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Old 10-19-2006, 11:32 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by Totenkopf
Seems to me Mr. Flint is engaging in linguistic gymnastics
We all see your riposte but not the reasoned rebuttal. You call it "linquistic gymnastics" but have provided no definitions or reasoned discourse on why you find the term "agnostic atheist" to be an oxymoron. What this demonstrates is a lack of understanding of the terms at hand.

It is common that people believe 'agnosticism' refers to the notion that a god is 'doubted,' but what it actually refers to is not god but knowledge. The intent of the word -from Huxley- was to describe one who accepts that there is certain knowledge that is beyond the ability of man. Supernatural knowledge is such (2001).

I agree with Huxley when he says, "The agnostic, according to his view, is a person who says he has no means of attaining a scientific knowledge of the unseen world or of the future [...] I cannot think this description happy, either in form or substance, but for the present it may pass (1889)."

I also agree with Betrand Russell (1947) when he says, "As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one prove that there is not a God.
On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.

Ingersoll (1896) was another that described the agnostic-atheist point of view quite well: "Is there a supernatural power -- an arbitrary mind -- an enthroned God -- a supreme will that sways the tides and currents of the world -- to which all causes bow? I do not deny. I do not know -- but I do not believe. I believe that the natural is supreme -- that from the infinite chain no link can be lost or broken -- that there is no supernatural power that can answer prayer -- no power that worship can persuade or change -- no power that cares for man."

Another passage that Huxley offered (1889) that I can easily agree with is: "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"

The term agnostic refers to knowledge. The term atheism refers to a lack of belief in a god or gods. The two are not mutually exclusive and are very compatible.

Sources and References:

Wikipedia entry "Agnostic-Atheism"
Atheist vs. Agnostic
Urban Dictionary
About Philosophy

Flint, Robert (1903). Agnosticism. Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons

Huxley, Thomas H (1889). Agnosticism. From Collected Essays of T.H. Huxley and found on the web at:

Huxley, Thomas H (2001). Collected essays of T.H. Huxley Bristol: Thoemmes

Ingersoll, Robert G. (1896). Why I Am An Agnostic. From The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, Dresden Memorial Edition, chp IV, pp 5-67. Found on the web at:

Russell, Betrand (1947). Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic? A Plea For Tolerance In The Face Of New Dogmas. Found on the web at:

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