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Agnostics

Sanctimonious Fence Sitters


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Agnostic Have agnostics found the best way to describe how we should tackle religious belief? In today's scientific world is becoming an agnostic the intellectually honest stance that we should all be adopting?

No. It's a scam.

In this essay we will show that agnosticism as adopted by the layperson is a false belief. It is based on a corrupted understanding of what agnosticism actually means. We will show that many are deluded when they profess to being an agnostic and that others use the tag solely to deceive. We will also demonstrate that a great many agnostics are actually closet Christians.



Introduction

"I'm not an atheist. I'm an agnostic".
The above is a quote from NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark and was widely reported in the media. Ms Clark makes no secret of the fact that she sees herself as an agnostic. Religious commentator Ian Harris in his column "Honest to God" tells us that Ms Clark was also once asked:
"Do you believe Jesus Christ is the son of God?" She evidently replied, "I have no religious convictions. I respect those that do. I have no opinion to offer. I'm an agnostic."
This essay is not about Ms Clark but her comments are representative of agnostics in general and will serve as an introduction. Mr Harris goes on to state:
"Agnostics, in contrast to atheists, do not deny flatly the existence of God, or that supernatural forces play any part in the universe, but do not affirm them either. They leave the question open: such matters can never be finally known, so why bother? Many people share this view."
But what do these statements really tell us about Ms Clark, her view of God and agnostics? Contrary to what we suspect she intended to convey with her "I'm not an atheist. I'm an agnostic" statement, which was simply to hide any suggestion that she was an atheist, something it doesn't pay to admit to if you're a politician, it actually translates to, 'I believe in God, although I don't think we can ever prove that he exists'.

Does Helen Clark really have a belief in God? We don't think she does, but in effect that is what she did by denying being an atheist and instead labeling herself an agnostic. Why? Well if you're not an atheist then you're a theist, a believer in god. If a human says, "I'm not a female", then logically they must be a male since there are only two options. However many people believe that along with theists and atheists we have a third option — agnostics. And obviously Ms Clark is one of these.

So why when we talk about a belief in God or gods do we believe we only have two options, theists and atheists? Why aren't agnostics a third option?

Agnostics — a third option?

Let's start with theists. A theist is someone who believes in theism, which according to my dictionary is:

Theism

"Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world." [1]

Put simply, a theist is anyone who has a belief in God or gods. A theist is a believer. Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews etc are all theists. This is not a familiar term because people normally want to express more than the simple fact that they believe in God, they want you to know exactly what God they believe in, thus they specify Christian or Muslim for example.

Before we go further we better define exactly what that above definition means by the words "God" or "gods".

My dictionary defines god as follows:

  1. God. A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions.
  2. A being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people, especially a male deity thought to control some part of nature or reality. [1]

So if a theist is anyone who has a belief in God or gods — a believer — then what is someone who's not a theist, not a believer, what are they called? What is the simple term that describes someone without a belief in God or gods?

Surprising as it may seem to many, that term is "atheist". We say surprising because while atheist is a far more familiar term than theist, many use it incorrectly.

You may have noticed that the word atheist is simply "theist" with the letter "a" stuck in front. The prefix "a" means "without" and modifies the word that follows. For example you have "amoral", meaning "without" morals. Remember that theism means "a belief in God or gods", therefore "a-theism" simply means "without a belief in God or gods". Thus a theist is a believer and an atheist is a non-believer. Quite simple really. You only have two options — theist or atheist, believer or non-believer.

As much as many people hate to admit it, Christians especially, all babies are atheists. The same with certain aliens from outer space or some isolated primitive tribe in some rainforest. This is because anyone that has no concept of gods obviously can't have a belief in gods (in the same way that our primitive natives have no belief in Einstein's 'Theory of Relativity' simply because they have no concept of Einstein's 'Theory of Relativity'). You can't believe in something that you have no concept of. Thus, if they don't have a belief in god, they're atheists. That's not to say that once you explain the concept of god to them they won't immediately become believers, but until they do, they're atheists. Technically your cat is an atheist.

