“The gentle outlasts the strong” or so it is observed in the Tao. Ignosticism – it is an idea – a refusal to act in the contrivance of Nihilist or Fundamentalist bullying. It is the only ethical pathway to atheism. In ignosticism, I do not feel compelled to mock Muhammad, or marginalize believers as Inquisitionists, or blame atheism for Stalinist/Maoist purges. I observe that it is our humanity alone which produces its keenest wisdom and its worst violent nightmares. To blame those unlike one’s self is vanity.
/ihg-ˈnäs-tih-sih-zm/ : the idea that most or all theological views assume baseless underpinning extraordinary claims to knowledge, as demonstrated by absurd debate over undefined concepts such as divinity, god, spirituality, heaven, afterlife, null sets, damnation, salvation, alternative life forms, sin and the soul. The distinguishing of one’s philosophy as a gentle idea and not a religion, an aversion to citing others as being materially incorrect, the refusal to boast of knowing the right question to ask in the absence of sound falsification based science and the lack of any theological position for which one must develop an apologetic to defend.
Ignosticism is the branch of atheism to which I subscribe. Ignosticism presents attractiveness for me as a philosopher, former arch skeptic and former studious religious youth, in that it allows the unknown to persist and does not force abject conclusions to the pro or con upon science, self or others. I spent almost two decades in the ‘atheist/believer’ camps, and eventually began to see the philosophical folly of both. Ignosticism’s central argument is intrinsically a discipline, and not a tenet – it does not possess something to be forced upon others. Much like the Tao is a difficult faith to force on others, much because of its ethic of self discipline of thought (and the fact that once you force the philosophy, you are no longer acting in the Tao anyway†), the essence of ignosticism is an ethic of simply disarming the absurd. Neutrally rejecting forced-religious presumptions and definitions. It is a refusal to claim that one knows the penultimate question to ask in the first place. Ignosticism is ethically skeptical.
Indeed, in many ways ignosticism is like good science and skepticism. It is honest, lacking boast, neutral, observing, data collecting, making no claim nor possessing an eagerness to do so without sound basis. It demands that the right questions be asked first, and that no presumption to personal inerrant knowledge underpin one’s search. And in absence of good data and an appropriate question, ignosticism refuses to force a conclusion.
Theism, Strict atheism, Nihilism (‘Big A’ Atheism), Agnosticism as well as Fundamentalism are all religious philosophies to the ignostic. Faiths distinguished by holding definitions for that which is undefinable. Distinguished by the way in which one presumes to ask questions, or for all but the Agnostic, the choice one makes to subsequently cite all others as being materially incorrect. Nihilism and Fundamentalism in particular, take absurdity to the extreme of bullying. This is where the social rancor over ‘atheism’ and ‘theism’ originates. It is a fight between extreme dogmatists. Ignosticism cannot boast of material certainty, or that such questions can even be asked. Nor can it be forced as a religion; as it is simply an idea.
In ignosticism, I do not know what a god is. I have no basis to declare others as being wrong. Therefore I have no belief which to defend. This is why you do not hear much from ignostics.
Its Contrast and Reconciliation with Atheism
I do not possess a frame of reference on the subject upon which you obsess, so how can I possibly force a view of it upon you? Were you a radio control enthusiast asking me to chime in on the FAA debate regarding private drone operation, I would say that I do not have the first inkling of knowledge as to what any of this is. Therefore I cannot comment upon either side of the argument. But with atheism and theism, moreover the principles of the FAA, drones and laws do not even exist, so the questions are much more basic than the participants of those philosophies even realize. They simply pretend that there is an FAA, and that there are aviation laws or radio controlled aerial devices. This pretense is absurd.
Even more so with this concept you call god, I have no idea what a god is – so I can make no claim as to whether or not one exists.
The Tao Te Ching cites in Classic Tao Chapter 2:
The gentle outlasts the strong
When the world defines beauty as beauty, ugliness arises
When it defines good as good, evil arises
Thus extant and nonexistent produce each other
Difficulty and ease are their own co-creators
Long and short reveal each other
High and low only exist because of each other
To the ignostic it is the defining of the principle and character of a god which creates both the theist and the atheist. They both worship the same creature crafted of their imagination and seek to enforce that version of worship, veneration and null-veneration, as a set of truth on mankind. To be fair, the atheist offers the special pleading exemption from this reality by citing ‘well then I don’t believe in gods of any kind, any definition!’ To my friends who are atheist, I cite this special pleading as a false pluralistic single, a version of the Plurocratic Fallacy.
Pluralistic Single Plurocratic Fallacy
/noun – apologistics/ : a special pleading wherein one claims that their argument applies not to just one version of its claim, but all possible versions of its claim – while failing to define a distinction of such versions – so as to cover all bases in advance. It is therefore a special pleading distinction without a difference.
It is the same exact argument, painted to appear as if it resolves the primary critique. It does not. It is purposely crafted to flex one’s philosophy so as to accommodate any objection that can be brought. This renders the philosophy, a philosophy in name only. The argument is an apologetic grasping for the ethic of ignosticism, when ignosticism does not have an apologetic to begin with. When one chooses to negate an idea, as the Tao Te Ching adeptly cites, one has revealed both itself and its antithesis. One is dancing in the duality, just pretending not to dance.
