“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
The Confused Agnostic
by Mark Karapetyan
Agnosticism is starting to become quite popular these days, especially in the United States and the Western world. Those who profess to be agnostic hide behind the curtain of agnosticism and find refuge in it because it is intellectually, the safest route for the secular person. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, agnosticism is simply the belief that there is no way to know whether or not God exists. The agnostic, therefore, neither believes nor disbelieves in God since both the theist and the atheist fail to successfully prove or disprove His existence. So, he/she sits on the fence…
It is worthy to note that the term ‘agnostic’ was first coined in 1869 by biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, a noted proponent of Darwin’s evolution theory, in order to distinguish his own doubts from outright atheism. Darwin soon embraced that label for himself. The idea of agnosticism was nothing new; this sort of skepticism was found among some thinkers in ancient Greece and India as far back as a few centuries B.C.
In detail, agnosticism (from the Greek “a”, meaning “without” and “gnosis”, meaning “knowledge”, translating to “unknowable”) is the philosophical view point that the truth value of certain claims—particularly theological claims regarding metaphysics, afterlife, or the existence of God/ gods/ deities—is unknown or inherently unknowable. [i] The term agnostic literally means lack of claim to knowledge. One can be an agnostic theist, meaning that while he/she personally believes in a god (s), he/she is open to the possibility that he/she could be wrong. One can also be an agnostic atheist who personally believes there is no god(s), but also admits he/she has no real way of knowing the truth.
The term agnostic is meant to be used in conjunction with the words “theist” or “atheist” but will often be used as a standalone definition of one’s beliefs. Agnostic’s will often be caught in the middle of these two philosophies.
Agnosticism, however, is built on a single, basic fundamentally flawed precept; the assumption that the proof for God is an empirical or verifiable proof-It rests on the belief that if there were to be a proof for God, it would be very much like a philosophical or scientific proof which could be repeated by any one at any time and would always yield the same result. Since nothing like that exists, the agnostic ignorantly yet confidently claims that, “no one knows one way or another” (For more information on why the existence of God can’t be imperially proven or disproven, read my topic on who is God?).
What the agnostic fails to understand is that empirical proofs exist for things that are confined to the material world, within the dimensions of space, time, and matter only; things to which the laws of nature apply, things that are within the realm of human understanding. God, by definition, is far beyond all this. How then does one expect to find an empirical proof for something that is metaphysical, and that is outside of space, time, and matter? How does one apply science to the One that pre-existed science and its laws?
In addition, the demand for proof of God’s existence raises a crucial point: What do agnostics mean by proof? If they demand to “see God” in person, how would they recognize him? Since God is an immaterial being, how would they even know what God looks like? If one of them woke up one morning and saw a holy figure hovering above his/her bed, would he/she take that to be “proof” for God? Of course not! He/she would dismiss it as hallucination and go on with his/her day. The reality is that most people don’t know what they are asking for when they ask of “proof” for God. Let’s say I was to give you a concrete proof for God’s existence right now. Assume that I’ve told you what it was and you see no way of arguing against it; it’s foolproof and flawless. Would you all of a sudden start believing in God just because of an argument you can’t rebut? Would you change your entire lifestyle and immediately become a ‘godly’ person just because of a single convincing argument? Of course not, people believe in God when they finally realize that He exists, not when they are told He exists.
Not only that, agnostics who demand proof of God’s existence will not be satisfied no matter what the proofs are. If God Himself comes down and sketches “Hello, dear agnostic, it is I, God, believe in Me,” in the clouds, agnostics will still disbelief that proof and come up with excuses such as, “God’s handwriting was cursive”, or “God didn’t use the correct ink color,” to refute the claim that it was God who was writing in the clouds. It is the sinful nature in man that regularly wishes to resist its creator…
Agnostics quickly forget that the proof for God is not an empirical one but rather an experiential and logical one. You can’t prove God, but you can provide evidence for His existence. It is not like a mathematical proof that is based on fundamental axioms; rather, it is an experiential proof like the proof for love. How do you prove that you love your children or your spouse? Can anyone prove their love for their family members in a lab? What’s the square root or love, for example? We all know that love exists since it is a phenomenon that we’ve all experienced, not because it can be physically or scientifically proven. The same method of understanding a metaphysical reality applies to God.
In addition, the proof for God is one that is logical. How does one prove that the first man and woman ever existed? We don’t have any empirical evidence for that. However, we know this to be true because our existence is contingent on his and her existence. From the law of causality, we know that anything that begins to exist has a cause and creator. The universe began to exist; therefore, it also has a ‘beginner’ and a creator. It would be absurd to believe anything else (read the cosmological argument).
