"Well you're not really an atheist, you're just agnostic"

Ok... what the fuck does this even matter to a christian? I mean, really... dont you guys know ANYTHING about the rules of your own religion?

Atheists tend to get this a lot and people handle it differently in different situations. Occasionally they respond with the definitions and argue from there. I would like to know why it even matters to christians.

Here is my deal - Throughout the various christian denominations one of the more dominant beliefs are the ones regarding faith in the "greatest sacrifice" [that part where god kills his son/himself to "fix" the issues he invented]. The idea here is that one can attain the benefits of the sacrifice through faith in christ. Some denominations add little bits and pieces about how much you need to hate gays or how god does not like your kids knowing about that satanic ritual called "science"... whatever, right? We all know this is mostly bullshit, but the core belief about believing in Jesus should stick. 

The important bit here is obviously belief, and this is where the issue with atheism/agnosticism comes in. According to their definitions the atheist denies god's existence and the agnostic claims no knowledge either way, but does not believe. DOES NOT BELIEVE. That is the point. Whether I am an atheist or an agnostic [again, their definitions, not mine] I still dont believe. That means no matter what I do, according to the bible I cant get into heaven. Whether I go to hell or not does not matter. Jesus did not die for my indecisive nature or to save me from whatever hells may await us. He died so I can get to heaven and I can gain that "gift" through belief. Neither atheists nor agnostics get into heaven. We cant. We do not believe. For that matter there is NO other religion, aside from christianity, gets you into heaven. Atheist or agnostic? I may as well be a Raelian... still no biblical heaven for me.

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It seems to me that many, perhaps most, religious faithful see the issue in absolute terms -- either you think that gods absolutely don't exist, or that they (or rather a specific one) absolutely do.  If someone says, "I find no evidence of gods, and so it's reasonable to conclude that they don't exist", or more strongly, " All experience argues against the existence of gods, and therefore I say with reasonable certainty that they don't exist", what is implied is "But of course the claim that gods exist is one that can't be proven or disproven with absolute certainty because the premise is an assertion that they exist outside sensible reality", both of these are atheistic statements, but necessarily agnostic ones as well.  This is because absolutes (probably) don't exist in nature, and an honest person recognizes that as a necessary condition of reality rather than a weakness in their argument.  But to those invested in the comfort of absolute certainty it's a signal of weakness to be exploited, and they say, "Aha!  So you admit that you're not REALLY sure!  Therefore God (and by the way, I win)."

It's probably best to treat such attitudes as you would those of a child that can't bear to abandon its security blanket or stuffed animal/imaginary friend onto which it projects agency that it isn't willing to own.  "I hit Aahmirah because he wanted to play in my sand box, and Hobbes says that it belongs to me!"  An effective parent doesn't say, "Now Calvin, you know that Hobbes is just a stuffed tiger, and it wasn't his idea to hit Aahmirah, but yours."  That wouldn't gain traction in the mind of the child who is not yet ready or able to give up his comforting delusions.  Instead you drag Calvin over to apologize to Aahmirah and his family, and promise to try to civilize the little stinker as quickly as you can.  Calvin will (hopefully) grow up with some guidance and eventually understand that Hobbes is just a toy surrogate of his own wishes and own up to them.

Unfortunately for too many of our societies, institutionalized god beliefs provide scaffolding for our childish delusions/security blankets/imaginary friends to persist into adulthood and short-circuit our ability to grow up and own & overcome our prejudices.

I seem to have ranged off-track.  What were we talking about?

lol, off track indeed. You actually went deeper into the mechanics of why the argument is crap. I was talking more about why anybody would even use it. According to the bible it really does not matter what you are if you are not a christian. I know that, in reality, the christians cant bag on most other religions in the face of the threat of secularism. They have to band together as much as possible, even though each group thinks the other is horribly mistaken. This masquerade they run is obvious to anybody who cares to look. I dont get why they would want to shelve the agnostics away from the atheists though... not in these street-level discussions, at least. The higher-ups might have an agenda to divide and conquer both atheists and agnostics by playing this game of "you are one or the other, and that guy is not your friend", i guess. I dont think they need to, though. Atheism is about as organized as the universe. Still, why is Johnny-on-the-street the guy who feels it incumbent on him to point out that I am not using the same definitions for words that he is?

Good answer Ted - believers aren't rational and start responding like children. I have had similar childish things said to me.

One of the reasons they use the argument is because many people who call themselves agnostics are kinda wishy-washy about things.  It's not about the agnostics who, well, everyone's a bit agnostic because there's no absolutes and that kind of thing.  It's about people who identify as agnostic.  Those are often people who've just started to take steps away from theism, and might actually be deist or still hold some sort of spiritual beliefs.  These people are easier to "bring back into the fold", whereas someone who labels him/herself as an atheist is usually more confident in the lack of belief.

So, Christians like to pull atheists into labeling themselves as agnostics instead.  I guess they're hoping that some of the passivity, some of the "gee, guys, you've both got great arguments" attitude that characterizes many self-proclaimed agnostics will spread to the atheist in question.  They care because they think agnosticism is a middle ground and that the more agnostics they can make from the atheist ranks will weaken the atheist position.

tl;dr - "agnostics" are easier to (re)convert than atheists, and their existence is less of a direct challenge to the Christian worldview

Thats something I considered, and even though the term for the position is kinda misunderstood/messy there does exist some kind of "middle" between atheism and theism. Agnosticism is technically that position. Not in theory, but definitely in common practice. What does not make sense is that if I already identify as atheist then I most likely wont be joining the club ever again. Its one thing if I was the guy on the fence. Its another when you want to PUT me there. Its weird... do they really hate our position that much?

Ahaha~  Yes, yes they do.  Well, some of them.  I think it's more that they're threatened by it - the word "atheist", I mean.  Sometimes Christians are taught that atheists are evil immoral monsters, so they go on thinking that they've never met a real atheist, only people who think they're atheists.  Some conflate atheism with devil-worship because they're crazy like that.  They have a hard time understanding how being atheist doesn't mean you have no moral compass, so they assume that you're secretly theist like them and are just having a bout of teenage rebellion or something.

When a perfectly pleasant, normal person says they're atheist it, like, blows up the Christian's mind and they have to make excuses.  "What do you mean you're atheist?  You're not atheist, you can't be atheist!  Atheists are monsters and you're just the guy next door, so you must be agnostic.  And confused.  That's right, you're confused, so just get up on that fence and sit there for a while.  I'll come back to pull you over to our side later."

I suppose it might be their roundabout way of saying they still have hope for you being a decent human being instead of a baby-eater.

I think you've absolutely nailed it, Kacie Tsao. Agnostic is less threatening..

Then make sure not to be seen with these Goldfish crackers aimed squarely at the atheist market! :)

Most care about you.  They cannot hate you and be a Christian.  Jesus taught to love your enemies.

Humans make mistakes.  They are human.  They are more perfect when they act Christ-like

According to most Catholics you will get one more chance to be saved when you die.  When you see God and know of his greatness and his love, you will want to be with him forever.

You will get one more chance.  When you die you will find out what your punishment will be.  And you will be devastated.  If you are more upset with hurting God and being disobedient to him and displeasing him, when you finally know he exists, then you were sorry for yourself, God might save you.

Well all  religions have some form of Heaven, Islam has almost the same Heaven as Christianity, only with 72 virgins awaiting martyrs, though it doesn't say what gender the virgins are.

I'd love to see those male martyrs get to their Heaven and suddenly find they have 72 male virgins to call their own.  ROFL.

No afterlife exists, not Heaven, not Hell, no afterlife, get it.

All faiths preaching afterlife are bogus indeed.

There could be no pain in a spiritual realm, because pain is a physical based illusion, created by sensors sending signals to several brain structures that sort the pain into categories of experiences from mild sensations, heat to severe pain.  But the resultant pain is only an interpretation of the signals and the signals themselves are not pain.  The brain functions that give the determination that it is pain can be shut off.  People with some damage to regions of their brain cannot feel pain, stabbing or burning them only tickles, because the region that analyses the signal as intense pain is damaged. They expect pain and don't get it, which results in a tickle or funny sensation.

Thus you cannot feel pain, nor pleasure (same connections) in an afterlife whatever happens to your body because the bits that make those illusions remain part of your rotting corpse.

Fantastic isn't it! 

Besides if Heaven existed and you made it there, you may not see any of your relatives nor loved ones, because there is only a 2% chance anybody will get to Heaven and a 98% chance of going to Hell, where most of your family would likely be.

Agnostic = atheist

Atheist ~= agnostic, (though it may do) . . .

An agnostic is atheist.

An atheist may or may not be agnostic.

An agnostic does not believe in "God", but does not deny the possibility of "God".

An atheist does not believe in "God", and some atheists declare that "God" does not, and cannot exist.




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