Distinguishing The Atheist Agnostic, The Theist Gnostic, The Atheist Gnostic, and The Theist Agnostic

Peter Brietbart defines and schematizes distinctions between different kinds of atheists, theists, agnostics, and gnostics which have been growing in popularity in recent years.  Rather than misleadingly defining atheists as exclusively those who claim to know there are no gods, theists as those who claim to know there is a god (or gods) and agnostics as those who are purely in the middle about whether there is a god (or gods), Brietbart follows the recent trend towards making agnosticism not a separate position from theism or atheism but a feature of either the one or the other which is contrastable gnostic way of being the one or the other.  So, his result is as follows:

An atheist agnostic is someone who does not believe in gods and also thinks that the existence of gods cannot be known. This might mean that they don’t believe in gods because they haven’t seen any evidence that supports their existence.

theist gnostic is someone who believes in a god/gods and thinks that the existence of gods can be known. This position is usually referred to as just ‘theist‘, since people who believe in gods, usually also think that their existence can be known.

An atheist gnostic is someone who does not believe in gods, and who thinks that we can know that gods do not exist. A fairly unusual position, they might think they have found proof of the non-existence of gods, or might have been persuaded by life experiences.

theist agnostic is someone who believes in gods, but thinks that they could not know for sure that their god exists. Another fairly unusual position, as people who have faith in gods usually also think that their god can be known to be real.

The chart on the original article tries to account for The Atheist Agnostic, The Theist Gnostic, The Atheist Gnostic, and The Theist Agnostic by giving each its own square as decided by horizontal axis that covers degree of atheism to degree of theism and a vertical axis decided by degree of gnosticism and degree of agnosticism.   He cuts off half the Atheist Gnostic square and half the Theist Agnostic square because he judges those positions to be rarer.  That strikes me as an irrelevant way to cut a chart meant to schematize possibilities and not actualities based on hard data.

I like, in particular that he properly clarifies that agnosticism (in both cases) is a belief about the knowability of whether or not there is a God, rather than simply about whether the particular agnostic him or herself knows whether there is a God.  Agnosticism in this way does not simply mean “I don’t know” but “No one can know.”  But, nonetheless, various important, distinguishable possibilities are missing from this chart that should be distinguished in a more thorough taxonomy of possibilities:

1. A neutral Agnosticism may say, “Someone might be able to know, but I simply do not” option is a viable form of agnosticism distinct from the “no one can know kind.

2. Atheist Agnosticism can say “People in the future might be able to know but at present none of us may rightfully claim we know given the current state of knowledge.”

3.  Another variation of the Atheist Agnosticism spelled out in (2) might be “People in the future may more adequately define the conditions of a god that may then be verified to exist by physicists and cosmologists but at present this has not been done and since all previous definitions of a god or gods have yielded no adequate demonstration or conditions for demonstration, for the time being all belief in gods is unjustified, resting as it does always on .”

4.  Another variation of the Theist Gnosticism might be any of a number of strands of deism “I know there is a god (or gods) but it is (or they are) impersonal,” “I know there is a god (or gods) but divine intervention in human affairs is impossible,” “I know there is a god but it is simply an impersonal, non-intervening principle of all being”

5. While I can think of few or no actual Atheist Gnostics of whom I am aware who say they know with 100% certainty that there is no god (or gods) such is a possibility and it should not be shaved off the chart the way Brietbart does (even thought it is admittedly rare).

Finally, the apatheists (those who claim simply not to care, rather than to have an opinion) seem to me irrelevant to the chart.  None of these other positions have anything to do with whether or not one cares, it’s a matter of (a) belief and (b) belief about possibilities for justification of belief.  It’s about do you believe in a god or gods or not and do you believe that god or gods are matters about which we can have knowledge or not.  Any one of those positions above could be coupled with apathy.  There can be Atheist Agnostics who simply do not care about the question and even Gnostic Theists who do not care about whether there is a god or gods even though as they believe in it.  I believe that Jupiter has 63 moons.  Do I care?  Nope.  The apatheists are irrelevant to a chart concerned with beliefs.  Maybe the justification is that an apatheist has not bothered to form any beliefs on the issue and so cannot be placed in any other square (or half square).  This raises an interesting distinction to sort out.  There are those who do not have any belief stance on some issue because they have investigated them and found the evidence inconclusive and there are those who do not have any belief stance on that same issue because they have not investigated and so have no idea what is better or worse to believe whatsoever.

