The Agnostic Christian

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Reply Sat 26 Jul, 2008 09:18 pm
 
Arjen
 
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2008 08:23 am
@Victor Eremita,
I do not know the work of Kierkegaard, so I must admit I was curios reading this. It has intrigued me to look further into his work. I did miss an elaboration on what Kierkegaard did mean though. I usually take an angle that provides an insight into the thoughts of the writer, instead of only mention them.

I thank you for the effort you made in writing this piece. It As said, it has inspired me to see what I can dig up on him.

Arjen
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2008 08:56 am
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:


I agree with you that Kierkegaard is very interesting. He has been greatly underestimated by analytic philosophers, who have thought of him as a logical light-weight. In fact, although his arguments do have to be dredged up, they exist, and many of them are good arguments.

I don't, however, agree with you that Kierkegaard should be called an agnostic. It is true that an agnostic believes that no one can know that God exists (not that it is impossible to know, for an agnostic may well admit that someday, some of us, at least, can know). But, Kierkegaard certainly believed in God, although this belief (he thought) could not be supported with proof of God. But agnostics are (at least in common usage) thought not to believe in God, and not merely to hold that the existence of God cannot be known. Furthermore, I don't think that Kierkegaard held that he did not know that God existed. He held only that he could not prove that God existed, but he did not think that religious knowledge had to be backed up with proof.
 
mashiaj
 
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2008 01:11 pm
@kennethamy,
well Kierkegaard stated that faith cannot exist without doubt, because you cannot have faith in things that actually you can see like computer, refrigerator, etc, because you have no doubt that it exist. and you cannot see god therefore you will be always having some doubt. who that believes in god not have some doubt about god?
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2008 02:55 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
I don't, however, agree with you that Kierkegaard should be called an agnostic. It is true that an agnostic believes that no one can know that God exists (not that it is impossible to know, for an agnostic may well admit that someday, some of us, at least, can know). But, Kierkegaard certainly believed in God, although this belief (he thought) could not be supported with proof of God.


That's right, Kierkegaard says he does not KNOW God exists, he BELIEVES God exists. Kierkegaard's an agnostic theist, in the sense that even if that deity is unknowable, he tends to believe that there may be a deity despite the proof.

Quote:
But agnostics are (at least in common usage) thought not to believe in God, and not merely to hold that the existence of God cannot be known.


That's a variation of agnosticism called (of course), agnostic atheism. Which is contrasted with just atheism where the latter thinks it is provable that there is no God.

Quote:
Furthermore, I don't think that Kierkegaard held that he did not know that God existed. He held only that he could not prove that God existed, but he did not think that religious knowledge had to be backed up with proof.


Kierkegaard did not know God existed. He had faith. (And this is where the charge of fideism is made, but that's another story I'll try to defend SK from another day)
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2008 06:45 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:
A little slant I like to put on Kierkegaard is the agnostic Christian. He is Christian, as he tries to live the Christian life. An agnostic by definition is one who believes that it is impossible to know whether or not there is a God. This is one of the beliefs he professes both in pseudonymous works and non-pseudonymous works.


It's been a couple years since I sat down with Kierkegaard. So I will try my best to keep up with you. I also thuroughly enjoy Kierkegaard, although I found his writing extremely difficult to discern. His ironic bent leaves the reader alot of freedom in interpreting his true meaning (if he even had one that is).

One thing that I thought should be noted when talking about Kierkegaard is his "plan" regarding his writings. He outlines this plan in 'The Point of View for my Work as an Author'.

I had a whole post that outlined this, but the damn thing didn't submit right. And trying to retype it is just pissing me off. (sorry, I'm letting my anger show)

Maybe I'll get back to it someday. Victor, good to see that there is another who is as passionate about Kierkegaard as I am. I love his prose, his aim as an author, and what he did for Philosophy and Religion.

I look forward to further conversations regarding his philosophies.
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Sun 27 Jul, 2008 08:55 pm
@de Silentio,
de Silentio wrote:
It's been a couple years since I sat down with Kierkegaard. So I will try my best to keep up with you. I also thuroughly enjoy Kierkegaard, although I found his writing extremely difficult to discern. His ironic bent leaves the reader alot of freedom in interpreting his true meaning (if he even had one that is).

One thing that I thought should be noted when talking about Kierkegaard is his "plan" regarding his writings. He outlines this plan in 'The Point of View for my Work as an Author'.

I had a whole post that outlined this, but the damn thing didn't submit right. And trying to retype it is just pissing me off. (sorry, I'm letting my anger show)

Maybe I'll get back to it someday. Victor, good to see that there is another who is as passionate about Kierkegaard as I am. I love his prose, his aim as an author, and what he did for Philosophy and Religion.

I look forward to further conversations regarding his philosophies.



Ah yes losing posts in net transmission. Sucks. What I do is when I finish writing, I copy and paste the post onto notepad, and then see if it will submit. Got a backup copy in notepad just in case.

Yeah, I'm keenly aware of his authorship, that his non-pseudonymous works like the Discourses are written in Kierkegaard's name. I've read some of his discourses; I especially like his work Purity of Heart. Hope to read what you have to say about the Point of View.
 
Judges-Vs-Poets
 
Reply Tue 27 Oct, 2009 10:52 am
@Victor Eremita,
Once you label me ... blah blah blah?
 
CharmingPhlsphr
 
Reply Tue 20 Apr, 2010 06:50 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;19866 wrote:
I don't, however, agree with you that Kierkegaard should be called an agnostic.


You are absolutely correct. Kierkegaard was about the farthest from "agnostic" as one could get. I am reminded of his classic work, The Sickness Unto Death, where he writes of God as being the God of possibility in such a manner that one could not completely escape the thought that he was writing of himself as much as anyone else. On a personal note, it seemed as if his thought on possibility being potentially fulfilled by God as relating to his own relationship with Regine, which impacted him profoundly, but I digress.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 05:13 am
@Victor Eremita,
so is the opposite of agnostic, gnostic? And could Kierkegaard be described as one?
 
CharmingPhlsphr
 
Reply Wed 21 Apr, 2010 06:13 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;154800 wrote:
so is the opposite of agnostic, gnostic? And could Kierkegaard be described as one?


As far as the area of knowledge is concerned, yes. Kierkegaard possessed knowledge of God's existence as a consequence of his faith, which is only as valuable as the one on which the faith is placed. All of this should be qualified by stating that he was not Gnostic as the particular religious way of salvation through knowledge not unlike the mystery cults of the first two or three centuries AD.
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 01:55 am
@CharmingPhlsphr,
In terms of philosophy, Kierkegaard was an agnostic in the sense that God cannot be proved externally as the Pythagorian Theorem could be. But as I said, Kierkegaard was an "agnostic Christian", in the sense that a person's "knowledge" of God comes from the inwardness of the self, and not from any objective proof. As SK writes:

"Anselm prays to God in all sincerity that he may succeed in proving God's existence. He thinks that he has succeeded and throws himself down to thank God; curious, he does not notice that this prayer and thanksgiving are infinitely more proof of God's existence than-the proof." (This says more about SK than Anselm btw)

For SK, Anselm's external "proof" is inconsequential in the face of Anselm's faith.

I once brought this up to Anthony Rudd and he agreed that Kierkegaard was philosophically agnostic, but then the question remains: what do you do about it? SK's answer is to believe.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 05:16 am
@Victor Eremita,
I really don't see Kierkegaard adding anything that is useful. It just seems to bury the argument further into a vague notion.

If the purpose of life is to just find god and once the discovery is made then life is over. It means that the whole point of life was a waste of time. People say that finding god gives purpose but from Kiekegaard's perspective it says that life has no purpose other than to find god. That is not a purpose at all.

It's like the only reason you wake up in the morning is so that you can get ready for bed.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 06:43 am
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;19771 wrote:
... A leap, therefore, is required in order to believe necessary truths from contingent truths. Kierkegaard does not encourage or discourage this leap; he only says that it is required to enable believe in something that goes beyond experience and historical truths. It cannot be reasoned to, one must passionately say, based on historical truths, I believe there is God.


Kierkegaard's thoughts were among my first inspirations and I've always particularly liked the thought quoted above. It doesn't diminish belief one iota, but frames it in - what I believe to be - the most accurate, honest and true context possible. Taken to heart, it deflates the arguments of absolute knowledge and irrelevant minutiae while giving a plainly spoken, easily assimilated foundation for the concepts of belief, knowledge and where they appear to conflict.

Thanks
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 12:27 pm
@jeeprs,
I also enjoy K for the reason in your title. I have a deep and abiding faith in a God and act as best I can accordingly, however I do understand in a haunting way that I can never know with assurity. I enjoyed the rest of the post as well.

Cheers,
Russ
 
CharmingPhlsphr
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 08:19 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;155983 wrote:
In terms of philosophy, Kierkegaard was an agnostic in the sense that God cannot be proved externally as the Pythagorian Theorem could be. But as I said, Kierkegaard was an "agnostic Christian", in the sense that a person's "knowledge" of God comes from the inwardness of the self, and not from any objective proof. As SK writes:

"Anselm prays to God in all sincerity that he may succeed in proving God's existence. He thinks that he has succeeded and throws himself down to thank God; curious, he does not notice that this prayer and thanksgiving are infinitely more proof of God's existence than-the proof." (This says more about SK than Anselm btw)

For SK, Anselm's external "proof" is inconsequential in the face of Anselm's faith.

I once brought this up to Anthony Rudd and he agreed that Kierkegaard was philosophically agnostic, but then the question remains: what do you do about it? SK's answer is to believe.


I am still put off by the term "agnostic," for, by "agnostic," it generates the thought that he possessed no knowledge of this particular belief, when it is actually quite the opposite. "External proof," which I am taking as verifiable truth to others, is not the sole foundation of knowledge and, in the Christian faith, is fairly irrelevant, for it is Christ who calls out and is revealed to us, upon which we either believe or become offended in Him (taken from Practice/Training in Christianity).

