It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

Agnosticism, Theism, Atheism - What does it mean?

page: 1
1
<<   2  3  4 >>

log in

join
share:

posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:29 PM
link   
So, I've come to the conclusion that many people don't fully understand atheism, even atheists themselves seem at times to be confused on how to define atheism best. From what I understand, an atheist is anyone who doesn't happen to believe in any gods, no matter what their reasons or how they approach the question of whether any gods exist. To be fair, it's a pretty simple concept, but for whatever reason it is widely misunderstood, by theists and atheists alike. Atheism can be defined as: the lack of belief in gods, the absence of belief in gods, disbelief in gods, not believing in gods, etc.

The most precise definition I can bear forth, is: one who does not affirm the proposition "at least one god exists". This is NOT an affirmation made by atheists, but is an affirmation denied. It's important to remember that.

Now, stepping further out, I wanted to define agnosticism. So, an agnostic is anyone who doesn't claim to know for that any gods exist or not, no matter what their reasons or how they approach the question of whether any gods exist. Also a simple yet misunderstood concept. Atheism and agnosticism both deal with the existence of god/s, but differ because atheism deals with the belief while agnosticism deals with the evidence or knowledge.

The simplest test to see where one might fall under these categories being a questionnaire. One might ask: "Do you think you know for sure if any gods exist? Do you think you know for sure that gods do not or even cannot exist?" If you answered yes to either question, then you are NOT agnostic. If you answered no to BOTH, then you are agnostic. In this way agnosticism differs from atheism/theism. Atheism and theism both deal with absolute beliefs, while agnosticism deals with degrees of uncertainty.

Atheism is the position that no gods can or do exist.
Theism is the position that at least one god exists.
Agnosticism is the position that it is possible for a god to exist, but not necessary and/or evidenced.

These are the defining aspects of each respectively. Every atheist will tell you they don't believe in a god. Every theist will tell you they do. And every agnostic will tell you they are unsure, regardless of how one might want to "define" each term....


I feel a lot of the confusion surrounding atheism and agnosticism not only comes from the theist viewpoint, but also from those who call themselves atheist without fully understanding that what they believe is actually agnosticism. I've crossed several individuals(self-proclaimed atheists) who have proclaimed: ""we lack a belief because there is no evidence". However, it's important to understand that lacking a belief because there is no evidence would be what is called AGNOSTIC ATHEISM. This is where we can even further distinguish between classifications.

Agnostic Atheism is the position that there is no (scientific)evidence for/against the existence of deity, but assumes there is not deity.
Agnostic Theism would then be the position that there is no (scientific)evidence for/against the existence of deity, but assumes there IS deity.

Both of these stances are, in my opinion, the more logical of the four basic conclusions, with agnostic atheism being slightly more favored as it's somewhat counter-intuitive to believe in something that is not evidenced.

There are also the positive positions of gnostic atheism and gnostic theism. Both positions are extremely difficult to tolerate...

Gnostic theism is the position that there IS 100% without a doubt, knowable deity.
Gnostic atheism is the position that there IS 100% without a doubt, no deity.


In conclusion, if you are open to entertaining the notion of deity, whether "yes, i believe but am not 100% certain" or "no, i dont think a bearded guy is in the clouds, but i'm not 100% certain" then you are AGNOSTIC.

(This is probably one of the reasons that 8% of atheists claimed to believe in a deity or a universal spirit on a recent survey....they either don't understand the questions, or don't understand what atheism/agnosticism/theism really are....even if I'm skeptical of the source, I feel it appropriately acknowledges the problem survey)

A2D
edit on 29-2-2016 by Agree2Disagree because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:36 PM
link   
a reply to: Agree2Disagree
I'm a theist now, but I do remember how the longest argument I ever experienced in my atheist days was with my agnostic room-mate.
In those days, I think my preferred definition of Atheism would have been "There is no reason to think any gods exist", which is less emphatic than your version and would bring in more people.
You may have already encountered the ATS member who passionately believes that all agnostics should call themselves atheists.




edit on 29-2-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:44 PM
link   
P.S. Here is what I once posted on a similar thread;

I'm no longer directly involved in the perennial argument between atheism and agnosticism, but it strikes me now that it's not an argument about different positions at all. Haven't you just got two people holding roughly the same position arguing over which is the more accurate label for it?

