constantly search and grow with each discovery.

The idea that life was inevitable before the BB was even a twinkle in the singularities eye, amazes me. Life is a product of natures great plan and to say its just another one of those silly coincidences in the scheme of things, is to deny the enormity and the majesty of our great universe. Its a mind set, one can say, o its the consequence of physics, or ,hell what another amazing beautiful fact of a creative force.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 2 Nov, 2009 09:23 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple;101249 wrote:
You missed the settle difference. I am saying there is no specific one way that life arises.


Subtle, I think. And we have no data on how life might arise elsewhere, having never found any, so at best this is speculative.

Again, I am not promoting the idea of 'Creator God'. It is more like 'creative universe' or 'intelligent universe' or something like that. But it is lawful through and through, obviously. Where exactly is there chaos and randomness in nature, except for in relation to the way in which it is generally predictable and lawful in so many exquisite respects?

The understanding of the 'the rational soul in an intelligible universe' is what Western science actually started out with, although it has now largely abandoned that idea, for what I consider to be ideological reasons.

And I will admit that although I am not beholden to the popular idea of Deity, I do think that evolution has a 'telos' or overall purpose. But this is very much a matter of individual conscience in my view.

I really do recommend that Simon Conway Morris book, or any summary of his writing. He is thoroughly opposed to any kind of creationism, but is also opposed to materialism. Interesting middle path.
 
 

 
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