Author Topic: What is an agnostic atheist?  (Read 1783 times)

AprilRose

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What is an agnostic atheist?
« on: September 26, 2009, 07:23:27 PM »
I am an agnostic atheist.
Some people tell me I can not be an agnostic and an atheist because it is impossible.

How do you explain agnosticism?

Tanker

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2009, 08:25:51 PM »
Gnostic = knows
theist = believes
a = don't

so an agnostic does not know if there is a god and an atheist does not believe there is a god. An agnostic atheist does not know if god exists but does not believe one does.

Most Atheists are actually agnostic atheists. Heck Richard Dawkins is an Agnostic Atheist though he has his own grading system.

You can actually be either an gnostic or agnostic theist or gnostic or agnostic atheist
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(my spelling, grammer, and punctuation suck, I know, but regardless of how much I read they haven't improved much since grade school. It's actually a bit of a family joke.

Whitney

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2009, 11:48:24 PM »
Quote from: "AprilRose"
Some people tell me I can not be an agnostic and an atheist because it is impossible.

Are they confused by what agnostic means or by what atheist means?  

Tanker defined agnostic correctly.

Some people think that atheist means someone who actively denys the possibility of a god rather than someone who does not believe in one.  However, the most common definition of atheist is one who does not believe in a god and strong(gnostic) /weak(agnostic) are basically used to describe how that person feels towards the idea of being able to prove their view.

Basically, anyone who says you can't be agnostic and atheist at the same time are wrong.  Check this out:
Quote
  1. Strong Theist: I do not question the existence of God, I KNOW he exists.
   2. De-facto Theist: I cannot know for certain but I strongly believe in God and I live my life on the assumption that he is there.
   3. Weak Theist: I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.
   4. Pure Agnostic: God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.
   5. Weak Atheist: I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.
   6. De-facto Atheist: I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there.
   7. Strong Atheist: I am 100% sure that there is no God.
http://christophersisk.com/dawkins-belief-scale-images/

On the Dawkins scale you are a 6 or 7 (depending on which one you agree with) and Dawkins is a 6. There don't seem to be many 7s out there.

rlrose328

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2009, 07:50:17 AM »
Can anyone technically BE a 1 or a 7?

I'd say I'm a 6 with 7 leanings.  ;-)
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AlP

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2009, 07:59:40 AM »
Quote from: "rlrose328"
Can anyone technically BE a 1 or a 7?

I'd say I'm a 6 with 7 leanings.  ;-)
I think, ironically, that is is possible to believe that one is a 1 or a 7. That is, to believe that one knows that deities do or do not exist. I'm making the usual philosophical distinction between belief and knowledge.

Out of interest, does anyone here know anything? I sure don't.
"I rebel -- therefore we exist." - Camus

Tanker

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2009, 11:45:22 AM »
Quote from: "AlP"
Quote from: "rlrose328"
Can anyone technically BE a 1 or a 7?

I'd say I'm a 6 with 7 leanings.  ;-)
I think, ironically, that is is possible to believe that one is a 1 or a 7. That is, to believe that one knows that deities do or do not exist. I'm making the usual philosophical distinction between belief and knowledge.

Out of interest, does anyone here know anything? I sure don't.

That's easy. I know I exist.
"I'd rather die the go to heaven" - William Murderface Murderface  Murderface-

I've been in fox holes, I'm still an atheist -Me-

God is a cake, and we all know what the cake is.

(my spelling, grammer, and punctuation suck, I know, but regardless of how much I read they haven't improved much since grade school. It's actually a bit of a family joke.

AlP

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2009, 08:17:43 PM »
Quote from: "Tanker"
Quote from: "AlP"
Quote from: "rlrose328"
Can anyone technically BE a 1 or a 7?

I'd say I'm a 6 with 7 leanings.  ;-)
I think, ironically, that is is possible to believe that one is a 1 or a 7. That is, to believe that one knows that deities do or do not exist. I'm making the usual philosophical distinction between belief and knowledge.

Out of interest, does anyone here know anything? I sure don't.

That's easy. I know I exist.
Yeah that's a good one. A ramble about Descartes' "I think, therefore I am"... I'm a little uncomfortable with that idea. What is this "I" he's referring to? I think he just assumed it. If you want to do philosophy without taking humans into account (which is comical but it's what Descartes' did), I prefer the more general "it think, therefore it exists".

Why would this count as knowledge as opposed to regular belief. Why is it special? Why should we be gnostic "I-ists"?
"I rebel -- therefore we exist." - Camus

Renegnicat

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2009, 06:59:44 PM »
Descartes didn't actually go far enough. The correct conclusion of the thought experiment is thus:

1. There is perception. (Objects)
2. There is perception of perception. (awareness)
3. Thus, there is something that percieves. (self)
4. There is perception of perception that changes in a way that implies that that particular perception also percieves, and percieves perception. (Sentient Beings and other points of view.)

Simple, no?  :drool
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Invidy

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2009, 03:24:54 PM »
http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_1.htm

Evilbible doesn't believe in agnostic atheists.

Personally I don't believe in the Evilbible.

Chimera

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2009, 05:01:32 PM »
This is one of the better ways I've seen this explained. It even has pictures for visual people like me.

http://freethinker.co.uk/2009/09/25/8419/
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nikkmichalski

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2009, 05:59:52 PM »
To be frank, agnosticism is quite annoying to me. The statement that "we can't know" makes no sense to me. It's like the IPU. We have no idea whether or not the Unicorn is invisible and pink simultaneously, or that there is a Unicorn at all. It really can be applied, no matter how ridiculous the example. I can't quite remember who came up with this example, but it involved the inside of a watermelon turning red (from blue) as soon as you cut it. No matter how fast you cut it, it's still red! But I swear, if you look real hard, you may be able to see a tinge of purple...

