Agnosticism - the best way


#1

I have problems with several religious issues, but I think they are all related, however perhaps it is best to have concerns.

I have asked for explanations from several sources, without success. Sometimes I am reminded of the movie “A Serious Man”, which is really a modern version of the Book of Job.( http://sinema7.net/2010/03/contrast-and-comparison-between-a-serious-man-and-the-book-of-jobplus-schrodingers-paradox-just-for-fun/)

Perhaps the worst sin is pride, trying to be like God, understanding everything. A bit of humility in one’s ability to understand is no harm.

So perhaps agnosticism is the best approach for me, with humility admit I do not understand or know God, as he is.

I include some quotes that may be relevant.


16 The LORD God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die. (Gen. 2:16-17 NAB)

8 See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ. (Col. 2:8 NAB)

NAB 1 Corinthians 8:1 Now in regard to meat sacrificed to idols: we realize that “all of us have knowledge”; knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. (1 Cor. 8:1 NAB)

2 If anyone supposes he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. (1 Cor. 8:2 NAB)

12 At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:12-13 NAB)

4 or to concern themselves with myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the plan of God that is to be received by faith (1 Tim. 1:4 NAB)

20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid profane babbling and the absurdities of so-called knowledge. By professing it, some people have deviated from the faith. Grace be with all of you. (1 Tim. 6:20-21 NAB)

23 Avoid foolish and ignorant debates, for you know that they breed quarrels. (2 Tim. 2:23 NAB)

20 But who indeed are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Will what is made say to its maker, “Why have you created me so?” (Rom. 9:20 NAB)

16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16 NAB)

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given him anything that he may be repaid?” (Rom. 11:34-35 NAB)

9 Avoid foolish arguments, genealogies, rivalries, and quarrels about the law, for they are useless and futile. (Tit. 3:9 NAB)


#2

I didn’t follow what you’re looking for.
You sign as a Catholic - so, you profess faith in the doctrines, creeds, teachings, etc. Right?
From that, you know quite a lot about God.
Agnosticism would mean you don’t know if God exists.
Concluding you don’t know everything about God - well, welcome to the human race. :slight_smile:
But we know God not just from books or creeds - but by dialogue with him.
He’s there - we just have to take the time to pray and listen and follow.
As for your difficulties - I didn’t see those. Do you mean you don’t understand the quotes you posted? Or is it something else?


#3

Hi!

…could not understand your query… do you mean that you should pretend to not know things or that unless you know and understanding everything you cannot accept them?

…if it is the latter, are you aware that that position can impede you from eating most foods, drinking most things, enjoying most activities, speaking with most people, and even learning new things?

Maran atha!

Angel


#4

Thanks you for immediate replies.

Using my brain, science, learning, reason or knowledge is not enough. As a simple old retired pensioner I get confused, and I am unable to know for sure about my religion.

Basically knowledge is not enough to tell us clearly about God.

Faith, a supernatural gift, is needed. One needs revelation where one does not rely on knowledge, but on God’s word.

We used to say “faith is the evidence of things that appear not", or “*Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” *(Heb. 11:1 NAB).

So agnosticism is the answer. We cannot know God, but we can, with God’s help, believe in him.

I am reminded what Tertullian did not say “Credo quia absurdum”.

I have added a few quotes and notes.


ADORO te devote, latens Deitas,
quae sub his figuris vere latitas:
tibi se cor meum totum subiicit,
quia te contemplans totum deficit.

[HIDDEN God, devoutly I adore Thee, truly present underneath these veils: all my heart subdues itself before Thee, since it all before Thee faints and fails.
Not to sight, or taste, or touch be credit hearing only do we trust secure; I believe, for God the Son has said it- Word of truth that ever shall endure.]


I recall one query I had. God is eternal and unchangeable, yet one day he was born, became man, in a stable in Bethlehem, so God is partially man, a creature. I asked many people to explain this. One eminent clerical PhD told me he hadn’t a clue, another said it comes from Logos theory, another claimed it was because for God all possibilities exist (so it seemed he was claiming potential and actual existence were the same).

I looked up St Thomas, he saw the problem. Finally I went to an international conference there I was told Nicea did not note the problem but Chalcedon did, and saw the problem but not the explanation


An agnostic is a person who believes that the existence of a greater power, such as a god, cannot be proven or disproved; therefore an agnostic wallows in the complexity of the existence of higher beings.

One major problem is that atheism and agnosticism both deal questions about the existence of gods, but whereas atheism involves what a person does or does not believe, agnosticism involves what a person does or does not know.

