I think saying "agnostic" is an in between term people often use when they might be a little ashamed of their findings. Their intellect has moved to a new level of consciousness, but psychologically, they might not be ready to label themselves something that has a negative connotation to it such as an "atheist".
Susan, you are showing us the beginning stages of perception and I am so happy for you. It will take time, but don't ignore your true thoughts. It can be a shock to the system so remember that society has held you back from seeing the beautiful universe as it is. Many zealots feel that you aren't a deep person unless you believe in a creator. Quite the opposite! I don't waste thoughts on a racist, homophobic, sexist, man-made creature called God. I find beauty in knowing that the Big Bang happened all on its own and that evolution just takes it's course to wherever it will go next.
Joe Swam seems sure:
"We're all agnostics. No one is claiming to KNOW there is no god (I should say not many are claiming this...I'm sure some are). But "agnostic" doesn't answer the theological question of whether you believe in god. It answers whether or not we can know there is a god.
Atheist just means that we see no evidence that supports the existence of a god."
This is an atheist site. I’m tired of agnostic apologists.
God is an object of faith. No more, no less.
Do you have faith in the existence of god?
Then you are an atheist.
“Knowing” or “not knowing” is totally irrelevant to faith.
But you do know whether or not you have faith in the existence of god.
If you know you don’t have faith in the existence of god, then you are an atheist.
Go argue the myth of agnosticism in a different forum.
The agnosticism vs. atheism thing is one that has many misconception surrounding it. Neil Tyson had a take on it, and I'll post the link:
I used to take the same position as Tyson, which is "empirical agnosticism." And you're right, faith is irrelevant to empirical agnosticism, because the empirical agnostic does not adhere to faith nor a lack thereof faith. Faith is, as you said, entirely irrelevant. Empirical agnosticism ultimately says, "We do not know if there is a God, but perhaps one day we can know." So, if you don't know, you don't go around saying "I believe" or "I disbelieve," likewise, you wouldn't say, "I have faith," nor would you say "I don't have faith." If you do not believe or if you do not have faith, then you'd be an atheist.
So, as Tyson points out in that YouTube clip, he wouldn't categorize himself as "atheist," as he takes the stand-alone position of "empirical agnosticism."
Matt, faith as the foundation for there being a god is not enough for me. Furthermore, the Christian right wing fundamentalists have a great deal of influence over a great many people politically and economically. I vehemently speak up to disagree with their stand and attempt to match volume and intensity by firmly proclaiming I see no evidence to believe in the "young earth," creation as described by those who have faith in the bible and teachings, tradition and dogma. The virgin birth, resurrection and transcendence make no sense. When I watch debates between atheists and christian apologeticists, I perceive nothing more than "faith," "belief," "feel good," "the bible says so," "god is the author of the bible," and such nonsense defenses.
When Intelligent Design or Creationism tries to put it's head in the school science department, I will be there to block them. If they want to have comparative religion, I am able and willing to teach it.
I was a let-every-person-think-for-him-or-her-self person, but no longer. In my opinion, yahweh, god, allah, and any other mystical character are creation from human imagination and served a purpose that no long needs such tales.
When tribal wars defending one or another religion and they had rocks and bows and arrows it was one thing. Today we have the capacity to destroy all that is good and beautiful and delicious and inspiring. We, homo sapiens, need to grow up, look at reality, put beliefs to a test for validity and figure out a way to get along.
Drones? high powered rifles? bombs? bullets? poisons? They are the stuff that requires wise and honorable people. We have not reached that level of development, yet. We continue to think as a cave person.
While I agree that the major religions practiced in places like America, Australia, or the U.K. have a great effect and influence on people's lives in ways that significantly inhibit their freedom, for me it hasn't taken away to the deeper mysteries of religion. I mean, I get the whole Greta Christina-esque rant, why some atheists choose to be "active atheists" or "non-theists," so on and so forth... You mentioned that we have to figure out a way to "get along," I don't think taking the anti-theist position is the way to go, even if it's veiled through secularism or some other euphemistic synonym that people use for atheism, it still carries connotations of contentiousness. Just as Satan in Christianity represents a pure evil where no good could ever come about, a kind of "eternal enemy," and how do you resolve that?
All the Greta-esque fury and wrath aside, I still think agnosticism holds as a very conservative and skeptical position. You mentioned comparative religion. I've been studying comparative religion for about 4 years now, and you know, when you actually take the time to study eastern religion, low and behold, you find a religion completely compatible with things like evolution, The Big Bang, M-Theory, etc.
I used to hold the position of empirical agnosticism, but then when I came across the work of certain philosophers such as Alan Watts and Terence McKenna, I came to find a whole new perspective that sheds light on a lot of the confusion that people encounter in many of the major religions around the word, including Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, etc.
You opined that yahweh, God, Allah, and any other "mystical character" are all creations from the human imagination and served a purpose that no longer needs such tales. Well, if I may offer an entirely different take on this opinion of yours where God is not thought up, conjured, or imagined, but rather interpreted through a kind of afflatus. I'll link you to a thread I've recently introduced this idea to, just search "Perennial Philosophy."
Btw, it's just something to consider! I'm not trying to sell you on this point of view, I'd simply like for you to consider it.