If you're not a theist, that only leaves one option — you're an atheist. A rejection of theism leaves no other conclusion. It's like the phrase "dead or alive", "on or off" or the word "pregnant". You are either one or the other. Either dead or alive, on or off, pregnant or not pregnant, there is no middle option.

No doubt some will claim that we have given too broad a definition of atheism, one that only appears to provide two options. This is because a large proportion of the population, especially those of a religious persuasion, believe that atheism really means:

"The belief that God or gods do not exist".
Unfortunately a large proportion of the population are mistaken. It is true that many atheists do have this belief, including myself, but this is merely an extra belief that some atheists hold, not a definition of atheism itself. For example many scientists are physicists but this doesn't mean that all scientists are physicists. You need to think of atheism as a broad spectrum, with one basic definition applying to all atheists — that is, someone "without a belief in god or gods". At one end of this spectrum are some atheists who have added to this basic view with the positive assertion that "there are no gods". At the other end of this spectrum are atheists who do not make this extra claim. They are known as 'implicit' or 'weak' atheists, those at the other end are known as 'explicit' or 'strong' atheists. And of course you have a big range in between. The same spectrum analogy can of course be applied to theism, with 'weak' theism and 'weak' atheism forming the boundary between the two. A 'weak' theist could be a young child who has been given just the vaguest suggestion of God, believing in God in the same way she believes in the Tooth Fairy. While every theist from 'weak' to 'strong' believes God does exist (it's their strength of belief that varies), remember though that not every atheist believes that God doesn't exist.

It's important to note that the continuum that exists between 'weak' and 'strong' does not extend across the boundary where 'weak' theism and 'weak' atheism meet (at the centre of our diagram.) Theism and atheism are discrete states. Think of changing states as a quantum leap, you can be on either side of this boundary but you can't be on the boundary itself. Like electron orbits and energy states you are one or the other, but you do not traverse slowly between states. There is no continuum between the states. Once you leave one state you instantaneously appear in the other, there is no stopover for refreshments and reflection.

Belief Spectrum

For example babies, aliens, primitive natives etc, anyone that has no concept of gods, are 'weak' atheists. They have no belief in god simply because they have no concept of god. They don't claim God doesn't exist because they have no idea what God is. (Admittedly most primitive natives do have a concept of, and a belief in gods, but not all do. We're referring to a theoretically possible group of natives.) Move towards the middle of the spectrum and you have atheists who definitely understand the concept of gods but quickly decide that they don't believe in them. They can seldom provide good arguments as to why they don't believe, they simply don't. This is similar to people that don't believe in ESP or those that vote for a particular political party or against genetic engineering but can seldom explain why. At the other end you have the 'strong' atheists, and these are the atheists that many people incorrectly use to define atheism. These are atheists that have seriously considered the arguments and evidence for and against the existence of gods and have decided that, in addition to having no belief in gods, they now also believe that gods do not exist. (Note that they do not say that they can prove that gods do not exist. More on that shortly.)

Many people answer this with the argument that the "belief that God does not exist" is basically the same as "without a belief in God" and we're merely being pedantic. However it is easy to demonstrate how wrong this view is. Look at the following two statements regarding atheism:

I have a belief that gods do not exist (strong atheism)
I am without a belief in gods (basic atheism)
Now let's put these statements into everyday terms by replacing "gods" with "aliens":
I have a belief that aliens do not exist
I am without a belief in aliens
Many people would state that they're not convinced that aliens exist elsewhere in the universe because they haven't seen any good evidence that they do. At the same time many of these people would add that this doesn't mean they do not exist. They may exist, we just haven't seen them. If they turn up tomorrow we'll start believing in them. This group would subscribe to the second claim: "I am without a belief in aliens (for the moment)". Another group would subscribe to both claims: "I am without a belief in aliens because I believe aliens do not exist". They would claim that we haven't seen any aliens for the simple reason that they don't exist, in the same way that we haven't seen any "real" Easter Bunnies.

