Bertrand Russell, An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish, 1943
feeling-natures-glow asked: Hi, could you explain what being an "agnostic atheist" is as opposed to being just agnostic or atheist. I don't believe in a "man in the sky" type god but I wouldn't want to rule out the possibility of something "higher" (who knows what) driving the existence of everything. If that makes sense... Thank you! :)
Gladly. As the term implies, “agnostic atheist” means one identifies as both an agnostic and an atheist, rather than being “one or the other.” Most people think that agnosticism is some sort of middle ground between theism and atheism, but this isn’t the case. Agnosticism deals with the question of knowledge: can one know anything about the subject in question? (In this context, a god, God, or gods.) An agnostic typically views that knowledge about said deity, Deity, or dieties is not accessible.
Theism and atheism deals with questions regarding belief, regardless of the question of knowledge. Clearly theism is believing in the existence of a deity, and atheism is not believing in the existence of a deity.
So, if you both do not believe a god exists, and you also do not believe knowledge about a deity is possible, then you are an agnostic atheist. It is possible to be a gnostic atheist, agnostic theist, or gnostic theist.
For a graphic and a bit of a longer explanation, check out this page by skepticalavenger.
Thanks for the question, and have a nice day!
Advantages of the atheistic/non-religious and humanistic schema:
- No faith to try to reconcile observations with, so one is unafraid to follow the evidence to its conclusions and can more freely and readily take delight in discoveries and insights. (This feeling stands out particularly strongly with the formerly religious).
- Appropriate power to the self. One recognizes the ultimate responsibilities oneself and oneself alone has for actions. Moral decisions are guided in a context of personal conviction and not out of fear of punishment or desire for award. One recognizes that he or she is not born necessarily into a fallen, handicapped state, but one is also not born destined to be a child of God either.
- Similarly, one’s mind is not clouded by an artificial context of being a central figure in a spiritual battle, but immediate reality tends to be clearer and plainer without trying to understand the indifference of nature in the context of a religious conviction which may view nature as a battleground between actual forces of good and evil.
- Not having to deal with stress or concern that tens of millions of people worldwide are being sent to a hell each year. Rather, there is a stronger focus in trying to better conditions on earth and life quality in general, since one views this life as the only life one gets.
- Better recognition of the true similarities and differences between people and cultures - if someone thinks or believes differently than you, they are not “lost” or in “need of salvation.” They simply have a different perspective, and one can see more easily that perspectives are a rational result of upbringing, experiences, even genetics and other factors.
- An eclectic self. One is consistently and more efficiently evolving one’s views and perspectives based on new experiences and evidences since one does not root oneself in the teachings of a single book.
- Better recognition of inequalities and injustices - this one is more from the humanistic and not necessarily non-religious front - because one is less susceptible to prejudices and feelings of superiority or inferiority to others. For the humanist, nationalism for example holds little weight since the humanist looks more to the similarities between himself or herself and others, and national origins is seen more naturally as an artificial divider.
Feel free to add to this list.
I owe an apology…
To liberals, because of my “Jesus would’ve been a republican” stance that led me to believe all liberals were evil. Now I see the good in the things they stand for in politics. And especially thank you for making it possible for a poor person like me to pursue my college dreams. I know conservatives aren’t too into that kind of thing.
To pro-choice activists and Planned Parenthood for all the unjust hatred I harbored towards you for promoting the “murder of innocent children”. I recognize now that you are only giving women a choice of what to do with their bodies, and making those choices safe and accessible. As a former pro-life activist, I now see how dire it is to make this choice available. Every woman should be allowed to have an abortion should the need arise. And every woman should have access to birth control. So thank you for making that possible.
To Obama for hating you just because it was the Republican thing to do. I apologize that I didn’t have the courage to stand up to the Republicans i knew when it came time to vote. But know that I rejoiced when I saw that you had won. I support you fully as the President of the United States. You’re doing a great job, no matter what the Republicans say.
To feminists for hating you as well because you oppose so many biblical standards. Now that I see the bible for what it is, I think those standards are right to be opposed. I thank you for the equality you have brought to woman. Women should not be silenced, as the bible demands.
To atheists because I thought you were terrible people. Now, I know that to be false. Perhaps atheists are even better than Christians because they don’t do all that they do based on a reward/punishment system.
To scientists because I always thought you were just trying to “disprove god”. But if the evidence points away from god, so be it.
To anybody that I judged while being a Christian because it was wrong. And I’m sorry.
I realize that Christianity led me to hate more than it led me to love. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have even a hint of hatred towards Christianity at this point. Maybe one day I’ll come to terms with it. But right now I hate what it did to me and I hate what it does to those I know. I would just like to see the world to be more loving and religion free.
Apology accepted, especially considering I certainly had a past similar to this, though not as extreme…