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In Theory: Agnosticism as a reasonable position

July 20, 2011

Q. Lawyer and author Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson and members of the Manson Family in 1971 for the Tate and LaBianca murders, will appear at Glendale Central Library on July 27 to discuss his new book, “Divinity of Doubt.”

Bugliosi argues in the book that both religious believers and atheists are wrong and that agnosticism is the most responsible position to take with regard to the existence of God. Among points of discussion will be the “disturbing vengefulness” of God in the Old Testament, the decline of belief in evolution, and how an all-knowing Creator would allow humans free will, but do nothing to stop them persecuting and killing each other.

A review on religiondispatches.org takes Bugliosi to task for “treating agnosticism as nothing more than the recognition that when it comes to God’s existence, we just don’t know,” and goes on to say: “Atheists and theists make the passionate leap, but agnostics refuse, and in so doing miss out on a crucial element of life.”

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Is agnosticism a valid way of looking at religious belief, or is it simply a way of sitting on the fence?

Agnosticism is nothing more than a vain attempt to shirk one’s responsibility to acknowledge God and to serve him. Our word “agnostic” comes directly from the Greek language. “Gnosis” means knowledge, and the prefix “a” negates what follows, and means “not” or “without.” So strictly speaking, the agnostic claims to be without knowledge whether God is there or not.

Is that the kind of person you look to for advice on serious matters? Would you keep going to a doctor, a lawyer or mechanic whose only answer for your problems is, “I don’t know?” Probably not. The honest agnostic should say, “Don’t buy my book, because I don’t know.”

Agnosticism’s claim directly contradicts what God himself has revealed in the Bible, which addresses the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18-20).

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