I have heard the debate on Atheist vs Agnostic for a while and I figured I would put my feelings about it here. First off I am an atheist, so this post is basically reasons why I am not agnostic, I will clarify what i mean by atheist though. I find it interesting that to the world it is better to be agnostic than atheist. Maybe people feel like they can convert you or that there is hope for you yet if you are an agnostic, while if you are an atheist there is no hope. Maybe it is the fact that atheism is contrary while being agnostic is neutral.
The trouble with both of these words, maybe with all words, is that the aren’t very clear. I have heard a few definitions for agnostic such as: someone who doesn’t know if a god exists, someone who doesn’t care if a god exists, someone who is waiting for the evidence before deciding. Dictionary.com defines agnostic as:
1. a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.
2. a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.
3. of or pertaining to agnostics or agnosticism.
4. asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.
Atheist is meant as someone who doesn’t believe in a god, although I feel like there is a stigma about it meaning that someone won’t believe in a god, someone who doesn’t believe no matter what.
The thing is, I feel like absolute belief either way is a bad thing. Science knows that it can’t prove anything 100%, it never tries. All science does is say this idea fits the evidence so far. If there is a lot of evidence it says this is a fact, knowing that if new evidence comes along, the fact may change.
This should be the behavior of all intelligent and rational people, everyone should be agnostic about everything. In the practical sense, we still say “I believe the sky is blue”, or “I believe the Earth revolves around the sun”. No one claims to be agnostic about fire being hot. So in this general sense I am agnostic. I know the answers may change based on evidence. This post is specifically about feelings toward a god though.
Obviously no one KNOWS if a god exists or not. Believers like to say they have spoken to their god, but there are other possibly simpler explanations, so I don’t like that definition, because again, everyone should be agnostic. Someone who doesn’t care if a god exists is a legitimate definitions, I just don’t think it applies to me. We as humans are always searching for answers to where we came from, whether it was a god or some multi-verse is very interesting, on a more personal level though, it is important because if there was a god and he was like the god in the bible, I would like to know so I could avoid going to hell. That place sounds like it sucks.
Which comes to the next definition, waiting for evidence. This is where I clarify what I mean by atheist. I am an atheist toward all of the current religions I know about. I am not agnostic toward them because there is a ton of evidence against them. They don’t make any sense, and have nothing in them that couldn’t have been written by someone of their time period. Evolution is a great example. There are massive amounts of evidence for evolution, none of which is described in any holy text that I have every seen, and it is a process that takes away the need for a creator. I Am agnostic toward the Idea of a god/creator/higher power because, just like I said before, this is the behavior of rational people. Maybe our universe is just some colony of bacterial on some other creatures body, the problem with this speculation is that there are infinite “what ifs?”. So I don’t like to waste my time with them. So I still call myself an Atheist because I don’t worship or believe in any of this because the evidence just isn’t there.
I don’t want to go into it to much but I do want to point out what Richard Dawkins and many other say. “We are all atheist to something”. Maybe it is Zeus or maybe unicorns, but we come to this through logic and evidence. I find it interesting that a Christian is just as logical as me when it comes to Islam. They know it isn’t true, but when it comes to their own religion, logic flies out the window.
The last point I want to make is the “maybe it is unknowable” argument. I don’t like this either, because I feel like it is an excuse to stop looking for an answer. Just like the Christian answer to “What created the big bang?” If you just say god, and that is the end, that just sucks. No need to look any further once god come into the picture. I feel the way about the “unknowable” answer. If something is unknowable then why keep looking. The thing is you can never know if something is unknowable so why use it even as a place holder answer. So I am an Atheist in this respect too, I think that it wasn’t a god that created us, so we had better keep looking.
So that I why I am an atheist and not agnostic. This all reminds me of a quote from a religious friend of mine, and it kind of ties with what I said early. He said that what he didn’t like about atheist was that “they think we are wrong”. The we he was talking about was Christians. What I don’t like about this is the shifted burden of proof. He was right that I do think he is wrong, but I think he is wrong because lack of evidence. It is the responsibility of the religious to find proof for their beliefs if they want to be taken seriously. Anyway, that is why I am not religious.