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freedwoman

Cop Out/Coward?

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Why are agnostics always considered cop outs and cowards? What about atheists? Why aren't they considered cop outs and cowards? That's not fair or even true. Let's be real here. No one knows for certain whether or whether not God/Goddess even exist? And you know what else? We may never know. I think agnosticism makes the most sense. But that is just me. I'm not a cop out or a coward because of it. 

Peace.

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I don't know who has been calling agnostics cop-outs or cowards.  That's not an attitude I've seen around here to any significant extent.  Most of us here - myself included - consider ourselves to be both agnostic and atheistic.  I'm an agnostic atheist because I have no reason to believe that a deity exists, but I can't be certain, hence the agnostic qualifier.  I don't believe in gods in the same way that I don't believe there is life on the Moon:  I could change my mind but I doubt that the evidence to make that happen will ever be found.

 

You may find this interesting...

https://thisonevsthatone.com/agnostic-vs-atheist/

 

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I'm with Taba. I haven't heard agnostics called copouts or cowards. I think that agnosticism is an entirely valid position, as it is almost impossible to prove a negative. Personally, I've seen overwhelming evidence that the Christian god cannot exist, but I have no proof that it doesn't. Until someone shows me overwhelming evidence that there is such a god, I do not believe. (And, frankly, if it does exist, I wouldn't worship it anyway. Any deity that has the power to stop human suffering but doesn't isn't worth worship.)

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Agnosticism refers to knowledge, atheism refers to belief.  Everyone either has or does not have a belief in god in their head at any moment, so every agnostic is either a theist or an atheist.  Fine so far.  If an agnostic does not believe because the available knowledge does not warrant it, she is an agnostic atheist.  If she decides to believe anyway, she is an agnostic theist.  (Pascal’s wager is an example of agnostic theism.)


But some people try to use agnosticism as a third alternative to theism vs. atheism; when asked if they believe in god, their response is that they are agnostic.  THEY HAVE NOT ANSWERED THE QUESTION.  And yes, I think that is a cop out.  My suspicion about those people is that they are atheists but don’t want to admit it.  (And of course, they have the right not to admit it.)

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I consider myself, first and foremost, an apatheist, in that I don't really give a damn if a god exists.  If that is a cop out, I also don't give a damn.

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4 hours ago, freedwoman said:

Why are agnostics always considered cop outs and cowards?

Always?

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First we need to be clear on definitions:

 

Agnosticism is to do with knowledge, more precisely an agnostic does not know.

 

Atheism is to do with belief of gods, or more precisely the lack of beliefs, or belief there are no gods.

 

So, let us continue.

 

9 hours ago, freedwoman said:

Why are agnostics always considered cop outs and cowards?

 

They are? Always? By whom? When?

 

I do know there are some (very few) strong atheists who consider that people who say they are agnostic to be dodging the issue about what they believe. But it's not a widespread issue as far as I know... and I frequent a lot of spaces where agnostics and atheists hang out.

 

Quote

What about atheists? Why aren't they considered cop outs and cowards?

 

Because you are somewhat nailing your flag to the mast. If I ask you do you believe in god, and you say I'm agnostic, I'll say sure, but do you believe in God? If you simply repeat that you don't know I might think that's a cop out, or be confused because are you saying you don't know if you believe in god, or you don't know if god exists.

 

Quote

That's not fair or even true. Let's be real here. No one knows for certain whether or whether not God/Goddess even exist? And you know what else? We may never know. I think agnosticism makes the most sense. But that is just me. I'm not a cop out or a coward because of it. 

Peace.

 

Hence why I'm an agnostic atheist. If you ask me the question about god I will say that I don't know if any god or gods exist (agnosticism), but I have no belief that god exists (atheism)

 

So @freedwoman You don't know if any gods exist. Neither do I. neither do some theists. But do you believe any gods exist?

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10 hours ago, freedwoman said:

Why are agnostics always considered cop outs and cowards? What about atheists? Why aren't they considered cop outs and cowards? That's not fair or even true. Let's be real here. No one knows for certain whether or whether not God/Goddess even exist? And you know what else? We may never know. I think agnosticism makes the most sense. But that is just me. I'm not a cop out or a coward because of it. 

Peace.

 

The responses I've read so far are correct in a lot of ways. A good portion of this community goes as agnostic-atheist for the reasons and definitions already described. This is something that is generally not understood well out in every day life. Because out in the world at large, I think a lot of people do assume that agnostic makes a third position where one can just say, "I don't know," and step back. And so others will tend to respond that it's flimsy or cowardly, lukewarm, etc., etc. 

 

The thing is, nobody really knows or has that knowledge of the existence of any gods.

 

So whoever claims that they are not agnostic, is essentially lying, either way, whether theist or atheist. Lying to themselves and others. So agnosticism is in reality a common thread by sheer necessity. Not an isolated third option as many assume without further research into the issue. A lot of people don't even know, that they do not know. And carry on as if they do, when they do not. Put in it's context, agnostic views are very strong as opposed to weak. This has been challenged here in the past by some gnostic atheist members. It ended with them bowing out to the agnostic-atheists BTW......

