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Post 0

Tuesday, February 26 - 11:33amSanction this postReply
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It was the combination of reason and emotion - both at full throttle, at the same time. Passion and logic. That struck me with considerable intensity (back then, at that young age, I hadn't even realized that I had a bit of a subconscious division in play where a person was rational, or emotional but not both - I had chosen reason and was repressing emotion).

The other factors that were extremely important were the "Heroic view of man" - very important to me! and the "Benevolent view of the universe," without which it would have felt somewhat alien (I was lucky enough to have gotten a start in a family that made it easy to see life as good and success as possible).





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Tuesday, February 26 - 12:20pmSanction this postReply
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Difficult choice for me...

I first discovered Objectivism (though I didn't know it at the time) when I began reading The Foutainhead my junior year of high school.

This introduction was intoxicating. It only became more so when I proceeded to read Atlas Shrugged, Anthem, We the Living, and The Virtue of Selfishness my senior year.

I was awestruck by many of Rand's ideas. Her heroic view of man, the universe, and the potential for happiness only compounded my excitement at having discovered Objectivism (I was a malevolent, Socialist, power-luster at the time, so this may be another reason why I found her ideas so compelling, they were different and novel).

Back to the poll, as I said this is a difficult choice for me, so if I have to choose one I will choose "Heroic view of man". This is what intially attracted me to Objectivism and, I'm glad to say, it still has a great influence on me today.

Another idea of her's that amazed me was her view of morality. Up to that point (age 16), I shared the view of many others, that morality is a set of chains. Something we have to do. Rand's reversal of this both floored and excited me. Her idea of morality, expressed in the following quote (my second favorite of hers), is what sealed the deal for me:

The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live




Post 2

Tuesday, February 26 - 1:38pmSanction this postReply
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I came for the emphasis on reason, and that was my answer to your poll. Looking back, though, I'd have to say that I stayed for the guilt, anger and moralizing that so pervade the writings of Rand and NBI-era Branden and which fit right in with what I was used to.



Post 3

Tuesday, February 26 - 6:02pmSanction this postReply
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I came to it via The Virtue of Selfishness and so answered "Egoism in ethics" for the poll.



Post 4

Tuesday, February 26 - 9:25pmSanction this postReply
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Peter,
Looking back, though, I'd have to say that I stayed for the guilt, anger and moralizing that so pervade the writings of Rand and NBI-era Branden and which fit right in with what I was used to.


Aye, in the absence of the whip, the flesh begins to heal. But there comes a time when the flesh yearns for the comforting sting of repeated lashings. Even better if the lashings never cease.

[Edited to delete strange link]
(Edited by Joseph Rowlands on 2/27, 1:12pm)




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Post 5

Friday, March 1 - 1:06pmSanction this postReply
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Egoism. I came in via Anthem.  My introduction to the concept actually was via Existentialism. 

I had an algebra class with this really cute Japanese girl behind me.  Racism and hard feelings from "the war" still ran deep.  (Back then, we had fewer, so everyone knew what you meant by "the" war; but we began numbering them.)  But I already got the message from my mother that we are all immigrants and in particular, both sides of our family came from places that once were kingdoms but then were Axis Powers.  "So, why didn't they put us in concentration camps?" I asked, when she told me about the Japanese.  "Because they needed our labor for their steel mills," she said.  (Mom was a Republican.)  Anyway...  Chio was reading Existentialism by Sarte and although the title was hard, the book was thin.  Existentialism is about taking personal responsibility for your existence. Paraphrasing Sarte, you did not start the war, but here you are in it.  It is your war. 

And the heroic sense of life.  Existentialsm is not heroic. Objectivism is.  It is the difference between Woody Allen and Harrison Ford.

