The Ethical Skeptic

Challenging Pseudo-Skepticism, Institutional Propaganda and Cultivated Ignorance

Ignosticism

“The gentle outlasts the strong” or so it is observed in the Tao. Ignosticism – it is not a belief, rather a gentle idea and personal discipline – a refusal to act in the contrivance bullying of the nihilist atheist or fundamentalist theist. It is the only ethical pathway to a metaphysical choice. If you have made your journey through the path of ignosticism, I do not care where you land, but I will at least believe you in that quest.
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 these constructs later from agenda laden contributors. Ignosticism is an effort to reclaim that virginal status and no longer be tainted nor burdened by antiquated, imperious and incoherent arguments – a position unimpressed with obsessions over proof, rational thinking and divinely revealed truths.
Ignosticism is freedom.

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 nor 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. In ignosticism, I do not feel compelled to mock Muhammad or Jesus, nor marginalize believers as Inquisitionists or Nazis, nor blame atheism for Bolshevik/Stalinist/Maoist purges.

Ignosticism

/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 scientific comment on the matter. A personal freedom from antiquated, imperious and incoherent claims of traditional religion and atheism.

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 gift unfolds.

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. I favor ignosticism because of its discipline in applying The First Duty of Ethical Skepticism.

The First Duty of Ethical Skepticism

/philosophy : ethical skepticism/ : The first duty of ethical skepticism is to oppose agency. In the same way that science is a method, even so ignorance is also a method. But the scope of cultivated ignorance extends further than that of science itself, in that it is also a method of conditioning and contagion. It propagates through exploiting all manner of cunning and deceit. As an ethical skeptic, your first duty of philosophical acumen is not to execute the scientific method per se, which is straightforward in comparison. You are not here to promulgate conclusions, as that is the habit of your foe. Your ethical acumen is necessary rather, in spotting the clever masquerade of science and knowledge.

As a result, under such a discipline of real skepticism, 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 Make Any of the Following Claims:

= Qualifies as a Religion

ø = Qualifies as a Pseudoscience

despite all the rhetoric - CopyAgnosticism – 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

Nontheism – make the nonsense (Wittgenstein unsinnig Error) and/or nonscience (Popper Error) claims that

Personal Nontheism

  • I lack belief in god(s) – atheism (neutral)
  • I do not believe in god(s) – atheism (weak)
  • I do not believe that any god exists – atheism (strong)
  • I am mad at god or religious people so I claim to believe that god does not exist, as my revenge – extheist Atheism

Social Nontheism

  • there is no such things as a god of any kind, nor should anyone believe in them – nontheism (strong)
  • we are opposed to/seek elimination of any form of god worship – Anti-theism
  • I claim to be an atheist because it sounds better, but really am an Anti-theist and vehement Nihilist – Atheism ø
  • we are/I am god by implication (the functional placeholder thereof) – Social Skepticism ø
  • only the material and directly observable (approved by me or my club) exist – Material Monism ø
  • material monism is rational, proved science or scientific – Nihilism ø

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 including us – pantheism ø
  • god is indefinably in/all of us as a collective – 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.

Freedom to Let the Mystery Be

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.

A key understanding is this – inside ignosticism, one is free to make a metaphysical selection, or not make one, or even wait until one is ready to make one. All these are possibility, provided one does not force this decision upon others, nor promote their decision as being ‘based upon truth or science’. Such imperious claims are indicative of a heart which was never ready to make its own selection in the first place. It betrays an internal spiritual dishonesty. If you have made your journey through the path of ignosticism, I do not care where you land, but I will at least believe you in that quest.

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 (see footnote 1). 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.

The reality is stark: that among the three forms of logical inference, I cannot apply deductive inference to the issues of god and infinity, nor to a good degree inductive inference; nor can I ethically choose to deescalate to abductive inference. I simply must establish boundaries to the realm inside of which I allow the mystery to be. Be what it is, and not what I would make of it. This mystery, its reality and persistence, not only forces one to be humbly honest – in not knowing, but once one has settled their heart and begun to understand, reveals four of its own truths. Truths which I call the fourfold Law of Advanced Intelligence.

