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Atheism Vs. Agnosticism


Dibllsmek
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When I deconverted, I thought that "Hey, If one God isn't real. Why should others?"

 

Then I thought. I specifically thought that I didn't believe in the Christian God.

I thought and thought and thought some more.

 

I just recently realized that, I don't know if there is a divine power/person/animal. I'm not saying there is, I'm not saying there isn't. I'm undecided. Sometimes I'm leaning either way. I just like to enjoy life, I find Science fascinating, and I just doesn't concern me that much.

 

If I rot in the ground, it'll be okay because I won't even know its happening. If I go to some eternal afterlife then thats perfectly fine by me. If I decide what happens when I die, I'd probably pick to be reincarnated w/o my memories. I know life sucks, but its way better than eternal perfection.

 

I just don't worry about it.

 

When I told my christian friend that I don't believe in God, they automatically thought I was an atheist. I don't believe in the Christian God, but I'm not saying that God/afterlife/souls don't exist.

 

I'm just repeating myself. All of you here know what an agnostic is.

Whats your view on the subject?

 

A lot of Xians I have run into make the argument "atheists are just agnostics."

But there is a difference. Atheists know they're isn't a God. Agnostics (if your like me) Could care less, unless someones trying to push their beliefs down your throat.

 

For me, agnosticism is more of a conclusion, along with Free Thought. I think is someone wants to believe something, more power to 'em. If they try to change other people's Beliefs (like most religions) then they crossed the line.

 

I'm rambling, any comments?

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I would say I am an atheist more than an agnostic. I can't say that there is no God and be 100% sure about it but I also cannot prove 100% that this world is anything other than a Matrix like virtual reality. When I think through it, I cannot logically assert that a God exists that loves and cares for us and will reward us based on our actions after we die. Everything I see in the world points away from such a conclusion. There is so much suffering in the world that I cannot fathom a deity sitting idly by watching with disinterest. Each time someone is killed, raped, tortured and died from starvation amongst many other gruesome forms of death, this deity watched and let it happen even though it had the power to intervene and stop.

 

I have a tendency towards seeing things in black and white so for me I cannot see a position permanently stuck in the middle viable. As a result I see anything other than a strict atheistic/naturalistic worldview to be nothing more than an emotional crutch to avoid accepting an undesirable truth. I did try for a little while to fit some sort of God into the scheme of things but in the end I couldn't fit one in as I already mentioned. I didn't like my conclusion but I've grown to accept it.

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Guest Babylonian Dream
I just recently realized that, I don't know if there is a divine power/person/animal. I'm not saying there is, I'm not saying there isn't. I'm undecided. Sometimes I'm leaning either way. I just like to enjoy life, I find Science fascinating, and I just doesn't concern me that much.

Actually, by the earlier definition of "god" which was universal, a physical being that is invisible, that controls the world and everything in it (right down to fate, wind, etc...), we can know for certain, none exists. No theologian will argue that it does. The reason why religion started pushing god into the metaphysical in classical/middle age times, is because they knew they were in trouble. They knew their definition of God was ruled obsolete by the science of the time.

 

That means that the current idea was made up by someone at around that time, making me 100% certain(or at least close enough to it) that no such being exists.

 

Had the God hypothesis been a more serious hypothesis, instead of a way to keep the old invisible God hypothesis, I would be less certain of God/gods' nonexistence.

 

I think is someone wants to believe something, more power to 'em.

Technically, "if someone wants to pretend to believe something, more power to 'em", because you can't actually choose your beliefs.

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When I think through it, I cannot logically assert that a God exists that loves and cares for us and will reward us based on our actions after we die. Everything I see in the world points away from such a conclusion...

 

I have a tendency towards seeing things in black and white so for me I cannot see a position permanently stuck in the middle viable.

For me I would say this describes why I called myself atheist for a number a years. I was stronger than 'undecided', and I knew I outright didn't believe God as defined existed. So I think that was a valid position for me to take.

 

The problem is as I've come to see is that the argument of agnostic vs. atheist vs. believer is more centered around anthropomorphic ideas about God. "I'm not sure about that; I'm sure about that (one direction or the other)". The range of arguments are about accepting those sort of ideas, such as you just described above, or rejecting them for logical and emotional reasons. And those are in fact valid arguments to be made and had.

