I couldn’t get past two or three pages of responses to Danny’s Forum Topic “What if there is a god?” without encountering the great contradiction/misunderstanding I find in almost every discussion of this topic: agnosticism.
I maintain that there is no such thing as agnosticism.
The only reason this “concept”or “word” exists is the sloppy way we use our language.

Allow me to begin my argument with Wikipedia’s entry that someone quoted in Danny's forum:

"Atheism can be either the rejection of theism,[1] or the assertion that deities do not exist.[2] In the broadest sense, it is the absence of belief in the existence of deities.[3]

Even Wikipedia gets it wrong. Atheism is not...”the absence of belief...” It is the absence of FAITH.

Belief is not the same thing as faith. Theists and atheists share most (if not all) beliefs... like: the sun will “come up” in the morning, or, if you drop a brick, you move your toes. Those are beliefs that all humans share. Faith is not engaged to exercise a belief. Faith is a mechanism activated for those “things” for which there is no evidence.
You either have faith or you don’t. It’s like being pregnant, you’re either pregnant or not pregnant. You have faith or you don’t have faith. There is no middle ground. That is the essence of faith.
To say something like: “Well, I don’t know whether there is a god or not” is an admission of a lack of faith. If you possessed faith in the existence of a deity you would never say such a thing.
Statements like: “Well, I can’t say there is a god anymore than I can say there is no god” is meaningless.
God is an object of faith, and if you can’t say “I have faith in the existence of God” then you are an atheist, and A/N is the right site for you. If you say “I don’t know” then you are saying that you lack faith, and you are an atheist.
Atheism is an abandonment or lack of faith in the existence of a deity.
If you do not embrace “faith”, then you are an atheist, not an agnostic, and it leads me to the “belief” that there is no such thing as an agnostic.
You have faith or you don’t.
My suspicion is that self proclaimed “agnostics” are those who are reluctant to abandon faith itself, not just faith in a god.

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Andrew responds to my post:
“Atheism does not mean 'Amoral', in fact how did you assert that Atheism has anything to do with morality?”
I didn’t. I was speaking of the prefix “A”. Placing an “A” in front of the word theism is LIKE placing an “A” in front of the word moral.
I shouldn’t have to explain that. I was quite clear. Please go back and read the sentence.
When you wrote above:
"Those strong in 'Theism' created 'Faith' to control the weaker of the pack.
Yes, as I stated earlier, 'Faith' is a construct of 'Theism'."


My apologies for not catching your error earlier. You have it bassackward, Andrew. The cornerstone of theism’s foundation is faith. Faith is the foundation upon which theism is built, and institutionalized as “religion”, which you describe as “to control the weaker of the pack.”
If there are two interchangeable terms in our discussion it might be religion and theism. (but that’s for a different discussion)
Suffice it to say, faith generates theism not vica versa.

I hope you appreciate irony, Andrew. Especially when you write things like:
"There is no God! Show me physical proof in the existence of God!"
Nobody can do that Andrew. Any more than you can show physical proof in the non existence of God. You are a passenger on the faith train as much as the theist. You, and people like you, Andrew, are the source of the religious right’s accusation that “atheism is a religion”. You keep exhibiting the same level of evangelical faith in the corollary of theism as the faithful themselves demonstrate in the vigorous promotion of their own visions of reality.
Stop it.
Arguing about god’s existence is the shadow theater.

Abandon faith. Abandon it in all things.

And your aggression neither disproves atheism’s inherent passivity, nor threatens my atheism:
You think Atheism is passive, then how about this: You, Asa Watcher, you are the sorriest excuse for an Atheist! You do not even rank near agnosticism! No, you are a 'Theist' in the guise of an agnostic, singing the praise of 'Faith'; a construct of 'Theism'! 'Faith' = 'Theism'. How's that? Is that 'Passive' enough for you?

I usually don’t respond to insulting people, and if you persist in the above manner won’t again. My suggestion is for you to read through all the posts on this subject, since you obviously feel so strongly about it.
There are some clever and thoughtful posts from several people in this particular forum, and they have contributed to a better understanding on my part about the subject of agnosticism, yet, I must admit, when it comes to agnosticism I’m still a skeptic.
Dear Asa Watcher,

I apologize for what I had written in response to you stating that Atheism is passive.

I take my Atheism very seriously, and I get tickked off when someone insults it. I live deep in the bible belt, South Florida, and I need to be a hard nose, else everyone will walk over me.

That being said.

"You, and people like you, Andrew, are the source of the religious right’s accusation that “atheism is a religion”. You keep exhibiting the same level of evangelical faith in the corollary of theism as the faithful themselves demonstrate in the vigorous promotion of their own visions of reality.
Stop it.
Arguing about god’s existence is the shadow theater."


No, I am going to continue to debate about God's existance, or lack there of. I have already lost faith for I am no longer a 'Theist'. I will stick to my guns, becasue that is what I believe, and not you or anyone else can change that.

What I have seen on these forums is that 'Atheist Nexus' can be called 'Conversions R Us'. This is all it is, one side trying to convert the other. I am guilty of it, you are guilty and everyone here is guilty of it. Also along with most of the 'Theists' out there as well. Don't try to convert me, and I will not convert you Asa Watcher!

