Those Militant Agnostics…

(via LOL god)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Rieux

    Good stuff!

  • Trina

    Thanks for that one!  Funny!

  • Hannah

    I don’t get the militant agnostic one… seems more like a militant Christian to me :/

    xo,
    an agnostic

    • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

      The stereotypial militant agnostic is a person who shouts “OMG GUYZ U AETHIST R JUST AS BAD AS THE FUNDATMENTISTS, WHY CAN’T U LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE?!?”

      • Tasuret

        Hey, Britney’s a bitch. So there.

        • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

          Don’t use gendered insults…

          • Subterminal

            Okay, Brittany is a poopie-head.

            • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

              Much better.

    • Volunteer

      You’re an agnostic what. You didn’t tell us what you believe.

  • Philbert

    The militant agnostic would also be at a keyboard, announcing to the internets that the militant atheist is just as bad as the guy pointing a shotgun at you or wearing a suicide vest.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you Philbert. That made my day :)

    • Anonymous

      Thank you Philbert. That made my day :)

  • Ronlawhouston

    Honestly “militant agnostic” is more than a bit of an oxymoron.  If you don’t know about something, how can you form enough of an opinion to be militant?

    • Anonymous

      Maybe they’re gnostic about their agnosticism? Agnostignostics? Gnostagnostics?

      • Freak

        Panel 5: http://www.airshipentertainment.com/buckcomic.php?date=20071222

    • Anonymous

      I’ve run into three militant agnostics on the internet.   They hate atheists with a passion.    It’s not rational either.    They know that we cannot know, even in the case of a self refuting definition of god.

  • Pinko

    I anticipate a deluge of indignant agnostic responses…prove me wrong, internets.

    • Hermes

      Well, I’ll try, dear friend Pinko.  I don’t care for the image of the agnostic as someone with their head in the sand.  I think it takes courage to admit you don’t have the kind of information required to build a total system of explanation.  Cultures have tried many times to fit  the world to a specific belief system.  It’s the fitting that always breaks down.  At least with the scientific approach to apprehending the world, the ‘dogma’ evolves and changes to fit the evidence.  So while based on probability I would lean strongly towards atheism, at the end of the day I keep coming back to agnosticism, in that I know that I don’t know.  I have heard of militant agnostics- who are convinced that you can’t know.  It is a fun philosophical rabbit hole.

      • Rieux

        I think it takes courage to admit you don’t have the kind of information required to build a total system of explanation.

        Perhaps, but one might note that few if any atheists claim to “have the kind of information required to build a total system of explanation.” The very notion that atheism purports to be, or indeed has any relationship to, “a total system of explanation” is an absurd misconception that one tends to find among “militant” (though that’s a ridiculous adjective) agnostics.

        Atheism is the lack of belief in gods. That’s all. It has no necessary connection to what anyone knows.

        • Hermes

          Actually I was referring to religions constructing ‘systems of explanations’, not to atheism.  So according to how you see it, i’d be interested in how you distinguish atheism as lack of belief, from agnosticism as not having enough info to establish either belief or non belief.  I guess I’m interested in keeping belief irrelevant to how we investigate the world we’re immersed in.  Apologies at my self taught use of terminology,  I’m genuinely trying to parse the differences between atheism and agnosticism when I see a fair amount of overlap, and the bizarre but fun phenomenon of agnostics being the one group that atheists can kick.  I joke but I’m serious.

          • Coyotenose

            “…and the bizarre but fun phenomenon of agnostics being the one group that atheists can kick.”

            As an admitted Furry, and thus the lowest of the low, reviled throughout Geekdom, that made me blink.  Empathetic hugs all around!

  • Steve Gray

    Where can I get a T-shirt?

  • Pseudonym

    How people forget that European nihilist anarchists, all of them nominally atheist, invented the car bomb.

    Not that this describes anyone here, but the phrase “militant atheist” does actually refer to something in the real world, even if most people use the term incorrectly.

    • Pinko

      Did they create and use the car bomb to make a statement specifically about atheism though?  I mean, there is a difference between militant people who are also atheists and people who are militant atheists just like there is a difference between militant people who are religious and people who you would categorize as militantly religious.  If someone blows up a building and they happen to be Christian that doesn’t make them a militant Christian.  If a Christian blows up a building for specifically religious reasons, that’s when they ought to be categorized as a militant Christian.
      I don’t know that much about European nihilist anarchists though, I could be wrong.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, but militant atheist is used to refer to any atheist who expresses their opinion.    It’s not meant to refer to those that are violent, just vocal.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Before the invention of the car bomb, was there a horse bomb? 
      Ewww. Icky.

      • http://www.phoenixgarage.org/ cr0sh

        You probably didn’t want to know this:

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

        Googling “horse bomb” brings up links to articles that apparently indicate that this is nothing new (and likely has precedents to the Wall Street bombing as well) – while also being a current and ongoing threat.

        Ugly? Messy? Icky? Yes.

        As well as disturbing, unfortunate, and despicable…

    • stellaluna

      not too much has been said of the religious affiliations of the italian anarchists who attempted to blow up jp morgan bank on wall st in 1920.  the mastermind was said to be ticked off about the arrests of  his buddies sacco & vanzetti.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wall_Street_bombing

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593675787 Glenn Davey

    I always thought militant agnostic was summed up by that little GIF that said: “Militant Agnostic: I Don’t Know and You Don’t Either”. Isn’t that their basic tenet?

  • NickDB

    Have a question to ask all of you. My belief is that there is no god, there is not one bit of evidence that a god exists. However I believe that it’s difficult to actually say you know there is or there isn’t a supreme being. If evidence comes to light to prove scientifically that there is a god, I’ll change my belief. So does this make me an atheist or agonistic?

    As a side note, I’m always reminded of the line from “Once upon a time in the west” by Dire Straits when it comes to agonistics

    “Sitting on a fence that’s a dangerous courseAh, you could even catch a bullet from the peace-keeping force”

    • River lizard

      Atheist. IMO.  Remember we are not proving anything exist, we’re just saying there is no evidence that there is a god.  If proof would come up that there is, it would be hard to be an Atheist.  But there still would probably be many who still choose not to follow such as god regardless if he/she exist or not because if he/she is anything like the Old Testament….who would want to worship such a evil person?

      • NickDB

        Cool, thanks. And totally agree about the worshipping / following he / she /it. If such a being exists, it’s a bit of a dick.

    • Anonymous

      It makes you an agnostic atheist, which is in fact the same as most other sensible non-believers and skeptics. The two are NOT exclusive. A/Gnosticism deals with KNOWLEDGE of the existence of a deity whereas A/Theism deals with the BELIEF.

      There’s a difference between fence sitting agnostics (giving credence to all arguments and none, which is just stupid) and believing the evidence points one way, but allowing room for doubt and opposing evidence if it arises (that’s just common sense).

      Anyone tries to tell you otherwise, be sure to give them some schooling and remind them why it’s not a good idea to pretend you know something… it makes you just as bad as the fuckwit that believes in Jewish Zombies and other rubbish.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    You’re not a militant atheist unless you have an ergonomic keyboard.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      I do!  :D

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      I do!  :D

    • River lizard

      I also do!

    • http://www.phoenixgarage.org/ cr0sh

      Real militants use a Model M…

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Brethren and Sistren, quarrel not, be at peace. Let us join together and take comfort in the Canticle of Saint Rumsfeld:

    There are known knowns, and there are known unknowns.
    There are unknown knowns, and there are unknown unknowns.
    There are assumed assumptions and there are assumed unassumptions.
    There are unassumed assumptions and there are unassumed unassumptions.
    There certainly are maybes, and maybe there are certainties, but maybe not, certainly.
    There certainly may be certain maybes that are more certainly maybes than the maybe maybes which might have some certainty in them, unless maybe they don’t.
    There are a hell of a lot of what the fucks, and there are a fucking lot of what the hells.
    Is there more beer?

  • River lizard

    Agnostic= Someone who is wishy-washy in their views about a god.  Not sure there IS or IS’NT a god.  Can’t make a decision regarding it. (Head in the sand (photo) )  If you hold on to the words ” there might be” then  you’re an Agnostic. 

    If you’re running from the term Atheist, then that’s a whole different play game, you just don’t want to face facts honestly on your beliefs even IF you believe there’s no god. (another head in the sand type person) “don’t ask me that question…….because I don’t want the title “Atheist” put over me!”

    Atheist= Lives with the belief or thought that there is no good evidence for a god, so they stand by the statement: There is no god.  Just like there’s no tooth fairy, Santa Claus or Leprechaun. 

    Those who believe in a god need to prove otherwise and then once there’s proof, you probably won’t have a single Atheist after that.  They might not follow a proven god but as far as their views on “whether there’s a god or not” would be gone. 

    • ara

      this is an all too common misconception about the word agnostic

      agnostic doesn’t mean “wishy washy” or “there might be” or “who cares?” 

      the philosophy of agnosticism does not directly address the question of metaphysics that atheism and theism do.  agnosticism is specifically an epistemological philosophy that states that we can not have knowledge of whether or not there is a god.

      again: theism and atheism are two sides to the metaphysical philosophy of “god does/does not exist”

      agnosticism is, instead, an epistemological position stating that we are incapable of having knowledge of whether or not a god exists.  

      the skeptics community really needs to get this one right if it’s going to keep from alienating its own members

      • Daniel CB

        The common refutation is that it cannot be known that there is no Santa Clause. We have satellites watching the north pole, but maybe his house is too small to see, or it’s the same color as the ice and nobody has noticed it. Maybe he’s living in a mountain or underground, or in a giant submarine. Maybe he’s living underground on the moon. Yeah, these present problems, but so do God, and you don’t know that there aren’t mechanisms to resolve them.  I do not know that Santa doesn’t exist, and I don’t have any counter evidence, but I’m still able to legitimately reject claims of his existence as a supernatural being, even if I must admit St. Nicholas did exist as a historical figure, while still rejecting claims that he was could perform miracles/was the son of God(oops, wrong story).

        We are incapable of having knowledge of whether or not God exists, but we are incapable of having knowledge of anything other than “I think, therefore I am”.  It’s a meaningless claim, and the above image is an accurate metaphor of “militant” agnosticism. I have no problem with claiming you’re an agnostic to avoid ignorant hatred from scumfuck bigots(which is what the word was designed for in the first place), but please don’t present it as a valid epistemic position.

      • Volunteer

        gnosticism is what you know, theism is what you believe. They are not unique positions. One can be an agnostic theist, for example.

        And atheism is not the position of “God does not exist”. Atheism is the lack of a belief in a god. The agnostic community really needs to get this one right.

  • Djlong

    I think telling people your agnostic is like telling people your Canadian when traveling. You just don’t get as much shit.

    • Michael D.

      but…. I am canadian :-s 

    • Anonymous

      I’m having trouble parsing that first sentence. Your agnostic likes telling people that your Canadian is traveling? I’ll have to ask my agnostic and my Canadian what they get up to when I’m not around.

  • Anonymous

    A militant agnostic is someone who, if you’re an atheist, tries to shove your head in the sand.

    A lot of MA’s and agnostics generally seem to fall into the fallacy of thinking that there are only 3 legitimate positions of any issue: 100% certainty; 0% certainty; or 50-50. Which is strange, because the claim: “We can never know, even in principle, whether or not god exists” is as dogmatic as either the 100%-for or 100%-against stance. In reality of course, the evidence against god can be so strong that even if we are not at 100%, we are fully justified in living our lives as if there were no god.

    Also I wonder why no-one ever says they’re agnostic about Zeus, Thor, Ra, Quetzlcoatl etc. etc. In our society, to call oneself an agnostic is to legitimize the christian god in a way, to give him a special pass against not being believed in when the same level of evidence would justify not believing in other gods. Thus, it seems to me there is a tinge of cowardice about self-identifying as an agnostic.

    Which is fine, I am not going to judge. Maybe some people are safer calling themselves agnostics rather than atheists, letting their neighbors think the door is still open for them to be dragged back to the fold. What I can’t stand is ags who make a virtue of fence-sitting and equivocation, and lecture atheists about how militant and dogmatic they are.

    Personally, my position is not so much “god exists” or “god doesn’t exist” but the following: the concept of god is incoherent. God has not been defined clearly enough that the question of his existence is even worth addressing. Therefore I am an atheist as a matter of pragmatism, not dogma.

