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Agnosticism is the ultimate stupidity and wickedness because it doesn’t so much reject God as ignore him. If I were God, I’d be more angry at such cold indifference than anything else…

“Either God is, or he is not. But to which view shall we be inclined? Reason cannot decide this question. [Remember that Pascal’s Wager is an argument for skeptics.] Infinite chaos separates us. At the far end of this infinite distance [death] a coin is being spun that will come down heads [God] or tails [no God]. How will you wager?” The agnostic says, “The right thing is not to wager at all.” Pascal replies, “But you must wager. There is no choice. You are already committed [embarked].” I think Pascal is right, and this is why agnosticism is the worst idea that ever entered the mind of man.

As Pascal points out, we must choose. Agnosticism is not really an option, for we must act, not just think, in this life, and all action is either for or against the Good, that is, God. All actions either are oriented to and motivated by love, or they are not. (I mean voluntary, deliberate, and significant actions here—sneezing or putting on one’s pants in the morning might be safely considered neutral!) If God is love, then there can be no real neutrality. Now, Pascal was wrong that the human mind cannot know God, as Vatican I authoritatively teaches us, but he was right about the impossibility of existential neutrality with regard to God. And of course, Pascal’s wager is only a rough start for those who have little else than their self-interest to motivate themselves. One must go deeper.

It’s pretty simple, really. If you choose to live as if love does not exist, then you will have to accept the consequences: a loveless life and a loveless afterlife. Whether life ends in this world or goes on, you are not going to have love either way, for unconsciousness surely is not love, and if there is indeed life after death, well, you reap what you sow—why would you choose love in the afterlife if you rejected it in this one?

So, agnosticism is not just a bad idea—it is the most foolish of choices. Atheism, I think, might be the more noble gesture, perhaps, if it meant something like a protest against seemingly unnecessary suffering, a la, Ivan in The Brothers Karamozov. But, then again, it’s a spiritually dangerous protest if it doesn’t eventually resolve into the “good atheism” of rejecting all idol-worshipping religion and belief (which is what much of contemporary “religion” amounts to), and finally into a robust belief in the living God who ultimately transcends our human concepts and practices (though one must not discount the possibility of beliefs and practices that are divinely authorized and provided to us as spiritual lifelines to an otherwise ineffable and unapproachable divinity).

So, both agnosticism and atheism are ultimately tantamount to disbelief in love. I think agnosticism is a worse idea than atheism, as I say, for it would seem that there is more mercy available for the hot-blooded atheist than the luke-warm believer—Jesus talked about vomiting the latter, not the former, out of his mouth. Though of course, “The Fool says there is no God.” Perhaps some morally good atheists are actually rejecting a false notion of God that they do not realize is false, and hopefully, the love of truth that motivates this rejection will eventually turn into a recognition of the true God before the end. The same cannot be said for the agnostics, who believe and reject nothing. I seem to remember Dante suggesting that neither heaven nor hell wanted them.

One only believes in what one has a nature akin to. So, if one disbelieves in love enough to remain unmoved by it, as the agnostic does, it means his soul is lacking in love. Deliberate, conscious agnosticism, then, is really a moral, not primarily intellectual, decision—to live without love. The will is in charge in all belief, for it is not totally bound by the intellect that informs it. These mutually influence each other. Thus, real, deliberate and conscious agnosticism is a grave sin, not to be excused by ignorance, though invincible ignorance is a legitimate excuse. But this does not excuse a lack of love, just a lack of true belief. The agnostic has no excuse.

To demand proof of love, of God, as the agnostic does, is to reject love and to reject God. This is what Adam and Eve essentially did in distrusting God’s love. They had no “reason” to reject it. This is why the consequences of their actions were so grave—and all of us are mysteriously bound up in their original distrust. We sinned with them. They were the first agnostics.

