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11

I don't believe in god...so I am atheist....I really don't know if there is or is not a god...so I am also agnostic....makes sense to me...

Yup.

I don't technically know if there is an invisible leprechaun dancing on my coffee table right now, but I don't need a title depict that. I'm perfectly comfortable and confident about my atheism regarding leprechauns. The same goes for any other irrational belief - what's the point of calling oneself an agnostic if one is already an atheist?

@shanbug I personally don't care about the semantics. Not personally believing in god is a personal choice but there is no way I feel the need to prove or disprove what I believe...I wouldn't be able to do so...the article clearly references the difference between BELIEF and KNOWLEDGE It does seem circular as you pointed out...the nuances of the language are not critical to me...I don't care what the labels are...they don't change anything.

@thinktwice Fair enough. We're all free to choose the manner in which we represent ourselves. I do care a little more about the semantics of it, though, as I've had a believer actually argue with me about what 'atheist' means. I'm very aware that I can't prove a negative and so am careful how I phrase things (eg. "I don't believe in that stuff" rather than "That stuff doesn't exist" ). However, I simultaneously and unapologetically make it very clear that there is no doubt in my mind when it comes to my non-belief.

@shanbug Sounds like a sensible and respectful approach...I mostly try to make it about me rather than challenge what others believe...talking to religious people of all faiths, but especially Christians, is not generally anything I do...I just don't have that many people broach the subject with me...if someone is asking because they themselves are struggling with what they believe, I will give them my views, but I rarely start the subject...HOWEVER...if someone starts in on me, they will get an earful, and like you, unapologetically clear...ha ha

@thinktwice Haha, yeah, sounds like we generally have the same experiences. I once had a lady try convert me on an airplane - pretty hard escape that one, so I think by the time we disembarked she knew exactly where I stood 😀

8

Agnostic and Atheist refer to different things.

Agnostic means it is NOT possible to be 100% certain. It is the opposite of Gnostic, which means it IS possible to be 100% certain.

Atheist means you do not believe in a God, or Gods. It is the opposite of Theist, which means you do believe in a God, or Gods.

It is possible to be an Agnostic Atheist - you don’t believe in god(s), but don’t claim to know with 100% certainty.

It is also possible to be an Agnostic Theist - you believe in god(s), but don’t claim to know with 100% certainty.

Just like it’s possible to be a Gnostic Atheist (believe 100% there is no god or gods) or a Gnostic Theist (believe 100% there IS a god or gods).

8

That made me think of this quote: "I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn't." - Jules Renard

5

I am an atheist who doesn’t know if there is a god (agnostic). If I am presented with valid evidence (note; holy books do not count) for a god I will now know (hint, not believe) that this god exists. Of course evidence makes faith unnecessary.

3

Atheism and agnosticism are answers different questions. One of them has do with what you believe and the other has do with what you know. The prefix "a-" means without. Theism is a belief in a god or gods so atheism is without a belief in a god or gods. Gnostic comes from the Greek word meaning knowledge so agnostic means without knowledge. There are basically 4 positions at the very top level regarding a god or gods: agnostic atheist, agnostic theist, gnostic atheist, and gnostic theist. I am an agnostic atheist so I am without a belief in god and without knowledge whether a god exists or not. Or to put it another way: I am not convinced that a god exists but I also do not assert as fact that no gods exist or that the existence of a god is impossible. Most Christians would probably be gnostic theists because they have a belief in god and claim to have personal knowledge that he exists.

Exactly what I tried to say but you said it much better.

I abide by the philosophical terminology of atheism, which is more consistent with it's etymology:

“Atheism” is typically defined in terms of “theism”. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

[plato.stanford.edu]

3

Then there are those of us who are agnostic apatheists. The very argument of is/are-is/are not is a worthless endeavor to us.

3

I am sceptical about thousands of concepts that are unproven either way, such as the Multiverse. I am anti-theist about gods that are described by organized religions. I am agnostic about alleged gods that may have started this "simulation".

I don't assume to know the color of a building - on the far side.

3

That is very good, thank you for sharing!

