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There is no agnostic vs. atheist! The peeve I have...

Dear friends,

This is my first real rant... breaking out that soap box.

Agnostic has broadened my world and introduced so many lovely people into my life that I deeply enjoy the company of. Our conversations are sometimes fun and lighthearted, other times intense and intellectual. I've learned many things from this community and the people in it.

That said, there is this tired old debate. One where agnostics and atheists can't seem to agree on definitions for the words. I'm not going to sit here and post telling all of you that people misunderstand and they need to be taught! That is so demeaning and presumptuous when people do that. It's preaching and coaching rather than talking to someone like a peer. I respect all of you as peers and fellow critical thinkers, so...

I can tell you my own interpretation based on the digging that I've done. I won't ask you to agree with it. All I ask is you do what you already do, think critically. Be open minded. And, most of you are pretty cool and respectful peeps, so I don't think I need to say it-- but there is always one person that needs the reminder. So, here it is! Please play nice. ; )

Disclaimer: if you want to call yourself an agnostic, atheist, agnostic atheist-- whatever, it's your choice based on what fits you most comfortably. The term you choose for yourself is what matters more than my interpretation of the words.

Ah, so for almost 20 years, I've said I was an atheist. After joining agnostic, someone ranted about atheism and agnosticism being mutually exclusive. That someone made me re-evaluate my own thinking. I started digging into the words a little more... and then I started questioning my own bias.

Was I calling myself atheist, because I rejected the dogma of religion (which on an emotional level really pisses me off)? When I thought about it, I could only reject certain gods. Because there was not only no proof of these gods, the evidence was stacked against the holy books these gods are defined in.

  1. I absolutely do not believe the Abrahamic god as portrayed in the bible or similar holy texts is real. These holy texts disprove themselves with contradictions and inaccuracies.

  2. I do not reject the idea of the possibility of a creator of some sort. I do not believe it. But, I do not disbelieve it.

  3. My beliefs and disbeliefs are based on facts and evidence. I will shift beliefs regardless of my feelings, if the facts and evidence align.

*When I looked into the terms atheist and agnostic here is the defining differencesmile055.gif

Definition of atheism
1 a : a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods
b : a philosophical or religious position characterized by disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods

Definition of agnostic
1 : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (such as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

*The difference between the two, per Merriam-Webster (and I agree with this interpretation, which is why I regularly quote it)smile055.gif

Many people are interested in distinguishing between the words agnostic and atheist. The difference is quite simple: atheist refers to someone who believes that there is no god (or gods), and agnostic refers to someone who doesn’t know whether there is a god, or even if such a thing is knowable. This distinction can be troublesome to remember, but examining the origins of the two words can help.

Agnostic first appeared in 1869, (possibly coined by the English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley), and was formed from the Greek agn?stos (meaning "unknown, unknowable" ). Atheist came to English from the French athéisme. Although both words share a prefix (which is probably the source of much of the confusion) the main body of each word is quite different. Agnostic shares part of its history with words such as prognosticate and prognosis, words which have something to do with knowledge or knowing something. Atheist shares roots with words such as theology and theism, which generally have something to do with God.

Depending on your interpretation, I could be defined as an atheist or an agnostic. Atheist if we're talking ONLY about the Abrahamic god. But, why was I defining myself as if Christianity was the anchor of the definition?

In broad strokes, I realized agnostic fits better for me. I don't know if a god or creator exists. And, if I have to label myself, I prefer to think in general.

Some people call themselves agnostic atheists. Per wiki, one of the earliest definitions of agnostic atheism is that of Robert Flint, in his Croall Lecture of 1887–1888 (published in 1903 under the title Agnosticism).

I understand the intent behind the conjoined term, but in my mind these two concepts contradict. How can you both not believe (disbelieve) and claim unknowability? Why have both terms at all, aren't you just agnostic if you require evidence?

But, I suppose it comes from the desire to say, I disbelieve until someone proves otherwise. Which, I do get. But, agnostics don't believe anything without evidence either. So, I don't feel the need to put the terms together. Though, I don't find I need to argue with people who do want to put them together. It does make it's point, which is the whole purpose of labels to begin with. So, OK.

ah, semantics

To sum this up, in my opinion there is no perfect term, label, or word for me. I use labels as a general means to find things that interest me under these headings and to connect with people who generally share my viewpoint-- or at least share the desire to reject dogma and examine things critically.

This rant is only because I've seen several people try to "educate" others on the definitions. To tell everyone they are wrong and have a misconception. This has long been debated and really, to what end? There isn't a good conclusive resource to say side A is right and side B is wrong, so why keep bringing it up? To educate people without a strong source to reference is against the very concept of freethinking. It's better to say "my opinion is..." or "my interpretation is..." and even myself, I cannot claim that I am right and others are wrong. There is no really good corroboration for either side here. Our sources don't even really agree.

Truth be told, I hate labels anyway. I don't feel the need to have a specific tattoo of either agnostic or atheist. Those of you who know me get the gist of what I do and don't believe. I hate dogmatic thinking-- that's the end game.

Fuck the labels. If you don't like dogma, you are my people, my tribe, and I'm good with whatever definition you want to use.

Seriously, call yourself whatever you want, friends.

If you read to the end, thank you for hearing me out. This is the longest blurb I've written. I will now step off my soap box.

With smile015.gif

Silvereyes

By silvereyes
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329 comments

41

Amen. This is a really good post.

Admin Level 8 Jan 20, 2018
Reply

Or Agal

thank you kindly, @Admin (blush) smile001.gif

@Leutrelle, what?

And R'amen to you!

@Admin Glad you can see that. Most people can't, even though it's very obvious. Atheists and agnostics for some reason can't seem to wrap their heads around it. It's the fourth stand, the stand of theological noncognitivism, which is neither theism, atheism, nor agnosticism. Since "God" cannot be used meaningfully in a sentence, it cannot refer to anything, not even to a deity. Theists, atheists and agnostics all three wrongly assume that "God" and "Allah" are meaningful words.

Not quite sure how your using the term Amen.
Are you using it like a pat on the back, an "I agree" sentiment?

“AMEN: In Egyptian Mythology, the mighty one (god) of life and procreation …later identified with the Sun-god as the supreme deity of Egypt, and was called “Amen-Ra.”

How do believers deceive themselves into thinking adding a "So Be it"(Amen) to the end of prayers will advance their case?
Do they not understand the nature and definition of the very God they claim to be serving?
In the Faith God's will is sacrosanct, all things fall in line with it, and we feeble humans do not understand why.
IF your prayer is in line with God's will, it will be fulfilled, and if it is not, God said No.
Further, if you pray at all, for anything other than Thanks, how are you not being a child crying "Are we There Yet?" in the back seat to a God you believe is eternal, timeless and ever present?
IT would know better than you exactly what you needed all the time before you do, like pestering your mother for dinner while she is cooking.

What truly fails about this Model for God is that it makes God responsible for everything, every crime, every natural disaster, every disease victim, EVERYTHING.
Because a being defined in such a way would have foreseen EVERYTHING before anything began and CHOSE that, and then watches it ALL, like reality TV through ever presence, literally watching every rape and murder, every genocide, every fire which claims victims, every disaster, every disease victim, every victim of starvation
ALWAYS
EVERY SECOND
Having the power to save each and every one with a word
and doing NOTHING.

It convicts your idea of God of a level of depravity we can scarcely conceive, to watch the Holocaust and take no action, through all time . . .

So how are you using that term, Amen? like "Amen brother, I agree?" (where it means in the Christian Dogma "so be it"?)
In that case what is it you want to be?
"Seriously, call yourself whatever you want, friends."--Silvereyes

Labels serve a purpose in communication, if you use the term one way and I in another, and we ASSUME we are using the term in the same manner we will miscommnicate.
THAT is why this always comes up, because we must achieve a meeting of minds on how terms are being used to have an intelligent discourse.

RAmen, may his noodley apendages embrace you.

@Davesnothere If they could realize that their belief is a mishmash of fairy stories from previous religions, they would be free.

@AMNOTGOD i'm still trying to learn how to use/navigate this site...i haven't been visiting other than my one comment a while back...and i'm just here this morning..seeing comments under my comment..but i'm not sure what some are referencing ...yours was to the admin saying "glad you denote pieces of plagiarism, me as for myself as a poet, I never try to steal from anyone"...where was there plagiarism? i can't even find the original post i commented to..lost here...anyway...the reason i'm replying to your comment is that...i wanted to tell you ...IP is immoral...(unlike real/physical personal property, which is your physical life/time/energy)...ideas COME to us for free...and oh what is that old saying...about there being nothing new under the sun...no "original" thoughts? i can't recall...but anyways..re "stealing"....my take on that is "sharing is caring"...share any truth/fact you find...it is LOVE to share facts/truth...

