Sunday, May 22, 2011

Agnostics: Carriers of the recessive God Virus gene

The following is an extract from one of thousands of emails I received during the May 21 rapture fiasco.

“Question, am I a candidate for pet rescuer being that I'm not atheist I'm an Orthodox Agnostic? Let me know.”

I don’t have anything against those calling themselves agnostic. I just don’t get this “I’m an agnostic, not an atheist” horse puckey.

Oh, I understand the definition of agnostic alright,”... the essential nature of (God) is unknown and unknowable,” therefore they won’t just say “I don’t have belief in God/gods,” they demur and say “it’s unknowable.”

Bull spigots!

Are they similarly "agnostic" about leprechauns, faeries, Bigfoot, zombies, vampires, gnomes, trolls, or any of the myriad fictional characters invented by man since the beginning of time? After all, the essential nature of them is unknown and unknowable. They can neither be proven nor disproven. Neither can Russell’s fictional teapot that floats in orbit somewhere, full of steaming Earl Grey tea. Agnostic about interstellar porcelain tableware?

The problem with agnosticism is that it places more credibility in the possibility of god/gods than it does on those other fictional characters. That’s why they are more likely to reject the other fictions out of hand. The only reason agnostics do so, and allow the agnostic position to survive, is directly attributable to the impact that the God Virus has had on civilization for thousands of years. Agnostics carry a recessive religion meme Vs the religionists’ dominant propensity toward belief. Atheists seem to have been born without that receptor, or if they were once theist, have learned to suppress and overcome it.

My educated guess is that had a book about the existence of wish granting, psychopathically inclined, vengeful Pixie been written 3,500 years ago, and updated 1700 years ago as a sequel, people would claim agnosticism about Pixies too.

Something worth thinking about.


Anonymous said...

Thank You...

Anonymous said...

I'm agnostic when it comes to agnostics. I don't think they can really exist. If they do exist, they're clearly weak-minded.

Dromedary Hump said...

gristle.. I wouldn't go that far. I do find some of them elitist, as though they are above atheism because they see agnosticism as on some higher plane of reasoning.
It's an affectation.

NewEnglandBob said...

For them it is unknowable due to either their low intelligence or low imagination or low creativity. It is yet another instance of the argument of ignorance.

Seb said...

I don't agree with you, or Dawkins, on this point because I think you're taking aim at the wrong target. There may, or may not have been, something that created the universe. I am not talking about a man sitting on a cloud with a big flowing beard but some power, force or whatever. It doesn't actually matter because the existence or not of this "Deity" is irrelevant.
We KNOW the following, because we can see or measure it; Our universe is at least 15 billion years old. This rock we live on, one among nine that orbit a not particularily significant star in a universe of almost countless stars, is at least 4.5 billion years old. there has been life on earth for some 3.8 billion years. Dinosaurs ruled the planet for some 165 million years. Ants have been here longer.
Modern Humans have been here for about 200,000 years. In the last 350 years we had the industrial revolution and since then we've really ramped up the destruction of the only place we're likely to call home.
The idea that IF (and again big IF because I really don't care either way) there was some force that created the universe and put the laws of Physics in place, IF this mysterious power existed, that it would really be bothered, or even notice our existence is nonsense. Praying to this thing makes as much sense as the bacteria in my phlegm after I sneeze praying to me as their "creator". Taking that further and trying to impose rules on their fellow bacteria based on rules that I apparently communicated to one of them when he was smoking the equivalent of bacteria ganja is where the real problem begins.
Stop trying to argue whether or not God exists , as we are never going to persuade the weak minded. Go for their religeons instead. The religeous zealots are generally the ones that understand their religeons the least. the ones that don't understand that being Abrahamic faiths both Jews and Muslims worship the same god. That Jesus was a Jew and never claimed to be anything else. That despite Jesus not being white racist organisations always claim to be doing God's will. That the new testament was written at least 50 years after the death of christ and that at least 2 of the authors had never met christ. 1 of whom failed to mention the resurrection entirely whilst the others contradict each other to the extent it's doubtful that the man resurrected ever died on the cross in the first place. Point out that their precious book is a translation of a translation of a translation.
Then bring up all the times in history when their church acted in exactly the opposite manner in which their founder teached.
I could go on all day, but I really should do some work.

Dromedary Hump said...

I agree on much of what you say.

