The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance


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 Bolshevik/Stalinist/Maoist purges. I practice the quietest of all approaches. 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 or cite them as wrong, is indeed vanity.
When we are born, we bear no awareness of arguments around god and deities, nor do we even hold a coherent definition of such. We only learn this argument later from agenda laden contributors. Ignosticism is an effort to reclaim that virginal status and no longer be tainted or burdened by antiquated and incoherent arguments.

As an ethical skeptic and a pursuer of science, the gentle outlasts the strongignosticism is the branch of atheism to which I subscribe. Ignosticism is a discipline of thought which seeks to avoid the common social discourse pitfalls regarding the discussion of theism: specifically those of Wittgenstein (sinnlos and unsinnig) and Popper Demarcation error. I simply contend that the concept ‘god’ bears no scientific Pathway to Accepted Knowledge, and therefore I cannot conclude anything or make further comment on the matter. Ignosticism is a personal discipline based upon the idea that most or all theological views assume baseless underpinning extraordinary claims to knowledge, as demonstrated by Wittgenstein unsinnig and/or Popper nonscience disputes, coercion, polemic and philippic discourse.  Ignosticism is silent in the face of rhetoric over undefined concepts such as divinity, god, spirituality, heaven, afterlife, null sets, damnation, salvation, alternative life forms, sin and the soul. In ignosticism, I do not run around telling everyone (on any side) how ridiculous their beliefs are. This arrogance is anathema to the character of the ignostic.

To the ignostic, the mere fact that we exist, and the fact that I reside in this vessel and experience this realm is orders of magnitude more fantastical and improbable than any other claim which has been submitted to me. Beyond claiming my rights as a being, I cannot make any other claim to truth. I expect to be utterly amazed as this giflt unfolds.


/ihg-ˈnäs-tih-sih-zum/ : ontological silence : a personal discipline that holds that the concept ‘god’ bears no falsifiable (Popper) definition (Wittgenstein), and therefore prohibits me from concluding or making further comment on the matter.

There is a list of positions however (below) which the ignostic cannot in good conscience make in statement. Instead the ignostic chooses the simple 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, conclusion or commentary for which one must develop an apologetic to defend. As a result, under such a discipline, my personal discipline contrasts with the impetus behind the following list of claims made by philosophy, pseudo-science and religion (denoted by –  see What Constitutes a Religion? and The (Ethical Skeptic) Definition of God).

As an Ignostic I Do Not:

despite all the rhetoric - Copy = Qualifies as a Religion

ø = Qualifies as a Pseudoscience

Agnosticism – make the nonsense (Wittgenstein unsinnig Error) claims that

  • you/we have not defined god for me (this is not the same as mute ignosticism) – agnosticism (passive)
  • I do not know if god is knowable – agnosticism (strong)
  • I do not know if there is a god or not – agnosticism (weak)
  • god might exist but it does not/no longer matters to me – Extheism
  • I have no idea so god is irrelevant to me – agnostic apatheism

Atheism – make the nonsense (Wittgenstein unsinnig Error) and nonscience (Popper Error) claims that

  • I lack belief in god(s) – atheism (neutral)
  • I do not believe in god(s) – atheism (weak)
  • there is no such things as a gods of any kind – nontheism
  • god does not exist – atheism (strong)
  • I am opposed to/seek elimination of any form of god worship – Antheism
  • I am god by implication (the functional placeholder thereof) – Social Skepticism ø
  • only the material and directly observable (approved by me) exist – Material Monism ø
  • material monism is rational, proved science or scientific – Nihilism ø
  • I claim to be an atheist but really am a vehement Nihilist – Atheism ø
  • I am mad at god or religious people so I claim to believe that god does not exist, as my revenge – extheist Atheism

Igtheism – make the nonscience (Popper Error) claims that

  • god is meaningless (this is not the same as ‘not holding falsifiable definition’) – igtheism
  • the concept of god does not make sense – theological noncognitivism
  • the senseless (Wittgenstein sinnlos) concepts of god render it irrelevant to me – apatheism (weak)
  • the senseless (Wittgenstein sinnlos) concepts of god render it inherently irrelevant – apatheism (strong)
  • gods exist as an advanced terrestrial, extra-terrestrial or Inter-dimensional culture – interventionism

Deism – make the nonsense (Wittgenstein unsinnig Error) and nonscience (Popper Error) claims that