Thank you.

30

There is no "agnostic versus atheist". Each is the answer to a different question. Agnostic is about knowledge, atheist is about belief. If they're being honest, many religious people would agree that they think the existence of a god (or their god(s) in particular) is unknown and unknowable; a person can clearly be an agnostic believer.

cmadler Level 7 Jan 26, 2018
Reply

@silvereyes [en.m.wikipedia.org]

@cmadler I agree, I have said similar statements, that said, I don't get hung up on what you call yourself.

I would love to talk to an agnostic theist. I can't understand the notion of not knowing and yet believing.

@cmadler You said "Agnostic is about knowledge, atheist is about belief". No. They are BOTH about BELIEF. They both require the belief that "God" or "Allah" is a meaningful word. See my post above: "Unless you can show that "God" is a meaningful word, you can't use it meaningfully in a sentence either to say "God exists", "God doesn't exist" or "God may or may not exist".

Edited

@EdwinMcCravy I don't understand your argument. The term "God", capitalized and with no descriptors, is commonly understood to mean the Abrahamic god.

@cmadler I don't know how to even suspect in the least, let alone believe, that there is any possible mental image of anything to call "the Abrahamic god". I contend that if I can only speak or write the sequence of 3 words "the Abrahamic god", but cannot conjure up in my head any possible image of anything that sequence of words could stand for, then I cannot know of anything I could be talking or writing about when I speak or write that sequence. If you claim to be able to have a mental imagine anything that "the Abrahamic god" could refer to, then please describe the mental image to me so that I may be able to have it too. Without a mental image for some row of alphabet letters to refer to, all I can know of is the row of alphabet letters.

Edited

@EdwinMcCravy There are plenty of non-physical concepts for which no mental image (or no accurate mental image) exists. What is your mental image for "infinity"? What about "imaginary"? What about "vacuum" (as in an absence of physical material)? What about "noun"? For that matter, what about "mental image"?

@cmadler You ask "what is my mental image for 'infinity'?  Let's analyze the term.  The prefix "in-" on infinity means "not". the "fin" is like the "fin" of "finish".  "Infinity" means "something that is never finished, or 'all there'.  So "infinity" is meaningless because it means "all of what is never all there".  Yes, "infinity" is meaningless.  Contrary to popular belief, mathematicians never speak "of infinity".  We only say "as x approaches infinity", which only means "as the quantity x grow larger and larger".  We don't define 1÷ 0 "one divided by zero".   

You want to talk about our awareness of bodily activities as if they are not something physical.  But they all are.  We all agree that we imagine things.  Scientists have discovered that  neurons in our brains behave a certain way, and when they do, we can detect the results of their activity, and label our experience "imagining".  

Don't you imagine things?  Of course you do.  Everybody does.   What about "imaginary"?  That's a word we use for things we can imagine in our heads.  I can close my eyes and imagine unicorns and mermaids galore.  You can too.  So you know very well what I'm talking about.  Can you describe feeling pain?  No, but you know when you feel pain.  Everybody knows about having pain.  When we say "we have pain", our nerves are behaving a certain way that makes us feel uncomfortable.  It's an activity going on within our body that we are detecting.  

But I have no idea what you are claiming to imagine when you claim to imagine something for the row of words "God, the infinite incorporeal spirit that created the universe".  So I don't how to believe that you are imagining anything for that row of words to mean.  It looks to me like you're just speaking them or writing them and believing (on faith, what else?) that they refer to something.  

What about "vacuum"?   We just use the word "vacuum" to speak of something that does not contain any air or gas.. What about nouns?  Those are words in a language that stand for things.  Nouns are part of a language that humans have invented. A mental image is what we say we have when our neurons behave a certain way,  A neuroscientist can tell you about how they behave (move around and vibrate).  

@hlfsousa , you said "I can't understand the notion of not knowing and yet believing"

but...that is what all beLIEf IS...

beLIEf is literally the LACK of KNOWledge

beLIEving and KNOWing are OPPOSITES

all beLIEfs are CONscious CHOICES

KNOWing NEVER is

to beLIEve is (literally) to "take AS true" that which you do NOT know/do NOT have the facts to back...

Edited

@traceyanarchist that was all over the place. I am not sure what kind of emphasis you tried to give in the use of uppercase letters, but the idea is very wacky. Knowledge is, traditionally, a subset of belief. The opposite of knowledge is ignorance, and the opposite of belief is... well, disbelief or negation. Let me give you a fairly simple example of what I mean:

John did not count the number of words in his dictionary. However, he believes the number of words is even. Robert claims to have received revelation from his god, Lexicon, and believes the number is odd.

I can accept the fact that both John and Robert believe what they claim to believe. I understand why Robert thinks he is justified in holding his belief, though I'd disagree with him on that. But I do not understand how John can jump from not having any justification to believing something. It is not that complicated.

p.s.: just to make sure I am not saying BS, I made a quick stop at Wikipedia: "Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty.". Even the Venn diagram shows knowledge as a subset of belief.

Edited

@cmadler "Non-physical concept?" I don't know what that means. Please educate me. Maybe give me some examples of whatever you think "non-physical concept" means.

@hlfsousa "Knowledge is, traditionally, a subset of belief. " just because you found a venn diagram making it look like knowledge is a subset of belief DOES NOT MAKE IT SO

beLIEf is literally the lack of knowledge....it's opposite

ALL beLIEfs are CHOICES

KNOWing never is

@hlfsousa what anyone guesses the number of words in anything are is IRRELEVANT ALL beLIEf is IRRELEVANT....

they can be counted...then you KNOW.

@traceyanarchist so Wikipedia is wrong because you say so. Wonderful. I'm glad I have up on this site

@hlfsousa yep..it most certainly is...learn to discern, dear

@hlfsousa if wiki says knowledge is a subset of belief it is 100% incorrect...
they are choosing to define belief as something that it is not if they are claiming that

@hlfsousa belief is literally the lack of knowledge

they are opposites

knowing is NEVER a choice.....but ALL beLIEfs are CHOICES...

@hlfsousa let me try to come up with a tiny example for ya....

when you learn how to count and how to add, you then KNOW that 2 + 2 = 4...

you don't "beLIEve" it...you know it...and you can VERIFY it with your OWN SENSES...

counting to check your adding

@hlfsousa you're NOT choosing between options when you are adding...if you are, you don't know how to add...

@hlfsousa here's another...i don't "beLIEve" i have/live in a body...i know it

@hlfsousa here's another i don't believe the earth is not a rotating globe, i know it isn't...because the facts in physical evidence that i can verify with my own eyes make that impossible...all the oceans are flat (and still after all these years and all the billions spent, there is no evidence of curvature, not a single real photo from "space" ), and the north star never moves...these things mean they've been lying to us all along...you can not make a globe out of all flat pieces...and the motion of the lights in the sky are NOT due to our rotation

@hlfsousa i ran into someone on this site yesterday claiming the NONSENSE that "your brain is not one of your senses" (ok...but it is the part of you that makes sense of what your other senses see, and you can not know ANYthing without using it with integrity)...he claimed that he would be correct in claiming it as fact that his favorite team will win only when he wears his lucky t-shirt...lmfao...that is IGNORING FACTS....and that means he was NOT USING HIS BRAIN....and just CHOOSING to beLIEve what he wants to and CHOOSING to MISlabel his faulty conclusions fact...

that doesn't make them fact

@hlfsousa beLIEf is literally the OFF SWITCH for the brain

@hlfsousa btw...re sources...any of them...

until you learn to think things all the way through to discern fact yourself, making sure you've let go of any and all beliefs that bias you against/blind you to relevant facts, you don't know yet...and you'd be lying to claim you know...because if all you "know" about a topic is what you've read/heard from another...you are taking it on faith/trusting them...NOT THINKING IT THROUGH YOURSELF.....it's kinda like say some math genius tells you what the "correct answer" is to a very tough math problem you've not yet learned how to solve...all you can do is take their word for it...until YOU learn how to figure it out yourself...

beLIEf is the LACK of KNOWledge

the former is a CHOICE to rest in ignorance (upon the shoulders of others who TELL YOU what to "take AS true"...withOUT YOUR having/understanding/knowing the FACTS yourSELF...a choice to LIE and CLAIM you "know" (or know enough) when you do NOT KNOW AT ALL...and are merely parroting what others TOLD YOU to be true

when you KNOW...it's very different

@hlfsousa there are MANY dictionaries and encyclopedias...look up beLIEf...it is to "take AS true" that which you do NOT KNOW to be/that which you do NOT have the facts to back

every beLIEf is a CONscious CHOICE....

