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Agnosticism is a sham

dylancatlow
Posts: 12,251
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3/9/2013 9:58:16 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
There is a widespread approach to ideas which Objectivism repudiates altogether: agnosticism. I mean this term in a sense which applies to the question of God, but to many other issues also, such as extra-sensory perception or the claim that the stars influence man"s destiny. In regard to all such claims, the agnostic is the type who says, "I can"t prove these claims are true, but you can"t prove they are false, so the only proper conclusion is: I don"t know; no one knows; no one can know one way or the other."

The agnostic viewpoint poses as fair, impartial, and balanced. See how many fallacies you can find in it. Here are a few obvious ones: First, the agnostic allows the arbitrary into the realm of human cognition. He treats arbitrary claims as ideas proper to consider, discuss, evaluate"and then he regretfully says, "I don"t know," instead of dismissing the arbitrary out of hand. Second, the onus-of-proof issue: the agnostic demands proof of a negative in a context where there is no evidence for the positive. "It"s up to you," he says, "to prove that the fourth moon of Jupiter did not cause your sex life and that it was not a result of your previous incarnation as the Pharaoh of Egypt." Third, the agnostic says, "Maybe these things will one day be proved." In other words, he asserts possibilities or hypotheses with no jot of evidential basis.

The agnostic miscalculates. He thinks he is avoiding any position that will antagonize anybody. In fact, he is taking a position which is much more irrational than that of a man who takes a definite but mistaken stand on a given issue, because the agnostic treats arbitrary claims as meriting cognitive consideration and epistemological respect. He treats the arbitrary as on a par with the rational and evidentially supported. So he is the ultimate epistemological egalitarian: he equates the groundless and the proved. As such, he is an epistemological destroyer. The agnostic thinks that he is not taking any stand at all and therefore that he is safe, secure, invulnerable to attack. The fact is that his view is one of the falsest"and most cowardly"stands there can be.

- Ayn Rand
logicrules
Posts: 1,721
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3/9/2013 10:00:51 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 9:58:16 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
There is a widespread approach to ideas which Objectivism repudiates altogether: agnosticism. I mean this term in a sense which applies to the question of God, but to many other issues also, such as extra-sensory perception or the claim that the stars influence man"s destiny. In regard to all such claims, the agnostic is the type who says, "I can"t prove these claims are true, but you can"t prove they are false, so the only proper conclusion is: I don"t know; no one knows; no one can know one way or the other."

The agnostic viewpoint poses as fair, impartial, and balanced. See how many fallacies you can find in it. Here are a few obvious ones: First, the agnostic allows the arbitrary into the realm of human cognition. He treats arbitrary claims as ideas proper to consider, discuss, evaluate"and then he regretfully says, "I don"t know," instead of dismissing the arbitrary out of hand. Second, the onus-of-proof issue: the agnostic demands proof of a negative in a context where there is no evidence for the positive. "It"s up to you," he says, "to prove that the fourth moon of Jupiter did not cause your sex life and that it was not a result of your previous incarnation as the Pharaoh of Egypt." Third, the agnostic says, "Maybe these things will one day be proved." In other words, he asserts possibilities or hypotheses with no jot of evidential basis.

The agnostic miscalculates. He thinks he is avoiding any position that will antagonize anybody. In fact, he is taking a position which is much more irrational than that of a man who takes a definite but mistaken stand on a given issue, because the agnostic treats arbitrary claims as meriting cognitive consideration and epistemological respect. He treats the arbitrary as on a par with the rational and evidentially supported. So he is the ultimate epistemological egalitarian: he equates the groundless and the proved. As such, he is an epistemological destroyer. The agnostic thinks that he is not taking any stand at all and therefore that he is safe, secure, invulnerable to attack. The fact is that his view is one of the falsest"and most cowardly"stands there can be.

- Ayn Rand

Is a deist agnostic?
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,251
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3/9/2013 10:01:26 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 10:00:51 AM, logicrules wrote:
At 3/9/2013 9:58:16 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
There is a widespread approach to ideas which Objectivism repudiates altogether: agnosticism. I mean this term in a sense which applies to the question of God, but to many other issues also, such as extra-sensory perception or the claim that the stars influence man"s destiny. In regard to all such claims, the agnostic is the type who says, "I can"t prove these claims are true, but you can"t prove they are false, so the only proper conclusion is: I don"t know; no one knows; no one can know one way or the other."