 

The links already given should clear that up. 

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6 hours ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

I consider myself, first and foremost, an apatheist,

 

I consider myself an Ape-atheist.......

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9 hours ago, TEG said:

some people try to use agnosticism as a third alternative to theism vs. atheism; when asked if they believe in god, their response is that they are agnostic.  THEY HAVE NOT ANSWERED THE QUESTION.  And yes, I think that is a cop out. 

I disagree. It is perfectly valid to answer "I don't know". You don't have to believe or disbelieve, you can be unsure and take a pure agnostic position to the question. 

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1 hour ago, Joshpantera said:

So whoever claims that they are not agnostic, is essentially lying, either way, whether theist or atheist.

 

No one has complete knowledge of anything; to me, the question is, do you have enough knowledge to make a decision?  If you have ever driven over a bridge, my guess is that you did not have complete knowledge of the condition of every beam, nut, bolt, cable, and so forth; you just made a “reasonable person” decision that since it was there, and others have driven on it without it collapsing, it is safe for you to drive on too.  Even though you could in theory be wrong.  That is how I view the question of god.  I see no evidence, the evidence that others present is not convincing, and therefore I do not believe in god any more than I believe in an ancient race of humans living under the surface of Mars.  And I do not consider myself agnostic on either issue because I believe that I have enough knowledge to make a decision.  Now, if you were to ask me to bet on who wins the democratic nomination, I have a guess but I would say I am agnostic on that issue and would decline to wager.

 

13 minutes ago, Wertbag said:

It is perfectly valid to answer "I don't know". You don't have to believe or disbelieve, you can be unsure and take a pure agnostic position to the question.

 

It is perfectly valid to answer “I don’t know,” but in your mind, you have to believe or disbelieve; it is a binary choice.  If you are unsure, and have not made a decision to believe, then you do not believe.  As has been pointed out, agnostic and atheist refer to two different things, knowledge vs. belief.

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2 hours ago, TEG said:

is perfectly valid to answer “I don’t know,” but in your mind, you have to believe or disbelieve; it is a binary choice

No, you agree that "I don't know" is valid, then refuse the option to choose that. It is not binary, it is tri-state: yes, no or I don't know. Someone who says IDK isn't stating a lack of belief, they are saying either option is plausible. 

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4 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

This has been challenged here in the past by some gnostic atheist members. It ended with them bowing out to the agnostic-atheists

I'm not sure "bowing out" is the term I would use, from what I remember there was a discussion on definitions and a polite back and forth but the answer depended completely on the accepted definition so the discussion ended with more understanding but not necessarily complete agreement. 

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34 minutes ago, Wertbag said:

No, you agree that "I don't know" is valid, then refuse the option to choose that.

 

My point was that “I don’t know” and “I don’t believe” are two different things.


Belief is a thing; you either have it or you do not.  The reason for not having it may be that you do not have enough knowledge, or that you just can’t decide, or even that you have never heard of god in the first place.  But if you do not have it, you do not have it.  There is no third alternative.


It sounds like this has been argued before.  I am not going to argue it again, so this is all I have to say . . . .

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I have to agree with TEG here Wertbag.

 

A claim of knowledge or lack thereof is separate from a claim of belief or lack thereof.

 

I'm not even sure if its possible to literally not have either some belief or disbelief.

 

In other terms knowledge is like a confidence level, whereas belief is like taking the position that something is true or not true.

 

Meh, anyways, we have had this discussion, and if we wish to have it in full again the Colosseum is a better place. I'm blowing synapses here at night trying to imagine myself having a perfectly neutral belief position on something that I don't know. :magic:

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I still don't see how this can be binary, someone doesn't disbelieve by saying they can't answer the question. But Yes, interesting subjects but getting off topic. Then again unless there is some clarity on the original subject of abuse towards agnostics then this thread is dead before it gets started. 

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1 hour ago, Wertbag said:

I still don't see how this can be binary, someone doesn't disbelieve by saying they can't answer the question. But Yes, interesting subjects but getting off topic. Then again unless there is some clarity on the original subject of abuse towards agnostics then this thread is dead before it gets started. 

           This is relevant because abuse against agnostics, stems from, I think, a lot of definitions not being clear. Like you and TEG seem to have different definitions of belief. To clarify, If someone asks you - Do you know...X, like how many mountains are in china ? this is a binary questions - Yes, I do know, No I do not know. If someone asks you - do you believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the theology of , say the Roman Catholic Church, the answer, is again, can be either Yes, or No.  Answering "I do not know" means you are not answering the question, but answering a different one, like Do you KNOW if the theology of Roman Catholic Church is true? So there cannot be a tri state, because your "third " option is actually one part of a another binary. 

           Plus, it depends on what crieteria of knowledge we use. Like- if you say, the Christian God answers all prayers for everything, I can mostly surely show you that THAT GOD is false , because reality does not work like that, as per the way most humans perceive it ( that being the criteria). Like it is often said, Christians, when confronted to other God images, are hardcore atheists - Christians themselves were called atheists by the pagans in the early Roman empire for refusing to worship the Roman pantheon and any other pantheon but their own. Christians are sure the God as depicted by Muhammed, as a famous example, does not exist- there are so many polemics from the early days still recorded about this issue. 

