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Community => Life As An Atheist => Topic started by: monkeyNutBread on August 13, 2008, 02:31:03 AM

Title: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: monkeyNutBread on August 13, 2008, 02:31:03 AM
I was raised as a Christian and I eventually became agnostic. Most of the people here call themselves atheist, and I am wondering what exactly convinced you guys to make the jump from agnosticism to atheism (that is, assuming that you did just that). Even though I am sure that the God as the Bible describes it is not real, I just can't throw out the idea of some higher power. I mean, as unlikely as it is, there is just so much there is to know, and so many things that are possible that I can't completely reject the idea of a higher power, or a greater consciousness.

Maybe I am misunderstanding the definitions of agnosticim and atheism; if I am could someone explain it to me? Either way, I would like to know your reasons for being atheist rather than agnostic.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Whitney on August 13, 2008, 02:58:23 AM
Welcome to the forum, monkey.

There is actually some debate over if atheist means someone who knows that a god does not exist and/or denies that one exist or if atheist means someone who does not believe in god.  Imo, since most people who call themselves atheist consider it to mean someone who simply doesn't believe in gods, then common usage dictates that's what it means.  As far as what it was meant to mean originally, that's debatable.  

Here's a little list I put together to try and define atheist agnostic etc:
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=830 (http://www.happyatheistforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=830)

You'll see in that link that there are terms such as strong and weak atheism that basically exist to clarify viewpoints.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: rlrose328 on August 13, 2008, 05:15:24 AM
If I'm pushed, I will admit that agnostic fits me best... even the hubby will do so.  Honestly, no one knows for sure, so agnostic is the most accurate descriptor.

However, based on all of the information currently available, I can honestly say that I'm so sure there is no god, I describe myself as atheist.  I no longer waste time wondering and pondering and debating.  For me, there is no such thing as god... therefore, I'm an atheist.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Msblue on August 13, 2008, 07:26:20 AM
I agree with the definition of atheist that defines it as a lack of belief in any gods. I've always been an Athiest. Early in my life, I realized the only reason for god was to fill in the gaps in our knowledge.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Asmodean on August 13, 2008, 09:48:10 AM
Quote from: "Msblue"
I agree with the definition of atheist that defines it as a lack of belief in any gods. I've always been an Athiest. Early in my life, I realized the only reason for god was to fill in the gaps in our knowledge.
...and/or to fill the pages in a poor Fantasy book. Well, two poor Fantasy books and one scroll. :D
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: monkeyNutBread on August 13, 2008, 06:24:35 PM
Depending on the definition, I guess that I am both atheist (in that I don't believe in a deity) and agnostic (in that I know it is impossible to guess either way about a god's existence). Then naming yourself either one is really just splitting hairs.

Thanks for the responses and clearing up my confusion.  :D
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Jolly Sapper on August 14, 2008, 10:12:43 PM
I decided to just stick with atheist when I kept realizing that the wanting idea of some grand supernatural force that makes the universe go 'round, or of a kind a fatherly/motherly anthropomorphic supernatural deity to be true were from self serving reasons.  

I wanted there to be some divine arbiter of justice, I wanted there to be a wonderful happy place were good people spent the rest of eternity in bliss, I wanted there to be some designed order and structure in the universe.  After realizing that when I thought about justice, or an afterlife, or god I kept using the word "want" it was time to finally accept that I just don't believe in some anthropomorphic supernatural deity(s).  

So here I sit, still unconvinced, waiting for an argument or proof that will completely change my view of the universe.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Reasoner on August 30, 2008, 02:15:02 AM
For me, it was never a question of waiting for an explanation or proof of god-- quite the opposite. I was waiting for an explanation of why people were talking about god as a reality in the first place. At some point pretty early in childhood/ school years, I wondered, "Why do people talk about god and santa claus? Do they think those things are real? Are they just lying? Why do they want to talk about this?

I know I'm not the only one who never saw any reality in god after reaching the mental age of reason. Who else had this experience?
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: susangail on August 31, 2008, 08:31:13 PM
I went from Christian to I-don't-know-what-the-hell-is-going-on, to atheist. I skipped the agnostic stage because the thought of living in the "I don't know" was taboo to me. I always "knew". I couldn't imagine not knowing.

