Agnosticism quotes

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Below are a number of agnosticism quotes.

Agnosticism is unreasonable quotes

Norman Geisler on complete agnosticism

Christian apologist Norman Geisler wrote on complete agnosticism:

Complete agnosticism is self-defeating; it reduces to the self-destructing assertion that "one knows enough about reality in order to affirm that nothing can be known about reality." This statement provides within itself all that is necessary to falsify itself. For if one knows something about reality, then he surely cannot affirm in the same breath that all of reality is unknowable. And of course if one knows nothing whatsoever about reality, then he has no basis whatsoever for making a statement about reality. It will not suffice to say that his knowledge about reality is purely and completely negative, that is, a knowledge of what one cannot meaningfully affirm that something is not – that it follows that total agnosticism is self-defeating because it assumes some knowledge about reality in order to deny any knowledge of reality (Geisler, Apologetics, p. 20).[1]

Shaun Doyle: Four problems with agnosticism

Shaun Doyle writes:

First, either God exists, or He doesn’t. And, theism and atheism imply starkly different worlds. Atheism is a world of no objective purpose, meaning, beauty, or value. Theism expects science to work; it’s a massive accident if God doesn’t exist. But this contradicts strong agnosticism, which entails that theistic and atheistic worlds must be indiscernible. It also means weak agnosticism is flawed. The wildly different implications of theism and atheism make it unreasonable to remain agnostic forever.

Second, the weak agnostic might be unreasonably incredulous regarding the evidence for God. For instance, most Muslims reject the historicity of Jesus’ death by crucifixion based on the Koran (e.g. Surah 4:157), despite the fact there is overwhelming evidence that Jesus died by crucifixion. Muslims refuse to accept an obvious truth due to a deeply held prior commitment. If so many people can be blinded to well-evidenced truths due to a faulty bias, it’s not hard to see that the same is possible for the agnostic.

Third, it assumes that their allegedly poor position to know about God is permanent. Rather, a person’s ability to know truths fluctuates with changing circumstances. It may be that they were once in a better position to know, or that they will come into a better position to know. The weak agnostic’s ability to know about God is in principle provisional.

Finally, a dogged stance of doubt in the face of uncertainty is not very reasonable. For instance, Jesus said: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). The psalmist said: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8). God’s goodness is worth grasping, and He is willing to answer those who seek after Him. As such, even if there is such a thing as reasonable uncertainty, that need not translate (and if God exists, certainly should not translate) into reasonable doubt.[2]

G.K. Chesterton quote on agnosticism

“Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” – G.K. Chesterton[3]

Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli quote on agnosticism

“Now if the religious skeptic is right, we can know nothing about God. And if we can know nothing about God, how can we know God so well that we can know that he cannot be known? How can we know that God cannot and did not reveal himself—and perhaps even through human reason?” –Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics, p. 371.[4]

J. Budziszewski quote about agnosticism

“To say that we cannot know anything about God is to say something about God; it is to say that if there is a God, he is unknowable. But in that case, he is not entirely unknowable, for the agnostic certainly thinks that we can know one thing about him: That nothing else can be known about him.” In the end, agnosticism is an illogical position to hold to. –J. Budziszewski, Quoted in Ron Rhodes, Answering the Objections of Atheists, Agnostics & Skeptics, p. 25.[5]

Laurence B. Brown on agnosticism

The Islamic scholar Laurence B. Brown raises the question to agnostics: ""You claim that nothing can be known with certainty ... how, then, can you be so sure?"[6]

Quotes of the agnostic Charles Darwin

evolution darwin theory
Late in Charles Darwin's life, Darwin told the Duke of Argyll that he frequently had overwhelming thoughts that the natural world was the result of design.[7] In a letter to Asa Gray, Darwin confided: "...I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science."[8]

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states regarding a candid admission of Charles Darwin:

In 1885, the Duke of Argyll recounted a conversation he had had with Charles Darwin the year before Darwin's death:

In the course of that conversation I said to Mr. Darwin, with reference to some of his own remarkable works on the Fertilisation of Orchids, and upon The Earthworms, and various other observations he made of the wonderful contrivances for certain purposes in nature—I said it was impossible to look at these without seeing that they were the effect and the expression of Mind. I shall never forget Mr. Darwin's answer. He looked at me very hard and said, “Well, that often comes over me with overwhelming force; but at other times,” and he shook his head vaguely, adding, “it seems to go away.”(Argyll 1885, 244)[9]

In a letter to Asa Gray, Darwin confided: "...I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science."[10]

Agnostic Eric Kaufmann on the lack of confidence of the secular population

See also: Global agnosticism

The agnostic Eric Kaufmann is a professor of politics at Birkbeck, University of London and author. His academic research specialty is how demographic changes affect religion/irreligion and politics.

Kaufmann wrote in 2010:

Worldwide, the march of religion can probably only be reversed by a renewed, self-aware secularism. Today, it appears exhausted and lacking in confidence... Secularism's greatest triumphs owe less to science than to popular social movements like nationalism, socialism and 1960s anarchist-liberalism. Ironically, secularism's demographic deficit means that it will probably only succeed in the twenty-first century if it can create a secular form of 'religious' enthusiasm." [11]

(In 2015, Pew Research indicated in their report The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050 that agnostics and atheists “will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.”[12] See: Global agnosticism)

Agnosticism and cowardice quotes

  • Studs Terkel, a self-described agnostic, jokingly referred to the frequent charge of agnostics being called cowardly, "You happen to be talking to an agnostic. You know what an agnostic is? A cowardly atheist".[13]

Aldous Huxley and sexual immorality quote

See also: Atheism and meaninglessness and Atheism and morality

Aldous Huxley

The agnostic Aldous Huxley wrote:

I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning - the Christian meaning, they insisted - of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.[16]

See also