A




or Non-A
 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 3/01, 1:08pm)




Post 6

Friday, March 1 - 7:03pmSanction this postReply
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It's unbecoming to start an argument in a poll discussion thread where everyone is basically just airing their personal feelings. It's better to have a non-threatening atmosphere where people can just spill their beans and then let the chips fall where they may. Chips and beans. Chips and beans. Yummy. But alas, Mike, you brought up existentialism and what you said needs a rejoinder. Actually, it's just a simple qualifier:

There is a sense in which existentialism is about taking personal responsibility for your own existence, but it is not the right sense to be using when talking about human philosophy. The right sense is the one that gets evaluated by whether you were responsible or not when you were "taking responsibility" -- and existentialists aren't necessarily responsible human beings. Heidegger at least temporarily joined the Nazi's, for instance. That's not a responsible thing to do as a human being, especially for someone who is so trained in thinking (someone who has great power to evaluate the net merit of an act). Instead of being responsible, it is irresponsible -- it is an attempt to get away with living a lie.

Where does that leave us? Existentialists take responsibility for "an" existence, but not necessarily for a "human" existence. They are not responsible to their own nature as a human being. Indeed, they do not even "believe" in the general concept: human nature. This is how you get the random kook* who believes it can be good to rape and kill kids.

Ed

*Ian Brady/Moors Murderer




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Post 7

Sunday, March 3 - 8:45amSanction this postReply
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I'm 57. I wonder if I can really channel my actual thoughts back to when I was 14. So I answered as a 57 yr old, as I must. Reason as a means to knowledge...and implicitly, knowledge as a means to happiness.

But was that what initially attracted me?

Hmm. I wasn't initially just attracted; it was also about being repelled.

Someone I respected and admired and loved(my older sister) when I was 14 threw a well worn copy of AS at me and said "Read it."

I did, and couldn't put it down. As best as I can remember, back then, in 1969, with me about to enter my last year of jr high, ninth grade, the ideas expressed in her book were nothing like anything the rest of the world was trying to sell me. And after reading AS, I sought everything else she ever wrote and hungrily read it all. And later, often just for the sheer pleasure of it, have reread her works again.

But at 14, I'd just finished my instructed two year march through catechism as a youth, protestant evangelical christian instruction. At the end of that process, you are 'confirmed' in some rote ritual. My parents gave me the choice, and I wanted no part of it at all. It seemed stale and rote and cultish. It was pure misery. I never went to church or sunday school as a member again after that experience, and have only rarely been dragged into church in the 40+ years since, weddings and funerals and such. (There will be no minister at my 'services.' If my expressed wishes are met, I will be cremated, my ashes spread on the Lehigh River that I once grew up on and loved, period.)

My parents fully respected my wishes, barely even a discussion. They were merely checking off a parental duty, I think, consistent with the culture of the times.

But none of the gibberish I was being told in that church -- what substitutes for a weekly dose of philosophy in most young folks lives back then -- made any sense to me at all. I mean, I regarded it as 'good' but ... also filled with incomprehensible gibberish. A little too spookerish for me. Hell, a lot too spookerish. It was just ...gibberish, and it sounded like gibberish, and when I'd ask questions only to be told it was -supposed- to be incomprehensible, I regarded it as a long running purely man-made scam, had no respect for it at all. Walked away. In my mind at the time, not necessarily from any concept of 'God' but certainly from any aspect of man-made religion.

And I migrated to my present state of agnosticism; I intellectually understand the concept of God(not God)and so, intellectually understand that such a concept is neither provable nor disprovable from within the universe; if God is exogenous, then God can only prove himself, and if God is endogenous, as I strongly suspect but cannot prove, then God will never prove himself because he truly does not exist as God. Logic is a monster that way. Either way, it is not my concern to prove that God exists; I was placed in this universe, as it is, either by the universe, as it is, or by an exogenous God, and so, who am I to question my existence here? It was not my choice it was my gift, even if just from the universe as it is, and so, miracle enough.

If God made everything, including me, including logic, then it is purely God's responsibility that I don't have faith and believe in an exogenous God. As far as I can tell, the meme that I 'need faith' is being sold not by God, but by charlatans here on earth selling memberships to their political organizations.