Now, I consider myself an atheist in the sense that I have no belief in a god(s) and I don't care if one exists. I live like none exist. I can get a little annoyed with agnostics sometimes (at least the ones I've talked to, two of which are now atheists, hehe...) I don't think it's fifty-fifty whether or not a god exists. That's what the agnostics I have met have tried to convince me. I disagree. If a god's existence or lack thereof it's fifty-fifty, then the same goes for the IPU and Thor.

But that's just me. It's a fun topic to discuss.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Reasoner on August 31, 2008, 09:10:25 PM
For some reason I've thought very little about whether I care if god exists.  The existence of god never seemed possible to me. And the impossibility of god's existence is just reinforced by the fact that every single scripture follows the lines of how humans think, without even a remote suggestion of anything having originated from a unique and all-knowing entity. God is so obviously what people want, not what actually is.

When it comes to all the legends of what god does to errant humans, scriptures so closely reflect what people want to see done to those they consider "the wrong sort of people" that the tales of Divine Thinking and Divine Revenge become all the more laughable

Religious doctrines and dogma tell us nothing at all about proof of god's existence, but they tell us very much indeed about homo sapiens (to my mind, a much more interesting and puzzling subject).
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: tornado on September 01, 2008, 10:18:25 AM
The concept of a higher power is a fabrication of man. What better way to explain the things we don't understand? Herein lies the problem, we shouldn't be trying to explain the things we don't understand until we can understand them enough to put forward a useful explanation. Keep in mind that when Gods were first invented, they were attributed to things like rain, crop yield, and babies. We know now that there are perfectly logical explanations for these things, so we can cast aside the delusions of our ancestors.

To me, belief in a higher power is kind of like claiming you can accurately predict the end results of an experiment that's never been done before. We can not possibly explain the universe, because we simply don't have the knowledge. Until we have that knowledge, any belief that attempts to explain everything is just wild conjecture.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Steve Reason on September 05, 2008, 01:06:36 AM
I don't think an atheist will say that there couldn't be some force which I guess you could call a higher power, but just that such a thing would not fit what we think of as a god. My thing is religion. Even if there was a god, I wouldn't be religious. I believe an actual god would be nothing like our man made gods, and would find religion repugnant.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: myleviathan on September 05, 2008, 08:06:56 PM
I was raised to believe in one All Powerful God. When I realized that All Powerful God was a myth, it became very difficult for me to believe any others were any more reasonable than the first. I toyed with deism for a while, but I realized any belief in the supernatural really has no basis in fact. The universe seems to run independently all by itself, and we're made of the same stuff the universe is. It makes perfect sense to me there's no supernatural forces guiding the chaos we live in. It wasn't a difficult jump to atheism for me, once I let go of faith.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: dodgecity on September 05, 2008, 11:00:08 PM
I love the way Dawkins puts it. "Would you say that you are agnostic to the invisible flying unicorn? Of course not." (paraphrased) That's what helped me make the jump.

It's not an absolute certainty. It's a conclusion based on evidence we have at the moment.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Mister Joy on September 08, 2008, 07:35:20 PM
Quote from: "monkeyNutBread"
I was raised as a Christian and I eventually became agnostic. Most of the people here call themselves atheist, and I am wondering what exactly convinced you guys to make the jump from agnosticism to atheism (that is, assuming that you did just that). Even though I am sure that the God as the Bible describes it is not real, I just can't throw out the idea of some higher power. I mean, as unlikely as it is, there is just so much there is to know, and so many things that are possible that I can't completely reject the idea of a higher power, or a greater consciousness.

By that token, you can't dismiss the possibility of anything. You can't dismiss the possibility that this forum is populated entirely by bots and you're the only one here, or that you're living in the Matrix, or that your computer comes alive and paces up and down muttering to itself whenever you leave the room. That's why I'd make the jump. Though I've never really been an agnostic. I called myself that for a while but only because, at the time, I didn't know much about the various theistic philosophies or the arguments for and against them. I didn't want to officially commit myself to anything in ignorance, though I never had any reason to think god remotely plausible. I was simply giving theists the benefit of the doubt to see if I could find a scrap of evidence or straight reason to support their claims. Surprise surprise, I didn't.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: PipeBox on September 19, 2008, 02:05:28 AM
OP, I toyed with the idea agnosticism as its own belief for awhile, but now I don't see how that's possible.  Agnostic is a title for attachment to your personal beliefs or disbeliefs.  It's a way of saying that you are not so certain as to be dogmatic.  I'll say that personally, if a guy rises to power that wants to print 666 on our heads and hands, the armies of the world start gathering at megiddo hill, 4 unstoppable horsemen start riding around destroying the planet, and the dead awaken to be judged by Christ who is descending from heaven, count me a new member of the faith.  If an indisputable proof for god was found, I'd submit to the evidence along with most atheists, I believe.  But the evidence has to be there.  Being agnostic is to say "I am without knowledge, I don't know everything," and being atheist is to say "I am without belief in a god or gods."  If you don't actively practice a religion by the tenants that religion demands, you don't believe it.  Whether or not you believe in a god or gods or fairies that preside over those religions is admittedly another case, but it's to say that you believe in the deity of the religion you don't believe in.   My viewpoint is not airtight when it interacts with the different faiths, of course.  Take Christianity, they believe that all is forgiven so it's totally OK to give God the finger and do whatever you like, so long as you don't deny Him.  After all, he's the only reason you don't have to feel like a total ass for telling homosexuals they're going to hell, or the 8 year old girl who's father committed suicide will burn in hell for all eternity.

But this isn't meant to be a total dig on faith.  It goes both ways, saying you're an agnostic atheist, in my case.  For all I know, little, invisible, intangible furballs pull us toward all other objects that are surrounded by those invisible, intangible furballs.  They create giant chains that span the whole cosmos, these creatures, and the larger the object, or the closer it is, the more furballs are available to pull the two objects together.  I can't say it doesn't happen, as they are, after all, intangible and invisible.  But how would we describe their actions even if we can't perceive them?  Why, the same way we describe gravity now, because they would act exactly the same!  All other scientific theories and laws tell us how the universe acts and how we predict it may or may not act.  So, if god is mysteriously handling everything in such a perfect way as to make it appear that universe runs all on its own, well, he's kind of an ass . . .   Not to mention those dinosaur fossils and that billion-year-old light.  But just like I don't believe in any other mechanics of the universe that it seemingly doesn't require, I don't believe in any gods.  I can't know, after all.  Maybe God is an asshole.  I guess it would be his prerogative, as grandmaster of the universe.  I still won't believe until he makes it a bit more clear, because he made me that way.   :P

I think that wraps up my derailed rant.    :D
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: tim on September 20, 2008, 03:24:28 AM
Late getting in to this discussion...please forgive any repetition.
An atheist, I think, is someone who is aware of no evidence supporting the existence of a supernatural being commonly referred to as "god".
Just as I am aware of no evidence to support the existence of the tooth fairly, I know of no evidence to support the existence of a "god".

I think "agnostic" suggests that the the person describing himself with that term is unsure if there is any evidence supporting the existence of the supernatural, on the grounds that such evidence is not possible to know...is it possible to know whether or not the tooth fairly exists? I think so...I'm an atheist.  An agnostic is not sure...
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Ninja Donkey on September 22, 2008, 07:24:26 PM
IMO, there is a fine line in the difference between atheist and agnostic, just like there is a fine line in the difference between heavy metal and hardcore (this kinda stuff is what I'm into, sorry if it's Greek to anyone else). While to the untrained eye, metal and hardcore may seem like the same style, those who immerse themselves in the scene are able to decipher the subtle differences in tone, rhythm, vocals, etc. The difference between atheist and agnostic is the same. To anyone who doesn't know (or doesn't want to know) the difference, it's the same thing. However, those of us who live the lifestyle know which we are and which we aren't. And just like the defining lines between metal and hardcore can be blurred, so, too, can the lines defining atheism and agnosticism. What I'm driving at is for you to sink your teeth in, find out how other people define the lines, and come up with your own definition. I'm an atheist, even though I'm aware that the possibility exists, and there's no way to know for certain. The most important thing is to know and accept yourself for who and what you are.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: MariaEvri on September 23, 2008, 12:24:50 PM
Quote from: "Ninja Donkey"
To anyone who doesn't know (or doesn't want to know) the difference, it's the same thing. However, those of us who live the lifestyle know which we are and which we aren't. And just like the defining lines between metal and hardcore can be blurred, so, too, can the lines defining atheism and agnosticism. What I'm driving at is for you to sink your teeth in, find out how other people define the lines, and come up with your own definition. I'm an atheist, even though I'm aware that the possibility exists, and there's no way to know for certain. The most important thing is to know and accept yourself for who and what you are.

