Atheism vs Agnosticism

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by rodereve, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. rodereve Registered Member

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    1. Why do people choose agnosticism over atheism?

    2. Do you agree in the idea of: agnostic atheists and agnostic theists.
     
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  3. elte Valued Senior Member

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    I'll go with the second question first. It looks okay to try to describe what one believes with more specificity using a continuum. So both of those two word descriptions fall on a line with theist at one end and atheist at the other.

    Now for the first question. I'm not aware of really being able to choose beliefs. Our beliefs are an involuntary result of our natures and nurtures. But I reckon that people could choose one religious view over another for social reasons even though they don't believe.
     
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Do they really choose between the two, or do they just later on justify it as a choice?
     
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  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    They don't.
    What most commonly happens is, they're raised in a faith (or at least a church), the teachings of which they begin to doubt, then question openly, then gradually reject. During this period of doubting, they may describe themselves, quite accurately, as agnostic: not sure about the existence of the god. Some people never arrive at a degree of certainty where they're confident in the label "atheist", or even if they do, are reluctant to announce it, so as to avoid familial or social repercussions. Other alternatives are undecided, unaffiliated and non-religious. It just means they're not ready, for whatever reason, to identify as an atheist. Any degree of uncertainty and leaning along that line may be accurate and acceptable.
     
  8. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    I'm an agnostic atheist. I don't know that there isn't a God (agnosticism), but I also don't believe there is a God (atheism).
     
  9. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I rather see agnosticism being on a line of epistemological matters - whether we consider the issue knowable or not, or whether merely we have no personal knowledge or not. If you think that the matter is knowable then you are not agnostic, and if you consider it unknowable you are agnostic etc.
    Atheism and theism are ontological positions - what one believes (or not) with regard the existence of God.
    And there is debate over whether atheists actively believe that God does not exist, or whether they merely do not have the belief that God does exist.

    As such I see both agnostic atheist and agnostic theist as viable positions.
    I am an agnostic atheist (per the definitions/understandings above), and I know several agnostic theists: people who consider God ultimately unknowable in this world yet still have faith and believe that God exists.
     
  11. elte Valued Senior Member

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    I'm just plain agnostic in a personal sense. I don't see how one could say whether something is knowable or not, because one would have to know to say that. That's the way I see things, anyway. However, my place on a theism--atheism continuum fluctuates a bit from time to time on either side of but close to, the midpoint.
     
  12. Balerion Banned Banned

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    I really don't think they address the same question. Theism is the belief in a personal, intervening god or pantheon of gods. Atheism is either a lack of belief in such an entity, or the belief that such an entity does not exist. Therefore, one can be an an atheist while also an agnostic regarding the concept of a deistic, non-intervening god.
     
  13. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Let me tell you the rule. Agnosticism has to do with knowledge or "gnosis". Atheism has to do with belief. So you can make a decision to believe or not based on necessarily incomplete knowledge.
     
  14. elte Valued Senior Member

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    For me believe means know, so once I say agnostic, the second doesn't mean much. That is, if I don't think that I know something, I can't believe it.

    So when someone would say agnostic theist, that would mean to me an agnostic on the theist side of the midpoint between atheist and theist. It's good to know that isn't what people mean, though.
     
  15. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    You can be an agnostic theist, that means you don't know if there is a God or not, but you choose to believe so. I bet there are many theists who cannot say that they know the presence of God with absolute certainty. I would include Mother Teresa on that list, based on her own statements.
     
  16. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    I do believe, that states logically there is a heavenly afterlife. So yea, I know what you mean to believe there is to be with knowledge. Because you believe there you are present to practice science, so logically anyone faithful should have obvious evidence of the afterlife.

    You do believe, biologically. If that is true, then yea we are wired to a omniscience.
     
  17. Balerion Banned Banned

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    I really can't imagine Thomas Huxley viewing a term like "agnostic theist" as anything other than gibberish. Agnosticism isn't a view in addition to faith, it's a view taken instead of faith. Or, instead of disbelief, in the case of the atheist. I don't think any of its early proponents drew an imaginary line between faith and knowledge--you believed in something if you knew it to be true, and you didn't if you knew it to be false; if you didn't know--or, rather, couldn't know--then you took neither position. This is where agnosticism lives.

    I mean, obviously the term has grown to include more positions, but if we're getting down to fundamentals here, I don't see how you can argue for it as anything other than a third position.
     
  18. rodereve Registered Member

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    1. I think the reason I asked this is because many people view "atheism" as the default position (ie. everyone is born an atheist --even though you baptize your child doesn't make them catholic). Since theists have the burden of proof, if you can't prove anything, you resort back to the default position. But if you don't prove God's existence, nor do you disprove it (which I don't think you can, or you have to), then "agnosticism" might also be viewed as the default position.

    2. Agnostics don't choose sides, but then there's these funny terms called agnostic theists and agnostic atheists. Why choose! Like Russell's teapot, you can't prove or disprove it, and it may be ridiculous to some. But when you genuinely don't know about something and don't think it can be known, then you go "Ehhhhhhhhh what the heck, I'll choose this side" it just seems weird to me.

    I guess it's like a multiple choice test, when you actually don't know the answer and you just choose anyway, well if you get it right you might get eternal life.
     
  19. Balerion Banned Banned

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    It depends on the question. We have enough evidence today to say with confidence that the Judeo-Christian God (or any specific gods, for that matter) is myth based on superstition. We don't have quite as strong a case against an actual, universe-creating deity, however (though plenty of people make reasonable arguments), and so on that count I think it's safe to say any reasonable person is an agnostic. But, really, the deistic god isn't the one anyone's talking about, is it? When someone asks you if you believe in God, they're usually talking about Yahweh or Allah.

    Agnosticism very much is a position. I really hate the notion that it's this void property. It isn't that at all. The agnostic makes the claim that certain items are unknowable, or aren't yet known. It isn't fence-riding. (And see above for my view on silly terms like "agnostic theist")

    The Wager is really a poor showing by Pascal. It assumes that belief is something one flips on and off like a lightswitch. It isn't that, not really. You can't simply choose to believe in UFOs or Bigfoot, and you can't just choose to believe in God. And, assuming that the God Pascal is trying to hoodwink is real, faking faith isn't going to cut it. I would assume biblical God is the one dude who would want to surround himself with True Believers.
     
  20. rodereve Registered Member

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    Yeah, I tried to pass it off as a joke, I dont want to offend anyone's beliefs, but yeah, Pascal's wager has a ton of potholes. But you'd be surprised how many people use his same line of thinking, they just dont know it. My ex-youth pastor told me about his friend that he converted using this logic "You can live your life as a christian, do good works and be good to everyone, and at the end of your life, you might even get to go to heaven. if you're wrong, then you lived a good life!" Someone actually fell for that and converted to christianity.
     
  21. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Theists may think faith is knowledge, but I don't think they are the same. And some kinds of knowledge, like knowledge of climate change for example, aren't based on definitive proof, but rather a preponderance of evidence. An agnostic theist could have seen an example of prayer seeming to work, so they believe God did it, but they lack proof.
     
  22. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    Faith presents knowledge of an afterlife. If I truly posses high faith, then I can say all godly abilities exist.

    Faith would not exist if omniscience is not real.
     
  23. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    So all religions people have faith in are real?
     

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