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5 years ago  ::  Jan 09, 2010 - 5:54AM #1
Jonathanelliot
Posts: 55

Hi all. It's nice to find a thread for agnostics, rather than what can be called 'hard' atheists.  I call myself an open agnostic, in that I am open to finding a faith, while remaining sceptical.  At times I slip into theism, at times I am effectively an atheist. My blog's here spritzophrenia.wordpress.com/ if anyone wants to share things there too.  I'm hoping to write a book eventually.  I love music too, so tend to blog about music and film and (non) spirituality.  I look forward to participating here.  :-)  jonathan

http://spritzophrenia.wordpress.com
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5 years ago  ::  Jan 09, 2010 - 2:51PM #2
Intotheblue
Posts: 265

Hi Jonathan, welcome! Glad to have another member to the fantastic new board. I completely hear ya on the "sometimes theist, sometimes atheist" bit. I fluctuate between the two tendencies often too. Looking forward to seeing your posts.

Namaste.

.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

"It is not our differences that divide us, but our inability to accept and celebrate those differences."
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5 years ago  ::  Jan 12, 2010 - 8:34PM #3
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,244

Jonathan, why denigrate your position by accepting the stereotype that agnostics are wimpy wishy washy fence sitters?


Agnosticism is neither wimpy, nor wishy washy. It's a perfectly tenable position on it's own. Taking the root word a-gnostic = lacking knowledge, the agnostic basically presents that debating the existence of god is a waste of time since it can't be definitively proven either way.


Defend yourselves!


P.S. I am an atheist, BTW but when it comes to debating the existence of deity, I simply don't waste my time on it because it IS a waste of time... in the sense of prioritizing my time wisely, I'm an agnostic.


I'm also agnostic on the position of human caused global warming, but that's one for the environmental boards. Wink

Tribalism, ethnocentricism, racism, nationalism, and FEAR is the Mind Killer... >:(

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5 years ago  ::  Jan 12, 2010 - 8:45PM #4
Jonathanelliot
Posts: 55

Thanks for the concern, but my post was very much tongue-in-cheek, poking fun at myself a little.


I know I'm not a wimp, and if it comes to "argument", I can be pretty darn intellectually  formidible if I do say so ;)


I prefer to just be nice tho.  If there's any truth in spiritual practices, most of them promote loving and respectful ways of being.


 


:-)

http://spritzophrenia.wordpress.com
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5 years ago  ::  Jan 12, 2010 - 8:50PM #5
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,244

Jon, One of the greatest limitations of text only communications...Had I seen a smirk on  your face or a glint in your eye, I'd have known you were posting in jest...


glad I cleared that up not only for you, but for lurkers who read but don't post. Wink


As far as mutual respect, I'm always willing to grant the benefit of the doubt... I very much respect the RIGHT for personal freedoms and opinions. This by no means means I respect all opinions...LOL...


I can agree that at times, it's better to be KIND than it is to be right. I don't place that much stock on being nice, however... Kindness is far more..... kind.


AS

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5 years ago  ::  Jan 12, 2010 - 10:50PM #6
Intotheblue
Posts: 265

Agnosticspirit, I'm curious, what do you see as the difference between 'nice' and 'kind'? I think there's a subtle difference in connotation, but the two are often used interchangeably, so I wonder what other people think...

Namaste.

.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

"It is not our differences that divide us, but our inability to accept and celebrate those differences."
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5 years ago  ::  Jan 13, 2010 - 12:52PM #7
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,244

Jan 12, 2010 -- 10:50PM, Intotheblue wrote:


Agnosticspirit, I'm curious, what do you see as the difference between 'nice' and 'kind'? I think there's a subtle difference in connotation, but the two are often used interchangeably, so I wonder what other people think...




Hallo blue ---


Being "nice" is on the surface. Many "nice" people place more emphasis on civility, good manners and etiquette... Not necessarily a bad thing by any means, but the veneer of "niceness" is rather shallow. Women are often trained to "be nice" when what is REALLY meant is for women to shut up.(just one example)


Being "kind" runs far deeper.... An act of kindness may involve more than a passing smile and a wave, but require that extending kindness may involve --- INVOLVEMENT and engagement.


Sometimes you can't always be "nice" when you are being kind, and being "nice" isn't always  kind.


