July 23, 2009

This is a post about theology, not an excuse to show Angelina Jolie in a wet t-shirt

angelina-jolie-in-white-wet-see-through-top.jpg You know how people say things like, "Angelina Jolie is proof that God exists." Well the guy who gets to sleep with her every night disagrees. Guess we can add that to there are no atheists in foxholes on the list of failed pieties.

In a new interview, Brad Pitt says, "I'm probably 20 per cent atheist and 80 per cent agnostic." But his explanation is actually a fairly effective, if crude, description of an ignostic: "You'll either find out or not when you get there, until then there's no point thinking about it."

We've discussed ignosticism before. A more elegant version of Brad's summation comes from Sherwin Wine, who coined the term: "finding the question of God's existence meaningless because it has no verifiable consequences."

Wikipedia outlines the philosophical basis for ignocistism.

A coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of God can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition cannot be falsified, the ignostic takes the theological noncognitivist position that the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless. In this case, the concept of God is not considered meaningless; the term "God" is considered meaningless...

Theodore Drange sees atheism and agnosticism as positions which accept "God exists" as a meaningful proposition; atheists judge it to be "false or probably false" and agnostics consider it to be inconclusive until further evidence is met. If Drange's definitions are accepted, ignostics are neither atheists nor agnostics. A simplified maxim on the subject states "An atheist would say, 'I don't believe God exists'; an agnostic would say, 'I don't know whether or not God exists'; and an ignostic would say, 'I don't know what you mean when you say, "God exists" '."

A decent gloss can also be found at The Church of Reality, with the added persuasive factor of graphic design so bad that no compassionate deity would allow it.

Of course we don't know how much of this Brad has thought out, and it's possible that his position is closer to apathetic agnosticism, with which ignosticism arguably overlaps.

PS. Hey, ladies! Sleeping with Brad Pitt won't convince you there's a God either.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


God may not exist, but I'd still kiss the foot of this cross.

I think the question "Does Brad Pitt believe in God?" is meaningless.

Paris? Definitely not worth a mass.

Interesting set of links, especially the topic of Ignosticism vis--vis the late Sherwin Wine and Humanistic Judaism. I am a little confused as to what it is to be a Jew without religion, which happens to be the case with most Jews in my circle. If I identify myself as a Jew based solely on Jewish culture and history, isn't that a belief in the Torah as factual record, hence the word of God, hence an admission of faith? If I personally reject religion, then by Jewish culture and history what am I talking about -- the progress of a people subject to frequent persecution yet capable of great accomplishment, who have believed in what I perceive to be fairytale and superstition? Or is it about ethnicity, being Jewish by DNA, i.e., the anti-scientific belief in the Jews as a distinct race? Or has it something to do with Yiddish theater, Borscht Belt, Broadway, Hollywood, the rag trade, media, nuclear physics, medical school, philanthropy? Writing checks to the UJA? If God is a fantasy and the Torah a fiction, then what in fact is a "Jewish homeland?" Are there atheists guided by the words of Jesus as nonhistorical literary character who describe themselves as "humanistic" or "secular" or "cultural" Christians? If they believe Jesus was an inspired fiction, do they revere his anonymous author? If not why not? Can there be any distinction drawn between a Jewish atheist and a gentile atheist?

Am I not a brainy enough stereotype to glide through the cognitive dissonance (multi-sonance?) of all this? Can somebody help me out here without the usual kneejerk brickbats? Can anyone direct me to a writer who has brilliantly encapsulated all this? Was Frank McCourt brave enough to say anything on the topic?

Also, do ignostics, like atheists, believe that all religious scripture from Isis through Gilgamesh through Zeus, the Torah, Bible, Qu'ran, Talmud, Zohar, Vedas, etc. were written by men who were ignorant, mad or diabolical? L. Ron Hubbard protoypes?

And has anyone ever met a secular Scientologist?

I have no answers to J.D.'s questions, but I do have a take on the "no atheists in a foxhole" trope...

I'm an "ignorostic," because I say, "I can't hear you when you say, 'God exists.'"

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