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Confession . I am going to go easy on the word ’ Atheist ’ for a while. I am one but IMO some people are a ‘wee bit’ sensitive.

Question for today

Surely the job of an agnostic [and hopefully this website] is to convince two groups of people that they are wrong.

Those that say there definitely is a GOD.
Those that say there is definitely NOT a GOD.

In this way we could get rid of all the rubbish about agnosticism e.g “ sitting on the fence ”; “ Weak position ”; : Can’t make up their mind ” .

I actually think Agnostic is a noble position. Separate post to explain that.

“Am I right in all this above?” is the question

Mcflewster 8 Jan 28
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Agnostic is not a noble position. Saying one can't prove a negative is not noble, it is a well known fact, and irrelevant to the argument.

When a self proclaimed Agnostic give any good reason to even suspect there is a god, I'll be impressed.

Alienbeing Level 8 Jan 28, 2022

It is noble in that we have to learn to live with agnosticism over many things.e.g. the age of one's death and the lottery or horse race winners not to mention the mask bug.

I agree with your second paragraph.



Please don't get hung up in the definitions.

Every agnostic and/or atheist and or religious person is going through a transition.

I like to call it an "evolution" - a favorite word of the #religulous.

But "are you right" ?

I'd have to suggest a definite maybe.

It's not a yes or no question.

Suggestion; click on one of these. Decide where you are and where you're heading. I'm guessing that every one of us is in a slightly different location and moving in a slightly different direction.

Robecology Level 9 Jan 28, 2022

@Robecology Thanks for the graphics. I find them very valuable. I am afraid that I am going to decline your suggestion about definitions and even if someone threatened to hang ME, I would not give up. Science partly advances using new definitions. I agree that people do get themselves in many a million confusions over definitions and IF one sets out on an argument having different definitions, one is completely wasting two lengths of time in two lives.
One particular lesson was my favourite of alll and it involved definitions .
The Principle derived through science progress is as follows :- If having established a proof of something involving a set of observation using one particular definition and then a new discovery or simple observation comes along that appears to destroy the conclusion reached, the theory and seems to invalidate future observations in the field THEN It is NECESSARY to alter the old definition to encompass. the old observations and the new .

That lesson was about the definition of the word OXIDATION. a process which takes place in countless chemical reactions. I will not give that lesson here but suffice I hope to say that the explanations start with using the word oxygen but end up defining oxidation as something that can have nothing to do with oxygen..

Perhaps I could encourage you to think carefully about some clashes which could be eliminated if efforts were made to encompass all observations . It is by this method that one goes deeper into what is really happening.

I will end by inviting you to agree with a following definition which I consider is a perfect definition. It is a definition of the word DIRT. Perhaps you have never thought about a definition of this word but I do know that you have thrown out plenty of things which were dirty and missed some which actually did you harm.
My definition of dirt is "Something in the wrong place" . I think it is the most useful of definitions and does not need changing . Do you agree ? Does it fit everything that you have ever thrown out?

Definitions have to be elastic to survive but by doing so they add to progress and future more successful definitions which last longer but not necessarily for ever when new observations emerge as they always will.

@Mcflewster You're asking for a definition of dirt? I think you're still getting hung up on definitions! Again I suggest just find where you are in the above diagrams....and where you're going. As you concluded...definitions have to be elastic.

@Robecology Diagrammatically I am right in the centre of the two square diagrams , and somewhere in the blue area of circles. I do not recognise the word Gnostic except as an historical name for a dead group of people . It has nothing to do with science which is my complete {almost) approach You will find that definitions are very intriguing when you get into them with a science purpose. I am not going to give up but always am prepared to talk about them. Too many people are hooked to dictionaries which although conveniently handy are usually composed by scholars of language rather than scientists. They are also a commercial producer to everyone and want to sell many copies but no one has produced a completely universal one which keeps up with the cutting edge of science,

Physically and outside this forum I am an. experienced non believer who ran a non believers group for some ten. years and I am now attached to a new group in my home town waiting for the novice thinkers in our direction to catch up. Meantime I am using this forum, which I enjoy, to fully exploit the word 'agnostic' which I think will eventually sort out non believers into more effective groupings. Quite a time though before that will be finalised. I am heading more and more into science.

Defining anything always helps one to sort out into groups but the labels that you use are for one solution concept only and must be replaced for other tasks. Simple is best for definitions. [is that someone' razor?]


Once more, this terminology problem:

"Agnostic" has, on one hand, been popularly conflated with the term "atheist", and on the other been seen as opposing it, when in fact they are complementary terms.

"Agnostic" just means "I don't know". A "gnostic" person claims to know for sure.

An agnostic atheist, like me, doesn't know for certain if there is a god(s), but doesn't believe there is. A gnostic atheist believes for certain that there is no god(s), enough to say they "know" there is not.

There is no conflict between the words "agnostic" and "atheist" in my case, because although I don't know any cosmic truths, I also don't believe there is a god or gods. The evidence is lacking. But because I know one can't disprove the hypothesis of any gods existing, I just don't know. I can be 99.99% sure, but there's always that .01% chance.

There are also agnostic theists and gnostic theists; both believe in a god, but one only believes while the other claims to know. But they don't like to talk about themselves in those terms, because the word "agnostic" is in there.



