The atheist76 has no real foundation for a disbelief in the existence of God.77
Ask an atheist what evidence there is that no God exists, and the
atheist will be forced to change the subject (usually, to what evidence
IS there that God exists?78).79
Atheism, by itself, is an entirely unsatisfactory philosophical basis
because it is a mere statement of disbelief. There is nothing positive
upon which to build a metaphysics, epistemology, and/or ethics.
Humanists are philosophically close to what is presented as agnostic philosophy in this Agnostic Bible. The foundations of Humanist beliefs are a reliance on science to determine truth and a human-centered value system. There are two kinds of Humanists: Religious Humanists and Secular Humanists. The latter are generally atheists. The Agnostic Church might join the international Humanist movement at some point in time, depending on the compatibility of our mutual objectives.
Believers in the God of Abraham (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) can be converted to agnosticism if their minds are not closed by prejudice.80 Each sect of these churches has beliefs that will not hold water, and these render the entire system of beliefs into a pile of meaningless words.81 Still, modern proponents of these religions attempt to justify their beliefs with something approximating the following stream of logic:
- 1) it seems clear (from the "Big Bang") that the universe was created, so there must have been a creator;82
- 2) there could not be so much complex design to the universe by simple random chance, so there must have been a designer;83
- 3) given that the universe was created according to some grand design, the person84 who did that would have to be God; and
- 4) the <blank> religion has the word of God direct from the one true prophet of God, <blank>, so how could you possibly not believe in it?
The position taken by the Agnostic Church with respect to each of those four points is:
- 1) yes, the so-called "big bang" theory of creation does seem to be holding up under scientific study, but give it another century or two before we decide that it cannot be disproved, and even conceding that there was a creation says absolutely nothing about the true nature of the creator;85
- 2) it sounds logical that there must be a conscious design to the universe, as opposed to mere random chance, except that random chance did have billions of years over which to operate, and that is an inconceivably long amount of time to a typical individual, so there really is not any hard proof that random chance could not have done it, and so far as the creation of the most complex life forms goes, there does appear to be an awful lot of random chance in Darwin's Theory of Evolution and other measures of so-called "creation," each of which is holding up quite nicely under scientific study, so we can't really give in on that point, either;
- 3) if you buy points one and two (which we do only equivocally, as opposed to wholeheartedly), then three is a logical conclusion that some individual or group of individuals which we choose to call God (probably) exists and is (probably) the designer and/or creator of the universe; and
- 4) it is WAY too far of a leap from a concession that some sort of God (probably) exists to a conclusion that such-and-such a historical (or mythical) personage had a direct link to that God and through that link received the one true revelation of God's will for all of creation. The history of the world discloses a number of these individuals who received similar revelations, each of which has some very serious incompatibilities with most (if not all) of the others. The Agnostic Church believes that none of the known "great" prophets86 was doing anything more than merely preaching the accumulated wisdom of their times in a fashion that their followers would tend to accept, and while there are numerous gems of insight in each of the world's great religions, each of these religions, taken as a whole, are so incompatible with one another that they truly cannot be separate manifestations of the one true belief.87
Accordingly, the Agnostic
Church seeks to discover the true nature of God, not excluding the
question of whether God exists or not, by encouraging further
scientific research and the gathering together (and integrating as a
whole system of thought) of the entirety of knowledge known to all
individuals throughout the universe. This search is a reflection of the
feelings each individual must confront at some point in life, where the
ideas which are thrust upon the young individual in the church and
school are tested against the experiences of that individual in meeting
the challenges of life. Humans are a young race in this universe, and
it is time for humanity to "grow up."
It is all well and good to believe in a particular religion because you are taught its precepts at a young age, but you will never really believe until you have confronted disbelief. Any believer who confronts disbelief in the form of the Agnostic Church should conclude that this church is the very first (and so far only) belief system to be based upon an orderly foundation of all of the knowledge of the ages without a large dose of mystic thought which must be accepted totally on faith.88
It is virtually impossible to be well educated and not be an agnostic to some degree.89 The more you know about human history and all of the different value systems which have been tried by one society or another at different times throughout history, the less faith you will have that any one particular human religion has the one true answer. The only reason that most people believe in a given religion is that their family raised them in that religion. Most people inherit their religious beliefs along with their hair color and other traits inherited from their parents.
There is a crisis of religion in the United States in large part because we now consider rebellion against our parents as "normal," which now seems to mean the rejection of all values, including religious values, which were taught by our parents. This leaves most people so empty spiritually that they fill themselves up with whatever "pop culture" religion happens to be going around at the time their particular spiritual vacuum comes to the fore of their lives. This is all basically belief by default, as opposed to belief based on any rational choice.
Anyone who approaches a choice of religion on a basis of rationality MUST choose the Agnostic Church. This is true because the Agnostic Church is the ONLY church that has a rational basis to its belief system. To be a Roman Catholic you must believe in the 2865 teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,90 and then you must practice that belief system every day. To be an agnostic, you only need to believe that 1) you do not really know the true nature of God (who might even be totally mythical); but 2) 50 centuries of human history have provided us with enough experience so that we can accept a few fundamental moral teachings91 as correct by definition (dogma), and from those few teachings, derive a set of principles and rules for living that are arguably correct for guiding all of us while we all seek truth. The agnostic religion is clearly the belief system to which anyone can personally relate, and thus everyone should follow the teachings that are contained herein.
76 I use the term "atheist" herein in its original sense: an affirmative belief that no gods exist. The activities of some revisionist atheists have, in recent years, redefined "atheist" to include anybody who merely lacks a belief in any god. This allows them to make assertions about babies being "born atheists" and similar such nonsense. Most abhorrently, this revisionist definition of atheism allows atheists to claim that agnostics are all so-called "weak atheists" who are, for some reason (i.e., Madalyn Murray-O'Hair's assertions that agnostics are "cowards" or that they are "closet theists"), simply refusing to call themselves "atheists." The true reasons behind these polemical accusations lie in the need for American Atheists, Inc. to gain both revenue (dues, etc.) and political power (i.e., demonstrable membership numbers). Agnostics reject this crass word game!
77 If you press an atheist for explanations of the foundations of the atheist beliefs, it will not result in any positive revelation. The foundations of those beliefs will usually turn out to be that the alleged atheist has looked at one or more of the existing "great" religions and rejected the tenants of that religion (or even all of those religions) examined by the atheist. Alternatively, the atheist may spout out some theme and variation of a scientific argument, generally involving "Big Bang" cosmology, and an assertion that science yields no reason to believe in any god or gods. Well, this is almost exactly what Huxley defined agnosticism to be!
78 Of course, that evidence would appear to be the apparent violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics by the ongoing process of creation in our Universe, coupled with the usual theist argument that: "the existence of a watch implies the existence of a watchmaker." Of course, this latter argument points out exactly why everyone should be an agnostic. While the existence of a watch may well imply the existence of a watchmaker, the existence of a watch says absolutely nothing about the nature of the watchmaker! From this argument, you cannot infer that the maker of the watch is natural or supernatural; nor can you infer that any of the other mumbo-jumbo of any modern religion might be true.
79 Deep inside, an atheist wants to believe in something, so if you offer a professed atheist a set of religious beliefs which make sense (the beliefs require no "faith" or "suspension of disbelief" for them to hold together as a concept), then the atheist should be an easy conversion to agnosticism.
80 No man with a closed mind will open it for a new idea. The closed mind is too comfortable to live with, and the new idea is far too upsetting for it to merit consideration.
81 For example, the Jews arbitrarily decided to stop having prophets create new books for the Jewish bible sometime not long before the birth of Jesus Christ. Why? Because the bible was getting too big to easily copy it or read it. So, what about Jewish prophets of the last 2000 years? Well, there basically haven't been any. . . .
82 This is the "watch implies watchmaker" argument referred to in footnote 78, above. As noted there, this is really an argument for agnosticism because the existence of a watch says nothing about the nature of the watchmaker.
83 See footnotes 78 and 82, above.
84 It is a great fallacy to conceive of the Creator as a "person," and yet each of the three great Western religions do so! The Universe is so complex, is it not more likely to have been "created" by a group as opposed to an individual? I tend to think of the "creator" as a very large bureaucracy, somewhat like our N. A. S. A. I think that is at least more honest.
85 We have absolutely nothing solid to go on. All that exists is pure speculation, hardened through repetition down through an oral tradition, and eventually committed to a permanent transcription. My favorite speculation is that our universe is a science fair experiment for some child-like super being (God). That thought at least conveys a proper sense of humility as to how little we truly know about the true nature of God.
86 For example, Martin Luther (Protestantism), Mohammed (Islam), Jesus Christ (Christianity), Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha (Buddhism), Moses (Judaism), and numerous Hindu deities (Hinduism). Each (or most) of the Hindu deities apparently has some foundation as a historical person, as do many (if not all) of the Buddhist deities and Jesus Christ himself.
87 If you buy the Jewish position, the Jews are the chosen people of God, and nobody else can possibly receive a valid spiritual gift from God. If you buy the Islamic position, then Mohammed is the one true prophet who brought the children of God back to the one true path to salvation. If you buy the Christian position, then Jesus Christ provides the only path to salvation, and nobody who does not believe in Jesus will be saved when the judgment day arrives. If you buy the Buddhist position, then individuals will continue to be re-born time and time again, until they each achieve their own personal enlightenment and reach salvation by discarding pleasure and pain, happiness and sorrow, and by discarding all emotions, feelings, and other attributes of life, the individual will finally achieve an end to life. The Hindu paths to salvation are many, according to which Hindu God is being worshipped by the individual, but the fundamental idea is similar to Buddhism, where an individual is born time and time again until the individual achieves a personal enlightenment which breaks the cycle of re-birth.
88 As Will Durant wrote in his Mansions of Philosophy (1929), Religion (which is based on faith) is the "Great Enemy" of Philosophy (which is based on reason). The Agnostic religion is the first religion to be also based solely on reason, not at all on faith, and is thus the first Religion which can be made to be totally compatible with Philosophy.
89 In his Decline of the West (1926), Oswald Spengler attributes the death of the Culture of a people and the birth of the corresponding Civilization to the destruction of Faith by Intellect.
90 Copyright 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.
91 Virtually all the moral teachings are based on the concept of Utility as expressed by John Stuart Mill. That concept, however, is a distillation of 50 centuries of wisdom.
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