This perception by some that Agnosticism is somehow more holier than Atheism is nothing but splitting hairs.
Neither runs their lives by God.
By virtue of the fact that agnostics say that they don't know if there is a God or not, it's quite obvious that they certainly don't run their lives by one, pray to one, or anything else. They are most certainly not believers.
For the records, many atheists call themselves agnostics simply because it's socially and politically expedient.
An atheist doesn't run their lives by God either. That's because they don't believe s/he exists.
Big deal. Nowhere does it say in any dictionary that atheists deny that God exists or that they can prove that God doesn't exist. They just don't believe s/he exists as they cannot find any evidence for his/her/its existence.
Both agnostics and atheists don't run their lives by God, don't pray, don't follow the bible.
So what's the big deal that when someone says a particular person was an atheist, that the rebuttal must be, "no, he's not. He's an agnostic."
Same difference. It's splitting ahirs.
First. What do you mean by holier? Why would you use a religious term when discussing two philosophies of non belief?
Second, the two terms are worlds apart. Atheists usually claim to know the unknowable. Agnostics tend to accept that some things aren't known and don't let their panties get in a bunch because of that. The fact that neither believes in God doesn't imply that we are the same across the board.
You can't lump us into your ranks because it's convenient. If we were atheists, we'd call ourselves atheists.
Well both terms I believe derive from the Greek: A-Theist or No-God and A-Gnostic or No-Knowlege. That is, the former says there is no God and the latter says it is not known if there is or is not a God.
From what I see on HP, the agnostic is by far the more noble of the two. The atheist usually being puffed up with their certainty considers the theist as a simpleton. The agnostic is happy to engage in meaningful debate.
I would agree, but I think I'd be accused of thinking myself holy.
But, that is one primary reason I'd never call myself an atheist. I see little humility in most of the argument in favor of one side being 'oh so much smarter' because they've decided they know something they can't prove. It's about as frustrating as dealing with an evangelical.
Yeah holy agnostic does sound a little odd.
I think that some of the hardcore atheists are little different from the conservative fundamentalist evangelists. They both have a sense of superiority that they have "discovered" the truth. They are both so absolutely certain of themselves that they will not consider alternative views. Neither of them will admit that what they believe is purely based upon faith rather than evidence.
There are extremists in all populations and I agree atheists are no exception. However their decision is NEVER based on faith, it's based on logic. Atheists have no faith in anything, except what they can experience with their senses.
I think some of those "superior" atheists are probably suffering from Aspergers - in other words, their only mode of thinking is logic, and that's why they can't perceive of anyone else thinking differently.
It isn't logic that drives an argument in defense of an unprovable position. Attributing the extremists within atheism with Aspergers may be simply making excuses for their behavior.
"It isn't logic that drives an argument in defense of an unprovable position."
Atheists don't use logic to defend an unprovable position.
They use logic to defend one that is provable.
I think it's important to look at the exact wording.
Sophia, when we enter into the relgion and philosophy forum, and we comment in threads on religion and philosophy; we are usually discussing something about thoughts on 'the spiritual'. And, yes, atheists do (quite frequently) insist that they know something which they don't. Anyone that makes claims to know anything metaphysically is full of themselves, not full of facts or logic as you are attempting to argue to be true.
These same atheists also have a tendency, when they believe themselves to have been insulted, to make claims that are easily refuted. So, again, that is not using logic or reason. That is driven by emotion.
The point is that when arrogance or emotion causes us to overstep the bounds of what is known and insist that we are right we leave fact and logic behind; making that person no different from the outspoken theist. Neither is using logic or reason. It's pure ego driving the argument at that point.
Emile R, we've been over this before quite a few times in this discussion. You can believe what you want. I think, in your insistence that Atheists are this particular group of the devil, and agnostics are nice, pretty people, you are just as insistent about how superior you are.
