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Forums Forums Philosophy atheist/agnostic

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    “People always think I’m being asinine with this point, which appears to be the impression you got as well. ”

    Not in the least! I do understand your wanting to define a word that we might not agree on. I was only saying why I didn’t define it. We have to ask for definitions if we’re unsure if both parties are on the same page and a lot of misunderstandings are avoided that way. Your long history here shows me that you are worth explaining things to so I will happily explain anything you have questions about.

    I guess my ability to convey my earnestness isn’t great and you thought I was getting annoyed. I’m not.

    Can I ask you for your definitions of ‘atheist’ and ‘agnostic’?

    Here are mine:

    • atheist – does not believe in god(s).
    • agnostic – does not believe it is possible to say for sure if god(s) exist.
    • They both defining separate things. No one is only gnostic/agnostic or theist/atheist, they are either a gnostic theist/atheist or a agnostic theist/atheist.
    • I am an agnostic atheist (and I think you are too.)
    • I was a gnostic theist from age 5 until my early 30s, then, after years of anguish, an agnostic atheist until the present.



    Mriana:  “Quite true, but you also have monotheist, pantheist, polytheist, panentheist, and monist. They are still theist, yes, but theism is a very complicated and deep subject.”

    We agree 100% on all of that.

    All belief in god(s) is theism and theism is a very deep and complex subject.



    Glad to hear the misunderstanding isn’t as bad as I had feared it might be!  And thank you for bolstering my self-worth.  I very much feel the same about most people here, yourself definitely included.

    I would not change the definitions, really.  My point is essentially that, while the words are well defined, the mind is not so well defined.

    Let me go off on a bit of a tangent here.  I have a religious friend or two, but the one I have religious discussions with most is the Jehovah’s Witness.  Early on he used to demand answers to questions on the spot (that went away when I could name a transitional fossil off the top of my hear).  Most of his questions would ultimately be unanswerable, or certainly not something the average person would know and be able to give a thorough explanation for.

    The reason he did this is what I call a “right by default” mentality often held by believers in pretty much any form of woo whether it be deities, ghosts, alien spaceships visiting our planet, crop circles, Bigfoot or whatever.  They present you with an insane explanation for something with no proof whatsoever and insist that it is “truth”.  When pressed to provide evidence, they instead provide nonsense.  When they see that you are rejecting their explanation then then demand that YOU give an explanation.  The goal is for THEM to reject YOUR explanation, every possible one you might conceivably give, one after another until only their explanation remains.  Since they then have the only viable explanation they become “right by default”, their explanation is the only one which withstood scrutiny (meaning it’s the only one which they didn’t reject).

    After a few months of this I finally realized that I just can’t give a detailed explanation of the evolution of all species everywhere with an accurate accounting of the entirety of the fossil record, the entirety of science behind dating all of those fossils, an on-the-spot explanation for the apparent anomalies they are very familiar with, but have never looked into and which I have never heard of and every other piece of scientific information that they may demand on the spot.  Even if I were a scientist and all the questions they asked were within my field of explanation it would impossible for me to have all of that information memorized to deliver to them on demand.

    And that’s when I finally told him, “I don’t know is a valid answer!”  If YOU haven’t bothered to look into it why are you demanding that I know everything about everything you might possibly want to ask me in an argument?  I don’t HAVE to have an answer you will accept to reject your mythology, especially when it is IMPOSSIBLE to give an answer you will accept!

    So, with that information, I think I can accurately describe the difference in our thinking here.  When asked, “Do you believe in any gods?”, you see 2 answers, “Yes” and “No”.  I see a third; “I don’t know”.  I don’t know what I believe.  I am still in the process of forming a belief.  And, in fact, you accept that answer for babies.  But just because someone is capable of forming an opinion does not mean that they necessarily have formed an opinion.  “I don’t know” is a valid answer.


    Truly, you are one interesting dude and I have nothing but respect for your thoughts and opinions. And you explain things in a great way, so you’re interesting to read too.

    ——–Back to work——-

    Your disbelief is your atheism.

    Your “I don’t know” is your agnosticism.

    Saying “I don’t know” shows a person to be thoughtful and honest. And when it comes to god(s), it is related to gnosticism and has nothing to do with theism.

    For example, I don’t know if life exists elsewhere in the universe but I believe it is out there. Saying ‘I don’t know’ is not connected to my belief. I could just as easily say ‘I don’t know’ if life exists elsewhere and believe it doesn’t.

    Maybe I just can’t get my head around the idea that someone understands the concept of god(s) and literally has zero position on the topic. I can’t see how someone can not fall on one side or the other, even if only a tiny bit.

    In my transition out of theism took years. I had years of strong doubts but still believed and felt terrible for doubting and then a few years of not thinking about religion at all. I remember the day my atheism was confirmed; after a the years of not obsessing over my dwindling belief I came across a Richard Dawkins book (Climbing Mount Improbable) and within minutes of opening it I knew I was an atheist. At any time during the years of not thinking about religion I would likely have fallen on the side of “There is a God”, even though I had no feelings towards the concept of God. It was finding someone who thought like I did and said what made sense that showed me I wasn’t alone and was in great company.

    Widder, were you actually in the position of having no opinion on whether a god exists during your transition away from theism?


    Widder, were you actually in the position of having no opinion on whether a god exists during your transition away from theism?

    That’s the thing.  I honestly don’t know.  The transition was not a conscious thought process most of the time.

    And you’re separating the “I don’t know” from the belief.  I’m saying it could be “I don’t know what I believe”.

    Maybe I just can’t get my head around the idea that someone understands the concept of god(s) and literally has zero position on the topic. I can’t see how someone can not fall on one side or the other, even if only a tiny bit.

    And that is exactly why I say it’s not a binary, it’s a spectrum.  There is no “point” where you change what you are, it’s a progression.  There is only a point some distance from the center where you can say with any certainty “I believe this” or “I do not believe this”.  And as you hover near that point you could move back and forth ever so slightly, perhaps even imperceptibly to you.  It is only when you cross a point some distance from that center that you can say with any certainty and honesty what you believe, and that distance is different for each person because understanding one’s own mind is not as easy as simple if-then statements.

    My mind is elsewhere today, so I don’t know how well I explained that thought.  I rewrote some nonsense about the center point of a ruler 3 times before I replaced it with that.  But I’ll definitely get back to this conversation within the next few days or so.

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