And so, I am a devout agnostic on the concept of God, perfectly content in the universe I find myself in if that universe itself, as it is, is the only concept of God that truly exists. It for certain created me, and for me, that is plenty God enough.

Not the same as an atheist; to me, based on my understanding of logic, an atheist knows something that he can't possibly know about the concept God, and so, either does not intellectually understand the concept God or does not understand logic applied to that concept. It is not possible to know that something external to this universe does or does not exist until and if that something makes itself exogenous.

It is possible to know that through universal laws only, we are bound to this universe, and until such time as we develop the knowledge to circumvent or augment those laws, we have no ability to ascertain the existence or knowledge of anything outside of this universe. That is not logically the same as knowing that something does not exist, which is the atheist's firm belief. It is the same as faith precisely because the concept is external to the universe. A non belief in something would not be the same as faith if the concept was endogenous to the universe. And a non belief in something external to the universe that has not yet made itself exogenous(by injecting itself into this universe)can at most be expressed as "probably not" -- which is where agnostics come in. Agnostics don't -know- that which cannot possibly be known. Atheists -know- that something external to this universe does not exist.

I have a purely hypothetical example based on two universes- one dominated by matter, and a second dominated by antimatter, but it is flaky in detail. The point is, not only can't they know about each other(they are moving away from each other at the speed of light), but they may not as well; doing so would destroy both of them.

It is also not the same as pure symantics about the definition of 'universe.' We can intellectually define a term meaning 'all that is both internal and external to our universe' -- but that doesn't change the logic about what we can -know- about what is external to this universe.


That -- well mostly that -- was my thinking on the topic back then. It wasn't a scary thought. It wasn't a lonely thought. It was the only sense I could make out of the intellectual concept God as creator of this/the universe.

And then, at exactly that time, my older sister throws that copy of AS at me, and I am blown away. Here is someone intelligently writing about a philosophy based on living in this universe, on this earth, as it is, as the person I am. A philosophy based on reason as a means to knowledge, as a means of living in this universe, as it is, as we are.

And I never looked back at that muddy confused spookerville.

This life, this universe, is plenty miracle enough, and Ayn Rand's philosophy of life on earth is a celebration of that miracle.

Rand says that this universe and all that is endogenous to it is all that is of our concern, us being, those of us also endogenous to this same universe. That which is outside of and may or may not make itself exogenous is above our concern or paygrade, and will and can and must take care of itself; it is a waste of our gift here in this universe to concern ourselves with that which is safely external to this universe (until and if it makes itself exogenous by injecting itself into this universe), and it is only men in funny hats performing carny huckster tricks that claim otherwise. They've rolled their eyes into the back of their heads and seen visions, trust them, that external God is speaking through them to us.

Well fuck that noise, not buying it. Any God worth worshipping is perfectly able to sell direct and doesn't rely on carny middlemen wearing funny hats. And being repelled from that is certainly a part of what attracted me.

regards,
Fred



Post 8

Sunday, March 3 - 11:03amSanction this postReply
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Hmm...I smell an Atheism vs. Agnosticism debate coming.  It seems there are two definitions of the distinctions.  Is it "don't know vs. can't know", or is it "know there isn't vs. don't know there is?"  This thread is probably not the place for the debate, but I can't help posting this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUmnkYF0fG8  ("South Park Agnostic Drink")

:)




Post 9

Sunday, March 3 - 11:48amSanction this postReply
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Fred,

We are almost on the same page, but I would argue that God isn't a concept, but more like a proper noun. And if She is not a proper noun, then God is an anti-concept


Dan,

If my recent article submission is approved, then your prediction has a good chance of coming true.

:-)

Ed




Post 10

Sunday, March 3 - 6:15pmSanction this postReply
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Dan:

Enjoyed the SP video. But to complete the analogy, the refrigerator would have to be outside of the universe, unless of its own volition it made itself exogenous (and inserted itself into the universe we are in.)