I also want to add that for the past 70 years, Christianity has become a fundamentalist pain in the neck. Everybody has to hear about someone's testimony. One cannot go on to a forum without people asking the same old, same old over and over again.
"Is the bible true?"
"What happens to people who don't believe in God?"
"Why don't atheists believe in God?
"Atheists are evil, arrogant, etc."
Do you honestly defend this? Do you honestly think that some atheists haven't reached a point where they are fighting fire with fire?
Sorry, I don't think agnostics are more 'reasonable' than atheists. I think they are people who are sitting on the fence, who want to give everybody a fair chance because they don't like confrontation.
Atheists don't claim to 'know the unknowable'. Quite the reverse - they are rejecting claims made by those who do claim to know the unknowable.
I beg to differ. The professed atheists I have encountered will certainly concede (when backed into a corner) that they cannot be sure; but that is only after they have assured any within earshot that those who don't agree with them are delusional, or simpletons.
To me, it boils down to the level confidence one has in the information at hand. Most atheists I have encountered want to believe humanity has progressed in their understanding of the fabric and workings of the universe much farther than I am willing to concede. Some have, what to me are, foolish beliefs in what the ultimate answer is. Some say it doesn't matter what the beginning of the universe was. I find that unfathomable.
Whether you agree, or not, my observation of atheism has been that they (like the religious) have settled for answers. I don't settle and don't have any problem accepting that I may never know. I much prefer that stance to one of insisting I have answers that I obviously don't have.
"The professed atheists I have encountered..."
And that's the issue over here.
Your personal experience is subjective, and therefore, open to error and interpretation. What you need to do is read up on what atheists say. And nowhere do atheists, as a whole, say the things that you claim that they say
There is variation in every single belief system in the world. Nobody believes the identical thing down to the last atom.
Also, your own personality will influence the responses you get..
Way to state the obvious. Everything is subjective and always open to interpretation when it comes to religion and philosophy.
Of course all belief systems are different. Which is why I wonder why it appears important to you to insist agnostics are atheists. We aren't.
That's plain arrogance! I've already said I think the Richard Dawkins of this world do atheism a great disservice, because their air of superiority is bound to turn everyone else off.
I agree. But atheism has the same problems as Christianity. The most vocal are the ones who will define how atheism is perceived. In Christianity, the moderates do nothing to attempt to reign in the radical creationists, so they all look somewhat unreasonable. In atheism, the moderates do nothing to reign in the Dawkins groupies. So they suffer from the same problems.
That's the beauty of agnosticism. We are all in the middle. I've never had another agnostic embarrass me. Agnostics are nothing, if not reasonable.
Well, same here. As far as I can tell, the only people who are insisting on answers are religious folk. When atheists make claims they generally try to back them up with some evidence and/or solid reasoning.
I'm in agreement that we don't know a great deal about the whole shebang as far as the great mysteries of the universe go and that's one reason why I reject the special knowledge claims made by religion. There may well be things beyond our wildest imagination, including a God, whatever that might mean but until there's some evidence for something, *I don't believe it* is my default position.
I have no problem saying I don't believe in any of those man-made Gods, with specific characteristics, presented by the various religions and I don't feel a need to fence-sit on that. I allow for the possibility of these Gods being real in the same way I allow for the possibility of fairies, goblins and other supernatural myths being real - the chances of it being true are so slim as to be infinitesimal. Calling myself agnostic about this seems too diluted a response, as though I am more neutral about man-made Gods than I am, so I prefer the term atheist.
I don't see how any of this means that means I'm "settling" and that somehow your agnosticism makes you more open to possibilities than my atheism. Unless you believe that thinking something is not very likely is somehow close-minded and the correct position has to be 50/50 likely.
Arrogance is not confined to atheists and personally, i think this criticism is over-exaggerated but even if it's not, a few atheists do not the whole make. In any case, for me, it's not so much about whether or not atheists, theists or agnostics have winning personalities as it is whether their arguments make sense or not.