The agnostic viewpoint poses as fair, impartial, and balanced. See how many fallacies you can find in it. Here are a few obvious ones: First, the agnostic allows the arbitrary into the realm of human cognition. He treats arbitrary claims as ideas proper to consider, discuss, evaluate"and then he regretfully says, "I don"t know," instead of dismissing the arbitrary out of hand. Second, the onus-of-proof issue: the agnostic demands proof of a negative in a context where there is no evidence for the positive. "It"s up to you," he says, "to prove that the fourth moon of Jupiter did not cause your sex life and that it was not a result of your previous incarnation as the Pharaoh of Egypt." Third, the agnostic says, "Maybe these things will one day be proved." In other words, he asserts possibilities or hypotheses with no jot of evidential basis.

The agnostic miscalculates. He thinks he is avoiding any position that will antagonize anybody. In fact, he is taking a position which is much more irrational than that of a man who takes a definite but mistaken stand on a given issue, because the agnostic treats arbitrary claims as meriting cognitive consideration and epistemological respect. He treats the arbitrary as on a par with the rational and evidentially supported. So he is the ultimate epistemological egalitarian: he equates the groundless and the proved. As such, he is an epistemological destroyer. The agnostic thinks that he is not taking any stand at all and therefore that he is safe, secure, invulnerable to attack. The fact is that his view is one of the falsest"and most cowardly"stands there can be.

- Ayn Rand

Is a deist agnostic?

No.
phantom
Posts: 6,774
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3/9/2013 10:13:46 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
The agnostic (in the theistic sense) doesn't just say neither side can prove/or disprove God. Most of them would say something along the lines that the reasons for believing in God and the reasons for not believing in God are not in any way better than the others. Thus there's no reason to believe in one over the other. This isn't saying atheists should disprove a negative.
"Music is a zen-like ecstatic state where you become the new man of the future, the Nietzschean merger of Apollo and Dionysus." Ray Manzarek (The Doors)
Dan4reason
Posts: 1,168
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3/9/2013 10:25:26 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 9:58:16 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
There is a widespread approach to ideas which Objectivism repudiates altogether: agnosticism. I mean this term in a sense which applies to the question of God, but to many other issues also, such as extra-sensory perception or the claim that the stars influence man"s destiny. In regard to all such claims, the agnostic is the type who says, "I can"t prove these claims are true, but you can"t prove they are false, so the only proper conclusion is: I don"t know; no one knows; no one can know one way or the other."

That sounds about right.

The agnostic viewpoint poses as fair, impartial, and balanced. See how many fallacies you can find in it. Here are a few obvious ones: First, the agnostic allows the arbitrary into the realm of human cognition. He treats arbitrary claims as ideas proper to consider, discuss, evaluate"and then he regretfully says, "I don"t know," instead of dismissing the arbitrary out of hand.

Just because something is arbitrary doesn't mean it is false. When you dismiss something you at least need to be sure it is false.

Second, the onus-of-proof issue: the agnostic demands proof of a negative in a context where there is no evidence for the positive. "It"s up to you," he says, "to prove that the fourth moon of Jupiter did not cause your sex life and that it was not a result of your previous incarnation as the Pharaoh of Egypt."

An agnostic believes that we need proof for both a negative and a positive. In fact any claim whether negative or positive requires evidence.

Third, the agnostic says, "Maybe these things will one day be proved." In other words, he asserts possibilities or hypotheses with no jot of evidential basis.

If we took the set of all claims that have not been proven and disproven, we know that a few of them are true. We know this because past claims like this have been eventually shown to be true. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with claiming that one day an unproven claim might be shown to be true.

The agnostic miscalculates. He thinks he is avoiding any position that will antagonize anybody. In fact, he is taking a position which is much more irrational than that of a man who takes a definite but mistaken stand on a given issue, because the agnostic treats arbitrary claims as meriting cognitive consideration and epistemological respect.

When I say I don't know if something is true, I are not respecting it or considering it. I are simply claiming my lack of a claim that it is true or false.