  • some form of god or gods might or must exist – deism
  • the elegant interleaved dependencies of nature/physics hint that a god must exist – natural theism ø
  • the god or godhead exists – theism
  • a council of gods exists – elohimism
  • god is an omni-empowered person seeking to eternally love, punish or forsake me – fundamental theism
  • I am one of god’s chosen people – electism
  • a certain person is god – hominem-theism
  • I am a god – egotheism
  • I am god’s chosen one – messiah complex
  • I am the god – ego sum deus/insanity
  • I am god’s messenger – prophet complex

Forsantheism – make the nonsense (Wittgenstein unsinnig Error) and nonscience (Popper Error) claims that

  • god is indefinable and might or must exist in several disparate forms – forsantheism ø
  • god is indefinably everywhere – pantheism ø
  • god is indefinably in us all – iptheism ø

Neologism – make the senseless (Wittgenstein sinnlos Error) claim that ignosticism is a neologism

The philosophical construct placeholder, as well as the scientific basis of its discipline have always existed, both distinct in approach from the above list of thinking and philosophy, ∴ ignosticism is not simply a new word, and holds specific isolate and logical critical path roles. Therefore the term fails the three tests for rejecting a neologism (novel, non-isolate, non-critical path).

For example the word ‘five,’ was never a neologism. While the word five was new at one time, it was an isolate (basic element) in the sequence of numbers, and held a preexisting critical path role in math logic. Therefore the word five failed two of the three tests to qualify as a neologism. To claim that a word is a neologism, simply because it is novel, under this circumstance where the other two tests of a neologism fail, constitutes a Wittgenstein Error (Descriptive). To claim that a word is a neologism, because it is superfluous with another term (above) which in reality does not, or only slightly overlaps it, is a fallacy by proxy equivocation. The word ignosticism only overlaps with the terms above, to the shallow and untrained mind.

Unless of course one makes the contention that ignosticism is a version of ‘science,’ a fortiori – in which case one might have a point; as the term would hold utility, but also be superfluous.

Additional good news is found, in that, since ignosticism is not a form of theism-abstracted argument, I am also free to not comment or conclude upon a whole host of other ethereal/mystical/spiritual issues aside from the concept of god. No forcing any personal ontological or pseudo-epistemological contention upon others! Such a concept! Ethical Skepticism in application.

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 as part of my formulation of thoughts around ethical skepticism.  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, 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 personal choice to disarming the consideration of absurd contentions – Their conversion to the ethical discipline of silence. 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.

Atheism Spectrum

Not that I am instructing anyone to do so but, personally, I choose a ‘Lack of Allow-For’ rather than simply a ‘Lack of Belief.’ This because a ‘Lack of Allow-For’ adheres more closely to the tenets of ethical skepticism. But at the same time I do confess an affinity for both the atheist and agnostic positions. I consider those who hold to those tenets as being individuals who are sincerely deliberating the issue. I do not consider the 3 belief category proponents above to be sincerely deliberating anything – rather trying to instruct me as to what I should believe.

Of the most commonly held contentions, 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 bears no Wittgenstein language of definition. 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. The religions of 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. Ontological silence. This is why you do not hear much from the ignostic.

Its Contrast and Reconciliation with Atheism

The path to The Knowledge of GodI do not possess a frame of reference on the subject over which you obsess, so how can I possibly recommend or force a view of it upon you? Were you a Hollywood producer asking me to chime in on the tag-along restrictions of the latest version of a Screen Actor’s Guild contract, I would respond that I have absolutely no idea what any of those things are indeed. Ethically, I could not comment. But with atheism and theism participants, un-dawned on their mindset, is the fact that the principles of the SAG, tag-along laws, and Hollywood contracts 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 a SAG, and that there are contract laws or tag-along clauses. This pretense constitutes a Wittgenstein Error (unsinnig) in that no language exists, no definitions exist in reality, the context is unframed and the basis of understanding is solely ontological.

The ignostic is ‘unskilled in the argument by choice’ – it is an ethic of attempting to regain the virginosticism of a newly introduced and dispassionate player. A refusal to enter the game of either the duality (belief/anti-belief) or the pretense of knowledge of what the word ‘deity’ means.

But since one can never reclaim a virgin status, sadly the state of ignosticism is the ethical stance of the atheist who refuses the game. It is a circumspect and well considered choice (yellow text in the graph above).

