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This atheism related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

Editorial notes

Merged from Talk:Agnostic[edit]

Maybe any agnostics amongst us could come up with a more generous definition.--Bob_M (talk) 13:45, 29 August 2007 (CDT)

Well, I see that our resident Christian has given it his shot.--Bob_M (talk) 14:19, 29 August 2007 (CDT)
Thats all I'll give. I say this probably belongs in the ACD namespace, at least the way it is now. Bohdan
I don't know, Bohdan. I lol'ed at it.--Offeep 14:21, 29 August 2007 (CDT)

Thanks for fixing my typos Bob. Duh. Resident Christian? Ha!DogP 10:32, 30 August 2007 (CDT)

Something strange here.[edit]

I made an edit to this page but a large part of it doesn't display. The text is there but it doesn't show up on the main page. Any ideas?--Bob_M (talk) 02:49, 30 August 2007 (CDT)

It has to do with the references. I will fix it. Bohdan2
It looks like someone else fixed it. Bohdan2
Thanks.--Bob_M (talk) 03:56, 30 August 2007 (CDT)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but...[edit]

"A secondary opinion is that since an agnostic is prepared to believe in any gods anyway, they are, well, a theist."

My brain doesn't exactly agree with that, considering a theist is someone who thinks they're god is a personal god that actually exist and an agnostic, well, doesn't exactly think that (hence the term agnostic, I guess?). I don't exactly think being "prepared" to believe in any gods makes you like a theist, since a theist actually does believe, you know? I always figured an agnostic is more like an atheist than a theist since agnostics and atheist lack the belief of supernatural deity and don't follow any rules of a personal deity or pray to them or any of that whatnot. I'm just trying to get a second opinion, my logic could be distorted. Jsonasarav 23:07, 19, July 2008 (EDT)

I believe that there's more a continuous spectrum from hard atheist to hook line & sinker believer. Divisions within are somewhat arbitrary & open to debate. SusanG  ContribsTalk
What I see at the article right now is clearly an amusement by parallel structure... I agree with Jsonasarav, but in context it's just funny. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:30, 19 July 2008 (EDT)


The article says: "There is a prevalence of fundamentalist theists, but it is far rarer, if not impossible, to find fundamentalist atheists who would stick to their beliefs in the face of sufficient evidence.". I'm afraid I don't understand this. Could it be made clearer? --Bobbing up 06:02, 26 September 2008 (EDT)

In a nutshell, it says that there are a lot of religious zealots but no atheist zealots. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 06:04, 26 September 2008 (EDT)
Yes .... But the phrase There is a prevalence of fundamentalist theists could be read to mean "Most theists are fundamentalists" - something which I can't believe you would want to write. Furthermore if "fundamentalist atheists" (who presumably follow some original fundamental atheist text - perhaps The God Delusion) actually exist - wouldn't such fundamentalism make them immune to evidence? Isn't the ability to ignore evidence one of the hallmarks of fundamentalism?--Bobbing up 06:11, 26 September 2008 (EDT)

Agnostic atheism[edit]

The text presently says:

  • Agnostic atheism holds that insufficient evidence exists to disprove a god.

Is this correct? You could argue that there is insufficient evidence to disprove fairies. Shouldn't it read something like:

  • "Agnostic atheism holds that there is insufficient for God's existence"

--BobNot Jim 08:12, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, I think this article is a bit of a muck in places, isn't it? Troublesome trying to define all these shaded "sects" of agnosticism and atheism when the church fathers won't release their credos... it's like everyone who isn't explicitly religious has their own personal stand and reasons for it. ħumanUser talk:Human 21:04, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

My $0.02[edit]