He treats the arbitrary as on a par with the rational and evidentially supported. So he is the ultimate epistemological egalitarian: he equates the groundless and the proved. As such, he is an epistemological destroyer.

That is completely false. I don't know either way whether God exists or not, so since there is no evidence for this claim I am not going to factor the idea of God's existence into my life choices. I do believe that my mother exists so I will factor her existence into my life choices. I do treat unknown claims and true claims differently.

The agnostic thinks that he is not taking any stand at all and therefore that he is safe, secure, invulnerable to attack. The fact is that his view is one of the falsest"and most cowardly"stands there can be.

- Ayn Rand

The agnostic believes that agnosticism is an inconvenient position. However if there is no way of saying whether a claim is true or false, then that position is a necessary evil.
likespeace
Posts: 57
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3/9/2013 11:20:16 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 3/9/2013 9:58:16 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
There is a widespread approach to ideas which Objectivism repudiates altogether:

Ayn Rand uses different words to say the same things normal people say--

If an average scientist were to say "Wormholes don't exist", they would mean they have evidence they don't exist. If they said, "I don't know", they would mean they do not have compelling evidence for either position. But when Ayn Rand says "Wormholes don't exist", she means either she has no compelling evidence for their existance OR compelling evidence they don't exist.

Adopting unusual terminology may align with your/her deisre to create controversy, but it's not a substantive difference. All she's actully accomplished here is to redefine common terms to grab attention and create confusion.

"In regard to all such claims, the agnostic is the type who says, "I can"t prove
these claims are true, but you can"t prove they are false, so the only proper
conclusion is: I don"t know; no one knows; no one can know one way or the
other."

False. "In all such claims"? An agnostic may consider many things demonstrated and/or demonstratable.

The agnostic viewpoint poses as fair, impartial, and balanced. See how many
fallacies you can find in it.

Yes, let's consider these supposed logical fallacies in "In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable."

First, the agnostic allows the arbitrary into the realm of human cognition.

False. If there's no evidence, an agnostic has nothing to cogitate on. If there's evidence, and the outcome matters, both the agnostic and Objectivist should be weighing it!

and then he regretfully says, "I don"t know," instead of dismissing the arbitrary

What is regretful about asserting, "I don't know!" Socrates, one of the great thinkers of the world, had no problem admitting this. This week, I was introduced as THE expert in my field. While I provided my audience with many insights, I was quick to acknowledge the boundaries of my knowledge.

out of hand. Second, the onus-of-proof issue: the agnostic demands proof of a

Yes, that is the core of it! An agnostic demands proof for any claim.

"It"s up to you," he says, "to prove that the fourth moon of Jupiter did not cause
your sex life"

If you asserted, "The full moon affects our sex lives", I'd ask for evidence. If you asserted "The full moon doesn't affect our sex lives", I'd ask for evidence. I place the burden of proof upon the person making the claim.

Third, the agnostic says, "Maybe these things will one day be proved."

False. Again, the core of agnosticism is not pretending a thing is certain when it has not been demonstrated OR demonstratable. Clearly, if an agnostic believes a thing is not demonstratable, they would not say the above. So while it's possible an agnostic may say this, the claim does not follow from Agnosticism per se.

In other words, he asserts possibilities or hypotheses with no jot of evidential basis.

This is another difference in terminology rather than meaning, which creates controvery and confusion. If asked about the current existence of ETs on Mars, I would says it's possible but implausible, whereas Rand would say it's impossible.

The agnostic miscalculates.

Unsupported assertion not worth a moment of cognitive power. ;)

He thinks he is avoiding any position that will antagonize anybody.

I'm standing up for my position, while avoiding termilogy that unnecessarily causes confusion and controversy.

> In fact, he is taking a position which is much more irrational

Unsupported assertion not worth a moment of cognitive power. ;)

>. because the agnostic treats arbitrary claims as meriting cognitive consideration

Again, false. If there's no evidence, there's nothing for an agnostic to consider.

> The fact is that his view is one of the falsest"and most cowardly"

Creating controversy is a good way to sell books!

> -- Ayn Rand

There is much in Ayn Rand's philosophy to commend. From scratch, her philosophy constructs a complete system of ethics absent of God. Tara Smith's "The Virtuous Egoist" explains, for example, why Honesty and Justice are in one's best interest. :)