Agnostics wait for the refrigerator to insert itself and until then say indeed, it's not possible to know what is in side the refrigerator, or even, if there is such a willfull refrigerator outside of this universe. Agnostics might even say things like "probably not" but stop short of -knowing- that which logically can't be known.

It is in fact possible to know that which is endogenous to this universe, such as Coke and Pepsi and Christianity and Judaism, etc. Marketers are all over all of that.

No debate from me forthcoming; I don't see the point of atheist vs agnostic debates unless jarringly in the context of some religion; they are individual beliefs, chosen by individuals, not in the context of any group/religion that I'm aware of. At least not one I'm a member of. Why am I here, and what am I supposed to be doing now as a result of that? -- these aren't questions that free people have answered for them by any group or debate. Those are questions that each of us answer by living our lives, period. The We form of those questions(Why are we here? What are we supposed to be doing now as a result of that?) are for collectives and cults and religious movements in which all members share the same answers or have those answers impressed upon them by others.

The context of this thread was a question about an individual reaction/motivation; what was our initial interest in the works of Ayn Rand. In my instance, that attraction corresponded to a time in my life when I was also being repelled from traditional religious beliefs.

regards,
Fred



Post 11

Sunday, March 3 - 7:56pmSanction this postReply
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Like Fred, I have no interest in that old Atheist vs. Agnostic debate. But there is a point I want make before moving on.

If they are being careful with their words, Atheists don't say that they know there isn't a God. What they say, is that no evidence has been presented for the existence of a God that stands up to logic. And belief in something in the absence of any evidence isn't rational.

What pops up in my mind regarding "God"? Lots of details about different religious beliefs and attitudes - those the beliefs and attitudes are real things in the minds of the believers even if there is no existing referent in reality. The Atheist sees the discussions and beliefs and writings and attitudes, but the God being discussed doesn't show any existence beyond their professed beliefs and literature. Just the same as with Unicorns and Leprechauns and such. It is kind of like the saying, "You have any opinion - right or wrong, but there is only one set of facts."
--------

I just struck me... an agnostic has to be agnostic about literally thousands of different Gods and perhaps thousands of different views of each one. How does one distinguish between Thor and Yawah as existants? And about the possibility that gravity in a different universe works totally different, and that every single fact and every single principle is possibly not right. Anything can be postulated as existing just outside the universe and about to intrude and change things - unless we hold that we cannot call reasonable anything for which there isn't evidence.
--------

Fred, there's a problem with your formulation of an Agnostic as someone who might logically wait for God to insert himself into our universe, and says, until then, it's not possible to know the properties of God, or says we can't yet know if God is outside of this universe. The Agnostic is discussing the existence of a God, as if we know what that might be, and as if we know it could even be possible, and all that before there could be any evidence.

We have evidence of CLAIMS there is a God, and that is all we have - claims - and we can explain them as primitive philosophy that isn't founded on logic, and as mythology, and as con artist rhetoric, and as attempts to satisfy feelings of insecurity and fear. But as a concept of something with a real existence it has no more evidence than the claims that the universe was created in 6 days. They are claims like those that Santa Claus exists except they are intended for adults as well as children.
---------

Despite the absence of any evidence the Agnostic claim is that it is reasonable to assume their might be an entity for whom there is zero evidence. I can reasonably say, "If it is possible that there might be such a thing as multiple universes, or if it made sense to say that there might be something that exists outside of our universe, then it is reasonable to go one step further and to say that we know nothing about what is outside of our universe. We can't even say that some such thing exists." That is a reasonable statement. But to go one step further and to assign a general identity - to label it as "God" is dropping into mysticism because it is implying the existence of some evidence that supports that identity. Don't we have to know that it is reasonable to assume such a thing as a God can exist BEFORE we postulate that He might be outside of the universe. For example, it is true that all of the literature and beliefs regarding magical elves is just fiction and they don't exist as described... in our universe. But, says the Elf Agnostic, they might have a real existence outside of our universe. If that were sound reasoning, them we'd all need to get on board with this Agnostic epistemology that anything we can imagine might exist, but it is just conveniently outside of our universe (leaving us behind a veil of ignorance :-)



Post 12

Sunday, March 3 - 10:23pmSanction this postReply
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So, Steve, how do you judge faster-than-light-neutrinos, and PET scans? PET: positron emission tomography.  The positron is the anti-matter electron. The positon is demanded by the same plus-minus quantum equations that require negatives for time. 

