The Agnostic and the Atheist

Is agnosticism an tenable position in a religiously plural society? No.

In my recent travels in Europe I fell into a conversation with a self-professed agnostic and a self-professed atheist, in which the atheist challenged the intellectual integrity of the agnostic’s position. The atheist’s argument was simple.

The agnostic maintained that God’s existence was a matter beyond determination by either human logic or human science, and thus he preferred to take no stand on the matter.

The atheist’s retort was that realistically a great deal of what we believe or disbelieve is beyond the determination of logic and science. We cannot be definitive in that sense about a great deal of reality. And while agnosticism may be justified in matters where we are not required to make decisions, it cannot be justified in matters where we are. A biologist may be agnostic about certain aspects of quantum mechanics contested even by physicists, but not about evolution. In the same way, with belief in God permeating every part of public life no member of the public affected by that belief can stay on the sidelines.

As I listened to this discussion I was inclined to agree with the atheist, even though in many areas I’m a non-committal kind of person. If there is a relationship between what humans believe and how humans behave, then in some areas making decisions about what we believe about what others believe is critical. I may be agnostic about whether tap water needs to be filtered, and thus drink it either way. But I only get to vote once for candidate who rallies public support or opposition to women’s reproductive rights on the basis of his/her belief in God and about God. However complex the calculus of political decision making, it cannot go forward until that value (yes or not to the candidate’s god) is determined.

This is why committed inter-religious dialogue is critical. We need to know what God/gods others believe in because their belief will play a role in public discourse and public decision making. How we vote, and how we speak on public issues, will be determined at least in part by our assessment of the existence and nature of their God. There are no agnostics in the voting booth, only those conscious or unconscious of their own beliefs.

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  • Apostaste

    I think this article is based on the false premise the atheism and agnosticism are mutually exclusive or addressing the same question.

    (A)thesim refers to belief which is a binary proposition,
    (A)gnostism refers to the epidemiological question of knowledge also binary.

    The vast majority or self identified atheists are agnostic atheist, they lack the belief in a God and admit that it cannot be known wither way. This is a stark contrast to the evangelical I believe there is a God and I know there is a God gnostic theist.

    In my experience people identify themselves as agnostic because the term atheist has been thoroughly demonized in the western world and they are less likely to be demonized or marginalized if they instead use the term agnostic even though they are atheist.

    • Galorgan

      While this is true, there are many who identify themselves as agnostic to differentiate themselves from atheists. I describe myself as an agnostic atheist as well, but I’ve also met my fair share of those who just refer to themselves as agnostic and “preferred to take no stand on the matter” as the article described. Sometimes this is accompanied by an air of superiority where because the atheist and theist are taking (sometimes) passionate stands, the middle ground automatically looks more reasonable.

      Thus, I don’t think the author is operating under a false premise as people like this do actually exist.

      • Apostaste

        How can you take the middle ground on a binary proposition? Either you believe our you don’t there is nothing in between. If you don’t believe the you’re an atheist by definition. If you do then you are a theist.

        • Raz

          A lot of people refer to themselves as agnostic because they don’t believe they are informed enough to either fully believe in a god, or fully not believe in a god.

          The beliefs an atheist may have to confirm there is no god directly conflicts with the beliefs that theists have that there is. I personally can see merit in both sides of the argument so I don’t believe in a god enough to be a theist, but I also am not fully convinced that there isn’t a god either. So I remain agnostic (but leaning more towards the atheist side).

          In my experience, those that see the world in only black and white that are usually wearing blinders, and are the least likely to expand their mind. We see this often in both the atheist and theist sides of the argument. Sometimes looking at the whole rather than just taking a binary position (think 1’s and 0’s), create a much greater vision and stronger message than just 1’s and 0’s on their own.

          I personally prefer to keep an open mind to all possibilities and adjust my course as new information presents itself.

          • Apostaste

            I thought I was clear on this. The atheist position is not that there is no God but that they lack the belief that there is a god. Again the question of belief is binary there by definition is no middle ground. You believe or you don’t. If you don’t believe there is a god right now or are unconvinced then you are by definition an atheist this is not to say you cannot change your mind.

            Judging by your own exposition you are an agnostic atheist.

            I never said am atheist mind is made up. If legitimate and convincing evidence is presented then I will become theist.

        • Galorgan

          We agree that you can’t. The author never claims that you can either, although it sort of is implied. However, he is just giving another reason why you can’t take the middle ground on this binary position and calling that middle ground agnosticism because somebody (and others) did the same when describing themselves.