In that case, we might say that there are those who are torn between two possible beliefs because they actually believe that both positions have 50% evidence or an inconclusive 60%-40% split of some sort.  That sort of agnostic could wind up anywhere along either of the middle lines.  For example, you can have someone who believes the question of god (or gods)  is resolvable and as a result belongs on the gnostic line and yet they themselves are split down the middle as neither a believer in a god or gods and so belong right on the line between gnostic theism and gnostic atheism.  And the degree to which they are certain that the issue is in fact resolvable one way or the other will put them further or closer on the gnostic theism/atheism line to the intersecting agnosticism line.

Or, you can have someone who believes that the issue of belief in god or gods is not rationally resolvable but is torn on whether or not to have faith in light of this uncertainty.  And again, that person could be right on the agnosticism line but  not tipping in the theism or atheism direction.  And can be as far or close to the intersecting gnosticism line as the degree to which she is sure that knowledge of god (or gods) is possible or impossible.

So, in sum, this ambivalent person has either (1) seen 50-50 evidence for belief in a god (or gods) and is in the midst of reasoning from an already established position of gnosticism (that belief is possible) or (2) is split 50-50 in her reasoning about whether having faith is the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do where she reasons from an already established position of agnosticism (that justified belief is impossible and the will must opt either to believe amidst uncertainty or refrain from belief because of uncertainty).

Someone split in this way, having considered evidence for belief and/or reasons concerning whether or not knowledge in these matters is possible (in other words, having actually considered reasons for choosing between atheism/theism and/or reasons for choosing between gnosticism/agnosticism) is in a much different position than someone who has never assessed evidence in either debate (theism/atheism, gnosticism/agnosticism).  I do not know if any such person really exists—though it is likely that most people have not very well explored the reasons for theism, atheism, agnosticism about god questions, or gnosticism about god questions, I find it hard to believe anyone has not considered any such reasons and does not belong somewhere on the chart—however little they may care about the issues at hand.

And even if someone does not belong on the chart at all, their apatheism is irrelevant to their placement or non-placement on the chart.  All that would take someone off the chart and matter with respect to their non-placement on it would be their complete and utter ignorance of all the issues involved that leads to know default beliefs on the issues at all.  Right now there is probably some raging debate in chemistry about which I am so utterly ignorant that my default non-belief in either position does not even qualify as a default acceptance of either other position.  It makes me simply without any kind of belief, implicit or explicit, about the issue.  Only that sort of person, 100% oblivious to all questions of gods or possible knowledge of gods would not belong anywhere on a chart like this.

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Between a Veil and a Dark Place
About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Dave Smith

    I’m closest to Atheist Agnosticism (in first sense – #2), although it doesn’t quite fit. Rather than “People in the future may or might be able to know”, I would say that, if God does exist, it most definitely is possible to know this fact. Not necessarily in the present, and not necessarily by “people” even, but quite simply knowable in an abstract sense. So you might consider me a gnostic toward theism (as opposed to a gnostic theist) who, based on our current knowledge, is an atheist. On the other hand, I’m agnostic toward atheism. I don’t think it’s possible to know that God doesn’t exist.

    • Daniel Fincke

      That’s extremely interesting Dave. That really explodes the chart. I have to think all of that over…

    • http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php Hermes

      “On the other hand, I’m agnostic toward atheism. I don’t think it’s possible to know that God doesn’t exist.”

      As an agnostic atheist myself, I would not say agnosticism applies *towards* atheism as a belief, nor would I say that atheism is an absolutist position about both knowledge. You’ve got the two backwards. Agnosticism is a knowledge claim and atheism is a belief; agnosticism is not a belief and neither is atheism a knowledge claim.

      Instead agnostic atheism is roughly ‘I do not know for certain, but I think there are no gods.’ When I say that I am an agnostic atheist, I am referring to the general knowledge claims and beliefs about all generic deities not specific sectarian ones.

      When the emphasis is towards a specific deity — using “God” (proper name) for example, — more definitive knowledge claims are appropriate as the scope is greatly reduced. In most situations, I use the generic “gods” or better yet “deities” whenever possible, and then ask the theist to tell me (as Matt Dillahunty says) ‘What you believe and why you believe it’; belief and knowledge claims.

