The most precise definition may be that an atheist is anyone who does not affirm the proposition "at least one god exists. Being an atheist requires nothing active or even conscious on the part of the atheist. All that is required is not "affirming" a proposition made by others. An agnostic is anyone who doesn't claim to know whether any gods exist or not.
This is also an uncomplicated idea, but it may be as misunderstood as atheism.
Why I Am an Agnostic and Other Essays by Clarence Darrow
One major problem is that atheism and agnosticism both deal with questions regarding the existence of gods. Whereas atheism involves what a person does or does not believe , agnosticism involves what a person does or does not know.
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Belief and knowledge are related but nevertheless separate issues. There's a simple test to tell if one is an agnostic or not.
Do you know for sure if any gods exist? If so, then you're not an agnostic, but a theist.
A Short Explanation of the Agnostic Position
Do you know for sure that gods do not or even cannot exist? If so, then you're not an agnostic, but an atheist. Everyone who cannot answer "yes" to one of those questions is a person who may or may not believe in one or more gods. However, since they don't also claim to know for sure, they are agnostic. The only question then is whether they are an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist.
However, both do not make the claim to have the knowledge to back up this belief. Fundamentally, there is still some question and that is why they're agnostic. This seems contradictory and difficult, but it's actually quite easy and logical. Whether one believes or not, they can also be comfortable in not claiming to know for sure that it's either true or false. It occurs in many different topics as well because belief is not the same as direct knowledge.
The presence of a belief in a god and the absence of a belief in a god does not exhaust all of the possibilities. Agnosticism is not about belief in god but about knowledge. It was originally coined to describe the position of a person who could not claim to know for sure if any gods exist or not. It was not meant to describe someone who somehow found an alternative between the presence and absence of some particular belief. Yet, many people have the mistaken impression that agnosticism and atheism are mutually exclusive.
And, with Hume and Kant on my side, I could not think myself presumptuous in holding fast by that opinion" "On the whole, the "bosh" of heterodoxy [Atheism]is more offensive to me than that of [Theism]orthodoxy, because heterodoxy professes to be guided by reason and science, and orthodoxy does not. PZ, Richard, and I are agnostic atheists. We do not agree with Huxley's definition of "atheist. None of us are certain that god s do not exist although we all agree that the probability is very low. Did you read the post? Bertrand Russell knew that there were different definitions of "atheist.
It may be impossible to disprove the existence of a generic "God", but it is certainly possible to disprove the existence of a "Christian" ie, "just" God. The evidence is everywhere you look. Larry Moran said: "These people call themselves atheists and they think that this is true to the original root meaning of the word 'not a theist'. You don't claim to have final knowledge of the non existence of God s , so that would seem to make you an agnostic. The fact that you conduct your life as if there is no God indicates you haven't taken Pascal's wager, but whether it makes you an atheist is at least open to a bit of discussion IMHO.
Jud says, You don't claim to have final knowledge of the non existence of God s , so that would seem to make you an agnostic. That's correct. I am agnostic with respect to the existence of Gods. I am also agnostic with respect to the existence of lots of other things such as the tooth fairly and Santa Claus. I am not a theist and I am without Gods. That makes me an atheist.
What would you like to discuss? I am without gods and the only reason that the existence of gods is considered "unknowable" is that the believers keep moving the goal-posts whenever one of their "facts" about the gods is proved lacking. The believers are running out of "unknowable" options. We have shrunken the space in which the gods can hide to the first thousand-trillionth of the first second of our Universe's existence. Someday, perhaps, we'll finish them off entirely. I wouldn't agree with Russell's old definitions, and I wouldn't agree with Larry's contemporary.
But I would roughly agree with their conclusions.
It's a fallacy to say believing there is not a God requires proving a negative. Believing there is not a God, is another way of saying you hold the positive belief that the universe is just a mindless machine and we are its accidental byproducts. That believe requires proof and Russell's original assertion was correct. Great discussion! In terms of the practical implications for the way one conducts one's life, I suppose it's fine to say that one can be both an atheist and an agnostic just as one can be both a liberal and a libertarian, for example , but I think doing so blurs the very important philosophical distinction that Russell was pointing to.