On the bright side, I'd take an agnostic over a Fundamentalist any day.
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AlP

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2009, 06:19:39 PM »
Quote from: "Renegnicat"
Descartes didn't actually go far enough. The correct conclusion of the thought experiment is thus:

1. There is perception. (Objects)
2. There is perception of perception. (awareness)
3. Thus, there is something that percieves. (self)
4. There is perception of perception that changes in a way that implies that that particular perception also percieves, and percieves perception. (Sentient Beings and other points of view.)

Simple, no?  :drool
Do you read Sartre? Point 4 is exactly the kind of thing he would write!
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For Sartre this attitude is manifestly self-deceiving. As human consciousness, we are always aware that we are not whatever we are aware of - we cannot, in this sense, be defined as our 'intentional objects' of consciousness, including our facticity of personal history, character, bodies, or objective responsibility. Thus, as Sartre often repeated, 'human reality is what it is not, and it is not what it is' (An example would be if one were now a doctor but wished and started to "transcend" to become a pig farmer, one is what one is not-a pig farmer- not who one is-a doctor) : it can only define itself negatively, as 'what it is not'; but this negation is simultaneously the only positive definition it can make of 'what it is'.
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LoneMateria

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2009, 04:16:29 AM »
Quote from: "nikkmichalski"
To be frank, agnosticism is quite annoying to me. The statement that "we can't know" makes no sense to me. It's like the IPU. We have no idea whether or not the Unicorn is invisible and pink simultaneously, or that there is a Unicorn at all. It really can be applied, no matter how ridiculous the example. I can't quite remember who came up with this example, but it involved the inside of a watermelon turning red (from blue) as soon as you cut it. No matter how fast you cut it, it's still red! But I swear, if you look real hard, you may be able to see a tinge of purple...

On the bright side, I'd take an agnostic over a Fundamentalist any day.

There are different types of agnosticism and like most things dealing with religion there are different meanings for it.  There are the fence sitters who say they don't know and until they know they refuse to form an opinion on God, this is typically used as a halfway house between theism and atheism.  There are a certain kind of agnostics who make the claim "we cannot know if there is a God" (how do they know this) and thus refuse to make a decision on it either way.

Also I believe Christopher Hitches subscribes to agnosticism and atheism/theism are mutually exclusive and that my above examples are wrong.  Which on a level he is right there is only theism (the belief in at least one god) and a-theism or not-theism.  There is no room for agnosticism in there by common definition of agnosticism you are in the group of non-theist (atheist).

If you claim to be agnostic you really are just an atheist because you don't have confidence in the claim that there is a god or gods.  You don't accept the claim there is at least one god just because you are not sure, and if you don't have confidence in the claim then you can not be a theist since theism is having confidence in that claim.  Therefore calling yourself an agnostic is really just saying you don't have the stones to say you are an atheist (unless you haven't read this and now you have no excuse not to call yourself an atheist).
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AnOverThinker

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2009, 12:55:39 PM »
Quote from: "AlP"
I prefer the more general "it think, therefore it exists".

Ugh, this is the exact thought I have had in my head for awhile now, except I (somehow) hadn't been able to put it into words.

Thanks  :cool:

I recommend "I am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter, if you're interested in (yet) another discussion about the subject.

As for the OT, I think those of us who would say we're "agnostic atheist" are just concerned about our inability to claim things that we don't know. I can't tell you that there isn't a God (or Gods) hiding in the clouds of Jupiter. Can you? What about a God hiding at the center of the Milky way? What about an invisible one that is above your very head, right now? Can you claim to know these things? Of course not. Which is why we must say that we don't know, or are an "a"gnostic atheist.

Of course, such a concern might be silly, I agree. We'd have to be omniscient to claim something doesn't exist. But I think acknowledging our limitations is better than pretending they don't exist, no?

nikkmichalski

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Re: What is an agnostic atheist?
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2009, 08:19:47 PM »
Quote from: "LoneMateria"

There are different types of agnosticism and like most things dealing with religion there are different meanings for it.  There are the fence sitters who say they don't know and until they know they refuse to form an opinion on God, this is typically used as a halfway house between theism and atheism.  There are a certain kind of agnostics who make the claim "we cannot know if there is a God" (how do they know this) and thus refuse to make a decision on it either way.

Also I believe Christopher Hitches subscribes to agnosticism and atheism/theism are mutually exclusive and that my above examples are wrong.  Which on a level he is right there is only theism (the belief in at least one god) and a-theism or not-theism.  There is no room for agnosticism in there by common definition of agnosticism you are in the group of non-theist (atheist).

If you claim to be agnostic you really are just an atheist because you don't have confidence in the claim that there is a god or gods.  You don't accept the claim there is at least one god just because you are not sure, and if you don't have confidence in the claim then you can not be a theist since theism is having confidence in that claim.  Therefore calling yourself an agnostic is really just saying you don't have the stones to say you are an atheist (unless you haven't read this and now you have no excuse not to call yourself an atheist).

My thoughts exactly.  :typehappy:
Ford: "It's unpleasantly like being drunk."
Arthur: "What's so unpleasant about being drunk?"
Ford: "You ask a glass of water." -- Douglas Adams, H2G2
"'Why is it you never mentioned any of this before the plane crash?'...'I didn't think the time was ripe.' " [emphasis delightfully Vonnegut's] -- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-5