KNOWledge is NOT a subset of ANY set of choices..it is never a choice

@hlfsousa when you KNOW something, you do NOT have to beLIEve it...at all...because you KNOW it...there is a HUGE difference between knowing and believing

@hlfsousa and one of the most insidious evil sound-bite programs out of the psychopaths who run this slave system via violence is "respect all beliefs"...NO...do not respect ANY belief...NO belief deserves ANY respect...the CHOICE to rest in/cling to beLIEf is DISrespectful to ALL LIFE....it shows you do not care at all if you are wrong/acting from false info..you do not care at all if your actions/attitudes are misinformed or potentially harmful to others...you are DISregarding all other life/the consequences of your actions/choices

only those who put fact first are good

beLIEvers (of ANYthing) are sociopathic narcissists who don't care what damage their LAZY, selfish choices cause

@hlfsousa btw, who do you think writes the definitions you find in wiki/other sources? GOD? some all-knowing/perfect AI?...lmfao....

@hlfsousa here is my gift to you...grandmother wisdom...what my grandmother told me when i was very little, maybe about five: do NOT beLIEve all you read in books

@hlfsousa she said...just because you read it in a book, doesn't make it true

@hlfsousa she clearly understood that to believe is to "take AS true" that which you do NOT KNOW to be...

knowledge is NOT a subset of belief...they are OPPOSITES...

beLIEf is literally the LACK of KNOWledge, borne of fear, the lack of love

28

"Fuck the labels."

Well said.

VictoriaNotes Level 8 Jan 20, 2018
Reply

I agree!

21

People can (and do) call me whatever they want to, but I don't feel any need to assume an identity (pro or con) based on other people's hallucinations. Different dictionaries define those terms differently anyway, so a conviction of one perspective over another is really a statement of arbitrary loyalty to, you guessed it, another book!

To my mind, a more vexing problem is that everybody seems to assume that they are all talking about the same thing when they use the word god, when, realistically, no two people are likely to see that concept exactly the same if they were to talk it out fully. By various definitions I am a theist, an atheist, and an agnostic, as well as none of those.

I don't know of any way to communicate my position other than through lengthy, two-way discussions. Two-way because I don't know how to add an idea to your current understanding until I am familiar with that understanding. I don't know how to talk to you until I know what certain words mean to you. Communication is relational.

Arguments over the definitions of words are not really arguments. They are just two people telling each other what those words mean to them. They are both right. All we can do is listen, believe them, and try to take that into account.

skado Level 8 Jan 20, 2018
Reply

"verybody seems to assume that they are all talking about the same thing when they use the word god, "

This is why labels matter to me: how you lable "god" is critical to understand what you mean by "god".

And what you say is so true: too many people assume that their meaning of god is "the" meaning and thus fail to see how others do not share in that same meaning.

This is why I often, before "getting into it", ask people to precisely define what they mean by god... or leprechaun... or spirit... or unicorn... etc. smile009.gif

Exactly. It can be tedious but otherwise you have no way of knowing if your intent is reaching the other person and vice versa. @TheMiddleWay

@silvereyes

Is not a label merely shorthand for a definition?

When I label this apple "red", surely we can debate what type of red it is but that label still serves to distinguish it from "blue" and "green. Likewise, when I use the label "god", it serves to distinguish it from "horses" and "dirt" even as we can debate exactly what type of god we are talking about.

I would argue the opposite, that it is ONLY by you telling me what red or god means to you and by me telling you what red or god means to me that we can get anywhere using the label "red" or "god" for an apple or a being.

@silvereyes

I get the same feeling, don't worry. smile002.gif smile002.gif smile002.gif

@TheMiddleWay however, what if the person has neither of the colors within their viewable range? You may see red, however the other person sees a color not even in your spectrum in place of red. So, your strict and tedious description only applies to you and those like you. Also, how do you strictly and intricately describe or define something that's ultimately unknown? Hence, the reason we're supposed to identify as agnostics and the reason I relate to the definitions and theories of agnosticism.

The meaning(s) of abstractions, concepts, words, et cetera are the central point of every debate. That's why it is so important to clearly define your terms in any academic endeavor. The problem is that to the religious, defining terms is secondary to their inviolable pro-god/supernatural stance. To them anything you say against their version of god/supernatural must be wrong - and by extension you must be an outsider. If you are familiar with ingroup outgroup social dynamics then you already understand how easy it is for these people to purpetrate blatantly evil acts.

@TheMiddleWay That is a super good practice. When asked "do you believe in God" one should first reply with "Well, what do you mean when you say God?" A lot of people will be completely perplexed by this question - as so many have never considered the idea. Their reaction will tell you a lot about where that conversation can go.

@TheMiddleWay Are you talking about gods like Zeus and Thor? They are finite material things (superhumans) that ancient people imagined to exist. They drew pictures and made statues of them that are still around today. These gods didn't exist, but the labeled "Zeus" and "Thor" referred to these imaginable material things. Such things are called "gods" with a small "g". Nobody today believes they exist.

I find myself unable to believe that "God" with a capital "G" or "Allah" with a capital "A" refers to a god or to anything at all. If you believe it does, why do you?

16

Get out of my head! Point well stated, and exactly!!! smile009.gif

"In broad strokes, I realized agnostic fits better for me. I don't know if a god or creator exists. And, if I have to label myself, I prefer to think in general."

and

"Fuck the labels. If you don't like dogma, you are my people, my tribe, and I'm good with whatever definition you want to use."

WELL DONE!!

Thanks for this post. Love it.

MyLiege Level 7 Jan 20, 2018
Reply
14

@silvereyes I totally agree with you. Do not like labels. Conflicted between atheist and agnostic myself. Freethinker seems to be an umbrella term. I think I'll continue to use freethinker.

sassygirl3869 Level 9 Jan 20, 2018
Reply

I've recently come to the conclusion that it all boils down to believing if disembodied souls can exist (spirits, ghosts, gods, etc.). Since I can't come even close to explaining how a disembodied soul could exist (What is it made of?), they are an impossibility, and thus I don't believe they exist. Because of the non-existence of disembodied souls, there is no life after death; no spirit warehouses such as heaven, hell, or purgatory; and no reincarnation. Also, since gods are disembodied souls (with special powers, of course), I don't believe they exist, too.

Got a label for my belief system?

13

Well done. As for me, I fall in the camp that believes the existence of God is unknowable. One may label that whatever one chooses. It doesn't rule out the possibility of a God of some sort. It just states that (with our current understanding and ability) we can't prove or disprove the existence of a greater being than us.

Duke Level 8 Jan 20, 2018
Reply

Well put.

@WizardBill True. Unknown. But, the concept has no basis in fact. Just a concept. Same as warp drive. An idea until someone proves it's either possible or impossible.

10

Part 1) Precise thoughts come from precise language.

If we adopt the "call yourself whatever you want" ideology, then are we ok with theist calling themselves atheists and atheists calling themselves theist? I should think not.

As well with agnostic and atheist; these are two different words with two different meanings. They are not synonyms. And in teasing out the differences we tease out what our true intentions and feelings are on an issue. You said it yourself, by posing the idea that agnostic and atheist were mutually exclusive, someone smile009.gif made you think about your own beliefs, made them more precise.

Part 2) "The limits of my language are the limits of my world" - Wittgenstein

There is a problem in relying on dictionaries and that is that dictionaries try to boil down complex ideas into a sentence or two and we are on this site discussions some of the most complex ideas in philosophy and theology. Thus, while we can use dictionaries as a jumping off point, we have to be careful that they are not the only point. The Wittgenstein quote can be viewed to mean that if you use the wrong words to describe yourself, you are unfairly limiting your worldview and, conversely, by choosing the right word you broaden your world view. I've seen many many many posts on this site about people, whom once their realized they were atheist, once they could put a name to their feeling, felt like a weight was off their shoulder, like the world made more sense to them. As such, an exploration of labels is very important to us for as humans it not only give definition to our thoughts but also to give us a sense of where we belong and what communities rally around the same words, the same thoughts.

Part 3) A personal account

I've had two threads where I've brought into question the meaning of the word agnostic. For a site named agnostic.com, this should be par for the course and yet I've often met this idea that I'm being pedantic, that I should leave well enough alone, or that I'm just flat our wrong. And that is fine! We pure agnostics are the minority on this board (and perhaps in society) and it should come as no surprise that how we view ourselves is not in vogue. If you don't agree with how I define myself, then so be it. If you don't agree with how I see you define yourself, I challenge you to also be ok with it. I am a teacher by trade and, ironically, I don't teach; I facilitate. It is not my intention to be a teacher on what agnostic means but it is my intention for me to facilitate your understanding of what I mean when I say agnostic.

