Since ancient times, India has known atheists, but I have not heard of any agnostic person tlll in recent past. The idea of
agnosticism seems to have come to India from  the west. This word therefore puzzles me. A  theist afirms that yes, there
is a god in whom he believes. An atheist says that no, there is no god. Both of these are firm statements and each
 person making  these has something to say that is specific. However, the statement that "There is probably no god "
sounds hollow. It is as good as saying "There is probably some god."  In either case, someone who says this, does not
appear  to have much to say. If you have a 10% doubt that god may exist, you are an agnostic. It is the same if
you have 20% , 50% or 90% doubt. So where does agnosticism stand? Does it really mean anything? If an agnostic is
so much in un-resolvable doubt, should he declare himself as an agnostic, that is, a person not capable of resolving his

The usual excuse for such a doubt is that no one can be 100% sure of anything, but we are so sure of many things in life.
If we have doubt on any subject, we take pains to resolve our doubt. Is it so difficult to resolve a doubt on the existance
of god that it can never be resolved and  so force a person to remain an agnostic for all his life? If this were so, there would
be no atheists in the world.  Does the agnostic lack  something that an atheist has? Or, does an atheist overstep a
limit of sound judgement?

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Replies to This Discussion

I stand corrected, Richard. It does matter. I appreciate your comment.  

Not really correcting you Joan, just  borrowing the phrase to add a point. I find it interesting that any atheist would fall willingly into that trap. There's a good take on this by Greta Christina from a few years back:

So why, when an atheist says, "I know that I can't be 100% certain of God's non-existence, but I'm certain enough of it to call myself an atheist," do so many people insist that we're wrong? Why do so many people feel so comfortable saying, "Atheism is absolute 100% certainty that there is no God... regardless of what those pesky atheists say themselves"?

I think there are two things going on. (Apart from the more generous interpretation: that the people in questions really just don't know, and that it sometimes takes a few repetitions for the message to get through.)

Atheist cartoon

One, and most obviously: I think it's an attempt to marginalize atheists, and to discredit the atheist movement. When believers make the "Atheism means 100% rigid certainty" argument -- especially moderate and progressive believers -- they're attempting to make atheists seem like hard-line extremists who take an indefensible position and adhere to it dogmatically. (And when agnostics make the argument, I think it's an attempt to distance themselves from those bad atheists: the loud, confrontational ones who keep making everybody angry and getting in the news.)

It's a classic straw man. It's the insistence that we hold extreme and indefensible positions that few of us really hold... so they don't have to wrestle with the reasonable and entirely defensible positions that most of us really do hold.


That's totally perfect.  I love Greta Christina.  Need to finish reading her book!

She is great! I just read her hate piece and how good it felt to read her words! Thanks for the lead. 

I'm not saying that I fall into the trap, (I mean Pascal's Wager). I'm saying my relationships with wonderful people are more important than agreeing with them on matters of belief-in-god or no-belief-in-god.  I have no reason to take the wager and am confident that if there is any hell it is here, now. It is not the confidence I lack, it is the reality of caring for and wanting a relationship with those who believe and who want me to believe. 

If I have to make a choice, it will be an easy one to turn away from people I care about. If my participation with them requires my acquiescence to them, the price is too high. 

Pascal's wager is just casuism dressed in an appeal to authority, if you were betting the odds, atheism is still the closest thing to a "sure thing" with that one.

The trap I speak of is one of taking on the burden of proof explicit in claiming the contra-positive, ...when it's absolutely unnecessary to do so. Gnostic atheism weakens, not strengthens the argument for atheism,'s basic logic 101.

The necessity of 100% certainty in any gnostic claim (yay or nay) in the lack of a possible 100% certainty and in the absence of proof ...requires faith.

I don't need faith to be an atheist, I'm (not, if it's those who embrace the batshit crazy Ayn Rand "psycho-episomology" woo) surprised that those few who claim to be gnostic atheists fail to see that they do.

Oh, I see, accepting the burden of proof. No, I understand that I have no burden of proof. and I am not attempting to supply proof. I am attempting to have a relationship with people who want me to not go to hell. That is their issue, not mine. I have had to make this choice before and it turned out very well for me ... refusing to acquiesce, I mean. It is healthier to give up the person than submit to their control. 

gnostic atheists = Does claim proof exists + Does not believe in god(s). 

agnostic atheist = Does not claim proof exits + Does not believe in god(s). 

Oh, yes, that helps. Well, another stressor put to rest. 

I'm as certain that there are no gods as I am certain that there are no fire breathing dragons. No one has any trouble when I say that I'm certain there are no fire breathing dragons about. The facts do not support the hypothesis of fire breathing dragons existing. Likewise, the facts do not support the god hypothesis. If it is okay to be 100% certain that there are no fire breathing dragons why do so many insist that the same cannot be said of gods? The origin of god stories is in fact far more suspect than the origins of fire breathing dragon stories.I can see no reason to even consider for a second that such god stories are correct without evidence. We've not seen any actual credible evidence in thousands of years.

If someone tells you they have a cat with 19 legs you will say they are full of it and not even think of believing them without proof. Why are gods different? Every idea without evidence deserves to be ridiculed rather than revered or respected. If I 'wanted' to believe there is a god or gods, perhaps I would hedge my bets and say that it's not possible to know for certain that they don't exist. Who really wants the god of the big three monotheist religions to be true?

On the question of doubt, the discussion should be about why anyone would believe such a cockamaimy idea in the first place, not whether or not it might be true. "Discussing" the evidence doesn't begin to address the lunacy of the initial proposition, and in fact lends it a veneer of importance that it does not deserve.

I may not understand why agnostics stick to their position but I know why I'm atheist/anti-theist. Dangerous ideas need to be treated as such, not as valid fodder for discussion.

Nobody thinks the butt-gnome religion is worth serious thought of any kind yet so many give monotheism a wink and a nod by not calling them out on their foolishness to start with. They are not being asked to prove their claim, and lets remember that the original claim in this meat-space flame war was on the part of theism. The holy texts of all three big monotheist religions include the Books of Moses. Genesis is clearly wrong so the original premise of monotheistic gods (and the others) is clearly wrong and laughable. Why give them any leeway at all? Why question that they might be right?

"I may not understand why agnostics stick to their position"

They don't, neither does science.

"but I know why I'm atheist/anti-theist. Dangerous ideas need to be treated as such, not as valid fodder for discussion."

That's not what agnosticism means.

"The holy texts of all three big monotheist religions include the Books of Moses. Genesis is clearly wrong so the original premise of monotheistic gods (and the others) is clearly wrong and laughable. Why give them any leeway at all? Why question that they might be right?"

Oh, I understand, I'm not just atheist towards those three, I'm atheist towards the concept of any supernatural (or natural) creator being with (or without) an adjunct moral agency(-ies).

But, I also admit that I'm not omniscient.

So, are you a gnostic atheist?

omniscient = all knowing

omnipotent = all powerful

omnipresent = all present 

gnostic atheists = Does claim proof exists + Does not believe in god(s). 

agnostic atheist = Does not claim proof exits + Does not believe in god(s). 

I do not believe in god; I do not claim proof exists; If god does not exist, and I see no evidence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present being, then, I am an agnostic atheist. 

Not that I care for labels, despite their usefulness. When I was 5 years old the notion that there is a god was completely foreign to me. It made no sense when I first heard it. I was born not believing. Then someone told me there is a god... I'm still waiting for evidence and find absolutely no reason to treat that claim as possibly true without it. I was not the first person born an atheist. We all were. Go back 300,000 years and there is no evidence for any gods or even for belief in gods. Without evidence there is no good reason to believe a claim... no matter how many people believe in santa claus, you should not without evidence. I find it laughable to treat the claims of the existence of god(s) as possible just because someone said it. With that kind of thinking you have to also state that you are agnostic a-FSMist, and agnostic a-InvisibePinkUnicornist.  In fact to say  you are agnostic atheist you have to admit that anything is possible but you don't believe it's probable.

Physics ensures that 'anything' cannot happen. We've had thousands of years of observation and still have not seen the laws of the natural world violated by some supernatural entity. The probability that it will happen is so small that it would take more than your lifetime to write out the zeros behind the decimal point. This business of treating any claim as possible is a ludicrous waste of time and energy.

Trying to avoid burden of proof is not necessary. Every new claim that is made requires proof and without proof it's just wrong. Wrong ideas do not need the suckling of your agnostic ways. So how do you feel about the hypnoturtles? You know, the invisible giant turtles that walk behind each human and are ridden by the human soul which holds the reins to the human body it controls. Are you agnostic atheist about that too?

myatheistlife, how interesting your "take" on atheism and how different your experiences must have been than mine. When you made a joke of struggling with labels, it made me laugh too. Of course, why spend valuable time trying to figure all this out when it is just plain silly. Oh! My goodness! how many times I tried to make sense of it all and it doesn't make sense at all. 

You wrote, "Every new claim that is made requires proof and without proof it's just wrong." I got it! 


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