This is a follow-up to a very interesting thread on HN.

From Wikipedia: Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable. ...

Before I start, let me illustrate my point. Assume the following statements are true:

  • We currently live in the Matrix.
  • There is absolutely no interaction between our universe and the Matrix.
  • There is no way to escape the Matrix.
  • The laws of our universe remain unchanged.
  • There is no imaginable experiment that could even subtly hint the existence of the Matrix.

Given those assumptions, you can't prove or disprove the existence of the Matrix, be it through a thought experiment or a physical experiment.

That makes you a Matrix agnostic. In fact, the amount of things we have to be agnostic about is only limited by our collective imagination: it could be that our universe is an "atom" inside a much larger universe, it could be that life is an illusion induced by some sort of dream, etc.

As expected, there are tons of naive counter-arguments to this assertion. Let me quote philwelch, as he said it better than I ever could:

The standard answer is that all of our naive beliefs about the world would be false. You are not actually sitting on a couch, your simulated body-projection is simulated to be sitting on a simulated couch. The very fact we can't tell whether or not we're in the matrix undermines all our knowledge.

The more insightful answer is that even if we're in the matrix, everything about the physical world is still true, there is just a metaphysical fact we are unaware of--namely, that the universe happens to be a simulation. You're still sitting on a couch, and the couch is still made of atoms, and the atoms are still made of subatomic particles and so forth, but it turns out all the subatomic particles are just data structures in the matrix and we didn't know that before. Nothing is undermined.


Let me expand this reasoning a little further:

  • Is there a point in knowing if the Matrix does indeed exist ?
  • Will it change anything about our knowledge of the physical universe ?
  • Will it change the way we live our lives ? 

Answer: No.

Any metaphysical statement that can't be evidenced, even subtly, through physical experiments is simply meaningless. On a side note, it is important to note that the fundamental laws of our universe, which could also be classified as metaphysical statements since they describe the physical - the precise definition of metaphysical, can be determined through experiments and that's what makes them meaningful.

In other words, agnosticism is simply a word that means "can't know the unknowable", which is quite redundant. I'm pretty sure everyone can agree, theists and atheists included, that it is impossible to know the unknowable. You either believe there is a God because you think there is evidence for it - be it through the Bible, the Torah, prophets, miracles, martyrs or this inner connection with God that some call faith -  or you don't if you believe there is no evidence for God. Following that line of thought, agnosticism, as in believing that God is unknowable, equates to atheism, as in believing there is no evidence for God.

In conclusion, I suggest that we eradicate this meaningless word from the dictionary!

I'm looking forward to answer your thoughts and counter-arguments in the comments!

PS: This rant was intentionally extremist as I wanted to make my point as clear as possible. I'm actually a very nuanced person and I have nothing against agnostics. Perhaps the definition of agnosticism should be changed to: "Person who believes there is some evidence for God, but not enough to take a position."