so... i guess i'll start a discussion... Since this group is called "agnostic atheists" i'll open up a question to the group. As an agnostic, i get a lot of flack from atheist friends of mine as to why i haven't "gone the whole way" in considering myself an atheist, or why i'm "wishy-washy" or possibly in "fear" of the atheist title. So i guess my question is... Is Agnosticism merely a "gateway drug" to atheism or is it it's own separate philosophical position?

because, i'm always been way more outspoken in my disdain for organized religion than most if not all of my atheist friends, so the notion of agnostics as "fence-sitters" kinda gets on my nerves, so i'd love to hear a convincing argument for or against this notion of the agnostics merely being "closeted" or "spinelesss" atheists. Lol! anyone pissed yet? Lol!

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I also call myself an agnostic, or more specifically, an agnostic atheist, and I recognize the misunderstandings of the meaning of the term agnostic that you describe. I have sometimes seen people presenting agnosticism as if it was some sort of middle ground between belief and non-belief and that it is therefore contradictory, which it probably would be if that was what it meant, but of course it's not and that's where the misunderstanding comes from.

Agnosticism means proclaiming lack of knowledge regarding the question of god. A necessary epistemological position in my view, at least if we take the definition of god as that which lies beyond the material, scientifically testable world (and I do hold that this definition is necessary since otherwise, god would escape the spiritual world and enter the scientific one, and we would no longer be talking about religious belief).

Now atheism can be, and certainly has been, defined in a number of different ways, but the most natural one for me is simple as lack of belief, as opposed to the presence of belief, neither of which entails certainty. Given these definitions, atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive terms. Instead, one refers to lack of knowledge, the other to lack of belief. It is possible to believe and feel certain that what you believe in exists (gnostic theism), to believe but not feel certain that what you believe in exists (agnostic theism), to not believe and feel certain that what you don't believe in is non-existent (gnostic atheism), and finally, to not believe and not feel certain that what you don't believe in is non-existent (agnostic atheism). (I borrow this definition of the terms from some diagram I saw on the internet, the source of which I don't know, if anyone knows the origin of these definitions, please point me to it.)

I therefore say that I'm both an atheist and an agnostic, an agnostic atheist.
interesting... to not believe (atheism) AND to not feel "certain" that what you disbelieve is or is not actually in existance (agnostic). well... i see where you come from, though i feel "belief" inherently comes with a degree of certainty even if there is no evidence to support it.

i'm having trouble wrapping my mind around how someone can believe in god but not have a level of certainty about it (regardless of what information they may or may not think they have). Same with disbelief. not sure how someone can TRULY say they don't believe in god, but not have some degree of certainty about it, no level of information (real or imagined) that helps them intellectually support such a belief.

for instance... i'm agnostic because i don't feel there's enough valid evidence to convince me that the probability of there being a supreme being is even close to a 50% likelyhood.

this is the exact reason why i'm not an atheist. i feel there's not enough valid evidence to convince me that the probability of there NOT being a supreme being is even close to a 50% likelyhood.

while theism is a belief claim in god, and atheism is a belief claim in lack of god, i've looked at agnosticism as a belief claim in that there's not enough evidence to make either conclusion. though religion is obviously man made.
i would like to retract my statement regarding there not being enough evidence to be at least 50% sure there is no god. i stand corrected on that. saying that would mean that there is equally as much evidence for as there is against the concept or idea of god. which i do not find to be true at all. at one time it was true, but that was a time when we thought the sun revolved around the earth. so... in truth i would have to say when all things are weighed... it has to be closer to 95% to 5% in favor of there most likely being no god. which to me makes you an atheist. though i'm sure agnostics would not want anyone to forget about that 5%, but still... the cards are just really stacked against a super-being carpenter with a beard and a knocked-up mom that never put out. i'm just not buyin that one... sorry.
Interesting that you would use a number such as 5% to be the "lack of knowledge" zone.

