Monicks: Unleashed

Thinking Critically

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So, surely you’re agnostic?

That’s the reply I got to this tweet:

Sigh…

Because it does not matter how many times people explain this, or how many blogs have this topic somewhere featured, there’s always room for another Atheism vs. Agnosticism explanation. Hopefully one of these will, at some point, stick with you!

If you ask me about my religion, I will say: “None, I am an atheist.” But I won’t tell you that I’m also a Skeptic, a Humanist — a Secular Humanist, a Freethinker, a Rationalist, an Egalitarian, and also an Agnostic.

The misconception is unbelievably widespread and I have addressed it before, more than once, in different contexts and mediums. Atheism and Agnosticism are not mutually exclusive.

Let me break it down for you:

Atheism is about (lack of) belief.

Atheists The existence a god (any deity) is improbable, atheists find no reason to *believe* a god exists.

Agnosticism is about knowledge.

Agnostics: The existence or non-existence of god (or any deity) is unknown and possibly unknowable.

So in this sense we are all agnostics, because nobody can prove (yet?) the existence or nonexistence of a god, therefore nobody can *know* for sure. That, technically, makes you, by definition, an Agnostic. That’s how we get Agnostic Atheism and Agnostic Theism.

Now, if you consider yourself an agnostic, that means (to me, anyway) that your belief in the existence of a god is, to say the least, very weak so, you’re almost an atheist in my book. (◕‿~)✿

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3 Responses to So, surely you’re agnostic?

  1. Kwame says:

    Spoon-feeding logic to those whose eyes are not yet open is like giving keys to the car to the blind.

  2. Jim says:

    You started out okay by stating that atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive. But how you ended your post was incorrect. It is not true that because the existence of a god or gods has yet to be proven (I’ll ignore the fact that you implied that it might be possible to prove the nonexistence of a god–it’s not) that everyone is an agnostic.

    Agnosticism is an individual position on whether the existence of a god is known or can be knowable. Even though it is almost certainly true that no human has ever had a definite knowledge of god, you can’t paint all of humanity with the agnostic brush. Some people don’t think that way and they are called gnostics. They are likely to be factually wrong about their claim but that doesn’t make them any less gnostic (in their own minds).

    Also, you ended your post by saying that agnostics have a weak belief in god. Again, that is not necessarily true. An agnostic can be a theist or an atheist. The gnosis part (as you defined yourself) pertains to knowledge and possible knowledge; not belief or disbelief. Your last sentence seemed to imply that agnostics are further down a path towards atheism; not necessarily.

    Somehow you started with the understanding that the two are not mutually exclusive and then provided statements that contradicted that understanding.

  3. Niriel says:

    It is actually possible to prove the inexistence of God. I often hear/read “one cannot prove a negative” but this is not true. You can search my backyard for a very long time and conclude that it contains no dinosaur. The longer you search, the more certitude you build. It’s not going to be 100% (the dinosaur is somehow able to doge every gaze and erase every pawprint) but it’s going to be pretty damn close and you can disregard the “bad luck” hypothesis. You can get as close as “If you drop a pen, it falls down”; gravity has always worked so far, and the more we see pens fall, the more certitude we have that gravity exists and it’s not just luck.

    This can be put in equations with Bayesian inference: absence of evidence ACTUALLY IS evicence of absence (given enough time to reach the required certainty) as demonstrated in this surprisingly easy read: http://oyhus.no/AbsenceOfEvidence.html

    That probably puts me in the “gnostic atheist” category.

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