All I do is just state the facts, and let others decide 'Yea or Nea'

Viva Atheism
Atheists consistently take this argument to too high a viewpoint. Gods have nothing to do with Russel's teapot conundrum. Basically an agnostic is following a logical path. Namely that there might be something around pluto we do not know yet (to alter Russel's teapot argument), but an atheist for reasons only they can explain, follow the logical fallacy of "argument from ignorance", quite frequently, and assert that they know exactly what is and is not orbiting Pluto (presumably, nothing). To go from "presume and it doesn't matter", to "I know, and I'm going to pollute logic itself with my certainty" about teapots, of all things, demonstrates that the "Strong Atheist" position is without merit logically because of its logical side effects. This may be a chicken and egg thing, however, I'm not so sure the logical fallacy is accepted by a person before they self identify as strong-atheist, or not. Certainly an agnostic, and philosophical Christians have studied reasoning enough to know about the problem with this logical fallacy. Ayn Rand did, as does James Randy, but they are among the few.
I don't really disagree that much with your general point, although I think you went off track about the semantics between 'belief' and 'faith'.

I don't think 'agnostic' provides any useful information in itself for somewhat similar reasons though. I would couch it that a/theism is about belief and a/gnosticism is about knowledge. I can believe (or have faith in) something although I may not know it.

I think the distinction is about what standards of evidence you require and what beliefs you make from them. One can not know if there is a god or not, or not think it is an answerable question, but still believe one way or another. Thus you can be an agnostic atheist or agnostic theist. I had this debate with Agnostic agnostics but I still think that even if they don't commit one way or another, their thoughts and actions would really push them off the fence in one direction. I don't think refusing to take a position is a useful alternative.
I don't think its about standards of evidence. The evidence is abundant, there is no influence on the laws of physics (not physical interactions, but the laws themselves) from any source. Trying to take the argument anywhere else simply brings religion (or bad reasoning?) into the equation, this is why I like agnosticism -- you don't try to answer questions that are irrelevant (well, to oneself anyway).
Main Entry: 1ag·nos·tic
Pronunciation: \ag-ˈnäs-tik, əg-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek agnōstos unknown, unknowable, from a- + gnōstos known, from gignōskein to know

1 : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god
2 : a person unwilling to commit to an opinion about something
— ag·nos·ti·cism \-tə-ˌsi-zəm\ noun

definition # 1. is a ludicrous stance - it means that you accept the possibility of a God but don't have faith. Unless you have an extremely minority definition (no 'omnipotence', no 'original cause', no 'master plan' and no 'petitionability') you can't possibly consider the existence of a god without some degree of faith (see delusion).

both the etymology of the word and definition # 2 are fully reasonable when applied to 'life, the universe and everything" - any reasonable atheist is 'agnostic' or willing to admit that there is a great deal we don't and, possibly, will never know when it comes to the underpinnings of the universe.
definition # 1. is a ludicrous stance - it means that you accept the possibility of a God but don't have faith. [...] you can't possibly consider the existence of a god without some degree of faith

That's your interpretation. To me it means you make a claim that no knowledge can be gathered about God, period. You don't have to accept the possibility of God, only to acknowledge the fact that other people make such a claim. Nothing ludicrous about that. The part about faith is irrelevant.
Jaume;
Other people's claims do not constitute knowledge of god, you have only knowledge of the nature of their faith.
God is an object of faith, not knowledge.
Faith is not irrelevant, it is the only thing that is relevant when considering an object of faith.
But I do disagree with: " you can't possibly consider the existence of a god without some degree of faith"
You don't necessarily have to have faith to recognize it or its object.
Since a believe in god requires faith (there is no evidence) then, I guess I verstated. How about:

"you can't possibly consider the existence of a god without considering the possible validity of faith"
Well, obviously, faith is real, but that does not speak to the condition of the object of that faith.
Asa: But I do disagree with: " you can't possibly consider the existence of a god without some degree of faith"
You don't necessarily have to have faith to recognize it or its object.


It's precisely (and only) in this context (the definition of agnosticism) that I said "the part about faith is irrelevant". I thought it was obvious (or I wouldn't have quoted the definition in the first place).
Greg LaCava wrote:

***”I would couch it that a/theism is about belief and a/gnosticism is about knowledge.”

And Howard S. Dunn offered:

***”both the etymology of the word and definition # 2 are fully reasonable when applied to 'life, the universe and everything" - any reasonable atheist is 'agnostic' or willing to admit that there is a great deal we don't and, possibly, will never know when it comes to the underpinnings of the universe.”


I see my problem here as limiting the definition of agnosticism to the subject of god(s).
I guess I’m forced to concede the existence of agnosticism when it comes to a lack of knowledge about elements of the cosmos which, may or may not, become known sometime in the future.
I even will agree to being an agnostic myself when it comes to something like the “big bang”. I think it is just as reasonable to theorize that everything that exists has always existed. But, of course I lack knowledge of such things. So, by the definition/idea of agnosticism, advocated by some in this forum, my position of not taking sides because of a lack of enough knowledge, is what agnosticism is.
If this is the case, and I believe it is, then I can think of only ONE subject that can not be approached agnostically, and that is god, generally speaking. That’s because there is no knowledge there one way or another. I can not think of any other subject where only faith is engaged for such a personal commitment.
i.e. “god(s)” is the only subject which requires faith.
I am in agreement with you, now, that all subjects of consideration should be approached agnostically. None of us has complete knowledge of something.
But, when it comes to a subject of faith (god) and if the agnostic maintains consistency, he will admit to a lack of knowledge one way or another and, therefore not commit to belief. It hardly seems reasonable then to assume that any agnostic would possess faith in the existence of god.
So, here is offered a compromise:
I will admit to the existence of agnosticism if you will agree that all agnostics are atheists.
Would this place atheism as a sub category of agnosticism, not vica-versa??
I could live with that.

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