Ive noticed quite a few agnostics becoming quite vocal and opinionated recently with statements like "I dont know...and neither do you!". To me, agnosticism is exactly like any religion, twisting and rationalizing excuses for religion to be a viable alternative to reason, albeit with agnosticism a "live and let live" seems to more be the idea. What really gets me, though is that insipid argument in which they state that atheism requires as much faith as religion, and that Agnosticism is the only non-faith movement. Its BULLSHIT, of course. We are all atheists about the flying spaghetti monster and a celestial teapot, and yet we do not have "Faith" those things do not exist. Faith is a positive action where you believe in something that clearly does not exist. (the more clear it is that something exists, the less faith is required)

Anyway, I am as passionately anti agnostic as I am anti theist, because I see agnosticism as a gateway drug to religious delusion, and it only aids religion by turning a blind eye to it.

Thoughts? Am I alone in this? Should we ridicule agnostics on A/N until they leave or change their minds?

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To state that god is unknown or unknowable requires faith because one must believe in the possibility that god's existence warrants at least enough merit that one should be careful not to dismiss it out of hand.

I can't understand why you insist that this position 'requires faith'. It's not necessary. There are many mathematical conjectures that are thought to be true (or false) but haven't been proved yet (if they can be proved at all.) That's analogous to the agnostic position. Where a theist or atheist will say 'conjecture A makes/doesn't make sense', an agnostic will add '...but I can't prove it.' - and that's about it.
not exactly. The devil here is in the details. When we posit a scientific or mathematical conjecture, we have independently verifiable logic to at least bring us a few steps toward what conclusion is implied to us, and the theory gains steam as more evidence appears to reinforce.

With the god proposal, there is not even the slightest bit of evidence, nothing about it even begins to qualify as a reason to make any sort of hypothesis that is worthy of further research.

Without that distinction, we are thus compelled to expend energy allowing for the possibility of anything, and going out of our way to show respect to all manner of insanity that, in this case, is clearly harmful to our society and ability to move on. Of course we do not "know everything" or in many philosophical ways, we know nothing, but that does not mean we should simply go mentally blank as the agnostic would suggest.

All evidence suggests the earth is round, and even though there is an "agnostic" possibility our perception is off and the earth truly is flat, that is not going to have the slightest effect on my travel plans.
Exactly... Becca has it right. The two terms are not mutually exclusive. Atheism deals with belief(or more importantly the lack of it); whereas agnosticism deal with knowledge.

So a person can be an agnostic atheist: a person who does not know whether a god, or gods exist or not, and does not believe that they exist, due to insufficient evidence.

Or a person can be an agnostic theist: a person who does not know whether a god, or gods exist or not, and does believe in a god or gods based on faith(no evidence at all)

And then there are people who are gnostic theists, and gnostic atheists: both people who claim to know whether a god, or gods exist or not. Both their positions are not tenable).

Remember one term deals with knowledge(gnostic, agnostic), while the other deals with beliefs(theist, atheist)

Katalyzt
I personally cannot image finding it necessary to ridicule people over a difference that is more a disagreement regarding semantics than about anything substantive. Even Dawkins admits to not being completely able to rule out the existence of a god and has speculated openly about the possibility that we were designed (by another physical being). If a person doesn't believe in a god, yet prefers to refer to him/herself as an agnostic, then I don't know what your concern is personally. We nons have few enough things that hold us together as a community, we don't need to go looking for things to tear apart what little cohesion we do have. Being an atheist doesn't require one to be angry. Personally, if someone wants to call me an agnostic or an atheist, I really don't care.

Having said that, I have noticed elsewhere that there are people who have equated agnosticism with spirituality; these people are your woo-woo'rs and they really are probably theists and have no place here on A/N.
Marshall: Even Dawkins admits to not being completely able to rule out the existence of a god and has speculated openly about the possibility that we were designed (by another physical being).

Precisely. Because Dawkins is a scientist and understands scientific concepts. Atheism is a null hypothesis and nothing more. Extension on this is raw typhos. As repeated elsewhere -

Technically, we all are agnostics. Atheists just have the balls to stand by the null hypothesis until evidence disproves it, at which point we'll update our positions. Agnostics want to buy insurance just in case they fry. So in that respect, yes they are weenies.

"I believe there is no..." is not equivalent to "I have no belief that there is..."

Agnostics that argue this broken record Socratic line of thinking of "we're too smart to know that we know" have more in common with Ray Comfort than with atheists.

Groupies. Socrates groupies. That's agnostics for you.
Felch: Precisely. Because Dawkins is a scientist and understands scientific concepts. Atheism is a null hypothesis and nothing more. Extension on this is raw typhos. As repeated elsewhere -

This is essentially my point, the matter is entirely one of semantics; a matter that I personally cannot justify waging a campaign of intolerance to correct. At worst, you can criticize agnostics for being hyper-literal in the word they use to identify their religious leanings.

I can agree that agnostics who feel it necessary to berate atheists (or vice versa) over such a petty distinction are demonstrating theist-level degrees of self-righteousness, and that's worthy of criticism IMO. Ultimately I can't force myself to care about this whole agnostic/atheist things, and would be concerned about the direction of my life if I did. I think most of us have better uses of our time that to wage war against people with whom we are nearly in complete agreement.

Agnostics want to buy insurance just in case they fry. So in that respect, yes they are weenies.