 

The position of agnostic to me seems to be one that perhaps maybe leaves open the possibility for something better that deals with the God question to come along, while rejecting or simply not accepting what is currently presented as valid for them. They would in fact be 'non-believers', as a believer is someone who adheres to one view, particularly one prescribed view or doctrine or dogma. The atheist on the other hand rejects the question of God altogether. Which what I did for reasons I could explain easily - I could not extricate the mythological descriptions of God from God, so to speak. It was simpler for me to start with the slate erased, and it was.

 

As a result I see anything other than a strict atheistic/naturalistic worldview to be nothing more than an emotional crutch to avoid accepting an undesirable truth.

I would agree that people in this day and age are doubtless confronted by quite a bit of uncomfortable cognitive dissonance, trying to incorporate antiquated ideas about Deity into a whole different understanding of reality today. But it's also important not to reduce the role of religion in people's lives to something quite as inane as an 'emotional crutch'. There are huge sociological structures in place for individuals which are tied to that system, and those are hardly matters of 'emotional crutches'. They are entire worldview structures that people use to navigate the waters of their daily existence, in themselves and the world. Obviously, there is going to be huge resistance to anything that is perceived as a threat to that.

 

I did try for a little while to fit some sort of God into the scheme of things but in the end I couldn't fit one in as I already mentioned.

I'm curious what sorts of God did those look like?

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Valid points. I am open to further evidence coming along to change my mind about the existence of God but at this present time I don't see anything to prove it. As for the labels, I understand how you define them but most people interpret agnostic as "undecided" one way or the other. The shade of meaning drifts a bit more than what you intend to convey when you use the word "agnostic".

 

I agree that a lot of things are tied into a religious belief but I think the whole reason for the existence of religion is to explain (away) what's happening. As such it is ultimately a religious crutch. Does it serve other purposes? Definitely, and I would agree that's why it is such a hurdle to shift people away from their religious beliefs.

 

Well, at first I just believed that a God existed very similar to the one in today's understanding of God in a Christian's eyes except for the whole hellfire aspect. Then, as I thought about it I couldn't reconcile that with the problem of suffering. I then shifted gears towards deism but I just couldn't reconcile deism with the issues at hand. The only way for a God to exist IMHO is if it is some sort of unthinking amoral mass like in Hinduism. This still doesn't really fit the bill for me but it's infinitely more likely than the other conceptions of God. To be fair it wasn't like I spent years shifting through these positions, it was more like days/weeks. Perhaps there is something I missed, but I doubt it.

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I see it like this. Many theists claim to have knowledge or gnosis of God. Agnosticism asserts we don't possess this knowledge. Most atheists wouldn't claim to know that a god doesn't exist, but they believe god doesn't exist. This is due to the problem that we can't prove or disprove that a god exists. So, I'm an agnostic when it comes to knowledge of god, and an atheist because I don't believe god exists with the knowledge mankind has at present. It sounds complicated, but honestly, who can refute what I've said? However, we can refute what christians claim to know.

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Atheists know they're isn't a God.

 

 

Not true! No one KNOWS there isn't a god, no one KNOWS there is a god or gods. Atheists do not BELIEVE that there is a god or gods. They don't KNOW.

 

I'm a staunch atheist, through and through and although to me it's highly unlikely that there is a god or gods, I can't KNOW for certain.

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Atheists know they're isn't a God.

 

 

Not true! No one KNOWS there isn't a god, no one KNOWS there is a god or gods. Atheists do not BELIEVE that there is a god or gods. They don't KNOW.

Gnosis = knowledge. A-gnosis = no knowledge. Theist = belief in "a god". A-theist = belief in "no-god".

 

Bu definition then you're an agnostic?

 

I'm a staunch atheist, through and through and although to me it's highly unlikely that there is a god or gods, I can't KNOW for certain.

I'm just challenging the uses of the word and emphasis we mean. I used to challenge a friend of mine who said he was an agnostic, when for all intents an purposes he rejected any idea of god, making him an atheist. If someone says they "don't know", that is by definition a-gnosis. not knowing.