      Yet, when a Christian says “You can not disprove God!” I answer addressing the specific deity from the Christian religious texts;

      “It’s your responsibility to provide positive evidence for your deity, not me, but if you want to know if I can disprove the Christian deity as described in the Christian religious texts, the answer is yes. Yes I can.”

      For the Christian deity as described in the Bible, I am a gnostic atheist; ‘I know for certain that the Christian deity does not exist.’

      If the Christian flips back and forth from talking about “God of the Bible” to a generic “any god”, then they are called on it as the two claims are different. That many Christians think “any god” = “My God” and that the two are interchangeable based on convenience is not acceptable.

    • Dave Smith

      Thanks for the response, Hermes. “agnostic toward atheism” perhaps wasn’t the best way to express the thought; I used it mostly because it nicely parallels “gnostic toward thesism”. What I mean is that (much as you’ve said above) I don’t think one can disprove the existance of God in the “generic” sense. Once you get into specifics it certainly is possible to disprove, for example, the Christian God. Of course, the very thing that makes disproving a generic God impossible also makes said God largely irrelevant – there’s no use in a God you can’t say anything about.

    • http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php Hermes

      Dave Smith: “Of course, the very thing that makes disproving a generic God impossible also makes said God largely irrelevant – there’s no use in a God you can’t say anything about.”

      I agree.

      (As a pet peeve, when you write “a generic God” you’re contradicting yourself; God is a proper name for a specific deity like Jack or Tom or Susan are mortal names. The Christians already assume that the only deity worth mentioning is theirs. By not using lower case for generic deities, or the word deity/deities, you’re supporting that bias.)

  • njustus

    my thinking is that if someone is truly agnostic (we can’t know if there are gods or not) then it is just as illogical to be an atheistic agnostic as a theistic agnostic.

    is it helpful to talk about different kinds of agnosticism if the ultimate conclusion as to the existence of gods can’t be drawn logically? perhaps only if the purpose of the adjective ‘theistic’ or ‘atheistic’ is to shed light on non-logical aspects of the person’s beliefs (i.e., their personal experiences, biases, etc.)

    of course that raises the question of whether there is ever justification for believing in anything that is not supported by logic (either contrary to logic or generally accepted cause-and-effect rules, or somehow non-indicative as to those)

    • Daniel Fincke

      my thinking is that if someone is truly agnostic (we can’t know if there are gods or not) then it is just as illogical to be an atheistic agnostic as a theistic agnostic.

      The word “illogical” is very dicey here. I would say that the issue is not one of logic but of both epistemic and ethical appropriateness of assenting to propositions in the face of uncertainty. One can must start with scientifically well-confirmed beliefs about the world and certain a priori notions about metaphysical necessities and begin to infer and deduce various ideas about under what circumstances a god or gods would be knowable or not knowable and whether or not those circumstances do obtain or foreseeably could obtain. In this case, you’re being logical enough, the only issue is whether or not your premises are accurately formulated when you make your deductions and whether your non-deductive inferences can be borne out when you attempt to corroborate them with the rest of your beliefs and with future human knowledge.

      Assuming you come to the conclusion that no one can know about a god or gods (and not just that you don’t know yet). Then the issue becomes one epistemic and ethical guidelines in uncertainty. If the reason that we cannot know is that even though it is unlikely there is a god (or gods) and you see no positive reasons to believe there is a god (or gods), you can simply never prove a negative, then you are really 99.9999% sure that there is no god but you hold out the minimal possibility of there being one. In that case, while you are technically an agnostic about the possibility of knowledge of a god (or gods) existence, you have enough warrant to go ahead and adopt the belief there are no deities. This is logical in that it’s an inference based on probability. On the other hand if you do not think it is ever definitively knowable whether there is a god (or gods) but you think the evidence is 99% in favor, then you would be justified in believing.