But, here's the point which I think is the focal point of my article:
If an agnostic had never been indoctrinated, never been exposed, never taught about supernaturalism of any type he'd never even remotely attribute the universe to some creator/living god thingie. Your frame of reference would be only the natural world/universe.

Agnosticism is simply a by product, a remnant of man's religious history.

And i'm not arguing the existence of god, I agree it's useless with the proufoundly religious... I reject it.

Seb said...

If what you say was true then there would never have been any religeons. Instead every single culture in the world has come up with a version of the creator mythology. Humans seem to have had some need for their existence to have had meaning, if only to justify the things they do to their environment and each other. Some of these religeons were rational. Sun worship for example, at a time when man believed that the earth was the centre of creation made sense because all life appeared to come from this warm bright thing in the sky. However, the discovery that the earth was not flat, and instead of the sun going around the earth the opposite was the case should have meant the end of all religeons. You can't put it all down to indoctrination. How would you explain the born again and their ilk.
I'm digressing. My main point was that I have no problem with agnostics, or even people who veer towards believing in a creator, spaghetti monster or aliens building the pyramids. I have an issue when these people get together and form a religeon, thgen try and spread their beliefs and convert others. I have a problem when they try and use their own beliefs to try and dictate how I should live my life. I have a problem with when they preach that contraceptives are against gods will, so better to have that unwanted child with someone you don't really know or even like that much, ruining 3 lives in the process. I have a problem when they dictate that my gay friend's love is inferior to that I have for my wife and so they should be forbidden from marrying. I have a problem when the pope preaches that not only are condoms against god's will but that contrary to all scientific evidence they don't really prevent you getting Aids. I have a problem when people fly buildings into planes, or carry out machine and grenade attacks in Mumbai. I have a problem when people use their faith as a reason for taking pride in their ignorance......

Sorry, I'm ranting. It's just despite the best efforts of people like Hitchens, Dawkins and yourself, you are never going to persuade the believers that there is no God so you are wasting your energy trying. It's a better idea to go for the real problem, what men do with that belief

Anonymous said...

Agnostics are individuals who will not take a stand on the existence of god. I started out as an agnostic. But as I educated myself on philosophy, I realized it was a cowardly way of denying and not denying god. It was almost like a safety hatch. I have to agree with Dromedary Hump. Agnosticism is due to those educated in mysticism.

Bookish Babe

Dromedary Hump said...

Seb...well..we're in 100% agreement. But we've drifted from agnoticism a little.

BTW..i rarely proselytize to efforts/my books are toward strengthening atheist arguments, and getting them to be activists agaist exactly the kind of creeping injustice fanatical relgious belief inspires. If a fence sitting beliver is pushed into the "dark side" (atheism) along the way.. then thats good too.

Bookish Babe... Thanks for that.

mcygnet said...

I've got to side with Hump over Seb on this. It's not a waste of time to point out religion's illogic and inconsitencies, nor to urge agnostics to clarify their thinking.

I was once a serious, believing Baptist who thought Christianity was not just a matter of faith, but of logic. When I realized the arguments offered in defense of Christianity were weak, I studied further in hopes of developing stronger arguments. Eventually, I admitted the other side had the better argument and became an atheist.

"Eventually," in my case, occurred over a course of years, not overnight. Changing one's mind about one's religious beliefs is huge because religion becomes part of one's identity. One doesn't lightly disavow beliefs that all one's friends and family still hold.

My point is, it may seem like a waste of time if your 20-minute rebuttal of some aspect of religion doesn't immediately cause a religious person to jettison their whole worldview. It's the steady accumulation of evidence over time that forces one "eventually" to reconsider one's views.

I spent quite a while on the agnostic fence until I realized the logic of the position Hump is offering here. Thanks to him, somebody else might made that same transition.

Dromedary Hump said...

myc... thanks for that.

Ben said...

It is NOT true that every culture has believed in a Creator. The Hazda of Tanzania have been around for 10,000 years and to this day do not have any beliefs in the supernatural, no religion and no spirituality. They are not alone.

Dromedary Hump said...

Ben..not sure how that enters into this, but I believe you are ,mistaken re the Hadza.

Refer to-
"Something to Live for: Finding Your Way in the Second Half of Life" By Richard J. Leider, David A. Shapiro. Specifically page 199.

Also The Great Remebering, by Craig Neal.

Finally, Wiki identifies the mythical supernatural beings the Hadzaa recongize and their influence on creation.

