I would like to put out the question as to what people think is the most reasonable account we can give of the world we are aware of: atheism, theism, or agnosticism. By ‘reasonable account’ I mean a reductive genetic hermeneutic, which is a reduction of the phenomena we are aware of to their cause or causes, a further grounding to the origin of those causes, and an explanatory account or interpretation of said phenomena, cause/causes, and ground as such and as a whole.
I am currently an agnostic, but I am very open to learning more about other perspectives. I guess I agree with Woody Allen’s character in ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’ that in the end, no matter how much we want the answer to be one way or the other, we just don’t know. Atheism and theism seem to me to be little more than creative guesswork.
I think that, phenomenologically, our awareness is given a field of what we call sensory information, which we differentiate from our consciousness because we have as significantly inactive relation to it. I cannot, for instance, through an act of will, wish the chair that I am looking at out of my field of perception. We can, as Plato pointed out, misperceive, such as when we ‘see’ someone coming at a distance, only to realize as they get closer that they are actually someone else - but nonetheless, from the point of view of description (even in this case of mis-perception or that of psychosis), I am passive with regard to sensory experience, to which I relate in various ways (accepting the fact that we imbue situations and things with meanings, values, etc.), regardless of whatever tricks my mind may be playing on me. The only real difference between a psychotic delusion and a “normal” experience is that in the case of psychosis, the psychotic, among a collective of observers, would be the only one to claim the phenomena he or she was perceiving.
We conclude from the passivity of experience that there is a world existing outside of our consciousness, which we interact with using our various senses. Now, this doesn’t mean there is such a world, as I could be hallucinating, or dreaming, or the victim of some sort of Matrix-movie-like situation, or being decevived by a demon of some sort, but in any case the mind generally gravitates toward the ‘natural world’ explanation, and ends up causing people no end of mental agitation if they systematically begin to doubt it.
In this phenomenal world, we also distinguish between the natural world of scientific causes/effects, and the world of supernatural causation and intervention. We can do this because natural scientific explanation provides a useful and reliable descriptive framework for appropriating our experiences, and there is nothing contained in our everyday experience that excludes the possibility of supernatural interventions and causes. Atheists seem to object to supernatural explanations on the grounds that an explanatory account (knowledge) of what we experience doesn’t require them. But I think that it’s a paralogism to conclude from the fact that we ‘can’ posit a closed system of natural causes that this position is also somehow ‘better’ than positing a system that includes supernatural causes and interventions. Conversely, qua theist, it seems to be equally a paralogism to conclude that the experience of something ‘as’ supernatural constitutes, without remainder, ‘actually’ experiencing the supernatural, because we could just as easily posit natural antecedents to the noumenous experience (groupthink, delusion, emotional instability, drugs, heightened sensory awareness, etc.). In this regard, I have come to believe that one posits the presence or absence of the supernatural only on the basis of a gross transgression of reason, even though the mind naturally gravitates toward doing so . I believe that we simply don’t know whether there is a God or gods out there, but as Nietzsche says, we would rather will nothing than not will, so atheism becomes obvious for some, and theism obvious for others.
This is what I currently believe, but I would like to hear from people with differing perspectives.