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Do Agnostics exist?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by trader/warrior, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. trader/warrior

    trader/warrior Deity

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    I had the following exchange with a friend of mine today, and I have faced the same dilemma several times before.

    Him: I am an agnostic.
    Me: Really? Wich god do you believe in?
    Him: None, of course.
    Me: Oh, so you are an Atheist.

    I then went on to explain to him that Agnosticism and Atheism are not mutually exclusive and in fact most self described atheists are both to a certain degree.

    Is there any point at all in describing yourself as Agnostic?

    I don't think there has been any thread on this as far as I can remember, but if it's been discussed to death here before I will happily let this thread die.
     
  2. PeteAtoms

    PeteAtoms FormulaRandom

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    I think most atheists are actually agnostics, like you said, there is overlap.
    Atheists don't believe in the existence of god, and agnostics make no claim on knowing the truth of whether god exists one way or the other.

    Do you believe in god? No.
    Do you know god doesn't exist? No.

    The above would describe an agnostic/atheist.
     
  3. Reno

    Reno The Studio Ghibli Fanatic

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    I know several agnostic people, including some of my friends. They also know what the term means, although some of them are closer to full atheism while others lean towards religiousness more.

    So, yes, I'd claim that being an Agnostic is certainly possible. Though defining a person as Agnostic might be more difficult and not as clear cut as religious or atheistic people.
     
  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Atheism and agnosticism aren't mutually exclusive, like the OP said.

    I am a weak(empirical) agnostic as well as a weak atheist.
     
  5. trader/warrior

    trader/warrior Deity

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    To me it seems like a perfectly clear distinction that if you believe in a god or supreme being you are theist, if you do not believe in one you are not theist AKA atheist.
    The possibility that one might exist but still unknown has nothing to do with it.
     
  6. GinandTonic

    GinandTonic Saphire w/ Schweps + Lime

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    An athiest asserts god does not exist.

    An agnostic claims to have no knowledge of the existence or otherwise of god(s).
     
  7. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Weak agnosticism, or empirical agnosticism (also negative agnosticism), is "the view which is sustained by the thesis that it is permissible for reasonable persons to suspend judgement on the question of God's existence."

    That describes my position on the matter - thus I am an agnostic. *shrug* I don't see what's so complicated about it
     
  8. PeteAtoms

    PeteAtoms FormulaRandom

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    That's what makes someone agnostic. If you don't believe the world will end tomorrow, you can still admit you don't know for certain with 100% accuracy.

    Same with god. Agnostics may not believe in one, but admit that they aren't 100% sure or can say with any certainty.

    A strong atheist, is one who will say "I KNOW god doesn't exist."

    EDIT: Warpus explains it better than I :)
     
  9. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    I'm quite agnostic on the question of whether there's ET life or if this universe was created intentionally.
     
  10. GinandTonic

    GinandTonic Saphire w/ Schweps + Lime

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    Or simply assert the whole issue in inherently impossible to prove and metaphysical navle gazing that is a vast waste of time.
     
  11. PeteAtoms

    PeteAtoms FormulaRandom

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    Kind of a side question, is it okay to use the term "agnostic" in the context you just did? Or is reserved for discussions of god/deities?
    I'm only asking because I have no idea :D
     
  12. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Well, lots of people think God created this universe. I think it's okay to say that I'm agnostic on whether a sentient created the universe, in that case.

    But, to answer the thread title, I'm agnostic on whether agnostics exist. Every time I'm sure they exist (because I'm one), I cease to be agnostic on the topic. Rinse & repeat.
     
  13. Navarre

    Navarre Legio XIII

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    But you stay agnostic concerning God's existence, thus an agnostic, despite knowing that you are one.
     
  14. trader/warrior

    trader/warrior Deity

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    :confused: I know many reasonable religious people and I find it perfectly permissible, everyone has unreasonable beliefs, even reasonable people.

    My point is that you do not have one (or several) supreme being or god that you believe exists and thus atheist. What you call strong atheist would be more like antitheist. At the very least to be atheist does not require that one "knows" god doesn't exist, therefore my logic tells me that all you self-described agnostics are also atheist.
     
  15. PeteAtoms

    PeteAtoms FormulaRandom

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    Right. that's what was said on the first page of this thread. You can be an atheist and an agnostic. You can be agnostic and an atheist.

    Give this a read:
    Weak and strong atheism
    Agnosticism
     
  16. Navarre

    Navarre Legio XIII

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    "Atheist" means believing that God(s) don't exist, not being without a God. "Agnostic" means admitting you don't know if either it exists or not. Those are the classical definitions and they are mutually exclusive.

    Agnostic : "I don't know if God exists."
    Atheist: "I know it doesn't."
    Theist: "Of course it does you dimwit."
    Antitheist (to the theist): "No it doesn't, and here's why..."
     
  17. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    @Navarre, you are wrong in your definition of atheist.

    @trader, as far as I know all agnostics are also weak atheists (as they do not believe that God exists). That doesn't mean that they cease to be agnostics, though.
     
  18. trader/warrior

    trader/warrior Deity

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    Then I guess my question is: Can one be only Agnostic, not atheist/agnostic or religious/agnostic? by religious/agnostic I mean a person who worships or tries to interact with a supernatural being. Like if you ask a bunch of christians if they are sure god exists some would answer no.

    And if you cannot why are all these people trying to distinct themselves from atheists that hold the same (non)belief?
     
  19. PeteAtoms

    PeteAtoms FormulaRandom

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    I disagree.

    A
    Do you believe god exists?
    If no, go to B
    If yes go to C

    B
    Do you know god doesn't exist?
    If yes, go to D
    If no, go to E

    C
    Do you know for sure god exists?
    If yes, go to F
    If no, go to G

    D
    You're a strong atheist.

    E
    Your an agnostic atheist.

    F
    Your a theist (could be wrong technically, but close as I can figure)

    G
    Your an agnostic theist.

    I'd make a flowchart, but I'm too lazy.
     
  20. Eran of Arcadia

    Eran of Arcadia Stormin' Mormon Retired Moderator

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    I would say that atheism/theism, religious/nonreligious, and agnostic/not-agnostic (whatever word is best) are similar but not identical . . . well, contrasts. Pretty much all atheists are agnostics, and vise versa, but the terms are not identical as they refer to different things.
     

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