Examples of how these slight differences may play out. I lived for a few years in the heart of America, where people have a well earned reputation for being "very nice"...Salt of the Earth folk, pillars of the protestant work ethic... And yes, they were all very nice... greeting everyone with a smile, refusing to engage with those that didn't belong to their flock.


In this tiny town lived one openly gay man. He was also handicapped, requiring the aid of a cane to walk although this didn't impede his driving abilities. At the time, I was employed by a company that sold business equipment. (computers, copiers, etc).


One wintery day, as I was multi-tasking with a phone in one ear and repairing an ancient typewriter on my workbench,  I glanced out the window and observed that as he was getting out of his car, he had fallen and was having a great deal of difficulty getting up.  To my absolute horror, I also noticed that some of the customers and a few of my co-workers who were much closer to the entrance were watching his struggle to right himself and not one of these "nice" salt of the earth people moved to help..... They were looking at each other, plastic smiles pasted on their pasty faces and pointing at the spectacle.... I told the customer on the phone that I would have to call her right back, hung up the phone and ran out the door to help him.


That's the difference between being nice and being kind. I confess I wasn't very nice when I told my co-workers who were standing around laughing at his expense that they were a bunch of dumbasses after he left the store..... Shortly afterward, I gave them my 2 weeks notice.


 

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5 years ago  ::  Jan 13, 2010 - 1:40PM #8
Intotheblue
Posts: 265

Yep, that's my definition too. Just checking to see if we were on the same page. Like you said in the other thread, it's important to start out using the same definitions. ;)

Namaste.

.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

"It is not our differences that divide us, but our inability to accept and celebrate those differences."
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5 years ago  ::  Jan 20, 2010 - 2:57PM #9
shawnf
Posts: 73

Alright, an active forum!  I think we're in agreement that agnosticism is not the same as indecisive.  It's a very determined stance -- that the question of divinity cannot be adequately addressed, let alone answered. 


So if that's the case, I'm curious about how we go about handling the question of meaning.  In the absence of some religious dogma to specify how the universe is ordered and how we should behave within that order, it's basically up to us to decide what principles -- if any -- we think should apply.  How do we decide?  Or don't we? 


Is it intelletually honest to say "I'm not a theist, but I still think we should behave according to what other people think are God's rules?"  If it is, how do we decide which of those sets of rules is applicable?  And if religious rules are based on a certain religious metaphysical perspective, can you discard the perspective and still have meaningful rules?  Can we simply pick and choose  beliefs and morals from different sources, and if so how do we justify accepting some but rejecting others? 


Or is it simply that we develop our own individual beliefs, and any similarity to religious doctrines is merely coincidental?  If that's the case, then the meaning in our actions basically comes down to "it's what I think and what I want to do."  I have been working for a long time on puting together a philosophy that can address all these issues, and I am interested in what you all think.  (Also, should I start my own thread for this?)

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5 years ago  ::  Jan 20, 2010 - 10:30PM #10
Intotheblue
Posts: 265

-insert expletive here- I just hit backspace and apparently my cursor wasn't in the text box, so my browser took me back to the last page and erased what I'd written. -deep breath- Let's try this again...


Jan 20, 2010 -- 2:57PM, shawnf wrote:


Alright, an active forum!  I think we're in agreement that agnosticism is not the same as indecisive.  It's a very determined stance -- that the question of divinity cannot be adequately addressed, let alone answered. 


So if that's the case, I'm curious about how we go about handling the question of meaning.  In the absence of some religious dogma to specify how the universe is ordered and how we should behave within that order, it's basically up to us to decide what principles -- if any -- we think should apply.  How do we decide?  Or don't we? 




I'll never understand why people think you need an anthorpomorphic god and a religion that worships it, in order to have principles and ethics. The two are mutually exclusive.


Jan 20, 2010 -- 2:57PM, shawnf wrote:


Is it intelletually honest to say "I'm not a theist, but I still think we should behave according to what other people think are God's rules?" 




Which God's rules are we talking about? There are countless gods and goddesses, and each have their own rules. That fact alone makes your question moot. But for arguments' sake - let's compare gods to parents (no, seriously! ;) ). Every parent has his or her own rules. I'm not a parent, myself, but I can still agree and disagree with some of the rules of various parents. Doesn't mean I have to agree with everything the parent teaches their children - or belong to that family, for that matter. Now replace 'parent' with 'god', 'children' with 'believers', and 'family' with 'religion'.