Conclusion) Respectful discourse is more important than labels

While I disagree with the content of Silvereyes post (as I believe labels do matter), I wholeheartedly agree with it's spirit: let us strive to understand each other using whatever labels we see fit.... but let us not get upset if the labels we choose for ourselves or others are challenged for growth comes from challenge, not blind acceptance. If this clashes with how you view me or that term, then I say more power to us both! Most of the clashes I've had on this topic have been respectful and intelligent, with each side presenting their points for why they feel this way. Most. Not all. And thus I will continue to espouse my views and live by them peacefully and respectfully. If you want to join me for the ride using the labels I chose, great! If you don't or if you want to use different labels, great as well! But let us challenge each other to meet our disagreements with the spirit of respectful discourse for that is more important than just about anything... including labels. smile002.gif

TheMiddleWay Level 8 Jan 20, 2018
Reply

@silvereyes

I feel we are in 99% agreement. We both feel that the discussion is more important than the label and that a label does not wholly define the person (that's stereotyping, really)

The only 1% difference, as I see it, is what benefit we each see to using labels at all.

When I call myself a "pure agnostic", there is a general, broad understanding that I'm not atheist or theist but (grossly speaking) somewhere in between. This saves a ton of discussion and serves as a spring board for further discussion, such as when instead of "pure agnostic" others use "atheistic agnostic" or other combinations. Same as when a person calls themselves "atheist"; I don't have to spend time asking if they believe in jesus, or the bible, or the divinity of allah, etc... I know off hand how to approach discussions with them and what their baseline is.

So perhaps the key is that because a label like agnostic doesn't fit you well... but it does me... I see a use in it where you perhaps don't.

@silvereyes

Yes, always. smile002.gif

Just keep in mind that for some of us, some of the time, the focus of the discussion turns to or explicitly is the label and in those cases, the "be all and end all" are the semantics.

i've not read your whole comment yet...but i skimmed the headings...and you said "Respectful discourse is more important than labels" i agree AND want to ADD that the MOMENT one party digs in their heels to claim AS TRUE that which they have NO FACTS to back....that is their intentional CHOICE to DISrespect all life on earth...and AT that point, they no longer deserve to be treated with kid gloves..because THEY have PROVEN THEY do NOT give a flying fuck what is true...they are PROVING themselves beLIEvers (folks who don't care what the facts are, who always put their favorite fiction/fantasy/faith FIRST instead)..with that choice, and all beLIEvers are sociopathic narcissists at best, none respects life because none respects TRUTH/facts/reality...they are pure blind pride..and don't deserve any respect...they don't even deserve life...as they don't respect it..and they can NEVER BE TRUSTED...they WILL KILL YOU....because of their beLIEfs...i.e., withOUT FACTS..and they will still feel justified...beLIEfs are for the most part EXCUSES

it's DISrespect of yourSELF/your own TIME/attention/efforts to WASTE time with one who has NO interest in putting fact first

Edited

@traceyanarchist
I don't take as harsh a stance as you. For example, String theorists claim their belief is true despite there being no facts to back them up. I don't think they will kill us, I think they deserve respect, and I think they deserve to live.

Most of the time, it's not that there is a lack of facts but rather that people choose different facts upon which to rely upon. So for a religious, it is a fact that every time they pray they get the result they want. For a secular, it could be that every time they wear their lucky shirt their team wins. These could be a fact to them. It would however maybe not be a fact to us. So it's not the case that they don't care about the facts, it's just that their facts and ours are different.

read the rest of your comment and it is all good smile001.gif...

yes...it is a frustrating WASTE of precious, limited time/life to even try to continue to converse with those who beLIEve whatEVER they WANT to and ONLY that (meaning...the ones who are fine with anyone calling themselves anything regardless of whether the label actually fits, not caring to learn the meanings of the terms they use...words do have meanings....and it IS about settling on a meaning that actually fits/accurately reflects behavior/actions...otherwise...you are dealing with LIARS...who just like to hear the sound of their own (happy/comfy in their chosen stance of not caring what words mean and applying them willy nilly wherever they want to without regard to fact/truth) narcissistic voices...

the fact is, if they are ok with the words they are using not actually being accurate (because they don't beLIEve in carefully choosing the correct terms because they beLIEve that it really doesn't matter/there are no facts/etc) they are wasting everyone's time/life/attention...and they may as well be making baby animal noises...because nothing they say can be correctly interpreted....they will say it means whatever they want it to...but if you ask for clarification...WATCH THEIR STORIES/stances CHANGE...they will also fight that they are "right" ...about whatever they are claiming...while refusing to be responsible for the words they are using....so...NOTHING they claim is worth even wasting time listening to

@TheMiddleWay lol...well see but that's the problem..they don't respect FACT/reality/life

the examples you gave are NOT of facts

those who consider them facts DO NOT KNOW HOW TO KNOW anything yet....because they don't even know what a fact is...

a fact is what you can verify with your own senses...

and oh lemme see if i can find a meme that explains what those examples you gave really are of..hold on..not sure if this site lets me share memes...

they are NOT facts just because the person says/beLIEves them to be...

the examples you gave are of faulty thinking...not really thinking at all

@TheMiddleWay

can you see that tiny meme..it let me put one there..but tiny

@TheMiddleWay an example of a fact:

polaris is stationary (relative to us, regardless of where you are..if you can see it, it is still)

and that means we aren't rotating

@TheMiddleWay example of another fact:
all of the water on earth is flat...perfectly flat on the surface...(or the sun could NOT shine in a line to your feet on the shore)

and that means (assuming most of earth IS water as we are told and can see when we fly in planes) that the earth is flat, just as it appears to be from any airplane, and anywhere on earth...you can not make a globe out of all flat pieces (some with some bumps in them)

@TheMiddleWay folks used to letting others do their thinking for them, rarely grasp anything...they are motivated by fear, not love of life

@TheMiddleWay what i really can't stand are the bible thumpers who latch on to those two facts and claim that proves god...i tell them DAILY..NO IT DOESN'T ...and ANY omnipotent, omniscient creator has PROVEN itself a PSYCHOPATH undeserving of ANYone's love/respect..by its own intentional actions/choices...IF one exists, it KNEW in advance ALL of what would happen...and it STILL set it in motion...it KNEW what each of the psychopaths IT CREATED WOULD DO to the good/innocent/honest ones it also created (without their consent) and placed in the care of/path of those psychopaths...

@TheMiddleWay so if you want lots of practice having to deal with the deluded dangers to themselves and others who choose to put their favorite fictions/faiths first instead of fact, look into the facts of what the universities have been lying about ...a shit load of "christians" will friend you for knowing the earth is flat...but...they can't seem to think for themselves..they just LIKE that i share those truths with them...because it fits nicely with their ancient books of holy excuses...i even met one IRL who asked me "how sure are you? how strongly to you beLIEve it is flat?"..which made it clear to me she STILL HAD NOT YET STARTED to THINK for herself yet....she was still "shopping" for a bandwagon to hop up and feel safe on....TRUTH is NEVER democratically decided...or dispensed by "authorities"...it is what IS underneath all the lies of those who choose to beLIEve whatever they want and only that...ignoring any facts that don't fit it nicely...

and beLIEvers are horrid bullies to any who doesn't agree with them

until they give up all beLIEf and CARE to DISCERN FACT themselves, they are INcapable of choosing right action...because they don't even care to discern it first...they live lies...

there is a HUGE difference between KNOWing and beLIEving...and until they CARE to KNOW....nothing they say can be relied upon.....and they can't be trusted...they have no integrity

Edited

@TheMiddleWay to KNOW you HAVE to DISCERN it yourSELF...and beLIEvers just don't seem to grasp that

@traceyanarchist
" fact is what you can verify with your own senses..."
But I can verify with my own sense that if I wear my lucky shirt my teams wins.
Conversely, I can't verify with my own senses if an electron exists or not.
Facts are a tricky thing my friend, not as cut and dry as we'd like them to be. smile009.gif

"xample of another fact:
all of the water on earth is flat...perfectly flat on the surface...(or the sun could NOT shine in a line to your feet on the shore)"
That's a good example of what I'm talking about. As per your definition, that is a fact since I can verify it with my sense. However, it's not until I get another perspective, say a satellite view, that I can verify with my senses that the previous fact was wrong.
So we have to be aware that facts can be wrong but they are (or more accurately WERE) still facts at one point.

"what I really can't stand are the bible thumpers who latch on to those two facts and claim that proves god."
I agree 100%. However, as an agnostic, I also "can't stand" textbook thumpers who latch onto two science facts and claim that disproves god. smile001.gif
I agree with most everything you say in terms of unjustified belief...the only extension is that I don't ascribe that to the religious but to the secular as well... we are all humans and as such, we are all prone to faulty thinking, whether motivated by scripture or science.