The last time I was involved it went like this;


In the early hours of this morning (and resuming this afternoon) Malcolm and I created the new science of Mathematical Theology, or rather Theological Mathematics. It followed on from the argument we had after the last party. He’s been talking to someone in Somerville called Nicky, and they came to the conclusion that religious faith could be expressed as a circle. Taking agnosticism as a fixed point, Christian faith and atheism went off in opposite directions to meet at the other side of the circle, proving themselves to be the same thing. So I set out to disprove this. I argued that faith was not a circle but a straight line. Since he would turn an infinite line into a circular one, I made it a finite straight line, with absence of faith at one end and maximum faith at the other. But I then made the mistake of introducing complications. Taking into account the different kinds of belief in God, I gave them separate lines, all originating from the “0” fixed point of atheism, and so becoming a cone, which made the figure three-dimensional. “Maximum faith” would then be a circle or circular plane at the other end. The length of the line was arbitrarily fixed at 200 units of faith, because Malcolm had wanted to place agnosticism half-way along as the zero point, and measuring 100 units in each direction, and I wasn’t having that. In fact I got agnosticism off the line altogether by giving it a separate band, hovering detached and equidistant from the surface of the dome. All this was putting areas into the picture. Malcolm then pointed out that human beings are not capable of standing on a point. Therefore nobody could stand exclusively on my point of “Zero faith”, but must extend a little beyond it; therefore nobody could be a pure atheist. This was really cheating, because I had originally meant the lines merely as directions. He questioned the possibility of maximum faith, so I compared it with an egg-cup being full or empty with water. He also attacked the idea that faith was quantifiable, but I retorted that the idea appeared in his circle as well and was inherent in any attempt to portray the question in geometrical terms. As he argued, he was writing to Judith in Manchester, sometimes inserting a running commentary on the discussion (“S has just admitted…”). We argued until about four o’clock in the morning.



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:45 PM
link   
a reply to: DISRAELI

Precisely. "There is no reason(evidence) to think any gods exist" most closely resembles agnosticism. I think a vast majority of self proclaimed atheists are actually agnostics....but who am I to say.

A2D



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:47 PM
link   

originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
So, I've come to the conclusion that many people don't fully understand atheism, even atheists themselves seem at times to be confused on how to define atheism best.


Ah, excellent! I'm here to learn what I believe and what I don't believe and what traits represent me from a person whom has no conclusive understanding of the term.

Let's read on!


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
From what I understand, an atheist is anyone who doesn't happen to believe in any gods. no matter what their reasons or how they approach the question of whether any gods exist.


Correct


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
To be fair, it's a pretty simple concept, but for whatever reason it is widely misunderstood, by theists and atheists alike.


Also correct


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
Atheism can be defined as: the lack of belief in gods, the absence of belief in gods, disbelief in gods, not believing in gods, etc.


100% correct!


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
The most precise definition I can bear forth, is: one who does not affirm the proposition "at least one god exists". This is NOT an affirmation made by atheists, but is an affirmation denied. It's important to remember that.


100% correct!


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
Now, stepping further out, I wanted to define agnosticism. So, an agnostic is anyone who doesn't claim to know for that any gods exist or not, no matter what their reasons or how they approach the question of whether any gods exist. Also a simple yet misunderstood concept.


Correct, but also, agnosticism can also be a position of stating "there is no possible way for us to ever know or not know of a god"


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
Atheism and agnosticism both deal with the existence of god/s, but differ because atheism deals with the belief while agnosticism deals with the evidence or knowledge.


