To Be an Agnostic


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That is, of course, the point. Mar 29, David rated it liked it Shelves: philosophy-and-religion. I think the title is a little bit misleading. Maybe I was a bit naive in thinking that it was going to be more like a manual on Agnosticism when actually I feel it was a reflection on philosophy and agnosticism.


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In this respect, I know that this is actually an updated edition of Mark Vernon's previous book "After Atheism" a title I feel is much more adequate for this book. It's a good book if you are familiar with philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Agustin, I think the title is a little bit misleading. Agustin, Wittgenstein and the like , maybe it is a bit too academic at times but nevertheless is a good work on agnosticism as a way of dealing with questions on divinity and religion. I feel the book can be summed up in two phrases: agnosticism, much like philosophy, is about committing to actively searching for knowledge and keeping your mind open to possibilities.

It is not a quest for certainty but a quest for a path to a good life in all aspects. The agnostic attitude is not about realising that God is ultimately unknowable and therefore we should not care, but about engaging in the process of probing the limits of our intellectual and spiritual experience, a process that in the end will enrich our lives. I liked this book, I would recommend it for those who are interested in exploring the philosophical aspects of agnosticism. Not an easy read, sometimes I was a bit bored and wanted to just finish the chapter and get it done with, but a book I might come back to for reference.

Aug 21, Zachary Moore rated it really liked it.

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This book presents a solid and provocative case for a type of Socratic agnosticism stressing the limits of the knowable. Vernon criticizes both the New atheists and the current crop of fundamentalists quite accurately in my opinion as taking a fundamentally incorrect view of what religion is and what part it might play in a person's broader intellectual framework.

The book is easy to read in spite of its often highly abstract subject matter. Feb 14, Federico Mayr rated it really liked it Shelves: philosophy. To read this book, you must not be a "strong agnostic", but, rather, a "religious agnostic", that is someone to whom "God comes as a question".

The Difference Between Atheists and Agnostics

In fact, as the author explicity states in the introduction, it is a book for the "Christian agnostics", so for those agnostics that recognise the influence of Christianity on their attitude. The text touches, interestingly, the relationship between agnosticism, cosmology, physics as well as neuroscience, providing also a focused, grounded philosophical To read this book, you must not be a "strong agnostic", but, rather, a "religious agnostic", that is someone to whom "God comes as a question".

The text touches, interestingly, the relationship between agnosticism, cosmology, physics as well as neuroscience, providing also a focused, grounded philosophical overview. To me, the most interesting parts are, first, the ones focusing on Socrates and the legacy of his philosophy, intended as "way of life". Here one cannot but appreciate Socrates' epistemological stance of knowing that you do not know, for it opens the way to doubt and it excludes theistic and atheistic dogma. Second, the parts analysing the aphopatic tradition, that is the idea that God cannot be known since it is "something else" and can be described only in negative terms.

I thus take as mine the agnostic spirit of this book. Its attitude of humility towards the unknown and its confession of ignorance nurture my "sense and taste for the Infinite". Jun 14, Stefan rated it liked it. A gentle introduction to agnosticism, seems to be heavily influenced by Mark Vernon life experience he is a former priest. Hence based and wrapped around Christian tradition and body of philosophical, theological works mainly Augustine, Aquinas.

As the author seems to be is fascinated by truth seeking journey of life, questions and soul-searching of Socrates and Plato are main ingredients of the mix, spiced with a bit of Popper, Wittgenstein but surprising little of for a British author A gentle introduction to agnosticism, seems to be heavily influenced by Mark Vernon life experience he is a former priest. As the author seems to be is fascinated by truth seeking journey of life, questions and soul-searching of Socrates and Plato are main ingredients of the mix, spiced with a bit of Popper, Wittgenstein but surprising little of for a British author Russell.

All in all, a quick read, but presenting rather one sided point of view which I've read as: 'So you are agnostic already, right? You, more or less, know what that means? Let me show you a bunch of philosophers who also found quest for divine and spiritual meaningful so you can quote these when needed. Please don't bother asking questions why such a quest is worthwhile, you don't want to be an atheist facing emptiness, do you? Dec 15, Roger Morris rated it it was amazing.

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This was a great read. An engaging and thought-provoking amble through the interactions of philosophy, science and religion.

What Is an agnostic? (1953)

Held my attention right to the end, which - for me - is uncommon. We need to be able to expand into regions beyond our own concerns. If Man is made into God, then Man will disappoint at best, and at worst become a tyrant. As the poet Wallace Stevens wrote, we need to hear 'a tune beyond us, and yet This was a great read.

As the poet Wallace Stevens wrote, we need to hear 'a tune beyond us, and yet ourselves'. We need something more than ourselves to be ourselves. Dec 02, Daniel Clark rated it really liked it.


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  • Overall, I liked this book. Mark Vernon has a PhD in philosophy and it shows - he dives straight into some detailed analysis of Socrates which was a bit offputting. But on the whole he expresses a powerful and coherent case for agnosticism, summed up in his phrase "God comes to us as a question". He also demonstrates the pedigree of this approach, showing how many philosophers ended up recognising their ignorance or, more precisely, that words can only take us so far.

    It has been widely observed Overall, I liked this book. It has been widely observed that both sides of the God debate can sound remarkably similar in tone. This book is a humane call for us to stop trading in certainties and accept the role of mystery and questions.

    Apr 11, Sally rated it it was ok Shelves: religion-christianity , religion-atheism.

    It should be titled "How To Be a Christian Agnostic," even though he mentions some things about his experiences with Buddhism. I felt the author had no doubt whether God existed, but felt that God was beyond being captured by religious doctrinal formulations -- which of course is how many people who believe in God feel. I got the impression he's still sorting things out and may go back to being a full-blown if Socratic theist. May 23, Norwegjan85 rated it liked it Shelves: reference-tool. A more suitable title would be "How to be an Agnostic from a Christian perspective" as the whole book obviously have a Christian bias.

    However, Vernon is still a good writer with who know well how to word his ideas and insights regarding this topic. He certainly know his Socratic curriculum very well, and he have good insight into Western philosophy in general. I enjoyed the book overall, but can't help feeling a bit disappointed because of the above mentioned reasons. Nov 22, Timothy Rowe rated it liked it. Plenty of good thoughts about the importance of doubt and questioning as a remedy to the dual spurious certainties of scientism and religious dogma, but did seem to ramble somewhat.

    Sherna Khambatta rated it it was amazing Feb 03, The only question then is whether they are an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist. However, both do not make the claim to have the knowledge to back up this belief. Fundamentally, there is still some question and that is why they're agnostic.

    How To Be An Agnostic

    This seems contradictory and difficult, but it's actually quite easy and logical. Whether one believes or not, they can also be comfortable in not claiming to know for sure that it's either true or false. It occurs in many different topics as well because belief is not the same as direct knowledge.

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    To Be an Agnostic To Be an Agnostic
    To Be an Agnostic To Be an Agnostic
    To Be an Agnostic To Be an Agnostic
    To Be an Agnostic To Be an Agnostic
    To Be an Agnostic To Be an Agnostic
    To Be an Agnostic To Be an Agnostic

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