CA130 Am I Agnostic?

The world is religiously ambiguous: It can be interpreted in various incompatible ways, and the interpreters are not necessarily violating any standards of rationality in doing so. As for me, I don’t feel any position being forced on me by the evidence. My best efforts to judge the total balance of evidence weighing for and against theism leave me thinking that no one has a decisive case; and the main way to give the impression of having a decisive case is to ignore the total evidence, focusing solely or primarily on the facts that support your position. Put a spotlight on the things that favor your view, and minimize or cast aside the things that don’t fit.

Over time, I’ve come to appreciate the force of some of the evidence against the hypothesis of indifference and in favor of a “value selection hypothesis“, e.g. psychophysical harmony, fine-tuning, and the axiological trajectory of the universe. These, along with a few other considerations that favor theism more directly, have gradually moved me to more of a middle position on theism vs. atheism. (Today, I don’t dive into a full-fledged defense of those arguments.)

There are plenty of sources of epistemic uncertainty that have increasingly led me to hold on to my beliefs more loosely. How am I supposed to alter my confidence in light of peer disagreement? How should I set my priors? How am I supposed to reckon with the inescapable contingency of my beliefs? Richard Rorty often spoke about a certain kind of philosopher with “radical and continuing doubts about the final vocabulary she currently uses, because she has been impressed by other vocabularies, vocabularies taken as final by people or books she has encountered” (1989). Rorty goes much further, in ways that I can’t get behind. But what can I say? I’m impressed by many of you. The problem is that you have mutually exclusive, incommensurable worldviews. At least for me, at this point, agnosticism seems like the most honest reaction to my epistemic situation. (Of course, God can settle this whenever he likes.)