      Now cases with this high a certainty may be essentially gnostics in practice. The real kicker might be someone who is 50-50 torn between the two given the inconclusive evidence at hand and who also believes nothing could come along to break the tie—he’s just stuck. This person would then have to choose how to live accordingly. It seems to me in this case, that ethical and epistemic considerations should come in in a major way here. I think that religious commitment demands more affirmation than the 50-50 believing agnostic can commit to while being true to his ambivalence. De facto atheism as a matter of practice requires of him no special extra beliefs that depend on believing in a god (or gods) or not. He can still reason about issues in a way that just brackets that god question about which he is a complete agnostic who sees no scale-tipping reasons for believing one way or the other. To become a religious believer requires so much positive affirmation that he thinks he can never ground that it seems to violate the intellectual conscience to adopt any kind of religion with its attempts to say robust, positive things about the nature of God, his alleged works, etc. In this way the leap to faith is the unjustified, illogical betrayal of the logic of agnosticism. True 50-50 believing, agnosticism would not lend itself to being an activist atheist but it should lead one to being a de facto atheist.

      is it helpful to talk about different kinds of agnosticism if the ultimate conclusion as to the existence of gods can’t be drawn logically? perhaps only if the purpose of the adjective ‘theistic’ or ‘atheistic’ is to shed light on non-logical aspects of the person’s beliefs (i.e., their personal experiences, biases, etc.)

      of course that raises the question of whether there is ever justification for believing in anything that is not supported by logic (either contrary to logic or generally accepted cause-and-effect rules, or somehow non-indicative as to those)

    • http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php Hermes

      “my thinking is that if someone is truly agnostic (we can’t know if there are gods or not) then it is just as illogical to be an atheistic agnostic as a theistic agnostic.”

      Agnosticism is a knowledge claim.

      Theism and atheism are beliefs.

      Knowledge can inform belief, but beliefs are not knowledge and knowledge is not a belief.

      As such, only the ‘complete agnostic’ position is nonsensical as it does not address beliefs at all.

  • http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php Hermes

    The checkerboard diagrams don’t really work and they tend to make things too simple; it’s not just gnostic/agnostic and Christian-theist/atheist.

    I’ve run a poll multiple times on this general issue, and came up with this arrangement;

    Knowledge position +
    Belief position =
    actual religious position

    I find this to be most fair since it avoids the issue of religion-specific dogmas or the lack of religion entirely and allows both knowledge claims and beliefs to be expressed. Dogmas and even sectarian issues ramp up the complexity and don’t really explain anything; the conversations are linked to what individuals think and thus become very long, drawn out, and detailed with many specialized words and concepts that often do not apply to anyone else or if they do not in the same way. That nearly every theist has a different religion should not be a surprise to anyone.

    Back to the polls I’ve run…

    While there are quite a few knowledge and belief positions, here are the ones I’ve settled on as being most popular;

    Knowledge related positions:

    ignostic (‘knowledge claims about gods are meaningless’)
    apnostic (‘I don’t care about knowledge claims about gods’)

    Belief related positions:

    henotheist (any type)

    For agnosticism, I left it as a span from “we can not know at all” (close to Huxley) through to “I do not know for certain”.

    As such, in the poll, there are no options for just a knowledge position or just a belief position, but everyone has an option to choose knowledge+belief.

    Why did I do that? Is that valid?

    Yes, it is valid and I worded the poll that way to drive that point home.

    For example, when many people who label themselves as agnostics talk, they attempt to claim a middle ground that doesn’t exist. Agnosticism is entirely valid, but it only fits the knowledge category. As such, beliefs are left unaddressed. An agnostic can have a very weak belief, or one that is as variable as the wind on a blustery day, but there is still a kind of belief (some kind of theism) or a lack of one (atheism). Note that by definition, a newborn baby (someone that is as neutral as possible) could still be said to have a lack of belief (atheism) and a lack of knowledge (agnostic or even apnostic). There’s no air gap there for a totally neutral position for a newborn, and neither is there one for someone who insists on a mythical agnosticism that covers yes and no for all beliefs simultaneously.

  • http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php Hermes

    The current version of the poll I mentioned in my last message can be found here;


  • Daniel Fincke

    Thanks Hermes. I have a couple problems here. One is that you are tying belief in a god or gods to religion so closely and just obliterating the distinction between the god of the philosophers and religious gods. This is common but I think lamentable. When we atheists do this we are reinforcing the idea that to believe in a first cause of a ground of all being is to necessarily be on the side of religion. We are just conceding that the deists and pantheists belong in religious camps when people like Voltaire and Jefferson and Spinoza and Bill Maher are all really on the atheist’s side when it comes to anti-religious, pro-rationality approaches to life. The god question is not the fundamental divide between the religious and the irreligious in my view. Sure, technically atheists and deists disagree on the God question (sometimes only semantically and sometimes clearly in substance) but on the religion question it’s not so clear that we have to. And, in fact, we can probably do more good in combatting religion if we awaken or nurture in deists and the otherwise “just spiritual” the sense that we’re on the same irreligious, pro-reason team (at least where “spiritual” does not mean another set of superstitious beliefs.)

    Finally, newborn babies are not atheists or theists or anything any more than I am a non-believer in some chemistry theory I’ve never heard of simply because I do not assent to it. Not everything we do not assent to is something we are an outright disbeliever in. Not every question is one on which I have a belief or a disbelief. For example, Hermens, I right now do not know anything about your siblings (even if you have any) or your parents. Does that mean that I have a disbelief that you have sisters or brothers or a disbelief that your parents’ names are Sally and Mike? No, I don’t have any beliefs or disbeliefs on the subject. Atheism is specifically a disbelief, not merely a lack of belief. It is being familiar with the question and judging that there is no such thing as a god of any sort. Trying to foist onto newborns de facto support of our side is just sophistry. They don’t register as disbelievers until they can at least understand the question.

  • http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php Hermes

    “Thanks Hermes. I have a couple problems here. One is that you are tying belief in a god or gods to religion so closely and just obliterating the distinction between the god of the philosophers and religious gods.”

    Absolutely not.

    If you look at the poll, and the categories for beliefs I listed — atheist, monotheist, polytheist, pantheist, deist, and henotheist — none are sectarian. Religion and sectarian/dogmatic issues in the poll are specifically addressed in the first post describing the poll.

    As for ‘conceding Jefferson’ and some of the others are not atheists, I consider that honesty; he was a deist and neither an atheist nor a monotheist. The Christians can’t claim him without lying and we shouldn’t join in that tug of war. Saying accurately what people believed and thought is the best way to defuse that. The monotheists have no claims. The deists and pantheists make claims that are consistent with reality even if they are not positively supported by evidence. As such, I have no problem with either group and consider them to be in roughly the same camp as atheists as a practical and philosophical issue. That said, they aren’t atheists and we do them a disservice by labeling them as atheists.

    “The god question is not the fundamental divide between the religious and the irreligious in my view.”

    True. I think supernaturalism and magical thinking vs. examining, understanding, and accepting reality are the main divides. There are religious people who put magical thinking and supernaturalism to the side. Those people are my allies much more than a credulous new ager who happens to have no belief in gods but is floundering in a thin pop version of spirituality. Sam Harris could be seen as someone who is both spiritual and accepting reality without a prop.

    The issue of newborns is not a ‘mu’ question, nor is it sophistry. Newborns are indeed atheists by definition. A theist is ‘someone who believes in the existence of a god or gods’. As such, newborns are not theists; atheists. Atheism as such is either a lack of belief or an active disbelief depending on the person.

    If you want to post on the WWGHA forum in the Religious Position thread, feel free to do so. There are quite a few people who have made comments similar to the ones in this blog post and we vigorously discuss the topics there.

  • http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php Hermes

    Note: I’m not saying Sam Harris is a theist, even if he makes a good case for moving away from the word ‘atheist’. While I agree with his points, the reality is that the Christian bigots don’t care about Sam’s thoughtful comments, only who they can bash and hold up as the bogyman. As such, like the homosexuals and different ethnic groups, we would be best served by embracing the term atheist and making it what it is; something worth recommending.

  • Daniel Fincke

    I agree with you that, contra-Harris we should stand by the atheist monicker. Even when I tended to view atheism as certainty and agnosticism as just the Huxleyan “no one can in principle know” position and felt that I most accurately belonged in the Huxley agnosticism camp, I opted to take on the label of atheist because as far as I was concerned it expressed my opposition to the deities of religions (and to religion itself) which was indeed certain. While I hold open a metaphysical/physical possibility that there could be persuasive formulations of a god hypothesis or that the philosopher’s god might be defined in certain ways that I might accept its existence, I’m 100% certain Yahweh and Jesus are as much bullshit as Thor and Zeus are. And since THAT’S what’s really at stake and controversial and what people hear when they hear the word “atheist” I’m happy to have the label. And finally, since as far as I’m concerned agnosticism entails and a-theistic (non-god-referent) approach to life and inquiry, being an agnostic entailed de facto atheism and so was fine with me.

