Sunday, April 3, 2016

Agnosticism is bullshit (by anon)

Agnosticism is an intellectually lazy/dishonest view, not to mention it is literally contentless (or arbitrarily contentful) when taken seriously. 

There is nothing wrong with doubting things. I doubt things all of the time, like if I locked my door, if I will get into Stanford, if you will read this post charitably, etc. However, if I claim to doubt, on the basis that I do not have the resources to verify one way or the other, the existence of something as polemical as fucking GOD, what exactly is it that I am doubting, or relegating to the realm of “the unknowable”, and why do I care to proclaim such a neutral-sounding judgment about this entity in the first place?

Agnosticism is (according to the Google dictionary) the view/belief “that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena.” In short, the agnostic thinks it is impossible to know whether or not God exists, thus they suspend judgment, and inevitably concede to believing that God might* exist.

Now, what does it mean to believe something like this? It goes without saying that there is a plethora of predicative concepts that could saturate the subject-name “God”. We might be talking about any one of the religiously affiliated or otherwise mythical gods across the entire cultural board, from ancient times to present. We might be talking about god in a Hegelian, transcendental way, as simply “The Absolute”, “Spirit”, perhaps “Nature”. We might be talking about a new age, quasi-scientific conception of God, such as “Energy” or “Universal Force”. We might be talking about personal gods (yes, people, even smart people, admit to having these). So, when an agnostic says, “God might exist, I can’t know”, what are they really saying?

Let’s say we choose a specific conception of God, which has specific properties, and attempt to claim that we just can’t know whether this God exists. The problem here is, I can come up with a million different entities, with all kinds of specific properties, which “might exist” (if only I had the supernatural resources to find out…), entities in which one might say I have no reason not to believe, as they lie outside of the material world and are immune to scientific investigation, and thus I ought to suspend judgment. But just what is the point of being skeptical about something that we have no good reason to bring our attention to in the first place? I may not know whether or not I am a brain in a vat, but who fucking cares? Granted, we are in a time where culturally and historically speaking, it is within a broad tradition to consider certain supernatural entities as (at least possibly) existing, but this is no reason to feel obligated to give two shits regarding the status of anything we might call “God”. 

A point here is just that if I’m agnostic, what I am actually claiming to be uncertain about could be virtually anything. If I let it be the case that any particular conception of God is unknowable, can’t I then say that any particular instance of any supernatural entity is equally unknowable, and thus I would concede to saying there might be angels, devils, ghosts, demons, fairies, trolls, quantum snakes, parallel universes, and whatever else I care to dream up? Why concede to a view that allows for this kind of explosive arbitrary content? A worse problem is that under agnosticism, any supernatural entity eventually starts to look more and more like just that which is unknowable in principle, and if I claim to not be able to know anything about said entity, which is by definition, unknowable, then, haven’t I just stated a tautology and gained nothing?

Here is my view. I am an atheist. I do not doubt whether or not any god exists, not because I lack spirituality, or because I am a crude, arrogant materialist, but because to invoke any belief concerning “what might exist”, I’m going to demand specific content, and good evidence for that content. Sure, all metaphysical claims are at bottom, unknowable, but at least they can be evidenced and well argued for. Since the existence of any God-like entity is always poorly evidenced at best (and never well-argued for), I find that "God" is not even a subject worthy of a skeptical judgment, much less a positive one. 

Do I have a metaphysical view? Absolutely! Can I know this view is correct? No, of course not. But is it necessary for me to suspend judgment then? Fuck no. I can give evidence for my metaphysical view, and I can argue for it. This, I don’t think agnostics are ever willing to figure out how to do. In fact, their passivity seems to be a requirement of the position they're in. What's worse is that at bottom, it seems that agnostics clearly just want to keep the possibility open that something beyond them is out there. But I wonder about what really motivates this idea, and whether or not agnostics will ever admit that their stance is merely a bullshit guise for nothing more than shallow, wishful thinking.