Consider that number in the context of the statistical incidence of say a couple of other certainties:
- 1 in 1,000,000,000 of a genetic match between unrelated individuals
- 1 in 11,000,000 of dying in a plane crash
- 1 in 100,000 risk of having ALS
- 1 in 32,000 (USA) of death by lightning (NOAA) in a lifetime
- 1 in 302 (USA) of contracting HIV/AIDS
- 1 in 150 8 yr olds (USA) have ASD (autism) CDC
- 1 in 20 or 5% probability (per your words) that some kind of gawd exists
- 1 in 14 men or 7% (.4% of women) have some form of colour blindness

Now, considering that agnostics generally find that there is some reasonably small chance of their being some kind of gawd... after all it can't be proven one way or another right??? How small a chance does it have to be to be considered AN INSIGNIFICANT probability?

The one in a billion chance of a genetic match during a criminal prosecution is still significant enough for juries to be told NOT to rely on this evidence alone.

Frankly my dear, on a probability basis, it seems you are indeed sitting in a fence if you believe that the chances of some gawd existing are at around the 5% you stated.

These probabilities all rely on concepts which offer concrete evidence. Since there exists NO concrete evidence of any gawds, that would make it statistically an insignificant (infinitely close to zero!) probability.

This is where things get dicey, agnostics seem to want to hang on to some significant percentage, whereas atheists are willing to say "heck, at those probabilities, I'm willing to say no". Of course, if someday in the distant future some shred of evidence pops up, then we'll reconsider.

Now this is just my opinion, but I disagree with Dawkin's belief scale. For a guy who understands the concept of burden of proof, he's giving an awful lot of credence to fence sitting agnostics... Anyone discussing DISbelief should put gawds at least in a 1:trillion range!
Well, with me, I said a lot of it on my profile explanation. We can judge any religious texts by the content of what is written. Thus, rejection of organized religions in general.

I do not think the mere possibility of some unknown conscious force behind creation of limitless time and space is that far out, considering our limited knowledge of the big picture. The fact that I still not only hold no theistic beliefs, but find all man made religious texts to be nothing more than interesting myths, and in essence, like most atheists, I say 'no proof, no God' should crush the 'fencesitter' accusations.

My uncertainty is only about a hypothetical being, that until I have evidence, doesn't affect my life at all. Also, lately I've been thinking that in order to move towards a more secular society, we will have to have more atheists who at least try to be tolerant. (Catch more flies....or converts.....with honey than vinegar.) Which is hard for me since I am QUICK to mock religion. I do think there are good morals even in most myths or religions. I love the altruism of Jesus, and the yin yang-opposing forces thing with Taoism. Part of the reason I am faster to use agnostic than atheism is just from my hatred of labels, and thinking that some of the hardcore atheists seem to be as cliquish as some fundie circles. Not sure if I did a great job of explaining everything I was thinking.
i think that was a great explanation actually. i feel the same way. in terms of trying to get theists to see the light though... i don't know about that. i'm pretty outspoken amongst my friends too... but i find that there is a larger number of folks that consider themselves to be "spiritual" or whatever, that i end up talking to often. when they actually lay out their beliefs, they tend to be either atheist or agnostic. though, they usually prefer the "spiritual" label because they're introverts that don't want to offend or have to debate anybody. many people just don't wanna stand up for what they believe in, and just won't until they absolutely have to make a choice. i can't tell you how many times i hear this every day on facebook... some people are just scared to death of what others might think of them and they'd prefer to just live a lie. i just don't get that.
I meant to reply earlier but I kept coming back on when the site was down or something I guess. Odd. Anyway, about the introvert thing and being afraid to offend......that goes beyond religion even. People are so afraid of not fitting in or being accepted that they are afraid to be themselves often times. This spans religion, gender, race, culture/subculture, political orientation, sexual orientation, yada yada. If people have something about them that might not be 'the norm', they just hide it or make it a non issue, in order to seem more 'normal'. (Because you are judged for being atheist, gay/bi, having too many tats/piercings, or just being too different than some status quo image/opinion)

I think a lot of it is just because, especially with our current economy, many just don't want more added drama, fighting or feeling like they are being judged than necessary. Minimal conflict to add to their shitty 9 to 5 existence. Kinda like saying 'life is hard enough as is, without making it more'.