      • Sven2547

        While this is true, there are many who identify themselves as agnostic to differentiate themselves from atheists.

        Anecdotally, I find these folks are the same people who love to stereotype atheists as all being obnoxious Richard Dawkins clones… as opposed to simply acknowledging what the actual position of atheism is.

  • Mark Moore

    This author can be safely ignored as woefully ignorant of his subject. Most atheists are agnostic and most agnostics are atheist. These two words describe different aspects of one’s position towards religion. See the comment below by Apostate.

  • Psycho Gecko

    Yeah, you really aren’t doing a good job of using terms correctly. Agnosticism doesn’t mean uncertainty, so your constant use of it to refer to tap water and areas of science is baffling. But what’s worse is that you should have just titled this “An atheist and another atheist.”

    Atheism and theism refer to belief in a deity. Either you believe in a deity (theism) or you lack belief in a deity (atheism).

    Agnosticism is about the idea of being able to know if deities exist. If you aren’t sure you can know if a deity exists, you’re agnostic. If you are sure you can, you’re gnostic (though I believe that word is often used in a different way).

    Since they refer to two separate questions, you can have agnostic and gnostic atheists, as well as agnostic and gnostic theists. Most atheists are agnostic atheists, even those famous ones that Christians treat as boogeymen, like Richard Dawkins. We don’t think you can disprove the existence of any deities, but without any evidence we see no reason to believe in a deity. Strong atheism is the gnostic version; strong atheists are those who say that no gods exist.

  • Robert Hunt

    I find these conversations interesting. I note first that I was reporting an actual conversation between two people who had distinctive ways of identifying themselves. I apologize that they didn’t choose fit into the self-understandings of others. And the point, I think clearly made, related not to epistemological stands or philosophical distinctions, but the way in which one’s self-understanding relates to making decisions in the realm of public politics. In the end I’m less interested in how people think of themselves than how they vote.

    • Galorgan

      I think people here have basically shot the messenger as you were just relating an actual conversation and letting people define themselves.

    • meribast

      In many countries other than the USA, religion plays less of a part in politics than it does in the USA, where we have a supposed separation of church and state, yet often individuals who are part of the church attempt to make laws based upon those specific beliefs peculiar to their beliefs, rather than theories of social good that have some empirical study to them.

  • https://disqus.com/home/channel/antiscience/ Shem the Penman

    The agnostic maintained that God’s existence was a matter beyond determination by either human logic or human science, and thus he preferred to take no stand on the matter.

    Unlike others who have responded, I see nothing wrong with that definition. Of course, an agnostic could hold that position on the knowability of God’s existence and still choose to believe or not believe, but that’s beside the point.

    I disagree that “there are no agnostics in the voting booth.” In fact, I wish we could be a lot more agnostic in public policy, and have a secular society that operates as if religious belief or nonbelief is just a private matter.

  • Donalbain

    Wow.. that was a stupid atheist. The fact that beliefs about the existence of gods may permeate society, does not lead to the conclusion that knowledge about that existence is possible. While the atheist is correct that people in society make decisions based on their beliefs or lack of beliefs in deities, that does not mean that anyone is forced to do so.

    For example: People believe that the existence of a deity means that gay marriage is wrong. That does not require the agnostic to come to a conclusion about the existence of a deity to either agree with or oppose that position on gay marriage. They can easily, and logically say “We cannot know whether there is a deity, so we should look at other methods to determine the validity of gay may marriage”.

  • onlein

    As with any position, there are gradations in atheism. In roughly increasing order of certainty, assertiveness and aggression, these come to mind:
    I don’t believe in God.
    I don’t believe in God and neither should you.
    There is no God.
    There is no God and you are an idiot and a danger for believing in one.
    There is no God and all the ills of the world are because of belief in God.

    A big part of the problem in this discussion is the God that is argued about. It seems that the God most atheists don’t believe is the same God many if not most theists don’t believe in: the Old Testament angry male God who is eager to smite and punish.

    There are many theists, including Christians, who are not against science at all. I, for example, first learned and was taken with the details of evolution in a Catholic college biology class in 1960. I have been an agnostic/secular humanist for the better part of two separate decades (roughly the ’70s and the ’90s) and am now a twice fallen away agnostic, having returned, more or less, to the Catholic church the spring of 2001. Never could quite see myself as an atheist; it seemed as dogmatic and too-certain as the religious faith I had let go. Agnosticism seemed more honest, more human. But something was missing.