Letting the Mystery Be

Everybody is wondering what and where
They all came from
Everybody is worryin’ ’bout where they’re gonna go
When the whole thing’s done
But no one knows for certain and so it’s all the same to me
I think I’ll just let the mystery be

~ Iris Dement

The Philosophical Foundation of Ignosticism

This hypocrisy of attempting to define that which is not approachable by attribute is illustrated by the principles I call ‘Neti’s Razor’ and ‘I Am that I Am’ (or if you prefer a Sanskrit parallel, Aham Bramsmi). These are the horizontal boundaries of ethical skepticism and ignosticism, which I frame as part of four ordinates when combined with two additional corollaries, the Principle of Indistinguishability and the Non-Existence Definition. All forming a unified resulting and standing boundary of ignosticism – the letting be, of the mystery:

The Ethical Skeptic’s Law of Advanced Intelligence (Ignosticism)

I.  Principle of Indistinguishability (vertical)

/philosophy : science : boundary conditions : limits for claims/ : any sufficiently advanced act of benevolence is indistinguishable from either malevolence or chance.

The ethical heart of ignosticism (the vertical dimension of the graphic below), framed by the first two corollaries below in the horizontal, and the last corollary below in the vertical:

II.  Neti’s Razor (horizontal)

/philosophy : existentialism : boundary condition/ : one cannot produce evidence from an entity which at one point did or will not exist, to derive a conclusion that nothing aside from that entity therefore exists.

The principle which serves to cut secular nihilism as a form of belief, distinct from all other forms of atheism as either philosophy or belief. From the Sanskrit idiom, Neti Neti (not this, not that). Therefore, you are wholly unqualified to instruct me that this realm is the only realm which exists, and efforts to do so constitute a religious activity. So, nihilism falls into a lack of allow-for domain.

III.  I Am that I Am (horizontal)

/philosophy : existentialism : boundary condition/ : that which possesses the unique ability to be able to define itself, renders all other entities disqualified in such expertise. There is no such thing as an expert in god.

The principle which serves to cut theism as a form of belief, distinct from all other forms of belief as either philosophy or religion. From the Torah idiom, I Am (I Am that I Am or in Sanskrit, Aham Bramsmi).  Therefore, if god existed, you are unqualified to tell me about it. So, theism falls into a lack of allow-for domain.

IV.  Non-Existence Definition (vertical)

/philosophy : science : skepticism : elements of attributes/definition/ : six questions form the basis of a definition: What, Where, When, How, Why, Who. The answers to this set of six questions still form an expert definition of attributes, even if the answer to all six is ’empty set’.

Therefore, when one applies the ethics of skepticism – one cannot formulate a definition which is specified as ’empty set’, without due empirical underpinning, a theory possessing a testable mechanism and a consilience of supporting research.  We have none of this, and can make no claims to ‘non-existence’ expertise in god.

Violating Neti Neti is akin to having your mistress stand as an alibi witness in your adultery trial. It is a self-defeating condition of epistemological hypocrisy. In significant contrast, elucidated by means of this Razor therefore, (non-secular, non-nihilist) atheism itself is either a lack of belief, lack of conclusion or lack of allow-for concerning only deities. In parallel to this boundary is the bookend condition wherein one makes a claim that they have a definition for god, such that measurements and tests could have and can then begin to be taken.

The Secular Nihilist and the Theist are making the same premise claim “I have successfully defined god through my expertise and now the next burden step of scientific methodology is to conduct measurements based upon this definition, in order to prove his existence.”

Both the nihilist atheist and the theist are selling expertise in god. Agnosticism is expert open mindedness inside this debate. Ignosticism is in-expert open mindedness. There are no such things as ‘experts’ with god.

