Agnostics, Cudgels, Muddled Thinking, and High Comedy

"αθεοι" (atheoi), Greek for "th...

Agnostics profess that they are uncertain concerning the existence of God. Unlike atheists, who do not believe in God, agnostics aren’t sure- they’re undecided. For the agnostic, the existence of God is an uncertainty.

Nonetheless, agnostics, especially the angry agnostics (who like the angry atheists are on a crusade to denigrate faith and believers) often utilize a curious strategy in the pursuit of their demeaning goals: God as cudgel.

Their argument runs like this: God (whom, curiously, they are uncertain even exists) did some questionable stuff (so far as they are concerned, being, as they are, the arbiters of all that is good, right and moral throughout time and eternity) in Old Testament times like order the slaughter of the Canaanites and allow slavery and such HORRIBLE things as that. This God, which they deem so awful, is turned into a cudgel. ‘Oh your God is just awful isn’t he! Aren’t I impressive to point it out to you that he did some stuff a long time ago that’s just really wretched! Bow before my superior wisdom and abandon this God just as I have done!!’

But of course if they had more than a little skill and weren’t beset by seriously muddled thinking they would realize how idiotic their argument is. Using something you don’t think exists as a weapon is muddledness incarnate. It’s like saying ‘I don’t think this fairy dust exists but I’m going to blow it in your face and change you into a chicken anyway. Aren’t you impressed?’ Even more, it’s like a child playing with his friends who pretend to shoot each other with unreal weapons and then getting angry when little Bobby doesn’t fall down and play dead.

Here’s the problem with God as cudgel in the hand of the angry agnostic: from THEIR OWN perspective, there’s nothing in their hand- and yet they pretend to flail away and they think people are cowed into being impressed.

That’s High Comedy. No one is impressed by people who pretend that something they don’t think exists is a weapon. They aren’t impressive, they’re laughable.

Atheist? Agnostic? You Just Might be Autistic

Frankly, that would explain rather a lot.

Historically the study of religious belief was as far from the purview of cognitive science as any topic in human behavior could be. This has changed over the last decade as cognitive science has come to be the field where it is legitimate to combine in a single research program disparate disciplines, even when they are outside the traditional cognitive science area of computer modeling of information processing tasks. Recently, the “cognitive science of religion” has emerged as a research program in which religion is understood as a product of cognitive aspects of the mind, such as an exaggeration of the normal human ability to infer agency, impose patterns on noise, and infer others mental states (Guthrie, 1993; Barrett, 2004). We suggest that individual differences in cognitive styles is an important predictor of human belief systems, including religious belief. An extreme type of cognitive style is high functioning autism. The 2 studies reported here found that individuals with HFA have a higher rate than neurotypicals of endorsing atheism and agnosticism. HFA individuals thus resemble another group of high-systemizers (scientists), who also reject religious belief at a relatively high rate.

So Stuart opines

Let me clarify: this research does not indicate that most atheists are high functioning autistics; but that a large proportion of high functioning autistics are atheists.