Belief and knowledge are related but nevertheless separate issues.

Faith and Rational Knowledge
As Aquinas saw it, faith (fides ) falls midway between opinion and scientific knowledge (scientia ); it is more than opinion because it involves a firm assent to its object; and it is less than knowledge because it lacks vision. and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.” – Thomas Aquinas.


• “Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand.” – Thomas Aquinas
• “Clearly the person who accepts the Church as an infallible guide will believe whatever the Church teaches.” – Thomas Aquinas
• “Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.” – Thomas Aquinas
• “Human salvation demands the divine disclosure of truths surpassing reason.” – Thomas Aquinas
• “All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly.” – Thomas Aquinas
• “Everything I have written seems like straw by comparison with what I have seen and what has been revealed to me.” – Thomas Aquinas


#5

And yet humility will bring knowledge, in God’s way of dealing with man. We admit we don’t know but we keep seeking for that ‘something’ bigger than ourselves, that answer outside of ourselves, and God eventually answers. Its good and honest and refreshing and right to say, “I don’t know”. Its even better, though, to receive the answers and be able to say, “I do know”. That requires even more humility at that point, especially nowadays, because then we’re professing a belief in the supernatural.


#6

Go before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. He already knows your doubts. Plead with Him to reveal that He is there. Then, be as patient with Him as He has been with you. When you are aware that He is there, you will be changed.


#7

God is visual in Jesus’ supreme self-sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:2 “he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world”

1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren”

1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love”

Join the Father and the Son, in their love for the world, by becoming one with them.

1 John 1:4 “truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete”


#8

We cannot know God exactly but we can know a lot about him, like he is all good, all knowing, all loving, all merciful.

Agnosticism is not knowing if there is a God or not. Agnosticism is not being unable to know exactly what God is like. Agnostics do not have faith in God! How could they, if they don’t know if they believe in God or not?


#9

I regret that most replies miss my point. I am saying, following St Thomas Aquinas, that knowledge and faith are different. We cannot know with any certainty about God. Faith is needed.

However fhansen, as usual, appreciates what I am getting at, and gives a wonderful sound and uplifting reply.


#10

Hi, Noel!

I applaud the dedication of people who earnestly search for the Truth (Christ); I’m at awe with the skills, knowledge, and understanding of those who thrust themselves into the Biblical languages and into theology for the sake of Knowing Him (Yahweh God)… I myself have chosen to remain uncultured (perhaps out of vain humility)… I know that “knowledge” and “intellect” are wonderful gifts… but I also suspect that too often they derail the Quest (Jesus) as man erroneously, perhaps even guilelessly, makes the means (knowledge and intellect) the end (goal) of the achievement.

How much “knowledge” and “intellect” did John the Baptist have while in his mother’s womb? Yet, the Holy Spirit Moved him to comprehend that, in that moment and in his presence, the Divine had Come… and how much “knowledge” did the Magi have about the King of the Jews (1 Samuel 8:6-8)–these were “intellectual” people with general “knowledge” yet they followed the urging of the Holy Spirit and came to give homage to the King of kings.

Agnosticism is a heresy because it claims that God cannot be known… so it takes the middle road between belief and disbelief guising it as “search for truth/knowledge.”

Yet, it is a heresy because it rejects God’s Own Revelation:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]18 The anger of God is being revealed from heaven against all the impiety and depravity of men who keep truth imprisoned in their wickedness. 19 For what can be known about God is perfectly plain to them since God himself has made it plain

. 20 Ever since God created the world his everlasting power and deity – however invisible – have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made. That is why such people are without excuse: 21 they knew God and yet refused to honour him as God or to thank him; instead, they made nonsense out of logic and their empty minds were darkened. 22 The more they called themselves philosophers, the more stupid they grew, 23 until they exchanged the glory*c] of the immortal God for a worthless imitation, for the image of mortal man, of birds, of quadrupeds and reptiles. (Romans 1:18-23)
I urge, my brother, go beyond your self-imposed limitations (knowledge and intellect) and allow the Holy Spirit to Convict you!

Maran atha!

Angel

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#11

Hi, Noel!

…sorry, it seems that you have inherited hollowoods false sense of drama (bait and switch) since you break with “agnosticism is the answer.”

…it confuses me (your posting) since it seems that you are arguing both for and against…

…on this (highlighted text) I fully concur with you–though, we can Know what God has Revealed about Himself and His Relationship with man.

Maran atha!

Angel


#12

Jcrichton #11

Thank you so much for your reply, and your other ones to my queries. I always find your posts thoughtful and solidly Catholic.

I admit that to get a response I sometimes give a thread a provocative title.

I am disappointed that so many replies to me are simplistic and imply my posts are not read. In fact my post is based on the views of St Thomas Aquinas, who claimed reason/knowledge is not enough, we need faith/revelation. Agnosticism means we cannot know God clearly, it is not about believe which depends on the gift of faith, a supernatural virtue. Reason is not enough, we need the humility to admit our lack of knowledge, at best we see in a mirror darkly.

You say I confuse you, I confuse myself, but I have two basic problems, which I cannot resolve, (1) if hell exists how is God good, and (2) how can God be man, a creature born in a stable.

The problems may emerge due to having had for over 25 years an Opus Dei spiritual director, being Irish and hence somewhat negative and Jansenist, and also having being formed as a Catholic prior to Vat II.

So to summarize: I claim we need revelation, as far as reason/knowledge is concerned. We need he humility to admit we cannot know God fully, thus agnosticism, is the best way.

Thanks again and remember me in your prayers.


#13

Jcrichton #10

Thank again.

I am reminded of some recent quotes.

Often times I find confusion in conclusions I concluded long ago (The King a I).

*How can I be what I ain’t *(Oklahoma!).

It all depends on what you mean by … (Prof C. E. M. Joad – BBC ‘The Brains Trust’).

*“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” *(REV. LEWIS CARROLL (Charles L. Dodgson), ‘Through the Looking-Glass’.


#14

Hi, Noel!

…yeah, drama does not always makes for best venue–people, myself included, tend to zero in on what is perceived as “red flag” issue and they miss the inference or subtleties of the thread’s complete intent.

I am disappointed that so many replies to me are simplistic and imply my posts are not read. In fact my post is based on the views of St Thomas Aquinas, who claimed reason/knowledge is not enough, we need faith/revelation.

…perhaps you might get better responses if you open the post with an invitation to the meaning/study of “x” quote from “xyz” (preferably a Father of the Church).

Agnosticism means we cannot know God clearly, it is not about believe which depends on the gift of faith, a supernatural virtue. Reason is not enough, we need the humility to admit our lack of knowledge, at best we see in a mirror darkly.

…it is because agnosticism places its value on “knowledge” that it can never come to Know God since Yahweh God Reveals Himself not through human intellectual understanding but through the Holy Spirit:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]1 Love virtue, you who are judges on earth, let honesty prompt your thinking about the Lord, seek him in simplicity of heart; 2 since he is to be found by those who do not put him to the test, he shows himself to those who do not distrust him. 3 But selfish intentions divorce from God; and Omnipotence, put to the test, confounds the foolish. 4 No, Wisdom will never make its way into a crafty soul nor stay in a body that is in debt to sin; 5 the holy spirit of instruction shuns deceit, it stands aloof from reckless purposes, is taken aback when iniquity appears.

(Wisdom 1:1-5)

You say I confuse you, I confuse myself, but I have two basic problems, which I cannot resolve, (1) if hell exists how is God good, and (2) how can God be man, a creature born in a stable.

…reason, is at fault here!

…you want to determine for God where His Omnipotence, Omniscience, Omnipresence should start, extend, and stop…

God is Spirit… as far as we can reason, this means that God has built-in perpetuity… no end… no termination (as in extinction).

God Created the Universe and that Universe was filled with both sentient and non-sentient bodies… some of those bodies were Created differently (angels and humans); these “differently created” bodies were made in two distinct formats: a) the angels from God’s direct essence: Spirit; b) humans were made composite: both non-Spiritual and Infused with God’s Spirit.

Those parts of Creation that are made up of God’s essence inherit God’s Being (but only as far as God has allowed) so they are as God: Spiritual beings that do not die.

Because God is Good He does not destroy these Created beings but suffers them… Lucifer took that to be a weakness and attempted a failed coup; his actions brought into existence the place called hell…

The problem you and others have is that you want a Loving God Who is all Mercy and no Justice; you want God to Love Creation regardless of how wicked it decides to become… regardless of how much contempt the creatures hold against their Creator.

Sadly, that’s hollowood’s spiritualism: hate, kill, destroy, do you!

…as to your God cannot become man… why?

Did God not Create the Universe out of nothing?

Why would His Power be limited or measure by man’s understanding?

The problems may emerge due to having had for over 25 years an Opus Dei spiritual director, being Irish and hence somewhat negative and Jansenist, and also having being formed as a Catholic prior to Vat II.

