Does anybody agree with these statements?
agnostics are atheist?(5 posts) (5 voices)
Absolutely. Agnosticism concerns knowledge, atheism concerns belief. I am an agnostic atheist: I believe it is impossible to know for sure whether or not there are gods, and I believe there are no gods.
I think people are usually only "agnostic" when they're talking about it. The rest of the time, they seem pretty firm in their decision not to worship Jesus or Poseidon or Ra, and behave as if there are no gods, which is atheist.
The word "atheist" has a lot of baggage, so I sort of sympathize with people wanting to avoid using it, but I don't say "agnostic atheist" because most people associate "agnostic" with a position I consider cowardly (or at least, not very thoughtful). "We can't know the answer so it must be 50-50"? In any other sphere of thought you don't just give up like that, you think about probability. And the odds against there being gods of any kind are extremely long.
I couldn't have said that better, Rodney.
PROBABILITY. Not impossibility. That is why I am an atheist.
Actually it all depends on what one sees as the definition of "atheism." And there is a VERY big difference of opinion on that.
Standard dictionary definitions such as Merriam-Websters offers "a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity" (see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism). Other dictionaries have this or something very similar. In other words, "atheism" in these definitions means "an affirmative belief that there is no deity."
More recently a lot of folks have taken to using a different definition. They say that "atheism" means "a lack of belief in a deity." This is a MUCH wider range of meaning than the former definition.
Now, are they correct? According to M-W and other authorities, they aren't. They beg to differ and say that a wider definition is required in order to accommodate the difference between belief and knowledge as well as other factors.
Now, they ARE correct in that there ought to be a word, or words, which embrace the gray area between affirmative belief in a deity and affirmative belief that there is no deity. However, they are wrong to assume the solution to that problem is to throw open the meaning of "atheism" to be much wider than it had been. At it turns out, that problem has been solved, and the solution to it exists already.
It was solved, in fact, by T.H. Huxley in the 19th century, when he coined the term "agnostic." He described the meaning of this word and its genesis rather specifically (see http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mathew/sn-huxley.html).
Thus, no useful purpose is served by fostering the notion that atheism=agnosticism or that all agnostics are also atheists. There is no need for this. If you are what Huxley describes as an "agnostic," then you are, in fact "an agnostic" and not "an atheist." If you are what M-W and other dictionaries describe as "atheist," then you are "an atheist" and not "an agnostic."
It really is that simple, and there is no real need to go any further with this. Redefining "atheism" and quibbling over the difference between knowledge and belief, is just ridiculous. All it does is confuse the meanings of words and provides ammunition for theists, who really ought not be given any more.
That said, I quite understand the effort here. Atheists are trying to force the term to include as many people as possible. I've even heard some say that even theists are atheists because there are deities they don't believe in (e.g. Christians are "atheistic" about, say, Zeus). This kind of thing just isn't going to help, however. No fierce believer is going to be swayed by this kind of rhetoric. All it will do is cause anger and render the word "atheism" so wide in meaning, that ultimately, it ceases to mean anything any more.
I consider myself an agnostic atheist. As an agnostic, I have no knowledge of a god but that does not mean I cannot ever; I simply have no knowledge and no evidence. As an Atheist I have no belief in God.
I agree its not worth the quibble, but I recently came to change what I considered myself to be. I was a 'Strong' Atheist until I realised it said very little and merely emphasised that I wouldnt take religious pap without comment. So Agnostic Atheist fits me fine and covers my ass nicely.
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