In his view and I believe he is correct , there is no real epistemological difference between atheists and believers because both assert as fact something that is unknowable. The position of the agnostic--not knowing--is the only truly scientific answer one can offer in the face of metaphysical questions. You can say that you are an agnostic till you are blue in the face: it still doesn't answer the question of whether you believe in a god or not. Either you do or your don't, and if you don't, virtually everyone, even those people who insist that only the strong definition of "atheist" is valid, will then call you an atheist implicitly using the "weak" definition.
Certain religious beliefs are falsified, dualisms are debunked, natural theories lends credence to naturalism, et cetera. I wish I could have the solid faith of the agnostic on their basic assumption. Alas, as an atheist I can never be so certain. I can't disprove that there is an ether either I always wanted to say that.
But it adds nothing of substance to scientific discussions, so everyone but the crackpot Einstein-debunkers ignores it. The same is true with god s. My biggest issue with this whole semantic game is that fundamentalists use it to argue that atheism is a religion and therefore is being afforded special status by the US government.
Atheism and Agnosticism
If not believing in a deity is a religion, then not playing chess is a hobby and someone who doesn't watch sports is a fan. Ah, but you don't consider that we can't currently define the boundaries of empirical methods. So someday you hope to be an atheist? What I also understand Larry to be saying is that the fact that he conducts his life "without gods," in spite of his lack of a definitive belief that there is no God, qualifies him as an atheist. I feel the matter is open to discussion, because I wonder which takes primacy: belief that there is no God, or conducting oneself "without gods.
First, the classic sky daddy, with his micromanagement of all particularly Earthly things, supernatural powers, and requirement of worship, is right out if we are to restrict ourselves to possibilities that can legitimately be called scientific. It is also a viable scientific hypothesis that one or more universes could be created intentionally i.
So it must be considered a serious scientific possibility that one or more universes, including our own, might have been created intentionally by a sentient being.
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One of the common "tags" for God is Creator of the Universe, is it not? To the extent that the physical laws of the created universe could possibly be controlled by a creator at inception, this creator would also have the attribute Einstein described when he likened discovering the laws of physics to knowing the mind of God.
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A third characteristic such a being might share with historical descriptions of God is that it could possess power that would either seem supernatural Clarke's "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" , or would actually be outside the laws governing our universe, since the universe inhabited by the creator might not have identical physical laws to our own. Finally, a fourth attribute such a being might share with historical descriptions of God is that of source of a higher morality.
Atheist or Agnostic?
Yeah, I know how that sounds, but there's a non-supernatural explanation. After all, as has been conjectured in any number of science fiction books, or movies such as "The Day the Earth Stood Still," members of a society that has reached an extremely high level of technology over, presumably, a rather long period of time without killing themselves might conceivably have something to teach us about how to treat each other. Professor Moran and Mr. Concerning the idea of proving or disproving the existence of God.
What is the proof that your wife loves you? Trying to prove God by measuring molecules or quasars is a waste of time. Proving it to me would have little relevance. So it is with God. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built. As Christian, you should at least recognize suffering as an essential component of existence. Anonymous said: Professor Moran and Mr. Wilkins If you insist on using honorifics I think that John would want his doctorate recognised - after all, I don't think he bought it.
It's her existence we're by analogy talking about, and that is definitely "measured by her molecules". Not at all. At least Russell knew his enemies were where he could see them; believing in a god entails giving up even that assurance - particularly a god that isn't above the odd spot of genocide when it messes up its experiments. Oddly enough, as an atheist at least as regards any god described to me I am as capable as any theist of feeling "indescribable and inescapable joy"; I am as human as you. There's just a teensy bit of equivocation here on the word fit I'd suggest you get a new pair of spectacles before "trying to see through the eyes of evolutionists and atheists"; or maybe just remove the beam from your eye first next time?
Oddly enough, man was a social animal long before the first Christian existed. There are very good reasons why societies have functioned, and a morality not dissimilar to the golden rule can arise, without the Christian or indeed any god. Try reading Descent of Man - it's a very good read and lays it all out quite clearly. Why not?