As this very primitive grid shows, there are actually 4 discrete belief systems. Atheist and Theist oppose one another, as do Agnostic and Gnostic. But to accurately state one's belief or opinion, two terms have to be combined, like so: Agnostic Atheist, Agnostic Theist, Gnostic Atheist, Gnostic Theist. Everyone falls somewhere in the grid. Atheists are either more or less agnostic, as are theists. Agnostics can lean more toward Theist (believing there is more or less of a possibility that some god exists); Gnostics either believe or do not believe there's a god with greater or lesser certainty. There's an infinite amount of movement within the system. Some people are right in the middle, with no opinion.

But it's almost exclusively Theists who see it as their "mission" to convert others. Atheists mostly lack the burning conviction to go out and proselytize on behalf of no god. Defending our unbelief and poking holes in religion does not count as trying to convert anybody; for the most part atheists just don't care unless religion is used to impinge upon their lives.

As for agnostics not being able to make up our minds; for me, that's a red herring, since all the facts will never be in. "Making up my mind" would mean I am as irrational as those who do believe, with no evidence. It's an infinite universe, and it's possible (although vanishingly unlikely) that there is a god, somewhere.

Hope this helped...

Paul4747 Level 8 Jan 28, 2022

I appreciate that there is something called disbelief but what is unbelief? What if someone came and told me that they had been chased home by a werewolf and barely escaped with their skin? I would probably express disbelief but I certainly wouldn't express unbelief, that just doesn't make any sense.
Show me a divine and omnipotent creator and I will accept it to be a reality but I doubt very much that I will bend a knee to it.

@SnowyOwl I believe (hah) that's splitting hairs.

Disbelief, if I'm not mistaken, is refusal to believe evidence. Fundamentalists disbelieve that the Earth is older than 10,000 (or is it 6,000?) years, despite all geological evidence. Whereas unbelief, for example if I were told that Joe Biden is the antichrist, is a valid reaction to something unbelievable. If presented with some valid evidence, I suppose my unbelief would be forced to become reluctant belief (although the above example has so much unbelievable about it that it falls prey to the "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs" chestnut).


As an Atheist I have experienced this question from Agnostics and Believers, 'How come you can't believe in the possibility that there is a god instead of holding onto a certainty that there is no god?'
The fact of the matter is that I have yet to find any evidence to confirm that there is a supreme being that has created the universe and all things in it, there is nothing about belief to my position, at all. As an Atheist I do not believe in anything but I do accept reality that is verifiable and proven, that's being logical.
I find Agnostics to be open to the belief in a god but are unsure, believers are by definition, holding to the their belief that a god exists - neither has ever provided any concrete evidence to support their belief, doubting or otherwise. That is the difference, show me the evidence of a god and I will accept its existence but never ask me to believe in something purely on faith that it exists with no evidence to support it. Belief is for children, so I think you are wrong in how you are defining what Atheism is about because it has nothing to do with belief, that's for believers and agnostics (believer-lite).

SnowyOwl Level 8 Jan 28, 2022

It's not the job of an agnostic (or atheist) to convince anyone of anything...

@JeffMurray Agree 'job' is misplaced . How about 'mission'? Not all of those are salaried or waged. Please continue to help over my poor expressions.

@Mcflewster No, I'm saying that atheist and agnostic are simply labels/shorthand to describe a lack of belief. It's not a mantle we're forced to take up upon declaration. It's that sort of thinking that kind of lends credence to the belief that 'atheist' is a religion itself.

@JeffMurray I think 'Mantle' is a kind of cloak and as such it is easily removable and certainly not permanent, although in the case of these two words we hope they would stick around.

Atheism is certainly not a religion because it has no" tenants of belief'. So will you join with me in squashing that rumour? Some people cannot possibly image life without a religion of some kind.

@Mcflewster You know what definition of that word I meant... unless you didn't know that was one of the definitions??

Either way, by attaching these responsibilities to that label, you are the one that gives credence to the belief that atheism/agnosticism is a belief system of its own. Would it be nice if everyone took part in dispelling incorrect beliefs about atheism? Absolutely, but I have a problem saying it's their responsibility.

@JeffMurray I believe that Atheism is one important slice of the non believers life and that there are much better uses of time and energy to actually get religion to fade away more quickly. I admit of course that a lot more atheists are needed.
agnosticism is a group of people who are intent on making sure that ,once they have said "I do not believe in god" that they are happy for the while not to be certain until better beliefs come along

@Mcflewster You and I seem to differ on the definitions of 'atheist' and 'agnostic' (as do many people here).
They deal with different questions, one of knowledge, the other of belief. I am both an agnostic and atheist, and I'm equally certain of both positions. I am certain that right now I, nor anybody else, can't know whether or not a god exists. I am also certain that I personally lack a belief in a God.
Again, it would be nice if anyone who holds one or more of those positions would help to normalize it, but I stated my fears about saying it is the duty of one, above.

@JeffMurray I think that you and I are more similar than either of us currently think. Like everyone here we are often prepared to accept many labels and tolerate our differences. That is fine I am a free speech believer also.
My current aim is to try to bring different non religious groups together and I happen to think that being in an agnostic forum is the best place to do it- really because of the links between agnosticism and science. I have said elsewhere that all scientists should declare agnosticism as "Why would you set out to explore things if you know the answer already/.
I accept that I do not explain myself clearly enough. If the religious powerful right got suddenly massively more powerful, then we should have to come together.
Yes I am picking on the limitations of what certain words are and atheist is the one that says least a particular person . Acting in unison is the only way forward .

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