I can see that line of thinking, though I'd rather cut off my own balls than pretend to be something I'm not.
Here's a video on YouTube that might help you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_rkoOlUtRU&feature=PlayList&.... The gist of his argument is that while you are an agnostic you can't honestly say that you believe in God therefore you're an atheist albeit an agnostic atheist. Basically, arguments like this point out that agnosticism just says that you don't know if there is a god but says nothing about what you believe.
I'd say that agnosticism is not in contrast with atheism, the two terms are orthogonal. The only thing I would like to add is that agnostics do not form a subset of atheists, it is quite possible to be an agnostic theist, or for that matter, some sort of agnostic who is not sure whether they believe or not. I do not see how lack of certainty entails lack of belief. The wikipedia article actually gives exactly the definition I prefer. I've seen some people defining agnosticism as "undecided", thus contrasting it with atheism which means the person has decided that they don't believe. This definition, however, does not take the etymology of the word into consideration (Greek: α- a-, without + γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge; from the Wikipedia page) which makes it clear that the word is intended to mean lack of knowledge.
I'm new to the group, but I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.

I was raised as a Lutheran. I lost interest in religion in my teens and just ignored the subject completely. In recent years I've called myself an Atheist, but not too long ago I decided that the Atheist title was a bit too "strong-minded" for me.

I'm a realist. First of all, I do not agree with ANY organized religion. It's a cop-out for people who are too lazy to think for themselves. I am not a theist because I do not believe in one super-being and I'm certainly not going to worship someone else's idea. When I look inside myself I can't honestly say I'm an Atheist either. I am NOT positive there is no god. I just don't know.

I need proof (that's the realist in me). If someone can show me concrete proof either way, then I'm all for it. I'm not a fence-sitter, I'm a skeptic. By definition, a skeptic is someone who "questions the authenticity of something". It's not that I can't DECIDE, it's just that I don't KNOW.
i respect that Deb. though... i'm not quite sure that to consider ones self an atheist you have to be proclaiming that you have absolute proof that there is no god. i think it has more to do with lack of belief.

i think it always comes back to unicorns. Lol! now.. if you ask me... i'll say i'm an atheist in regards to unicorns. i simply do not believe in them. though, i'm not saying without a shadow of a doubt that there is zero potential posibility that there are or ever were unicorns, and that i can prove that claim. i'm just saying i personally think it's rubbish.

now i know quite a few people who don't adhere to any specific religion or religious dogma, but they still believe in a higher being or a god or or something like that. but i think THAT is the difference... that belief. regardless of adhering to a particular religion or not, i think it has more to do with the question of supreme/supernatural beings. you either believe in imaginary people or you do not. in either circumstance it is impossible to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, but we all have the same exact scientific knowledge and life experience to go on. i think an individual either thinks there are invisable people or spirits that interact with our world or whatever... or they do not believe that. That's pretty much where i draw the line. Lol!
If you look up "atheist" at dictionary.com (my best friend), it calls the words "agnostic" and "skeptic" synonyms of the word atheist. I guess that was one person's interpretation, but if there are different terms, that surely means that there is a difference in beliefs (or lack there of).

I think atheists are as dead set that there is NO god, as theist are dead set that there IS. There's nothing wrong with being skeptical...it's why questions are asked and why discoveries are made.

Blind faith is blind faith. In order to move forward in life you've got to ask questions and seek (real) answers, otherwise we'd still be freezing our you-know-whats off because fire would have never been discovered.

No disrespect intended, believe me. I guess it's all in a person's interpretation of the words.

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