@TheMiddleWay

also you said "I don't take as harsh a stance as you. For example, String theorists claim their belief is true despite there being no facts to back them up. I don't think they will kill us, I think they deserve respect, and I think they deserve to live."

well, my stance is putting truth first in all...if you consider that "harsh"..you are projecting your fear of fact

string theory is total bull crap...i don't think they will kill us either though...at least those who claim to be scientists claim to put fact first in all...even though that kind doesn't...they can be reasoned with UNLESS THEIR SIX-figure salary and tenure doesn't let them CARE what the facts are

starting to read you last reply now...the one that starts: "I can verify with my own sense that if I wear my lucky shirt my teams wins." well...if you have a brain, you know that's not a fact...some thinking is required....you can't just beLIEve whatever you want...you have to KNOW it..not just CLAIM that two things that happened at the same time were causally related...you are NOT displaying intellectual integrity if you do that...

@TheMiddleWay you said "As per your definition, that is a fact since I can verify it with my sense. However, it's not until I get another perspective, say a satellite view, that I can verify with my senses that the previous fact was wrong."

INCORRECT....you've IGNORED the CLEAN CLEAR LOGIC i provided...or you do not understand how light can't reflect on a line to your feet at the shore ...or you do not understand that you can NOT make a globe out of a box of flat puzzle pieces...fyi there are no satellites (there WERE some hanging from high altitude balloons though)...and if it is FLAT from the highest flying planes, IN ADDITION TO THE FACT THAT IT IS PERFECTLY FLAT according to levels, laser, and everything else down here, it is flat...and it will NOT be looking more curved as you get higher up...they've never been to "space" ..they shot missiles at the dome for years...they've not broken through

@TheMiddleWay you said " I also "can't stand" textbook thumpers who latch onto two science facts and claim that disproves god"..

well that does NOT apply to me...as i DO NOT HOLD ANY beLIEfs...as i mentioned earlier, but you ignored that...and CHOSE INSTEAD to beLIEve that i hold "secular beLIEfs"..about "science facts"..LMFAO..which...shows you are choosing to NOT pay any attention to the words i've taken the time to type to you, disrespectfully on your part..i made it CLEAR...that KNOWledge is NOT from any book/what others tell you...i made it CLEAR that what is CONsidered "science" by the mainstream (i.e., what is taught in the schools) IS NOT FACT...and YOU have made clear..YOU do NOT KNOW what a fact is or how to discern one...it DOES REQUIRE your BRAIN...you can NOT "have faith" and just say anything that feels good to you...

" we are all prone to faulty thinking, whether motivated by scripture or science."

please learn to speak for yourself...i'm DONE with "faulty thinking" ...you are either thinking, and putting FACT first in all...OR YOU ARE NOT..there is NO grey area in it..and few seem to grasp that fact....things either ARE or they are NOT....they either HAPPENED one way OR THEY DID NOT....there is NO grey area in discerning fact from fiction or right from wrong..and the former is a prerequisite to the latter..and NO ONE who fails to discern is trustworthy...

you're showing you are still trapped by the "only two options" programming, as you've CHOSEN to MISlabel me as one who holds "secular beLIEfs" ..i'm assuming because you don't LIKE the FACTS i've shared....happens all the time...

you are UNaware of the PSEUDOSCIENCE beLIEfs YOU HOLD...

and they are BLINDING YOU...

you beLIEve you "Know" already...and you do NOT...and you don't CARE to...you are comfy "resting" on the shoulders of the "experts" you let do your thinking for you...

and you projected your shit on to me...

i'm neither harsh nor a beLIEver of anything....

I put fact first in all..and am pretty much hated by all for doing so..

because LIKE YOU..they ALL HOLD FALSE beLIEfs they prefer to THINKING THROUGH SHIT for themselves...and they bully and falsely accuse and mislabel any who generously shares facts they don't LIKE..because it would mean they'd have to THINK.

@TheMiddleWay

and the reason beLIEvers are so dangerous/evil/lazy/disrespectful of fact/life/others' time is that "black and white" thinking (those NECESSARY to discern fact from fiction and right from wrong) is VERY DANGEROUS for them to use..because THEY DO NOT understand what a fact is...they EQUATE beLIEfs with facts....so they don't have a good data set to start with...they just live/act blindly from ASSumptions they DON'T CARE enough to check

@TheMiddleWay good intentions ARE NOT good enough...every warmonger alive claims they had them

@TheMiddleWay your example of the lucky t-shirt being the cause of your team's wins...if you actually think that the t-shirt wearing causes the wins, then maybe you just didn't see the meme i posted or weren't able to read the text on it...that's exactly what it was referring to...that kind of "faulty thinking"...faulty thinking does NOT let you discern facts...you're IGNORING relevant factors...

NO real scientist or anyone with integrity ignores any fact

and every globeTARD DOES (ignore the FACT that polaris is stationary and the water is all flat)

@TheMiddleWay also re going up to even higher altitudes (in imaginary satellites)..
the horizon is FLAT...and AT EYE LEVEL...regardless of how high you go...

the horizon is the extent/limit of our vision...it is NOT the edge of the earth that ships drop/sink behind

and if you use a nikon p900 you can make the sun rise back up with the zoom lens...because it's NOT out of our view/hidden behind the earth's "curvature"...it's JUST TOO FAR FOR US TO SEE IT anymore...

@TheMiddleWay i take it back what i said earlier about thinking the "government scientists"/those who swallow and support what they say/globeTARDS wouldn't kill us (the way religious beLIEvers have throughout history)...because i was wrong about thinking of them as the programmed professors in ivory towers teaching lies they were too stupid to examine ....it's NOT JUST THEM....it's NASA....and that's only ONE of MANY "space agencies"...and the thing is...NASA is US Military...NASA alone gets $20 BILLION EACH YEAR....(stolen at the threat of prison from the good slaves)...LYING that it is for "science and exploration"...and they dump it straight into the black hole of MILITARY SPENDING...

SO...it's EVERYone in the military...and THEY ARE KILLING US....on the orders of psychopaths...for pay, privilege, and protection

government is the biggest religion...and the top one...(all those who claim to beLIEve in god, still hypocritically bow down to government..showing they don't understand what "you can not serve two masters" means...mine is the truth

government requires both lies and random human sacrifice to exist

Edited

@TheMiddleWay facts ARE "cut and dry" ...or they are NOT facts....

it's important to use the correct terms, not forget/exclude any factors to the best of your ability (always quickly correcting any of your mistakes...as i did above being so casual/lazy to say the globeTARDS won't kill us...they are...they are blind beLIEvers of lies killing folks daily for pay..."just following orders"..not even KNOWing the folks they disable/cage/kill..and not caring to)

and making errors and taking responsibility for fixing them is NOT the same thing as "faulty thinking"...

faulty thinking is when you STOP thinking at some point before you've actually thought it through..and CLAIM as FACT something you do NOT know..and DON'T care to correct that error

the ones who care...generally at least phrase anything they've not given much thought to with "i think..." rather than claiming as true anything they don't know..and they are humble and always willing to acknowledge and correct their mistakes..because they DO NOT stop thinking shit through....or checking for any mistakes they might have made IF they care about the truth...and not wasting others' time/life...the good put fact first...and wouldn't be caught dead resting in any kind of beLIEf...

Edited

@traceyanarchist

"well, my stance is putting truth first in all...if you consider that "harsh"..you are projecting your fear of fact"
I don't abide by truth. I leave that to preachers and politicians. I abide by coherence and consistency. Thus, I don't seek to find what is "true" but only expose that which is coherent and consistent with my knowledge. I find that people that claim to know "the truth" are often trying to sell me something I usually can't afford. smile009.gif

"string theory is total bull crap"
Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. Until we have data we can't know either way.
Consider the Higgs Boson. It was in a similar state as String Theory for many decades... until we had the data and it wasn't. Building on the above, I don't view string theory as true or false but inconsistent with current data. I render no judgement but await the data in other words.

" "I can verify with my own sense that if I wear my lucky shirt my teams wins." well...if you have a brain, you know that's not a fact"
It's not about brains, it's about your definition of what a fact is as reling on what I can see with my senses. And if my senses say that 100% of the time I wear a shirt my team wins, then it's clearly a fact that every time I've worn my shirt my team has won and I'm justified, based on that fact, to claim that the next time I wear my shirt my team will win. That fact is true but it's not consistent with what we know about causality. This is a prime example of why I don't play with truth but focus on coherence and consitency

"you can NOT make a globe "
You'd need to know that it was a globe to begin with. Historically , most people don't travel more than a few miles from where they were born. As such, the notion of a "round earth" might be academic to them but it is hard to argue with what your eyes see, which is the that pond is "flat". Again, if you want to define a fact as based on what our sense see, then a flat earth is a fact until your sense can see otherwise given that your brain is NOT a sensory organ.

@traceyanarchist

I'm disengaging now.

I can't keep up with your idiosyncratic way of posting, capitalizing, or making our discussion about you when I was never talking about you.

Good day.

@TheMiddleWay "then it's clearly a fact that every time I've worn my shirt my team has won and I'm justified, based on that fact, to claim that the next time I wear my shirt my team will win." incorrect, you are not...that is just you proving you can't use your brain/logic

"That fact is true but it's not consistent with what we know about causality." correct

" This is a prime example of why I don't play with truth but focus on coherence and consitency"...well...if you don't care what's true/real...and care only more about sticking to lies you like...fine...i have no desire to engage you anymore either...you beLIEve what you WANT to beLIEve and clearly don't care to discern FACT...which is what you can discern...and you don't know how to yet...you just like programs

so ta ta

@TheMiddleWay i just had to come back to point out to you that when i asked if you were able to read that tiny meme with the dog thinking about his barking in it, you never answered...but that meme shows the way YOU "think"....and it is NOT thinking..it IS faulty thinking/the total disrespect for logic/reality...the preference to just beLIEve what you want to...

and it's sad you seem to deny that your brain is one of the things you have to be paying attention to/using in order to come to ANY conclusion...you discount its role in YOUR deciding what fits with ..what did you say? ..with what you "already know"?

but the thing is folks with integrity always care to check their assumptions...you don't seem to grasp their is a difference between and assumption/beLIEf and KNOWledge...

and the difference is very huge...

and those who neither know it or respect it (like yourself) can't be trusted....they are proving they do not care what is true...they put their favorite fictions/fantasies/faiths FIRST before FACT..and they just LABEL THEM FACT...when IN FACT they ARE NOT.

here is what the meme says (in case you couldn't read it):

"of course i believe in the power of barking. the only reason i am alive today is because of barking. every day a mailman approaches my home and every day i bark until he leaves. to this day he has still not murdered my entire family.

i have the power of barking to thank for that"

that is NOT using your brain...it's being RETARDED....and that's what you are claiming you prefer to do rather than take into account that your brain is to be used as one of your senses...it is what lets you make sense of what your other senses see...IF you CARE to use it

@TheMiddleWay

you just don't know how to know...

you don't know what it means or how to put fact first

it has NOTHING to do with matching up with what you "already know"...IF you have yet to know how to know...
you can't ignore ANY FACT when discerning

let's take your t-shirt example, which you claimed MAKES IT A FACT THAT THEY WILL WIN IF YOU WEAR IT...(NOT just that they always have in the past)...because you said you COULD legitimately claim that causality...going forward..and THAT IS NOT TRUE....you IGNORED what you KNOW about causality...so..see..you are "cherry picking" between things you think you know in order to just pick the easiest one that you like REGARDLESS of whether you've IGNORED FACTS in coming to it...

here's a fact...if you had not even been alive to wear a shit, that team would have still been playing all those games, and winning or losing each time...

your conclusion which you picked TO fit your beLIEf...assumes the team would have lost every game if you were not born...that's not thinking....whatever you call it

8

"but in my mind these two concepts contradict. How can you both not believe (disbelieve) and claim unknowability?"
Easily, you do it too.
Do you believe you'll be dead in 30 minutes time?
I'd assume the answer is no.
Can you know right now that you won't be dead in 30 minutes time?
No.
So it's not at all contradictory to disbelieve something while simultaneous accepting you can't know it.

gavlar Level 4 Jan 21, 2018
Reply

i think this keeps it necessarily simple, otherwise it get's tiresome having a discussion using words that mean different things to different people.
[mycinqminutes.com]

7

Like you, I don't care for labels. All I can definitively say is, for me, there are no gods, period. So, call me what you will, I honestly do not care.

Gods and religions are, in my opinion, derivatives of man's early efforts to explain the unexplainable; which somehow devolved into mechanisms for controlling the less powerful in society and taking advantage of those susceptible to the comfort of belief.

It is beyond my ken that one could look at the universe, and with even the slightest understanding of what we know, evidentially, about it, could firmly enjoin the notion that it was spawned from nothing but the mind of something or some "one" of whom we are not even able to conceive, if you accept the theistic viewpoint. Sounds like pure fantasy to me.

Sorry, but one good rant sometimes begets another rant.

Condor5 Level 8 June 7, 2018
Reply
7

I guess my own take of it is, an atheist would say, "I don't believe in higher power(s)." And an agnostic would say, "I don't know if any higher power(s) exists." It may be oversimplification, of course. But I find it best to start off simple then go from there.

CuNguyen Level 4 June 5, 2018
Reply

I believe the Universe is full of life. We are here so there is life in the Universe. By looking at the data coming out of the Kepler probe, there are thousands of solar systems and full of planets. It is a matter of time before we discover life outside our little planet which by the way , we abuse it like there is no end and there is an end, So the probabilities of having older, much more evolved intelligences or higher powers, if you will are very high. In that sense I believe there are much higher powers than us humans.

@KashFigueroa when I said higher power I meant a deity or god(s). I am not saying there is or isn't (I myself am agnostic). The way I figured it, if there is a higher power, one that created our universe, it would behave similar to a programmer programming a code or program. Some days I entertain that thought, but ultimately in my opinion there's no real way knowing.

@CuNguyen it there is a higher pwr that created the Universe it had to really work at if like the value for the mass of the electron, the sudden increase in the size of the \universe.So it is imperfect and why should a higher power create something imperfect and fine tune it until it appeares as the Universe we see now. For example, let's take a transistor. For it to work one has to add impurities for it to become a semi-conductor. So it is not perfect, its theoretical foundation is quantum mechanics which seems to work quite well.

7

You are on a journey. One that I took. Eventually, I "believe" you will end up a Humanist.
I could define that word, for our reasons, as we are all humans. Some have beliefs in supernatural beings and others doubt we can know.
Agnosticism is the preferred philosophic position, but I find Humanism the friendliest. Once again, we are all humans.
G

bighcapn Level 3 May 14, 2018
Reply

We are all on journeys. I know not of others,
but mine is not a journey to find the correct label.

7

Anyone have a problem with this? Has been useful for me, especially in debates/discussions...

ClaytonE83 Level 7 Mar 8, 2018
Reply

That is a great chart and sums it up nicely.

Can't agree with that chart. There are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who claim 100% certainty about God one way or the other. And then there are honest people.
Additionally, from a Believer's point of view, this chart denies the existence of faith. Where there is 100% certainty there is no need for faith. One does not have faith that one plus one equals two.

@Heraclitus sounds like you are oversimplifying.
Nothing wrong with choosing to specify if you are an agnostic atheist vs a agnostic theist. And while I don't agree with gnostics and both may be irrational stances there are certainly some major differences between gnostic theists and gnostic atheists, I would only lump them together in the category of claiming to know something for sure that they don't.
Referring to the latter half of your statement:
"Certain in/of their faith" then(or at least they say)

@ClaytonE83 Yes, I can agree with what you say, just not with the oversimplication of that chart. smile001.gif

7

Theists are wrong for saying "God exists". Atheists are wrong for saying "God does not exist". Agnostics are wrong for saying "God may or may not exist". Theological noncognitivists are RIGHT for saying "'God' is meaningless".

EdwinMcCravy Level 5 Feb 26, 2018
Reply

Agreed. Except the label is not very convenient haha. Easier to say atheist and then if people ask why, you talk about how god doesn't have a proper referand and therefore doesn't make sense etc...

@silvereyes It's not lower case "god" that's meaningless. It's upper case "God" that's meaningless. "Zeus" is not meaningless for Zeus was an imaginary god.

@Manestor The word "god" with a small "g: is NOT meaningless. "Zeus" is not meaningless. Zeus was an imaginary god. "Zeus" is like "unicorn", a meaningful word for something nonexistent. It's the word "God" with capital "G" that's meaningless. Why do atheists want to write the meaningful word "god" for the meaningless word "God"? I showed you that the word "creator" can only be learned in terms of the already existing universe. Therefore "Creator of the universe" is meaningless. Thus "God" is meaningless but "god" is meaningful.

"Thus "God" is meaningless" Only if everyone stops talking about him/her

Yes, I learned a long time ago that a room of people can all proclaim a belief in God and yet everyone in that room believes in a somewhat different God, even if everyone in that room claims to believe in the Christian God. But, to admit this is to concede that every believer is, in effect, their own religion.

Edited

@Heraclitus You claim "a room of people can all proclaim a belief in God and yet everyone in that room believes in a somewhat different God". Does each say "My God created the universe"? Or do some say "My God did not create the universe"? I claim that if they all said "My God created the universe", then they're all speaking nonsense instead of referring to a concept of anything they could be imagining. If you are able to have a mental concept of anything any of them in the room could be talking about, then please describe that mental concept you claim to be able to have, so I will be able to have that mental concept too. As it is, I am unable to believe that "creator of the universe" can mean anything, since the word "creator" can only be defined in terms of an already existing universe.