In the above graphic, you see differentiated a position of knowing the definition of god, and choosing whether or not to hold belief, as distinct from either an ignorance of or a refusal to acknowledge god as a coherently defined subject. These are the two categories on the right hand side represented by the gnosis and ignosis boxes respectively. The third box, ‘virginosticism’ is simply a term I made up to elicit the circumstance where we are not even aware that such a debate even exists, moreover nor are we aware of our own lack of belief in the circumstance – as a result. As in the case of aliens or newborn babies – they are brought to the table without any introduction into the debate in the first place. Ignosticism can be viewed as an attempt to try and regain this virgin status of gnosis. To go back to the circumstance where the argument did not even exist in the first place. And while one cannot step back to a status of pure virginosticism – ignosticism can be a viable alternative to knowledge based lacks of belief (agnosticism and atheism).

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. Under a Wittgenstein definition of science therefore, it is moot whether or not I know or do not know that I do not hold a coherent definition for ‘god,’ therefore to Wittgenstein and an ethical skeptic, virginosticism is farcically moot (and indeed it is only posed as a lever for understanding here) and the two concepts merge into one philosophical entity called ignosticism. I refuse to acknowledge that the concept has been given a coherent or observation based definition. I adhere to what the Tao says about declaring the duality (gnosis state resulting choice of belief or anti-belief in the graphic/belief-superset above):

The Tao Te Ching cites in Classic Tao Chapter 2:

ttc - CopyThe 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 are the same form of circus clown, both wearing makeup, just painted with different faces. 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 nontheist atheist offers the special pleading exemption from this reality by citing ‘well then I don’t believe in gods of any kind, any definition!’ (nontheism). To my friends who are nontheist atheist, I cite this special pleading as a false pluralistic single, a version of the Plurocratic Fallacy.

Pluralistic Single Plurocratic Fallacy

/noun – apologetic/ : 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 to not 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 realm, 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 intelligence of any kind, benevolent celestial life, advanced technology or inter-dimensionality? In the false pluralistic singular, pretty much any definition or domain you craft for 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/igtheist, we have heard this type of claim before, from the very people you disdain. The simple fact is that you are dancing the duality – and pretending to not dance.

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 (Wittgenstein), backed by falsification reduction and sound science (Popper). 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. Once one broaches the threshold of implying such underlying extraordinary claims – as often expressed in the contention that others are materially incorrect, correct or irrelevant; to the ignostic, one is now participating in a religious argument.

Some philosophers have seen ignosticism as superfluous neologism; because it is simply 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 : ontological silence : 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 presumptions 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.’ 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. All a life spent dwelling inside absurd noises and wasted philosophy.

TES Signature

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!

February 15, 2015 - Posted by | Argument Fallacies, Ethical Skepticism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Hi there,

    Only came across your blog recently but I’ve found your posts to be incredibly insightful. I plan to go back and read through all the old posts and stay up to date with any new posts.

    I used to be religious but am no longer a believer. At one point I was a fan of the ‘New Atheist’ movement but I had reservations, though I couldn’t articulate them. Your posts have helped me critically understand and articulate the differences between ethical skepticism and social skepticism.

    Do you have any recommendations of books/sources to delve deeper into the ideas you talk about in your blog? What books/sources might provide a solid foundation for ethical skepticism? And what have been some of the books/sources that have made an impact/been influential on you?


    Comment by samborn | September 14, 2015 | Reply

    • Hey samborn Welcome,

      I too made the journey from sincere Christian, who sought god’s will for my life every night and morning – and eventually began to feel that the explanations I had been handed were indeed wrong. Later in graduate school, attending a debate between an evolutionist and a creationist, I spoke on a subject in defense of evolution. I was so prepared on the topic that I absolutely embarrassed the poor girl promoting creationism. I did not prepare my argument from the lever which exploited the ample scientific and phylogenic data in support of evolution; rather I took the approach of pointing out the weaknesses in the nature of her argument, eliciting the belt fed machine gun of propaganda she had been served – naming at least 3 fallacies per contention she had made, and pleading for her to go back and re-read what the Bible actually said – I could quote the scripture more fluently and accurately than she could in the few verses she attempted to stumble through on her note cards. It was the same stuff I had been fed as well. I knew it backwards and forwards – having read the Bible over 6 times, and memorized so much of it that I received an A on my open book undergrad theology Bible class, when I forgot to bring my Bible with me to the final exam. LOL!

      But something bothered me about that debate for two decades, and I could not shake it. Perhaps it was the innocent and searching look in the young lady’s eyes, or perhaps (as I passed it off through that timeframe) it was a guilt over having betrayed the sincerity of my own youth, in exchange for intellectualism. Nonetheless, I had a nagging foot in each camp – my allegiance to the primacy of science, and my heartfelt desire to understand the true nature of humanity, its origins and the possibility of more than what we observe or choose to observe. This was the foundation of my original thinking on ethical skepticism. I truly and sincerely wanted to discover the answers…, and not be told them. I found as my career developed and I experienced more of this planet, I no longer wanted to destroy the opposition. Something bothered me about where I had been, and where I was heading.