  • TheSquirrel

    An agnostic as described in this article (claiming neither theism or atheism) is a non-entity. They do not exist. They are simply atheists and theist who do not want to talk about their actual belief, which, really is fine with me.

  • http://www.mysecretatheistblog.com/ Sean McGuire

    I’ve been having discussions about this in other blogs too. I would classify myself as an agnostic atheist and curiously enough to some, Richard Dawkins himself also considers himself agnostic atheist as well.

    As mentioned in other comments, I really think that the most common usage for agnostic out there is people who simply do not wish to take a side. Often they do not wish to stick out as atheists and get the associated stigma or they do not wish to offend religious friends and family. Perhaps they are “apatheists” and really do not give a hoot one way or the other and would prefer to check out of the question altogether.

    Then you have the somewhat less common version, which is mine. Atheists who identify as such often also attach the label “agnostic” because, well, they honestly have no way of knowing *for sure 100% really* that there is no god somewhere. This is an honest admission that almost nothing is for sure.

  • Thin-ice

    Sorry Robert, you’re creating a false black-and-white dichotomy where none exists. Most atheists are like myself, claiming to be agnostic about the existence of a deity. Agnostic = without the knowledge. Atheist = without a deity. Like vodka and tonic, you can mix the two together and get a nice refreshing drink.

    But if you simply must stick a label on everyone you meet, so be it. Whatever floats your boat. You’re just conforming to most theists’ misconceptions about what an atheist is or isn’t.

  • Nick Winters

    Putting aside the definitional issues with the use of “agnostic” (I agree with Psycho Gecko below on the better terminology), Mr. Hunt still creates a false choice in his examples. You don’t have to take a position on whether or not God exists to support or fight against women’s reproductive rights, if you have other, secular reasons to do so. Thus the reasons for said candidates voting patterns are immaterial to the voter’s concern as to how they will vote. Of course, this applies only to the case described…

  • PremiumOsmium

    The position that I keep hearing, about how atheists can’t “disprove” god really is a big problem. Human beings have worshipped hundreds, if not thousands of different gods throughout history. Should atheists have to disprove every single one of them?
    It is possible to disprove the existence of something if you have some idea of its hypothetical characteristics. The problem with those who believe in a god is that all too often they’re unwilling to describe what, precisely, this god is and what it is like in any meaningful way, thus making proof or disproof impossible.

    • WilmRoget

      The problem is that atheists cannot meet the standard they demand of others, and that demonstrates that atheism is a fraud.

      It is simply another nasty prejudice, an excuse some people give themselves to denigrate others in order to feel good.

      • PremiumOsmium

        Prove that Thor doesn’t exist. Then prove that Horus doesn’t exist. Then prove that Amaretsu doesn’t exist. Then prove that Apollo doesn’t exist. Going by your own reasoning, if you deny the existence of any of these other gods, then you’re religion is also a nasty prejudice, an excuse that you use to denigrate others in order to feel good.
        Lack of a belief in something not a “fraud” by any rational definition. Just like not believing in ghosts or not believing in bigfoot or not believing in faeries or leprechauns or the Loch Ness Monster.

        • WilmRoget

          “Prove that Thor doesn’t exist. Then prove that Horus doesn’t exist. Then prove that Amaretsu doesn’t exist. Then prove that Apollo doesn’t exist. Going by your own reasoning, if you deny the existence of any of
          these other gods,”

          Nice prejudice there, presuming that I deny the existence of any other deity. It shows that atheism is indeed a vicious prejudice, and its adherents make up fantasies about people of faith.

          “Lack of a belief in something not a “fraud” by any rational definition.”

          Since that is not the point I raised, your deliberate deception is a confirmation that my actual point is accurate.

          “The problem is that atheists cannot meet the standard they demand of others, and that demonstrates that atheism is a fraud.”

          Your attempt to be insulting and degrading also demonstrates that atheism is a prejudice – a manifestation of the same psycho-social mechanism found in racism, homophobia, and every prejudice:

          denigrate other people to elevate your perceived social status, at least in your own eyes and those of your peers.

          • PremiumOsmium

            You claim that atheism is a fraud and a prejudice. Atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods. How is the lack of belief in a god or gods either a fraud or a prejudice?

          • WilmRoget

            What part of this sentence

            “The problem is that atheists cannot meet the standard they demand of others, and that demonstrates that atheism is a fraud.”

            is confusing for you?

