Are there any gnostic atheists out there? Just wondering.
Yes. I know some who are wholly gnostic. However, I would much rather describe atheism as a spectrum; in other words, my level of certainty depends on the god in question. I am certain that there is no Zeus, no Odin, no Wotan, no Ahura Mazda, no Yahweh, no Allah and no Waheguru. When it comes to most gods, I am a gnostic atheist; or so I would like to think. However, Spinoza’s god, Brahman and the general Deist conception are not so easily dismissed; thus, they lead me to agnosticism. Given that information, I present two methods of dealing with this information:
The Certainty Method:
The certainty method is too simple in my opinion. The certainty method states that because one is not entirely certain concerning all gods, one cannot subscribe to gnostic atheism and therefore, must subscribe to agnostic atheism. However, the next method is more complex and it makes more sense as it can be shown mathematically.
The Percentage Method:
The percentage method states that a percentage decides whether one is agnostic or gnostic; thus, if your percentage of certainty is over 50%, one must subscribe to gnostic atheism, but if it is 50% or lower, one must subscribe to agnostic atheism. For instance, let us take five of the gods I mentioned: Yahweh, Allah, Zeus, Brahman and Spinoza’s god. Now, I will assign honest percentages according to my level of certainty given my background knowledge; however, let us bear in mind that all probabilities must be nonzero:
Spinoza’s god: 50%
As an agnostic, one cannot draw a conclusion concerning the existence or lack thereof of a given god; therefore, it is logical to assign a 50/50 probability. Now, when we multiply each percentage and then multiply their product by 100, we arrive at a percentage of certainty [(.999*.999*.999*.5*.5)*100]. In this case, my percentage of certainty is 24.93% (rounded to two decimal places). The percentage method shows us two things: 1) Level of certainty may only be based on background knowledge; therefore, if you don’t know about god x or god y, they cannot be included. The fact that the method cannot include ignorance may be considered a weakness. 2) An agnostic probability is likelier than a gnostic probability as you can gather from my example; though I had three levels of certainty close to 100%, my percentage of certainty was drastically affected by the gods I’m uncertain of. Point of all this: agnosticism is the more rational point of view; however, when enough information is available, one is expected to make a conclusion.
To arrive at the most objective and honest levels of certainty, Baye’s Theorem can be used. For instance, as an atheist, our h (hypothesis) is that Yahweh doesn’t exist; however, we must test that against ~h (Yahweh exists). This must be assessed given our b (background knowledge) and e (evidence). That’s where it gets tricky and that’s why I said the percentage method is complex. By the way, these are my own methods — all in the interest of honesty.
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