Originally posted by vistesd
Borne is describing what is often termed a “strong” or “hard” atheism. The difference between a “strong” agnosticism and so-called “weak atheism” seems minimal. I would suggest it has to do with the burden of proof: the “weak” atheist says that the burden of proof for admitting a supernatural category (e.g., supernatural theism) rests with the supernatur ...[text shortened]... this, and may offer a correction.
* Note: Weak atheism is sometimes called agnostic atheism.
Thanks, vistesd. I think it's important to define our terms to aid in communication.
As to the main topic of knowledge, which is an epistemological question, I think it's important to clarify one point (and please feel free to challenge me if you think I'm all wet): not only is Atheism, systemically speaking, self-defeating in the sense that a person claims unlimited knowledge in order to assert that no one with infinite knowledge exists, "strong" agnosticism is also self-defeating as a system, because it, in effect, says, "I know that you can't know."
The most respected position is, of course, the type of "soft" agnosticism that says, "I am open to evidence, but in the meantime I don't know that it's possible to affirm the existence of God."
I think we can all agree that, for a human, the goal of obtaining unlimited knowledge on any subject is a fruitless endeavor. Thus the myth of absolute human certainty remains a myth. Yet we believe in many things, indeed take them for granted that they are true. As Richard Rorty once said, "If anyone really believed that the worth of a theory depends on its philosophical grounding, then indeed they would be dubious about physics, or democracy, until relativism in respect to philosophical theories had been overcome. Fortunately, almost nobody believes anything of the sort."
The point here, as I understand it, is that it is possible to affirm something, not because you have unlimited evidence, but merely that you have evidence at all. You may believe in mathematics even if people had forgotten how to write equations, because it makes sense that mathematical precision is possible in a world where natural laws are involved. While it is true that a man's hunger does not prove that he will get bread (he could die of starvation in a desert), it does prove (though not conclusively) that he comes from a race that maintains itself by eating and that, somewhere, eatable substances exist.
The real question, to return to our original poster's query, is "What is the truth of God, if any; and who, if anyone, has it?" If we acknowledge that truth exists(this is, of course, elementary as the very fact that we are asserting and defending things proves we all believe in truth), we must acknowledge a source of truth exists. This point, I believe, must be firmly established before we move on.
I apologize if I am stating the perfectly obvious, but in a post-modern culture, you can't be too careful. 🙂
Whew, long post! Thanks for letting me jabber. Any further thoughts?