A Different Sort of Gnostic

Marc Cortez shared this diagram, which is like one that I shared previously, but is a bit more helpful in spelling out what the axis lines represent. What do you think?

I think it is also perhaps more helpful than the Dawkins Scale. But the footnote suggests that things are still complicated, and there is still no incorporation of the fact that one may be graphed differently on such a chart in relation to different ideas of God.


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  • Richard Billingsley

    Atheist Gnostic? What? That doesn’t make any sense. The creator of this cartoon doesn’t understand what a Gnostic is. Or believes.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/ James F. McGrath

      I think you have misunderstood how they are using the term. They mean one who claims to know, as opposed to agnostic, one who does not claim to know, or claims not to know. They don’t mean Sethians or Valentinians or Mandaeans! :-)

      • Richard Billingsley

        I see. I wasn’t aware of another definition of Gnostic.

  • Irina

    Hm, my position in that diagram would be approximately on the agnostic theist’s left hand.

  • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

    A picture (or cartoon) is usually meant to convey more than just words.

    Look at the characters representing agnostics (both sorts); they look like reasonable, open-minded, unpretentious guys that anyone would enjoy having over for coffee.

    Now look at the two characters representing gnostics; they look like unreasonable, close-minded, pretentious snots that anyone would go out of their way to avoid.

    I have a feeling the cartoonist is agnostic.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/ James F. McGrath

      I didn’t even look at them that carefully. The closed eyes versus open eyes are also interesting!

      I shared this mainly because we’ve had several interesting discussions on the blog about spectrums and categorizations of this sort.

      • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

        Yes, I think it’s a very interesting discussion as well. I just found the caricatures amusing. (Look at the clothing choices, too.)

        I sympathize with the cartoonist. I sit squarely on the agnostic side of the vertical line, as well. And I’m probably wavering closer to the horizontal line than I like to admit.

    • Norm Englund

      I agree. Both gnostics look like they have sticks up their butts.

    • Richard Billingsley

      This says more about he cartoonist than it does about what different
      people believe. People who are sure are no less easy to have coffee with
      than people who aren’t. I am reminded of Irshad Manji’s remark that
      moderation, which I believe is what agnosticism is supposed to mean, is a
      cop out. It is one thing to not be sure and are honest about it. And
      another to not want to be sure.

      • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

        Interesting. I don’t know any agnostics who do “not want to be sure.” The agnostics I know (myself included) are not sure and “honest about it.”

        Of course, part of the reason for not being sure is realizing the difficulty in trying to prove or disprove God.

    • leo moon

      I’m going to call my band “Gnostic Snots.”

  • Ian

    I think these categories are a bit irrelevant.

    The question of belief in God either presupposes a specific God (which wouldn’t have to be theistic) or else is a very different question: “Do you use the word God sympathetically?”

    So most of us here are Atheists, with regard to the evangelical anthropomorphic God. I’d assume all of us here are Atheists with regard to Thor.

    But we differ on whether there are things of significance to us that we might label “God”. I suspect we don’t vary as much on whether we share those same things of significance, but do vary on whether we’d chose to call it “God”.

    So the idea that we ‘are’ ‘atheist’, ‘theist’, an thence ‘gnostic’ or ‘agnostic’ seems artificial. The referent is simply too underspecified.