Freemasonry and agnosticisim

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by ess1113, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. ess1113

    ess1113 Premium Member

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    General Question for Discussion

    I know of a member in good standing and apparently active in his lodge that is an avowed agnostic.

    Questions:
    1. Is this the same as being an atheist?
    2. Is this considered unmasonic conduct?
    3. What is the appropriate course of action when this is generally known? Its not a secret and is publicly displayed on social media such as his facebook page.

    This is a good discussion point and one that is debatable for several reasons. Being agnostic may not make him the best Mason but is it considered unmasonic conduct? If charges were filed against the brother, what would the charges be ?
     
  2. mch4970

    mch4970 Premium Member

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    I view agnostics as someone who verbalizes that faith in a deity is simple belief without logically knowing. I think there are varying forms of agnosticism where one can have a belief in a SAoftU similar to a deist.

    From my limited "newbie" knowledge, I don't think it is up to the lodge to define the deity for anyone; but to assure a candidate professes a belief in one.
     
  3. tomasball

    tomasball Premium Member

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    The word agnostic has developed a variety of interpretations. Some people use it almost as a synonym for atheist, but its original meaning was something along these lines..."do not pretend conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable." It is not unusual for someone to belong to a mainstream church yet also describe himself as agnostic.

    I know of no masonic law violated by being or becoming an "agnostic." For that matter, once a man has been elected and received all our degrees, I know of no masonic law violated if he announces he is an atheist.

    So as far as I can see, there is no "appropriate courst of action." We don't discuss individual religious beliefs in lodge.
     
  4. MacFie

    MacFie Registered User

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    Yeah unfortunately agnostic is pretty vague. For some people it can mean as much as saying I won't declare an actual belief in anything, but won't deny it; for others it is more of a, I refuse to claim any organised religion or set traditions, but definitely believe in a supreme being of some sort.
     
  5. JEbeling

    JEbeling Guest

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    Think an agnostic is and Aggie spending the night away from home.. !
     
  6. ess1113

    ess1113 Premium Member

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    Thanks for the replies and I do appreciate the conversation.
    Allow me to interject the following excerpts and see if that affects the conversation.

    GLOT Law
    Art 397.
    A firm belief in the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, and the divine authenticity of the Holy Scriptures is indispensibly necessary before the candidate can be initiated...

    The Charges of Freemasonry
    Concerning God and Freemasonry
    A Mason is obliged by his tenure to obey the moral law, and if he rightly understands the art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, nor an irreligious Libertine.

    Using commonly accepted definitions:

    Atheist: One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

    Agnostic:
    a. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
    b. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

    Libertine:
    1. One who acts without moral restraint; a dissolute person.
    2. One who defies established religious precepts; a freethinker.

    Ignosticism is the theological position that every other theological position (including agnosticism) assumes too much about the concept of God and many other theological concepts.


    Understanding the multiple definitions pervasive today, please accept these definitions for the sake of the argument.

    If the brother in question is exhibits anything less than a "firm belief in the existence of God" is he not in violation of Masonic Law and therefore unmasonic conduct?
    My argument is that the law is absolute; it doesnt say that the brother must have reasonable belief in God, or he may believe in God, it states that a FIRM belief is a prerequiste. If he defies established religious precepts, then is he a libertine?
    Presuming that the brother in question took his obligations here in Texas and I feel confident that he did, was his obligation meaningless if the VSL held no value to him?

    Article III, Section 3, GLOT Constitution
    Anderson's Old Charges of Freemasonry
    The "Old Charges of a Freemason" ...is recognized as binding in points where this Constitution and our laws are silent.

    Andersons Old Charges
    Section VII
    "The first charge is, That yee shall be true men to God and the holy church, and to use no error or heresie by your understanding and by wise mens teachings"
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
  7. ess1113

    ess1113 Premium Member

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    Fully agree.
    The lodge is not to define God for anyone.
    The GAOTU is an individual definition.
     
