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Discussion 1 to Meditation 962
Happy on the fence

by: Jenn Lenahan

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I agree with John. There seems to be this notion in society that agnosticism is a lazy position to take, or at least an intellectually safe one. This criticism seems based on the assumption that some type of leap of faith or intellect - some commitment - is required to engage with the very concept of god, a higher power, etc. It is is if the stakes are too high NOT to state a definite position.

Yet, in many other areas of life, those with lower stakes, agnosticism is perfectly acceptable. People of strong religious or atheistic conviction admit the limits of their knowledge in mundane matters. Scientists are professional agnostics with regard to the physical world.

It seems ironic, then, that when it comes to something that we have no tools to measure, no uniform capacity to explain or comprehend (as john points out, there is little agreement on the concept of god even among believers. Contrast that to, say, the concept of gravity, which enjoys near universal agreement), people routinely insist that belief or non-belief is required. The tools of logic are seen as "not applicable" to matters of faith by the believers, which at least explains their position on both agnostics and atheists. The atheist's disdain for both the believers and the agnostics is harder to understand since their own position is touted as logic-based. But even if there were as much evidence against the existence of god as there is FOR the existence of gravity or evolution, it still only brings one as far as a strong theory. Atheism, however, implies a more certain belief than the types of working assumptions that science and logic would lead us to apply t! o the same set of facts. Atheists and believers alike share a willingness to commit, some more irrationally than others, to a set of beliefs. Agnostics lack the willingness to make those leaps, not out of weakness, but perhaps out of a desire to consistently apply the rules of logic and scientific inquiry to all areas of living, including the contemplation of god or some higher power.