So it should be clear that both statements do not imply the same meaning. Thus 'explicit' or 'strong' atheism is merely one type of atheism. Claiming that the belief that "gods do not exist" is the real definition of atheism is as silly as claiming that "belief in Jesus Christ" is the real definition of religion. Others would correctly state that this is only one type of atheism and one type of religion. Unfortunately many people define all atheists as 'strong' atheists and all religious believers as 'Christians'. This is mainly because we only see outspoken people in the media etc. 'Weak' or 'middle-of-the-road' atheists and religious types can never be bothered to speak out on things they know or care little about.

So what can we conclude from this discussion? First, there are only two possibilities when it comes to describing belief in God — theism and atheism. If someone is asked the question, "Do you believe God exists?" and they reply, "Yes", then they are a theist, regardless of how strong that belief is. Anyone that can't honestly answer, "Yes, I believe God exists", is obviously without a belief in God and is therefore an atheist. They may only be a hair's-breadth away from believing in God, but until they make that leap of conviction they will remain an atheist. As much as they may hate or fear or abhor the idea of being called an atheist, that is what they are. Their denial does not change this fact, nor does calling themselves an agnostic.

Any theist that gives up belief in God immediately becomes an atheist and vice versa. There is no holding pattern, no mythical land called Agnosticism that one must cross between theism and atheism. Yet agnostics claim that God may or may not exist, but we'll never know for sure, so refuse to commit one way or the other. For this very reason agnostics won't admit to a belief in God. The very fact that they will not admit to a belief in God, regardless of their reasons, means they're not theists. Therefore they're atheists.

So where does this leave agnostics? Out in the cold actually. There just isn't anywhere for agnostics to fit in the belief spectrum.

Cartoon

The real meaning of Agnosticism

Does all this mean that agnosticism is a bogus term? No, only that, like atheism, it's being used incorrectly.

Let's look at the dictionary definition:

Agnosticism

  1. The doctrine that certainty about first principles or absolute truth is unattainable and that only perceptual phenomena are objects of exact knowledge.
  2. The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist. [1]
Agnosticism simply means that we can't prove whether God exists or not. Note that it does not say whether we may have a belief that God exists or not, merely that we can not prove this belief. So we can still form opinions on whether we think that it is likely that God exists. The popular layman's definition of agnosticism simplifies and corrupts its real meaning. Agnosticism doesn't stop us thinking about God, it just places an extremely high ceiling over our thinking.

Some also claim that agnosticism also states that we can have no "knowledge" whatsoever of God. Agnostic was a word invented by British scientist Thomas H. Huxley in the 19th-century. "Gnostic" is a Greek word meaning "knowledge", especially "higher, esoteric knowledge of spiritual things". In the same manner as "atheism", Huxley put the prefix "a", meaning "without", in front of "gnostic" and formed "a-gnostic", meaning "without knowledge". He actually coined the word almost as a joke with fellow intellectuals, but it has survived, unfortunately. This new narrow claim that we can have no knowledge whatsoever of God and the supernatural is actually self-defeating. Saying that we can't have knowledge of the supernatural because it works differently to the natural world means we already have some knowledge of the supernatural, that is, that it works differently. They also base their argument on the fact that God is a supernatural being, which is more knowledge about God, and that he lives in the supernatural, yet more knowledge. This clearly shows that we can have knowledge of God and the supernatural so the "no knowledge" definition fails. The very nature of the supernatural may certainly limit our knowledge of it, but again it doesn't stop us thinking about it.

Therefore the following statement makes perfect sense:

"I am a theist (or atheist) and I believe that God exists (or doesn't exist) but I'm also an agnostic in that I accept that I can never prove my belief."
Thus it would be perfectly reasonable to ask someone who claims, "I'm an agnostic", as to whether they are an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist. For example I'm an atheist, specifically a 'strong' atheist in that I don't believe god exists, but I'm also agnostic because I accept that we can never prove my belief. In the same way the Pope is agnostic, he knows that he can never prove his unshakeable belief that God exists.

