I have heard many an atheist claim that is the case. Indeed I am sometimes guilty of using that word to describe myself in place of atheist. Occasionally one wants to minimize the impact of their beliefs in a religious world. Agnostic means without knowledge. Atheism means without a god or religion.
I do know that I don't believe in an Abrahamic god, heaven, hell, original sin or supernatural miracles. However, I do not know that death means the end of consciousness. In that sense I am agnostic. It may well be the end of consciousness and I am OK with that. However, I look around at a universe that recycles itself. The body of a dead animal feeds a myriad of other organisms and is thus recycled. Our solar system was born from the death of a star. Our universe may have spawned off of another universe ( Multiverse Theory). It seems like an endless cycle. Ultimately none of us knows as we have not returned from the dead. I suppose it comes down to semantics and how you interpret the word.
Splitting hairs between I don't know if x exists and I don't think/believe (take your choice) x exists seems like a colossal waste of focus. I find myself in an atheistic/pantheistic corner when I get stupid enough to believe my beliefs
I really don't like the word agnostic. It has too many meanings and is very often intentionally misused.
If the definition of God is something that can't be known. We can not claim to know what by definition we can't know.
If the definition is I don't know if there is a God we are agnostics.
If the definition is I don't know what God is or which God to worship, this is an honest descriptor of many people.
If I was to use the term I would be lying to my friends for selfish reasons, such as avoiding a briefly uncomfortable conversation. Luckily that has never been the case. Whenever it has come up in a conversation I openly admit I am an atheist. I agree with David Silverman on this issue. He makes a great case for being honest about being an atheist in his book "Fighting God". I have been honest with everyone around me and have found that it indeed does open conversations. When I explain that I am not mad at god I simply don't believe, I have not met with hostility but rather many who express their own doubts.
So yes if I was to use the word agnostic it would indeed be a cop out. There are many whom use many euphemisms such as nones, secular, free thinkers etc. Sometimes these are simply theist accepted terms. At other times they have their uses. I prefer atheist it is precise, and clear to everyone as most people don't know what the other terms mean. Often the people who use them can not agree what they mean.
Atheist still does have some stigma. The word gay had much stigma 30 years ago but now is more commonly a simple descriptor such as heterosexual. The more we use the term atheist the normal it will be perceived by society.
I absolutely agree! I am an atheist!
For example: In a job interview the interviewer nonchalantly asks if I am a christian, or catholic or whatever. It is technically illegal to ask but it happens. I feel like the most diplomatic answer is agnostic, vs atheist, because I want the job.
In this context I would simply reply I am not a religious person. The employer here is either bigoted and only wants a particular religion in the work place or wants to ensure religion does not interfere with work. Either way honesty is to our benefit.
I've never had that happen but I agree I suspect it does. If it ever did I would lean forward with my pen and paper and say "I'm sorry, could you repeat that please?"
I've taken psychological test like that for jobs too. I've always told "honest" lies on them and passed with flying colors. One question I remember is "Are the police honest people?" I was a correctional officer for 15 years. A badge has no correlation to actual honesty. So I of course answered "yes" as this was the answer they wanted but not necessarily a reflection of fact. I would like to find a magic badge that makes everyone honest though.
I would say no such thing! I would say that is an illegal question. Let the chips fall.
Thanks for sharing your opinion, John.
It reminds me of the last time I received a census questionnaire. I read the questions and found many that I would feel uncomfortable asking my mother. I closed the "book" and wrote on the out side "There are four legal U.S. citizens that live at this address, the rest is none of your Damn business". I sent it in and never heard from them again.
I respect other points of view but question your belief in the possibility of death not meaning the end of consciousness. Your analogy doesn't really work, does it? The examples you describe are nothing like the maximum of order that happens to result in consciousness. The death of the brain resulting in continued or reinstated consciousness in some other form would surely be the equivalent of the tornado that throws stuff together and creates a fully formed 747 (or whatever the famous analogy is).
Regarding the terms, I never use agnostic, though I don't begrudge anyone who does because I understand the social situations. I know for certain I don't believe in God or anything remotely like the God of religions. It's odd that that is often seen as cocky; it's just a statement of what one believes to be true, not a guarantee of truth.
(edit: this is supposed to be in response to the opening post at the top of the page. I really don't understand the order replies fall into, they never seem to go where I think they should...oh well)
Death means end of blood flow, end of heart beat, end of brain activity. All organs begin to decay, I mean, rot! There is nothing left but return to earth in the form of dust, or dirt, or whatever euphamism one wants to use. Unless, of course, the body is pickled. My mother, father, and son requested that their bodies not be embalmed. I make the same request.
(edit: I agree, "I really don't understand the order replies fall into, they never seem to go where I think they should...oh well")