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Meditation 1129
The Meaning of Agnosticism

from: Paul Neubauer

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There's an interesting piece by George Dvorsky on the meaning of agnosticism posted on the io9 website yesterday which I think you'll find interesting.

Why Agnosticism Probably Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

by George Dvorsky

Agnostics are often characterized as ambivalent or wishy-washy fence sitters who refuse to make up their minds. But there's much more to agnosticism than these tired misconceptions, including a stricter adherence to scientific principles than those typically invoked by atheists.

The current culture war doesn't leave much room for agnostics. Atheists and theists are battling it out for memetic supremacy, each side making cocksure proclamations as to whether or not God truly exists. Theists make the case for God by appealing to faith, scripture, or any number of now-archaic arguments. Atheists take the diametrically opposed stance, arguing that there's no reason to believe that a supreme being exists.

The vociferousness of these sentiments have largely forced agnosticism to the philosophical sidelines. That and some fairly serious misconceptions as to what it really means. These days, agnosticism is often mischaracterized as an undecided response to a question. And in fact, the term is frequently applied outside of a religious context when describing things for which we haven't yet made an opinion. For example, we can say we're "agnostic" about climate change, neither believing it or disbelieving it. Alternately, it's used to express our ambivalence about something, using the term to equate to such sentiments as, "I don't care," "I don't really want to know," or "I don't even want to think about it."

But this casual usage of the term betrays its original purpose, an epistemological stance and methodology in which skepticism and empiricism — two hallmarks of the scientific method — takes center stage.

continue reading original article on the io9 website...

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