His upbringing shows us that he would have been quite knowledgeable of the Scripture and, arguably, would have recalled Hebrews 11:1-3, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." This is the context of large portions of the incredible writing I mentioned before. Kierkegaard lashed out against the apologists who would compose volumes of "proofs" of the divinity of Jesus and God's existence because it is solely faith, which Christ Jesus demands from man; this was his assurance, knowledge, and hope (the concept of hope was written quite a bit in The Sickness Unto Death). Even if his knowledge was not founded on reasonable answers on the basis of human rationality, he possessed knowledge of God's existence and the necessity of Jesus to the fallen heart of man through faith in said revelation. Again, though, on this, I argue the term being used, for he was certainly not agnostic of God's existence, even in the least.

---------- Post added 04-24-2010 at 09:31 PM ----------

Krumple;156016 wrote:
I really don't see Kierkegaard adding anything that is useful. It just seems to bury the argument further into a vague notion.

If the purpose of life is to just find god and once the discovery is made then life is over. It means that the whole point of life was a waste of time. People say that finding god gives purpose but from Kiekegaard's perspective it says that life has no purpose other than to find god. That is not a purpose at all.

It's like the only reason you wake up in the morning is so that you can get ready for bed.


Kierkegaard wrote of the issue of the self and the problem of one's identity without the self's relation to its Creator, for this, in great part, leads man to despair or, that is, the sickness unto death. The "purpose" in life is the companion to having a sound and secure identity, which will not pass or fade away; this is not to say, however, that the purpose is lesser than identity in any way for the purpose and the identity follow hand-in-hand. One's purpose in life is most often dictated by their particular identity, for the way in which one identifies themselves consciously or subconsciously is similarly the way said individual will act out their life.

The particular conclusion in this case is that one's identity, being found in God, directs man's purpose (to do God's will).
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 09:10 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple;156016 wrote:
If the purpose of life is to just find god and once the discovery is made then life is over. I


If you intend to get married, and you find the suitable partner, and the marriage takes place, does this mean that your life is over.

I suppose there are some who will answer 'undoubtedly'. But for those who are happily married, it is not the end of life, but only the beginning.

Christians talk of the marriage of the soul to Christ. It is similar to the idea of marriage. In fact, marriage is understood to be an analogy to this relationship. But in any case, it is not the end of life, only the end of living for solely self-centred reasons.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 09:23 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;154800 wrote:
so is the opposite of agnostic, gnostic? And could Kierkegaard be described as one?


How about, just believer? The term "gnostic" has already been preempted.

Gnosticism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Agnosticism" was coined by (I believe) one of the Huxleys. Aldous, unless I am mistaken.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 09:38 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Agnosticism was indeed coined by a Huxley, but a much earlier one than Alduous. I think it was biologist Julian Huxley...in any case, people use the term 'agnostic' without much awareness that it is the negation (a-) of a positive description (gnostic). You are right in saying that the term 'gnostic' usually applies to a distinctive spiritual movement within Christianity, but there is also a more general use of the terms to signify direct knowledge of God or gods or of a spiritual principle, in the sense of mystical cognition. The term 'gnosis' is represented in Indian religious philosophy as 'jnana' which is clearly derived from the same Indo-european root 'gn-'. This is also the root of the word 'knowledge' itself, although gnosis and jnana are understood as different to empirical knowledge in the usual sense of the word.

There is a book on Eastern Orthodox monasticism, A Different Christianity, by Robin Amis, that distinguishes 'gnosis' in the context of Eastern orthodoxy from 'gnosticism' as a Christian heresy. I think such a distinction is sometimes understood in some of the Catholic monastic writers as well. But it is a distinction not generally understood or accepted in Protestant thought, as far as I am aware.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 09:44 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;156201 wrote:
Agnosticism was indeed coined by a Huxley, but a much earlier one than Alduous. I think it was biologist Julian Huxley...in any case, people use the term 'agnostic' without much awareness that it is the negation (a-) of a positive description (gnostic). You are right in saying that the term 'gnostic' usually applies to a distinctive spiritual movement within Christianity, but there is also a more general use of the terms to signify direct knowledge of God or gods or of a spiritual principle, in the sense of mystical cognition. The term 'gnosis' is represented in Indian religious philosophy as 'jnana' which is clearly derived from the same Indo-european root 'gn-'. This is also the root of the word 'knowledge' itself, although gnosis and jnana are understood as different to empirical knowledge in the usual sense of the word.

There is a book on Eastern Orthodox monasticism, A Different Christianity, by Robin Amis, that distinguishes 'gnosis' in the context of Eastern orthodoxy from 'gnosticism' as a Christian heresy. I think such a distinction is sometimes understood in some of the Catholic monastic writers as well. But it is a distinction not generally understood or accepted in Protestant thought, as far as I am aware.


We were both wrong: Thomas Henry Huxley, an English biologist, coined the word agnostic in 1860. Wiki. Aldous was older than Julian. Thomas was known as, "Darwin's bulldog".
 
 

 
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