3

You're right. That was interesting. ? Reminded me of a class I took that ventured into Christian Atheism. (Yes, that's really a thing. And then that reminded me of the Urantia Book and it's followers. And so on and so on. I had to stop! So many labels, only so much patience.) 😀

2

"One means I have no belief in a god, the other means I don’t know if there is one"

I find this a muddled use of the word "atheist". After all, if we take agnostic to be knowledge because "gnosis" means to know and "a" means without... hence "without knowledge"... then the proper way to state a lack of belief would be "apistic" because "pistic" means belief and "a" means without... hence "without belief"

With this we have a cleaner use of terms with "agnostic" meaning "without knowledge" and "apistic" meaning "without belief". This has the advantage that just like agnostic can be used about knowledge claims outside of theology, so too can apistic be used about belief claims outside of theology... something you can't do with atheist.

In this context, agnostic and apistic remainin in the realm of epistemology and what we know and believe while atheism remains in the realm of ontology and a claim about existense, as the SEP explains:

“Atheism” is typically defined in terms of “theism”. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

*[plato.stanford.edu]

2

i will belatedly add a thought: atheist has two definitions. one is someone who does not believe there are any gods. the other is someone who believes there are no gods. either way, the atheist doesn't claim knowledge, just belief of lack thereof. an agnostic is also someone who does not claim knowledge. there is no definitional aspect of agnosticism with regard to belief. an agnostic can be either kind of atheist, or undecided or indifferent, neither of those last being compatible with atheism, so an agnostic might or might not be an atheist. asking how you can be both agnostic and atheist is like asking how someone who likes potatoes can like rice. you can like either, neither or both, or one better than the other....

g

atheist has two definitions. one is someone who does not believe there are any gods. the other is someone who believes there are no gods.

Both definitions say the same thing, just phrased differently... 😉

@TheMiddleWay no, there is a difference. it isn't a HUGE difference but it's a difference nonetheless.

g

@genessa
What's the difference?

@TheMiddleWay the difference is that one atheist says "i don't believe in any gods," which doesn't mean that s/he believes there are none, just that there are none in which s/he believes, and the other says "i believe there are no gods," which means there is an act of belief going on. the latter includes the former but the former doesn't necessarily include the latter. one element is the confidence s/he has that there are no gods.

g

@genessa
Hmmmm....

To me it reads that all you've done is done a noun negation and a verb negation but they are both equivalent.

As an example, consider saying "I don't believe my team will win the game" vs. "I believe my team will not win the game"... there is no functional difference between the two that I can see. In both cases one is stating that their belief is that their team will not win the game... much like in both previous cases one is stating their their belief is that gods don't exist.

Just saying that by the rules of grammar as I understand them, those two sentences are the same and thus can't have a different meaning.

@TheMiddleWay maybe grammatically, but i am not making the distinction grammatically. functionally they do not always have the same meaning. real world trumps grammar. and i'm an english teacher lol but still...!

g

2

Wikipedia defines it pretty well.

I find the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it better:

“Atheism” is typically defined in terms of “theism”. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

[plato.stanford.edu]

2

I think the only honest answer to the question "is there a god?" is "I don't know". If the the question is "do you believe there's a god?", my answer is no. That makes me an agnostic atheist.

Interestingly, despite the name of the site being agnostic.com, this view (our view) is in the minority. 😛

2

Just thought of another example. I have no evidence for and lots of evidence against faster than light travel (so I am basically atheistic on FTL). But I do not know that it really is impossible (agnostic). And, like any rational being, I am open to such evidence should it appear. The concept of god is in the same situation. Descriptions of god and ftl are, at least at the moment, the province of fiction.

That is a very rational and well put description. Thank you!

2

They can't and being an agnostic to me is playing the middle of the fence and trying to have it both ways.

2

i don't think most people who are one also are the other, so it's kind of an insignificant question. i suppose it is possible for the reasons cited by others below. i am not both. i'm an atheist.

g

@irascible oh i didn't read it. i just answered the question. sometimes i do click through and read the articles at the ends of links in posts but this seemed like such a silly question i didn't bother.

g

@genessa ,ditto

1

The way I see it, Gnisticism was a beliefsystem during the earliestdays ofChristianity. It was branded as atheist as the Church realized its beliefsmade it difficult to organize a patriarchal institution. Gnosticism is not atheistic, just hereticalfrom the perspectives of institutionalized religion.

1

Religion, perhaps the only mental illness or even illness for which society has to use a special term other than sane and/or healthy.

1

They mean the exact same thing

1

If you are not 100 percent convinced there is a god, you are an atheist period. There is no in between, no sitting on the fence.The word agnostic should not exist.

Three problems with said definition
a) Any person that has doubts about their faith would automatically be an atheist
b) If someone believes in god, but doesn't claim to know, then they are an atheist.
c) And the worst one: by extension, if you are not 100 percent convinced there is NO god, then you are automatically a theist.

As you can see, said definition isn't self-consistent which is why agnostics "I don't know" exists and is embraced by many, myself included.

@TheMiddleWay With all do respect, belief is a conviction. A lack of belief is a lack of conviction.so if you're not convinced that an actual deity really exist,then your atheist.you lack theism.You Don't have to like the label, everyone who is not convinced that a god exist is an atheist, regardless of whether they're comfortable admitting that or not.A lot of people say,just because I don't believe in God,s, doesn't make me an atheist.well yea it kinda does.That is the sole criteria, and applies in all cases.

@Ritchie
The problem is that your definition trips up on itself. By your logic, every atheist who is not 100% convinced god does NOT exist (a good majority of this site for example) is also a theist. Hence your definition sets up an oxymoron where an atheist is a theist and a theist is an atheist. 😛

And the agnostic is one who doesn't not believe in god(s) AND doesn't unbelieve in god(s). As such, we are neither atheist nor theists and thus the need for the third label, agnostic.

Why would it matter? If one cares if someone is a believer in anything they are missing the truth of that person. Hopefully our relationship with others goes beyond theocratic philosophy.

@Geoffrey51 I agree with your sentiment. For me a persons belief in "God" can mean so many different things trying to pigeonhole it is stupid. By the same token a Atheist while on the surface shares something with all other atheists is not by definition in agreement with any other Atheist about things that matter. Ritchie's insistence on labels makes little sense to me unless he is looking for a reason to assume things about people. For example the intellectual laziness of connecting all Christians in the same room as assholes who use religion for evil ends. Whereas I would much rather speak to or spend time with a decent Christian then a hater and pride filled Atheist and vice versa. I have a wide variety of friends across the spectrum from Atheist to True Believer. I love them all. So many people seem stuck on the question of whether God exists. Too me that is missing the point. What do you DO with your faith or lack thereof. Do you belittle people, use it as a weapon and hurt people? Or do you use it as a way forward in a positive life were you help as much as you can, love freely without judgment and try to walk in grace? To me there is no difference between rabid nationalism and rabid religious extremism. Both need to be resisted and stopped whenever possible not due to a belief in God or Nation but due to the result of said belief. Humanities need to believe I do not think will ever go away no matter how "advanced" we become. It is the result and core of any belief that needs to be challenged and watched closely.

1

As previously stated, agnosticism is pertaining knowledge while atheist is pertaining belief. I'm an agnostic atheist. I don't know there are no God's but I am not convinced there are any.

1

We are all agnostic in that no one KNOWS a god exists or not. There are many who claim they do but that's all part of the delusion. However when it comes believing a god exists or not we are either atheists or theists. That means, just like TheKranium stated below, we are either agnostic theists or agnostic atheists.

1

Actually you have said question which I could not somhow uttered yet.

1

Of course you can ! For those who have social OCD will find such duel labeling confusing. Just as I call my self a christian atheist or that this spell check thinks I should capitalize christian. Labels are an aid and not a definition. Our personal definitions lead to this constant debate and chatter.

mzee Level 7 Jan 20, 2019
1

Agnostic} Probably not a god.. Atheists} not a god. Simplistic but nutshell version.

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