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Theist = belief in "a god". A-theist = belief in "no-god".

A-theist can also be translated "no-belief in god."

 

-ist is just creating a personal noun of an adjective. Is it a-theist or athe-ist? Which prefix/suffix binds to "theo"? It could be debated.

 

If agnostic means a person who doesn't have knowledge, then by same means atheist would be someone who doesn't have belief.

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We're venturing into the meaning of labels here. This will get interesting :)

 

In the end, everyone is an agnostic. Some just veer towards atheism and others towards theism. The labels atheist and agnostic are not exclusive, they can and do go hand in hand.

 

Over here at least they are understood by the general public (in my experience) to be mutually exclusive. By stating you are an agnostic you mean you are undecided. You are in the middle and don't lean one way or the other. An atheist however is someone who just doesn't believe in God. Since that is how the terms are understood, I basically call myself an atheist since people understand my position more accurately with that label.

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I can get with the idea of God as a universal consciousness, or ground of being, or THAT which you are which doesn't change and which is undefinable.

 

I don't believe in a separate anthropomorphic being "out there" who specially cares for us like a father (Biblical image). I believe that if this were true, we would see evidence of it. Christ on the cross doesn't cut it for proof.

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Atheists know they're isn't a God.

 

 

Not true! No one KNOWS there isn't a god, no one KNOWS there is a god or gods. Atheists do not BELIEVE that there is a god or gods. They don't KNOW.

 

I'm a staunch atheist, through and through and although to me it's highly unlikely that there is a god or gods, I can't KNOW for certain.

 

This.

----------------------------------------------

 

I've always accepted that agnosticism means that someone is unsure if there is a god and that an atheist does not believe there is a god. While I consider myself an atheist I can and do repsect the agnostic position since that is the position pure skepticism arrives at. What pushes me past agnosticism and into atheism is my belief that "unknowable" is essentially the same thing as "non-existant". To me an "unknowable thing" is a "non-existant thing that can never be proven to be non-existant". If the only way that you can know there is a god is for god to present himself, then for all intents and purposes god does not exist until he does present himself. If he is "unknowable" then he does not interact and/or influence and I find this indestinguishable from "not existing".

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Theist = belief in "a god". A-theist = belief in "no-god".

A-theist can also be translated "no-belief in god."

 

-ist is just creating a personal noun of an adjective. Is it a-theist or athe-ist? Which prefix/suffix binds to "theo"? It could be debated.

Alright, I'll go with this, since theist is someone who believes in God, atheist would be someone who doesn't believe in God, the opposite of a theist.

 

I believe Christians themselves were called atheists for that very reason. Anytime someone doesn't accept your belief in God, to you they are atheist, not believing in God.

 

I believe it was Huxly who came up with term agnostic to lessen the sting of the term, as I seem to recall. Forgive me if I'm not remembered well right now, I haven't had coffee yet in this hotel room I'm in. My minds blurry.

 

If agnostic means a person who doesn't have knowledge, then by same means atheist would be someone who doesn't have belief.

Despite my lack of coffee, I'll say I definitely don't agree with this statement. Never can you translate atheist as "no belief" and nothing else. Atheism is a positive statement about a god belief. "I don't believe" is a belief statement.

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What pushes me past agnosticism and into atheism is my belief that "unknowable" is essentially the same thing as "non-existant". To me an "unknowable thing" is a "non-existant thing that can never be proven to be non-existant".

There's a couple points here I'd like to address (since I've had one cup of coffee and my mind is begining to wake). Unknowable is a term that is like saying undefinable, empty, void, formless, nothingness, etc. Even though those terms are valid to speak about God, they don't suggest a total blank. One can be said to know God, and have full awareness of it, without the use of terms and definitions. It transcends definitions and forms.

 

If something can be defined in the way you are speaking, then it is by definition not transcendent. It is a thing, an object. An anthropomorphic god by definition has form, and having form is limited. I looked at your signature and saw these words, "God is an invention of Man. So the nature of God is only a shallow mystery. The deep mystery is the nature of Man". I'm not sure you are aware of what this person is speaking to exactly, but it touches directly into what I'm saying in this.

