The Wise Agnostic -Katherine
“Let us call this unknown something: God. It is nothing more than a name we assign to it. The idea of demonstrating that this unknown something (God) exists, could scarcely suggest itself to Reason. For if God does not exist it would of course be impossible to prove it; and if he does exist it would be folly to attempt it. For at the very outset, in beginning my proof, I would have presupposed it, not as doubtful but as certain (a presupposition is never doubtful, for the very reason that it is a presupposition), since otherwise I would not begin, readily understanding that the whole would be impossible if he did not exist. But if when I speak of proving God’s existence I mean that I propose to prove that the Unknown, which exists, is God, then I express myself unfortunately. For in that case I do not prove anything, least of all an existence, but merely develop the content of a conception.”
-Kierkegaard, Søren. Philosophical Fragments. Ch. 3
Throughout exploring many topics of Epistemology and engaging in class discussions, I’ve started wondering about what truth is, and how relevant knowing the truth is. Rephrasing, exactly do I need to know what the truth is? I began to read about a belief which I found to be quite interesting, called agnosticism. Agnosticism believes that metaphysical and religious truths will remain unknown, as proof must be provided to declare anything to be true. Agnostics are largely known for how their ideals view the existence of a god or gods. Agnostics do not believe in the existence of any deity unless there is enough evidence for the belief to be true. Agnostics neither believe atheists, unless an atheist can prove that a deity does not exist. Pertaining not only to spiritual beliefs, agnostics believe that the truth to metaphysical questions regarding being, knowing, and existence will remain unknown, due to the fact that physical proofs regarding our “being” are unlikely to ever be found. Agnostics only believe what has been proven to be true. So in that sense, aren’t they the ones who truly understand what “truth” is?
Our class discussed during the “History of Knowledge” that different religions have different religious “truths” which they believe, regarding reasons for existence, the ethics one should follow, and the key to salvation. Through studying epistemology, I think I’ve come to realize that all religious truths really aren’t truths. Because we believe religious truths. We don’t know religious truths. The truth should be something that we know, not something we must convince ourselves to believe through means our senses cannot experience. Is God out there? I personally believe He is. Can I prove it? Absolutely not. But when I witness the beauty of goodness, compassion, innocence, strength, or love, I wonder how these things can exist without some unknown deity granting us these things with their grace. However this is simply a belief. This is not something that I will ever absolutely know, and I would not categorize this idea I have convinced myself to believe as “knowledge”. I would say it is faith.I can’t prove anything, and yet, those who oppose my belief don’t have any evidence for God not existing either.
So do I know the truth? I surprisingly agree with agnosticism stating that only things capable of being proven true are really true. And I don’t believe in a certain religion being the “right” religion, as I don’t think any religion can wholly answer any questions pertaining to these “truths” which we so desperately seek. With that being said, although I have the knowledge that a religion will never bring me closer to the truth, I still choose to believe in God. This is my belief, this is not my knowledge. It is my personal philosophy which I choose to live by and use to satisfy my fear and curiosity of those questions that can never be answered. Ironically agnosticism is a belief, and beliefs do not relate to the truth. Like we’ve discussed in class, knowledge brings us closer to the truth, and frankly, from participating in class discussions, I’ve formulated that beliefs will never bring us to the truth, but so many of us have beliefs not because of our desire to know the truth, but due to the acceptance that we will never know it.