            And this one:

            atheism is a prejudice – a manifestation of the same psycho-social mechanism found in racism, homophobia, and every prejudice:

            denigrate other people to elevate your perceived social status, at least in your own eyes and those of your peers.

          • PremiumOsmium

            None of it makes any sense.
            What standard do atheists demand of others that atheists fail to meet?
            How does failing to “meet the standard” demonstrate that lack of belief in a god or gods is a fraud?
            And how is lack of belief in a god or gods in any way the same thing as racism or homophobia?
            And how is lack of belief in a god or gods denigrating to anybody? How is lack of belief in something denigrating to anybody?
            You make these irrational, incoherent assertions and when asked to explain yourself, you respond with more abuse and insults.

          • WilmRoget

            “None of it makes any sense.”

            To you, none of it makes sense to you, but it is quite clear.

            “What standard do atheists demand of others that atheists fail to meet?”

            Atheists demand that people of faith prove that their assertion “there is a God” is correct, but atheist cannot prove that their assertion “there is no God” (or the even more nebulous “I don’t believe in God” is correct.

            “How does failing to “meet the standard” demonstrate that lack of belief in a god or gods is a fraud?”

            Fraud:deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.

            Imposing a standard one cannot meet one’s self is all of the above.

            “And how is lack of belief in a god or gods in any way the same thing as racism or homophobia?”

            In multiple ways. I explained one already – it serves the same psycho-social purpose – denigrate others to elevate one’s perceived social status. It is also a negative pre-judgment based on a lack of evidence, and fits the definition of prejudice. Third, belief in the Divine is based on personal experience, and sexual orientation is also understood from personal experience.

            “And how is lack of belief in a god or gods denigrating to anybody? How is lack of belief in something denigrating to anybody?”

            Simple. People of faith are part of “anybody” – we are as human as you. Declaring that our experiences are automatically wrong, or unbelievable, because you have not have such experiences is intrinsically denigrating.

            Just as declaring that ‘no one is attracted to their own gender’ or ‘homosexuality is a choice’ is denigrating, because it declares that the experiences of GLBTQ people are automatically wrong, or unbelievable, simply because homophobes have not had such experiences.

            “You make these irrational, incoherent assertions and when asked to explain yourself, you respond with more abuse and insults.”

            Ironically enough, the insults have been from you, not me. And your derogatory slur above demonstrates the very principle I explained above: denigrate other people to make yourself look good. You cannot disprove ‘atheism is a prejudice’ by engaging in the very mechanism that shows that atheism is a prejudice.

          • PremiumOsmium

            How many atheists have you actually met? How many works by atheists have you actually read? And how can anybody “prove” their lack of belief? Can you distinguish between an assertion of fact or a statement of belief? What evidence would you accept as proof that somebody does not believe in a god or gods?
            “People of faith are part of “anybody” – we are as human as you. Declaring that our experiences are automatically wrong, or unbelievable, because you have not have such experiences is intrinsically denigrating.”
            So you’re saying that by not accepting at face value every assertion that theists make about the existence of any god or gods, that atheists are denigrating them? Do you apply this same logic in your own life? Why do you not accept every single assertion that everybody makes because asking for proof would be denigrating them to make yourself look good?

          • WilmRoget

            “How many . . .”

            So, you cannot refute what I presented and have to go off on a tangent based on negative presumptions me.

            “So you’re saying”

            Your false paraphrase does not help you. Why must you be dishonest to defend your position?

          • PremiumOsmium

            What dishonesty? I asked you to describe how exactly a lack of belief in a god or gods is denigrating to those who do. You replied by saying, “Declaring that our experiences are automatically wrong, or unbelievable, because you have not have such experiences is intrinsically denigrating.”
            So by your own reasoning, saying that the “experiences” of theists, whatever they may be, are unbelievable, or mistaken, or a delusion, or anything other than absolute fact, is denigrating to them, a fraud, and a prejudice. And that by not accepting their claims at face value, without question, I am a bigot?
            So let’s apply that same line of reasoning to other claims or experiences. Do you believe that Apollo pulls the sun across the sky in his chariot? Do you believe that thunderstorms are caused by Thor’s hammer? Do you believe that the pyramids were built by aliens? Do you believe that Queen Elizabeth is a shape-shifting reptilian? Because all of those claims have been asserted and believed by people before. By your own reasoning, not accepting these claims as fact on their face makes you a bigot and denigrates those who believe them.

