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Agnostic VS Atheist

Discussion in 'Resources' started by jarofthoughts, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. jarofthoughts

    jarofthoughts Empirical Curmudgeon

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    This short piece is written to deal with the argument stating, often quite vocally, that Atheists are just as bad as Theists who claim with certainty that there is a god. This, they assess, is because it is impossible to prove the non-existence of God, and an Atheist who made such an absolute claim would indeed be out of his or her depth. Therefore, some argue, the only viable position is to be an Agnostic. In the minds of some people there is a degree ranging from Atheist to Agnostic to Theist. On both sides of the fence, this sort of argumentation stems from a misunderstanding of what the words actually mean.

    Notice: I am using the Oxford Online English Dictionary for all word definitions.

    The term “Atheism” is defined as “the belief that God does not exist”. Notice the word “belief”. That means that being an Atheist does not in any way indicate knowledge about the non-existence of god.

    Likewise, the term “Theism” is defined as “belief in the existence of a god or gods, specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe”. That last part of the sentence is important because it represents the dividing line between a Theist and a Deist. But like in the Atheism example, the active word is “belief”, not knowledge.

    The word Gnostic comes from the Greek “gnostikos” and means “to know”, and likewise the connotation “Agnostic” means “not to know”. Therefore someone who considers themselves to be a Gnostic implies that they are absolutely certain about the subject at hand, while someone who uses the term Agnostic implies that they are not certain. This leads to the conclusion that no-one is “just” an Atheist or a Theist, and similarly that no-one is just an Agnostic or a Gnostic, at least in relation to this subject.

    So, to sum up, one is either an Agnostic Atheist, a Gnostic Atheist, an Agnostic Theist or a Gnostic Theist. The first word implies the certainty with which you hold your position and the second implies the position itself. It’s as simple as that. Still, this position might change depending on which god one is talking about. Unless one was to find that a person believes in all gods everywhere (there are thousands of religions, some with thousands of gods), that person is an Atheist with regards to some, usually most, gods.

    Just sayin'... :)
     
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  2. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    so does that make me an apathetic agnostic theist or an apathetic agnostic atheist?
     
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  3. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

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    An alliterating apathetic agnostic atheist :D
     
  4. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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  5. Skwim

    Skwim Veteran Member

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    I've noticed this before, theists and some atheists will define atheism as a flat out denial that god exists: there is no god. And while everyone has the right to define their beliefs as they may, for an atheist to declare there is no god does set oneself up for challenge. So, I think the prudent approach is to couch atheism in terms of unbelief. And, of course the theist would be better off dropping the tiresome arrogance of knowledge, and sticking to what it is, a belief/faith. Claims of knowing god exists doesn't impress non-believers one wit, and, in fact, suggests that such people have gone around the bend.
     
  6. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    Do you believe in anything you consider to be a god?
     
  7. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    I believe that it is possible that god(s) exist.
    However, why anyone would want to worship a god that goes to such great lengths to hide its existence whilst demanding the world worship it is beyond me.
     
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  8. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    You realize that you didn't actually answer the question, right? ;)
     
  9. Kilgore Trout

    Kilgore Trout Misanthropic Humanist

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    Aren't people who call themselves "agnostic," generally just spineless weasels who, by not picking a side, end up annoying the crap out of everyone?
     
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  10. Mestemia

    Mestemia Advocatus Diaboli
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    lol
    Busted.
    No, I do not believe that any of the alleged gods exist.
     
  11. BucephalusBB

    BucephalusBB ABACABB

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    Sometimes you don't want to chose between beer and beef if you know you can have both..
     
  12. jarofthoughts

    jarofthoughts Empirical Curmudgeon

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    Nah... I'd say they are spineless. People need to make a stand already. ;)
     
  13. jarofthoughts

    jarofthoughts Empirical Curmudgeon

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    Did you read the OP?

    The whole point of this tread is that there is no such thing as a pure "agnostic", "atheist" or "theist". Being agnostic is not a position, it's the degree of certainty to which you hold your position.

    Gnostic/Agnostic indicates whether you (claim to) know something or not while Theist/Atheist indicates whether you believe in a god or not.
    That means that there are Gnostic Theists, Gnostic Atheists, Agnostic Theists and Agnostic Atheists.
     
    #13 jarofthoughts, Dec 13, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  14. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Ignorant Atheist Capitalist Engineer Libertarian
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    Atheist....weak atheist....agnostic....call me anything you want, as long as it's not Angellous Evangelous
     
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  15. Willamena

    Willamena Just be there, doing that
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    Without knowledge, there is nothing in which to believe.

    Or, "to know not" (those darned Europeans, putting nouns after verbs).
     
  16. jarofthoughts

    jarofthoughts Empirical Curmudgeon

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  17. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    So... in the spirit of open-mindedness, you reject several positions out-of-hand?

    Ah, irony.

    http://xkcd.com/774/
     
  18. nrg

    nrg Active Member

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    Um, you do too.

    "I'm going to ride (verb) my bike (noun)."

    SVO is not science fiction.
     
    #18 nrg, Dec 13, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010
  19. Willamena

    Willamena Just be there, doing that
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    Right. :)

    The thing is, "not" can be something to know.
     
  20. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Riboflavin
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    But "agnostic" is a label, too. :shrug:
     
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