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Ask the Patriarch 144
What are your views on Ignosticism?

from: Ari

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I stumbled across this site a couple of months ago when I had been looking up various religions trying to find out what someone with my beliefs would be classified as.  I had considered myself an atheist, but I was not comfortable with the idea of completely denying the existence of a Supreme Being.  Then I read about apathetic agnosticism on Wikipedia.  I clicked on the link to this site on the page and immediately found what I had been searching for- a laid-back religion with regard to individual choice.  I love the site, but I do have one question about apathetic agnosticism and ignosticism. 

As far as I can tell, ignosticism has not been addressed on the site.  By my understanding, it would be incorporated into the the "apathetic" part of apathetic agnosticism.  Since the question of a deity apparently has no consequences and He/She appears not to care, then why do we bother raising questions about it?

I would love your opinion of the matter, and would appreciate the opportunity to gain more knowledge on apathetic agnosticism and ignosticism from your point of view and with your "expertise." 

Thanks for your time.



The Patriarch replies:


Actually, ignosticism has been mentioned on the site. It is not surprising you did not find it given that the current search operation (if you can find it) is largely non-functional.

However, I was previously asked about ignosticism in Ask the Patriarch 69 - where I confessed ignorance of the term, in the following discussion, - Chris Warren gave his understanding of the term. Further, in the discussion to Meditation 27 - Sandy M referred to ignosticism.

It is not a concept I pay much attention to. I have always regarded the idea that "God" is a term without meaning to be one of the soundest arguments for strong atheism. However, you will find arguments from others that it is an argument for weak atheism, and that it is equivalent to agnosticism.

I think if you can argue that "God" is meaningless, you can make the same argument for all things supernatural. Can you define, for example, the "soul." James Frazer asked, in researching his 19th century book on the beliefs of primitive people, whether the soul resembled a shadow, a reflection, a breath, or something else. That's not much to get a grip on, is it?

And yet, we do have sufficient conception of supernatural terms to discuss them. While as a generalization, god is a vague term with contradictory attributes, believers can be very specific about the attributes of their particular god.

Ignosticism claims that there are no testable consequences of God - which is consistent with the Second Article of Faith. But I would point out that such a statement can be made about a number of the leading edge hypotheses in physics and cosmology. String theory, for example, produces consistent mathematics - but cannot be proven nor disproven - yet.