Atheism And Agnosticism

@gewcew23 (8011)
United States
April 21, 2010 8:46am CST
Yesterday I read a comment on someone else's response to a discussion that I had responded to. The commenter said that the originator of the discussion was not an atheist but an agnostic. That got me to think, do people think that agnosticism is the third way position in between theism and atheism? Atheism deals with belief while agnosticism deals with knowledge. The root word of atheism is theism which means a belief in God. The root word of agnosticism is gnosticism which mean a knowledge of God. Adding the prefix a to the root word changes the meaning to not or none. So atheism is the none belief in God where as agnosticism is not having knowledge of God. So I hope that helps out some of you and hopefully some will start using the terms correctly.
4 people like this
5 responses
@laydee (12814)
• Philippines
21 Apr 10
Agnosticism is evidence-based therefore it doesn't believe of the existence of supreme-beings or God because there's no clear-cut evidence of such an occurrence. Although, if such an occurrence could be given an explanation or an evidence, they could believe it soon. Which says that they're more likely to be open-minded. On the other hand, Atheism is the disbelief of a supreme-being because they just don't want to believe it. Atheists are thought to be closed-minded because they deny the existence of gods, whereas agnostics appear to be open-minded because they do not know for sure. This is a mistake because atheists do not necessarily deny any gods and may indeed be an atheist because they do not know for sure — in other words, they may be an agnostic as well. There's a confusion there.
• United States
21 Apr 10
Incorrect. Atheism is the disbelief of a supreme being because there is no evidence to support such existence. People who do not believe in the existence of phlogiston aren't closed-minded, either.
• United States
21 Apr 10
laydee: I'd like to refer you to this discussion: http://www.mylot.com/w/discussions/2299628.aspx TheMetallion does a good job of explaining an atheist's stance. Like you, however, I do believe that (some) atheists don't want to believe, and therefore evidence wouldn't matter at all. But I must admit I was incorrect in generalizing them all. Some anti-religious loons have infiltrated atheism and aren't representative of what it's truly about. But others claiming atheism approach belief more systematically and scientifically than you or I might, making sure that x and y fit before accepting anything as a possibility. That's perfectly legitimate and logical and something that, as an agnostic, I agree with. But, yeah... some atheists are still deniers for the sake of denying.
• United States
21 Apr 10
lol .. Metallion -- I was in the midst of giving you a shout-out.
@matersfish (6311)
• United States
21 Apr 10
I'm in the middle (perhaps...) of a discussion of atheism, wherein I'm trying to make the point that atheists are different under that banner. Not every atheist has the same reason for being an athest. Just as not every person claiming to be religious actually believes in a god. Loons, liars and charlatans have infiltrated every aspect of soceity and give the rest a bad name. I respect atheism. I respect religion. And being someone who describes himself as agnostic, I firmly believe that folks should live and let live. Attack the belief if you must and can't simply question, but don't attack the believer - unless, of course, someone's beliefs and actions on behalf are doing direct harm to you. (Then, however, is still a dilemma: Does this person act because of belief, or does this person act of sound intent and use belief for justification? Would that intent be there without the belief?) Personally, I don't get too caught up in what something is "supposed" to be. It kind of steals away free thinking and individuality if, to be an atheist, you have to do such and such. Or to believe in a god, you must do this and musn't do that. I have no knowledge of any "god." I don't believe in any scripture. I think 99.9% of all religion I've heard about is best described as a bedtime story. But I cannot rule out the possibility that something could be divine behind it all. Adequate theories exist which explain how the universe could have happened. Such theories exist giving explanation to life's recipe and randomness. What I can't make the call on one way or the other is the "why" in it all. Therefore, I'm not comfortable outright dismissing the idea of something divine. But to say I believe there is something behind it all--something that mankind's books have figured out--is a bit of a stretch.
• Canada
22 Apr 10
You absolutely sound to me like an agnostic. You don't really know if there is one, or there isn't one, you see religious text as bedtime stories, but you can't rule out that there could be something out there, you're pretty back and forth, and thats kind of the direction of being agnostic. Of course, you can have more definitions to being an agnostic, either secular or spiritual. Do you think that there could be a divine force? If you see the chance of that being greater then 50%, but don't go to religious conventions like church, and believe religious text to be just stories, you'd be a spiritual agnostic.
• United States
22 Apr 10
Personally, I learn more toward the random universe. If I had to make a call on it, I'd say I'm 95/5 - the 5% being the fact that my awareness exists to the extent that I'm able to question such things. Life, in the context of what we know about the universe, is an extraordinary thing. An actual living, breathing being, as opposed to dark matter and energy, gas, rock and the infinite beyond, is not only a manifest wonder, it's actully able to grow on an immaterial level through consciousness and thus evolve beyond anything else in existence. All matter in the universe is essentially made of the same thing. Yet life--especially humans--made of the same mixture are able to understand and feel and live beyond the bounds of burning sun or a lack of light. We can harness and create instead of colliding and igniting. It's pretty damn miraculous. And for what it is, I certainly can't make the call that it's entirely accidental.
@lamb_16 (64)
• Philippines
21 Apr 10
Not knowing God is one way of saying there is No God at all. And how would you believe that there is God if you don't have the knowledge of it. Just like other regions, they know that there is God but they want to study that there was No God. Nice topic there...
@flowerchilde (12520)
• United States
21 Apr 10
That's an interesting word study. I think they've also come to mean what they mean to the folks adhering to them. I've always understood it that atheism is a strong belief there cannot be a deity or deities.. and agnosticism is more of a they are not sure and have not decided one way or another yet.. No matter what anyone says it's all belief as there is no evidence one way or the other.. just science as observation (vs speculation) and the inclinations and machinations of natural law..
@laglen (19782)
• United States
21 Apr 10
Thank you for that explanation. It helps in remembering who is what and how.