The seemingly unnecessary suffering of innocents is the best reason, if there actually were one, to reject God’s love, whether in agnosticism or atheism. This is the best argument for disbelief or neutrality, in my opinion. But it ultimately fails. One must never stare into the abyss that our sins have created, else risk damnation in despair, for evil is not there for us to solve with our clever minds or condemn God for as if he were somehow ultimately responsible. We must, instead, keep our eyes fixed on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ and hold on to him for dear life in the midst of the evils that would otherwise suffocate our souls and eclipse all the beauty and love that this world still contains. Agnosticism is the ultimate stupidity and wickedness because it doesn’t so much reject God as ignore him. If I were God, I’d be more angry at such cold indifference than anything else.

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9 replies to this post
  1. “But you must wager!”

    Why? Are you going to put a gun to my head?

    If you compel me to state either atheism or theism, how is that different than any other coerced conversion. Muslims don’t make any argument other than violence. Is this what the western Christendom philosophy has collapsed to?

    Not all “I don’t know” proclamations are honest. Some are lazy as they don’t wish to address the question. Some fear the answer either way – that our lives are not eternal and thus meaningless, or that they will be judged by someone who can not be deceived or bribed.

    But some are. There are many scientific theories I’m sceptical of – agnostic to – because they go beyond experiment. Neutron stars and black holes? Maybe, but we don’t see them directly. Evolution minutiae? We don’t know how old the earth is – is it hundreds of millions or tens of billions? Well we just extrapolate and pick a number. A slighty educated guess. The whole EPR Quantum mechanic uncertainty stuff is spooky, and that CAN be demonstrated. But what can I make of it?

    What of climate change (was global warming, was the new Ice age earlier)? Can one be agnostic?

    If I honestly don’t know something, and can show there is no scientific evidence, is it not better to say I’m agnostic – without knowledge – than saying I believe either A or not A?

    It is like flipping a coin and insisting I MUST predict heads or tails. But I don’t know and can’t know.

  2. I’ve heard some atheists claim that agnostics are just atheists without the courage of their convictions. The flip side is to say that atheists are just agnostics with no humility. To claim that “There is no God” as if it were an indisputable fact strikes me as the height of arrogance whereas to say you don’t know might simply be honest confusion. And, given the state of some churches today, the latter isn’t hard to understand. Indeed, if I had been raised in the sort of “Church” that seemed far more interested in promoting gay marriage than condemning promiscuity, pornography and abortion, I might be very confused about God and religion, too.

  3. As Marcus Aurelius said “you always have the option of having no opinion.” I don’t see agnosticism as a rejection of love as much as an honest “I don’t know” and in a world filled with hate, cruelty, and suffering can you really blame people if they are skeptical about the existence of love.

  4. You must choose because the question is essential to being human. Some must answer so as not to put a gun to their own head. Agnosticism doesn’t work because it refuses to answer the ultimate question. From what I can tell, atheism largely refuses to ask it. Didn’t Dawkins say that “why” questions are the stupidest ones?

  5. Most agnostics that I’ve dealt with are not interested enough to do the heavy lifting required to resolve their questions. In one sense I can understand where they’re coming from since Christianity is, as it claims to be, a revealed religion; and with so many “revealers” which one do you believe. However, I have to believe that atheism, the type of atheism that insists that there is no God, is stupid. You have to know everything there is in the universe (and outside the universe) to know is not there

  6. Agnosticism is a bad idea (a wicked one…well that is another discussion) principally because it is an intellectually lazy idea. Come now, intelligent people have been discussing this – with good tools in their hands – since the 17th C. All this time and you’re still not sure? Come on, you might as well say that you’re not sure it is wrong to burn up innocent little children …

    • The fact that people have discussed the existence of God for such a long time does not imply that they have drawn any conclusions I should accept, and I do not think that failure to be persuaded by their arguments constitutes intellectual laziness.

      Also, the knowledge that it’s wrong to burn children belongs to a different category than the knowledge that God exists. I think that is a poor comparison.

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