Sunday, 23 March 2008

Soft Play

If there's one thing I'm certain of, then it's that people who are certain about things unnerve me. Those that would purport to grasp the absolutes of good / evil, beauty / dissonance or right / wrong are, in my view, quite tiresome and in some cases profoundly dangerous.

To put it more simply - they get on my tits.

Which begs the question - why do I describe myself as Atheist - that absolute position of godlessness, rather than agnostic?

Well, I'm agnostic of gods in the same way I'm agnostic of triangles with four angles. I'm also agnostic that the sun may not rise tomorrow morning. Considering the evidence however, I don't think they're eventualities worth preparing our children for.

God may very well come down to earth in his fiery chariot, beard all tangled by the wind and smite the faithless with his thunderbolts.

If he does, I plan on saying "Well, bugger me" just before getting zapped.

So technically you could call me Agnostic. But for all intents and purposes, my position is indistinguishable from Atheism.

Also if I'm honest, I don't like the term Agnostic. It's a soft bellied, limp excuse for a word and one that I'd rather not be labelled with.

Agnosticism is a continuum, not a position, as it can imply someone ready to take Pascal's Wager and believe in God, through to someone like me - pretty much the Atheist. This is why religious people find the word 'Agnostic' so much more palatable I think, as 'Atheist' has so many angles that it's difficult to swallow. Whereas Agnostic slips down just nice.

So, amongst friends I may call myself agnostic, but in public I'll remain atheist. I'd rather people understood my position than be cushioned from it by a soft, cuddly word.


stuart said...

oh bloody hell, a meaningful post again...

you are, as I am, a Dawkins #6

I have said before in response to a comment by Wandering Weeta (I think, apologies if it someone else), that nearly all Atheists are to some small extent agnostic, in that it would be foolish to (dis)believe something 100% without absolute proof.

There is no absolute proof that god does not exist - yet, so..

"I think god is very improbable, and i live my life on the assumption that he is not there."

is the sanest view on life, in my humble opinion.

stuart said...

to add a bit of original thought to the comment above,

agnostism is not knowing whether you believe in god or not, owing to a lack of evidence either way, as you rightly said, "soft bellied and limp".

So i would prefer to say that I am an Athiest (I do not believe there is a god), but i accept that there is a tiny possibility that i may be wrong...very tiny..miniscule in fact.

Christy Lenzi said...

Hmmm....sounds like something that came up recently on my blog. I feel the same way, but sometimes I do soften the blow and use "agnostic," especially when I don't want to be bothered with people pestering me.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm gonna hafta go with soft bellied and limp myself. Because I am a woman (mostly on my own when it comes to the kids and interfacing with the rest of their world i.e. school, sports, clubs, friend's parties, ect.) and I'd rather not go through the torturous whispering gossip that would go on behind my back if I were to be truthful and say I don't believe in a god. I would be marked an outrageous heretic and I won't put my kids through the misery for my personal beliefs. It's a shame, it really is. If I were a man, I bet I wouldn't get the same response. So I'll go on saying I'm agnostic and let the village idiots think I'm an orthodox Greek. :p

jamon said...

Metalkpretty - I hadn't thought about how being godless is stigmatised in the US - so can se why both you & Christy might opt for Agnostic.

It's a non-issue really in Europe, given that the majority are secular.

Some things just aren't worth the hassle eh?

jamon said...

...and anyway - given the amount of crap I've eaten this Easter, I'm pretty soft bellied and limp meself ;)

stuart said...

strange how the US has a "secular constitution" and really religion should play no part in it's politics, yet the religious nuts seem to manage to muster up so much power. I blame the Irish. Peasants.

Zoe said...

"Soft bellied and limp!?!?" Wait a minute. There's nothing soft bellied and limp about Menopausal Agnostics! Err, well, now that you mention it, my belly is rather soft, *blush* and for that matter a tad limp. *sigh* Okay then, I'm soft bellied and limp. What's wrong with that? :-P

Anonymous said...

No worries Jamon, America is chocked full of stigma. One only has to choose a topic and Americans can pretty much ruin any useful information with their dogma, sexual hang ups, pettiness or closeted phobias.

~Me Talk Pretty
(seems to be a problem posting?)

stuart said...

God is not a kettle...

In my kitchen there is a kettle, this I believe and will very shortly live my life accordingly to this belief, I am going to go downstairs, straight to the kitchen, put the kettle on and have a cup of tea, I am not going to stop by the living room and look for the kettle behind the TV first.

Now then, I could be wrong, you see I haven't actually been downstairs today, I have got out of bed, been to the bathroom and then straight into another bedroom to sit here and type this rambling idea that has been romping about my mind since I woke up this morning. The Kettle may well be behind the TV (I have a wife, they do unpredictable things and she has been to the kitchen already this morning). Or some thieving jobby might have crept into the kitchen and stolen the Kettle. Yet I still am not going to look behind the TV, and I am not going to phone the police and complain that my Kettle has been stolen.

Why.. because the evidence available to me strongly suggests that there is a kettle in my kitchen at this moment in time. I am not agnostic about this, it is what i believe, but I could be wrong.

God is not a kettle, god is not in my kitchen

stuart said...

i'm on a roll now..

expand my kitchen to fill the universe, the universe contains a kettle, but not god.

OK so not everything exists in my kitchen but everything that exists exists somewhere, so..

take a church, expand it to fill the universe, now the universe contains a vicar (or whatever flavour of religous preacher you prefer) and several believers in god, but no actual god, (I have been inside churches on several occasions, I have not seen any evidence that god lived in any of them).

i could go on, but the kettle's just boiled. (If god fetches me a cup of tea, then i'll believe in him!)

jamon said...

Woah there Stu boy! I distinctly remember some burning bush in your kitchen a while ago.

Speaking of which - that was some lateral comment.


jamon said...

Zoe - nowt wrong with that at all ;)

Christy Lenzi said...

I don't care so much what people think of me when I use the word atheist, but to admit I am one when customers quiz me at work (I work in a Christian bookstore) can lead to a lot of fevered attempts at witnessing or even harassment from customers. So now, when pressed into such conversations (which arise frequently) I use the word agnostic unless the person seems more open-minded.) My co-workers have been cool so far as they've found out, but I think they are still kind of stunned.

jamon said...

It really is quite something that an atheist / agnostic can work in an American Christian book store.

You have my admiration!

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