Dromedary Hump said...

of course, this could be a matter of interpretation: one man's mythical being who manipulates the world may be perceived as a god, and perhaps not perceived so by another.

But the issue of their having no supersition is negated by these supernatural beings.

Seb said...

Actually you're agreeing with me. Religeon is the enemy, not "God". Agnostics don't follow the former while having an open mind as to the latter.

I found your site through eternal earth bound pets, which made me laugh out loud. I would love to set up a European version but it's my impression that our crazies are of a different type to yours and don't really go in for the rapture.
You're right in that I'm probably wasting my time in preaching to the converted, I should be on the 700 Club site, but at the very beginning of the God Delusion dawkins dismisses deists out of hand which somewhat pissed me off and you touched the same nerve going after agnostics. Agnostics by definition don't follow a religeon and therefore don't go around telling others how to live their lives.

Seb said...

and re-reading my previous post/rant, The religeous are so far capable of many things, but flying buildings into planes isn't one of them, maybe one day......

Bobby said...

"I do find some of them elitist"

I don't mean to sound cruel, but OMG (take that as an expression,not a literal belief). While I can barely stand my fundamentalist colleagues, I can stand my atheist colleagues even less - for the reason stated above. They are almost unbelievably elitist. Just read through the comments on your blog - start with this page!
"due to either their low intelligence or low imagination or low creativity"
"the weak minded"

My atheist friends tell me all the time how I am obviously not bright since I am sort of a theisty agnostic. Since it is strictly a rational argument I remind them that my IQ was tested by a psychometrist and is 178. Presumably theirs are lower, but they don't know for sure. (By the way I don't think I am smart, I just have a knack for IQ-test kind of puzzles. My Dad is a farmer who is terrible at them, but he is a wiser, smarter man than I am)

I googled a definition for elitism: "The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources." That fits my atheist colleagues pretty well, at least the "perceived superiority, as in intellect".

One other point - most agnostics I know hold that belief because they really don't the answer. Most people fit in that category I think. Calling them 'fence sitters' and asking them to commit is no more intellectually honest than Pascal's wager.

griloco said...

Me? I went through agnosticism. And atheism. After I had been through all the religions. Catholic, Hindu, Buddha. Lutheran, Zoroastrianism. I tried 'em all. I settled on Pascalism. Much easier. I took a 2 x 3.5 card and wrote, "Dear Deity, I been with you along along cuz you are so cool. Looking forward to hanging with you for eternity. Yours always, Gri."

I put it in my wallet. When I die I'll pull out my get into heaven free card and I'm in like Flynn.

Now my Sabbaths are free, there is no tithing, and I'm free to behave lewdly and lasciviously without fear of reprisal (that eternal damnation thing).

Pascalism-- the set-it-and-forget-it religion that doesn't require religiosity. I highly recommend it. (Personalized letter-of-introduction cards available in Latin and Greek for a nominal fee)

Dromedary Hump said...

30+ studies from the 1930-1980s, and other more resent ones almost unanimously show the aggregate intellectual level of theists is lower, and less educated. This is therefore, isn't elitist, its a statement of scientifically supportable fact. I wrote about this in my book.

I don't accept that by making statements supported by scientifc evidence that it qualifies me, or any atheist citing said facts, as being elitist. It is simply making objective statements.

Sure, atheists can be pains in the ass. But look..this "we cannot know anything" essoteric crappola embraced and sespoused by agnostics is simply reflective of their religious upbringing. They are the link between believers and atheists in the evolutionary demise of religious superstition.

If they say that they don't believe I have communicated with angels, spent a week in paradise, and hobnobbed with jesus last week... but can't outright dismiss it because "we cannot know"... it is simple avoidance of definitive reality in favor of some bullshit attempt to establish themsleves less absolutist/more open to the possibility of the absurd than anyone.

Fact is, the more I think about it, the more annoying it becomes. ;)

I don't understand your pascal's wager reference. I'm not suggesting they embrace something mythical / or reject it to be on the safe side or cover their bets.

I'm saying if you can't be agnostic about everything in the universe, from boogie men, to faeires..then your "we cannot know" bugaboo is simply bullshit by applying it only to a religious supernatural thingy.

Dromedary Hump said...

LOl. thanks.
Besure you have that card writtyen in Hindi and always have a bag of peanuts ... I have it on good info that supreme being is Ganesh.

