Re: Agnosticism and the Fear of Atheism (was re: Vital Essence)

From: E. Shaun Russell (
Date: Mon Jan 24 2000 - 19:07:18 MST

Robert Owen wrote:

>Just time for a brief response. I would never say "I believe the Sun
>will rise tomorrow." I would prefer "I EXPECT" the sun to rise tomorrow"
>which is a very different proposition. Or, to probe a little deeper, I
>might say "IF the sun doesn't rise tomorrow, THEN our formulations
>of the Mechanics of Planetary Motion, or the Psychophysiology of
>Human Perception, or both, are either incomplete or gravely flawed.

        Then you would be incredibly wrong. Any ten year old could tell you that
the sun does *not* rise; had you said this a millenium ago (when people
commonly *believed* it to be true) your 'expectation' would have been
assumed correct.

        Back on topic (semantics it must be...): the terms "expect" and "believe"
both refer to a realm of knowledge that is not objectively known, but
assumed. "Expect" seems stronger, but it is not uncommon to hear Joe
Religion say "I expect the coming of Christ by year X," or Jane Engineer
say "I believe nanotechnology will be mainstream by Y." I think Lee Daniel
Crocker was spot-on in his definition of a "rational belief;" truly, the
only things one can know absolutely are the things of the past...things
that have happened already. I expect that I will live at least one more
day, I believe I will live at least ten more --these are rational beliefs
and expectations. I also believe that I will live to be at least 100 years
old --still possible (even probable), but it is more of a guess than a
rational belief\expectation. Believing that I will live to see 1000 years
old is irrational --it *may* happen, but looking at the technologies we
possess today, and guessing at the breakthroughs in the next century, it
would be just a irrational one at that. Not enough data to say
it with any assurance.

        That is why Atheism is a rational belief...there is absolutely no hard
evidence to prove that there is a God (and admittedly, not a lot to prove
that there isn't) and so I believe that unless I am faced with some
irrefutable proof otherwise, I will continue to believe --strongly-- that
there is no God. Just because I am letting a .00001% (or less) possibility
in does not mean that I should call myself Agnostic any more than should a
fundamental Christian with the same allowance for no God.

        When I read my initial post again this evening, I saw that I may have come
across a bit harder than I initially intended; I do not *hate* any
agnostics (or anyone, for that matter) but simply question the validity of
their belief system on such a core matter.

        Now let's start thinking forward...

E. Shaun Russell Extropian, Musician, ExI Member <KINETICIZE *YOUR* POTENTIAL>

*The creation of the future is in the creation of the present*

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