I have been what one would define as an “Atheist” for a number of years now. My journey to Atheism started (interestingly enough), as a hatred for the all mighty deity. I was 14 or 15, and life was throwing an endless supply of lemons, so my young and immature mind filled in the blanks based around what I knew. I didn’t understand why “god” would do this to me, is the best way I can describe the situation.
But time moved on, and over a series of months, my mindset gradually changed. From anger and hostility towards the deity of my knowledge (since I live in the western world, the god of Christianity), to observation of a void. Though I was mostly looking to my own life at the time as “evidence” (we were all young and immature at one time), I became more aware of the news (and problems) of our species world wide. Which made me come to a realization that I am sure that all non-theists have confronted. Which is, that this deity that they call “God” is either evil, apathetic, or just non-existent.
And as such, at some point, I just accepted loosely, the idea of a void. I say “loosely” because I adopted the mindset months before I learned the terminology associated with it (Atheist). I do not recall how I came to know this new term, but I am guessing it was from aimlessly browsing the Internet. That is how I gained a fair amount of the random (yet useless) information that makes up my knowledge.
Though I was in the mindset of Atheism, I did at first hang on to beliefs that would be considered “irrational”. In a conversation about beliefs that I had with a couple of friends, I explained my position as being an atheist, but somehow the idea of heaven came up. And I must have alluded to belief in it, to which a friend noted that I was “Atheist”, yet believed in heaven.
Though I had not given the conclusion a 2ed thought on my own, having someone point it out did the trick. Made me note my hypocrisy, and adjust my beliefs as such.
It has been a decade or more since that conversation. And since then, my beliefs have evolved into Agnostic Atheism.
That is, I do not know (and may never know) if a deity of any sort exists, but it seems that one would be unnecessary. Not that “necessity” solves the enigma.
Its more, I can not, and may never, know for sure. The evidence that we have to work with, eludes to no deity being necessary in the creation or operation of the natural world. But it is all inconclusive. As such, though the evidence strongly suggests a void, I have to take the doubt into consideration.
Some Atheists do not feel the necessity to acknowledge the doubt in the equation. Some feel that since the chance of some deity or other existing is pretty close to zero, one can just come out and say, there is nothing there.
This stance concerns me, for a couple of reason’s. For one thing, if we use the example of a person on death row, there needs to be an airtight case. If there is any amount of doubt, then the execution is halted.
It is debatable whether the amount of doubt one has to ignore in adopting a fully atheistic philosophy would be enough to halt an execution, but I see enough of a void, to use the comparison.
Not to mention, our argument against theistic views (outside of arguments involving religion), for the moist part, is the lack of evidence they have to make a concrete conclusion. Keep in mind that the religious arguments are completely separate. One can easily tear apart the bible and other religious texts. But no one has an upper hand, when it comes to the enigma of the deity. And as such, anyone who wants any credibility, should not act like they have an upper hand. Theist OR Atheist.
Of course, I have had people pull the argument of unicorns, pink elephants and other mythical creatures on me, in trying to tear down my point. And they would be right, I have no way to prove that leprechauns DON’T exist. But given the nature of the argument, I have to file it in the same category as a deity, or the paranormal.
The trick of this argument (mostly perpetuated by Atheist’s), is to make me see how “silly” my argument is. Because I have to make the same conclusion towards whatever creature they will name.
Yet this is not an argument. All it is, is a cop out. It is not a valid rebuttal to the argument. All it is, is essentially saying”See how stupid you look?”. If I were arguing a theist, and they resorted to this sort of argument, I would call them out. So why not an Atheist to?
And then there is the whole definition of Agnosticism, as perceived by many Atheists. This may be an old grievance, but I have just seen it come up recently, so I will assume it to be a fairly new thing.
The idea (as perpetuated by many online Atheists), is that there is no such thing as a person that is just “Agnostic”. One is either Agnostic Atheist, or Agnostic Theist. This flew in the face of what I had always thought, so I was skeptical initially when confronted by this. But it made sense, at first.
Being how I don’t like accepting things I hear stated as fact at face value, I decided to check into these terminologies. The first thing I did was utilize Google in checking if my definition of Agnostic (Agnosticism) was correct.
Having seen the word defined here (and similarly in sources linked to the query), pretty much answered my question. But being I have access to a couple very intelligent and philosophical individuals, I decided to pick their brains. And not surprisingly, I found that my hunch (actually, long time belief) that Agnosticism can exist on its own, was confirmed.
Yet the vast majority of Atheists I meet online, are flat out opposed to even entertaining this thought process. That a person can be just a fence sitter, non-committal either way. Heck, I even got into a facebook debate on the subject last night (the reason for the image above. I used it as part of my argument). That ended in ad hom, with me being told to go read a dictionary, since apparently I do not know my definitions. And in all honesty, I just resorted to “Fuck off” in the end.