The first sentence in this article is patently false, and the tone in the rest of the article throws me off and confuses me. There's a very fine line that I feel needs to be more thoroughly drawn concerning a/gnosticism in this article, and that is the difference between gnosticism and agnosticism and the fact that they are not only not mutually exclusive with theism and atheism, but that no degree of the latter is absent without a degree of the former. The term "agnosticism" has been capitulated by people over the years (morons, dare I say, but only those who incorrectly subscribe to this) to represent a sort of rational indifference. This couldn't be further from the truth, semantically or pragmatically. To be an agnostic is to simply claim that gnosis (from the Greek word for "knowledge"; defined as knowledge about the existence or characteristics of deities) is unattainable. Gnostic means roughly the opposite (the Gnosticism we're all familiar with bases itself on this more literal definition of the term "gnosticism"). If I were to ask somebody if they believed in god, and they said, "Well, I'm an agnostic", they would have failed to answer my question. Agnostic atheism, gnostic atheism, agnostic theism, gnostic theism, etc., are all descriptors about not only about our faith (or lack thereof), but about our fundamentalism regarding our beliefs (or lack thereof). I think that this article needs to be rewritten to make this distinction very clear. It should also go on to mention that the degrees of a/gnosticism are separate from the degrees of a/theism. An agnostic cannot claim that they're taking the rational high ground about the question of a god's existence because agnosticism doesn't address the existence of god. They could say, "Well, I'm an agnostic" and then perhaps state where they stand on the theistic probability scale. The current article says, "True agnostics would actually not fit on a hypothetical scale between theism and atheism as they would say the argument is unanswerable..." Just because that's their statement on the matter, with a presumptuous and incorrect definition of agnosticism, does not mean that their belief in a deity cannot be gauged since agnosticism does not reflect on their basic theistic beliefs in the least. It cannot, and it should not, be redefined to represent a 50/50 split or coin toss on any scale. Many other articles have been written elaborating upon this, which drive home the point that agnosticism does not forbid nor permit, by its very nature, belief in a deity. It doesn't even try to. Anyone else's thoughts on me rewriting this article (with much more content, some of which will be addressing everything above)? --emc [TALK] 13:59, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Misread the first line. Disregard that, I shuck rocks. --emc [TALK] 14:07, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
I was gonna say my thought was "if you do rewrite it, please use paragraphs" - David Gerard (talk) 14:21, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I was going to write in the form of a villanelle. --emc [TALK] 14:32, 17 August 2010 (UTC)
I think it could be phrased in a somewhat simpler way, so I'll try to do so. Lemme see... Atheism and agnosticism are orthogonal to each other; there are two completely different axis involved, theist/atheist and agnostic/non-agnostic (I'm a bit reluctant to use the term "gnostic" because gnosticism is a different thing), and you usually have a possition on each.
If your worldview implies (or outright states) that there exist one or more deity-like beings, you are theist; if it doesn't say that, you're atheist. Likewise, if you say that there is no knowledge regarding whether there exist deity-like beings or not, you are agnostic; if you don't say that there is no such knowledge, you are non-agnostic. -- Kitsune Inari (talk) 19:59, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
As an agnostic, I take offense at being co-opted by atheism just as much as I would take offense at being co-opted by theism. The fact that I don't state/believe "in the existence of one or more deity-like beings" does NOT in ANY WAY mean that I DISBELIEVE "the existence of one or more deity-like beings", it merely means that I regard any opinion on the subject as entirely baseless because a) the concept under scrutiny is not properly defined (the properties that define a deity are not agreed upon, in fact, are usually not even discussed) b) there is not even a semblance of agreement on what would constitute proof and c) there is no data to go by. Don't try and make me out as an atheist-by-default. I, like other agnostics, am neither theist nor atheist and regard both positions as questions of faith, i.e. objectively meaningless. (talk) 10:53, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
While the orthogonal idea is interesting, you can simplify it to a soundbite: Atheism is a statement of belief, agnosticism is a statement of knowledge. Scarlet A.pngpostate 20:05, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Red car analogy[edit]