The issue of faith is directly related to experience. Finding faith and God is a journey that ought to be undertaken; it requires a combination of the mind and the heart, logic and experience. It’s not about blindly following faith or relying entirely on your brains; it’s the convergence of the two in perfect harmony. Only then can a person understand God, truth, and reality better.
There are numerous evidences of God all around us. The sad reality is that many people ignore these evidences. The greatest evidence for a creator is creation itself. Not believing in God implies that the universe had no creator and came out of nothing; this is an illogical and unscientific belief (read the design argument). The only ones who will see these evidences and accept them are the ones who will sincerely seek God, those who look for the truth.
This brings me to my next point that I would like to make. It’s a story that happened a while back, and is much related to this topic.
A few months ago, during the Q&A session, after a speaking engagement in Virginia, an agnostic woman approached the microphone and asked: “The fact of the matter is that no one knows the truth. Why do you say that you know the truth?”
I thanked her for her question and replied: “If no one knows the truth, how then do YOU know the truth?”
“EXCUSE ME!” she fired back.
“I’m asking you, amongst everyone that does not know the truth, how is it that you, alone, know the truth?” I repeated.
She became a little agitated, and in a harsh voice answered: “I just told you, no one knows the truth.”
“I see…I shouldn’t believe what you’re telling me then,” I countered.
“What do you mean? Why not?” she probed.
I raised my microphone and challenged: “Because you just told me that no one knows the truth. If no one knows the truth, that means you don’t know the truth either. However, you just made a statement that you want me to believe as the truth. If your statement is true, you are wrong by saying that no one knows the truth, since you do. If your statement is false, you are also wrong and I should not listen to what you’re telling me, since it’s not the truth.”
To my surprise, the agnostic actually laughed, thought for a few seconds and then sarcastically mocked: “Look, all I am saying is that no one knows the truth about whether God exists or not, that’s all. You don’t have to turn my question into a philosophy class.”
“Alright, allow me to ask you a question then,” I dared. “There are over seven and a half billion people on earth. Do you know what each and every one of them knows about God?”
“No, of course not,” she assured.
“Why, then, do you claim that no one knows when you just confessed that you don’t know what everyone knows?” I acquired.
“What do you mean? Explain please,” she pleaded.
I respectfully agreed and clarified: “When you say that no one knows the truth about God, what you are actually saying is that you know what every one of these seven and a half billion people know-which is that they don’t know the truth about God. That’s impossible. In fact, it’s a contradiction, because you just made a knowable truth claim about God, and at the same time claimed that no truth about God can be known.”
She looked at me and raged: “I am an agnostic, and I am telling you that no one knows the truth about God one way or another.”
After a few back and forth remarks between us, I eventually realized that she wasn’t going to even reconsider her unreasonable position. I tried to explain to her how contradictory and self-defeating her views were; but to no avail. She was hearing me, but she wasn’t listening to me. So, instead, I decided to shift my focus and explain to the entire audience what was it that I was trying to relay. She respectfully thanked me, and sat down to listen.
Here’s a summary of what I told the audience that day:
The more I think about agnosticism, the more I think it’s just the politically correct face of atheism. To me, agnosticism is illogical and pointless. In fact, many skeptics are agnostics for the wrong reason. They believe that since you can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, you must concede to agnosticism as a logical alternative. However, this position is flawed and contradictory. Here’s why: When agnostics make the claim that the existence of God cannot be proven or disproven, they are unaware of the fact that their statement itself about the existence of God cannot be proven or disproven. What they are actually saying is:
1) You cannot prove the existence of God.
2) You cannot disprove the existence of God.
These two possibilities are not valid options for the existence of God. They are based on personal opinions, and not on facts or evidence. How can the statements “the existence of God cannot be proven or disproven” be factual, when it is based on personal opinions and not facts or evidence? Who says God’s existence can’t be proven? What’s the evidence to back up this claim? What evidence do they have that there is no evidence?
Not only that. When agnostics make the claim that God’s existence cannot be proven or disproven, they are unknowingly putting themselves in a dilemma. You see, facts and evidence point us to the truth. Personal opinions or experiences do not. If something lacks evidence and facts are not on its side, then, that “something” does not exist. Similarly, if facts point to something, and evidence supports it, then, that “something” does exist. It’s really that simple.
If God’s existence cannot be disproven, then God exists. If God exists, then agnostics are theists! Additionally, if God’s existence cannot be proven, then, God doesn’t exist, and agnostics are atheists. It is sad, but true. Agnostics cannot escape the horn of this dilemma.
Agnostics often object to the above point by saying: “Wait a second; there are many things in the universe that exist. We just have no way of proving or disproving their existence. It doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Just because something cannot be proven or disproven, it doesn’t mean it is not out there somewhere…”
On face value, this sounds like an amazing counter-argument. Logically, however, it is broken and unsound. Here’s why:
Let’s be honest. Agnostics are “atheists” when it comes to most religions. No agnostic is going to proclaim that he/she “does not and cannot know” whether the Easter Bunny exists, or whether “the Greek gods exist”, or whether “Poseidon exists.” In these cases, the agnostic agrees with everyone else that the entity/entities in question do not exist. But then we ask more sensitive questions, like “does the Christian God exist?” In these cases, the agnostic is quick to back off and play unintelligent: “Oh, but how could I know such a complex hard to grasp concept? I am subject to epistemological limitations. That question is beyond me or any one’s mental capacity…”
Ask agnostics if they believe in the existence of Santa Claus. After thinking about the question for a few minutes, they will soon realize (hopefully) that they only have two options. Santa Claus either exists or doesn’t. To claim that there is no way of proving or disproving the existence of Santa Claus is absurd, and they know it.
Of course agnostics don’t believe in Santa Claus. Assuming you are an adult, and a thinking person with an ounce of brain, no one in their right mind believes there’s a fat man with a soft heart, by the name of Santa, living somewhere in the North Pole in a toy factory with mythological creatures known as elves, building toys that are delivered to children all over the world on Christmas Eve. That’s just not reality. What most people ignore is the fact that once agnostics admit their disbelief in Santa Claus, they immediately become Santa Claus atheists.
If Santa Claus does exist, however, then evidence and facts are needed to validate such a claim. The challenging part is this: can agnostics provide more evidence for Santa than God? If not, how can they be so certain God doesn’t exist, but Santa Claus might? I doubt that any agnostic will use the “no one can prove or disprove the existence of Santa Claus” line to argue against the possibility of Santa Claus’s existence because they know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that Santa is an imaginary character and doesn’t exist in real life. If so, why don’t agnostics use the same method to argue against the existence of God? In other words, how can agnostics be Santa Claus atheists, but God agnostics?
Let me flip the script around and explain my point in another way:
Gravity exists. We all know it since there’s evidence for it. Although it can’t be seen or touched, it can be measured. Science affirms this. If something has evidence for itself, it exists even if it can’t be seen. Why don’t agnostics have the same attitude towards gravity? Why don’t they say “there’s no way of knowing whether gravity exists or not because no one can prove or disprove its existence?”
Agnostics don’t make this outrageous claim because they well know that gravity exists. It affects them daily. They can’t avoid it. Although they can’t see it, they believe in it. In other words, they believe in the existence of gravity although they can’t see it, but when they don’t see God, although there’s as much powerful evidence for His existence, they deny that there’s evidence for His existence!
This brings me to another point I would like to make.
The word agnostic is something of a cheat. It’s a weasel word. It means, quite literally, you are an atheist, but you lack the backbone to actually say so, for whatever reason. Agnostics like to see themselves as standing on intellectual high-ground, but the truth is that their beliefs are irrational, perhaps as irrational as the atheists. In my humble opinion, agnostics are lazy atheists because agnosticism is a lazy, weak, and apathetic approach to viewing God. It’s a lack of stance, an irrational idea based on fear of making a choice. If someone was agnostic and wishy-washy about the existence of Santa Clause, wouldn’t you consider him lazy, apathetic, and timid?
If you lived somewhere far, far away, wouldn’t you want to know who lives in the house that sits alone, isolated from everyone else on top of the high mountain? Wouldn’t you be curious enough to at least climb up the mountain to see who resides there?
If you object to this question by saying: “Wait a minute Mark, we can at least see the house on top of the hill; we have evidence that it exists. That’s why we don’t question its existence. We know nothing about God since we can’t see him,” then, you missed the point of my reasoning.
You see, it’s not that the house on top of the hill is plenty evidence that it exists or not, that’s not my point. It’s that why is there a house on top of the hill to begin with? That’s the point I am trying to make!
It’s not that gravity exists or not. The question is: why is there a force of nature such as gravity all together? This is the crucial piece of the puzzle that agnostics forget to use to complete the picture (please, don’t tell me gravity popped into existence out of nowhere; laws require law givers). How can anyone look at the universe, nature, animals, fruits and vegetables, and then make the outlandish claim that you can’t know for sure whether these realities were caused or not?
How can anyone look at DNA, the most advanced software program ever, and claim that DNA isn’t enough evidence for a God? You see, DNA is a language code, agnostics know that. They too, believe that language is evidence for intelligent minds; no agnostic denies that the very same language that they use is not enough evidence for their own intelligent minds. Why then, do they look at DNA and still doubt whether there’s a brilliant, creative mind behind it?
Isn’t it interesting that when it comes to other aspects of life, suddenly, agnostics no longer hold to their agnosticism as a starting point for their beliefs and views, and instantly become fact-checkers?
When it comes to picking the right schools for their children, for example, agnostics research the desired school for months before they decide whether to send their kids there. Why do they do that? Why don’t they just say “no one can know whether that school will be good or not for our kids?”
