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Ask the Patriarch 183
Are agnostics prepared to critically and unbiasedly examine any and all claims?

from: Paleface

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Question 1:  How can someone be “Apathetic” and yet act (for example, communicate with Apathetic Agnostics…)  I naively expect an apathetic person to just drop it…  Granted, “Apathetic” does have some shock value and is not excessively misleading. (Then, maybe you actually are a front for “Apathetic Anonymous”?)

Question 2:  Wouldn’t “true” agnostics be characterized by their open mindedness about the existence of gods: consequently, wouldn’t such a person critically and unbiasedly examine any and all such claims (at least to determine whether to pursue the matter further)?   And… if the new evidence supported the notion, then accept that these entities really exist?  (“Fat chance” does not mean “No”).  Isn’t this willingness to examine claims what distinguishes the agnostic from the atheist and others who claim to know The Truth?

Sincerely,

Paleface

The Patriarch replies:

Thank you for writing.

Interestingly, I answered your first question just last week in the previous Ask the Patriarch. But I will repeat the key point:

As to your second question:

There are not enough hours in a lifetime to give even a cursory examination to all the religious claims that are made. So, no-one, regardless of his or her views on religion, would or could examine any and all such claims.

However, if a claim for the existence of a deity was presented supported by verifiable evidence, then a critical and unbiased examination would indeed be warranted. Based on that study, opinions could very well change. I expect most agnostics would agree, and so would most atheists.

We are still waiting for a claim supported by verifiable evidence[1] to be presented.

As to your last point in the second question; given the current overlapping common useage of the words "atheist" and "agnostic," I would not draw any conclusions about any differences in openness to considering valid evidence between those who identify themselves as atheist, and those who identify themselves as agnostic.

Note:

  1. It is actually a trivial exercise to prove the existence of a deity. There are any number of "living gods" and "living goddesses." They are real people. They exist. However, as soon as you use a definition of deity that includes the exercise of supernatural powers, the proof collapses. It is verifiable that the person regarded as a deity exists, but the supernatural powers are not verifiable.