False

You've had the definition of Atheism correct this entire time, but now you've changed it from (your words) the lack of belief in gods, the absence of belief in gods, disbelief in gods, not believing in gods, etc. to now being a 'belief'.

Which is it? You've stated it's a lack of belief, and absence of belief, a disbelief, and now that it is exclusively "a belief"


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
"Do you think you know for sure if any gods exist?


With absolute certainty? No. But there isn't any single bit of evidence that Gods exists, and we do in fact have evidence that everything that does exist can form through natural means, that evidence is thoroughly backed through both subjective and objective observations, so we can reasonably conclude, based on evidence, that to our current understanding, Gods do not exist (subject to change upon further discoveries)


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
Do you think you know for sure that gods do not or even cannot exist?"


With absolute certainty? No. Nothing is absolute because we cannot possibly know everything. There could very well be a god out there and we just haven't discovered it yet. However, it is unreasonable to believe in one simply because we cannot disprove it.


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
If you answered yes to either question, then you are NOT agnostic. If you answered no to BOTH, then you are agnostic. In this way agnosticism differs from atheism/theism. Atheism and theism both deal with absolute beliefs.


There are more ways to answer that question than simply stating "yes or no"


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
Atheism is the position that no gods can or do exist.



What ever happened to "atheism is a lack of belief?" like you said earlier? Now your stating that Atheism is a position and a belief, exclusively.


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
Theism is the position that at least one god exists.


True


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
Agnosticism is the position that it is possible for a god to exist, but not necessary and/or evidenced.


Among other defining traits, this is correct.


MY CONCLUSION:

You have no idea what you're talking about and your definitions flip and flop all over the place in order to justify your preconceived (and false) conclusion as to what an Atheist and what Atheism really is.

You're on the brink of understanding the term and the people, but you are stuck on a false premise.



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:48 PM
link   
a reply to: Agree2Disagree
I just hope you're ready for the member who thinks the reverse.
We will stand by with fire-extinguishers.



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:48 PM
link   
a reply to: DISRAELI

Not quite.

Atheism comes to a conclusion while agnosticism is open ended with no conclusions.

and yes, ready the fire extinguishers please.

A2D
edit on 29-2-2016 by Agree2Disagree because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:49 PM
link   

originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
a reply to: DISRAELI

Precisely. "There is no reason(evidence) to think any gods exist" most closely resembles agnosticism. I think a vast majority of self proclaimed atheists are actually agnostics....but who am I to say.

A2D


Yet your OP states: Atheism can be defined as: the lack of belief in gods, the absence of belief in gods, disbelief in gods, not believing in gods, etc.

You go completely against your conclusion which states that Atheism is exclusively a belief and a statement.



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:49 PM
link   
The case made for gods has not convinced atheists, they have not bought what theists are selling. Its that simple yet you continue to persist with your own delusional definitions.



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:51 PM
link   

originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
a reply to: DISRAELI

Not quite.

Atheism comes to a conclusion while agnosticism is open ended with no conclusions.


Again, you yourself, in your very OP stated: Atheism can be defined as: the lack of belief in gods, the absence of belief in gods, disbelief in gods, not believing in gods, etc.

DISREALI has the correct understanding.

You are backpedaling over your own correct understanding by trying to fit it with your misunderstanding that Atheism is exclusively a belief.



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:53 PM
link   
a reply to: Ghost147

Glad to see you made it..


False

You've had the definition of Atheism correct this entire time, but now you've changed it from (your words) the lack of belief in gods, the absence of belief in gods, disbelief in gods, not believing in gods, etc. to now being a 'belief'.

Which is it? You've stated it's a lack of belief, and absence of belief, a disbelief, and now that it is exclusively "a belief"


....atheists BELIEVE the world operates without deity....yes?

A2D



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:54 PM
link   

originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
a reply to: Ghost147
....atheists BELIEVE the world operates without deity....yes?


No. I've already explained that to you.

In fact, You've already explained that to yourself when you stated in the OP:

Atheism can be defined as: the lack of belief in gods, the absence of belief in gods, disbelief in gods, not believing in gods, etc.



