1. Joined
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    10 Apr '10 21:03
    It seems like a mainstreamed label for American atheists to me. Am I mistaken?
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    10 Apr '10 21:41
    I think the concept of agnosticism is colloquially viewed on a sort of religiosity spectrum -- atheist and theist being diametrically opposed, while agnosticism is somewhere in the middle. The way I see it is while atheist and theist are certainly related terms, agnosticism is entirely unrelated to them. I see an agnosticism spectrum ranging from absolute certainty to absolute uncertainty about a given claim, and I see an entirely separate binary choice between atheism and theism. All people fall somewhere on the agnosticism spectrum. And all people are either theists or atheists.

    On a side-note, in colloquial vernacular when one refers to an agnostic, or calls himself an agnostic, the agnostic in question is most likely an atheist.
  3. Standard memberkaroly aczel
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    10 Apr '10 21:59
    Agnosticism is a modern and transitory notion. Like androgony.
  4. Donationbbarr
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    10 Apr '10 22:021 edit
    I characterize the distinction between atheism and agnosticism in doxastic and epistemological terms:

    Active Atheism: The belief that there is no God, coupled with the belief that there is sufficient evidence to justify the belief that there is no God.

    Passive Atheism: The lack of a belief in God, perhaps coupled with the belief that there is insufficient evidence to justify the belief that there is a God.

    Agnosticism: The belief that there is insufficient evidence to justify either the belief that there is no God or the belief that there is a God, perhaps coupled with the belief that it is impossible for there to be sufficient evidence to justify either belief.

    I'm sure further additions and refinements are possible, but I think this gets the gist of the distinction.
  5. Illinois
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    10 Apr '10 22:06
    Originally posted by UzumakiAi
    It seems like a mainstreamed label for American atheists to me. Am I mistaken?
    What I disagree with is the notion that atheism is the 'neutral' ground upon which all claims of deity are assessed. It isn't clear at all that atheism is a neutral position, nor that atheism is the default viewpoint of human beings when they become sufficiently conscious of the world. For instance, it is more likely, given that the vast majority of the world's population are theists, that theism not atheism is the default viewpoint of human beings (although, I don't intend to make that claim here). IMO, agnosticism is the default viewpoint of human beings, which we can never really abandon, whatever we come to believe about ultimate reality. In this respect, agnosticism can be considered truly neutral. Claiming that atheism is the neutral ground, on the other hand, begs the question; the proposition to be proved (that God doesn't exist) is assumed implicitly.
  6. Donationrwingett
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    10 Apr '10 22:32
    Originally posted by UzumakiAi
    It seems like a mainstreamed label for American atheists to me. Am I mistaken?
    Pretty much. 'Agnosticism' is only useful for people who buy into the mistaken notion that atheism necessarily means 'hard atheism' and who therefore think they need a separate term to distinguish themselves from that.

    It is my contention that agnosticism does not exist as a separate category apart from theism or atheism. 'Agnostic' is an adjective that can be applied to either theism or atheism, as agnostic theist, or agnostic atheist. Nobody is just an agnostic. At the end of the day there are really only theists and atheists.
  7. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    10 Apr '10 22:374 edits
    Originally posted by UzumakiAi
    It seems like a mainstreamed label for American atheists to me. Am I mistaken?
    In practice, it means the same as "atheist" with the emphasis that it's weak atheism, not strong atheism. These people think atheists are all strong atheists and realize this is a ridiculous position to hold.

    I prefer to use gnosticism (knowledge) seperate from belief in God (theism). You can KNOW there is a God; you are a gnostic theist (or strong/hard theist). You can KNOW there is NO God. You are a gnostic atheist (strong/hard atheist).

    Both of these positions are unreasonable. All reasonable people are a-gnostics.

    You can BELIEVE in God, but admit it requires faith because you don't actually KNOW. You are an agnostic theist (weak/soft theist).

    You can not believe in God, but admit you might be wrong. You are an agnostic athiest (weak/soft atheist).

    "Theist" usually means "agnostic theist" and "atheist" usually means "agnostic atheist".

    Unless, however, it's a theist trying to "disprove" atheism. Then they often assume "atheist" means "gnostic atheist" and attack the gnostic part. This is a very common strawman.
  8. Joined
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    10 Apr '10 22:59
    I'm an agnostic atheist.

    Having said that I think that the nomenclature is not important for its own sake. If you want to know what I think then it will probably become apparent through dialogue. If you don't, then no amount of squabbling about passive versus active or strong versus weak atheism will settle it.

    If you ask me if I believe that god exists then I'm bound to ask you what you mean by 'god'. Your answer could determine to which category my stance toward your god properly belongs.

    If you specify something like Morgan Freeman with super powers then I'm probably toward the strong atheist/active atheist end of the spectrum. On the other hand I'm going to be agnostic in the sense that bbar used the term if your god is more in keeping with a deist stance. This seems unavoidable, since if you ask me to comment on things that might be formally beyond the bounds of human knowledge then I'm unlikely to be able to say anything at all, let alone whether existence is an applicable concept.
  9. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    11 Apr '10 15:47
    Originally posted by Lord Shark
    I'm an agnostic atheist.

    Having said that I think that the nomenclature is not important for its own sake. If you want to know what I think then it will probably become apparent through dialogue. If you don't, then no amount of squabbling about passive versus active or strong versus weak atheism will settle it.

    If you ask me if I believe that god e ...[text shortened]... to be able to say anything at all, let alone whether existence is an applicable concept.
    Well said.
  10. Joined
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    11 Apr '10 23:29
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Well said.
    Kind of you to say so.
  11. Joined
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    12 Apr '10 01:263 edits
    Originally posted by UzumakiAi
    It seems like a mainstreamed label for American atheists to me. Am I mistaken?
    What do I think of agnosticism? Well on the one hand I find it appealing but on the other hand I don't. In fact, I'm not sure what to think? 😛

    Of course, you know what an agnostic really is don't you? He is an atheist without any gonades. 😀
  12. Joined
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    14 Apr '10 01:54
    Originally posted by UzumakiAi
    It seems like a mainstreamed label for American atheists to me. Am I mistaken?
    I don't think it's possible to know whether or not agnosticism exists.
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    14 Apr '10 02:09
    Originally posted by josephw
    I don't think it's possible to know whether or not agnosticism exists.
    My mind = blown
  14. Joined
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    14 Apr '10 02:33
    Originally posted by jekeckel
    My mind = blown
    Blows my mind too!
  15. Joined
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    14 Apr '10 10:12
    Originally posted by josephw
    I don't think it's possible to know whether or not agnosticism exists.
    How do you know it's not possible to know whether or not agnosticism exists?
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