At first blush, this seems mildly confusing. “Agnostic” implies maintaining a continuing doubt as to the existence of God, whereas “atheist” affirms that there is no God. One would think that in taking a “militant” position, a person would be sure, rather than doubtful. Then again, the exhibitor of this bumper sticker could be sure that he is doubtful, I suppose.
But there is much more here.
The main conceit is that the exhibitor is not prone to mere exercises of faith. Whatever he believes to be true must be proven, and be based on reason. However, as you will see, he falls into a fatal contradiction.
Any fact the exhibitor feels comfortable as being “known” was first learned at some time in the past. When that particular fact was being learned, there were already certain fundamental assumptions being made, that cannot be proven:
- A certain sequence of letters signifies a specific word
- Any word that is learned refers to a unique object—physical or otherwise
- The concept of numbers
Less fundamental is his acceptance of all sorts of facts that, at best, can only be verified by consulting reference books; but even this verification must assume some faith in some source. Indeed, if he were not to accept certain matters on faith, he would never learn anything at all. For example, he may learn that Richmond is the capital of Virginia. This assumes the geographical entities mentioned, along with the notion of a “capital.”
Therefore, based on but a moment’s reflection, you will see that there is no difference between faith and reason.
He may then counter that certain things—such as the existence of God—are simply unknowable. But this stance creates further problems. Based on the standards of the bumper sticker, for him to contend something, he must be able to prove it; and now he is forced to prove that something can be unknowable.
For him, this is fatal. Assuming that it is even possible to prove that something is unknowable, if he does prove this, all he has done is underscored the necessity to take certain matters on faith, as I have already demonstrated. However, if he is unable to prove that something is unknowable, he has destroyed the very sentiment of the bumper sticker.
“[A]nd you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Photo credit: reuvenim (Creative Commons)