Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 9 years ago

Atheists: Shouldn't we reject the use of the term "agnostic atheist"?

I am an atheist. I say that god(s) does not exist. There are no levels of atheism, despite what some Catholic apologists and agnostic philosophers (and people on the internet) have tried to create with these terms. Atheist means "without god". An "agnostic atheist" is an agnostic leaning strongly toward atheism. They are not there yet. If someone feels that it can't be known whether or not god exists, they are agnostic (even if strongly leaning toward atheism).

I will explain it this way. Let's say your neighbor calls and says "there is a tree in your front yard" and you know that you do not have a tree. But you look out the window to make certain that a tree has not miraculously sprouted up without your knowledge. You look out the window and you see that there is no tree anywhere in your front yard. Your neighbor continues to insist that this tree is there. Would you still claim to not "know" whether or not this tree exists? Would you remain agnostic with regard to the existence of the tree because your neighbor says that it is there? You see no tree. There is no evidence that a tree was ever there. Would you not say "I know I do not have a tree in my front yard"? For an atheist, this knowledge is the same.

"Gnostic" is a term that has always applied to religion/god until very recently (within recent decades) and it should be done away with with regard to atheism. It is like using the term "gospel" as in "atheists believe it is the gospel that there is no god". (gospel means undeniable truth) The usage of "agnostic" and "gnostic" has always applied to religious belief and to apply it to a godless belief is just silly.

Catholic apologists originally created this "gnostic atheist" and "agnostic atheist" nonsense in an effort to equate atheism with a religion and to create an open door for God by stating that it "can't be known". It was later picked up by some agnostic philosophers who applied it to atheism. In recent years (decades) it has been used philosophically to debate a level of agnosticism, not atheism. When the level of agnosticism became so weak that it bordered on atheism, the term "agnostic atheist" was used.

These terms should be rejected by atheists because it weakens the atheist argument, by saying it "can't be known" whether or not God exists. Can't be known = "possible". If anyone believes that it is possible for a god to exist, they are not an atheist. Because atheist simply means "without god".


Edit: At least there are a couple of people here who have not guzzled the "agnostic atheist" Kool-Aid. Just hang on, in time the term "agnostic atheist" will no longer exist and you will remember my long drawn out post.

@acid zebra, thanks for proving you have zero actual understanding on the subject with your childish post.

@Angels Have the Voice Box - Bless your heart, you tried. Gotta love ya.

@Logic Religion - I assume you mean that adding "agnostic" to atheist is the useless specific.

@Lucard & Ratz - You are wrong. End of story.

@Vixen - Thank you for confirming the mindset of the average "agnostic atheist".

Update 2:

@Ami - All you have to do is google "catholic apologists agnostic atheist" and tons of stuff will come up so you will no longer have to wonder or depend on someone else to supply links to you.

17 Answers

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I tend to agree from an anti-theist standpoint, however as long as "atheism" means "without theism", there is little other way to deal with this. Language is totally screwed up. All kinds of shades and specifics of meaning. So I created a word, which carries the connotation that "there are no gods - period - not possible" - panaentheism. Through, inside, and out of everything; in part, parts, or whole - there is no validation to theism.

    I have contacts that are agnostic atheist, many in fact, and they hinge upon what might be - and I think that's theism in hiding. Agnostic atheist = "I don't know if there are any gods, BUT..." and the but is where theism remains in their thinking. It's like implicit theism, with no specific theism. I don't know, this whole thing gets touchy, really touchy with agnostic atheists. I just don't know if society can handle your idea for at least another 20-30 years.

  • ?
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    They answer two different questions, so i don't see what's the problem. For all effects, i am an atheist. But i'd be intellectually dishonest if i'd say that i know with absolute certainty that a god can't possibly exist.

    There is no absolute certainty. In fact, i'd say that being agnostic stands for pretty much anything.

    Can there be a bigfoot? Leprechauns? Ghosts? Tooth fairy? Santa Claus? Superman? Can i know for sure? But the thing here is... what probability is there that any of these or a god exists? Around the same, perhaps 0,000000000000000001% (and a few more zeros).

    I'm agnostic atheist and many more attributes like skeptic, freethinker, critical thinker, humanist, etc. They each relate to different things.

  • Trisha
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    Well, the term agnostic covers a huge range of beliefs. You can be agnostic and leaning towards atheism, because agnostics can be nearly anything.

    But no, you can't be an atheist leaning towards agnosticism.

    Also, even if similar terms used to suggest atheism is a kind of religion, it doesn't matter much. Words and their meanings change over time.

  • Ami
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    I just don't find your claim about Catholic philosophers and their big conspiracy to make atheism sound like a religion very believable.

    The fact of the matter is that agnosticism is about knowledge, and atheism is about belief, which are two very different things.

    EDIT: Searching "catholic apologists agnostic atheism" brings up a bunch of stuff talking about former atheists and agnostics who are now Catholics (i.e., "testimonies"). The rest seems to be Catholics defining what atheism is. None of the results on the first page of Google show anything that even refers to "agnostic atheism" as a unit.

    However, I do see that Wikipedia cites theological works on its agnostic atheism page. Something by Robert Flint, who I'm not sure was Catholic, and something by Alexander James Harrison, who I'm also not sure was Catholic. But Bertrand Russell, who most people think of as being an atheist (because he certainly was one), ALSO described himself as an agnostic: That's a pretty major philosopher who disagrees with your position. (I know that's an argument from authority, but I don't think the situation is as clear-cut as you say it is).

    And, really, telling people that they're just "...wrong. End of story" isn't terribly mature either.

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  • ?
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    Why can't atheism be tied to gnosticism and agnosticism?

    Just because the word gnosticism was tied to religion, it doesn't mean it can't be applied for atheism.

    Atheism isn't a religion, but it is within the realm of religion.

    Agnostic atheist= uncertain disbelief in god.

    Gnostic atheist= certain/strong disbelief in god.

    Gnostic theist= Strong belief in God.

    Agnostic theist= (Close to agnostic atheism) A weak belief in God.

    I'm an agnostic atheist verging on gnostic atheism.

    It doesn't matter where words originated from or what they used to mean.

    What matters is what they mean now.

  • Oh sweetie, you're hanging your entire argument on rigid definitions and can't even get them right.

    The etymology of 'gospel' is 'good message'. 'Undenial truth' is only a definition for the idiom 'gospel truth'. And of course the most commonly used and understand definitions of 'gospel' are four particular written works and a rollicking style of music.

    'Atheist' has a very long history of use in which it refers to someone who denies some gods while promoting others. Greeks and Roman 'pagan' writers used it as a polemic against Christians and Christians used it against 'pagans'.

    In current philosophical usage, gnostic/agnostic and theist/atheist refer to two separate questions. One is whether such things are knowable, the other is whether something we might call 'divine' exists.

    Two separate questions.

    Two components to the labels some of us use to identify ourselves.

    Source(s): Pragmatic non-reductionist.
  • Eltrut
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    I like the term 'Agnostic Fundamentalist" or would that be an "Fundamentalist Agnostic"?

    People say it can't be true, because I don't have a book or written set of rules that I follow. All I know is that I'm extremely anti-theist and anti-religious.

  • Vixen
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    well i am agnostic athiest.

    basically i don't know if god exists, but i tend to lean towards science more than a book with no support. but in the scheme of things i don't know!

    just like you don't know if i was watching the news while i typed this, i don't know if god exists thus i am atheist, but it is hard to be purely neutral and as i tend to kinda believe the athiest side more than the theist side i am agnostic athiest.

    Source(s): I AM agnostic atheist
  • 9 years ago

    I am an atheist; an agnostic atheist regarding theoretically possible gods, and a gnostic one regarding impossible gods such as the christian one.

    I'm the same way with elves.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    "If anyone believes that it is possible for a god to exist, they are not an atheist."

    Not true. Something being possible and ACTUAL are two separate things. I don't think God is actual. I don't see how it couldn't be possible? we're talking magic here. Magic could be real, it just isn't. I also don't believe it's possible to "know" anything.

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