When it comes to illness and diseases, why do agnostics seek the right doctor and the right medication? Why don’t they remain lazy and apathetic, and then make the similar claim of “no one knows for sure whether doctors or medicine can cure?” Why do agnostics remain school and doctor believers, but God agnostics?
If agnostics take the time and make the effort to investigate the best schools, best doctors, and the right medication, why don’t do they do the same thing when it comes to the matter of God, truth, and reality? Why do they all of a sudden become non-caring and apathetic?
Agnostics are just as confused as atheists. They both look at the same evidence and choose to deny them. They both are exposed to the same truth, but they suppress it.
God has deliberately left His fingerprints all over our universe. The Bible clearly teaches that everyone, including agnostics, atheists, and other skeptics are with no excuse when it comes to knowing God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
If you are an agnostic, here’s my advice to you: Don’t be lazy and apathetic. Search for the truth for yourself. Don’t make excuses and hide behind the delusion that God and truth can’t be known. That’s absurd and irrational. It is one thing to be ignorant of something, and it’s another thing to be aware of that thing and deny knowing that it’s there. If you really don’t know whether there’s a God or not, then simply ask God to reveal Himself to you. Look for Him and He will make Himself known to you; but if you know that God exists and you still refuse to acknowledge him, then, really, how are you any different from the devil?
It is really easy to sit back and remain uncommitted to any particular belief, but at some point, we all have to decide whether to believe in God or not. If you approach a topic of which you are ignorant, then just admit that you really don’t have all the information and you don’t know all the details and the arguments. Don’t just sit on your rear and say that suspending judgment is really the only rational conclusion we can reach regarding God and truth. That’s lazy, non-caring, and in my opinion, spineless!
Before I end this, I want to remind you Christians that the world is spiraling downhill faster than a locomotive train. It is evident daily before our eyes. You will soon interact with people of various faiths and people of no faith (if you haven’t already, then what are you waiting for? get up and go spread the good news to those who are lost). Among those people, you will speak to agnostics. Make sure before you convince them, that they see God’s love in you first. If your sole goal is to win an argument only, then, you have become nothing but a lawyer and a politician. Be aware of that trap for it leads to destruction. The heart overtakes the mind any day because love is the supreme ethic, not logic. Make sure that others see the love of Christ in you no matter what you do; it is then that they will be more open to your message. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
Finally, next time you speak to an agnostic, remind them that it is absurd to deny the existence of a being for which there is no evidence. How can they deny that which does not exist? Ask them: “How do you know that we don’t know if God exists or not?
The Agnostic’s Prayer
“O God (if there is a God), save my soul (if I have one).”
APOLOGETICS - ARTICLES AND INFORMATION
- What is Apologetics?
- The Lost Truth
- Logic & Reasoning
- Truth & Reality
- Does God Exist?
- The Cosmological Argument
- The Design Argument
- The Moral Argument
- Who is Jesus?
- Satan’s Wish!
- God’s Dilemma!
- Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?
- Does God Answer Prayers?
- When Were The Gospels Written?
- Was Noah's Flood Real?
- Are Miracles Possible?
- The Apostle Peter
- Does Archaeology Support The Bible?
- Science & The Bible
- How Can Jesus be the only Way to Heaven?
- Don’t All World Religions Teach the Same Thing?
- Undesigned Coincidences
- Are All Men Created Equal?
- Is the Bible Really the Word of God?
- Amazing Bible Facts
- The Blind Atheists
- Jesus Meets Einstein
- Did the Gospel Writers Tell the Truth?
- The Evolution Fairytale
- The Day Common Sense Died!
- The Philosophy of Jesus
- The Report (Part 1)
- The Report (Part 2)
- Are All Religions True?
- Are There Contradictions in the Bible?
- Are All Religions True?
- Why Does God Allow Evil & Suffering?
- Bible Prophecy
- New Age Christianity
- The Wager
- When God Cried
- What Happened to America?
- Don’t All Good People Go to Heaven?
- Jesus at the United Nations
- False Teachers
- The Conference
- Jesus & the Woman at the Well
- The Day You face God
- Was Jesus Really Crucified?
- The Blind & the King
- Is Jesus God?
- The Meaning of Life
- Hero & the Fake
- The Insanity of Pluralism
- Who is God?
- The Tree of Good & Evil
- The Confused Agnostic
- Lazarus Come Forth!
- When God Seems Silent
- Case #1101
- The Proposal
- The Prayer
- Roman Catholicism
- Jesus Meets the Pope
- First Century Jesus
- The Patterns of False Religions
- Timid Christianity
- The Foolishness of Life without God
- An American Thanksgiving
- An American Christmas
- An American Valentine
- The Arrest of Jesus
- The Devil's Letter to America
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