…yes, it is said that “old habits die hard;” people who believe in human depravity and predestination cannot reconcile Yahweh God’s Salvific Plan nor His Concern to Elevate man from his unrighteousness.

So to summarize: I claim we need revelation, as far as reason/knowledge is concerned. We need he humility to admit we cannot know God fully, thus agnosticism, is the best way.

…again I caution you to not reject God’s Revelation due to the erroneous belief that man cannot know God or that man must know everything in order to have Faith in God.

…you should start with the Sacred Writings’ definition of Faith and the origin of Faith.

Thanks again and remember me in your prayers.

I will keep you in my prayers.

Maran atha!

Angel

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#15

You asked, “(1) if hell exists how is God good,”

I would like to answer your question with the following thoughts:
God is all Love and God is all good. When Lucifer opposed God, he was opposing God’s decisions and God’s way of life, in other words, he was opposing what is defined as good. Since Heaven is a place where only good takes place, and since God who is Love would never force anyone to stay in a place where they do not wish to stay, hell was created.

Hell is the opposite of Heaven. Hell is a place where opposition to God takes place. Hell is a place where Lucifer can exercise his gift of free will and oppose God.

If you look at the situation through the eyes of goodness and Love, could there be a better solution?


#16

Hi Noel,

I would say that either our reality (that is, physical world) was created through an intelligence or through no intelligence.

If it was through an intelligence then this would be God.

I came back to Catholicism because I believe science shows that intelligence is behind the creation of our reality.

Therefore I accept scientific knowledge shows there is a God.

So I cannot agree with you that we cannot know God exists through knowledge.

If you don’t have this knowledge then I can see why you would think agnosticism is a good position.

Especially if you don’t also have a relationship with God which you trust is real.

God bless.


#17

[quote=NoelFitz]So to summarize: I claim we need revelation, as far as reason/knowledge is concerned. We need he humility to admit we cannot know God fully, thus agnosticism, is the best way.
[/quote]

It sounds like you’re giving way to liberalism (along with most of Ireland :wink: )

By liberalism I mean the belief that objective Truth cannot be known, and that everyone’s opinion is as good (or as bad) as everyone else’s.

Just because you don’t KNOW everything you want to know about God, does not mean agnosticism is the best way. If that were true that Our Lady would have been an agnostic! She consented to God’s plan without having any important details, but just the broad sweeping brushstrokes of the Archangel’s words.

St. Peter himself wanted to know more (like what was to become of St. John) and he was rebuffed.

Real humility is understanding God’s revelation leaves many details (that we would sorely like to know) out, and yet accepting this as a great gift (the revelation we DO have.)

Thanks to our Church, many more details have been determined for our greater satisfaction, and for the strengthening of our Faith.

Even Scientists of the highest learning (if they are honest) will admit they (or anyone else) don’t know everything that they would like to know in their chosen field.

There is NO reality where agnosticism is the better way!


#18

**AmbroseSJ
Thanks for your post.
I hope I am not being influenced by liberalism, in Newman’s use of the word, although I prefer the term, used by B XVI, relativism.


#19

Abucs,
thank for your thoughtful reply.
I am pleased you returned to the faith, but I would hope your faith is based on more that science. I think revelation/faith is needed. Through science we might get a vague glimpse of God, but through faith the picture is clearer.

My point is that science/knowledge can lead us to agnosticism, where we cannot know clearly the truths of our religion, for these we need revelation/faith. From a human point of view agnosticism is the best we can reach.

This seems to me clear, even Thomas Aquinas could grasp it.


#20

Wheels10,

Thanks for trying to answer one of my basic queries.

I am reminded of the woman, when after death because of overcrowding she was asked to share accommodation, her room-mate said that he was Adolf and he was here because he killed, among other things, millions of Jews. She replied she was here because she ate a sausage on a Friday sixty years previously.

I find it hard to see how a good God could create a being who would suffer excruciating pain for all eternity.

When the woman ate the sausage she was directly going against the command of God in eating meat on a Friday, or so she was told.

The Bible tells us most people go to hell. Both St Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine believed most of us will end up in hell.

Will all those Catholics who believe in contraception, abortion, homosexuality or miss Mass on Sundays go to hell, if they have clear knowledge and full consent? Does this mean most Catholics in the west are damned?

Here are some quotes:
*
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matt. 25:41 NAB)

… ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ (Mk. 9:48 NAB)

Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. (Jn. 15:6 NAB)

And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. (Lk. 13:28 NAB)

Many are invited, but few are chosen. (Matt. 22:14 NAB)
*


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