To many people the question “Do you or do you not believe in god?” implies that there are only two defensible responses to it. “I do believe in god.” or “I do not believe in god.”. (Each corresponding to the shallow stereotype of a theist or an atheist respectively.)
This is incorrect.
To illustrate this incorrectness, I will make an analogy:
Someone asks you: “Do you or do you not believe that there is at this moment a red car parked in *insert parking place you currently aren’t observing*.”
You can’t give a ‘yes or no’ answer to this question because that wouldn’t accurately represent your state of knowledge.
A defensible response to that question would be: “I can’t say that I believe it and I can’t say that I don’t believe it. I simply don’t know. There might very well be a red car parked there, but on the other hand there might very well not be a red car parked there.” (Note, this would correspond to the "Well, I'm an agnostic response." mentioned above, with no clear indication of position on a "theistic probability scale".)
Driving the analogy further, say the asker of the question follows up with another question: “Ok, but do you lean more towards believing or do you lean more towards not believing that there is a red car parked there? As in, which scenario is more probable, would you say?”
What most will end up doing, and rightly so, is to respond along the lines of: “Oh bugger off, will ya?”
Just my own two cents in response to the other two cents! Nullahnung (talk) 08:37, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
In the interest of covering the above so that it doesn't violate the law of the excluded middle I should mention that it would be better to rephrase the question to more accurately present what it generally means to the common asker: "Do you believe that there is a god or do you believe that there isn't a god?" The agnostic response would be: "It is not the case that I believe that there is a god. It is also not the case that I believe that there isn't a god."
To say "It is not the case that I believe in god, but it is also not the case that I don't believe in god." is a direct rephrasing of "It is not the case that I believe in god, but it is also not the case that it is not the case that I believe in god." and that would technically violate the law of the excluded middle (which is the third of the three classic laws of thought in classical logic). Nullahnung (talk) 06:17, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
Depends if the belief is "well formed" or not. Your well-formed beliefs aren't merely what you state, but how you react and how you expect the world to be - I can easily walk around declaring "the sky is green" and when asked to pick a crayon the colour of the sky to pick blue ones repeatedly. The world won't explode in that case. Whether you act according to the expectation that there is a (specific) God or not is a clear dichotomy. An agnostic response merely states an uncertainty, but in the vast majority of cases (perhaps all, as I'm not sure anyone really goes out of their way to identify as an agnostic and act as if they were a theist) an agnostic response acts as if there is no god. You can say what you like, but you actions and attitudes are ultimately the things that betray your actual belief structure. Scarlet A.pnggnostic 15:05, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
Aha! But what about the apatheist? Which of the two ways (act as if there was a god/act as if there wasn't a god) does the apatheist act? I would argue neither, and that the apatheist acts as if he/she doesn't care and just goes on with his/her life unaffected by the question of divine presence (which may not differ much from the atheist life, but it's the thought that counts!). Driving that further, I'm sure there is something like an apatheist agnostic hybrid, where the person states that he/she doesn't know, but ultimately doesn't care either. That person would then act more like an apatheist than a theist or an atheist, outside of that dichotomy, so to speak. Nullahnung (talk) 00:16, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
The red car analogy really isn't helpful. We observe red cars all the time & know for a certainty that they exist. When asked whether one is parked in a certain unobserved parking lot, we don't know for a certainty one way or the other, but do know for a certainty that both 'yes' and 'no' are valid options. The probabilities will depend on factors like the popularity of red cars, the size of the parking lot, etc. When talking about God, there is much much less clarity. Even addressing the most basic questions of what the concept even means, we're confronted with conflicting definitions & possible internal paradoxes (omnipotence, theodicy). & When we talk about probabilities of God existing, we're really asking a completely different question to the red car example: one is a question of outcomes based on causes (we know that some people own red cars & that some cars are parked at that lot, so we can infer that a red car might be there) while the other is a question of causes based on outcomes (we observe the universe & infer what caused it to be this way). More often than not, we fall back on our own worldview: if we view reality in terms of observable rational cause & effect, then we tend to be skeptical of there being some omnipotent guiding force behind it; if we perceive things in terms of a natural order & justice which seems to be maintained, or if we have experiences or emotions that we can't easily rationalise, then we're much more likely to see God or another supernatural explanation as a viable option. If we vacillate on how we feel about these things, or if we just don't care or think about it that much, then we tend to adopt the most middle ground agnostic position. WẽãšẽĩõĩďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 01:09, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
Well, that makes sense. I guess it was a rather unhelpful analogy. It's true that god is much more difficult to talk about in general because that concept is so ill-defined and everybody thinks differently even on what that word is supposed to mean exactly. This is of course less the case with a parked red car, which means pretty much the same thing with most people. I'm sorry, I didn't think it through, haha. Nullahnung (talk) 02:25, 18 July 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. Many atheists promote the view that if you lack a particular belief in a god, you are defined as an atheist. While etymologically this may be correct, it ignores the fact that many agnostics also equally lack a belief in a god-less universe. Does it make sense to characterise myself as an atheist if I do not have a belief that the universe exists without a god? — Unsigned, by: Star Gazer / talk / contribs
@Star Gazer You do realize you're responding to a dead thread from three years ago right? ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 15:00, 16 May 2018 (UTC)
@GrammarCommie, You do realise that just because a thread ends, a conversation can continue at a later date? We'll see if yours remains the only resposne to my comment. — Unsigned, by: Star Gazer / talk / contribs
You've obviously never heard of necroposting. ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 15:13, 16 May 2018 (UTC)
You've obviously never heard of bumping. Besides, if I had added my edit to the page (which would have been a valid contribution), you would have deleted it and told me to raise it in the Talk page. Star Gazer (talk) 15:21, 16 May 2018 (UTC)