Edited to ad: Emile, I'd guess many atheists are technically agnostics but call themselves atheists for practical reasons - meaning they take a firmer view about Gods that are presented as knowable by religions of various persuasions than they do about the possibilities of unknown Gods and whatever mysteries lurk in the great cosmos. That's my position anyway - technically agnostic but an atheist for practical purposes.
It's not that black and white. I think there's a line from "agnostic" and "atheist", and non-religious people exist somewhere along that line.
I do not know a single atheist who claims to "know the unknowable". Even the most rabid atheist will only say, "on the evidence, I have no reason to believe that a God exists - and my experience leads me to think that situation is highly unlikely to change".
So in that sense, they are not that far from agnostics, who are also waiting for evidence before deciding whether God exists or not.
Hardly so. One is claiming to know, while the other is claiming to not know. Like Emile R said, they're worlds apart and shouldn't be lumped together despite the similarities, because there are even bigger differences.
There's also the (smaller) demographic of agnostics who lean toward theism or atheism. One can be an agnostic theist, an agnostic atheist, or just outright agnostic... many people will argue that agnostic theism and agnostic atheism is impossible though. I beg to differ.
I sympathise with this post Sophia. Since I don't know of a single atheist who would categorically claim there can be absolutely no possibility of a God, the word 'agnostic' does seem like a pedantic hair-split. I take atheism to mean the lack of belief in a God/Gods which is not the same as *refusal to accept the possibility of a God*. I suppose there are a few extreme atheists who would deny that a God could ever be possible but that is not atheism per se. In the main and for all intents and purposes atheism is really as 'reasonable' as agnosticism.
The way I see it it that Atheists and Religionists are both believers, the one in no God and the other in God. In either case its half a loaf. The agnostic will consider both sides of the equation creating a third option.
There is a forth option.Deists;we rarely hear from them because their entire"religion"consists of two words"God is".Not much to debate other than saying"no,God ain't".
Is there a way of making an ant conceive of humanity.It doesn't have the capacity to do so.
A deist believes the same about man understanding God,so the only thing left to do is leap and believe,or not.
The rest is human personality filtered bullshit and I would think quite arrogant.
I too feel there is a difference between the two. I consider myself agnostic because I don't know everything regarding the existence or lack of a god or gods. I'm sure many believers consider me an atheist because it make me an easier target for their insults, at least from those who result to such, but they are wrong.
I seek to find a reason to believe in gods, but so far I've not found any evidence of their existence. If the actions of many believers are any indication of how one is suppose to act, then it makes it even harder to believe in their particular deity.
I call myself an atheist for the most part. Other times, just because I don't want to upset the apple cart, I call myself an agnostic.
As an atheist, I will tell someone that there is absolutely no scientific proof for the existence of a personal God, and if they've got that evidence, I would like to see it. Of course, I have to define what I mean by scientific because a surprising number don't comprehend what scientific validating involves.
There is a difference between a personal god and a god. There is also a difference between scientific evidence and 'other' evidence.
I've yet to meet someone intent on proving god that gets what I'm actually saying...
I have a question...
Is the real issue here that those who want to convert others to their religion find agnostics more amenable to conversion while atheists are a lost cause?
The evangelical might perceive it that way, as might the devout atheist. Others in the middle will most likely see it as I do. It's an interesting conversation.
The far ends don't understand the middle. The middle understands the far ends. I think, we simply don't want to be on the far ends without proof.
It just occurred to me. Maybe the primary difference is desire. I've heard a lot of atheists talk about their time as evangelicals, born agains, and other experiences in the church.
Not once, in my entire adult life, have I felt the need to join anything religiously. I did have a desire to learn; but every time I set out to find out more about a particular sect I shook my head along the way, saw the flaws and stepped away. I didn't particularly feel bad about telling them that I considered them off base either.
