Kiley, I split your comment off from the last subject because I felt it was worth dealing with on its own.
What you say reminds me of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and his "Phenomena and Noumena"
. (That links to a fairly heavy-duty philosophy essay, usually only of interest to people who are studying Kant.) In short, Kant insisted that our knowledge was limited to the appearances
of things, rather than the complete object -- the thing itself. In his view of the world, there was always an unknown and unknowable "X" behind every experience.
But even if I agree with that, where does that leave us? Yes, you can be mystical and claim that the "X" is divine, or materialist and claim that the "X" is just a brute fact, but neither stance is actually justified on the basis of the unknown "X". Without some actual data about "X", it's mere speculation for one or the other to say "X" is intelligent and personal, or "X" is nothing but the interplay of force fields.
Strictly speaking, anyone who subscribes to the "unknown X" idea is a kind of agnostic. Agnosticism, in its strictest sense, means precisely that something is unknowable. It can be even more specific than that: for instance, I might say that I am agnostic with regards to the supernatural
from the perspective of science
. That is, using science as a means to obtain knowledge, I can not come to any knowledge of the supernatural
. By way of analogy, it's a bit like saying that you can't reach irrational numbers if you start with integers and the operations "add, subtract, multiply, and divide". It's not that irrational numbers are any less valid as concepts than integers -- simply that you can't get to there from here that way
If you don't believe in any form of god(dess) then why is it that science and math has yet to figure out what this variable is?
Materialists -- the kind who don't believe in the supernatural -- might answer this by saying that we encounter unknowns purely because human knowledge is limited. You make it sound like there is a god(dess) standing in the way, saying "this far, no further". The limits we encounter could well be natural
limits, not suggestive of any kind of god at all.
In actual practice, most of the materialists I encounter are a little more presumptuous than this, but let's not go there for now.