I'm curious, which religion condemns atheists to hell and not agnostics?
I'm curious, which religion condemns atheists to hell and not agnostics?

Oh, they all do. It's just agnostics are still optimistic and wishy washy enough to hope an each way bet will help. The extra special hell is reserved for apatheists to whom god is completely and utterly irrelevant.
"I can agree that agnostics who feel it necessary to berate atheists (or vice versa) over such a petty distinction are demonstrating theist-level degrees of self-righteousness, and that's worthy of criticism IMO. Ultimately I can't force myself to care about this whole agnostic/atheist things, and would be concerned about the direction of my life if I did. I think most of us have better uses of our time that to wage war against people with whom we are nearly in complete agreement. "

Nicely put.
Religious nut-bar: "The pink elephants who are invisible all around us have told me to smash my head on my desk 30 times a day, and that will allow me to enter their bliss. If you ignore them, you will face eternal torture. Join me or die."

Agnostic:"well, there could be pink elephants, so go ahead and do/believe what you want, I respect your belief, for it could be true - but I personally am not a willing head smasher".

Atheist: "you are insane, you need psychiatric help, and should not hold a position of responsibility, such as being a politician, or teaching young children, or driving."

In a world where every other person was an "agnostic" the lunatics reign supreme.
What, precisely, does compassion have to do with anything Ryan said ? Or ethics for that matter ?

There are only two possible reasons to be able to reject the null hypothesis of there being no presence of god(s) -

1) Evidence that negates it, or

2) Faith

Agnosticism has no evidence to negate it, therefore agnostics must have faith in order to justify their ambiguity.

If there are other reasons I am unaware of, then I, and probably everybody else, would really like to know them.
I hope none of what I said could be construed as a personal attack or characterization of actual people, I am attacking ideas here, which I believe are fair game.
This debate has arisen many times, so here's a collection of what I've said before.
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(JBH) For myself, I like the position once presented in American Atheist magazine, I forget by whom: "atheism" is about what you believe, "agnosticism" is about what you claim to know. Thus there are four possible cases. You can be a gnostic theist, claiming to know that there is a god; you can be an agnostic theist, not claiming to know but believing anyway (this position is also called "fideism"); you can be a gnostic atheist, claiming to know that there is no god (for example, by claiming that all concepts of god so far offered are self-contradictory or incoherent); or you can be an agnostic atheist, not claiming to know but disbelieving (perhaps judging that the stories of gods are highly implausible, highly unlikely to be true).

Since many gods, and many different concepts of god, have been offered, the writer proposed that we should be "gnostic atheists" for all testable gods and "agnostic atheists" for all untestable gods.

We could claim to know the non-existence of Demeter and Neptune, since they were supposed to live in a palace on top of Mt. Olympus, and we can check that. But if someone speaks of the Ground of Being, or similar vague and untestable concepts, we remain agnostic but choose to pay it no mind until some evidence is offered.

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

To the question "Do you believe in God?" we should reply "Please define your terms... what do you mean by this 'God'? Is your 'god' detectable or testable in any way?" If it is not, we do not claim to know it does not exist, merely that we see no reason to think that it does, and no reason to care.

More important IMHO is the rejection of all claims of "divine revelation" delivered by human beings. This is what was important about Deism, historically. It effectively denied that any human being could speak or act with divine authority, thus denying any moral authority (denying any grounds for temporal authority) for monarchs and organized clergy. This denial is the essential precondition for religious liberty and democratic forms of government.

So, technically, the important rejection, the historically revolutionary rejection, was not of "god" but of "revelation", it was done not by atheists but by freethinkers.

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It pains me to see this debate going on. I suppose it will always return after some interval, like bad weather.

"Holier than thou" is a game that many people play, in many different ways. "More atheist than thou" is a strange way to play it, but some people do. IMHO, I don't think it is helpful.

Nonbelievers have called themselves by many different names- nullifidian, ignostic, rationalist, igtheist, as well as the more common atheist, agnostic, humanist, infidel, whatever.

They are all trying to make fine distinctions, that seem important to them for some reason.

"Theism" and "atheism" are matters of what you believe. "Gnostic" and "agnostic" are matters of what you claim to know. This is a real distinction. Most agnostics are either atheists or "functional atheists". But a few are fideists: "reliance on faith rather than reason in pursuit of religious truth." They acknowledge that there is no proof, perhaps they even acknowledge that there is no evidence, but they believe it anyway.

"Knowledge" and "belief" are not the same things. And what qualifies as "knowledge" is not a simple question. Does "knowledge" imply certainty? Does it imply truth? If you counted yourself as knowing what herbs were good for what ailments, and later found that you were mistaken, does this mean that you really didn't have knowledge, you just believed that you had knowledge? How do you know if you really know or not?

If "knowledge" is taken to imply certainty, then I would count myself as an agnostic on almost all subjects. I don't claim to know things, I take working hypotheses. But in ordinary conversation I call myself an atheist, because I'm pretty damn confident that gods are fictional. It is only when someone tries to play philosophy with me that I take the agnostic position.
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Bottom line: Atheists and agnostics (and infidels and nullifidians and skeptics etc) should be friends. Sniping at each other wastes our time and weakens our influence. The enemy is the folks who believe in some dogma or other, who apply dogma-based ethics and politics to the world.

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