Jan 20, 2010 -- 2:57PM, shawnf wrote:


If it is, how do we decide which of those sets of rules is applicable? 




By rules, I assume you mean moral teachings? Like the Ten Commandments? Well, I decide which ones are applicable to my life by thinking about them with my brain.


"Thou shalt not have any other gods before me." Okay that doesn't apply, since I don't believe in any specific god. "Thou shalt not kill." Well yeah that's pretty obvious. "Do not allow a witch to live." Hmm, what about that not-killing thing? I don't think killing someone - especially because their spirituality is different from mine - is very ethical, so I'll pass on that one. "Treat others as you wish to be treated." Sounds good...


You get the idea... It's not about whether the religion tells me to, it's about whether it resonates with my conscience and common sense. I'm not a robot running on a script written by Moses or Buddha or anyone else. I'm a living, sentient, reasoning human being who can think for herself. And it was other living, sentient, reasoning human beings who started those religions in the first place, remember. How did they figure out what was ethical? How did they know what to put in their books? Same way I know right from wrong - using our brains. (Well, they also had some political agendas, but that's just another reason for me to discard some and not others.)


Jan 20, 2010 -- 2:57PM, shawnf wrote:


And if religious rules are based on a certain religious metaphysical perspective, can you discard the perspective and still have meaningful rules? 




Again, what's the big deal about rules? Governments make rules all the time without consulting the worlds' religions first. Why can't agnostic individuals do the same for their own lives? Besides that though, I'm a bit confused of what you mean by "religious metaphysical perspective." Could you please clarify that phrase?


Jan 20, 2010 -- 2:57PM, shawnf wrote:


Can we simply pick and choose  beliefs and morals from different sources, and if so how do we justify accepting some but rejecting others? 




Another thing lots of people seem to be fixated on, which I cannot for the life of me understand. To me it's like asking, "How can you justify picking black socks over blue today?" ... Because black socks match my outfit better, so it makes sense? Same with morality. I'm not going to live my life by a moral teaching that completely flies in the face of every other morality my conscience is telling me. Why would you do that??


Besides, it can't be all or nothing, with religious beliefs. You simply can not believe every single thing every religion in the world teaches, simultaneously, because there are too many contradictions among them. So yes, you have to choose which ones seem reasonable and ethical to you, and which don't.


And this applies even within a single religion sometimes. The Bible says a man should be put to death for wearing clothing made of two different cloths. Is there a single person on the planet that believes such a 'moral' teaching to be the slightest bit reasonable or ethical - or applicable, as you put it? If there is, I've never met them (even the most hardcore fundamentalist Christians I know, the ones who take every word of the Bible as sacred scripture, find a way to dismiss that one). But most people agree that it's good to be kind to each other, which Christ taught in another part of the Bible. So umm, yes I have no problem whatsoever being a "cafeteria believer"!


Jan 20, 2010 -- 2:57PM, shawnf wrote:


Or is it simply that we develop our own individual beliefs, and any similarity to religious doctrines is merely coincidental? 




Right. That's not to say we can't use the teachings of various religions to learn and grow in our own personal spirituality. But that doesn't mean we have to accept the entire package.


Jan 20, 2010 -- 2:57PM, shawnf wrote:


If that's the case, then the meaning in our actions basically comes down to "it's what I think and what I want to do." 




I think a morally conscientious agnostic wouldn't say it that way. I think they'd say something more like, "It's what I think is right, according to my conscience and logic." We don't want to cause harm to other people intentionally, we think about what's best for everyone and not just ourselves... Pretty basic ethics. I don't understand this idea of people devolving into wild, anarchist monsters without strict religious dogma telling them how to behave. That's silly, to me.


Jan 20, 2010 -- 2:57PM, shawnf wrote:


I have been working for a long time on puting together a philosophy that can address all these issues, and I am interested in what you all think.  (Also, should I start my own thread for this?)




Nope, I think this thread is just fine. :)

Namaste.

.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~.~*~

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."

"It is not our differences that divide us, but our inability to accept and celebrate those differences."
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