One of the reoccurring tenants of the other sides argument (that I was made aware of last night), was that we were somehow “changing” the definition of words. I assume he meant the word Atheism (being his mindset is that all Agnostics fall into this category).
My definitions, more or less, fall in line with these.
I have read though them all, and really, I do not see why fence sitters should be forced into either an Atheist or a Theistic sub genre. That is not to say that I have not been paying attention to the reasons that have been given to me.
The 2 main arguments, being:
1.) This is a relatively “new” definition of the word Agnosticism
2.) People at times make ridicules claims like “I don’t believe in god, but im not an atheist!”
First of all, if this is a “new” definition of the word, then that is news to me. But it is entirely possible. Though I have been an Agnostic Atheist for the past decade or so, I never really did a whole lot of research on other irreligious beliefs. The first half of my Atheistic existence was spent, for the most part, in isolating the belief. I did have some people that I talked to, but otherwise it was just something I didn’t talk about. And when I did finally get active on the online forum circuit, I was more into tearing apart religion.
It is only now (in the past year or 2), after mostly losing interest in religious debate and dialog, that I have become more familiar with some of these other thought processes. And of how Atheism is attempting to slap its label on all of them.
But even if this word did change, frankly, I do not see what the big deal is. Obviously there is a group that felt they did not fit into either the theistic OR Atheistic category’s, and so their non-committal relationship is recognized.
I have had people make an argument based on the fact that they simply do not like this new definition of the word Agnosticism (Its allowance for one to be non-committal, on the fence).
Frankly, that is a stupid argument. As our understandings change and our knowledge grows, our language changes with it. In this case, it strikes me that change is good. Now people who are inclined to stay on middle ground, can do just that.
You do not want to accept this argument? Fine.
Just know that you have no credibility to call out a Theist for discarding fact and clinging to old ideals, because you are EXACTLY the same way.
I do understand that people may not know the correct definitions of some of the terminologies. For example, someone that claims to not believe in god yet also not to be an atheist.
If this is the case, then yes, it is alright to educate them in the proper terminologies. Like me in my heaven is real/atheist state of mind back in the day, sometimes you don’t realize your errors or hypocrisies unless they are pointed out.
But again, this does not mean that EVERY agnostic is either Atheistic, or theistic. And this does not mean that every person who thinks as such, is ignorant to the definitions.
Take Neil Degrasse Tyson, brilliant Astrophysicist and Scientist, and star of the newly revived and acclaimed series “Cosmos”. When confronted on his stance in terms of the god question, he identifies himself as an Agnostic. See for yourself.
Were talking about a man with an IQ that is probably double that of the average online Atheist. This is someone who has put a LOT of thought into his position. And yet, in the comments section of the video itself, I see this:
If atheism is the “Belief/Claim statement” there is no gods, than agnosticism would be the “Knowledge/Factual statement” that there is no gods. Why can’t people understand this? It’s like saying not smoking is a habbit!
To be fair, this was there to:
It is funny how many people do not get his point. A wise man always takes a neutral stance on an idea or a noble question.
Which brings me to my next point. Why is the “Atheist” label so important?
Though I identify as an Agnostic Atheist (that definition is closest to my conclusion, if I have to label it), I am accepting of others with other variants of secular belief, assuming they are well thought out. If you feel that you are more Agnostic then anything else, then that is fine.
I don’t understand why Atheism needs to put its stamp on EVERYTHING non-theistic. For one thing, it strikes me as awfully similar to the tactics of theists. And it makes all Atheists look like elitist assholes (example: Neil Degrasse Tyson’s wiki page. Though that seems to have been corrected as of publishing of this).
As of late, I have been growing tired of attaching myself with the various labels that one accumulates in life. The biggest 2 examples are Liberal and Atheist. Neil Degrasse Tyson explained the reasoning for this, far more clearly and coherently then I could have. First there is the matter of the baggage attached to the labels, the false assumptions before the discussions even begin. Then there is the friction caused by the various labels.
For example, to many theists, just seeing someone identify as an Atheist brings preconceived notions to the discussion. Within Christianity, there is infighting as to who “rightfully” can make the claim. And on the Atheist side, were attempting to slap our badge where it arguably should not be.
And on a political front (Liberal VS Conservative), the state of US politics speaks for itself.
It is for this reason, that I am attempting to become more ambiguous.
I know that I live by, liberal and atheistic philosophies. But that does not mean that I have to wear the label on my sleeve.
I have seen the argument made that these are not as much “labels”, as they are ways to identify different people.
That may be correct. But frankly, I have no want or need to prioritize and divide up everyone I know, into easily understood and overly generalized categories. So why should I play along?
I should also note that the people that pedaled this idea, also claim that they will keep labeling Agnostics as “Atheists”, no matter what.
One thing is for sure, my journey to my current beliefs and stances, has been an interesting one. And it has also been interesting, to stick my neck out and come out against the mainstream of many situations, when I see a problem.
But I enjoy doing it. As frustrating and lonely as one can be when it seems like they are fighting the world, I will not give up.