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  1. Megalith

    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 7, 2015
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    New Mexico

    Agnostic Vs. Atheist

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Megalith, Jul 16, 2016.

    I'm sure this debate has come up a few times but I wanted to add my own spin to things. On one side, many atheist claim agnostics are atheist, calling the label trivial. And I can understand why people believe that, so I want to set the record straight and explain why I identify as Agnostic.

    There are atheist who say that they would begin to believe in God if evidence presented itself. In that sense they are agnostic. (maybe we should be claiming atheist are agnostic, lol) Anyways there is still another difference. Richard Dawkins who identifies as agnostic atheist said this, "I live my life everyday as though God does not exist."

    Now he is definitely more atheist than agnostic, but the fact that he is still using agnostic in his personal definition tells me that, not knowing on its own isn't enough to define yourself as agnostic over atheist. And I think Richard Dawkins is partially wrong for calling himself agnostic. From the way he talks about it, I'd say he is more gnostic atheist. Their is an important meter here between all these terms. I'm going to first prove this meter exists and then explain why it's important this meter exists.

    Do you believe invisible faeries exist in your backyard? If you answer No, but occasionally I set traps for them with different things I think they may like. Then you are very agnostic about the faeries. That's a little heavy handed so let me show you the subtlety of what I just described by simplifying the question.

    Do you believe faeries exist in our universe? "I don't know, there is no evidence of them, so I don't think so." This answer is what you would expect of a typical atheist. But an agnostic to this question might answer like this:

    "I don't know if faeries exist. I'm currently hypothesizing what life on other planets could potentially look like and tiny winged humanoids are one of the possibilities we are considering."

    They both said they don't know, but you can see a clear difference in tone between the two. The difference is one of them is not considering the question in a sense where possibility takes any meaningful form. The atheist that assumes the agnostic is impractical would answer the former question about faeries like this:

    "I don't believe faeries exist in my backyard. But if someone presented me with evidence that they did exist, I would change my mind." and would add, "I live everyday as though faeries don't exist in my backyard."

    Nothing seems out of place at a glance, but who is going to find this evidence about the faeries that may or may not exist in their backyard? If faeries only existed in their backyard they would never find them because they live everyday already assuming faeries don't exist. If you thought their was even a small chance they are back there, are you really going to completely ignore that possibility? It would be a pretty great discovery if you were right. Just because you decided it didn't exist, does that automatically shut you out from changing your mind in the future? I think that is just a statement about someone's open mindedness rather then a statement about whether they are agnostic/gnostic about something. I'm agnostic because a faint glimmer of hope keeps me looking for God, although I never really expect to find him. But I can't say that I spend everyday as though God doesn't exist. Even though I'm sure I don't know he exists.

    To be as clear as possible I want to explain why we need to refine the definition of agnostic. If someone won't change their stance on something, no matter what, then they are gnostic because their is no practical sense for them to consider the idea. Just like Richard Dawkins lives everyday as though God does not exist. The minute difference that one's view could potentially change in the future doesn't seem worth factoring into the equation. Which is why I understand why many atheist want to lump me together with them. And if we don't refine these terms, then they lose their value and practicality. At the same time, I'm not comfortable calling myself atheist or agnostic atheist. And it's not because I'm pandering or obfuscating anything. It's because I live everyday as though faeries do not exist my backyard, but I can not say the same about God.

    The reason these distinctions are important is because we use these terms to self identify and express ourselves. That is why defining and refining terms are important. because we don't want to be identified by certain labels which make assumptions about us. Hope this was useful and interesting, feel free to pick apart or add to my argument. Thanks you for your time!
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