Now, it so happens that for the so-called "charge" of an electron to affect (and effect) the so-called "charge" of another electron, both must exist forward and backward in time. Don't ask me. It is beyond my understanding to explain to you.  I only accept what I read as being logical, consistent, and empircally verfied.  I am reading James Gleick's biography of Richard Feynman, Genius.  (You disklike my "pimping" for my own blog, so I will leave it for the interested reader.)

I used to say the same things you did because Ayn Rand's atheism provided nice, pat answers to stop Christians.  But now reality seems more complicated than that. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4UcaLHaabY

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 3/03, 10:25pm)




Post 13

Sunday, March 3 - 11:51pmSanction this postReply
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My head hurts!



Post 14

Monday, March 4 - 12:20amSanction this postReply
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So, Michael, you are saying that you think God might exist. Is that right? Based upon what? PET scans?



Post 15

Monday, March 4 - 4:46amSanction this postReply
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Steve:

I don't speak for all or even any other agnostics-we don't have a church, as far as I can tell, and same for atheists. (Well, maybe there is one, as a kind of a must be joke, but I just know I've never sought one.) I am responding to the concept of God that I didn't make up-- that is described as being an omnipotent creator of this universe and therefore outside of this universe. I'm saying that this agnostic concerns himself only with things that are internal to this universe, and will wait (as in, not holding my breath)for anything outside of this universe to inject itself before claiming I can know anything at all about it inside the universe I find myself in.

I am saying, by definition (by others) their Gods are both inside and outside this universe at the same time, and I am saying I only -know- about anything that is inside this universe and nothing inside this universe has ever given me the slightest indication that it is also outside this universe at the same time.

The missing bridge is 'faith.' I've noticed that when I am asked to have 'faith' that something unknowable exists anywhere in order to 'know' it, that I am being asked to have that faith not by that something, but by other peers. I accept as inconsequential to me the faith that others have, no matter how arrived at. It is theirs, fully,not mine. And, I could only wish, vice versa, as peers. I don't judge any holder of faith for their faith until and if that faith lurches across the one skin, one driver boundary. I also accept the polite requests at my doorbell from time to time to Hear The Word, and politely decline.

When they(my older sister, for example)tell me that God has spoken to them with this message of faith, I can only respond that no such God has spoken to me with that message of faith, that in fact, whatever created me and placed me in this universe has led me through logic to a place devoid of that kind of faith.

This agnostic has a simple answer for any hypothetical outside of this universe, be it a sister anti-matter dominated universe separated from this one at birth(Two for the Price of None), or a God of an imaginable form; "I don't know." ... because it is by definition not knowable. I live in this universe; that is a boundary condition imposed on me by whatever process created me here. Who am I to be an ingrate guest, and demand that I also have superpowers capable of knowing things outside of this universe? Above my pay grade. There is plenty to wonder about and be grateful for inside of this universe, more than a lifetime worth.

Even if we're only grateful to the universe, as it is.

By definition, the concept God could be anything, especially things not ever yet imagined. We going to worry about making hoops for our imagined Gods to jump through, in order to prove they are God to us? Doesn't have to be a Magic Unicorn. A kid buys a packet of brine shrimp and for a week or so has created a universe in a glass globe. He is in one definition of universe outside of theirs. Is he a God? Not to us Gods. And to us Gods, those shrimp can't possibly think on the level of we Gods. Could they possibly imagine the world outside of their bowl? Absurd, say we in the much bigger universe.

