Agnostic, atheist, anti-theist, who’s right?

Feb 10, 2013


Discussion by: juwakali

It took me an embarrassingly long time to come to grips with the fact that religion has no truth to it. For some time after that I was OK with being labeled a catholic even though I had stopped going to church. As I became more aware of how the Catholic Church knowingly supports, protects, and encourages the worst in us. I was sure that I did not want to support such an organization in any way. I am now at the stage where I fell we cannot know whether god exists.

I call myself agnostic for this reason but is this the right position? Agnostic, atheist or anti theist is their a real differences or are they all the same depending on the definition of god. What is an anti theist anyway; can you be against something you don’t think exists?

81 comments on “Agnostic, atheist, anti-theist, who’s right?

  • 1
    DylanMeeus says:

    An atheist, or antitheist (atheist is just a contraction of the two words as far as I know), are people who are convinced that there is no higher diety. Using this term often provokes people, so in a religious environment most people wouldn’t go as far as calling themselves atheists.

    An agnostic however, is someone who’s not a religious person, and he doesn’t believe in God or a higher diety, but he does not rule out the possibility of it’s existance. In a religious environment this is often less “shocking”. However, I’m convinced there is no good but can’t rule out the possibility from a scientific point of view, I do call myself an atheist.

    From your description, you’re an agnostic.

    Hope this clears things up a bit! 🙂



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  • 2
    Lightnin says:

    Theist: Belief in a God or Gods.

    Atheist: Lack of a belief in God or Gods.

    Agnostic: Belief that it is impossible to know, with an absolute degree of a certainty whether or not a God or Gods exist.

    Gnostic: Belief that it is possible to know, with an absolute degree of a certainty whether or not a God or Gods exist.

    Anti-theist: Against a belief in God or Gods i.e. you think that believing in God is not good thing.

    Anti-religious: Against the organised belief in God i.e. you think that churches and their followers negatively impact on society etc.

    From what I can tell, you are an anti-religious, agnostic atheist. But you should feel free to call yourself what ever you like, call yourself agnostic if that’s what you feel most comfortable doing. Just remember by calling yourself just an agnostic, some people may assume you are not sure if God exists, that you think there is 50/50 chance etc.



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  • Atheist Experience #618 Matt Dillahunty on Strong Atheism

    Matt: Person A says I believe in fairies. They are fairy equivalent of a theist and anybody who doesn’t say I believe in fairies is the fairy equivalent of an atheist. I’m not only an atheist I’m a strong atheist or perhaps an anti-theist if you want it,
    and I’m that way for fairies. I don’t just not except the claim fairies are real, I except the claim fairies are not real. Because not only there are no evidence to support the claim fairies are real, all the evidence we ever found supports the claim fairies aren’t real. I mean you know, people have faked them, we understand more and more about how human thought processes work and how we tried to sway our ignorance with whatever explanations we can plug in there. And everything leads me to the conclusion: the most rational conclusion is that fairies don’t actually exist somebody made this up and it is something that has entered the culture as a meme and it is progressed and people have believed or not believed and I think it applies to fairies,…and gods…If I’m trying to convince you, for example If I say fairies don’t exist and I’m trying to convince you to that strong position I have the burden of proof. and the same is true if I was trying to convince people that gods don’t exist. I don’t adopt that position on the show. But when we’re talking about the claims of existence, existentialism claims of this is real, then the assumption is not X exist until we prove it wrong otherwise we’ve believed everything, it’s nothing exist until it is demonstrable….



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  • The dictionary says that atheism comes from the Greek “atheos” meaning “without god”. Atheism gets used to mean two slightly different things:

    1. holding the belief that gods do not exist

    2. not holding any belief that gods exist

    Sometimes these are called strong and weak atheism. A lot of religious people like to interpret atheist as meaning someone who knows of Gods existence and has rejected it so they can live a life of sin. Sometimes a more useful thing to say is “non-believer” or the phrase “I’m not a person of faith”.

    You sound like you are currently an agnostic.

    Michael



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  • In reply to #1 by DylanMeeus:

    An atheist, or antitheist (atheist is just a contraction of the two words as far as I know),

    No the dictionary says that atheism comes from the greek “atheos” meaning “without gods”. This is different to “against gods”.

    Type “dictionary atheism” into google.

    Michael



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  • 6
    Nunbeliever says:

    Well, it’s very easy. Do you believe in the existence of gods? If you do not then you are an atheist. Some like to hide behind meaningless words and definitions but this is what it means to be an atheist. I find it a bit surprising that former believers often find this difficult to understand. I mean, people call themselves theists if they believe in gods. This term does not require a person to be certain of the existence of gods. Some theists are certain others might think it’s probable. A-theism is just a term for a person who do not believe in gods. It does not matter whether you are certain or not. You are an atheist if you don’t believe in gods.

    The whole term agnostic is a very strange and in my opinion pointless term. As someone else pointed out an agnostic believes it’s impossible to attain information about gods. But, that really says little or nothing about whether a person actually believes in gods. It’s often used to describe a more soft approach towards atheism, but this is really a distortion from the original meaning of the word.

    The term anti-theism is often confused with a-theism (even on this very page among the comments). An anti-theist is a person who is against belief in gods, for whatever reasons. As strange at it might seem you don’t necessarily have to be an atheist in order to be an anti-theist. For example a devil worshipper could arguably be called an anti-theist, although misotheist might perhaps better describe such a person.



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  • 7
    DylanMeeus says:

    In reply to #5 by mmurray:

    In reply to #1 by DylanMeeus:

    An atheist, or antitheist (atheist is just a contraction of the two words as far as I know),

    No the dictionary says that atheism comes from the greek “atheos” meaning “without gods”. This is different to “against gods”.

    Type “dictionary atheism” into google.

    Michael

    I figured a much from an earlier post. But thanks for clearing it up anyway! 🙂



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  • ” … can you be against something you don’t think exist?” Excellent!
    This remark is so true. For example I am a non believer. I do not believe in any supernatural existence, that means I do not believe in god also. 🙂 I think actually that I do not have any believes. So it is very unnatural to me when I have to say that I am an atheist to the ones who can not comprehend anything but labels and some sort of social roles. When I say that I am an atheist, (because I have to in order to be considered, I submit myself in a social role where I can be understood or accepted) I label myself. But I am not an atheist, I am “xy” person with love, goodness, and so many beautiful or not beautiful thoughts, and without beliefs. I do not believe in anything because doing so I think that one gives and recognizes the legitimacy of those things one does not believe. I did not chose not to believe in anything, my absence of beliefs is a NATURAL state of human being since birth. Humans often take or they are forced to some beliefs. I have no believes since my birth,… so over 40 years. 🙂 . I wish you do not have to think so much about weather you should believe, and in what,…because these are nothing but some learned social roles. Good luck. 🙂



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  • 10
    BigChris says:

    Lightnin at #2 covers it nicely. I would just add that in Britain people who have never really considered questions of God and religion important would generally understand ‘agnostic’ to mean ‘I don’t know’. You might also, after some thought, call yourself ‘agnostic’ because you have no direct ‘knowledge’ of God – regardless of whether you believe or not – or you might be confused by the various arguments and unable to decide. But you wouldn’t call yourself a Gnostic because Gnosticism was a certain kind of religion.

    I do not believe in God any more so I’m an atheist. In fact I believe that God does not exist so I am a Strong or Positive Atheist. I also see that religion causes harm so I’m an anti-theist, but my local church has some lovely people who get something good from going so I’m not a rabid secular bulldog.



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  • I’m afraid this will be a long post.

    I don’t know why people want to find one single word for what they are, when they can be many things at the same time. Personally, I define myself as an atheist, agnostic, antitheist, humanist, secularist, sceptic, rationalist, free-thinker, science-minded person, and in certain cases an ignostic and an apatheist, just to name a few. They all have different meanings, and one can be all those things at the same time.

    But let’s talk about those three words agnostic, atheist and antitheist. I’ll try to be brief.

    These terms deal with different issues. Atheism is the opposite of theism. Atheism vs. theism deals with the question “do you believe in a god?” Therefore, it is a theological question. If you do not believe, you are an atheist, but if you do believe more or less, then you are a theist.

    Then there is agnosticism. It deals with an entirely different question than atheism. While atheism deals with belief, agnosticism deals with knowledge, making it an epistemological question. The question asked is “do you know of the existence of a god?” Not knowing makes you an agnostic, but if you claim to know of the existence of gods, or that it is possible to obtain knowledge of gods, then you are a gnostic. There is a common misconception that agnosticism is a comfortable “third way” between atheism and theism, but that is not the case. It is quite frustrating, because often when it’s time to talk about belief, many people seem to hide behind the agnostic label. They shrug their shoulders and say “I don’t know, I’m an agnostic”, and leave it at that. There is nothing wrong with not knowing, but it is entirely different from the belief question. It seems that people are uncomfortable talking about belief, often because they haven’t thought about these questions, and they think agnosticism is an intellectually sound middle ground between those “dogamtic” atheists and theists who just keep fighting with each other. They feel that agnosticism is a more mature and reasonable standpoint. However, that is a misinterpretation of what agnosticism is. It’s not a middle-ground between atheism and theism, but it deals with an entirely different question. Agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive. One can be both at the same time.

    An antitheist, on the other hand, not only thinks that theism is an irrational position, but sees theism as something harmful that should be gotten rid of. In other words, antitheism actively opposes theism as an idea and thinks that society would be better of without it. While atheism deals with belief, agnosticism with knowledge, antitheism deals with the utility of of thesim. Antitheism contends that theism is not necessary for society, it stops human progress and that we would be better people without it.

    Not to make this text too long, I’ll recommend a few internet sources. Rationalwiki is a good source, but Austin Cline on About.com also writes well on these things. His texts are short and simple to understand, even simpler than Wikipedia in which the information is often very condensed.
    On the definition of atheism, agnosticism and antitheism. On the difference between agnosticism and atheism. On belief vs. knowledge. And finally, here is something on the distinction between strong and weak atheism, something I personally find important. These two articles, here and here, might help understand the distinction better.



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  • 12
    Dog Almighty says:

    I’m afraid this will be a long post.

    I don’t know why people want to find one single word for what they are, when they can be many things at the same time. Personally, I define myself as an atheist, agnostic, antitheist, humanist, secularist, sceptic, rationalist, free-thinker, science-minded person, and in certain cases an ignostic and an apatheist, just to name a few. They all have different meanings, and one can be all those things at the same time.

    But let’s talk about those three words agnostic, atheist and antitheist. I’ll try to be brief.

    These terms deal with different issues. Atheism is the opposite of theism. Atheism vs. theism deals with the question “do you believe in a god?” Therefore, it is a theological question. If you do not believe, you are an atheist, but if you do believe more or less, then you are a theist.

    Then there is agnosticism. It deals with an entirely different question than atheism. While atheism deals with belief, agnosticism deals with knowledge, making it an epistemological question. The question asked is “do you know of the existence of a god?” Not knowing makes you an agnostic, but if you claim to know of the existence of gods, or that it is possible to obtain knowledge of gods, then you are a gnostic. There is a common misconception that agnosticism is a comfortable “third way” between atheism and theism, but that is not the case. It is quite frustrating, because often when it’s time to talk about belief, many people seem to hide behind the agnostic label. They shrug their shoulders and say “I don’t know, I’m an agnostic”, and leave it at that. There is nothing wrong with not knowing, but it is entirely different from the belief question. It seems that people are uncomfortable talking about belief, often because they haven’t thought about these questions, and they think agnosticism is an intellectually sound middle ground between those “dogamtic” atheists and theists who just keep fighting with each other. They feel that agnosticism is a more mature and reasonable standpoint. However, that is a misinterpretation of what agnosticism is. It’s not a middle-ground between atheism and theism, but it deals with an entirely different question. Agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive. One can be both at the same time.

    An antitheist, on the other hand, not only thinks that theism is an irrational position, but sees theism as something harmful that should be gotten rid of. In other words, antitheism actively opposes theism as an idea and thinks that society would be better of without it. While atheism deals with belief, agnosticism with knowledge, antitheism deals with the utility of of thesim. Antitheism contends that theism is not necessary for society, it stops human progress and that we would be better people without it.

    Not to make this text too long, I’ll recommend a few internet sources. Rationalwiki is a good source, but Austin Cline on About.com also writes well on these things. His texts are short and simple to understand, even simpler than Wikipedia in which the information is often very condensed.
    On the definition of atheism, agnosticism and antitheism. On the difference between agnosticism and atheism. On belief vs. knowledge. And finally, here is something on the distinction between strong and weak atheism, something I personally find important. These two articles, here and here, might help understand the distinction better.



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  • 13
    Alan4discussion says:

    atheist,

    Lack of a belief in gods, understanding there is no evidence for gods, or understanding that “gods” exist as delusions in believers’ brains.

    Agnostic,

    For me – the pedantic technicality the there is no total 100% certainty of knowledge, and on areas which are genuinely unknown. (Dawkins’ scale 6.999)

    variable according to the particular god claim – {100% atheist (Dawkins’ scale 7) for the simplistic self-contradictory, ludicrous, irrational, claims,- refuted claims, – or claims lacking definitions.}

    anti-theist,

    A moral issue – That depends on the nature of the theism, the theist dogmas, and the theist actions.

    who is right?

    That depends on the issues involved and the moral and scientific judgements made.



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  • 14
    sbooder says:

    I count myself as an anti-theist.

    To me it has always been someone who not only does not believe in god but would not want there to be one. The idea of god existing (if proved) would make me feel physically sick.



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  • 15
    Mister T says:

    Do you realise you can be both? Agnosticism is about knowledge, Atheism is about belief. So you can be an Agnostic Atheist, as I am – i.e. I don’t know but I don’t believe it’s likely (and so will live my life as if it’s not true). Many people operate as if the terms are mutually exclusive, when that is not the case.

    As for anti-theism, that actually means “against” theism. As opposed to atheism, which simply means “without” theism. You can be against theism because it manifests itself as religion in our real world. Theism exists, it is only the the things it claims which probably don’t. Much as you can be anti-homeopathy for example. It is the ideas you are rejecting, not the imaginary things the ideas are about.



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  • 16
    Merlin Dewize says:

    I think we can prove God doesn’t exist! Just ask yourself where the hell did God come from? If you don’t know this then your a fool! If you know then your a person with highly developed reasoning skills and you are also an non believer. Simples Only a non believer who was once a believer is right to say god doesn’t exist. It could be you but i sense uncertainty in you question so carry on.



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  • 17
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #15 by Merlin Dewize:

    I think we can prove God doesn’t exist!

    It is not possible to PROVE a negative, and we do not know what is beyond the range of our instruments.

    Just ask yourself where the hell did God come from?

    This is the infinite regression of creators: – Who was the creator, of the creator, of the creator, etc.?

    If you don’t know this then your a fool! If you know then your a person with highly developed reasoning skills and you are also an non believer. Simples

    While it is not fully conclusive, Absence of evidence, is evidence of absence where there should be evidence, but is none. The issue is the balance of probability.

    Only a non believer who was once a believer is right to say god doesn’t exist. It could be you but i sense uncertainty in you question so carry on.

    I would always use the term “gods”. The use of the singular wrongly implies that some particular god is the default position, or has greater credibility than other gods – as assumed by its followers.



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  • 18
    Brampton says:

    Why not try something like Freethinker or Humanist? I don’t mind when people refer to me as an atheist, but my atheism is really just a conclusion I come to when I apply reason and evidence to the question: is there a god?



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  • 19
    QuestioningKat says:

    Congratulations on waking up.

    Let’s not forget deist: The belief that something – higher force,”energy”, but not human-like, “conscious” exists in the Universe. Some feel “it” created the world and then just left it alone. Others do not share this view and feel as if something just exists out there or even within us.



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  • 20
    tardisride says:

    Hi juwakali-The most productive definition of agnosticism I’ve read is from Bertrand Russell:

    “An agnostic thinks it impossible to know the truth in matters such as God and the future
    life with which Christianity and other religions are concerned. Or, if not impossible, at
    least impossible at the present time…An atheist, like a Christian, holds that we can know whether or not there is a God.The Christian holds that we can know there is a God; the atheist, that we can know there
    is not. The Agnostic suspends judgment, saying that there are not sufficient grounds
    either for affirmation or for denial. At the same time, an Agnostic may hold that the
    existence of God, though not impossible, is very improbable; he may even hold it so
    improbable that it is not worth considering in practice. In that case, he is not far removed
    from atheism. His attitude may be that which a careful philosopher would have towards
    the gods of ancient Greece. If I were asked to prove that Zeus and Poseidon and Hera and
    the rest of the Olympians do not exist, I should be at a loss to find conclusive arguments.
    An Agnostic may think the Christian God as improbable as the Olympians; in that case,
    he is, for practical purposes, at one with the atheists.”

    Speaking for myself, I call myself an agnostic on the technical point that I simply cannot prove something does not exist. In Russell’s words, I am at one with the atheists.



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  • 21
    peder.holm.90 says:

    atheism means: a world without god.
    Being an atheist means eather:
    1. beliving that atheism is true (that the world is without god)
    2. knowing that atheism is true (that the world is without god)

    agnostic means: I dont know if god (or something else you are agnostic about) exist

    An anti theist dont need to think that theism is irrational!

    In reply to #11 by Aztek:

    I’m afraid this will be a long post.

    I don’t know why people want to find one single word for what they are, when they can be many things at the same time. Personally, I define myself as an atheist, agnostic, antitheist, humanist, secularist, sceptic, rationalist, free-thinker, science-minded person, and in certain cases an ignostic and an apatheist, just to name a few. They all have different meanings, and one can be all those things at the same time.

    But let’s talk about those three words agnostic, atheist and antitheist. I’ll try to be brief.

    These terms deal with different issues. Atheism is the opposite of theism. Atheism vs. theism deals with the question “do you believe in a god?” Therefore, it is a theological question. If you do not believe, you are an atheist, but if you do believe more or less, then you are a theist.

    Then there is agnosticism. It deals with an entirely different question than atheism. While atheism deals with belief, agnosticism deals with knowledge, making it an epistemological question. The question asked is “do you know of the existence of a god?” Not knowing makes you an agnostic, but if you claim to know of the existence of gods, or that it is possible to obtain knowledge of gods, then you are a gnostic. There is a common misconception that agnosticism is a comfortable “third way” between atheism and theism, but that is not the case. It is quite frustrating, because often when it’s time to talk about belief, many people seem to hide behind the agnostic label. They shrug their shoulders and say “I don’t know, I’m an agnostic”, and leave it at that. There is nothing wrong with not knowing, but it is entirely different from the belief question. It seems that people are uncomfortable talking about belief, often because they haven’t thought about these questions, and they think agnosticism is an intellectually sound middle ground between those “dogamtic” atheists and theists who just keep fighting with each other. They feel that agnosticism is a more mature and reasonable standpoint. However, that is a misinterpretation of what agnosticism is. It’s not a middle-ground between atheism and theism, but it deals with an entirely different question. Agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive. One can be both at the same time.

    An antitheist, on the other hand, not only thinks that theism is an irrational position, but sees theism as something harmful that should be gotten rid of. In other words, antitheism actively opposes theism as an idea and thinks that society would be better of without it. While atheism deals with belief, agnosticism with knowledge, antitheism deals with the utility of of thesim. Antitheism contends that theism is not necessary for society, it stops human progress and that we would be better people without it.

    Not to make this text too long, I’ll recommend a few internet sources. Rationalwiki is a good source, but Austin Cline on About.com also writes well on these things. His texts are short and simple to understand, even simpler than Wikipedia in which the information is often very condensed.
    On the definition of atheism, agnosticism and antitheism. On the difference between agnosticism and atheism. On belief vs. knowledge. And finally, here is something on the distinction between strong and weak atheism, something I personally find important. These two articles, here and here, might help understand the distinction better.



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  • 22
    peder.holm.90 says:

    atheism means: a world without god.
    Being an atheist means eather:
    1. beliving that atheism is true (that the world is without god)
    2. knowing that atheism is true (that the world is without god)

    agnostic means: I dont know if god (or something else you are agnostic about) exist

    anti theist is against the existence of theisim (ex: They might think that theism is dangerous or anti science), but can be theists them self. You can be a atheist and love theism (even wishing to be one), but an anti theist could never have that position.

    It is temting to say that you are an agnostic, anti cahtolic, but you say that religions does not have any truth to it (not even god?). You are just confused and are not ready to call youre self anything. Youre statement that it does not have any truth to it shows that you have not done much research. See the newest william lane craig debate (against alex rosenberg). There is no doubt that there is more arguments for theism, but you dont chose what you believe. So you should check out the debate an see for youre self.



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  • 23
    holysmokes says:

    I am someone who sees no reason to entertain the concept of a god, due to a 100% lack of evidence to support the notion. My mind will always adapt to available evidence with no personal desires added. As such, what definition would I fall under?



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  • 24
    bluebird says:

    Oh, don’t be embarrassed – everyone’s time table is different!

    For a while I considered myself agnostic; ‘atheist’ became my middle name when ‘Cosmos’ aired. Everything about the Universe makes sense except the notion of a god.

    The other day on an elevator, at basement level, two women said “if we go down any further it’s not our fault.
    My friend immediately said “I have a bible, so it won’t be me either”. It took my rational brain a few seconds to compute what they were inferring to. Oh, how just plain silly it all sounded :/



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  • 25
    peder.holm.90 says:

    In reply to #23 by holysmokes:

    I am someone who sees no reason to entertain the concept of a god, due to a 100% lack of evidence to support the notion. My mind will always adapt to available evidence with no personal desires added. As such, what definition would I fall under?

    I am sure “Jasper Adams” is wrong here. You are an agnostic. You are not an atheist and there is no reason to think you are an anti theist either.
    In reply to #23 by holysmokes:

    I am someone who sees no reason to entertain the concept of a god, due to a 100% lack of evidence to support the notion. My mind will always adapt to available evidence with no personal desires added. As such, what definition would I fall under?



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  • 26
    BornAfterTV says:

    I don’t see these 3 titles are mutually exclusive. Agnostic in the sense there no evidence to support the idea of a god/gods and it’s impossible to disprove a negative. Atheist in the sense that based on the evidence we do have it is rational to not believe in a god/gods. Anti-Theist in the sense that to get from a Diest god or prime mover to a god that cares about who you sleep with and in what way is not only lacking in an the additional evidence required but would be a horrible totallitarian state of affairs, who wants to live in a divine North Korea?



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  • 27
    Peter Grant says:

    I’m agnostic because I don’t believe in revelation.

    I’m atheist because I don’t believe in God.

    I’m anti-theist because I think that God is a harmful and stupid idea.



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  • 28
    atheistengineer says:

    Sometimes I guess I’m an agnostic because if someone could give me any evidence, it doesn’t even have to be convincing, that there might be a god I’d shift to don’t know.

    Sometimes I think I’m an atheist because I consider the liklihood of a deity interested in Earth and humanity highly unlikely and the liklihood of said deity matching any of the current version even less likely. And I think the liklihood of my first statement is very low after all this time.

    I’m not anti theist as I have no feelings whatsoever about people who choose to believe, and think that parts of the NT are quite a nice things to believe. But I am anti fundamentalist and have strong feelings against people who make up lies to support their beliefs lie creationists, or use them to discriminate or demand special treatment.

    But most of the time I would say I’m a reluctant atheist because sometimes I think it must be comforting to have the reassurance of being able to believe. I just can’t.



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  • 29
    Reckless Monkey says:

    Trouble with atheist as a term is it is defined by believers, that is people who believe in the their particular deity. However, it makes people confront something they often don’t want so while I suppose I am an agnostic I find it useful to sometimes refer to myself as an atheist around certain people in the same way that terms like impressionism and big bang were originally terms of derision. I do wish the term would fall into obsolescence as the whole reason such a term exists is a marker to just how tribal we still are and is evidence that we have a little more evolving to do.



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  • 30
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #4 by mmurray:

    Ironic how in philosophy the so-called “weak” positions are usually the only ones that are actually defensible.



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  • 31
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #2 by Lightnin:

    It would be nice if the common usage of the term agnostic could be broadened to deal with questions other than just the non-existence of gods, like so:

    Agnostic: Belief that it is impossible to know, with an absolute degree of a certainty, whether or not anything exists.



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  • 32
    DylanMeeus says:

    In reply to #32 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #2 by Lightnin:

    It would be nice if the common usage of the term agnostic could be broadened to deal with questions other than just the non-existence of gods, like so:

    Agnostic: Belief that it is impossible to know, with an absolute degree of a certainty, whether anything exists.

    That, to me, sounds like solipsism. Though it’s not exactly the same, it does state that only ones own mind is sure to exist. So it comes close to what you are discribing.



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  • 33
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #33 by DylanMeeus:

    That, to me, sounds like solipsism. Though it’s not exactly the same, it does state that only ones own mind is sure to exist. So it comes close to what you are discribing.

    The key phrase is “with absolute certainty”, this still leaves us many degrees of certainty to explore. Gauging our uncertainty is the basis of rationality.

    One can only gain absolute certainty from revelation, but it’s entirely subjective as you point out.



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  • I generally refer to myself as an atheist, as opposed to being non-religious or agnostic, as those terms imply that I haven’t given it much thought, or haven’t come to a conclusion that satisfies me. I’ve spent quite a lot of time sifting through the arguments for against the existence of the supernatural and think that there is very little likelihood of that being the case.



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  • 36
    BornAfterTV says:

    In reply to #34 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #33 by DylanMeeus:That, to me, sounds like solipsism. Though it’s not exactly the same, it does state that only ones own mind is sure to exist. So it comes close to what you are discribing.The key phrase is “with absolute certainty”, this still leaves us many degrees of certainty to explore. Gauging our uncertainty is the basis of rationality.One can only gain absolute certainty from revelation, but it’s entirely subjective as you point out.

    Subjective certainty…Fantastic.



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  • 38
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #37 by BornAfterTV:

    Subjective certainty…Fantastic.

    Subjective experience is the only thing we can be absolutely certain about, subjectively. That’s why essentialism and absolutism are so pernicious.



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  • 39
    catmentality says:

    Atheism is the acceptance that there is no credible scientific or factually reliable evidence for the existence of god, gods or the supernatural – definition used by the Atheist Foundation of Australia.



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  • 40
    Dublin-atheist says:

    Heigh everyone, I consider myself an atheist, however whilst. I cannot disprove gods existence i am prepared to bet on the devil going medieval on my ass by way of eternal damnation if I’m wrong.



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  • 41
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #33 by DylanMeeus:

    . In reply to #32 by Peter Grant:

    Agnostic: Belief that it is impossible to know, with an absolute degree of a certainty, whether anything exists.

    That, to me, sounds like solipsism. Though it’s not exactly the same, it does state that only ones own mind is sure to exist. So it comes close to what you are discribing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism

    Philosophy students often tell a joke, that there is a solipsist on campus that is going around trying to bring everyone else around to his point of view.

    The joke contains another logical problem with solipsism, which is, if a solipsist argues for his position, to whom is he talking?

    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    Logic by definition only exists by virtue of agreement, so by using logic the solipsist defeats his own argument.

    Metaphysical solipsism is the “strongest” variety of solipsism. Based on a philosophy of subjective idealism, metaphysical solipsists maintain that the self is the only existing reality and that all other reality, including the external world and other persons, are representations of that self, and have no independent existence.

    And of course the view that an external reality has no existence independent of the mind, or that the mind can conjure up new “realities”, could equally well be a definition of “delusion” .



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  • If you don’t practice a religion then you are atheist. Agnostic is rather meaningless because if you don’t know whether there is a god then you can’t be theist, so you are atheist… moreover nearly all (sane) atheists are aware that you cannot know for sure the existence of a god any more than any other mythical creature.

    Anti-theist is someone who actively dislikes or is against religions.

    But however you define them, atheist is the general word because it only defines what you are not. Other terms can be used to be more specific about what you are.



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  • 43
    BigChris says:

    In reply to #29 by atheistengineer:

    But most of the time I would say I’m a reluctant atheist because sometimes I think it must be comforting to have the reassurance of being able to believe. I just can’t.

    Have you read ‘God Collar’ by Marcus Brigstocke? A good mostly light-hearted book about his search for God (‘we should probably have a plan in case we startle him and he goes for us’) when his atheism has a bit of a wobble.



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  • 44
    Chris Squire says:

    I trust you may find these extracts from the OED helpful in choosing a label for yourself which is best adapted to your circumstances (there is much to be said for euphemism in matters of religion I find):
    ……………………
    agnostic, n. and adj. 1. A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of immaterial things, especially of the existence or nature of God. Distinguished from atheist n.
    1880 Bp. Fraser in Manch. Guardian 25 Nov., The Agnostic neither denied nor affirmed God. He simply put Him on one side.

    atheist, n. and adj. 1. One who denies or disbelieves the existence of a God.
    1876 W. E. Gladstone in Contemp. Rev. June 22 By the Atheist I understand the man who not only holds off, like the sceptic, from the affirmative, but who drives himself, or is driven, to the negative assertion in regard to the whole Unseen, or to the existence of God.

    antitheist, n. One opposed to belief in the existence of a God.
    1847 J. Cumming Is Christianity from God? ii. 25 An atheist there may be, but an anti-theist there cannot possibly be..no man may dare to say absolutely, there is not a God.

    free-thinker, n. A person who professes to or is known for independence of thought, esp. one who withholds assent to widely held beliefs or ideas; spec. a person who refuses to submit his or her reason to the control of authority in matters of religious belief; (chiefly with capital initials) any of the rationalists, prominent from the early 18th cent., who rejected Christianity on the grounds of reason (now hist.).
    1708 Swift Sentiments Church of Eng.-man i, in Misc. (1711) 100 The Atheists, Libertines, Despisers of Religion..that is to say, all those who usually pass under the Name of Free-Thinkers.
    1968 A. J. Ayer Humanist Outlook 4 Present-day humanists are in fact the intellectual heirs of those nineteenth-century free-thinkers.

    humanist, n. and adj. 4. A believer in the principles of humanism (humanism n 5) . . = a. Any system of thought or ideology which places humans, or humanity as a whole, at its centre, esp. one which is predominantly concerned with human interests and welfare, and stresses the inherent value and potential of human life.

    = b. spec. Freq. with capital initial. A variety of ethical theory and practice characterized by a stress on human rationality and capacity for free thought and moral action, and a rejection of theistic religion and the supernatural in favour of secular and naturalistic views of humanity and the universe. From the earliest appearances of sense 5a, an increasingly strong relationship developed between its general principles and rationalistic and secularist thought (see quots. 1853, 1870 in the current sense). The sense of a distinctive ideology characterized by this kind of thought becomes clearly visible by the mid 20th cent.
    1853 T. Pearson Infidelity ii. iii. 378 Feuerbach, and Grün, who are of the extreme left Hegelian party, are the great teachers of humanism—a system which finds everything in man, which ignores all motive power but the human will, and which is as intolerant of the existence of religion as of private property.
    1870 G. J. Holyoake Princ. Secularism Illustr. xi. 28 The leading ideas of Secularism are humanism, moralism, materialism, utilitarian unity.]
    …………….
    In societies where religion is not taken seriously (e.g Britain) it doesn’t matter what you are – unless you insist upon your freedom to keep going on about it.



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  • 45
    zengardener says:

    Agnostic is right, because nobody knows.
    Atheist is rational because nobody knows.
    Anti-theist is rational because of the harm that theism does.



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  • 46
    Cairsley says:

    Others here have responded more than adequately to your terminological question regarding ‘agnostic’, ‘atheist’ and ‘antitheist’, and other related terms. Let me congratulate you on breaking free of the Roman Catholic Church and embracing free thought. I did the same many years ago and I did not rush the process of adjustment. For a while I regarded myself as an agnostic theist, having nothing to do with any organized religion but retaining a belief in God. Actually, the question did not bother me much, because, having spent so many years in religious life, I had plenty of … er … socializing to catch up on. But, as I settled down into a new lifestyle, the reasons for believing in God in the first place no longer seemed relevant. God is important to a Christian because God, who is believed to be the creator of mankind, and against whom mankind is believed to have sinned, is believed to have done something through a certain Jesus to save mankind from the supposedly damning effects of having sinned against him. Without this elaborate network of beliefs, all unsubstantiated, there is no need for belief in God, just as there is no need to believe in anything for which no evidence is available. At present I would classify myself an agnostic atheist who on occasions experiences antitheistic urges. My natural disposition is to live and let live, but living in a society, as we do, is not always so simple, and my antitheistic urges arise whenever I see the pernicious effects that such Christian beliefs as those just mentioned have on the emotional and intellectual lives of people, depriving them of their natural freedom of thought and enjoyment of life. I am coming more and more to the view that it is wicked to teach children to base their lives on superstitions, for that is all the Abrahamic religions are, regardless of how ancient and venerable those superstitions may be.

    I wish you all the best, Juwakali!



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  • hmmm this is interesting. I went to a different thread and stated that “I didn’t know if there was a god but I certainly did not believe there was a god”. I don’t even know how to approach knowledge about a god since I can’t use any of my senses to detect a god. I had crap dropped on my head in an instant. Interesting to now see some of the same people saying the same things. I should of come to this thread first.



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  • 48
    SaganTheCat says:

    it’s up to you. if you think agnostic is the best description for your beliefs then go with it. the beauty of such self-definition without religion is there’s no penalty for apostacy. if you decide one day you no longer feel agnostic suits you, you can become an atheist (or anti-theist or pan-theist or whatever) and there’s no danger of other agnostics demanding your death or threatening you with hell. furthermore as (to use the collective) “nones” are not an organisation, there’s no nepotism involved. no danger that no longer having an agnostic handshake will make it harder to get that dream job.

    you’ve escaped the most significant label, no need to rush to give yourself a new one



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  • 49
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    From my own research and spiritual questing, I have arrived at the conclusion that god(s) are impossible. A zombie apocalypse is possible. Alien overlords are possible. Even Santa Clause and dragons could happen, given alien technology. God(s), however, are impossible, like a triangle with four corners. It is by definition a self contradiction. Spinozan Pantheist is a bit of a mouthful, so I just settle for atheist. I believe Naturalism is also a term used to describe this stance.



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  • 50
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #22 by peder.holm.90:

    It is temting to say that you are an agnostic, anti cahtolic, but you say that religions does not have any truth to it (not even god?). You are just confused and are not ready to call youre self anything. Youre statement that it does not have any truth to it shows that you have not done much research.

    I would hardly think that recognising the lack of truth, and fictional nature of religious claims, shows a lack of research. It would seem to indicate a critical examination of objective evidence.

    See the newest william lane craig debate (against alex rosenberg).

    Ah! WCL ! – Now there is a real example of rhetoric without any competent researched scientific content!

    There is no doubt that there is more arguments for theism,

    WLC has endless “arguments”. It’s just that none of them have any objective basis or rational thinking in them!

    but you don’t chose what you believe. So you should check out the debate an see for your self.

    For the rational scientific thinker WCL is good for entertainment – if you like nutty claims, comically incompetent pseudoscience, or like to play spot the fallacy! Just don’t expect any of his galloping arguments to contain aspects of real science or material reality in them!



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  • 52
    AgriculturalAtheist says:

    In reply to #2 by Lightnin:

    Theist: Belief in a God or Gods.

    Atheist: Lack of a belief in God or Gods.

    Agnostic: Belief that it is impossible to know, with an absolute degree of a certainty whether or not a God or Gods exist.

    Gnostic: Belief that it is possible to know, with an absolute degree of a certainty whether or not a God or Gods exist.

    Anti-theist: Against a belief in God or Gods i.e. you think that believing in God is not good thing.

    Anti-religious: Against the organised belief in God i.e. you think that churches and their followers negatively impact on society etc.

    You seemed like you were trying to be thorough, and yet you forgot:

    Ignostic: Belief that it is NOT possible to know, with an absolute degree of a certainty whether or not a God or Gods exist. Also understood to imply that one can not know WHICH of the many gods thought to exist is the one being asked of them to believe (or how they can tell), or simply that we can’t even define what we MEAN by god, such that it is a concept we can even believe in or in any way verify is true or not.

    For my money that is the best description of who we are. All other positions assume some sort of knowledge about the god or gods one purports to exist or not, or how we may even be able to know this either way.

    (You also forgot such terms as “spiritualist” where a belief in a god is not there but there is in a spiritual realm, but I suppose you weren’t intending to innumerate all the “theistic” variations out there unless there was a specific “atheistic” counterposition. And true enough, I don’t know of any aspiritualists just as I don’t know of any Azeusists.)

    It is amazing that there are so many “denominations” of non-belief. It does indeed give the impression to “believers” that we cannot agree with each other and are some sort of cult as well.

    Sometimes I imagine that when Dawkins argues that agnostics are fence-sitters who should make up their minds, or that theists are actually atheists about every other god so why not go one god further, that he is being a bit of a bully to make his point, by embarrassing his opponent rather than using impartial logic. The truth is that while Atheists may ACT as if they believe there is no god, as with any attempt to disprove a negative, it can’t be done, and so atheism becomes a label of convenience, which is emphasized when they admit they prefer other terms like simple “Reason.”

    From what I can tell, you are an anti-religious, agnostic atheist. But you should feel free to call yourself what ever you like, call yourself agnostic if that’s what you feel most comfortable doing. Just remember by calling yourself just an agnostic, some people may assume you are not sure if God exists, that you think there is 50/50 chance etc.

    There is absolutely no way to determine the probability of the existence or non-existence of any god or gods. Where could one possibly point to evidence to support either side of such a statement as: “I’m 73% sure that there is only a 2% probability that Yahweh exists.”?

    1. holding the belief that gods do not exist

    2. not holding any belief that gods exist

    This difference of definition for atheist (strong and weak) as mmurray posted, splits hairs even further. But this is not very good, because, after all, a 3-day-old BABY by definition must be a type-2 weak atheist simply because the baby doesn’t yet hold very my beliefs (certainly not of the creator of the universe). For this to be a category an adult might consider oneself is not very satisfying. It simply tells us that they have not considered the question: BUT THEY HAVE, certainly, by considering their position in relation to the question (and thus are aware of it) – no?



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  • 53
    BornAfterTV says:

    In reply to #39 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #37 by BornAfterTV:Subjective certainty…Fantastic.Subjective experience is the only thing we can be absolutely certain about, subjectively. That’s why essentialism and absolutism are so pernicious.

    Nonsense. I can be certain that if I build a bridge and I follow the laws of physics and math that the bridge will take the designed weight. It is not subjective else you couldn’t build a bridge.



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  • 54
    GospelofJudas says:

    I wouldn’t worry so much about labels. Just be open minded. Being ready to analyze evidence impartially when you are confronted with it should be the goal; when Socrates said that he alone was proclaimed to be the wisest of the Greeks, because he alone admitted that he knew nothing, he was referring to allowing prior knowledge to influence his reason going forward. That’s why there’s an article on this very site where Professor Dawkins encourages people to read the King James Bible, because it is an important piece of literature, and an unbiased mind approaching it rationally can see that it’s impossible to interpret literally. Dogmatic thinking can plague anyone (I have had many discussions with atheists, Christians, and others who were convinced that they were right, and would only look at evidence that supported their world view), and I’m honestly just as disinclined to call myself an atheist as I am anything else. The label carries connotations that set up expectations in others; just as surely as I cringe when I hear someone start a statement with, ‘Well, see, we’re Christian, and…’, I am leery of having others view whatever I’m about to say through the lens of one already judging.

    All of that being said, anti-theism is largely a useless movement I feel. It’s no better than proselytizing for a religion; badgering someone and telling them that they’re wrong, wrong, wrong, is not going to encourage any growth; it’s far more likely to just put them on the defensive. How many people do you think fall to their knees and beg for forgiveness when a whackjob swings by and says they’re going to Hell if they’re not the exact right flavor of Protestant? I’d bet it’s fairly little, and in the realm of personal growth I think it’s likely counter-productive.



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  • 55
    RationalConclusion says:

    Agnostic – Someone who does not know whether a god exists, which I’d say is everyone on the planet.

    Atheist – There are basically two common definitions.

    1 Someone who does not believe a god exists.

    2 Someone who believes there is no god.

    Anti Theist – Someone who opposes religion.

    I would class myself as an agnostic atheist and anti theist however I don’t tend to use these labels in conversation as they are often misunderstood. I find it far more useful to simply explain my positions on these issues and my reasons for them.



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  • 56
    Outwitted by fish says:

    In reply to #53 by AgriculturalAtheist:

    Excellent! Let me go a step further. A deity would be able to determine what evidence would convince you of its existence, and that any evidence could as plausibly be attributed to an advanced (but nondivine) alien entity. In other words,any deity would be able to flip on the belief switch in your head, or install in you a level of gullibility to make you amenable to evidence. So,no evidence can ever be trusted to either confirm or refute the existence of a deity. The upshot: while specific god claims can be addressed and refuted, even the probability of the existence of an unspecified deity cannot be assessed.

    So, does this leave us with a 50/50 chance? No. It leaves us with no way to assign any likelihood whatsoever. We are not required to assert any probability value, and to do so would be presumptuous.

    I think the problem lies in our reliance on Bayesian probability in scientific pursuits. Under this rubric, a value is assigned to an hypothesis and then adjusted upward or downward as evidence or logical arguments amass. But what is the default starting point? To initially assign a probability of one would be the theist approach, to assign a default probability of zero would be the atheist approach. Assigning a default probability of 0.5 is equally presumptuous. And, given that no evidence can be trusted either way, one is left standing at the default position for no more reason than it was the “feel-good” starting position. Any initial assignment is as heuristically valid as any other, which is to say, not at all.

    Therefore, I posit the following: The only honest position to take is a purely ignostic one, in which one does not even bother to address what is a fundamentally unresolvable question. For a practical application, applying the Hippocratic “First, do no harm.” assumption forces the adoption of a purely secular, if multifaceted society, rather than an atheistic or theistic one. “‘An it harm none, believe what you like, and leave me to do the same’ shall be the heart of the law”, to bastardize William Crowley.

    Of course, the inherent cost of believing in nonsense begs the question of whether to leave people be to believe as they wish, to which I would include oneself in the “An it harm none” clause. Where to draw the line, though, remains a knotty problem.



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  • 57
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #57 by Outwitted by fish:

    In reply to #53 by AgriculturalAtheist:

    Excellent! Let me go a step further. A deity would be able to determine what evidence would convince you of its existence

    This presumes that a ‘deity’ cared. More deist or pantheist models of thought could quite reasonably posit some sort of underlying pattern or force with something akin to what we’d recognize as intent. Having a ‘deity’ or not at the core of the universe though is really just fodder for discussion over a drink or two, and really doesn’t factor into day to day life at all. An indifferent universe (I’ll move away from the word ‘deity’ here) will not answer prayers, or directly intervene on one’s behalf, and so we’re left debating the ‘why’s’ of a ‘how’ that we still dimly understand.

    The idea of a Sky-Father who answers prayers, directly intercedes for your favorite sports team, hates it when people call him Allah and sincerely hopes that you ignore your urges to mate with anyone other than an approved spouse of the opposite sex is totally ludicrous (and the roots of this thinking can be seen in the theories that Greek, Norse, Sumerian, and other pantheons’ deities were real people with tall tales grown up around them over generations). Discarding that, we’re left with realization that we as humans are prone to finding patterns in what we observe, and can have a serious discussion about the nature of said patterns, how sophisticated the patterns that we impose on the universe can be at our level of development, etc.



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  • 58
    CdnMacAtheist says:

    Personally, I don’t care if any gods exist, or whether there is any way to prove their existence or not.

    I am an anti-theist because I believe that all religious viruses are harmful, and the abusive indoctrination of children resulting in them locking themselves into any evidence-free faith cell is especially wrong.

    If there was no religion anywhere I think the human species would be far more able to get together and save itself from the many troubles that lie ahead – with faith-driven overpopulation at the top of the list of threats. Mac.



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  • 59
    juwakali says:

    In reply to #15 by Merlin Dewize:

    I think we can prove God doesn’t exist! Just ask yourself where the hell did God come from? If you don’t know this then your a fool! If you know then your a person with highly developed reasoning skills and you are also an non believer. Simples Only a non believer who was once a believer is right to say god doesn’t exist. It could be you but i sense uncertainty in you question so carry on.

    To Merlin Dewize: Chances are you exist; you could be male, female or a wonderful program on a computer somewhere. If anyone was to ask me where the hell you came from I would have to say I don’t know. This should be a respectable position for anyone to have. When it comes to my knowledge about you I’m willing to say I’m ignorant but not a fool. God may or may not exist depending on the definition of god. Someone fantastic once said “Until you define what you mean by God and what you mean by exist. The question, does god exist, does not mean anything”. There are some gods I know come from the human minds. Like the god who kills all the first born children in Egypt, this god does not exist to me. But if one day science was to find a universe where life cannot exist they would then be able to see what makes life possible in our universe. Now we could call that god, and I would still not be able to tell you where the hell it came from. A fool is not someone you can communicate with, a fool is not someone you would expect to understand anything you wrote. So let us agree, it is OK say you don’t know and foolish behavior to call people fools for not knowing.



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  • 60
    juwakali says:

    In reply to #13 by sbooder:

    I count myself as an anti-theist.

    To me it has always been someone who not only does not believe in god but would not want there to be one. The idea of god existing (if proved) would make me feel physically sick.

    I think if the Jewish Christian or Islamic gods existed you would be sick, but a god discovered in the lab or in an equation you would be fine with. An equation that explains in what way elements can be combined to form life.



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  • 61
    juwakali says:

    In reply to #32 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #2 by Lightnin:

    It would be nice if the common usage of the term agnostic could be broadened to deal with questions other than just the non-existence of gods, like so:

    Agnostic: Belief that it is impossible to know, with an absolute degree of a certainty, whether or not anything exists.

    The things I say exist I have definitions for and locations. If we cannot agree on the definition and location of something then it’s impossible to know if it exists. This is my position on god but not my position on the perfect car.



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  • 62
    Peter Grant says:

    In reply to #54 by BornAfterTV:

    Nonsense. I can be certain that if I build a bridge and I follow the laws of physics and math that the bridge will take the designed weight. It is not subjective else you couldn’t build a bridge.

    You can be relatively certain, but never 100%. There are always unforeseen eventualities. Marching soldiers could set up some sort of resonating feedback effect that might cause the bridge to collapse. Erosion could wash away the foundations. A passing comet might even take out the landmass you built it on.



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  • Put it this way… First and foremost, you are a human being.

    Second, these labels are used by religious believers so they can track why they find fault with you.

    Are you also an asantaist? How about an atoothfairyist?



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  • 64
    Pauly01 says:

    I myself have thought of this. I consider myself an agnostic but would not be insulted if someone called me an atheist. If I consider atheism as an absence of belief in God then yes I am an atheist. I don’t live my life believing in God. The reason I’d push myself as being agnostic is because I’m here , matter is here , my mind tells me it came from somewhere , I see it with my own eyes and that is remarkable. So my Atheism is tempered with Agnosticism. I guess many people are in the same boat , I’m atheist and agnostic paradoxically. One thing I’m not is an Anti Theist.



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  • 65
    Outwitted by fish says:

    In reply to #58 by GospelofJudas:

    In reply to #57 by Outwitted by fish:

    In reply to #53 by AgriculturalAtheist:

    Excellent! Let me go a step further. A deity would be able to determine what evidence would convince you of its existence

    This presumes that a ‘deity’ cared. More deist or pantheist models of thought could quite reasonably posit some sort of underlying pattern or force with something akin to what we’d recognize as intent. Having a ‘deity’ or not at the core of the universe though is really just fodder for discussion over a drink or two, and really doesn’t factor into day to day life at all. An indifferent universe (I’ll move away from the word ‘deity’ here) will not answer prayers, or directly intervene on one’s behalf, and so we’re left debating the ‘why’s’ of a ‘how’ that we still dimly understand.

    An excellent point. Thanks.



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  • 66
    Lequanke says:

    To put it plainly, you simply need to see what’s going on, if you’re not interested in religion. I find this position very comforting. It can even help with dealing with mental illness, when you have visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions that feel extraordinarily real to the point that you actually start suspecting the existence of parallel realities, dimensions and discarnate consciousness. When you begin asking yourself how it would be possible for the brain to create such uniformed visions and voices, you really stumble upon a roadblock. Psych meds can shut this all down, all the portals, so to speak, by changing the brain chemistry, though this does not rule out the possibility of the existence of these things. They don’t even have to be defined in any way or assigned particular labels as those do not really mean or change anything other than your perception. The strategy or mode of seeing what’s going on helps tremendously.



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  • 67
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #68 by Smill:

    Is it possible to be a Christian Atheist?

    You know, I was having a conversation with my dad once, and I told him that I thought Jesus had some good ideas (love your neighbor, don’t get wrapped up in materialism… pretty Buddhist stuff, really) and that I admired his teachings, but didn’t go for the ‘son of God, who died for our sins’ bit. He said that in his mind that made me an ‘actual’ Christian. So, yeah, I’m game to entertain the ‘Christian Atheist’, especially if you dig the message of love that is actually buried in all the rest of the nonsense, and don’t find the idea of a theity plausible.



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  • 69
    Thunderballs says:

    Religion has some truth to it.

    I used to call myself an agnostic until I realised the definition of an atheist was someone who thought it unlikely rather than impossible a god existed.

    In my case all the atheists I knew (including my dad) said they didn’t believe and I took that to mean they thought a god impossible as opposed to improbable. I also applied the agnostic label to myself as a way of deflecting conflict, because until you are versed in the arguments of non belief you know you are not as effective as many believers you come up against.

    We also have to remember that thew landscape is changing and it is now easier for many of us to express our views and debate the points of contention from a better numerical position so it is not so easy for us to be dismissed primarily as odd or anti establishment.

    I find it very easy to deflect a potential “discussion” on religious claims when it is in my interests to do so and without compromising my integrity or position, by saying “you are talking about the metaphysical and I am talking about the way the physical world works, they are two completely different things”.

    Few religious people or apologists will challenge you on that because the “metaphysical” it is a happy la la land of woo they can hide their egos and dumb arguments in (although you may have to clarify what you mean by metaphysical)

    I will use Anti Theist when I want to make the points (synonymous with Hitch) that religions do so much damage to mankind that moral people should object to it and/or that a theistic god is by definition an oppressor I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (eternal parent in the sky).



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  • 70
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #73 by Peter Grant:

    . In reply to #69 by Smill:

    Maybe a gnostic atheist?

    Gnostic Atheism: God told me He doesn’t exist.

    Maybe she was just kidding you!!



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  • 71
    Lequanke says:

    GospelofJudas:

    “So, yeah, I’m game to entertain the ‘Christian Atheist’, especially if you dig the message of love that is actually buried in all the rest of the nonsense, and don’t find the idea of a theity plausible.”

    Even the commandment to love one another sort of defeats it purpose. Loving people, unfortunately, does not stop people from harming or mistreating you. Also, in order to love people unconditionally, you have to lift your morality filters, which will allow people to do whatever they want to you, and where you’re required to love ’em anyway. This is pretty bad. Christians, for instance, force you to stay married no matter how abusive your spouse might be. All you have to do is constantly forgive the person for all the harm and damage they’ve caused you as if harm is not a big deal. According to their Gospel, God actually allows evil to exist in order to teach you the difference between right and wrong. This is ridiculous because once you’re harmed or damaged, you may not be able to enjoy life or even survive. I don’t think I would want to tolerate harm just to be around somebody harmful. Loving harm…Thank you, but no thank you.



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  • 72
    AgriculturalAtheist says:

    In reply to #57 by Outwitted by fish:

    In reply to #53 by AgriculturalAtheist:

    Excellent! Let me go a step further. A deity would be able to determine what evidence would convince you of its existence, and that any evidence could as plausibly be attributed to an advanced (but nondivine) alien entity. In other words,any deity would be able to flip on the belief switch in your head, or install in you a level of gullibility to make you amenable to evidence. So,no evidence can ever be trusted to either confirm or refute the existence of a deity. The upshot: while specific god claims can be addressed and refuted, even the probability of the existence of an unspecified deity cannot be assessed.

    Well I am not sure if that is technically an “upshot” unless one has a biased view AGAINST there being a deity. From a scientific standpoint, either their is or isn’t, and one shouldn’t rejoice taking comfort in there being no way to tell either way, unless one had a stake it remaining that way.

    Arguing that a deity could “flip a belief switch” in your head, or as some have said, “plant false fossil evidence to confuse us” does nothing to help the argument, because you are simply attributing an unproven being with specific powers to obfuscate our ability to detect his own existence, and use THAT as an argument for his likely nonexistence. Of course, IF TRUE, and he DOES exist as a matter of unknown (to us) fact, then he is likely screwing with all of our minds right now about EVERYTHING, including all those deep questions about the universe we may never resolve. And where does THAT get us?

    There is no reason to attribute a deity with such power. I may “create” a new tomato hybrid but that does not permit one to presume that I MUST have also flipped on a switch in it so it believes in me, and since one cannot tell if I am there to be believed in or it is just the switch talking that therefore I must not exist.

    I am not trying to argue for the existence of god, but simply point out that some of the arguments here (or parts of them) are not very convincing.

    So, does this leave us with a 50/50 chance? No. It leaves us with no way to assign any likelihood whatsoever. We are not required to assert any probability value, and to do so would be presumptuous.

    I think the problem lies in our reliance on Bayesian probability in scientific pursuits. Under this rubric, a value is assigned to an hypothesis and then adjusted upward or downward as evidence or logical arguments amass. But what is the default starting point? To initially assign a probability of one would be the theist approach, to assign a default probability of zero would be the atheist approach. Assigning a default probability of 0.5 is equally presumptuous. And, given that no evidence can be trusted either way, one is left standing at the default position for no more reason than it was the “feel-good” starting position. Any initial assignment is as heuristically valid as any other, which is to say, not at all.

    Therefore, I posit the following: The only honest position to take is a purely ignostic one, in which one does not even bother to address what is a fundamentally unresolvable question. For a practical application, applying the Hippocratic “First, do no harm.” assumption forces the adoption of a purely secular, if multifaceted society, rather than an atheistic or theistic one. “‘An it harm none, believe what you like, and leave me to do the same’ shall be the heart of the law”, to bastardize William Crowley.

    Of course, the inherent cost of believing in nonsense begs the question of whether to leave people be to believe as they wish, to which I would include oneself in the “An it harm none” clause. Where to draw the line, though, remains a knotty problem.



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  • 73
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #76 by Lequanke:

    GospelofJudas:

    “So, yeah, I’m game to entertain the ‘Christian Atheist’, especially if you dig the message of love that is actually buried in all the rest of the nonsense, and don’t find the idea of a theity plausible.”

    Even the commandment to love one another sort of defeats it purpose. Loving people, unfortunately, does not stop people from harming or mistreating you. Also, in order to love people unconditionally, you have to lift your morality filters, which will allow people to do whatever they want to you, and where you’re required to love ’em anyway. This is pretty bad. Christians, for instance, force you to stay married no matter how abusive your spouse might be. All you have to do is constantly forgive the person for all the harm and damage they’ve caused you as if harm is not a big deal. According to their Gospel, God actually allows evil to exist in order to teach you the difference between right and wrong. This is ridiculous because once you’re harmed or damaged, you may not be able to enjoy life or even survive. I don’t think I would want to tolerate harm just to be around somebody harmful. Loving harm…Thank you, but no thank you.

    What? ‘Love thy neighbor as you love thyself’; there’s a big difference here between being a doormat and simply treating people with respect (until they prove that they’re not worth it). Cultivate love and respect in your dealings with others, and if they do not reciprocate, then avoid them/defend yourself if need be. Saying that Christians force you to stay married is farcical; the Church of England owes its foundation to a Christian who wished to get a divorce when the Pope wouldn’t let him.

    Why can’t you try to be a good and moral person (using objective criteria, easy enough to ascertain) without taking it to a ridiculous extreme?



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  • I once labeled myself an agnostic, such a comforting label. However, one day it came over me an agnostic is nothing but a fence sitter, and the only reward for sitting on the fence is a sharp poke in the butt. Make a choice and pursue it, otherwise you are letting life just happen to you, rather than you having a say in your life, and the outcome will most likely not be optimal.



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  • 75
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #80 by TSUF:

    I once labeled myself an agnostic, such a comforting label. However, one day it came over me an agnostic is nothing but a fence sitter, and the only reward for sitting on the fence is a sharp poke in the butt. Make a choice and pursue it, otherwise you are letting life just happen to you, rather than you having a say in your life, and the outcome will most likely not be optimal.

    Why take an extreme stance philosophically? Ignosticism ftw.



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  • 76
    Mignostic says:

    In reply to #57 by Outwitted by fish:

    Therefore, I posit the following: The only honest position to take is a purely ignostic one, in which one does not even bother to address what is a fundamentally unresolvable question.

    Well said. Although I wouldn’t subscribe ignostics generally do not bother to address the question. They rather reject the question because it is usually based on a messy and unclear concept of the word “god”. At least that’s my view on it.



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  • I do not believe in God but I would not call myself by any name like ‘atheist’ and so on. Because I think atheism is like any other ‘ism’ like Hinduism, Buddhism (and other religions like Christianity, Islam etc.). When you create something like atheism, it becomes a concept like other religions. We should stop conceptualising.



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  • The short answer is you are a human being.

    These labels are for the convenience of the theists out there who want to pigeon hole you.

    If you don’t collect stamps, you are not an aphelatelist.

    If you don’t chase trains you are not an atrainspotter.

    To draw a fictional parallel: in the Harry Potter series, non-magiccal beings are referred to as ‘Muggles’. In that book, the people do not use the word. They don’t even know the world of magic exists. Why would they be interested in calling themselves anything than a person?

    Why should you?



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  • 79
    Spraguelle says:

    Almost alone and undefined in Vancouver…

    people are like ships, we leave a wake – this is a “METAPHOR”, a concept that is sometimes lost on religious believers. As I understand “non-theism” is a position against third party mediators, interceding on behalf of a deity; a witch doctor, a priest, a lay preacher, a church, and the church administrators, etc..though this is my “lay” understanding – a priest could probably give a more, academic definition; if that is possible.

    I call myself an agnostic because it seems like a more accurate title, I don’t know if there exists a god, it is VERY superfluous – meaning that it doesn’t matter – except for the things that are done in the name of, “g-o-d”, and all the ignorance – we are on the edge of a real scientific evolution, and we have a segment of humanity, raving up and down against, empirical fact. the question is??? what the heck?

    the measuring stick for me is simple, what value does this proposition “bring to the table”? where we see hate, ignorance, conflict and all the rest we know from “existenz” that “something is rotten in Denmark”…

    the definition of the atheist, free thinking, skeptic community brings in a bigger question; that is how do we organize, in our communities, and work peacefully to counter the work down by religious zealots? we require a moral text and a mission statement – maybe something like this exists already

    I have not read Dawkins, yet, so I will definitely reviewing this material for such community building resources

    Almost alone and undefined in Vancouver…looking for skeptic groups

    Spraguelle



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  • Knowledge = a justified true belief

    As such, knowledge and belief go hand in hand.

    The 3 stages of believing/knowing the truth of a proposition.

    1. no belief, no knowledge (starting point)
    2. belief, no knowledge (true belief)
    3. belief, knowledge (justified true belief)

    Thomas Huxley:

    ” Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or modern. It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe.”

    “”This principle may be stated in various ways, but they all amount to this: that it is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty. This is what Agnosticism asserts; and, in my opinion, it is all that is essential to Agnosticism.”

    Using Huxley’s Agnostic principal, it is impossible to be both Agnostic and a The-ist, or Athe-ist. It is impossible to both believe a proposition is true, and doubt a proposition is true.

    Huxley’s Agnosticism, therefore, covers stage 1 just fine.

    -ists are believers. The-ists believe the proposition “God exists” is true. Athe-ists believe the proposition “God does not exist” is true. A-theist is a more modern definition, that has grown in popularity over the past 50 years, that goes against etymology, and only convolutes everything.

    The -ists cover stage 2 just fine.

    Gnostics are knowers. Using the same root words, Theos and Atheos, we can add -gnostic suffixes.

    The Gnostics cover stage 3 just fine.

    Putting both propositions end to end, you get this…

    1. belief, knowledge = Atheo-gnostic
    2. belief, no knowledge = Athe-ist
    3. no belief, no knowledge = Agnostic
    4. belief, no knowledge = The-ist
    5. belief, knowledge = Theo-gnostic

    There is no need for this redefining of the word Atheist, Agnostic fills the no belief, no knowledge position all on its own.



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  • 81
    stojadinovicp says:

    “What is an anti theist anyway; can you be against something you don’t think exists?” – If you are asking what something is don’t make a judgment in the very next sentence as if you already know what it is.

    And antitheist is not against god but against the belief in god. I hope you see the difference.

    As for the word agnostic, it does not answer the belief in god question, and is a completely separate category.

    If you believe in god, you are in the THEIST category. If you do not see yourself as theist, then you are, logically not a theist which is what the prefix a- actually means in the word a-theist = non theist = not a theist.

    There is no middle or in between, one is either a THEIST or one isn’t…



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