I mean... I don't believe it personally...but "we can never truly know." :)

longhorn believer said...

Seb said "If what you say was true then there would never have been any religeons." So Seb's interpretation of what Hump is saying is that without agnostics there would have been no religion. Actually, what Hump is saying about agnosticism has no bearing whatever on whether or not there would have been religions. He's saying that agnostics would not exist if it were not for religion, not the inverse 

longhorn believer said...

I agree with Bobby on his elitist point. Studies showing that theists as a whole group (aggregate) have lower IQs represent one fact about a  group. To apply that one study to every individual in the group is prejudicial stereotyping. ALL theists are not dumb. And they are certainly not ALL less creative. To make broad based statements such as NEBob did here is inaccurate and unfair. It may be elitist too, but I'm not sure elitism is always a bad thing. The God Virus and social Darwinism give ample explanation for how intelligent, creative people can be religious. There's no need to use ad hominem arguments to explain away the boogy man: an intelligent, creative theist

Hump, your work may have been aimed at atheists and agnostics, but I wasn't sitting on the fence. Or maybe I was and didn't know it. Either way, you helped me plow right through the damn fence! Thank you!

NewEnglandBob said...

The more educated people are, the less likely they believe in any gods. The vast majority of prominent scientists are atheistic. Is it because they become educated and then lose their faith or is it because they use their intelligence and reason to decide both their atheism and their drive to become educated?

Dromedary Hump said...

Bob..I firmly believe that in the vast majority of cases it's the latter.
Deeply religious people rarely have the drive toward secular knowledge and advanced education.

Dromedary Hump said...

Whenever I mention those intelligence studies, I always say "on the aggregate" religionists are less intelligent.
Certainly many are brilliant people who can segment their religious delusion fro their religion-think. But the aggregate, the average lower intellect holds true.

Thanks, Long..if I was at all an influence on your perspective I am honored and proud to have been a part of it.

Bobby4 said...

DH - I have no issue with the validity of those studies, but that doesn't address my point. Essentially you are saying (tell me if I am putting words in your mouth/keyboard) 'Group A is less intelligent than group B on average, therefore it is not elitist of Group B to describe Group A in insulting terms'. Insulting meaning the types of phrases I quoted above, not suggesting that the group is less intelligent on average as you have done.
If the shoe was on the other foot and I said (presuming that my IQ is higher than yours) you are 'weak minded' you would not find that elitist or insulting? Could I not reply 'well, it is a simple fact?'
I think you took my point as being directed at you specifically, which it is not. It is directed generally at atheists - I find the majority of them are very elitist, and if you disagree they immediately become very insulting (very much like my evangelical colleagues).

Dromedary Hump said...

Making the statement that religionists are on the whole less intelligent than non-religionists isn't's a statement of scientifically proven fact.

I do not say that any religionist is less intelligent than any atheist I say that there are more religionist morons than there are atheist morons. There are religionist fellows of the Nat. Academyof science who are staunch religionsists...One in particular whose name escapes me was on the genome mapping project. He's a genius, albeit, badly infected with the God Virus

Agnostic's claim of having a higher sense of discrimination by assigning their form of "semi-non-belief-because we-really can't- know for SURE -thus you as an atheist-are an absolutist-thus you are not being as eruidite as am I" is pompous elitist asshatism. I say can that because they refuse to assign that same claim to all other man made invented creatures. (see my post above).

I take no pride in my simple non-belief. I am not "proud" that I am an atheist. I simply am/ it simply IS.

But those who espouse this "we can't possibly as an atheist you aren't as reasoned" is akin to placing onself on a higherplane by erroneously (and erroneous;y is the key word here) invoking a more reasoned and moderate approach toward creature fables.

THAT is by definition, what elitist means.

GatorApe said...

A little late to this one but I do feel compelled to chime in and throw my full support behind Hump on this one -- especially regarding the whole "elitist" nonsense. Whenever I engage someone with either the recessive or dominant God Virus gene, I can no sooner get the phrase "Well, let's look at what the scientific evidence . . ." out of my mouth before I am labelled an "Elitist!".

Once again, I find myself channeling Sam Harris here but I fail to understand why everyone desires, indeed demands, that an "elitist" (by their definition) operates on their child or pilots the plane they are riding in but recoil in horror when those same individuals apply the very same tools and education they possess to examine religious belief. That subject is simply off-limits and any attempts to bring logic and reason into the discussion represents 'a failure to respect my beliefs'. Nonsense - plain and simple.