Edited

@Manestor Why do you misspell the meaningless sound that theists mouth, "God" or "Allah", as "god" with a little "g"? The word "god" with a little "g" is meaningful, but the row of letters "God" with a capital "G" is meaningless. I guess it's because you hold a believe that I am unable to hold -- that theists have coherently defined the row of letters "God" to refer to a god. Why do you believe that?

@Mcflewster People speaking and writing a meaningless sound does not cause the sound to be meaningful.

7

Thank you for this! I hate labels, as well....but I relate most to agnostic, as you have described it above. There have been a few times on this site that I have considered never coming back, mainly from the aggressive "education" attempts from a few extremist, self-labeled atheists. No one has the right to define who I am, except for me. Labels are just words, that are a tool to help describe a viewpoint. But those words can be arbitrary if they're not flexible enough to include everyone's interpretation. If someone wants to dig their heels in over their own interpretation, then they and I are not communicating. If they insist that I am wrong, and they are right, conversation is over. Sometimes that's for the best! Ha.

Tenacious Level 6 Jan 21, 2018
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Indeed!

Speaking of lack of communication, what you don't seem to realize is this. When somebody says "God exists", "God does not exist", or "I don't know whether God exists or not" to me, they are not communicating to me. I try to understand what they are saying. But they may as well be flicking their lips with their finger going "bwibbuh, bwibbuh" as to say that to me. If you believe they are communicating something, then why won't you be kind enough to inform me as to what they are communicating?

7

Words are shadows. Ideas are light.

I focus on the one that helps me see.

stinkeye_a Level 7 Jan 21, 2018
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I love this soooo much! <3

Both do... Like some decent transliterations of the Tao te Ching... We can't know the light sans darkness.

Don't credit me. I have no idea who beat me to it, but I know I'm not nearly clever enough to have thought of it first.
@silvereyes & @Tenacious

@BobFenner that occurred to me but I declined to elaborate for the sake of pithiness smile009.gif

@stinkeye_a Heeeee! I so wish I were pithy. Cheers

7

Thanks for the rant.

I self-identify as an atheist. I marmalise anybody who (cherry) picks a dictionary definition to tell me what I am. I get sick and tired of people who fail to understand the limitations that are inherent in all dictionary definitions.

When asked to explain myself, I trot out this tired old war horse: "Nobody has ever produced any falsifiable evidence to support the existence claim of any god. Oh, and it is trivial to prove that both the god of the Torah and the god of the Bible cannot exist.".

irascible Level 8 Jan 20, 2018
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I might disagree with you on this: "Nobody has ever produced any falsifiable evidence to support the existence claim of any god." A god is something worshiped, regardless of who worships it. It's not necessary that YOU be the one to worship a god in order for YOU to correctly label it "a god". As I mentioned earlier, some ancient humans worshiped the sun, so it is a god. The golden calf of Aaron in the Bible was a god that existed.

Edited

@EdwinMcCravy You appear to be conflating a physical god with the idea of a god. To call the sun a physical god is an absurdity.

@irascible Come on, everything is physical. You can have an idea ONLY of finite physical things. All gods are finite-sized physical gods. Zeus was a finite sized physical god. He didn't exist, but he was a physical god nevertheless. All that's necessary for something to be labeled "a god" is that somebody worships it. You call it "a god" whether you worship it or not and whether it exists or not. The ancient Greeks knew just what the god Zeus looked like. They drew pictures of him and made statues of him. Aaron's golded calf in the Bible was a physical god. Unlike Zeus, the golden calf existed, if that part of the Bible is true. Do you believe that early man may have worshiped the sun? I do. And if so, why wouldn't you say the sun is a god? Because people don't like to say that? What does that matter? Some ancient people worshiped their monarchs, emperors, and pharaohs. They were gods that existed. Some Republicans seem to be worshiping Trump. If so, then he's a existing physical god. smile001.gif

@EdwinMcCravy So the God of the Bible is a finite sized physical god? Why should I give credence to the claims of the Bible?

No theist says "God of the Bible is a finite sized physical god". I DON'T BELIEVE that "God" is meaningful word. Atheists and agnostics BELIEVE it is a meaningful word. Why do atheists and agnostics criticize me for my UNBELIEF!!!

@EdwinMcCravy It was your choice to disagree with the fact that nobody has ever produced any falsifiable evidence to support the existence claim of any god. Over to you.

@irascible I didn't disagree with the fact that nobody has ever produced any falsifiable evidence to support the existence claim of any god. I merely claim that nobody has ever produced FOR ME any evidence to support the claim that the capitalized row of three letters "God" or five letters "Allah" as spoken or written by Christians, Jews or Muslims has been coherently defined. That's quite different from what you said about me.

@EdwinMcCravy I cite your own words against you: I might disagree with you on this: "Nobody has ever produced any falsifiable evidence to support the existence claim of any god.". Over to you again.

@irascible But your belief is that "God", when spoken by a theist, refers to a god. I know of no reason to adopt your belief that it does. Why do you believe it does? And if theists do not believe in a god, which they can't do since "God" does not refer to a god, then why are you talking about gods at all? I cannot accept your belief that theists worship a god. Why do you believe they do. Now I do believe that they BELIEVE they worship a god. But I cannot believe that they actually do.

@EdwinMcCravy For starters, I do not have beliefs, my world view is entirely evidence-based. Secondly, I take words at face value, so when a believer claims they worship a god, I accept their claim, unlike you. Over to you again.

@irascible You say at the start: "For starters, I do not have beliefs, my world view is entirely evidence-based". Then you contradict yourself by saying "when a believer claims they worship a god, I accept their claim, unlike you" Yes, you ACCEPT, I don't ACCEPT. To ACCEPT is to BELIEVE. (Or do you accept things that you do not believe?) If you say your view is entirely evidence-based, what evidence do you claim to be going on that causes you to ACCEPT their claim that they worship a god? .There is no evidence, thus you have a faith, although you deny it.

@EdwinMcCravy Your " To ACCEPT is to BELIEVE." is irrational. Faith is a position adopted without supporting evidence. I am not foolish enough to adopt any position that lacks supporting evidence. Your assertion that I have faith is a denial of the facts. I have not contradicted myself.

Mathematicians "believe" in their axioms, as the starting point in their theorems. Everyone must believe their eyes or their own reasoning. You have to have belief. I try to minimize it, but it is still there, somewhere.

@GlyndonD Your claim 'Mathematicians "believe" in their axioms' is factually incorrect. Your assertion that I have to have belief is also factually incorrect.

I disagree. Axioms are not proven; they are assumed to be true. Assumption is a belief.

I believe there exists intelligent life beyond our solar system. You might believe otherwise. Neither one of us can use evidence or reason to know the truth of the existence of exointelligence.

Edited

@GlyndonD Your assertion " Axioms ... are assumed to be true" suggests that you have not studied mathematics at university level.

Please justify your claim "Assumption is a belief.".

For your information, I have no beliefs. My world view is entirely evidence-based.

For the avoidance of doubt, my usage of the word "belief" in this context is of the form "I believe God exists".

I have degrees in mathematics and physics at the University of California.

I believe I do not have the time or inclination to educate you on the fundamentals of mathematics (or definitions of words). You may assume that you do not have any beliefs, but I don't believe it. But I do believe you have an axiom to grind. (That's a pun.)

@GlyndonD Goodbye.

Such drama...

@GlyndonD Goodbye.

I see that all you folks could do was change the subject to a discussion of mathematics (incidentally I do hold an MS degree in math, so I'll join in a discussion of math if you like). But not one of you showed any ability at all to support the implied claim that "God", "Allah", and "creator of the universe" are meaningful sequences of alphabet letters.

@EdwinMcCravy If that is the case, how did I succeed in using the word "God" correctly?

@irascible The famous mathematician David Hilbert said "Mathematics is a game played according to certain simple rules with meaningless marks on paper." I hold BS and MS degrees in mathematics, (with course work off for a PhD I never finished because I never got around to writing a dissertation.). But I agree with Hilbert.

@EdwinMcCravy I will have your red herring fried, please.

@irascible Red herring? What red herring? I'm just saying that there is no evidence that "God" or "Allah" are meaningful words. Are you claiming to have evidence that they are meaningful words? If so then what is that evidence?

@EdwinMcCravy Those words are meaningful in that they have significance in the minds of believers. Some of the evidence that you seek is indexed at [google.com.au]

@irascible How do you succeed in writing the meaningless row of letters that theists often babble and say "God created the universe"? You write that meaningless row of letters the same way they write it, capitalized, as "God", not as atheists and some agnostics write it with a little "g", as "god". You should be careful to do this because the word "god" is meaningful, but the row of letters "God" is not.

@irascible Red herring? What red herring?

@irascible You say "God" is meaningful because it has significance in the minds of believers". Trouble is, that significance is NOT 'meaning', but 'emotion-triggering'. Theists have been indoctrinated in youth to have some strong emotions triggered when they hear or read the sound "God". It's more like hearing "Zaaaaahhhh!" yelled loudly from someone behind a bush to an unsuspected passer-by. The loud yelling of "Zaaaaahhhh!" would trigger emotions in the passer-by, even though "Zaaaaahhhh!" is meaningless. Similarly, the speaking of "God" triggers emotions of fear, reverence, and submission in the theist even though "God" has no meaning.

Edited

@EdwinMcCravy I suggest you study Psychology 101, Neurology 101 and Epistemology 101.

@irascible I suggest that since you claim that you are able to have a concept that could be called "a mental concept of God" -- that you please describe that concept to me so that I can have it too. Otherwise I must call your bluff on claiming to be able to have "a mental concept of God".

@EdwinMcCravy Goodbye.

@irascible Actually "" does not qualify to be labeled "a word", because the definition of "word" requires it to be meaningful. The fact that so many people, even lexicographers, believe that "" is a meaningful word does not make it so. To correctly use the row of letters "", just place it between quotation marks and define it as "a sound made by s, Jews and Muslims that they believe refers to a ".

@irascible I suggest you start looking through your head trying hard to conjure up a mental concept of something that you can believe s, Jews and Muslims would label "". You'll be surprised to discover that you cannot find any such concept in your brain anywhere. That's because the row of letters "" is meaningless. Trouble is, theists, atheists, and agnostics all believe that it refers to something that exists or doesn't exist. But the truth is, there is no reason to believe that "" refers to anything at all.

Edited

@EdwinMcCravy Goodbye.

@EdwinMcCravy Goodbye.

@EdwinMcCravy Goodbye.

@irascible So where's the evidence that you can conjure up an image of something called "God"?

@EdwinMcCravy Goodbye.

7

silvereyes you are one smart lady! i love this! Right on! you nailed it! Kudos!

twshield Level 8 Jan 20, 2018
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6

It's really quite simple. Gnostic and agnostic refer to knowledge. Atheist and theist refer to belief. The two terms neither contradict nor mutually exclude each other.

SteveGee Level 4 Aug 26, 2018
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Exactly!

That is why I define myself as an agnostic atheist, but mostly call myself an atheist when soaking to others.

6

I watch The Atheist Experience on a regular basis (it was the show that educated me to understand that I was, in fact, an atheist.... and that the label atheist wasn't a scary horrible thing!).

I like the way Matt Dillahunty from that program explains it, and it helped me understand this clearly:

atheism/theism is about BELIEF
agnosicism/gnosticism is about KNOWLEDGE

And he also goes on to explain that knowledge is a subset of belief - that is, knowledge is when you believe to a degree of certainty that it becomes knowledge. Hence, agnosticism is a subset of atheism. Some atheists simply withhold their belief because they haven't been presented with evidence to support the claim that there is a god... and those who are anti-theists, or gnostic theists go one step further and say they believe to the point that they know there are no gods.

This is what I found very helpful in my understanding, and it's how I describe it to others when we talk about this topic.

ashatan42 Level 5 June 16, 2018
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6

I really enjoyed your post. I have bit of a different take on it, though. Let me know if you have thoughts.
I'm not particular on what someone calls themselves, I know atheist has negative connotations associated with it and I can see why people avoid it. However, I think the confusion is that theism and gnosticism address two separate prongs of the question and that's what is getting mixed together.
Theism is a belief in god/s. Atheism is lack of belief in god/s.
Gnosticism is a claim of knowledge about something. Agnosticism is claim of lack of knowledge of something.
Essentially one is dealing with belief, and the other is dealing with claiming knowledge. You can believe there is god/s and claim to know for sure. You can also believe in god/s and claim not to know for sure. You can disbelieve and claim to know for sure, or disbelieve and claim not to know. They are separate questions.
The confusion is that both positions are binary. As you state you don't believe in any god/s. Then you say you don't disbelieve. These are contradictory statements. You can say you hold no belief either way, but that in fact makes you an atheist because you have to have a belief to be a theist. And if you are not a theist, you are by definition an atheist. Now if you want to call yourself something else, that is perfectly fine. None the less, unless you believe it, you are not a theist.
Same goes for gnosticism. You either claim to know or you don't. If you don't claim to know you can't then say but I don't claim not to know. You either do your you don't.
The difficulty, and where I feel this is important, is that claims of existence are by their nature unfalsifiable. Take the statement "fairies exist." Now you cannot prove that fairies don't exist anywhere in the Cosmos. However, currently we don't have any good evidence that they do exist. At some point we might have proof they exist, but we will never be able to prove that they don't or cannot exist. Now the question is do you believe they exist? I'm guessing you don't.
It's the same proposition for god/s, dragons, unicorns, people, gravity, and anything else you can claim exists. The difference is we have proof of things like people and gravity existing and no good proof for god/s, dragons, or unicorns.
This is why I think god claims are ridiculous, because we can make anything up and claim it exists and nobody will ever be able to falsify that claim. But just because you can't disprove something doesn't add an ounce of truth to the claim.
Why it's important to understand the difference is that people act on their beliefs based on what they claim to know. And this is how people can justify burning witches; racism; slavery; and a lot of other horrible things based on unsubstantiated beliefs.
What I don't like about the term agnostic has nothing to do with those who call themselves that, but how it gets used against those who don't believe. Because it's how religions use the term to make the claim that belief and disbelief are on equal footing because you don't know for sure either way. When in fact they;re not. Religions are making claims to know god/s and what they want us to do, and what will happen to us if they don't, as where atheists are just saying "I don't believe you." Atheists aren't making the claim so they don't have burden to prove it false. Theist are responsible for proving their claim is true, otherwise how do we know they didn't just make it up. However, if you're a theist who doesn't claim to know for sure if there is a god/s and what they may or may not want or do and generally have a live and let live policy for others then I don't have a problem with you. I just think you believe for bad reasons.
I think the confusion here is that atheism gets branded as if we are claiming there are no god/s, when that is not the case for most atheists. And for those that claim that, that is something they would have to prove, and you can't definitively prove a negative.
Thanks again for the post, it was very thought provoking.

Tyrel77 Level 4 May 11, 2018
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Tyrel77's: >>Theism is a belief in god/s. Atheism is lack of belief in god/s.<< What god/s do you believe Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Catholics, Jews and Muslims have DEFINED that they believe in? If they haven't DEFINED a god, then they don't really have a god to believe in, so they can't be believing in a god. They only BELIEVE THAT THEY BELIEVE in a god.

@EdwinMcCravy I agree, I've never gotten a sensible definition of a god. But they believe none the less. I know, it doesn't make sense to me.

6

A convert smile001.gif

Thomas Henry Huxley grandsons include Aldous Huxley (author of Brave New World and Doors of Perception) and his brother Julian Huxley (an evolutionist, and the first director of UNESCO), and Nobel laureate physiologist Andrew Huxley.

It is appropiate the god in the Brave New World was Henry Ford.

This was too nice to be a rant IMHO, more like an overture or something of that sort.

cava Level 7 Mar 19, 2018
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6

I like simplicity, and it is really simple to look at the prefix and root words.

a- means without

-gnostic comes from the word gnosis, meaning knowledge.

-theism is the belief in a god or gods

Simply an agnostic knows of no gods (but might believe, given proof, or as pointed out might believe but not "KNOW" God) while an atheist believes there is(are) no god(s). That lines up with the definition that Webster so kindly published.

Meep70 Level 7 Mar 18, 2018
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@silvereyes

Actuaslly a theist would believe and an Atheist would lack that belief (a prefix)
No one has any need to DISBELIEVE in something fantastic and unproven but claimed (say the millenium falcon in your backyard) IF you believe that You believe, if I do not, that is not my DIS belief but my failure to be convinced in the first place.
When it com,es to God I find no way to disbelieve it IN FACT, as I find such poor and incomplete definitions that I cannot build a proper model to either believe or not.

6

I agree fully. In my late 20s, 1974, I was in Bible College and later a minister. I found the same thing regarding the terms. I have been an agnostic since my early 50s. I went from a right wing bible fundamentalist to a spiritual theist to an agnostic liberal over about 27 years. What a trip. And without drugs.

Tynorth46 Level 4 Mar 2, 2018
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6

Thank you for your input.
You did a fantastic job of differentiating between the two and expanding our knowledge of the two.

Kojaksmom Level 8 Jan 21, 2018
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