If both the Pope and I accept that we can't prove the existence or non-existence of God, why do we still have opposing views? For this we need to look at why agnosticism believes we can't provide proof for God and what this means in the real world.

Why we can't prove God

We appear to have two options. Prove God does exist or prove he doesn't.

There have been many, many arguments put forward by great thinkers throughout history regarding God, mainly attempting to prove the existence of God. Some have stood for considerable time then other great thinkers have shown the arguments to be flawed for one reason or another, especially so with the advance of science. Regardless of what some religious fundamentalists claim, there are no arguments that prove that God exists. The words atheist and agnostic would be meaningless if there was. Likewise there are no arguments that prove that God doesn't exist.

Let's start with some reasons why you can't prove God does exist.

The main problem as we see it is what we're trying to prove — the supernatural. By its very definition it "exists" beyond the natural universe, beyond natural laws. None of our instruments, none of our physical laws and rules, none of our science, none of our logic, reasoning, critical thinking etc work in the supernatural. If they did then it would be no different than here, it would be natural not supernatural. Thus a procedure that would be accepted as proof in the natural world can't be used to prove something in the supernatural world because we could never be sure, never prove, that the procedure worked the same way or meant the same thing when dealing with the supernatural world. We might be pretty confident that it did but we could never prove that it did. We can't prove the supernatural exists, God is supernatural so we can't prove God exists.

What about the old claim, "Well, what if God turned up on your front lawn, you'd have to believe then. That would be the ultimate proof." Well, no it wouldn't.

Someone turning up, performing the odd "miracle" and claiming to be God isn't proof because it could, for example, be a Hindu god just pretending to be God. As long as the Hindu god had supernatural powers he would always be able to outsmart our attempts at checking his identity. This being wouldn't even have to be a supernatural being at all, he could just be an extremely advanced alien. Pretending to be God would be an easy way for an alien to get our obedience. As Arthur C Clark said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from magic". There is plenty of evidence for this in our own history, where European explorers have been taken as gods by primitive natives due to their appearance, knowledge and "miraculous" technology. So no matter who turns up claiming to be God, no matter how convincing they are, we could never prove that they really were God.

So what evidence could we accept as proof of God? We don't think there is any. We can't trust natural world evidence to apply to the supernatural and while we could choose to trust the supernatural being themselves, this is trust and not proof.

Now to some reasons why you can't prove God doesn't exist either.

There are two obstacles as we see it. Again it involves the very nature of the supernatural and the fact that you can't prove a negative. (We agree that there are actually cases where you can prove a negative, but in the case that we're trying to argue here, we believe it is nigh on impossible.)

In the natural world it can (theoretically) be quite simple to prove something exists. This is proving a 'positive', proving something does exist. For example, if you claimed that black sheep existed all you would have to do is produce a black sheep and your job is complete. However trying to prove a 'negative' is trying to prove something doesn't exist. It's impossible. Imagine you claim that black sheep don't actually exist. You look throughout your neighbourhood and find no black sheep. Are you entitled to now claim they don't exist? No, because there are plenty of neighbourhoods that you haven't searched that might contain black sheep. Even if you searched the entire country we could still claim that there might still be black sheep in other countries. Searching every square metre of the entire planet is impossible so you could never claim that you had looked everywhere. Even if you did search everywhere, you don't know that very shy black sheep aren't just a few kilometres away from you and they keep moving to stay ahead of you. Due to your inability to find any black sheep you may be quite sure they don't exist, but you certainly haven't proved that they don't exist. They may just be extremely rare. You may stumble across one tomorrow.

Looking for black sheep is a cinch compared to looking for God. You could never say, "I've looked everywhere in the universe for God and I didn't find him, therefore he doesn't exist". God is supposedly an all-powerful supernatural being. He could hide anywhere in the universe, behind a quark, in the past, in the future, in a parallel universe, all places that we have no hope of searching. Others tell us that God is actually outside space and time, another place that we can't look. No matter how sophisticated our technology becomes, no matter how many searches fail to find traces of God, no matter how much we believe that it would appear that God doesn't exist, we certainly haven't proved this. He could be invisible and standing right next to us. Thus you can't prove a negative.

As we've already seen, the fact that God is a supernatural being is a problem in itself. Black sheep and other natural world things that we may look for can't alter the laws of nature, they don't know what we're thinking, they don't know the future, they aren't everywhere at once, they aren't all-powerful. Black sheep can't manipulate our experiment results without us being aware, God could. Even if we manage to design an experiment that appeared to prove that God doesn't exist, we can't be sure that God hasn't forced this conclusion onto us. Maybe God doesn't want to be found. Why? Who knows, after all they say God works in mysterious ways. Our point is that even if you appear to prove God doesn't exist, you can never be completely sure that God just isn't manipulating your thinking. Illogical as it sounds, if God actually existed he could make you think you've proved that he doesn't actually exist. After all, with God all things are possible, or so they say. So, as extremely confident as you may be that God doesn't exist, you can never actually prove it. In the natural world you can prove things don't exist because you can show that if they were to exist they would break physical laws, and this is impossible. However God is part of the supernatural world and our laws don't apply there, therefore our proofs don't apply there either.

So you can't prove that God does exist or that he doesn't exist. Where does that leave us? Should we all become agnostics?

Many take this impossibility of proof as meaning we can't know one way or the other, believing that we should remain agnostic and admit our ignorance in regard to God's existence. Obviously we don't. We definitely can't prove with 100% certainty the question of God's existence, but where does the evidence point?

Strange as it may seem, we also can't prove that the Sun will rise tomorrow, yet nearly everyone is extremely confident that it will. Our science and our experience give us great confidence that it will rise and we get on with our lives accordingly. Think of proof as being "100% certain" and yet science says that we can only be "99.9999% certain" that the Sun will continue to rise. Do you go around saying you don't know whether the Sun will rise, that you're agnostic about the possibility of the Sun rising? Of course not. You look at the evidence available and it all points to the conclusion that it is very, very, very, very likely that the Sun will rise tomorrow. Thus you tell everyone that the Sun will rise tomorrow. You can't prove it, but this is where the evidence points.

With the question of God's existence we can look at scientific theories and evidence, philosophical and theological arguments, personal experiences, historical records etc and decide where the evidence points. Does the evidence suggest that God exists or not? The Pope obviously believes that there is good evidence for God's existence, whereas we interpret the evidence as indicating that God doesn't exist. We are both so confident in the way we interpret the evidence that we are prepared to say we are sure we are right. In the same way that we are sure the Sun will rise tomorrow. However, as extremely confident each of us is with our respective views, neither of us is prepared to say that we can prove this claim. The suggestion by agnostics is that if we can't get absolute proof, 100% certainty, then we shouldn't accept 99.9999% either, or 90% or 75%. This is ridiculous. This is a silly 'all or nothing' mentality. We either prove it conclusively or we say we have no idea. Apart from agnostics nobody in the real world works this way. You examine the evidence for and against a certain claim and make your stand accordingly. You look at the evidence supporting leprechauns and you decide that they don't exist. You look at the evidence supporting DNA and you decide that it does exist. It's the same with God. You look at the evidence and take a stand. You don't claim, "I accept that I will never be able to prove this debate 100% so I'm just not going to bother. As regards God, I have no opinion".

So even though the Pope and I accept that we can't prove the existence or non-existence of God, we still find ourselves in opposition because we realise that absolute proof is only one part of the genuine inquiry into God's existence. But in stark contrast to the agnostic, we are both prepared to express an opinion.

What about Zeus?

Our mention of leprechauns actually highlights a major flaw in the agnostic's claim. It clearly demonstrates that their agnostic pretensions are a farce. Their basic claim is:

"I maintain that we can't prove whether God exists or not, therefore we must remain agnostic. Neither yes or no."
This doesn't seem to present a problem until you remind the agnostic that God is a supernatural being. You then remind them that Zeus, Apollo, Thor, Maui, Osiris and Quetzalcoatl are also supernatural beings, gods in fact. Of course the crucial difference is that they don't believe these other gods exist, or ever existed. But why are they not agnostic about the existence of Zeus and Thor? Their argument for being an agnostic rests solely on their claim that you can't prove the existence or non-existence of a supernatural being. Zeus and Thor are supernatural beings. Thus they should accept that when we attempt to investigate them we should run into the same problems as when we investigate the Christian God. But they don't accept this. Agnostics are only ever agnostic about the Christian God (or Muslim or Jewish God etc, depending on their community). Or maybe an unknown deist god.

Show us one agnostic that is agnostic about Zeus and Thor, or that even mentions Zeus and Thor as part of the debate. Yet if they really believed in their argument they would mention them, since they would be agnostic about thousands of gods, thousands of supernatural beings. And not just gods either, but fairies, leprechauns, incubus and succubus, demons and even the tooth fairy. But they're not. We'd challenge anyone to produce a sane, intelligent, informed adult that claims to be an agnostic that sincerely argues deep into the night that each and everyone of these supernatural beings might exist. We'd argue that in reality they would have likely dismissed most of them, or at least one of them. And let's think about what that means.

If an agnostic can find enough reason to dismiss a single supernatural being, even a minor one, one that perhaps only children now believe in, or one that only some long dead civilisation believed in, then that proves that the concept is flawed, that it is possible to amass sufficient reason and evidence and take a firm stance on whether supernatural beings — gods — exist. If ten years ago an agnostic decided that the tooth fairy wasn't real, and last week she decided that the god Zeus wasn't real either, taking the entire ancient Greek pantheon with him into oblivion, she has demonstrated that it's possible in practice to rationally declare a specific god, a specific supernatural being, to be someone that exists only in our imagination. And if she can dismiss the tooth fairy, then why not leprechauns and Santa Claus? And if her dismissal of the ancient Greek gods was because of what she'd learnt about science and history, might she not also come to believe that there's likely enough evidence to justify dismissing the gods of numerous other ancient cultures too, such as the Egyptians, Romans, Babylonians, Aztec etc? Starting off by considering whether minor supernatural beings existed, such as the tooth fairy, and then continuing to use reason and evidence to examine the plausibility of supernatural beings claiming more powers, such as the Norse god Thor with his powerful hammer, might not our agnostic, small step by small step, slowly start to believe that most of the gods featured in the history of mankind are mythical, that there is no good reason to believe that they were ever real?

But it doesn't matter if our agnostic stopped with the tooth fairy. All it takes is one, and the argument for agnosticism is defeated. As soon as you feel justified in dismissing a single supernatural being, even a minor one such as the tooth fairy, while still not having absolute, categorical proof, then you can longer argue that, because of their very nature, the evidence needed to decide about supernatural beings — gods — will forever be denied us. You've demonstrated that with reason and given sufficient evidence it's possible to consider a god and then justifiably declare that god fictional. And if it's possible with one god, why not two gods, why not all gods? Beyond a childish desire to keep the gods of your parents near, what would make some gods immune from rational inquiry but not others? Once you've dismissed someone else's god, even a child's, it's illogical to then say that it's impossible for them to attempt the same with your gods. What makes your favourite gods impervious to consideration?

According to Dr Michael Shermer, "anthropologists estimate that over the past ten thousand years humans have created roughly ten thousand different religions." [2] And these have splintered into 100,000 different sects. Since nearly all of these religions had multiple gods, even assuming an average of 10 gods each means over 100,000 different gods. Some accounts claim that Hinduism alone contains over a million gods. That's a hell of a lot of gods. And yet agnostics have, we believe, rejected nearly every single one. They've rejected gods called Zeus, gods called Thor and gods called Osiris. But they stumble when they encounter another god called Jehovah, Yahweh, or to his friends, simply God. What's happened? Why do they apply two standards? Why have they turned into hypocrites?

Their unwillingness to reject the Christian God, while happily rejecting all the others, consciously or subconsciously, demonstrates that a great many agnostics are nothing other than closet Christians.

Their agnosticism regarding Christianity is nothing but an excuse. They use the word as a shield. This agnostic is someone who when asked about the existence of God is unwilling to commit. They sit on the fence, they don't want to take sides, they don't want to offend. Why? Well, some are just too lazy to think about it. Others are too stupid to think about it. Others are playing safe. They don't want to anger God just in case he does exist. Still others seem to have a real fear of the 'atheist' tag, being too scared to reveal their honest opinion since it may affect relationships, employment, political aspirations etc.

This is the true definition of "popular" agnosticism. It's a cop out. They're certainly taking a position, but it's a position of apathy, ignorance or deception disguised as intellectual honesty.

Ian Harris takes a similar view:

'Agnosticism can end up providing a complacent perch for anyone who has neither the inclination nor the imagination to wrestle with the central religious questions of an age.'
Likewise Laurence Twaddle in his book 'Making Sense of English in Religion', had this to say:
'Agnosticism is often expressed as an indication of an open mind — but it could equally be interpreted as the last refuge of a lazy mind, unwilling to pursue the arguments to one end or the other.'
In 'Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know', Michael Ruse wrote:
'Without being condescending ... could it be that going all the way to atheism requires a certain book learning to realize exactly what is entailed, whereas being an agnostic can be basically a matter of indifference?'
And Jesse Bering in 'The God Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life', argued that:
'We are the first generation, in the history of our species, to be confronted directly by the full scientific weight of an argument that renders a personal God both unnecessary and highly unlikely. The many loopholes of a more humble agnosticism have suddenly become unreasonable places to continue burying our heads.'
Arguing for atheism and against agnosticism, Stefan Molyneux in his book 'Against the Gods?' wrote:
'It is not rational to even entertain the possibility of the existence of irrational entities. We do not accept agnosticism about unicorns, fairies, square circles, pixies or the proposition that two and two make five — why do we create a special exception in the realm of deities? Surely it is because the social cost of rejecting Gods is far higher than the social cost of rejecting goblins.'
And this from PZ Myers:
'Our culture is currently divided between three groups: Atheists, who think the truth matters, and want our problems addressed with real-world solutions; theists, who want a god or supernatural powers to solve our problems with magic; and fence-sitting parasites ... who see a personal opportunity to pander to the believers for their own gain, who will ride the conflict while pretending to be aloof from it, and win popularity with the masses by trying to tell everyone they're all right.'
Agnosticism is supposedly a position you reach because you have thought about religion, science, philosophy etc but more often than not it shows just the opposite. Agnostics are often ignorant of the very reasons you can't prove or disprove God. Likewise they are usually ignorant of the theistic arguments that try to show God does exist and the atheistic arguments that attempt to demonstrate he doesn't.

Conclusion

We have tried to show that on the belief spectrum there are only theists and atheists, believers and non-believers. Thus the concept of agnosticism, a mythical land between the two is just that, mythical. We've shown that the real meaning of agnosticism only talks about the absolute proof of God's existence, and that it does not prevent us from looking at all the available evidence, and in doing so, forming opinions about God. This inquiry, deep or superficial, turns us all into believers or non-believers. There is no other option, no middle path.

We've also shown that the popular concept of agnosticism is seriously flawed since agnostics are only agnostic about one god, maybe two, out of possible millions. Also that the majority of agnostics use the term as a shield, as an excuse not to reveal their real views. They use it to deceive.

It's time to grow a backbone and form an opinion. This is what intellectual honesty really means.

Face your fear. You may well be an atheist. Learn to live with it.

I think, therefore I am
an atheist


Authors:   John L. Ateo,   Rachel C.
Copyright © 2007, by the 'SILLY BELIEFS' website. All rights reserved.


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About.com: Agnosticism / Atheism

Atheism 101: Introduction to Atheism & Atheists; Answers to Questions & Mistakes
About.com: Agnosticism / Atheism


References

[1] The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition

[2] 'Science Friction', Michael Shermer

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