Monday, December 6, 2010

Music To My Ears

One thing I've seen more and more online as of late.

"I'm an agnostic."

'Oh, are you a New Atheist?'

"Holy hell, no! Those guys, geez..."

I have to admit, I have more patience - a lot more - with a sincere agnostic. You can have a conversation with one. And I admit, I'm tickled to see that the long-lasting contribution of the New Atheists will likely be to convince people that atheism is a hotbed of irrationality, with at least a 'moderate' theism to agnosticism being vastly preferable.

12 comments:

Ilíon said...

Sure, you can "have a conversation" (which alone is impossible with Dawkins-heads (*) ), but you can't have a discussion. For a sincere so-called agnostic is adamant in his dogma that no knowledge at all is possible about God.

(*) Gander, goose.

The Phantom Blogger said...

I have to say a lot of the times I find agnostics to be more frustrating than atheists. With atheists most of the time you understand why they are atheists, mainly due to a lack of understanding, some sort of emotional dislike, ignorance about a specific point or just not thinking about it properly. Sometimes they even have some sort of legitimate reason. But with agnostics there is just no engaging with them about the topic, at least wih most of the ones I've talked to, they are just completely indifferent to religion and hence can't really be pushed into accepting any specific points since they don't really care about them.

To me it would seem to be easier to convert an extreme atheist (as long as they can debate rationally, not resort into childish derision and are not driven by some sort of moral or emotional revulsion of religion) to theism than it would be to convert an indifferent agnostic. Once you blow up an extreme atheists arguments he has no ground left to stand on and starts to question his beliefs, but a agnositic has no real beliefs to question.

I suppose the kind of agnostic I am thinking of, are the ones who are completely fine with not understanding something and have no interest in searching for the truth, hence feel no need to explore a topic. I personally can not understand this mind set myself and so may dislike it in others.

Crude said...

Ilion,

For a sincere so-called agnostic is adamant in his dogma that no knowledge at all is possible about God.

I guess the kind I like ain't sincere then! When I say a sincere agnostic, I actually mean the sort who says they honestly do not know whether God exists - I'm specifically ruling out the idiot "New Atheist" debate trick of someone saying they are an "agnostic atheist" which they think means they have no God-belief or beliefs about God, yet suspiciously they can give you an estimate of how likely it is God exists given various empirical and other data.

TPB,

I suppose the kind of agnostic I am thinking of, are the ones who are completely fine with not understanding something and have no interest in searching for the truth, hence feel no need to explore a topic.

Yep, they're intellectually and spiritually un-curious. But I'll say this: They're at least pleasant to be around. You can talk to them. Atheists, especially the New Atheists, are usually just misfits. They tend to devour each other when there isn't a Christian topic to bash.

To me it would seem to be easier to convert an extreme atheist (as long as they can debate rationally, not resort into childish derision and are not driven by some sort of moral or emotional revulsion of religion)

Well, that rules out 95% of atheists, and all of the New Atheists. What you talk about though, that detachment and lack of concern, is both a sometimes trait of agnostics, and a mix of a blessing and a curse. The detachment means you can discuss with them without the sort of baggage you just described, at least in my view.

As Vox Day says, an agnostic is pleasant. You can have a beer with them. An atheist is an asshole.

The Phantom Blogger said...

"Well, that rules out 95% of atheists, and all of the New Atheists. What you talk about though, that detachment and lack of concern, is both a sometimes trait of agnostics, and a mix of a blessing and a curse. The detachment means you can discuss with them without the sort of baggage you just described, at least in my view."

Yeah it would definitely rule out the new atheists types. I was thinking more of a Bertand Russell type who is more intellectual, they may even make bad arguments and can sometimes be emotional when making there points, but can admit when they are wrong or at least agree to disagree on what an argument implies. But personally if I was going to discuss religion with someone I knew was an atheist or agnostic, I would want some sort of feed back or debate, or else I wouldn't have broached the topic to begin with. It wouldn't be a conversation otherwise, just me talking at them, knowing that I could never convince them.


"As Vox Day says, an agnostic is pleasant. You can have a beer with them. An atheist is an asshole."

Yeah but Vox throws this out the window, when he is talking about Roissy, who is some sort of hardcore Darwinist Nihilist Atheist who Vox adores.

I have to say I don't really get this line. I don't know if you mean have a beer and talk about religion with them, or does this extend to all topics of conversation, can they not be good company when there not discussing religion. Are atheists always assholes according to this line, in all situations regardless of the topic of discussion. There are some atheists I like when they are not discussing religion, though if they start talking about it, they become irritating.

Crude said...

It wouldn't be a conversation otherwise, just me talking at them, knowing that I could never convince them.

Well, that's a key point that I think is lost on a lot of people. Christian apologists, bloggers in particular, seem to have a never-ending interest of debating and arguing with atheists, as if it will accomplish something. Some guys just aren't interested in actual discussion.

I have to say I don't really get this line.

Sorry, it's too nuanced to explain easily. But here's one bit I found interesting - did you know that Sam Harris apparently did a neurological study, and found that self-declared atheists derive pleasure from denying religious statements? Just think about the ramifications of that.

Ilíon said...

Sure, the 'agnostics' are generally much better company than the 'atheists;' that was part of my point.

The other part was that most 'agnostics' are no more open to real discussion, and real learning, than are most 'atheists.' They're just not so personally rude about it -- the 'atheist' "defeats" your points with his dogma that "Yer stoopid! Ya stooped faith-head!" and the 'agnostic' "defeats" your points with his dogma that "It is impossible to acquire real knowledge about God -- if there even is one."

Ilíon said...

"... did you know that Sam Harris apparently did a neurological study, and found that self-declared atheists derive pleasure from denying religious statements? Just think about the ramifications of that."

Not exactly news to anyone who has tried to interact with them. In fact, the generations-old "village atheist" stereotype is a recognition of this tendency -- there are people who derive pleasure from obnoxiously denying/denegrating that which others value, and belief about God tends to be the ultimate value (as all others are grounded in it).

Crude said...

and the 'agnostic' "defeats" your points with his dogma

I guess that would be true if the agnostic were dogmatic about the 'inability to know' or being an agnostic. At the very least though, the sincere agnostic is capable of at least two claims: "Impossible to know, but still possible." and "It's possible I'm wrong about it being impossible to know." And therein lies the potential for productive conversation, that you don't get with an atheist.

Not exactly news to anyone who has tried to interact with them.

Absolutely. I just think it has bearing on that 'atheists as assholes' charge I was throwing around. The New Atheists yelp about being all about reason and that being the cause for their atheism and their antics, but it looks like we may have another explanation, not only more probable but also "scientific": They're assholes. They love to be obnoxious, they love to act out.

It is science!

The Phantom Blogger said...

"But here's one bit I found interesting - did you know that Sam Harris apparently did a neurological study, and found that self-declared atheists derive pleasure from denying religious statements? Just think about the ramifications of that."

Yeah it seems kind of obvious once you engage in conversation with them. But I was wondering does this just apply to atheists. Someone like a Bill Maher, you would think, gains much pleasure from ridiculing and denying religious statements (especially organized religion). There are many others like him who though not really atheists, love to deride religious beliefs (I would even put Thomas Paine in there who in his Age of Reason doesn't so much make arguments against Christianity, as just makes fun of it). Almost because it is one of the easiest ways to appear intellectually superior in modern life and the fact that it is seen as moral and correct to stand up to those old fashioned religious moral standards.

Crude said...

I think you're right TPB. That's about all I can say there. :)

The Phantom Blogger said...

I'd just add that gaining pleasure from denying religious statements probably has a lot to do with the peoples political beliefs. I imagine leftists are much more prone to this, since they are more likely to see religion as being a negative influence on society. Also that's the common link bewteen a Bill Maher and Thomas Paine, plus the people who have the other characteristics I described.

Crude said...

TPB,

I'd actually go stronger than that. I think politics underwrites the vast bulk of atheism and anti-theism. It's not the beliefs themselves, but what they think the political effects are. Dawkins himself more or less conceded this when he argued that his big problem with "liberal Christians" was how they acted as "enablers" for other Christians.