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Agnostic Pantheism


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#1 Jessie

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 05:50 PM

I watch a show every week on the internet that discusses theism and atheism. This last Sunday, a rather odd man called into the show, claiming to be a agnostic pantheist. He couldn't seem to keep his story straight and also seemed to have some pretty outlandish beliefs. It seemed more like he was a troll than anything else. In any case, the minute he said he was an agnostic pantheist, the chat room was filled with mocking statements about the absurdity of that. "I'm an agnostic atheist deist pantheist." among other strange combinations of terms, giving me the impression that people believe agnosticism and pantheism don't work together.

But I don't get it. Why not? Is it so absurd to think "I don't know and probably can't know if there is a god, but I believe in one, and I believe if he does exist, he probably has these traits." Do the terms really not fit together? What am I not understanding about agnosticism and pantheism not being compatible? Or were those people just being ignorant?

Thanks and sorry for the stupid question if it is one.
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#2 ficino

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 05:56 PM

I watch a show every week on the internet that discusses theism and atheism. This last Sunday, a rather odd man called into the show, claiming to be a agnostic pantheist. He couldn't seem to keep his story straight and also seemed to have some pretty outlandish beliefs. It seemed more like he was a troll than anything else. In any case, the minute he said he was an agnostic pantheist, the chat room was filled with mocking statements about the absurdity of that. "I'm an agnostic atheist deist pantheist." among other strange combinations of terms, giving me the impression that people believe agnosticism and pantheism don't work together.

But I don't get it. Why not? Is it so absurd to think "I don't know and probably can't know if there is a god, but I believe in one, and I believe if he does exist, he probably has these traits." Do the terms really not fit together? What am I not understanding about agnosticism and pantheism not being compatible? Or were those people just being ignorant?

Thanks and sorry for the stupid question if it is one.


I thought that the agnostic's denial of knowledge prompts him/her to suspend or refuse belief in a deity. Even theists could say "I don't know and probably can't know if there is a god," if those theists are taking "know" in a strong but conventional sense, excluding occult or mystical knowledge. It seems contradictory for someone to deny knowing god but claim to believe in god and then claim to be agnostic, because I think agnostic is used in practice to refer to people who do not believe, although literally it only refers to those who do not claim to know.
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#3 Legion

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 05:58 PM

I suppose "agnostic pantheist" is as good a shorthand as any for... "I don't really know, but if so then in nature". I mean, perhaps there is always going to be some internal tension created by putting "agnostic" before something else. If we imagine calling ourselves "agnostic theists" then what have we accomplished?

Thanks and sorry for the stupid question if it is one.

Ah Jessie! This is the Spirituality forum. We fudge things here. Because reality is fudged.

Edited by Legion, 08 February 2012 - 05:59 PM.

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#4 Eugene39

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 07:29 PM

Hi Jessie, you might find this interesting, since we are discussing mind benders. Hopefully it helps.

http://community.bel...ian_agnosticism
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#5 lunaticheathen

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 11:36 AM

I suppose "agnostic pantheist" is as good a shorthand as any for... "I don't really know, but if so then in nature".


Basically this. I don't know what he said on the show that was so outlandish, so he could just be weird, but, eh, it could work.

Not something I would call myself, but whatever.
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#6 blackpudd1n

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 06:36 PM

I think it depends on the belief system in question. For instance, some belief systems are cool with you not agreeing with everything. That's why I like the pagan (celtic traditions) outlook- I don't have to believe in any gods or do any rituals to call myself a pagan. I just appreciate their view of the world, and I find it compatible with atheism. That being said, though, I veer more towards atheism.
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#7 Ouroboros

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 06:46 PM

There's a term in programming, "language agnostic", which means "something that is independent of programming language." For instance, Knuth's books are considered such. Same for books about patterns. UML is considered language agnostic as well, even though "L" stands for "language."

http://www.amazon.co...m/RM2PTDDSWPCO4
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#8 Antlerman

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 09:15 AM

But I don't get it. Why not? Is it so absurd to think "I don't know and probably can't know if there is a god, but I believe in one, and I believe if he does exist, he probably has these traits." Do the terms really not fit together? What am I not understanding about agnosticism and pantheism not being compatible? Or were those people just being ignorant?

I think the responses you described on the show demonstrate immaturity, or arrogant ignorance if you wish. What I hear him trying to describe is along the lines of what Legion said. It's more like him as part of a Christian culture is trying to find an affirmative statement of belief saying, "I'm not sure if God exists or not, but if so I lean towards a pantheist view". It is a little confusing because a pantheist is an actual affirming belief that God is nature. There is no 'perhaps so, maybe not', to it. He rather would be better to say he's an agnostic with leanings towards pantheism.

It seems kind of like how I used to identify as a 'spiritual atheist' until I dropped the disclaimer 'atheist' as it was no longer relevant to how I viewed God. God was no longer the traditional theist view. We struggle in the West to find labels to tell ourselves how we believe in order to talk about it. But at some point, it all becomes paradoxical. You could say I am a theist-non-theist, and actually be right.

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#9 blackpudd1n

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:23 AM

We struggle in the West to find labels to tell ourselves how we believe in order to talk about it. But at some point, it all becomes paradoxical. You could say I am a theist-non-theist, and actually be right.


I see labels as a point of further explanation, or an explanation, full stop. I'm very open about having bipolar because it makes my life easier. I have no qualms with the label, because when I'm having a bad day, people know it's just the bipolar talking and I'm not being a bitch on purpose. Labels can also be good to stop further discussion when you don't want it. I've been called a satanist because I wear a pentagram by xtians. Sometimes I can't be fucked explaining shit and just turn around and say, "yeah, know where I can find some cheap chickens to sacrifice?"
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#10 Legion

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:39 AM

But at some point, it all becomes paradoxical. You could say I am a theist-non-theist, and actually be right.


I 'grok' this because I'm somewhat at the same place. I see that life itself is likely founded on paradox, and I think there is a good reason why mystics often speak in riddles. However, if communicable rigor is to be maintained then I think an effort to distinguish between self-negating contradiction and 'sensible' paradox is required.

Edited by Legion, 11 February 2012 - 10:39 AM.

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#11 Antlerman

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 12:04 PM


But at some point, it all becomes paradoxical. You could say I am a theist-non-theist, and actually be right.


I 'grok' this because I'm somewhat at the same place. I see that life itself is likely founded on paradox, and I think there is a good reason why mystics often speak in riddles. However, if communicable rigor is to be maintained then I think an effort to distinguish between self-negating contradiction and 'sensible' paradox is required.

To someone who has seen the paradox then the contradiction is no contradiction. Posted Image True? Hence why you 'grok' this? The difficulty is that to make it definable is to not define it at all. Opposites must exist in order to be reasoned, and since pairs of opposites are one and the same, it defies reason and is only understood in direct, experiential apprehension. To talk about it is how I call it 'highly symbolic', far beyond the way we symbolically understand so-called reality with the rational mind. I deeply believe in the God that doesn't exist. God beyond God. God's God. Yet this is fully true despite the logical contradiction. It it a transrational reality. Grok? Posted Image

Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain,
but at the peak we all gaze at the single bright moon.

~Ikkyu - Zen-monk poet, 1394-1481

 

 

 

If a plant cannot live according to its nature it dies; and so a man.

 

~Thoureau


#12 Legion

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 12:18 PM

What I mainly take from that is that you do not believe the paradoxical nature of life can be explicitly understood. If so, I disagree. I think we can represent some of the relations of life within language and without contradiction and they may be paradoxical (e.g. chicken and egg, self-fulfilling prophecy). I think there are relations which are basically rationally irrational. I also think humanity would accrue survival advantage if we can establish these representations in internally consistent and rich languages. We can communicate these to those who will live after us.

Edited by Legion, 11 February 2012 - 12:25 PM.

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#13 Antlerman

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 12:36 PM

I simply mean that life is existentially understood, and that defies explicit definitions. Can we create such languages as do communicate these paradoxes? Only if not understood explicitly. :) Poetry. The gods. Song. Dance. Worship. Love. Devotion. And beyond: Light, Peace, God. Language ultimately dissolves into non-language - Being Itself. Life Itself. Not understood with the mind, but Spirit.

Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain,
but at the peak we all gaze at the single bright moon.

~Ikkyu - Zen-monk poet, 1394-1481

 

 

 

If a plant cannot live according to its nature it dies; and so a man.

 

~Thoureau


#14 Legion

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 12:44 PM

Yes. Posted Image There is that too!
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#15 Antlerman

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 01:13 PM

Yes. Posted Image There is that too!

I grok that. :)

Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain,
but at the peak we all gaze at the single bright moon.

~Ikkyu - Zen-monk poet, 1394-1481

 

 

 

If a plant cannot live according to its nature it dies; and so a man.

 

~Thoureau


#16 lunaticheathen

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 06:38 PM

I simply mean that life is existentially understood, and that defies explicit definitions. Can we create such languages as do communicate these paradoxes? Only if not understood explicitly. Posted Image Poetry. The gods. Song. Dance. Worship. Love. Devotion. And beyond: Light, Peace, God. Language ultimately dissolves into non-language - Being Itself. Life Itself. Not understood with the mind, but Spirit.


THIS. This is why my religion is best expressed in ritual, and discussion always falls short.
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#17 Antlerman

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 08:19 AM

"Speak a new language
so that the world
will be a new world."


~Rumi

Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain,
but at the peak we all gaze at the single bright moon.

~Ikkyu - Zen-monk poet, 1394-1481

 

 

 

If a plant cannot live according to its nature it dies; and so a man.

 

~Thoureau


#18 lunaticheathen

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 01:26 PM

"Speak a new language
so that the world
will be a new world."


~Rumi


:wub: Ahhh, Rumi.
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#19 Zephie

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 02:09 PM

Wouldn't agnostic pantheism be akin to not knowing if there is a god or not being able to know but just revering nature in the process?
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#20 Legion

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 02:29 PM

Can we create such languages as do communicate these paradoxes? Only if not understood explicitly.


A-man, I am going to return to this because it really bothers me. Yes, we can create languages which communicate these paradoxes and we have done so. Higher order logic, non-well-founded sets, and category theory come to mind for instance. You are wrong here. Flat out mistaken.

Wouldn't agnostic pantheism be akin to not knowing if there is a god or not being able to know but just revering nature in the process?


That is certainly suggested to me Zephie. And as you put like this, I am thinking that 'agnostic pantheism' is an idea with some measure of nobility.

Edited by Legion, 13 February 2012 - 02:29 PM.

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