 

That deep mystery of the nature of Man, goes into the fabric of existence itself, and that nature is fathomless, undefinable, and beyond description. But it can be known to degrees of depth within it, without defining it from outside it. A god that is a object or a thing, is a creation of man, and as this person says it is a relatively shallow mystery. Anything such as God described or discussed as an object is not God.

 

If the only way that you can know there is a god is for god to present himself, then for all intents and purposes god does not exist until he does present himself. If he is "unknowable" then he does not interact and/or influence and I find this indestinguishable from "not existing".

All this description makes God a thing, an object, a person over there doing something or not doing something over here. That is not God.

 

You seem to accept this deep mystery of the nature of Man. Can you define that? Can you prove that to exist? Yet is it present? Now take that and plumb that to infinity. That moves into and beyond all definitions and descriptions. Yet from that and within that is fathomless depth, presence, and influence. For me when I say I believe in God, it is better described saying I believe in God's God. What that saying in your quote touches on is pointing to exactly this.

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Alright, I'll go with this, since theist is someone who believes in God, atheist would be someone who doesn't believe in God, the opposite of a theist.

Part of the problem with the terms "belief" and "unbelief" is that unbelief does in some sense represent a belief in the "not-" of whatever the belief is in. :grin:

 

Belief is a conviction. Unbelief is a form of conviction too. Even knowing something is a conviction of something. That's why it causes all the mix-ups.

 

I think the word atheist represent what you said in the earlier post, but also the one I suggested. It's a word which we can't say for sure if it must be one or the other definition, it depends on the person who's using it. And it's the same for many other labels as well.

 

I believe Christians themselves were called atheists for that very reason. Anytime someone doesn't accept your belief in God, to you they are atheist, not believing in God.

 

I believe it was Huxly who came up with term agnostic to lessen the sting of the term, as I seem to recall. Forgive me if I'm not remembered well right now, I haven't had coffee yet in this hotel room I'm in. My minds blurry.

Without looking it up, I suspect you're right.

 

If agnostic means a person who doesn't have knowledge, then by same means atheist would be someone who doesn't have belief.

Despite my lack of coffee, I'll say I definitely don't agree with this statement. Never can you translate atheist as "no belief" and nothing else. Atheism is a positive statement about a god belief. "I don't believe" is a belief statement.

I agree that a statement of unbelief is a form of belief. I agree with the definition "a belief in no god," but I do see people use the term "atheism" as "no-belief in God" as well.

 

You have to realize that the word Theism and atheism doesn't contain the word for belief in it. It really says: person of god, and person of no-god, not belief. And since the negation is a prefix of the whole noun, it can relating to the core word or the -ist suffix.

 

Agnostic (-ic is the -ism part, "a person who..."). A-gnos-tic. Mean a person with no-knowledge. Right? Atheist means a person with no-god. There's no "who doesn't believe in." That's assumed. Wouldn't the word for belief be "pistos"? So really, should the word really be apistotheist (don't believe in god), or atheopisteist ("no-god-believer")?

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Atheism and agnosticism aren't mutually exclusive.

 

There are a lot of very specific labels, but for less deep conversations outside this community, if the discussion is focused around first causes or forces outside the universe, I will say that I'm agnostic. If the discussion is about any specific god or the possibility of a personal relationship with a deity, I will say that I'm an atheist. I'm not equivocating on my beliefs. Rarely are people 100% hard agnostics without having any beliefs regarding atheism or deism, or are they 100% hard atheists who will claim perfect certainty that there is no god. I believe that there are many things that are unknowable, that there is no good reason to believe in a god, and that the discussion is not meaningful unless the term god can be defined (ignosticism). I'm comfortable highlighting any of those aspects.

 

I really like what stucker said as far as if something is unknowable, then for practical purposes, it's non-existent. As to what Antlerman said about infinity having depth, presence and influence - I think that's also a matter of labels. He appears to have a similar relationship to what he perceives as a spiritual and fathomless universe as I have to what I perceive as a physical and fathomless universe.

 

While I don't think that "atheist" must mean more than "no belief", I do think that someone who bothers to label themselves as an atheist probably has more than a neutral non-belief. However, I do think it's valid to point out that everyone is technically born an atheist.

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