    As to Jefferson and his fellow deists I nowhere advocated lying about them and saying they were atheists. I just meant that we shouldn’t associate all god beliefs as religious/supernaturalistic/faith-based/irraionalistic ones because when we concede that ground we risk losing the rationalist, anti-supernaturalist, deists by treating that position as though it belongs with religious views when it does not. Deists should, in my view, self-identify as closer to atheists and detach themselves from the unnecessary religious trappings and I want to make that invitation to them clear. That’s all. And I take it from your remarks on my further qualifications of that point that you’d agree.

    I did check out the poll and did see the more latitude for deism than I had originally acknowledged. I couldn’t quite bring myself to vote still (even with so many options) since I consider myself an agnostic given our current situation. I think in our current situation, given all present formulations of the idea of God, I would be split on whether there is a ground of all being and am not sure I know how to settle the question without guessing. I’m probably 60-40% against a “ground of all being principle” being true but open to the possibility something more specific and physically investigable could be formulated by cosmologists whose ideas I cannot hope to understand. So, given our current situation I am an agnostic about the metaphysical and the physical possibilities for demonstrating a single, unitary being that served as fundamentally explanatory of all being. All I know is that currently agnosticism, leaning towards atheism but free to speculate deistically in metaphysical terms is the only thing I feel in justified in saying we can have. And there’s always a future possibility of genius discoveries that make deism viable. Today it’s not viable enough to be justified metaphysically or physically.

    But I’m as gnostic atheist as they come that the deities of religious imagination are total hogwash projected by, well, religious imaginations! And a personal god is only a little more likely than fairies. It’s not at all likely to me that even if in the future a deistic god would be demonstrable by physicists, cosmologists, and/or metaphysicians that it would be a personal god. But since it is at least minimally possible it would be in a way that fairies are not possible, I’d give that a roughly 1% likelihood, and be a technical agnostic but a de facto atheist on the point. So, great and thorough as your poll is, I still don’t think I can choose!

  • http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php Hermes

    Daniel, I’m in full agreement with what you wrote except for the either/or sentiment (however strongly held) for agnosticism or theism or atheism. Lacie Green covers what I’m getting at;

    The Christian deity is disprovable; it is self-refuting if the Bible is asserted as being an accurate description of it. If the Bible is not accurate, then what is the Christian deity?

    As for the other deities, I did hear someone on The Atheist Experience give an example of real gods; there are places where people worship totems. When you ask them to show you their god, they point to the totem and they mean it literally. They don’t mean that the totem is symbolic, they mean ‘there is a god’. In that case, I have to agree; yes, I have to admit that *that* god has been proven to exist and I will not deny it. Yet, the feats and powers attributed to that real god aren’t something that I’m agreeing to when I agree their god exists.

  • Daniel Fincke

    Just to be clear, Hermes, I have since appreciated the further distinctions that you and others have elucidated which make the either/or I was referring to above unnecessary. I was just referring to what I opted to do before accepting these whole ideas of breaking off the possibility of knowledge from the belief stances.

    Nonetheless it still stands that I find those views I just spelled out are too complicated for any specific words. I think the best way to describe myself is as an anti-religious, anti-faith, anti-superstitious, rationalistic Feuerbachian/Nietzschean atheist with respect to personal deities, who is nonetheless agnostic about deistic and physics-based gods and believes we have ritual, communal, ethical, and naturalistically spiritual needs which must be met but only outside religion and in accord with reason and morality.

  • http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php Hermes

    [ tips hat in appreciation to Daniel Fincke; good conversation ]

  • http://tni.com/110405 Neil C. Reinhardt

    Hi Daniel,

    I AM an Agnostic Atheist Activist. Been an Atheist for around 67 of my 75 years & an Atheist Activist for over 50 years.

    I am an Agnostic because I know there is no way for me to absolutely positively know if there is not some type of a god some where or not. Only as the odds of there actually being any god are so totally infinitesimal, I am also an Atheist.

    As far as debating any who believe in a god, it usually ends quickly. This is due to my pointing out:

    A. The odds being about 100% the reason they believe in the god and religion they do is only due to who raised them.

    B. The only reason they do not believe in many gods is becasue they were not raised by Hindus.

    C. We Humans have invented, named and worshipped 25,000 different gods so far and there is no proof any of them actually existed.

    D. Any & all gods only exist in the minds of those who believe in them.

    E. NO god has ANY power to do anything other than what results
    from the acts of those who believe in that god.

    F. The many reasons if there actually were an All Knowing and an All Powerful god such as described by the Christians, He-She-It is an extreamly Incompetent god!