      I have run several research and advisory firms, as well as scientific labs – and develop scientific reports as an integral facet of my career. And in that regard I highly recommend the book “The Art of Scientific Writing” by Ebel, Bliefert, Russey. Probably the most beneficial chapters deal with the responsibility one carries in the delivery of 1. thought first, and 2. information second. Clean thinking can rescue clean information from crap. Crooked thinking will always convert clean data into garbage, even without the participant’s awareness. I like to measure the ability of my techs and researchers vis-à-vis their ability to craft a cogent, flowing, compelling and accurate Abstract. This shows me that they not only know the subject, but they know its philosophy as well. Other books and resources which have influenced me include Carl Sagan’s “The Cosmic Connection,” and “The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” (although I actually found these treatises ironically to bear a venue for critiquing the social skepticism movement and some, not all, of Carl’s work in skepticism). As well, Nassim Taleb’s “The Black Swan” and Alan Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind.” The whole series of Isaac Asimov non-fiction, “The Road to Monticello” on the developing mind and life experience of Thomas Jefferson. Poetically, Walt Whitman “Leaves of Grass;” although it is almost smotheringly Americana in its delivery, belying virtually its keen message if one be offput by the syrup of setting. As well both books on the Art of War and Guerrilla Warfare by Sun Tzu and Mao Tse-Tung respectively. Then of course a steady diet of Plato’s Ethics, Aristotle and Nietzsche.

      Perhaps, and in cliche’ form so, my best book on ethical skepticism has been my life. This indeed is unfortunate, because I cannot find a single book on “Ethical Skepticism” in the bevy of fake skeptics diatribes I have read. This genre of books make me sick to read, much like reading a religious polemic by !!!Max Lucado!!! or some propaganda outlet of just such a nature. A well written scientific report or patent, clear on observations and claims sets, replete with its own self-criticisms and cogent set of next steps, is probably a best sound treatise on Ethical Skepticism. Moreover, I have lived and done things that 99.99% of people never even get close to doing (and fully realize this is cliche in it offing). I will not outline all that here, of course; but safe to say that I have seen the gamut of extraordinary and outlandish observations which a man can make in this life. Perhaps my greatest teacher was being inside the deep bowels of the US and Middle Eastern intelligence community. I cannot outline that in detail, but suffice to say, I received a PhD in the art of deception, lying, propaganda and facade development – along with the skills of detecting counter-intelligence. I watched kingdoms build on complex lies, and kingdoms fall – not on the soundness of new facts – rather, the betrayal by an ally who already knew the facts, just as did everyone else. They all chose to live the lie, until it was time to adopt a new lie. Power enables lying. As a culture of man, we feast on a banquet of well planned deception and misdirection. My clearance was Black Top Secret and involved numerous compartments. And inside that structure I gained access to events and information, few get to see. What I learned – our world is not as it is portrayed, and we have been fed a steady diet of semi-truth for some time, as a people, a culture, a race.

      One thing this has taught me is a love for the victims of the elaborate charade. The 4.5 billion people on this planet who are the abject sufferers – the losers in this spin contest. Yes, such a charade can indeed be pulled off, despite numerous whistle blowers – shot down by so called ‘skeptics.’ The urgent extant need is to begin to train the minds of our young to be able to detect both flim-flam based, as well as official, deception.

      Thanks and keep coming – as I continue developing the blog, I will continue to hone my approach to this new type of thinking.

      My intent is to write the first and best book on Ethical Skepticism. Sadly, and almost condemningly, it does not exist.


      Comment by The Ethical Skeptic | September 14, 2015 | Reply

  2. I like the term ignostic, but I would never use it myself because it almost always requires an explanation. Since I need the explanation, I might as well just explain what I am without the label. I have enough of those put onto me as it is.

    Comment by Grundy | February 19, 2015 | Reply

    • Understandable. That has to be other main reason, aside from the quiet nature of the philosophy, as to why no one really has heard of it. As long as you are comfortable with people assuming that you are a Nihilist, then that makes total sense.

      Me. I am not comfortable with people concluding that I am a Nihilist any more than them thinking that for some practice I have, certainly I must be a Christian.

      I bristle at participating in promotion of the ignorance. Religions thrive on ignorance. If they do not know what an ignostic is, then you can smile and just have them look it up.

      Thanks for a spot on observation tho….

      Comment by The Ethical Skeptic | February 19, 2015 | Reply

Comment (Moderated)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: