"I sound my barbaric YAWP!! over the rooftops of the world" - Walt Whitman
But it wasn't always that way. When I announced to my parents in elementary school I didn't believe in god, they told me it was called atheism. They supported me (it broke my mothers heart at first though), but I learned early on that you paid a price by not following the herd. I kept my mouth shut about it. Then 9/11 happened, and I started getting a little more vocal about it (but even then, I only told some friends and co workers). Finally, I heard Penn Jillette's radio show. He and Goudeau openly talked about being atheists on the air, and people would call in and say they were atheists also. I was 31 or 32 at the time. This was the first time I had ever heard other people call themselves an atheist (I didn't surf the web much back then). I stop short of introducing myself, "Joe Swam..atheist"...but it's close. With all that being said...I completely understand why some people don't "come out".
Joe Swam seems sure:
"We're all agnostics. No one is claiming to KNOW there is no god (I should say not many are claiming this...I'm sure some are). But "agnostic" doesn't answer the theological question of whether you believe in god. It answers whether or not we can know there is a god.
Atheist just means that we see no evidence that supports the existence of a god."
This is an atheist site. I’m tired of agnostic apologists.
God is an object of faith. No more, no less.
Do you have faith in the existence of god?
Then you are an atheist.
“Knowing” or “not knowing” is totally irrelevant to faith.
But you do know whether or not you have faith in the existence of god.
If you know you don’t have faith in the existence of god, then you are an atheist.
Go argue the myth of agnosticism in a different forum.
The agnosticism vs. atheism thing is one that has many misconception surrounding it. Neil Tyson had a take on it, and I'll post the link:
I used to take the same position as Tyson, which is "empirical agnosticism." And you're right, faith is irrelevant to empirical agnosticism, because the empirical agnostic does not adhere to faith nor a lack thereof faith. Faith is, as you said, entirely irrelevant. Empirical agnosticism ultimately says, "We do not know if there is a God, but perhaps one day we can know." So, if you don't know, you don't go around saying "I believe" or "I disbelieve," likewise, you wouldn't say, "I have faith," nor would you say "I don't have faith." If you do not believe or if you do not have faith, then you'd be an atheist.
So, as Tyson points out in that YouTube clip, he wouldn't categorize himself as "atheist," as he takes the stand-alone position of "empirical agnosticism."
Matt, faith as the foundation for there being a god is not enough for me. Furthermore, the Christian right wing fundamentalists have a great deal of influence over a great many people politically and economically. I vehemently speak up to disagree with their stand and attempt to match volume and intensity by firmly proclaiming I see no evidence to believe in the "young earth," creation as described by those who have faith in the bible and teachings, tradition and dogma. The virgin birth, resurrection and transcendence make no sense. When I watch debates between atheists and christian apologeticists, I perceive nothing more than "faith," "belief," "feel good," "the bible says so," "god is the author of the bible," and such nonsense defenses.
When Intelligent Design or Creationism tries to put it's head in the school science department, I will be there to block them. If they want to have comparative religion, I am able and willing to teach it.
I was a let-every-person-think-for-him-or-her-self person, but no longer. In my opinion, yahweh, god, allah, and any other mystical character are creation from human imagination and served a purpose that no long needs such tales.
When tribal wars defending one or another religion and they had rocks and bows and arrows it was one thing. Today we have the capacity to destroy all that is good and beautiful and delicious and inspiring. We, homo sapiens, need to grow up, look at reality, put beliefs to a test for validity and figure out a way to get along.
Drones? high powered rifles? bombs? bullets? poisons? They are the stuff that requires wise and honorable people. We have not reached that level of development, yet. We continue to think as a cave person.