  8. mch4970

    mch4970 Premium Member

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    The most important definition you left off above, and the one not to be defined by the lodge, is that of God.
     
  9. ess1113

    ess1113 Premium Member

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    mch4970, I agree. But the question isnt about defining deity, its about believing in the existence of a deity.
     
  10. mch4970

    mch4970 Premium Member

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    Sure. But my point is that a requirement for a belief in deity without defining the form of the deity leaves plenty of room for intellectual gymnastics.

    I think that is a good thing.
     
  11. MacFie

    MacFie Registered User

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    In my brains thoughts, "One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God", which is as good enough definition as any, does not equal "a belief in the existence of a God(supreme being, etc)"
     
  12. mch4970

    mch4970 Premium Member

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    Can one state belief in a Deity and at the same time state it is impossible to KNOW there is a Deity? I think yes.
     
  13. ess1113

    ess1113 Premium Member

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    mch4970
    I do not believe so. I personally cannot believe in anything without knowing it exist.
    Trying hard to think of anything else in life that provides an exception and am hard pressed for an answer.
    Can you believe in God without knowing that He exists? Just your belief confirms the existence of deity.
     
  14. mch4970

    mch4970 Premium Member

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    I understand what you're saying. Many would call it faith. I have faith that my truck will be outside when I walk outside. I don't know it, but I'll tell someone that my truck is outside if they ask. How do you ever KNOW anything? Take your answer to that question and apply it to a belief. That's often like fitting a square peg in a round hole.

    Now this is deep. I would like to have you expand on this.
     
  15. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    What does PHAGLOT say on this?


    Anyway, I wouldn't feel comfortable sitting in lodge or holding another brother to the obligation if he couldn't say to me "I believe in a deity."

    "I'm not sure" doesn't cut it for me.

    From the monitor (my wording): The symbolism of the cable tow is that you are tied to the fraternity. With the obligation, you don't need it anymore and are tied to the fraternity with your obligation through your god.

    I draw from this: Without the god, you are no longer holding yourself to that tie, and thus have a new need for a physical cable tow.
     
  16. MacFie

    MacFie Registered User

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    Faith and belief are not the same thing. I also believe my car is waiting on the 6th floor of the parking garage. Were I asked to swear that I believed that, I could do so. Sure, someone may have stolen it, and it could have already passed through a chop shop and gone to Neon heaven, but that doesn't matter.

    The unwillingness to say that there is a Supreme Being or not, is completely discordant with the concept of belief.

    Now we can of course get into different types of Agnostic thoughts as well. The base line, which we have been arguing, is "noncommittal" to any point of view.

    But there are also Agnostic Theists. These are people who believe in a Supreme Being, but don't wish to give that deity the name of being the Deity of any specific religion. This I think would be compatible, because it is a belief in a Supreme Being either way.
     
  17. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    i would be interested to hear what they have to say when asked "in whom do you place your trust?"
     
  18. mch4970

    mch4970 Premium Member

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    Faith and belief are quite broad terms. How would you characterize their difference?

    I wasn't intending to talk about the person who would not say they believe in a Deity, but the person who would profess a faith in Deity while saying they can't prove it to anyone.

    If a person cannot profess a belief in a Deity, then that is in contradiction to the requirements of the Lodge.
     
  19. MacFie

    MacFie Registered User

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    Well, faith is like, I have faith that one day I will win a million dollars. Belief is like, I believe that I will probably not get that million any time soon. Faith can be very abstract, based on nothing. Belief is a little more...serious I guess?

    But yeah, the person your describing seems more like an Agnostic Thiest...which is an important differentiation. Masonry doesn't ask who your god is, they don't ask you to prove that your god exists, just that you have a belief in said god. That being said, I don't see why it would be any issue at all.
     
  20. owls84

    owls84 Moderator Premium Member

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    Based on the direction of the post I would like to move the post to the "Spirituality" section of the forum. I will however leave a permanent redirect in the Jurisprudence section.
     

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