well I see it differently, although that could be just me. The way I know it, an agnostic issomeone who DOESNT know (a-doesn not have/not know gnosis - knowledge) but can still be leaning towards believeing and not believing. . While for me, an antheist is someone who 100% denies all chance of being a god. Someone who KNOWs there is no god.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Ninja Donkey on September 23, 2008, 01:30:38 PM
I was saying that for those first coming to terms with who they are, it's easy to confuse the two. I'm an atheist because I don't believe there is some supernatural force behind everything. However, I could be called an agnostic because I'm willing to admit that there is no way to know one way or another.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: rlrose328 on September 23, 2008, 04:30:11 PM
Quote from: "Ninja Donkey"
I was saying that for those first coming to terms with who they are, it's easy to confuse the two. I'm an atheist because I don't believe there is some supernatural force behind everything. However, I could be called an agnostic because I'm willing to admit that there is no way to know one way or another.

This is what we say here, too... For all intents and purposes, I am an atheist.  However, truly, I will never know one way or another while I'm alive on this earth, so technically, I'm agnostic.

But I hate using the label "agnostic atheist" for myself, so I stick with atheist.

I did label myself agnostic for many many years because I was afraid to actually use the term "atheist" for fear of alienating everyone I know.  I'm more comfortable with who I am and when Bush was re-elected, I did the jump for good.  And I've never been more comfortable with who I am.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Ninja Donkey on September 23, 2008, 09:29:25 PM
Quote from: "rlrose328"
when Bush was re-elected, I did the jump for good.  And I've never been more comfortable with who I am.

HA!
The man changed people's lives more than he knows...
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: rlrose328 on September 23, 2008, 10:56:15 PM
Quote from: "Ninja Donkey"
Quote from: "rlrose328"
when Bush was re-elected, I did the jump for good.  And I've never been more comfortable with who I am.

HA!
The man changed people's lives more than he knows...

Yup... if nothing else, he polarized the country and helped a lot of fence-sitting liberals and atheists fall off on one side or the other... most often, the liberal/atheist side.  And gotta thank him for that.   :banna:
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: SteveS on September 24, 2008, 01:03:18 AM
Hi gang - for what it's worth, I label myself an agnostic atheist because I don't believe there is a god but I'm not asserting this as a fact (or truth).  In other words, I can't find the argument to justify saying "I know there is no god".  So, I simply say "I don't believe the claims that there are any gods".  Which is certainly enough to qualify one as an atheist.
Title: Re: The Jump from Agnosticism to Atheism
Post by: Brian on October 01, 2008, 11:08:45 AM
Theism/Atheism dictates belief/non-belief.
Gnosticism/Agnosticism dictates knowledge/non-knowledge.

So, you can be a Gnostic Theist ("I know God exists!"), Agnostic Theist ("I don't know if God exists, but I think He does!"), Gnostic Atheist ("I know God doesn't exist!"), and Agnostic Atheist ("I don't know if there's a God, but I don't think there is!")

1 and 3 are inherently illogical, since absolute knowledge, in itself, is a fallacy.
2 and 4 are more logical, there are some that lean towards 2 and those than lean towards 4. I, and many others on this forum, just happen to go for number 4.