  • Militant Agnostic

    so much bull**** here -.- A militant Agnostic is a guy who says, I don’t know and you don’t either!

    A militant Agnostic is an antiabrahamic guy just like an atheist (because science showed us with Evolution and the big bang th. that the bible is bullshit), but he dont makes the mistake to say …therefore no god exists… science cant proove that and an m.agn.guy dont says something if science dont agree or disagree there4 he is smarter thn an atheist!

    sry poor atheists, we win because we are more scientific.

  • Fallen-away Unitarian

    And here I thought that Militant Agnostic bumper sticker was just funny…

  • Ras Bhim

    I am troubled by the comments of several people here, including ‘Volunteer’ and ‘Rabbi_Si’ arguing for the division between belief and knowledge. After all, our beliefs are just a function of how our brain processes our knowledge. 

    When Huxley coined the term ‘agnosticism’ he was talking about a scientific way of looking at God – a belief system that actually corresponded to his scientific knowledge. So, for Huxley, agnosticism stood equal and in opposition to theism or atheism.

    I realize that those trying to divide ‘belief’ and ‘knowledge’ on this blog may actually be agnostics trying to make the point that nobody actually knows and therefore everyone should identify as an agnostic. But… I don’t know. I’d rather put agnosticism on the same level as other religious beliefs rather than try to separate (and risk ostracizing) it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AMilitantAgnostic TJ Bradders

    As my name is “A Militant Agnostic” I will assume to define the phrase for you… It defines a person as being in agreement with Thomas Huxley. Thomas Huxley, who was rater militant in his criticism of the absurd assumptions made by Atheist.

    “Some twenty years ago, or thereabouts, I invented the word “Agnostic” to denote people who, like myself, confess themselves to be hopelessly ignorant concerning a variety of matters, about which meta-physicians and theologians, both orthodox and heterodox, dogmatise with the utmost confidence; and it has been a source of some amusement to me to watch the gradual acceptance of the term and its correlate, “Agnosticism” (I think the Spectator [world first scientific journal] first adopted and popularized both), until now Agnostics are assuming the position of a recognized sect, and Agnosticism is honored by especial obloquy on the part of the orthodox. Thus it will be seen that I have a sort of patent right in “Agnostic” (it is my trade mark); and I am entitled to say that I can state authentically what was originally meant by Agnosticism. What other people may understand by it, by this time, I do not know. If a General Council of the Church Agnostic were held, very likely I should be condemned as a heretic. But I speak only for myself in endeavoring to answer these questions.

    1. 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.

    2. Consequently Agnosticism puts aside not only the greater part of popular theology, but also the greater part of anti-theology. On the whole, the “bosh” of heterodoxy is more offensive to me than that of orthodoxy, because heterodoxy professes to be guided by reason and science, and orthodoxy does not.

    3. I have no doubt that scientific criticism will prove destructive to the forms of super naturalism which enter into the constitution of existing religions. On trial of any so-called miracle the verdict of science is “Not proven.” But true Agnosticism will not forget that [6] existence, motion, and law-abiding operation in nature are more stupendous miracles than any recounted by the mythologies, and that there may be things, not only in the heavens and earth, but beyond the intelligible universe, which “are not dreamt of in our philosophy.” The theological “gnosis” would have us believe that the world is a conjurer’s house; the anti-theological “gnosis” talks as if it were a “dirt-pie” made by the two blind children, Law and Force. Agnosticism simply says that we know nothing of what may be beyond phenomena.”

    If you don’t agree with Huxley, then DON’T call yourself an Agnostic! Too many Atheist try and soften Atheism by adding Agnostic to the name, we find that offensive as it’s almost always a prelude to ignoring Huxley’s militant opposition to Atheist philosophy. There exist no kumbaya moment between Agnosticism and Atheism, Atheist are still too sure, and Agnostic’s still find your surety absurd.

    If you think Huxley is wrong, about how he felt about Atheist who claimed outright certainty or tried to assign some pseudoscience probability, then feel free to try and prove Huxley wrong. {giggle – good luck with that} He’ll do to you what he did to 19th century creationist.


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