The article on rebirth agnosticism, and clarifying it for myself, made me think about agnosticism in a more general sense. What does it really mean? Are there more helpful ways to sort it?

Agnosticism (Greek: a-, without + gnosis, knowledge; after Gnosticism) is the philosophical view that the truth value of certain claims — particularly metaphysical claims regarding theology, afterlife or the existence of deities, ghosts, or even ultimate reality — is unknown or, depending on the form of agnosticism, inherently impossible to prove or disprove. It is often put forth as a middle ground between theism and atheism, though it is not a religious declaration in itself. [Wikipedia]

Or more simply, holding the view that we cannot know whether God (etc.) exists or not.

This is a good start, but it seems helpful to explore some of the possible functions of the God story separately.

Within science, the God story is something we can illuminate through research and theories. For instance, our current views of the very large (cosmology, universe story) and the very small (quantum physics) both shed light on and enrich the God story. And many of the specific substories can be studied more directly, such as effects of meditation, physical correlations to realized selflessness and meditative/prayer states, rebirth etc.

The God story also has social and cultural functions, which varies depending on the particulars of the story and the existing culture. It can be a guideline for behavior. Give comfort. Give a sense of meaning. Justify a particular hierarchy. Justify abuse of power. And so on.

And the God story also has practice functions. Again, it can be a guide for actions. And it can also be taken as a question, as a pointer for exploration. Is it true what the mystics say, that there is only God? That there is no separate self?


Initial outline…

  • agnostic
    • if believe/not believe only option, then agnostic ok
    • but can also be a question to investigate
    • God story, functions
      • social/cultural
        • ethics, comfort etc.
      • science
        • universe story, quantum physics (very large, very small, both sheds light on the god story)
        • can also study specifics, such as meditation, no-self realization, meditation/prayer induced states, rebirth etc.
      • practice
        • guideline for actions
        • guideline for exploration, investigation

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