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Meditation 158
Wishy-Washy Agnostics

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The late Douglas Adams is an author I admire.  Lately, I have been reading his posthumous book, The Salmon of Doubt, which is a selection of files extracted from his computer after his death, some of which had been published already, some of which are new, including eleven chapters of an unfinished novel.

One of the articles is an interview published in The American Atheist Vol 37 No 1. In this interview, he identifies himself as a radical Atheist, a term he uses to make clear he is not an Agnostic, not any more anyway.

I have no problem with that. I respect the thinking that leads one to be a strong atheist. But, further in the interview, he indicates he considers agnosticism to be "wishy-washy," or "legalistic, cross-your-fingers-behind-your-back, Clintonian hair-splitting." In this, he showed he had no understanding of the possibilities of agnostic thought.

Yes, there are agnostics who cannot make up their minds and dither between belief and disbelief. Yes, there are those who become agnostics temporarily when travelling between belief and atheism, or vice-versa. But that does not represent agnosticism in its fullest.

Agnosticism can also be a decisive statement that "I don't know" is the final answer to the existence of a supreme power. A "Yes" or "No" is beyond our current state of knowledge. And always will be beyond our knowledge. There's nothing wishy-washy about that.