Atheism 101: What is agnosticism....really?

Mar 19, 2010 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: Examiner.com

I once met a Humanist minister who called himself agnostic. When I told him I was an atheist, he said, "atheists are rude." I've never forgotten the irony in that remark and still laugh inwardly at it today.

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#1
Mar 19, 2010
 
Agnosticism is 'pascality'; a two-sided bet...if there is a god, I can slip thruogh; if there is no god, well, at least I covered my ass...pathetic...
NotBuyingIt

Mesa, AZ

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#2
Mar 19, 2010
 
Well - the article was addressing the fact that 'theists'*believe* they have knowledge - when they can not prove they do.

"The gnostics claimed knowledge they didn't have. Nobody has it. The very idea of the word agnosticism is redundant."

In other words - does 'agnostic' apply when someone *thinks* they have knowledge - or when they do and can prove it.

We are all actually 'agnostic' in the most strict and literal sense of the word - none of us can prove god exists and no on can prove any gods existence to be impossible.

But is agnosticism an easy out for some? Sure its not only possible but likely with all the people in this world. It can also be the ultimate non-commital position for some.
'should we be so committed on any ideas'- is the jist I got from the argument. And I would have to agree that we should not, when speaking about 'god' in a general sense.

I am not necessarily atheist toward ANY gods in the general sense or concept - just the ones I have heard about. To me that's the only rational position anyone can take.

But most here - are usually referring to the god of the bible - in which I am more atheistic about.
nina

Ottawa, Canada

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#3
Mar 19, 2010
 
NotBuyingIt wrote:
... no on can prove any gods existence to be impossible.....
well, when the odds are the closest thing to impossible......

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

Since: Dec 06

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#4
Mar 19, 2010
 
Good article.

Sadly? The majority rules, when it comes to language.(usually)

I.e. a living, in-use language evolves over time, with the population that is actually using it.

As such, the majority-meaning of "atheism" means "active 100% certain belief there is no god".

Now, I, like the vast majority of **freethinkers** reject this lame definition as false.

As the excellent article pointed out in the end, atheism **really** means a lack OF belief, including belief in god(s).

And, according to that definition, I, too fit quite well in 'atheism' cagegory.

Unfortunately, the majority of people do NOT use that definition, but the "wrong" one instead: active **faith** that there are no gods, anywhere, anytime anyhow.

Which is why you'll often seem be deny being an "atheist". You'll notice, I never deny being one, if an actual freethinker asks or accuses me of being without faith in god (proper atheism).

But, if a faith-based commenter asks or accuses me of **believing** there are no gods?*THAT* I vehimenently deny-- I've no proof, you see.

I suppose you *could* call me a "proofist", i.e. someone who requires proof.

Or an "evidencist",'one who requires evidence'-- that's one's slightly better.

How about 'empiricist'? that is an actual real word, and fits rather well...

empiricist is derived from empiricism:

em·pir·i·cism n.

1. The view that experience, especially of the senses, is the only source of knowledge.

2.
a. Employment of empirical methods, as in science.
b. An empirical conclusion.
nina

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#5
Mar 19, 2010
 
I think it's because people who cling to religion think that they have certainty

and in certainty world, there are only 2 options - on or off

so, you either believe that there is

or you beleiver that there isn't

somehow, that we do not beleive anything, is beyond them

“No Bishop,No King,No Nobility”

Since: May 08

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#6
Mar 19, 2010
 
Definition-wise it's having no knowledge of god(s).

Historically, it's one without gnosis, and while gnosis is technically "knowledge of god(s)", agnosticism was a direct response to religious sects that specifically declared themselves gnostics, so at the time it was not simply a statement of not having knowledge of god(s), but one of not being a member of a "gnostic" sect.

Sociologically, it's a common position taken to avoid the social ramifications of declaring ones self an atheist, even though it stands to reason one that claims not to know also lacks the certainty to claim belief.

Psychologically, it's a common position taken out from fear of stating that one does not believe, either the fear of social ramifications, the fear of what a god might do if they say they don't believe and it turns out to exist, or both.

Also, it can be a position taken by someone who {wants} to believe that there is something out there, even though they find no reason; in contrast from those that fear social ramifications of from stating they don't believe, some would also like to avoid the intellectual ramifications of stating they believe in something they can not know.

Ultimately, one way or another, it's a shield, and a dodge. It does not answer the question of belief, at all, yet is almost exclusively reserved as an answer to the question of belief; it does not answer that question; it avoids it.

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

Since: Dec 06

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#7
Mar 19, 2010
 
nina wrote:
I think it's because people who cling to religion think that they have certainty
and in certainty world, there are only 2 options - on or off
so, you either believe that there is
or you beleiver that there isn't
somehow, that we do not beleive anything, is beyond them
Yes-- it is completely beyond their world-view, which is entirely based on belief.