To the ignostic, this is an absurd claim and flawed logical process. The question asked is premature and incoherent, and suffers from a shortfall in domain intelligence and foundation philosophical work. In fact, to the ignostic, both secular nihilism and theism are pseudoscientific and absurd beliefs – ie. religions:

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

I could care less therefore, what you choose to believe. Just don’t force it upon me as science, divine revelation nor righteousness. When you do that, you act under your religion. In contrast, ignosticism is simply a lens by which this issue can be viewed rationally. Choices can be made from there, if one so chooses. Ignosticism contends that there can be no proscription nor prescription with the term god or deity. Just as there can be no null hypothesis. A hypothesis requires a base of observation, intelligence and a coherent definition. We have none of this. So all the claims of belief, neutrality, lack of belief, counter-belief, science, ‘science did not observe this,’ or ‘science proves that’ are all misrepresentations of science and discussions of absurdity or reaction in anger, to the ignostic.

Indeed, ignosticism is a deliberate path of ethical exit by means of the door through which one originally and unwittingly was shoved in the first place. The 27th quatrain of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Fitzgerald’s translation) laments expertly about recovered ignosticism:

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

I 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. We pretend that we know the meanings of such words.

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).

One must remember that a ‘lack of belief’ is not a scientific argument, rather a personal position. An ignostic ‘lack of allow-for’ is a scientific argument which precludes nihilism every bit as much as it precludes theism.

For the ignostic, only two conditions prompt a ‘lack of allow-for’ disposition:

  1. Something which has been Popper falsified by science, or
  2. Something which lacks Wittgenstein valid scientific definition (as is the case here).

Therefore, to the ignostic

1. agnosticism and atheism’s lack of belief are not scientific mindset disciplines, rather personal dispositions (albeit understandable ones),

2. virginosticism is moot from a practical sense, and

3. nihilism and theism are moot from a farcical sense. They are beliefs which are being taught through non-scientific means (Wittgenstein unsinnig).

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.1

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.2

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.

Familiar is not congruent with defined and coherent. Be wise in understanding this.

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.

epoché vanguards gnosis

——————————————————————————————

How to MLA cite this blog post =>

The Ethical Skeptic, “Ignosticism” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress,30 May 2018, Web; https://wp.me/p17q0e-3pJ

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Ethical Skepticism, What is Ethical Skepticism | , , | 12 Comments

If the New Religiously Unaffiliated are Not Choosing Atheism, Then Just What are They?

People are leaving religious affiliation in droves. Indeed, almost 18 million persons over the last seven years in the US alone left the faith on a statistical basis.¹ But only a slim margin inside this conversion base† is filing into the comparatively paltry ranks of atheism. Just who are these people electing this third option, the “nones” as they are titled by the Pew Research Study pundits? Why were Social Skeptics shocked at the results, and why do their shrill voices continue to pretend that this enormous and fastest-growing demographic group in the United States, does not even exist?
In fact, these numbers, countermanding the 150 year old false dilemma under which we have all been trained, belie a more staggering statistic that as much as 65% of the United States adult demographic has something other in mind than simply “atheism” versus “believing.”
What is this “other” category, and what does it comprise? Perhaps they, and not the material monists, big-A Atheists and Nihilists, are the real free thinkers and skeptics? As a true skeptic, I want to know what this new and growing demographic has in mind. I want to know why they are leaving traditional religion AND are resoundingly rejecting atheism at the same time.

US demographic shift away from both atheism and religiosity (2) - CopyBased on the recently released Pew Religious Landscape Research Study on America’s changing religious makeup, significant unrest is afoot inside the ranks of United States adult demographic.  Of the 245 million estimated adults comprised by the 2014 US population base, a staggering 50 million of these individuals have elected to opt out of both atheism and religion. A full 26% of the US adult population makes no comment on the issue of a ‘god’ and instead has chosen some form of different path from the polarizing mind trick which has enslaved American ontology for close to two centuries.

