Advice From the Trenches

Advice From the Trenches: Agnostic, or noncommittal?

Dear C and Dr. B:

My friend Kevin says that he is “an agnostic.” I can’t explain exactly why that pisses me off so much, but it does. I think that everybody is basically entitled to believe whatever they want to believe, but Kevin’s attitude is like: “God hasn’t been proven to my satisfaction. Someone needs to prove it to me in a concrete way, then I’ll consider it.” 

I just feel like saying to him, “well, who the hell are you?” The guy has been on this planet for less time than it takes a good Scotch to age, but if something can’t be proven in a way that is within the grasp of his tiny brain, he won’t even consider that it exists. How narrow minded can he be?

I wonder if he still believes the Earth is flat because he hasn’t seen it from space. 

Maybe you can offer some perspective.

Cyn Tack

Dr. B says:

The longer I live the more convinced I am there is no intelligent life anywhere.

Kevin is being neutral and I believe he would say is open to whatever. And why not? If you approach the question scientifically one has to be agnostic as there certainly is no evidence of a god or intelligent design. I have heard arguments for such like the human eye is so perfect and so complicated that it’s proof of god. This just shows the lack of science knowledge by those stating this as the human eye has serious design flaws. All such “evidence” falls short of a scientific standard. 

On the other side there is no concrete evidence for a lack of a god. Science shows that humans are wired for faith, to believe in a god. We are very limited in our awareness and can perceive only a tiny piece of everything that exists.  

There are no faith-based stories from any religion that aren’t completely nuts if you take them literally. But we believe anyway because we need the universe to make some sense. Maybe if we thought there was no god, we might have to take responsibility for ourselves, our treatment of the planet and our treatment of each other – especially those that believe differently than we do.

C says:

I think Dr. B is confusing atheists with agnostics. Atheists do not believe in the existence of the Christian God, or any gods for that matter. This does not mean they are amoral. Although the  atheists I know could rant for hours on the hypocrisy of the clergy, they trust their own instincts when it comes to ethics; they don’t require proof that people should treat each other fairly. But any fundamental agnostic would refuse to decide one way or another, on pretty much any issue, unless there was absolute concrete proof. That’s the difference. 

Objectively speaking, there are certain flaws to agnostic thinking – definitive proof of any theory or phenomena can only be gauged using existing testing methods. Since science constantly outgrows its own instruments and theories, it is possible that what we can’t prove today will be entirely provable next year. And there are also some things that can probably never be proven, no matter how long science stares at its tests and statistics. 

Of all the things that can’t be scientifically proven, love probably tops the list. And yet this unprovable thing we call love is the fuel behind nearly every work of art and literature that has existed through time. It’s also probably the only reason we don’t all kill each other.

This is just a guess, but I think that you are more frustrated than angry. I think you want something from Kevin that he just can’t give you, and it has more to do with the idea of commitment and emotional connection than with whether or not god exists.

Kevin clings to the known. That’s not really a negative trait, but let’s be honest – on planet Earth, there are no sure things. A person who will only believe and act on sure things is emotionally limited. If you were hoping for magic or passion with Kevin, I wouldn’t hold your breath. But if you need help selecting a health insurance plan, you can count on him to be very thorough. Be happy with that… and look for an intimate connection elsewhere.

– Cathren Housley 

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