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:55 PM
link   
a reply to: Prezbo369

what's wrong with my definitions? besides what I'm currently speaking with ghost about....also, I'd appreciate it if you contribute to the thread...if you have nothing to contribute...there are other threads that could use your negativity...

A2D



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:56 PM
link   
a reply to: Ghost147

I'm not worried about the definitions ghost....I want to know what is wrong with THIS statement.

"An atheist believes the world operates without deity."

A2D



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 01:58 PM
link   
a reply to: Agree2Disagree

Oh how that is a hard one, not by the basic definition but by the symantecs many of those whom claim to be one or the other will argue about but here is my take which is pretty standard.

Agnostic is from the greek for No Knowledge (Gnosis is Gnowledge in greek so some religious movement were Gnostic as they believed in knowledge), typically an Agnostic is someone whom perports to neither believe nor disbelieve, they do not know in other word's.

Atheist is also from greek and means No God, this means you can be a spiritualist but if you DENY-BELIEVE there is NO god then you are an ATHEIST, but in it's most modern sense it is more used to declare those whom simply believe there is no soul so spiritualists tend to be included these days in the Agnostic definition even though this is not accurate.

Theist from greek for God or God's believe in a Deity, God or a higher spirit, it is not a definition of any given religion just a generalised title and all major creation belief's based on belief in creators are actually definable as Theist.
Someone may claim to not believe in a soul but actually think there is a creator or was a creator this is a grey area, are they theist or atheist?.

edit on 29-2-2016 by LABTECH767 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 02:00 PM
link   

originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
a reply to: Prezbo369

what's wrong with my definitions?


They're incorrect as has been demonstrated to you many times, at this point I can only put your refusal to recognise this fact down to sheer dishonesty.


besides what I'm currently speaking with ghost about....also, I'd appreciate it if you contribute to the thread...if you have nothing to contribute...there are other threads that could use your negativity...

A2D


It's entirely on topic, and as long as you continue to spread this ignorance, i'll post as much as I want in your threads.



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 02:02 PM
link   

originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
a reply to: Prezbo369

what's wrong with my definitions?


Nothing at all. You've stated that Atheism is the lack of belief in gods, the absence of belief in gods, disbelief in gods, and it can also be a statement that there are no gods at all.

But by the time the OP reached conclusion, you only ended up saying that Atheism is exclusively a belief that there are no gods.

So which is it? a lack of belief, or a belief?


originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
a reply to: Ghost147

I'm not worried about the definitions ghost....I want to know what is wrong with THIS statement.

"An atheist believes the world operates without deity."


No. I lack a belief.

There are certainly some atheists that would make a statement that the world operates without a deity. But I do not, because I understand that we currently do not know everything, so making a definitive claim like that would be irrational.

However, all of our observations so far do in fact support that the universe functions naturally, therefore there is no reason to believe there are any gods.

Hence the lack of belief

You're confusing an actual stance with simply lacking the statement that a god exists



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 02:02 PM
link   
a reply to: Prezbo369

Ghost only said one thing was incorrect...everything else was

100% correct!
so....yeah...

A2D



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 02:04 PM
link   

originally posted by: Agree2Disagree
a reply to: Prezbo369

Ghost only said one thing was incorrect...everything else was

100% correct!
so....yeah...

A2D


True. In the OP you've given very accurate descriptions.

However, you later backpedal away from those accurate descriptions, at least with atheism, and then state it is exclusively something other than what you've previously described it as.



posted on Feb, 29 2016 @ 02:06 PM
link   
a reply to: Ghost147

I understand you "lack a belief"...whatever that may mean. However, atheism can ALSO be a belief....which is the point I'm making...and which is a point you have also acknowledged....

Atheism is not EXCLUSIVELY one thing or the other...nowhere have I said such a thing....

A2D



new topics

top topics



 
1
<<   2  3  4 >>

log in

join