Who are these people? Just what manner of change is precipitating this gargantuan shift in the mindset of American adults? Well, one thing is clear, the shift is either stemming in part from or is closely associated with new information technologies. Technologies embraced and influenced by the youngest of our demographic. According to the Pew Research Study,

“While many U.S. religious groups are aging, the unaffiliated are comparatively young – and getting younger, on average, over time. As a rising cohort of highly unaffiliated Millennials reaches adulthood, the median age of unaffiliated adults has dropped to 36, down from 38 in 2007…”¹

Perhaps this is why Social Skepticism has taken such a great interest in changing the way in which information is ranked inside Google searches? Do they feel they are losing the battle at hand? Or surely this must all simply stem from the “War on Science?” Yes, that must be it! Heck, at least the churches, mosques and temples for the most part are not apparently threatened by this information technology change.  But Social Skeptics are threatened by these changes; highly threatened. Interesting… and perhaps now we see here why. This is worth scientific consideration.

Both Atheism and Religion are Losing Ground to the “Nones”

from the right and the left booksThe new and existing demographic are not embracing the false dilemma (mandatory selection inside a bifurcation fallacy) of religion or atheism. Just what then are they embracing? Certainly agnosticism (and very likely ignosticism) is represented in this count according to the study results;¹ to the order of 30% more persons in total than atheism itself. But both these tallies of atheist and agnostic, taken together, account for less than a quarter of all those who indicated that they are “unaffiliated.”¹ The new ontology, apparently free information based as it should be, is not enriching the collection plates of Nihilist or Fundamentalist alike. Perhaps Fundamentalists should join Skeptics in the Pub to drown their sorrows about losing the battle for the American mind. They can commiserate over their slipping grasp on controlling this old argument. But to my perception an idea set is winning. It just does not have coherence yet; and to my best suspicion, is exciting to a great number inside this demographic. But this is science yet to be conducted, so I can make no substantiative claim therein.

they are not listening any more buddyIt is remarkable really how persons who are religiously disconnected, reject the notion of calling themselves ‘atheist’ even when prompted with the chance to anonymously do so. On the order of 8 or 9 to one, they exhibit a distaste for the moniker. Why a distaste for either categorization? Is it attributable to apathy? Or is there something else, which we are not acknowledging, which is dawning on the ontological consciences of American adults, and especially our new adults? As an ignostic atheist myself, I want to know.

Finally, how many persons inside the 71% percentage points of the religiously affiliated, indeed sympathize with these ignored but latent new understandings on the part of the unaffiliated? It is incumbent upon real researchers that we begin to understand this ‘unaffiliated’ group, the philosophies to which they do affiliate, and the currently influenced religious ‘in-transition’ demographic. Why they are leaving in droves (or are about to leave†)? Why do they remain unconvinced by material monists, Atheists and Nihilists while in their religious exodus? Why are Millennials not adopting atheism either?

in general social skeptics get it that religions loss is not their gainIn general, Social Skeptics are getting the fact that a decline in religiosity does not immediately portend an increase in atheist rolls. In fact they have no idea what is driving this change in demographic, nervously citing the results as a victory. The pseudo-victory is quickly glossed over, dodging the ominous fact that these numbers might indicate something they fear even more than religion – people actually becoming activists, seeking that science be done – rejecting Nihilism – intolerant of dogma – and smart enough to distinguish the difference; even on tough and controversial issues. They are visiting the credulous websites, viewing the disdained videos, they are asking the forbidden questions. They are not intimidated with how ‘rational’ you are. They put credence in eyewitness testimony and a mountain of ignored ‘anecdote.’ They want research, not pre-cooked answers, and this does not bode well for Social Skepticism. The Center for Inquiry understates the results of the Study in the graphic above.

Note that the realization that this group in transition ‘aren’t all atheists‘ Ξ in reality to a 9 : 1 trouncing and rejection of atheism as an alternative to religion on the part of the “nones.”‡

perhaps the real pictureAccording to Encyclopedia Britannica and the traditional surveys they cite,² Fundamentalism, or the literal interpretation of one’s choice of religion, of all types, composes anywhere from 25 – 32% of the United States demographic adult population.² If we back this figure conservatively out of the ‘affiliated’ sample of respondents in the Pew Study, even if we attribute the top end 32% or one-third of the US population as being characterized by Fundamentalist traditional beliefs of all faiths, we end up with a whopping 65% of the population which is considering something else.

It is this something else which I, as a skeptic, want to understand.

I condemn or prejudge no one in these groups, save for those who are violent or seek to oppress others and squelch freedom of thought, education and speech. Were we to identify these oppressive and violent groups, we would have to demarc a very thin sliver of the population overlapping both the atheist and fundamentalist portions of the graph to the right.

As a true skeptic, I want to know more about this unheralded and latent group set, and why they have chosen to reject both of the bifurcated ideals which have been artificially forced upon them from their youth? Under the Scientific Method, when the right question is asked, I feel the next methodological and deontological question to pose is “Who are these people, and what is it that they believe?”

Without the asking of that question, are we really performing science here, or simply a 150 year old form of bandwagon entertainment?

please note that the term ‘leave’ incorporates statistically both those in the Pew Research Study who have changed their individual allegiances regarding religious persuasion between 2007 and 2014, as well as those we have lost by attrition and have been replaced by the new generation of adults inside that same timeframe.

please also note that I think this aversion to atheism stems from a malpractice of atheism on the part of Social Skeptics. Those who enforce Nihilism and material monism on others, but mistakenly refer to their beliefs as ‘atheism.’ Perhaps this, in as much anything else, explains the overwhelming public aversion to the term atheist.

There is Another Path to Consider: The Rejection of Dogmatism and Fear

dogmatismThe third pathway in all this, which is being given rhetorical short shrift vis-à-vis poll questions formulated from an 1800’s mentality, is the pathway I call Ethical Skepticism.  Now of course that terminology is not in the common vernacular and neither can I make the claim that these 50 million adult Americans are now choosing the pathway of Ethical Skepticism. They are not. But I can cite a case for research along the lines that the thinking inside this group bears some very common characteristics with Ethical Skepticism.  Research which makes the following substantiation for further, more philosophically savvy investigation regarding the new mindset dawning on modern Americans.

The Zone of Fear 23 - Copy1.  I reject Fundamentalism because it is a low information set, high in condemnation and dogma, and extracts money by means of the resulting fear of the unknown. I reject this for ethical reasons. I also understand that dogmatic denial of the unknown can stem from non-religiously generated fear as well.  Overly assured regard of what one holds as ‘truth’, with or without personification by a bearded grandfather icon, is not necessarily indicative of a philosophy developed independent of fear.

2. I reject Material Monism and Nihilism for now because they are operating on only a little more information than is Fundamentalism, in the grand scheme; yet the dogmatism is still disconcertingly high. Why? I just left dogmatism being used to generate fear and make money. Should I not hold off on jumping into another dogmatism, until we all as a species know more information?

3. The empirical evidence, scant or ephemeral as it may be, is NOT confirming Material Monism nor Nihilism; in fact is predictive in its falsification of both.  I await more information however. I hear the clamor from ‘Big-A’ Atheists about the fallibility of the mind, perception and memory. But, I am not ready to start drawing their conclusions and dogma until I know more than simply a collection of one-liners.

4. I do not hold the answer, save to say that I know that I no longer have to live in the past four millennia of ignorance.

5. I know this is a shocker:  But I do not have to even want an answer.  In a low information environment, both nihilism and fundamentalist dogma are sometimes an attempt to force an answer-from-want, spawned by such urgency. The universe is not going to crumble in despair and hellfire, simply because I cannot comprehend its extents.

6. The observable universe appears to be regulated by a cohesive set of laws which serve to bring us into being. I must trust that the philosophies which underpin such rigor – continue on further beyond the horizon of that which we can comprehend, much less observe or measure. I am not equipped to judge an intent (nor lack thereof) with the information set I now possess. Nor is this lack of information indicative of some form of shortfall or lack of faith on my part.

7. There is much much more that we don’t know, than we do know.


¹  Pew Research Study, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape;” May 12, 2015, Pew Research Center: Religion & Public Life; http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/.

²  Fundamentalism, Encyclopedia Britannica, Henry Munson, 2015 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. Chicago, IL; http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1191955/fundamentalism.

May 15, 2015 Posted by | Agenda Propaganda | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

Chinese (Simplified)EnglishFrenchGermanHindiPortugueseRussianSpanish
%d bloggers like this: