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I've generally regarded agnostics as atheists who want to keep their options open. I'm curious what some of you agnostics think. Do you agree or see it a different way?

shockwaverider 8 Dec 15

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Back when I used to call myself agnostic yes this was my thoughtline.
Now I figure as an atheist if there is a deity and it's all knowing and altruistic (LOL) it should certainly understand how an atheist comes to think the way they do.
I've known way too many nasties who were awful all week then did the church thing for me to beat myself up about a punitive god.

I feel like, if there is a god, they don't take attendance...


My wife calls herself an agnostic, she comes from religious parents and I know that calling herself agnostic rather than atheist is her way of not betraying their memory. Also being agnostic is almost fashionable while declaring oneself an atheist is socially undesirable.

Depends on where you live I think. You are in or close to the bible belt. I am on the left coast. Around here, religion isn't much of a topic for discussion, and most of my friends are atheists or agnostics.


I think that the difficulty here is that of definitions.
Agnostic and atheist are not mutually exclusive. You can be an agnostic theist or agnostic atheist. The gnostic part is the claim to knowledge and the theist part is that of belief'.
Personally, I am an atheist in that I do not believe the claims of religions that a god (or anything supernatural) exists as I have seen no evidence to substantiate those claims. Do I know that no such evidence exists? No, and so on the knowledge claim I am agnostic. My next door neighbour is an agnostic theist. She tells me she believes in a god, but does not know absolutely that there is, it just feels good to her.
Anti-theist is the belief that no gods exist and for me, they have the same burden of proof as a theist. They would have to show me evidence that in fact, no god can exist - absence of evidence does not necessarily equate to evidence of absence, in the same way that proving that something happens does not explain why it happens.


Like I always say...I won't know for sure till I'm dead...if then...


Thanks for all the discussion. I just looked up the definition of atheist (google search on "define atheist" and got:

"a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.
synonyms: nonbeliever, disbeliever, unbeliever, skeptic, doubter, doubting Thomas, agnostic; nihilist
antonyms: believer"

Apparently there are lots of different definition or interpretations of the words. In this dictionary, agnostic is a synonym for atheist.

My personal definition of atheist doesn't include rigidity or lack of willingness to change when presented with evidence...

The same dictionary defines agnostic as:

"a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.
synonyms: skeptic, doubter, doubting Thomas, cynic; unbeliever, nonbeliever, rationalist; nullifidian"


I think agnostics are unsure or unconvinced there is a god. Atheists believe there is no god. You would be better following Pascals wager if you wanted to keep your options open.

LOl, I've been using that argument for a week now. The only problem with the "sitting on the fence concept," is you're either in or out. God won't except half measures.

Not me Agnostic.

Atheism is not the assertion that there are no gods. Atheism is not accepting the proposition that there is a god. If your assert that there are no gods that is anti theism, which is a position I often hold depending on the god claim, but that isn't atheism. Don't adopt a burden of proof unnecessarily.

Lucas20520, you are correct, so I propose we come up with a new name for those who adamantly deny the existence of god, or is there one already.

@Arasmuson God is forgiving, why should you be the one to take him to court for religious discrimination?

@Lucas20520 Dictionary definition of Atheism: "disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods." What is the proportion of those who do not accept the proposition of a god to those that assert there is no god? Can you provide us with the evidence so that we can see that there is a significant difference in the numbers of people who can perceive the difference?

If your position is "there is no god" you are an anti-theist. That definition is correct. Disbelief and lack of belief are the same thing. If you lack belief then you disbelieve. That is atheism. But not believing that a proposition is true is not the same as believing it's false. Atheism is the default position on any god claim. It is not an assertion of knowing there are no gods, it is the assertion that there is no justification to accept the god proposition as true. Belief is a subset of knowledge. Theism and atheism represent what you profess to believe. Gnosticism and agnosticism represent what you profess to know. So you can be in Gnostic theist, an agnostic theist, a gnostic atheist, or an agnostic atheist. Anti-theist is another term for Gnostic atheist. But whatever label you choose it all depends on the claim being put forward. If someone tells me their coffee cup is a god I will believe their coffee cup exist and if they choose to give it the god label then so be it, I believe in that god. That's a silly example but it gets the point across. And lastly, dictionaries are not authorities on what words mean. That is prescriptivist. Dictionaries describe how words are used. And almost every word in the dictionary is going to have multiple usages to it. That is why I find it important to have a thorough understanding of the differences and how they're used in context.

Does my response suffice?

@Arasmuson Perhaps they should choose another God instead of your particular God. One a mite more inclusive for those they want in heaven.


My God?????

Tis confusion!.!. Lol. What you talking bout Treasure?

@Arasmuson God won't accept half measures. Others have concepts of purgatory etc. to make up for deficiencies.

I think I am agnostic perhaps because the thought that there could be a benevolent saving god is appealing but I am not hopeful nor convinced there is one.

@Treasurehunter you're an atheist. Belief is the end point of the mind becoming convinced that a proposition is true or likely true. If you are not convinced that a god actually exists then you are an atheist. Congratulations! Lol


Since I accept the scientific method in life situations I am an atheist. Theism of any kind does not compute. No option to keep open.



I've felt I was agnostic for a long time possibly because I didn't want to let go of that last thread. As time goes along I realize I'm probably an atheist now. I do know one thing. I would never denigrate a Christian for their beliefs. Being human I may be wrong and who am I to say they are anymore then them saying I am.


I'm an atheist. An agnostic atheist to be exact - the two labels are not mutually exclusive. But I identify as an atheist because the majority of people have a general understanding of what an atheist is and most people view agnosticism as some sort of middle ground. There is no middle ground between belief and disbelief, you either believe or you don't. There's no so this website will have to do.

I trust Merriam-Websters version.

Definition of atheist
: a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods : one who subscribes to or advocates atheism


Though I am an atheist, I will not assert that there is/are no god/s. The reason for that is simple. To make an absolute statement that there is no god places me in the same position as the theist and he/she is justified in telling me to show them the evidence supporting my assertion. I can't show them the evidence that validates my claim any more than they can do the same for theirs. I can cite the lack of evidence in their arguments, but I also have a lack of evidence in mine.

In spite of the preponderance of evidence leading to a natural explanation for all that exists, we have no actual evidence against the existence of a deity. So, all atheists, if they intend to be rational and reasonable in their position, should avoid making that claim.

One who claims to be agnostic is not faced with this dilemma.

Oops, I need to add that there is a distinct difference between not believing in a deity and asserting that one does not exist. It's a mite subtle, but it is there.

@bingst - Hell, even this staunch atheist says we don't know everything there is to know and possibly never will. My not believing in any sort of supernatural presence or force does NOT mean I know there is none. It just means that I don't accept the notion. I remain open for any evidence that may be presented. The fact that there is none yet, does not make me know something.


I think that most agnostics are simply not sure, but also unconcerned (don't know and don't care). However, from the post on this site, I would bet that most ofus are our and out atheists, not agnostics.

Now I feel like an outsider. 😕

@bingst Why? If this site were predominately agnostics I wouldn't feel this way. Unbelievers are unbelievers. Why do degrees matter to you? Why is it so important that you have a majority who agree with you in order to feel like your an "insider"?

E echo ViuctoriaNotes' accepeting remarks.

@VictoriaNotes You took my comment far too seriously. I will however answer you seriously, first in response to Walt's comment. Firstly, I'm not an agnostic who is simply not sure, thus I'm an "outsider" on that issue. Secondly, being agnostic puts me in the minority on, which also kind of makes me feel like an outsider. Degrees matter to me because this is not When I first got here, I had certain expectations just from the name of the site, one of which is that I would be among my own kind, but soon felt I was in the minority. Especially since I've felt attacked. There have been times when I felt I didn't fit in on this site at all.

@bingst -- Thanks for your reply, and no, I didn't take your comment too seriously. You were serious. Your reply to me reflects that. For what it's worth, you've come across as attaching, too, and it was discouraging hanging out here for a while. Some people seem to need everyone at the same stage as they are, as this reinforces their worldview. Of course, that's unrealistic. I hope you can find your nitch, where everyone is just like you, but I doubt you will find it here. Thanks for your honesty.

Correction: attacking*

@bingst I'm glad you're here! Don't let the "a-holes" get you down. There are actually many more atheists who are accepting.

I addressed much the same on one of my posts specifically directed to agnostics. Among many of the attacks were the same "we outnumber you here and I accept that as evidence we are superior, more powerful, more "right"..."

Get used to it. They're here and perhaps even the worst are learning to become more accepting.

And as I said then, we who don't know everything are a great annoyance to those who do.


My mind is open to any possibility however i need proof. If there is no proof i will be a skeptic. That is my view of Agnostic.


It's not keeping my options open. It's keeping my mind open.


To me is more like...How can one be sure on way or another... No way to prove it one way or another...presumptuous to assume with certainty that we are right in saying there is or not a god...or goddess

Cool answer...


I'm agnostic. I've heard the opposite. I heard atheist sometimes lean toward the agnostic. Where did you here your statement.??

I heard it in my mind. I thunk it....LOL


my agnostic position is based upon epistomogy, history and logic. I can’t speak for others.


