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 was trying to think of an argument from parsimony - the simplest explanation is by far the most compelling for me. No gods, is about as simple as one can get. The other argument that I like is Russell's Teapot. Where is the burden of proof? You cant prove there is no god -that's proving a negative, and it can't be done. But you also can't prove there isn't a teapot orbiting the sun. Still, nobody believes there really is a teapot. As Bertrand Russell explained (link above) "Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time."
Even though I can't prove there isn't a Jehovah, Jesus, Yahweh, I also can't prove there isn't a Quetzalcoatl, Mithra, Ganesha, Allah, Thor, Tsohanoai, or Tinkerbell. I'm atheist about all of those as well, it's just silly to say, well, can you PROVE there isn't a Tinkerbell? No, so you are a Tinkerbell agnostic then!
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.
CB, there have been times when I wanted to be nonconfrontational and stated that I am not a religious person, as well. That was in professional and workplace situations where people often fell back on, or shared, their religious beliefs. Even so, I think some coworkers knew, and that may have been part of why I was an outsider in the workplace tribalism and cliques. I consider my role was as a blank slate, inappropriate to state religious, political, sexual, or any controversial beliefs on my part.
No one has pushed me beyond that, to ask what I mean by that. It is a compromise and, on my part, could be judged as a "cop out" by people who are more forceful. Most of the time, if the topic comes up at all, I state proudly that I am atheist. When it came up with a neighbor, I just said, "I don't believe in all of that bullshit" and he seemed to like that.
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 always know exactly what to say, although that usually happens the next day, month, or sometimes a year of two later :-)
I once applied for a hospital job. I didn't know at the time, it was a Catholic hospital. They gave me a very long questionnaire, pseudo-psychologial, and told me it in no way impacted my application. Uh huh. There were questions like "Do you respect authority figures", and "Do you become emotional at opera (huh? are they asking if I'm gay? WHO goes to opera, especially in Eugene Oregon, which probably doesn't have an opera?), or "Do you were clothes of the opposite sex (I thought, hmmmmm?). Naturally, I didn't get the job. And they lied about that too, stating they wanted a local applicant. So why did they interview me, coming from Chicago to Oregon for the interview? So dishonest. No overt questions that I can recall about whether I am atheist. "What color is your car" is a pretty weird question for a job interview too. Pseudo psychological woo woo and dishonest.
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.