Friday, 6 August 2010

Is agnosticism the only sensible choice?

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This isn't entirely new, so some of you may have come across it already, but I just wanted to link to this excellent essay by Ron Rosenbaum on Slate, "An Agnostic Manifesto", in which he argues that agnosticism is the thinking person's philosophy in the face of what he sees as the excessive certainties of both atheism and theism. In Rosenbaum's view, both theists and atheists (particularly so-called "New Atheists") tend to hold that the origins of the universe either can, or eventually will, be explained, while only agnostics have the humility to admit that we may never know, or that perhaps it can not be explained at all.

Have a read and see what you think. I have to say Rosenbaum makes a rather convincing case – no doubt agnosticism will be considered as part of the debate on the future of atheism that we're co-hosting with the RSA and the Guardian in September. Maybe a greater sense of agnosticism would allow us to move the current, increasingly polarised "God debate" on from the (perhaps ultimately fruitless) question of whether something we might call "god" exists, and concentrate on things like the excesses of the organised religion and fundamentalist sects, and state-sanctioned religious privilege – because in the end, those are the tangible issues that really matter to humanists and secularists, aren't they?

Just putting it out there – share your thoughts by commenting on this post.
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