           I think many people who have visited this site are as certain at this moment as one can be that the Christian depiction in the Bible is such a contradictory thing that it does exist. Not all  of course. They also would claim certainty in saying rain is not sent by the crying of eternal broken hearted goddess. 

           So you can be hardline gnostic atheist to some affirmations, very skeptical of others or curious but not yet convinced of others. And these do change over time. So it hard next to impossible to have a generalization on the issue. 

            I am pretty sure there are no unicorns in the town I live in, for example, now. Not sure there have never been horses with horns in all of recorded history.

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3 hours ago, Wertbag said:

I still don't see how this can be binary, someone doesn't disbelieve by saying they can't answer the question. But Yes, interesting subjects but getting off topic. Then again unless there is some clarity on the original subject of abuse towards agnostics then this thread is dead before it gets started. 

 

This is similar to the gnostic versus agnostic atheist discussion. Gnostic seems like a clear shot, but it really isn't when analyzed. Just because we have a ton of evidence that religion is myth, and myth is non-literal, that still doesn't give anyone positive KNOWLEDGE that a god doesn't exist. It could be some as of yet unknown, un-mythologized, god being of some type out there. It's foolish sounding, but technically it stands. This is where the firmness of agnostic atheism was demonstrated in that previous discussion. And the reason is for the sake of being on the firm side of such arguments when arguing against theists. The claim was that agnostic atheists are weak, or on the short end of the argument. That was demonstrably false. And the argument dead ended. 

 

So turning to the 3 option issue of theist, atheist and agnostic. 

 

Since theism is about belief it stands on it's own. Since gnosticism is about knowledge it stands on it's own. They answer two different questions. Do you believe, and do you have knowledge. It's four options, not three. TEG is correct. 

 

Positive

1) I know and I believe - gnostic theist

2) I don't know but I believe - agnostic theist

 

Negative

1) I know and I don't believe - gnostic atheist

2) I don't know and I don't believe - agnostic atheist

 

Here's where it lands when people try to use agnostic as a third option. When it comes to belief you either do or you don't. If you don't know, as TEG said, that keeps you out of positive belief. Just ask theist's, they'll let you know. They obviously frown on anything short of positive belief. Because anything short of positive belief, like I don't know, falls short of positive belief and defaults one out of that category. It doesn't form up a third, contrary to popular thought. It just means that lacking positive belief comes in a variety. 

 

Lacking positive belief

1) Not knowing / non-committal 

2) Not believing

 

My wife has struggled with this, btw. She likes to take an agnostic position. Because she honestly doesn't know. That's where she's at right now. I tried explaining the above. She was a little resistant like you. I left it alone. The main thing I was trying to explain is that not knowing defaulting to NOT positive belief doesn't make someone a gnostic atheist, which is what she seemed to be resisting. I was trying to make that clear. And the agnostic-atheist position isn't really anything more than what people are reaching for when they take the agnostic position. It only means that they don't know if a god exists or not. It doesn't make someone a militant gnostic atheist or anything similar just because not knowing = not positively believing. 

 

But I've noticed over the years that due to discussions like this more and more people seem to be getting familiar with the debate landscape concerning gnostic and agnostic, theist and atheist. Ten to fifteen years ago it didn't seem as widely understood. 

 

 

 

 

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Okay, I'm convinced.  I'm now a gnostic apatheist.  I know that I don't give a flying fuck if a god exists or not.

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It seems to me if someone says there's not enough evidence to decide if there is a god or not, then they do not have a god belief and are therefore atheist. But I'm just a simple guy.

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I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I was not trying to. No one here has called me a cop out or a coward. But others have. 

 

Point is I just don't know if there is a God or Goddess even or not. Can't prove or disprove it. 

 

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No problem, I don’t think anyone took offense.  We’re a bunch of godless heathens so we’re mostly pretty thick-skinned...  

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1 minute ago, TABA said:

No problem, I don’t think anyone took offense.  We’re a bunch of godless heathens so we’re mostly pretty thick-skinned...  

🤣👍 Thanks mate. 

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A lot of great replies that I'd love to delve into. I think I'll take LF's suggestion and open two separate threads, the topics are quite distinct: How do you define knowledge and is someone who is unsure of their belief put into the atheist category? 

Interesting discuss points if anyone wants to join in. 

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On 3/4/2020 at 9:13 AM, freedwoman said:

Why are agnostics always considered cop outs and cowards? What about atheists? Why aren't they considered cop outs and cowards? That's not fair or even true. Let's be real here. No one knows for certain whether or whether not God/Goddess even exist? And you know what else? We may never know. I think agnosticism makes the most sense. But that is just me. I'm not a cop out or a coward because of it. 

Peace.

 

Some people require a binary mental stance about religion. You are either for something or against it. There is no middle ground. 

 

As an agnostic, I thrive in the middle ground. I get the best of both worlds. I can enjoy some Celtic goddesses and also enjoy neuroscience. Woot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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