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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They can call themselves what they want, but, really, aren't they Christian atheists?
Then again, they can't be Christian anything if they don't believe have faith that Jesus is the son of God. And if they accept that premiss Then that is evidence of a faith in the existence of god so they can't be agnostic or atheist either.
I think they are hedging, or they haven't really thought it out. Or they don't want to abandon faith.
Asa,
Interesting point of view, but I'm gonna lean toward Nerd's point of view. I get excited when I hear someone is either Athiest or Agnostic, because it means they are also critical thinker.
My question to you would be, why does it bother you if they declare themselves as agnostic, they are still part of a similar way of thinking. When we start trying to define or narrow down what is athiest or agnostic, you run into too many issues. It's like religion, everyone has their own idea of what it is to them. It's the same with Atheism, it's an internal view of your beliefs.
***"why does it bother you if they declare themselves as agnostic, they are still part of a similar way of thinking."
Well, it doesn't bother me, it's just that I get curious about a statement like: "I'm not an atheist, I'm an agnostic".
In this case, like a good agnostic, I just thought I'd ask. If, for nothing more than the sake of discussion I guess.
This is Atheist Nexus after all, not Agnostic Nexus.

***"It's the same with Atheism, it's an internal view of your beliefs."
Again, Godwho really, it is not about beliefs, it is about faith
Hey Asa,

I'm with you. I believe that there is a difference between the words faith and belief. Otherwise why would we have two words? English words are all about shades of meaning often derived from context as much as definition. How you use a word is just as important as when you use one. I would like to point out that 'faith' is always used in a context of 'belief in something unknowable'. People often use the word belief in a similar manner as 'faith' such as "I believe in gnomes." Used in that context the word belief means faith. To sort it all out, think about the two words. I'm deliberately not going to check the dictionary before I define those two words here.


Belief - Accepting the existence of a thing or concept. "I believe in air"

Faith- Accepting the existence of a thing or concept without evidence. ie. Belief in a thing or concept without evidence. "I believe in aliens even though I have no proof."


You can have belief without faith but not the other way around. Faith is a particular form of belief. It has specific conditions; without evidence. Belief has nothing to do with evidence one way or the other it is simply a concept to describe knowledge of a thing without subjective, direct experience of the thing. Belief is a self describing concept. So is the term faith. Faith as a concept is specific in the way that in order to have faith in the first place you have to know that you have no evidence.


Any good argument must start with first principles. That is so as to establish what the hell the argument is actually about. It seems to me from reading this whole thread that no one is really on the same page.

Asa is starting from the assumption that the words belief and faith are fundamentally different enough to have two separate definitions. If that assumption is correct (which means other people agree with it) then Asa's point that agnosticism about 'god' is unachievable because 'belief in god' requires faith because there is no evidence.

At some point the definitions of terms must be agreed on in order to have intelligent conversation. Ideas are built like houses on the foundations of understood and accepted concepts. Always start a conversation with strangers with first principles stated in the most basic terms.

I believe the beauty of the English language is that any concept can be boiled down with one or more words to have specific meanings when used in context.
Yes Jacob, I think you got it. Thanks.
I thought the idea was a pretty simple one, and was surprised at some of the responses in opposition.
I liked your observation:
"Any good argument must start with first principles. That is so as to establish what the hell the argument is actually about. It seems to me from reading this whole thread that no one is really on the same page."

Yea, but that’s ok. I’ve taken a new perspective on agnosticism,
Found a web site with a subject we might discuss in the future:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_atheism
enjoyed a discussion
got insulted
was offered an opportunity to exercise patience
and got to practice writing.

SOOooooo what do you think about agnosticism?
The inevitable divergence of opinion about what constitutes atheism and what contitutes agnosticism seems sometimes to reflect an assumption that it all has to do with private, even solipsistic, cognitive activity rather than recognising that it can have a great deal to do with acting in the world. In many ways, agnosticism seems reasonable as an epistemic stance. It says, in my understanding, that a statement like 'God exists' is a challenge to the possibility of knowing, and that in that light the truth or falsity of the statement is unknowable or undecidable. However, there are many circumstances for many people in many cultural traditions where one is sometimes obliged to act as if the proposition were true of false, and that appears to invite a decision in the form of a probabilistic judgment about the likehlihood of the truth or falsity of the statement. Since I am an actor in the world, I find it more coherent to say that I'm an atheist.
"Atheism is the absence of faith" is right on. That is the point I've been trying to make, where faith is belief in something for which there is evidence to the contrary. The stronger the evidence to the contrary, the stronger the faith required to be convinced. By this definition, faith has no place among athiests, because it is the exact opposite.
ryan;
you are the last guy I want to disagree with, but when you write:
***"faith is belief in something for which there is evidence to the contrary."
I am of a different notion.

If you maintain “there is evidence to the contrary”, then you would have to be prepared to assert that evidence, and I’m not sure how effective trying to prove a negative has ever been.

That, and I’m not sure that there is any compelling evidence that god(s) does not exist.

However, I like your definition of atheism
"Atheism is the absence of faith"
better than the one I offered, which was:
atheism is the absence of faith in a supreme being”.

I am attracted to the more inclusive nature of your definition, as it aims us down the path to “deep atheism”, which I haven’t seen discussed yet here at A/N.
I don't think atheists should be bothered with trying to convert agnostics to atheism. Also Agnosticism is more about belief v. Knowledge than faith v. belief.

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