We know this, because if they **had** studied logic, science and the like?

They would not be believers any more-- or at least not fundie-believers.
nina

Surrey, Canada

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#9
Mar 19, 2010
 
Bob of Quantum-Faith wrote:
<quoted text>
because if they **had** studied logic, science and the like?
They would not be believers any more--
the Julie Sweeny video had a great line - the more I looked into religion, the more questions I had

but when I researched science, the more answers that I had
Big Al

Clearlake, CA

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#10
May 6, 2010
 
I disagree. The term agnostic is not at all meaningless. It means I don't know. It signifies humility. Mrs. Narciso says "Atheism is 'without belief in gods.' That's it. Nothing more. Nothing less." I don't believe that is true at all. All of the people that I know who call themselves atheists flat out deny that there is a god. That makes them gnostics in the same sense as religious gnostics. They think they know. She is however, correct in saying, "There is no agnosis--simply by virtue of the fact that we are all agnostic." Simply put, nobody really knows.

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

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#11
May 6, 2010
 
nina wrote:
<quoted text>
the Julie Sweeny video had a great line - the more I looked into religion, the more questions I had
but when I researched science, the more answers that I had
Oooh, that's good.

...thanks!
Proteus

Saint Paul, MN

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#12
May 18, 2010
 
Big Al wrote:
I disagree. The term agnostic is not at all meaningless. It means I don't know. It signifies humility. Mrs. Narciso says "Atheism is 'without belief in gods.' That's it. Nothing more. Nothing less." I don't believe that is true at all. All of the people that I know who call themselves atheists flat out deny that there is a god. That makes them gnostics in the same sense as religious gnostics. They think they know. She is however, correct in saying, "There is no agnosis--simply by virtue of the fact that we are all agnostic." Simply put, nobody really knows.
Hear, hear! Some folks think agnostics are people who are too wimpy to decide if they believe in a god or not. It's more of an epistemological position--the idea that nobody can truly know anything about any supernatural realm that can't be dealt with empirically.

The good thing about agnosticism is that if nobody really has The Truth, than anybody's guess is as good as anybody else's. My belief system is as good as Billy Graham's or Pope Palpatine's or the Dalai Lama's. Basically, I'm free to believe in whatever the hell I want to believe. That's why I tend to call myself a 'freethinker'...

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

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#13
May 18, 2010
 
Proteus wrote:
<quoted text>
Hear, hear! Some folks think agnostics are people who are too wimpy to decide if they believe in a god or not. It's more of an epistemological position--the idea that nobody can truly know anything about any supernatural realm that can't be dealt with empirically.
The good thing about agnosticism is that if nobody really has The Truth, than anybody's guess is as good as anybody else's. My belief system is as good as Billy Graham's or Pope Palpatine's or the Dalai Lama's. Basically, I'm free to believe in whatever the hell I want to believe. That's why I tend to call myself a 'freethinker'...
<nods head in agreement>
Proteus

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#14
May 18, 2010
 
Bob of Quantum-Faith wrote:
<quoted text>
<nods head in agreement>
I could start a Church of the Freethinker, but I'm afraid the congregation would just wander away ;)

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

Since: Dec 06

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#15
May 18, 2010
 

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Proteus wrote:
<quoted text>
I could start a Church of the Freethinker, but I'm afraid the congregation would just wander away ;)
<LOL>

Chances are pretty good you're correct.

Kinda like herding cats... sure, it can be done, but you'll get scratched to sh!t, and the cats will hate you for having tried.

:)
NotBuyingIt

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#16
May 18, 2010
 
Big Al wrote:
I disagree. The term agnostic is not at all meaningless. It means I don't know. It signifies humility.
Sure... its the only rational position to take.
To know something rationally, you must have evidence to support that 'knowledge'.
Big Al wrote:
Mrs. Narciso says "Atheism is 'without belief in gods.' That's it. Nothing more. Nothing less." I don't believe that is true at all. All of the people that I know who call themselves atheists flat out deny that there is a god.
And you've met enough to be considered enough of a sample to state that as some 'majority'?

I know of NO ONE here that will make such an absolute blanket statement about *any* god.... but will make it about *particular* gods.

You do too right?- surely you do not believe Zeus exists?

And while such absolute claim is atheistic, a more broad definition exists to include those who say 'probably does not exist'.
Big Al wrote:
That makes them gnostics in the same sense as religious gnostics. They think they know.
Anyone who claims 'knowledge' one way or the other regarding the existence of 'god' is most certainly delusional.
Big Al wrote:
She is however, correct in saying, "There is no agnosis--simply by virtue of the fact that we are all agnostic." Simply put, nobody really knows.
We never really *know* when someone is guilty of murder even when we send them to their death, we are forced to collect evidence and determine if the evidence supports the idea of a particular persons guilt.

