• In total there are 4 users online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 4 guests (based on users active over the past 60 minutes)
    Most users ever online was 616 on Thu Jan 18, 2024 7:47 pm

Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic - Where do you fit in?

Engage in conversations about worldwide religions, cults, philosophy, atheism, freethought, critical thinking, and skepticism in this forum.
Forum rules
Do not promote books in this forum. Instead, promote your books in either Authors: Tell us about your FICTION book! or Authors: Tell us about your NON-FICTION book!.

All other Community Rules apply in this and all other forums.
ahroddy

Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic - Where do you fit in?

Unread post

I realized that in my introduction I stated that I definitely was not an atheist. However, I realized that I was not absolutely certain of that. I was curious if there was a difference between atheist and agnostic. So, I decided to look it up on dictionary.com and this is what I found:a·the·ist [ey-thee-ist]
User avatar
Chris OConnor

1A - OWNER
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame
Posts: 17002
Joined: Sun May 05, 2002 2:43 pm
21
Location: Florida
Has thanked: 3500 times
Been thanked: 1307 times
Gender:
Contact:
United States of America

Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic - Where do you fit in?

Unread post

This is a great topic. I've explained my beliefs in detail a few times and would be happy to do so again. Right now I'm going to go put the next book polls up so that we can all jump into the voting process tonight. But I do hope to see some responses to this thread. I'll post my views later.

Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

Yeah, christianity makes sense.
User avatar
George Ricker

1G - SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
Junior
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:21 am
17
Been thanked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic - Where do you fit i

Unread post

I am an atheist because I have no belief in a deity of any sort. I think the likelihood of a god's existence to have very low probability. However, I claim absolute certainty about very little. Most of the things I think I know to be true (note the small "t") are based on my understanding of current information. I think reality exists, but I also think our understanding of reality is a work in progress and no one ever gets the last word.George "Godlessness is not about denying the existence of nonsensical beings. It is the starting point for living life without them."Godless in America by George A. Ricker
User avatar
riverc0il
Senior
Posts: 373
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:08 pm
18
Location: Ashland, NH

Re: Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic - Where do you fit i

Unread post

David Eller in "Natural Atheism" makes a fantastic argument that you can either be a theist or an atheist. Prior to reading that book, I absolutely believed in the existence of an agnostic option but now I am not quite as convinced. As I recall, the argument went something like agnostics by not choosing to believe in a religion are by default in the "a-theism" camp or without belief. Perhaps you can diferentiate between atheism and "strong atheism" (so called absolute belief in no god, i.e. not open to the possibility if proven) but as I recall, Eller was critical of that as well.I guess it depends if you define your beliefs (or lack thereof) from the inside out or outside in which way you will want to look at the issue. Though the point still remains that we are all born atheists. People only acquire theism by learning from other people, culture, books, society, etc. So how does agnosticism develop? Until I took an Intro to Philosophy course in college, I never even knew there was such a thing as being agnostic. Having been born without belief and from a very early age not understanding religion nor acquiring any belief, I saw the whole thing as rather black and white.
User avatar
George Ricker

1G - SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
Junior
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:21 am
17
Been thanked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic - Where do you fit i

Unread post

When Thomas Henry Huxley (a.k.a. "Darwin's bulldog") came up with the term agnostic, he said it was the antithesis of gnostic. In an essay called "Agnosticism" (1889) he noted that after considering all the options available to him, he thought religionists and atheists alike were gnostic in that they claimed to know the answer to the question "Does God exist?" Huxley said the one thing he was sure of was that he did not know, hence the term agnostic -- a (without) + gnostic (knowledge). However, I think Huxley mischaracterized atheism. I have never thought atheism required any sort of certain knowledge about the god idea. In my view agnosticism/gnosticism indicates knowledge or its lack; atheism/theism indicates god-belief or its lack. Thus one might be an agnostic theist (one who believes in a god but makes no knowledge claims about it), a gnostic theist (one who believes in a god and claims to "know" about its existence), an agnostic atheist (one who does not believe in a god but makes no knowledge claims about it), or a gnostic atheist (one who does not believe in a god and claims to "know" no gods exist). Note that in this context we are speaking of claims of certain knowledge, not estimates of probability. I suppose it's possible to be absolutely neutral about all of this. At least, there are people who claim to be so. I'm not sure how one goes about being neutral about a belief though. It seems to me one must either believe or not-believe. I don't know where the halfway house is between those two positions. Eller takes the position in Natural Atheism that when atheism is defined as the absence of god-belief, then all nonbelievers are atheists by default. In his view, and in mine, agnosticism is not a convenient halfway house between belief and non-belief. However, there are many people who call themselves agnostics and claim otherwise.George "Godlessness is not about denying the existence of nonsensical beings. It is the starting point for living life without them."Godless in America by George A. Ricker
xentryk

Re: Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic - Where do you fit i

Unread post

garickerQuote:I suppose it's possible to be absolutely neutral about all of this. At least, there are people who claim to be so. I'm not sure how one goes about being neutral about a belief though. It seems to me one must either believe or not-believe. I don't know where the halfway house is between those two positions.I think I can see where one might be neutral on beliefs, but I believe that being neutral means not caring. There are people that just don't care about religion; they don't care to believe or to not believe. They don't care if there neighbor is a theist or an atheist. While they may have no desire to attend church and pray, they also have no desire to argue the existence of God and seek answers. They probably don't look at a Presidential candidate's religion, only his stance on politics. They just choose to leave the idea of religion and belief on their neighbor's doorstep instead. They simply answer religious questions with "I don't know", and remain seated on the fence.I personnally think it's sad that people can accept their "I don't know" answers with no intention of ever changing them. But lets face it, not everyone is interested in finding answers.I don't know what's worse, not looking for answers or finding all the wrong ones. "This paperback is very interesting, but I find it will never replace a hardcover book - it makes a very poor doorstop."-Alfred Hitchcock
User avatar
riverc0il
Senior
Posts: 373
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:08 pm
18
Location: Ashland, NH

Re: Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic - Where do you fit i

Unread post

Is it possible that Huxley's "agnosticism" was motivated by societal factors? Perhaps he believed he would be less read and less well received if he claimed to be an atheist. Whereas even strong theists probably wouldn't care if someone was "on the fence" but the social stigma issue is much more prevalent with atheists for which whole sections of the population wouldn't read books just based on the fact of non-belief.
User avatar
George Ricker

1G - SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
Junior
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:21 am
17
Been thanked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic - Where do you fit i

Unread post

rivercOil: Is it possible that Huxley's "agnosticism" was motivated by societal factors? Perhaps he believed he would be less read and less well received if he claimed to be an atheist. Whereas even strong theists probably wouldn't care if someone was "on the fence" but the social stigma issue is much more prevalent with atheists for which whole sections of the population wouldn't read books just based on the fact of non-belief.I guess it's possible. But he is pretty clear in the essay I cited that he thinks atheists are claiming to "know," just as believers claim to "know," and he was unwilling to claim such knowledge.Here I think Huxley was simply mistaken in his characterization of both atheism and religious belief. It's well established that atheism is the absence of a belief and not a declaration of knowledge. But it's also true, and this is often overlooked, that there are many believers who accept the existence of a deity as a matter of faith but make no knowledge claims and will admit, if pressed on the point, that they have no evidence to support their belief. George http://www.godlessinamerica.com"Godlessness is not about denying the existence of nonsensical beings. It is the starting point for living life without them."Godless in America by George A. Ricker
User avatar
George Ricker

1G - SILVER CONTRIBUTOR
Junior
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Nov 18, 2006 11:21 am
17
Been thanked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic - Where do you fit i

Unread post

xentryk: I think I can see where one might be neutral on beliefs, but I believe that being neutral means not caring.OK, I guess that's a kind of neutrality. It could be argued that this is a distinction without a difference because presumably one who doesn't care also doesn't believe, but I see your point. A person who is totally indifferent to something would be as close to neutrality as one could get.George http://www.godlessinamerica.com"Godlessness is not about denying the existence of nonsensical beings. It is the starting point for living life without them."Godless in America by George A. Ricker
User avatar
Frank 013
Worthy of Worship
Posts: 2021
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:55 pm
18
Location: NY
Has thanked: 548 times
Been thanked: 171 times

Re: Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic - Where do you fit i

Unread post

I label myself as an agnostic atheist meaning that I do not believe in any gods but do not claim to know for sure, like George I find the possibility of a god or gods to be low in probability. There was a time when I fell into the "I don't care" camp. But I never really believed in any gods either. I never prayed or even really went to church, and I never felt that I was missing out on anything or needed some spiritual fulfillment or guidance. So for myself anyway I would have to say that I was always an atheist, even when I had no interest one way or the other. Later Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a wellpreserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out,shouting..."Holy Crap...what a ride!"
Post Reply

Return to “Religion & Philosophy”