Impossible? For sure,in this bowl.

regards,
Fred

(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 3/04, 4:47am)




Post 16

Monday, March 4 - 9:38amSanction this postReply
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Fred,

We'll just have to disagree on this one.

My point is that you would have to do two things to take your position:
1.) Imagine the possibility of some other universe, or some place that actually exists, but isn't inside of our universe, and that place might be home to God. I think that there is a real problem with defining 'universe' in this fashion.
2.) Grant some credence to a belief in God as a concept of something that might exist, so that you can say God might or might not exist outside of our universe.

I can't find any epistemological succor in those approaches.
-------------------

You said, "This agnostic has a simple answer for any hypothetical outside of this universe, ... 'I don't know.' ... because it is by definition not knowable."

I use the word "universe" to mean all that exists and therefore there are no other universes and there is nothing outside of the universe. So, if something exists, it part of the universe and and it is therefore potentially knowable.

I could be agnostic about something... but only if it were something that could exist (an imagined thing that doesn't violate known laws and might be discovered some day). But if it is a concept of an entity that is defined in ways that violate natural laws, or defined in a way that contains internal contradictions, or 'defined' with a description that is too vague to be a definition, then I'm Atheist about it.
-------------------

You said, "By definition, the concept God could be anything, especially things not ever yet imagined." I'd say that was mysticism in that it takes this one area - God - and exempts it from the normal purpose and rules for definitions.

By definition, a definition tells you what a thing is, not that it can be anything.

A thing that can be anything, has no identity. To say that the identity of a thing is that it has no identity is a contradiction. And identity and existence are two views of the same thing - identity is existence, existence is identity.



Post 17

Monday, March 4 - 9:52amSanction this postReply
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Well, I don't want to clog up this thread on a tangent but I would add this: I think the agnostic Fred is outlining is very nearly what you might call a "rational Atheist", perhaps the only difference being one of attitude. No rational Atheist is going to come up to you and say, "Hey, there is no God, and I can prove it to you!". That is ridiculous. What one might say is, "Hey, the premises you are accepting are inconsistent with each other and with the world that you are living in; and so your God, as you view him, does not exist."

But then you leave some room for rationalization. The person could make his views a bit more vague, and you would not be able to ultimately disprove his beliefs. But perhaps therein lies the problem of agnosticism. It gives respect to the arbitrary. The agnostic says, "Well perhaps you're right, I can't disprove you". The atheist says, "Well I can't disprove you, but who gives a shit?"

I guess in my view I would call Fred a rational atheist.

PS- I found the following link from Peikoff insightful:
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/agnosticism.html



Post 18

Monday, March 4 - 10:18amSanction this postReply
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...therein lies the problem of agnosticism. It gives respect to the arbitrary.
Very well said, Dan.

I like that Fred put this arbitrary stuff in another universe... And I'm a fan of his approach to things in this universe. I'd just like to eliminate the idea of anything outside of existence/this-universe and in doing so, push that arbitrary stuff out of the realm of the rational.



Post 19

Monday, March 4 - 7:40pmSanction this postReply
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Hey, Jules, [adopts evil grin] there's something I wanted to share with you, but you may want to take some ibuprofen before you read it:

You can be both an agnostic and a believer at the same time.

How does your head feel now?

:-)


Ed

p.s., Agnostics discuss whether something is knowable, and believers merely share their personal choices on matters -- so nothing prevents them from occurring together in the same person! Such a person might sound like Kierkegaard [both a believer and an agnostic]: It cannot be known whether God exists or not, but I am going to personally choose to believe in him. I'm going to do it as an act of will. I will will myself to start believing in him. That would make me truly free.

In fact, you can find stuff from Augustine on down regarding apologetic, epistemological agnosticism concurrent with a proud declaration of personal belief. 

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 3/04, 7:43pm)




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