I tell people I’m Agnostic. Many people don’t know what that is. To me it means “I don’t know”. Some religions are so messed up that it’s obvious that can’t be completely right. That does not mean they are 100% wrong! There are a thousand different religions out there and each of their members picks and chooses how strongly they believe and how much they follow the doctrine. Maybe somewhere there is someone who might have gotten close to what is correct. It might be an atheist. It might be a Christian. It might be... So basically I don’t know. It could also be the Big Bang and evolution.


as a Devout Agnostic, I believe all things are possible, and probability is subjective to the person. I don't need to discard other people's beliefs, even if I think they are low on my probability scale. Just because something sounds complete absurd, doesn't make it not 'true'.

@atheist perceived invalid or valid, which is temporary. Things are valid til they aren't, and invalid til they are. Credibility is also an opinion. It can be a strong opinion, but it is just an opinion. It turns out, if you look throughout history, things exist when we think they don't, and us having 'credible evidence' didn't effect whether it existed or not.

@atheist often, what we thought happened in an experiment, turns out not to be true...we assume that the cause of something was one thing, when it was completely you perceived it as one thing, but a completely other thing was happening. And then we discover that the thing we thought was happening now, is way more complex then originally thought....quantum theories are awesome for about that electron? Or the higgs-boson? Or atomic structure? You can decide that because something has been done 100 times by different people that the subject is closed, I look at it as 'that's interesting, wonder what will happen after the millionth time? Or what if what we think is happening isn't really what's happening at all? Could be, could be.'

@atheist good thing 'think tanks' don't work within your parameters...whether something is proven or not, does not hamper it's existence, it only effects how your perceive it to exist. Good thing your perception is only limited to you.

@atheist could be, and your opinion/'credible proof' of god doesn't effect whether god exists or not. Nor does mine. Though, you are effected by 'god' every are even typing on a board that only exists because of 'god'. I guess there is a lot of evidence to say that 'god' exists, but the fun question is in how 'god' exists.

@atheist ahhh, sorry you feel backed into a corner....this would have been the point where the debate moderator would have probably disqualified your argument. You might want to look to why you are frustrated. I would. I had the epiphany that I consider your view point the 'worker bee' view point, which is very necessary. And it doesn't probably help the worker bee to look about and think beyond it's linear methodology. Hey, that rhymed.

@atheist did this last statement have a point to it? I hear you shaking your fists and holding your breath, attempting mild put downs without having any real point. I am sure your 'patience is wearing thin'. But perhaps look inward. But it is good we are both amused. I enjoy the threats, though....not sure how they are supposed to have any effect. It is the 'i'll take my ball and go home' gambit, but you don't have the ball....haha. I think you think your argument is wearing thin (though, I don't think so, I haven't disagreed with your argument, I have just pointed out it's limitations, in my opinion...but maybe your intolerance of opinions is significant in to the argument?) And now back to my 'day job'...which oddly enough, today, actually is a sort of poetry....hehe

@atheist and I consider your opinion the opinion of a a brick layer who cannot see beyond the next brick. Which is great, if you are a brick layer. Too much creativity, and it makes you question why you are laying those bricks. So carry on with your brick laying. It is a very valuable asset to society.

@atheist A question: If you have a theory (or it can be data, if that helps) that is dismissed by 9 out of 10 scientists, how valid is that theory/data? This is a hard one for me to answer, but from your perspective it might be easier.

@atheist and if they haven't come to their conclusions via your required methodology, but are assured of their findings?

@atheist It is a hard question to answer, that is for sure. I loved the cold fusion revelation back in the late 80's early 90's...that was fun. I wonder what value came out of it...I didn't really follow it, much. It was low on my probability scale, and no one else I knew at the time was interested in it either. The paranormal ability claim is fun also, but I remember thinking that what if paranormal ( definition doesn't exist, right? Because if it does, there is nothing 'para' about it...hehe) worked like a short in a short in a massive electrical system that is on again/off again at intervals that are difficult to measure to the random factors being effectively variable. It would like saying your brother-in-law that you have never met doesn't exist because you can't prove when he is coming over. Not the best analogy, but a free flow analogy...I type all of my things free flow...

@atheist Sorry about some of the words in that last cat woke up and began attacking my is his play time...haha


I don’t believe its about keeping options open, rather understanding there is much we do not understand about our existence. Personally, I don’t believe in 100% certainty about life or the world, because as a species we are young. We have made much progress in a short time, but there is still much we have to study, to first understand the natural world. This is not an argument for the possibility of a god in the future, but continued scepticism and research in to all that we perceive and have been told, about our time on this earth.

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