          • WilmRoget

            “What dishonesty?”

            You misrepresented my statement. Why?

            “whatever they may be,”

            And there is your deliberate distortion. That, and the “very assertion” that you used the first time. Why must you be dishonest?

            And then the false comparisons to tangible things. You clearly have no honest argument. But let’s apply just a couple of your comparisons to the parallel I used – sexual orientation.

            “Do you believe that Queen Elizabeth is a shape-shifting reptilian?”

            If you do not, doesn’t that mean that you believe homosexuality is a choice? After all, the claim ‘homosexuality is not a choice’ is a claim that has been asserted and believed.

            ” Do you believe that the pyramids were built by aliens?”

            If you do not, doesn’t that mean that you believe homosexuality is a choice? After all, the claim ‘homosexuality is not a choice’ is a claim that has been asserted and believed.

            You see, your little game backfired.

            But let’s make it a bit more personal for you. Since you don’t believe the testimony of people of faith about their experiences of the Divine, every claim you make about anything is the same as claiming that the pyramids were built by aliens and that Queen Elizabeth is a shape shifting alien. Your standard applied to you, for absolutely every thing you say. If you say “I chocolate ice cream”, from now on, that is the same as saying “the pyramids were built by aliens”. If you say “I don’t believe in deities”, from now on, that is the same as saying “Queen Elizabeth is a shape shifting alien”.

          • PremiumOsmium

            You said, “Why must you be dishonest?”

            I say: Show me where I am being dishonest.

            “And then the false comparisons to tangible things.”
            What false comparisons to tangible things?

            “If you do not, doesn’t that mean that you believe homosexuality is a choice? After all, the claim ‘homosexuality is not a choice’ is a claim that has been asserted and believed.”

            What is your obsession with homosexuality? You bring it up over and over, out of the blue. For the record, no I don’t believe that it is a choice.
            But by your own “reasoning”, if somebody claims that their experience is that it IS a choice, then you must believe them, otherwise you are a bigot who is disparaging others in order to make yourself look better. That is your own reasoning, your own words. So according to your own “logic”, you are the bigot for denying the experiences of others.

          • WilmRoget

            “I say: Show me where I am being dishonest.”

            I did. Perhaps you are unable to recognize dishonesty.

            “What false comparisons to tangible things?”

            The ones in your post, to the Egyptian pyrmarids and to Queen Elizabeth. Is this incompetence real or feigned?

            By the way, that is not the only fraud in the comparisons you made. I pointed out that religion is based on people’s experiences, and you bring up people’s deductive conclusions about things (pyramids and Queen Elizabeth), rather than experiences people have had.

            ‘What is your obsession with homosexuality? You bring it up over and over, out of the blue.”

            Your insulting false characterization reflects your bias. I am accurately comparing atheism to homophobia.

            “”For the record, no I don’t believe that it is a choice.”

            Yes you do. πŸ˜‰

            Prove that you do not believe that homosexuality is a choice. You cannot, you expect me to take your word for it. But you don’t take the word of people of faith that they have experienced the Divine – so seriously – why should I believe you?

            “But by your own “reasoning”,”

            Every time you try to talk about my reasoning, and put it in scare quotes too, you get it wrong. It is ironic, you just cannot seem to resist being offensive. Putting the words reasoning and logic adds nothing to your argument, but it allows you to insinuate that my thought processes are neither reason nor logic – a subtle little insult that demonstrates that your entire position here is just an attempt to put people down so you can exalt yourself.

            “if somebody claims that their experience is that it IS a choice,”

            The odd thing is that the closest to this are bisexual people who say that they choose to only act on and allow their hetero-erotic attractions.

            Now, if someone who is not defending anti-gay prejudice, whose position is neutral says “On June 7th, I sat down and decided to be homosexual” – I would have to believe them. If they then said “and that means everyone else chose as well” – then I’d know they were lying.

          • PremiumOsmium

            If seemingly everything that I say is offensive, why do you keep replying? What is it you want?

            “I pointed out that religion is based on people’s experiences”

            What experiences, and what should that mean to me? If somebody claims to have an “experience” of the “divine”, or an “experience” of an alien abduction, or any other sort of non-repeatable, wholly subjective experience, so what? Why should I think that what they experienced is anything other than the product of their own mind? So somebody enjoys a particular movie or song or poem or whatever. So what? What does that prove?