This broaches the key weakness of pluralistic single atheism. If you reject all ‘gods,’ by nature of their being and bearing a minimal set of characteristic skills in this world, where do you draw the line? Omniscience? Omnipotence? Fathomless Compassion and Love? Or simply some reduced specter of each along the road thereof? You reject then higher beings and caring intelligences, benevolent celestial life, advanced technology or dimensionality? In the false pluralistic singular, pretty much any definition you foist of this specially pleaded ‘god,’ might well exist. The only reason, in your philosophy it does not exist, is because you said that it does not. Where did you get the exhaustive method and evidence from which to underpin this conclusive claim? Ah, someone told you, and said that they were correct because ‘science’ proved it to them. Yes, my dear atheist, we have heard this type of claim before, from the very people you disdain. The simple fact is that you are dancing the duality.
You are “acting in the contrivance‘ according to the Tao.†
Ignosticism is the idea that any religious term or theological concept presented must be justified through coherent epistemologically derived definition, backed by falsification reduction and sound science. Conjecture is allowed in such a role as to exemplify philosophy, without trivialist’s critique. However, beyond this, without a clear definition, an ethical question cannot be formulated, and such principles cannot be meaningfully discussed. As such it remains an idea. Once one broaches the threshold of implying such underlying extraordinary claims – as evidenced by the claim to others being materially incorrect; to the ignostic, one is now participating in a religious argument.
Given the extraordinary nature of the domain, inherently such concepts must also be falsifiable. Lacking this, or only possessing predictive, associative or anecdotal evidence (see Popper Error), an ignostic takes the theological non-cognitivist position that the existence or nature of the principles presented (and all matters of debate) is meaningless.
Some philosophers have seen ignosticism as a variation of agnosticism or atheism. This is superficial and incorrect. This equivocation allows for cognitivist apologetics to be broached, and therefore is not consistent with the core idea of ignosticism to begin with.
Indeed in this nascent field of ideas, independent author Tristan Vick makes the argument that ignosticism, is the only valid pathway to atheism.¹
The atheist, by his own definition, can make no opinion on matters of afterlife, spirituality, the soul, or alternative life forms. Those topics have no context inside of Strict atheism as atheism is only a conclusion about ‘gods.’ The Nihilist possesses final definitions and conclusions about all such concepts, and the debate is closed. This is the strong, it is the power of undeniable conclusion acting inside the contrivance decried by the Tao Te Ching; which eventually falls to the subtle whisper of evidence/lacking evidence rending the original questions absurd.
The ignostic in contrast is free to ponder the gentleness of ideas, and is free from the strong of defined conclusions.
Free to research and consider such principles as their epistemological framework comes into clarity, as they have detached their ideas from the artificial construct of god or ‘no god.’ The idea of a god is absurd and irrelevant to begin with, so why would one want to base an entire philosophy on its dispute? In the end, the diligent atheist who no longer wishes to instruct others as to what is and is not in absence of enough knowledge, must find their path through the integrity of ignosticism, both in freedom from religion, and freedom of discussion domain. The diligent theist must likewise step off the pulpit of certainty and regain the wonder of not knowing and model the integrity to withstand the cognitive dissonance which arises from being intellectually ethical. Otherwise they both are forever fixated on the religious duty of telling others that what god and all these things are, and indeed that they do or do not exist. An absurd contention and waste of a life’s philosophy.
¹ Vick, Tristan; Ignosticism – A philosophical Justification for Atheism, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-1490961828, pp. 23 – 46.
† Tao Te Ching, Classic. I do not practice the Tao Te Ching as a religion, rather simply observe its writings and highlight where I see wisdom. It is a casual interest, not a life passion or practice of faith or religion. But then again, the Tao would say that I am therefore practicing the Tao. Oh my gosh, will the Plurocratic Fallacies never end! LOL!
This is the purposed inheritance and destiny of the Moral Arc. Perhaps we cannot exist in the future by any other means. I do not pretend to know the answer to that. All I know is, what I have seen first hand is that which junta and mafia corruption controlled governments bear as habits. Those habits preside right along these lines. And I do know that I don’t want to be a part of this future. – TES
The Ten EnDamnedments of Nihilism
1. Your sentience and human intelligence have been proved to be exclusively an artifact of biological variation; iteratively mutated, survival culled, conserved along with a long history of precursor versions, replicated and expressed, all inside of 30 megabytes of allele data. This renders you a worthless, pestilential fluke of nature.
2. You are hidden in an unoccupied far corner of all there is. Your life as a flesh bot is solely the result of single instance, accidental material chemistry and closed set energy. Therefore, you are alone.
3. Your so called ‘free will’ and ‘self’ are an illusion of neurofunction, the sociopathy of which renders you a wholly ignorant and detrimental presence on Our planet; unworthy of the right to determine your means of health, diet, education, purpose, property or other supposed matters in defense of ‘self.’
4. There are no extant or nearby forms of life, intelligences or information which could relate to your presence, or through which you could understand more, develop self, nor through which any individual rights or cultural morals could be derived.
5. Therefore as a weed, you bear nothing special about you which would warrant an accommodation of life, liberty or a pursuit of happiness.
6. Your disarming and emasculation of power, freedom and unauthorized property is justified therefore.
7. Only science is qualified to determine rights, responsibilities and morals. A supreme rule through the fascism of science/governance is manifestly justified therefore, as your only ultimate option towards fealty.
8. We are the science. You are not.
9. There are no extant other realms or intelligences which could hold Our Neo-Fascism morally or ethically accountable.
10. You exist and function at Our behest.