Maybe atheists want to belong to something. I know, I think one of the primary reasons I am agnostic is because I don't need agreement. I'm happy to think what I think. Even if no one agrees with me.
"Agnosticism vs Atheism"
How about: "Agnostics have no ego or emotions attached to their agnostic philosophy; many atheists and theists do."?
Well, I'd say no philosophical position is without ego or emotion, including agnosticism.
I perceive agnosticism as a philosophical inquiry, as opposed to a philosophical position.
However, I think Sophia's last post has a point. There are indeed people of all persuasions who think they are superior to everyone else.
When I run across such people, I just merely put a contract out on them and move on.
Perhaps I should have said no-one's *opinions* are without ego and emotion.
Sophia, I googled 'Capitalism and You' and your blog came up NO 7 on the front page.
Wow! Jane Bovary, Now that is flattering... I don't know why it doesn't come up for me, especially as with the search engines now falling in love with presenting our own ideas back at us, I would have thought it would! I'm curious, did you put my name alongside it or just the words, "Capitalism and You?"
I would say that the very fact that agnostics seem to consider themselves superior to atheists because they are more amenable to talking about things, don't insist that they are right, etc. is, in itself, an air of superiority. In ny event, that's what come through to me for the past few weeks...
Hi paradigmsearch - essentially doing what everybody else is doing in this yukky economy. Trying to survive! Also started several new blogs and finally found one that works - capitalism and you. Instead of riling against capitalism, I'm looking at each aspect of it and how it has changed through the years. It's actually caught on, and I enjoy writing it. For some reason, though, the search engines don't pull it up when I search for it. Even weirder, it's getting Google traffic.
However, I've now gravitated back to hubpages because my head is dong more hubpage articles!
Lots of things I want to write about that's more suited here than elsewhere.
I found the link on your profile and read it. Excellent. The readership will keep growing. Sooner or later the resulting share links will hit critical mass...
I'm muddling along with my own blog, but mine is scattershot unlike your niche driven one. Your niche driven one will succeed, but I know my scattershot one wont. Sooner or later I will have my niche driven insight...
What was this thread about? Oh, yeah; Agnosticism vs Atheism. I'll toss this out there to confuse the issue.
paradign search... now there's an interesting article!
A bit heavy but some very interesting things to say. I liked the following sentences...
"...word ‘agnostic’, it seems (perhaps independently) to have been introduced by T. H. Huxley at a party in London to found the Metaphysical Society..."
"There are no strict rules about this classification because the borderlines are vague. If need be, like a middle-aged man who is not sure whether to call himself bald or not bald, he should explain himself more fully."
"As was hinted earlier, a person may call herself an agnostic, as Huxley did, because of questionable philosophical motives."
"Some scientists when canvassing these issues ...may prefer to call themselves ‘agnostics’ rather than ‘atheists’ because they have been over impressed by... a too simple understanding of Popper's dictum that we can never verify a theory but only refute it. Such a view would preclude us from saying quite reasonably that we know that the Sun consists largely of hydrogen and helium. When we say ‘I know’ we are saying something defeasible. If later we discover that though what we said was at the time justified, it nevertheless turned out to be false, we would say ‘I thought I knew but I now see that I didn't know’. Never or hardly ever to say ‘I know’ would be to deprive these words of their usefulness, just as the fact that some promises have to be broken does not deprive the institution of promising of its legitimacy."
"Another motive whereby an atheist might describe herself as an agnostic is purely pragmatic. In discussion with a committed theist this might occur out of mere politeness or in some circumstances from fear of giving even more offence."
All very interesting!
You're also right about the niche blogger. You're right, of course. It is a niche. My other niche one 'The Spice of Writing' also draws more traffic than my generalized one. My generalized one has some topics that get a lot of Google traffic, but no payment because no one clicks on the advertising for those particular topics (which is all rather annoying). For myself, Hub Pages, seems to present the best venue for generalized writing.
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