Sunday, October 30, 2005

Agnosticism's Strong Claim to Metaphysical Knowledge

Philosophical agnosticism in regard to the existence of God makes a strong claim to knowledge. The person who states “We cannot know whether or not there is a God” claims to know what we can know and what we cannot know. Such a claim is universal in that it infers that no one, in principle, can know whether or not there is a God. Thus the claim marginalizes, by fiat, persons who claim that one can know whether or not God exists. Atheists and theists alike come under the epistemological condemnation of the agnostic.

This position has been called “strong agnosticism (SA),” as differentiated from weak agnosticism. A weak agnostic states that they do not know whether or not there is a God or gods. A strong agnostic states: such things cannot be known by anyone, anywhere. Strong agnosticism makes strong claims about the nature of knowledge and reality. Weak agnosticism is about a personal belief. My interest is in strong agnosticism precisely because of its dogmatic marginalizing.

I find SA hard to believe. Why? First of all, the claim that knowledge of God is impossible assumes that something is known about “God,” otherwise the claim is nonsensical. Secondly, the strong agnostic makes a very strong, almost supernatural (but surely metaphysical) claim about the nature of reality. Thirdly, I believe that much contemporary SA is rooted in methodological naturalism. Here one’s ultimate faith is placed in a certain non-scientific definition of “science.” This includes "science" as the key to "knowledge" and "truth." See Plantinga for more here.

I think inductive arguments for atheism and theism are more reasonable approaches than SA.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Miracle of Design In the Cell

Check out this 37-minute video (free) on the complexity of the cell system. It features, e.g., Michael Denton.