For some reason, elitism is perfectly OK when it comes to just about every other aspect of life save for religion. This is nothing more than classic accommodationism and I for one salute you Hump for wholeheartedly rejecting it out of hand. I know I do!

Bobby4 said...

I think we are getting closer to a common understanding here, lol. I agree with the way you have phrased your position in your last post here. It certainly sounds a little more objective than labelling them 'weak minded' as commented above, and arguably might lead to a better debate with them.

"I do not say that any religionist is less intelligent than any atheist I say that there are more religionist morons than there are atheist morons." I vaguely recall that the term moron was used to denote some specific low IQ values, so this is quite likely true.

"Agnostic's claim of having a higher sense of discrimination..." I agree with this whole statement, such a claim does seem elitist and arrogant.

You seem quite reasonable to me, and certainly willing to clarify your arguments in an objective fashion. I find that frustratingly rare. I am fine with people who disagree with me (of course), but I find it frustrating when they label my view as 'lazy' or 'stupid'. Gator points out (correctly) that one side cries out a false elitism often, but that doesn't mean that elitism doesn't exist. It is everywhere.

I find it astounding that atheists, theists and agnostics very often use insulting terms and then can't understand why others won't listen to their arguments. I have been subject to this far more times than I can count. My atheist friends call me stupid all the time, my theist friends call me ignorant, etc., etc. It makes it really hard to have an honest discussion.

Maybe you are all better people than me, but I find the insults turn me off the debate. Do you see this point at all? Take New England Bob's post - I have either "low intelligence or low imagination or low creativity". If I started a conversation like this would you be at all interested in continuing it? I would not be, maybe I am not as patient as some.

NewEnglandBob said...

Mumble, what?

Bobby said...

N.E. Bob - May 22 Comment - "For them it is unknowable due to either their low intelligence or low imagination or low creativity. It is yet another instance of the argument of ignorance."

Perhaps I misinterpreted you?

NewEnglandBob said...

Yes, you did. There is no evidence of any gods whatsoever and plenty evidence that disproves many claims of deities. There is also a lot of evidence that should exist if any gods existed. In the face of that, agnosticism is the equivalent of blind faith. My original statement stands.

Dromedary Hump said...

I'll toss in my 2 cents with this analogy: theists are like 100 proof liquor. They are all in, no room for doubt.

Agnostics carry an aversoion to complete lack of beleief in god/gods born of cultural indoctrination and an unrelenting religious meme. Call them a bottle of wine, 12% alcohol by volume.

Atheists are like O'Doules, alcholess beer. We understand the flavor, but have "no proof" that justifies anything more intoxicating. It's a tad too sobering for agnostics.

NewEnglandBob said...

More on agnosticism:

Bobby said...

I give you full points for honesty Bob. I guess that only leaves me with one question then - do I suffer from "low intelligence or low imagination or low creativity"? I will work on that and let you know, maybe I suffer from all three. Plus I have to add the observation from the article you cited that I am apparently also an "intellectual coward". Drom - I have to add my inability to deal with anything that might appear 'too sobering' to me. I am one messed up individual :)

I do admire both of you for your complete certainty, unfortunately I can't share in it if I am equally honest. But thanks for the kind comments.

Nihilio said...

I'm an agnostic, on the mentioned level that regarding leprechauns and the flying spaghettimonster I'm a leprechaun- and a flying-spaghettimonster-agnostic. I can't disprove them as much as I can't disprove god. I cannot prove that the god Huitziwuitzi, who lives in my toilet, created the universe three minutes ago, including us, fossils, our memories and so on. Do I think religion is harmful? Yes, certainly. I just am unable to say that a god actually does not exist.

That being said I also cannot say with absolute certainty that you exist either. But at least you're much more plausible. Sorry, modern philosophy leads one to the place where any other certain statement can be given than "I exist". I have clues as to other things exist...overwhelmingly large clues, whereas the clues for a god are zero, other than a bunch of propably existing idiots tell me he does. Without offering additional clues though, so I can only see what they do. And I surely don't like it. They themselves do not doubt anything, I doubt everything! And they hate me for it! so in conclusion: am I an atheist? In the strictest sense - no. In any other sense - yes.

Dromedary Hump said...

Nihi...well said.