This system of evidence is the best we can do under the circumstances - and anyone rational will admit there are potential flaws... does that mean we should not convict people of murder because of it?

Atheists, in one way or another assign a probability that is somewhere between 'belief' and 'do not believe'- than favors the 'do not believe'- this 'probability' infers NOT absolution, but room for 'possibly'.

We all do that for many things in life, atheists just do it for theological subjects... Why shouldn't we??... its the *best* we can do.

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

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#17
May 18, 2010
 

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NotBuyingIt wrote:
<quoted text>
Sure... its the only rational position to take.
To know something rationally, you must have evidence to support that 'knowledge'.
<quoted text>And you've met enough to be considered enough of a sample to state that as some 'majority'?
I know of NO ONE here that will make such an absolute blanket statement about *any* god.... but will make it about *particular* gods.
You do too right?- surely you do not believe Zeus exists?
And while such absolute claim is atheistic, a more broad definition exists to include those who say 'probably does not exist'.
<quoted text>Anyone who claims 'knowledge' one way or the other regarding the existence of 'god' is most certainly delusional.
<quoted text>We never really *know* when someone is guilty of murder even when we send them to their death, we are forced to collect evidence and determine if the evidence supports the idea of a particular persons guilt.
This system of evidence is the best we can do under the circumstances - and anyone rational will admit there are potential flaws... does that mean we should not convict people of murder because of it?
Atheists, in one way or another assign a probability that is somewhere between 'belief' and 'do not believe'- than favors the 'do not believe'- this 'probability' infers NOT absolution, but room for 'possibly'.
We all do that for many things in life, atheists just do it for theological subjects... Why shouldn't we??... its the *best* we can do.
<also nodding head in agreement>

(...yeah, I know... I'm all over the place....)

:P

“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

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#18
May 18, 2010
 

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The best sampling of atheists that I know of are the regulars on the Topix atheism forum, and most of us are agnostics who assess the probability of any deity existing to be slim to none. Others have a "who knows, who cares" attitude.

There are also agnostics who lean the other way, acknowledging that God's existence cannot be substantiated, but still adhering to the faiths of their childhoods.

Agnosticism is an important first step in assessing the world logically and rationally, but it is not the last. It opens the mind to a huge array of possibilities that cannot be considered when shackled by faith. Tackling that task leads to atheism more often than not.
Big Al

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#19
May 19, 2010
 
[QUOTE who="NotBuyingItI know of NO ONE here that will make such an absolute blanket statement about *any* god.... but will make it about *particular* gods.
You do too right?- surely you do not believe Zeus exists?
And while such absolute claim is atheistic, a more broad definition exists to include those who say 'probably does not exist'.
Atheists, in one way or another assign a probability that is somewhere between 'belief' and 'do not believe'- than favors the 'do not believe'- this 'probability' infers NOT absolution, but room for 'possibly'.
[/QUOTE]
I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. Are you suggesting that there are atheists that do accept the possibility of the existence of some particular gods? That would seem to contradict the definition of atheism. "One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods." American Heritage Dictionary

If you don't deny any possible existence of a higher power I don't think you can legitimately call yourself an atheist.(You’re more of an agnostic.)

Also, you are correct; I do not believe that Zeus exists, but Zeus is only a human concept of a higher power in the same sense as Yahweh or the Father in Heaven. I don't think any human concept of a higher power is correct but I don't deny the possible existence of a higher power.

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

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#20
May 19, 2010
 
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. Are you suggesting that there are atheists that do accept the possibility of the existence of some particular gods? That would seem to contradict the definition of atheism. "One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods." American Heritage Dictionary
The vast MAJORITY of atheists so accept this possibility.

All they ask is PROOF.

And?

Don't believe everything you read-- it may not accurately reflect actual reality.

For example, if you REALLY want to know what Inuit People like to do? ASK AN INUIT--!
Big Al wrote:
If you don't deny any possible existence of a higher power I don't think you can legitimately call yourself an atheist.(You’re more of an agnostic.)
Even Richard Dawkins says, "Probably no god".

Again? You are projecting false meanings of words onto people who do not accept them.
Big Al wrote:
Also, you are correct; I do not believe that Zeus exists, but Zeus is only a human concept of a higher power in the same sense as Yahweh or the Father in Heaven. I don't think any human concept of a higher power is correct but I don't deny the possible existence of a higher power.
Neither do I.

On the other hand? It's easily possible to prove various human-created gods are fake-- such as the biblegod, or the mormongod, or the quorangod.

All you need do, in each case, is prove the various books in question are not what they claim-- easy.

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

Since: Dec 06

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#21
May 19, 2010
 
Oh look-- I got awarded peanuts from godbots.

Ain't it nice to be loved?

:ROFL:

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