    He-She-It is totally incompetent as NO god who is not only All Powerful / All Knowing
    who is also supposedly Compassionate, Kind, Caring, Just and Fair would ever create a world like ours and/or fill it with the living things it has.

    And any god who would, is not only not worthy of any worship, He-She-It is not even someone I would care to know.

    Needless to say this really pisses them off and normally causes them to cease any communication with me.

    Neil C. Reinhardt

    “A 75 year old Pro Iraq War Agnostic Atheist Activist, 101st Airborne Vet and
    an Iconoclastic, Philosophizing, Beach VolleyBall Playing Grumpy Old Son Of A Beach!”

    A PROUD TEA PARTY Supporter

    And a member of All of the following:







  • Daniel Fincke

    HA, it’s a pleasure to meet you Neil

  • http://ffrf.org/ Neil C. Reinhardt

    Hi Daniel

    I am Sorry for the delay in my replying to your Kind Welcome. (My error!) I sure hope you will still feel “welcoming” after
    reading my comments.

    So you are a liberal, well, most people were.
    While many younger people are liberals, they become fewer and fewer as they grow older. This is due to the exact same thing which happens to some of the more open minded religious people.

    As they age, gaining in both experience and in knowledge, causes some of them to reject the programming they received as babies, children and young adults. Once they successfully deprogrammed themselves. they become Atheists.

    The EXACT same thing happens to many, if not MOST, Liberals!

    As Liberals age and they also gain in both experience and in knowledge, they reject the dream world of how Liberals believe things are and come into the real world of how things actually are.

    This causes them to, as it did Ronald Reagan & many millions of others, to become Conservatives.

    This is why it is fairily easy to find blogs and books written by FORMER Liberals as there are quite a few of them.

    IT is also why it is hard to find more than a very few (2?) blogs / books written by Former Conservatives.

    Next. as you seem to be an Anti-Tea Party person, I ask do you even know what the Tea Party’s three Basic tenets are?

    I find most who are against the Tea Party
    have not taken the time to even do the slightest bit of research to find out what their tenets are and/or who are really the Tea Party supporters.

    So, for your and others Edification, here is some factual information.

    The TEA PARTY’s Mission Statement

    The impetus for the Tea Party movement is excessive government spending and taxation.

    Thus, our mission is to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with our three core values of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets.”

    Here again are the Tea Parties Three Core Values.


    Fiscal Responsibility by government honors & respects the freedom of the individual to spend the money that is the fruit of their own labor.

    A constitutionally limited government, designed to protect the blessings of liberty, must be fiscally responsible or it must subject its citizenry to high levels of taxation which unjustly restrict the liberty our Constitution was designed to protect.

    Such runaway deficit spending as we now see in Washington D.C. compels us to take action as the increasing national debt is a very grave threat to our national sovereignty and the personal and to the economic liberty of future generations.


    We, the members of The Tea Party Patriots, are inspired by our founding documents and regard the Constitution of the United States to be the supreme law of the land.

    We believe it is possible to know the original intent of the government our founders set forth, and we stand in support of their intent.

    Like the founders, we support states rights for those powers not expressly stated in the Constitution. As the government is of the people, by the people and for the people, in all other matters we support the personal liberty of the individual, within the rule of law.


    A free market is the economic consequence of personal liberty. The founders believed personal and economic freedom were indivisible, as do we.

    Our current government’s interference distorts the free market and inhibits the pursuit of individual and economic liberty.

    Therefore, we support a return to the free market principles on which this nation was founded and oppose government intervention into the operations of private business.

    NCR ASKS Please, any of you Anti-Tea Party types, explain me just how any informed, rational person with an IQ over 50 could NOT support the Tea Parties Three Core Values?


    LAST: Due to how your new server causes your forum posts to become narrower and narrower to the point of making them unreadable, sadly I doubt I’ll be reading or posting again.

  • Jesse

    I’m not quite sure where to put myself on that chart, because the God concept is very complex and varies from sect to sect.

    I could be considered an atheist gnostic in regards to an immaterial God, since neuroscience has pretty much established that the mind is a function of highly complex arrangements of matter, such as brains.

    The only other option is an Epicurean god, i.e. one made of atoms. At that point, the question changes from “Do you believe in God?” to “Do you believe in an extraterrestrial that has had contact with humans and inspired their holy books?” To that question, I am an atheist agnostic.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the article.