Agnosticism – An Unsettling Uncertainty

Agnosticism was where I found myself after seeing the error of my ways, which seemed the logical step to take from my rather depressing nihilism. This is the view that you should see many scientists taking, as it is really the only belief that all evidence supports – the idea that we cannot ever fully know what the answers are. The term is thought to be coined by British biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, an avid supporter of the work of Charles Darwin. He writes:

“I neither affirm nor deny the immortality of man. I see no reason for believing it, but, on the other hand, I have no means of disproving it… Give me such evidence as would justify me in believing in anything else, and I will believe that. Why should I not?”

That seemed to make sense to me, because it does make sense. We don’t have enough evidence to prove anything. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying to find some for yourself. There are a great many religions out there that claim that a lack of faith grants you eternal damnation and as an agnostic you accept that any one of those religions could be correct. If you really take this concept seriously then I challenge you to tell me that you wouldn’t want to try your best to find the truth out for yourself.

A word on evidence and proof – I intend to cover this point in far greater detail in a future post, but for now I leave you with a little nugget of information to chew over. Nothing is provable. Like a child who relishes in the outrage and inevitable unanswerability caused by the repetition of  ‘why?’, so the fundamental laws that govern our universe are uncertain. It all relies on statistical analysis, and I promise I will go into greater depth on this one. My point, in this case, is thus: humans put a lot of faith into relationships between family and friends, into contracts and stability, and into the laws of physics – one doesn’t expect to walk out of the door one day to find that gravity has stopped working, and yet why should it? Just because it’s never failed you before? So if you’re so comfortable with faith, why not find faith in something really important, something that really matters. At least look for it, or you’ll feel very dissatisfied and afraid on your deathbed. And I hate to think of what you may have to endure after death. (If anything, if you are still convinced by that whole nihilism thing)

So rather than stay in a perpetual state of uncertainty, I, like many others before me, decided I needed some answers.

2 thoughts on “Agnosticism – An Unsettling Uncertainty

  1. I like to say that agnosticism is the most scientific position to take. Even thought guys like sam harris, Einstein, and dawkins are considered atheist. (and call themselves atheist) They have also acknowledged that they are agnostic, because from a purely empirical scientific standpoint, agnostic is the most scientific position because it is neither proved nor unproved.

  2. Agnosticism is the only thing that makes sense to me. I don’t know what cannot be known. But I can favour a belief one way or the other and not feel too insecure to admit that whichever belief I favour cannot really be supported rationally. So, I could be wrong. I’m unlikely to be right. But I am free to think, question and choose. I fear that declaring oneself under the umbrella of atheism or one of the many theistic shelters, one limits their “allowable” questions. And that is not good for science or for honest enquiry. 🙂

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