            “the words reasoning and logic adds nothing to your argument, but it allows you to insinuate that my thought processes are neither reason nor logic”
            You’ve admitted that your thought processes are neither reason nor logic. You’ve said that religion is based on peoples’ experience, and not on deductive conclusions. So what’s your point? You say you’ve had some sort of divine experience. Why should I care?
            All you’ve done is heap insults on me, called me a bigot, prejudiced, dishonest and a fraud. If this is what theists are like, the I’m so glad that I’m not one.
            “Prove to me that you do not believe homosexuality is a choice.” Fine. What evidence would you accept as proof? It’s ironic that you lump atheists in the same group as the anti-gay crowd, when you’re far more likely to find anti-gay bigots among the religious than among nonbelievers.

          • WilmRoget

            ‘If seemingly everything that I say is offensive,”

            You don’t mean that. πŸ˜‰

            ” what should that mean to me?”

            What should your experiences, of anything, mean to anyone? You’ve just invalidated every post, every statement you’ve ever made or will make.

            “You’ve admitted that your thought processes are neither reason nor logic.”

            No, nothing in my post indicates that, and you certainly did not get that from anything I wrote, even if you claim you did. πŸ˜‰

            ‘All you’ve done is heap insults on me, called me a bigot, prejudiced, dishonest and a fraud.”

            No, I have not. You don’t even believe that your self, no matter how much you might claim that you experienced contumely. πŸ˜‰

            “If this is what theists are like, the I’m so glad that I’m not one.”

            I don’t believe you. You really desperately want to be a theist. It doesn’t matter what you testify to the contrary. πŸ˜‰

            “Fine. What evidence would you accept as proof?”

            How about you meet the same standard of evidence that atheists demand from people of faith? Concrete, scientific proof that you do not believe homosexuality is a choice. You’ll find that all but impossible, of course.

            “It’s ironic” No, you don’t believe that at all. πŸ˜‰

            Are you getting the message yet?

          • PremiumOsmium

            No. Unless the message is that you think I’m lying. Which is no surprise, since you believe that all atheists are frauds, bigots and slanderers.
            I dare you to make a single, substantive statement without a single instance of name-calling.

          • WilmRoget

            “I dare you to make a single, substantive statement without a single instance of name-calling.”

            I have not made any so far. The burden of proof is yours. You accused me – provide evidence. Your false accusation does not help you any.

            “No. Unless the message is that you think I’m lying.”

            The message is that since you don’t believe people of faith when they testify about their experiences – there is no reason to believe you.

            “Which is no surprise, since you believe that all atheists are frauds, bigots and slanderers.”
            All homophobes are frauds, bigots and slanderers. All racists are frauds, bigots, and slanderers. It is intrinsic to prejudice. Feel free to provide evidence that atheism is any different.

            You see, since you don’t believe people of faith, there is no reason to believe you about anything. You created this situation.

          • WilmRoget

            You see, raylampert, I’ve already tested this out on atheists and agnostics. They refuse to believe people of faith when we testify about our experiences of the Divine. And like you, they argue that their behavior is not degrading.

            But guess what happens when I refuse to belief their testimony about things that happen in their life?

            They get extremely angry, verbally abusive, viciously insulting. If one says “I really liked the new Lord of the Rings movie” and I reply “I don’t believe you” or “No, you did not” or the agnostic version “No one can really know if they liked that movie” – they get upset. They get offended.

            As you would in any situation other than this specific conversation. If I went to some other thread you posted on, found a “I” statement you’d made about what you think or feel or experience, and I replied “No, you didn’t . . .” or “I don’t believe you” – you’d be offended.

            And the more personal and important it was, the more offended you’d be. If were you talking about your relationship, for example, about how much you loved your spouse and I replied “no, you don’t. No one does”, you’d get very upset. You might not admit it here, but you would. People do.

  • Y. A. Warren

    “We need to know what God/gods others believe in…”

    Is there such a thing as a non-theist?

    How about starting over without the term “god” which, from time immemorial portrayed a jealous, vengeful, demanding being? How about simply asking people, “By what values and boundaries do you run your life and that of your children?”

    • WilmRoget

      ” which, from time immemorial portrayed a jealous, vengeful, demanding being?”

      Your assertion is false, and simply imposes your own malice and bias.

      • Y. A. Warren

        Exodus 34:14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD …
        biblehub.com/exodus/34-14.htm
        Bible Hub
        Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

        • WilmRoget

          As I said, “simply imposes your own malice and bias.”

          Sure, you can cherry pick verses to support your bias, but that fraud only reflects your nature.