"I'll get you my pretty, and your little god too!"[edit]

"Long before quantum mechanics, the German philosopher, Husserl, said that "All perception is gamble."

Every type of bigotry, every type of racism, sexism, prejudice, every dogmatic ideology that allows people to kill other people with a clear conscience, every stupid cult, every superstition, written religion, every kind of ignorance in the world, all results from not realising that our perceptions are gambles.

We believe what we see and then we believe our interpretation of it, we don't even know we are making an interpretation most of the time. We think that THIS is reality. In philosophy that is called Naive Realism. "What I perceive is reality." Philosophers have refuted naive realism every century for the last 2500 years starting with Buddha & Plato, and yet most people act on the basis of Naive Realism.

Now the argument is, 'maybe my perceptions are inaccurate but somewhere there is accuracy. The scientists have it with their instruments...that's how we find out whats really real.' But what relativity and quantum mechanics have demonstrated clearly is that what you find out with instruments is true relative only to the instrument you are using, and where that instrument is located in space time.

So since there is no vantage point from which 'real reality' can be seen, we are all looking from the point of our own reality tunnels. And when we begin to realise that we are all looking from the point of view of our own reality tunnels, we find it is much easier to understand where other people are coming from. Or, the ones who do not have the same reality tunnels as us do not seem ignorant or deliberately perverse or lying or hypnotized by some mad ideology. They just have a different reality tunnel, and every reality tunnel might tell us something interesting about our world... if we are willing to listen." -RAW — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Implicit atheism[edit]

I was wondering where agnosticism stands next to implicit atheism. The argument is that all atheists are agnostic, because if pressed they'll admit they don't really know for sure, so are really just "agnostic atheists". But in implicit atheism the very concept doesn't exist. So you can't be agnostic - to be agnostic you have to consider the question. But at the very same time, implicit atheists would be immune from the accusation that atheists have taken a faith position. There are an infinity+1 things in the world that we could believe in that could never be proven, and if pressed we'd have to say we're agnostic about them (don't just limit it to different gods, these are proper unknown unknown things). But until we gain that awareness, we completely 100% don't believe in them - so have taken such a faith position unknowingly and unwillingly! Ha! ADK...I'll push your cellphone! 23:03, 21 September 2011 (UTC)


for quoting South Park. -- DasRationalpersone Socks cat 1.JPG (Annoy me!) 19:27, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

A lame palaeontology joke[edit]

The agnostids were a group of trilobites that had a head and tail that look remarkably similar. Planaria Icon.png-DA RW.png-Talk RW.png 21:15, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

How agnostics see atheists[edit]

Just fishing for a few zealots. I think I may already have a bite. — Unsigned, by: Star Gazer / talk / contribs


Most believers will be agnostic towards some gods and atheist towards others.

What are the equivalent terms for belief in 'other entities' - 'ghoolies and ghosties...', Halloween beasties, fairies, angels and all the rest of them? Anna Livia (talk) 17:08, 31 October 2018 (UTC)

Six Different Views[edit]

Agnostic Theist = The question is unanswerable. I believe in God.

Gnostic Theist = The question is answerable. I believe in God.

Agnostic Atheist (weak) = The question is unanswerable. I don't hold the belief that God exists.

Gnostic Atheist (weak) = The question is answerable, but I haven't yet been convinced of God's existence.

Agnostic Atheist (strong) = The question is unanswerable. I think God doesn't exist.

Gnostic Atheist (strong) = The question is answerable. I think God doesn't exist. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs