A theist And A gnostic Walk Into A Bar…

This is the second version of this blog entry that I have gone through. Second title, too. The first version sounded (to me at least) more like a college English essay rather than a blog post. There is nothing wrong with a blog that is professional sounding, but that’s not me. The first title was “Atheism and Agnosticism” and I think I fell asleep twice while typing it. Blah. So I decided to start over. I will be quite honest, I am not familiar with blogging outside of having read a few, so I am just going on the assumption that the first blog post sets the tone for the rest. A “prim and proper” first blog post would not be in my best interest since I am not “prim and proper” and I do not want to get stuck with such a label. I am not that kind of guy. So, I might as well just be upfront about this…I am an agnostic atheist.

But, that’s not possible, is it? An agnostic is just the middle ground between an atheist and a believer (for the sake of simplicity I will refer to theists, those who believe in some form of a god as “believers”), so you can’t be in the middle and on the end, right? In spatial terms, this would be correct, but when dealing with philosophical concepts, nothing makes sense.

I grew up in a Christian household and accepted Jesus into my heart at a pretty early age and then did it again in my mid teens. And again in my early twenties. I may have been raised in a Christian household, but that doesn’t mean they taught me anything. I guess I thought I could lose salvation, but I have come to find out that you can only lose your salvation if your denomination says you can. What I did learn was that atheists were bad, agnostics didn’t know any better, and Christians were good. The point in relaying this information is that, while I have no doubt that my parents loved me and had only my best interests in mind, they didn’t really teach me anything about the faith. I think that’s why not many people understand what agnosticism is, even those who grew up in an atheist household. I would assume anyway.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did some research at Wikipedia and learned a few things. See, even someone who took a few classes at a community college can get learnt.

The term “agnostic” was coined by T.H. Huxley (Darwin’s Bulldog) in 1860, though the concept predates that by thousands of years. The term “agnostic” refers to knowledge of a god rather than a belief in a god. To explain this further, I will define a few terms.

Strong agnosticism– The view that it is impossible for humans to know whether a deity exists or not. Basically, since a deity is supernatural the deity would be on a plane of existence that humans do not have access to, therefore, knowledge of said deity is inaccessible to humans.

Apathetic agnosticism- This refers to the belief that it doesn’t matter whether a deity exists or not because said deity doesn’t concern him/herself with the affairs of humans or the universe. This makes the question basically unimportant. While not quite the same, this belief is similar to deism.

Weak agnosticism- Those who subscribe to this belief take the view that it is currently unknown whether a deity exists, but evidence could one day point to the existence of a deity, so it is best to reserve judgment until we have all the evidence

Agnostic theism- The view of a person who doesn’t claim to know whether a deity exists, but one should believe anyway. This is similar to Pascal’s Wager (basically “it’s better to believe in a god and be wrong than not to and be wrong).

Agnostic atheism- The view of someone who doesn’t claim to have knowledge for or against a deity, but does not believe in any deity.

Those definitions are basic in nature and are a mere snapshot of fairly involved philosophical beliefs, but it had to be done. It is my hope that throughout my blogging career (which I am sure will be short, if this first one is any indication) that readers will at least learn something. Or perhaps argue amongst themselves. I am good either way.

The goal of listing the definitions of several agnostic belief systems was twofold: first, it took up space to make my blog look longer and two, perhaps someone will have a better idea of what they believe. As I stated early on, I consider myself an agnostic atheist. I do not claim to know that “God exists!” nor do I claim to know that “God does not exist!” but choose to believe that no deity exists. I am of the mindset that there is no evidence and because of a lack of evidence I choose to believe that there is no deity. If one day there is evidence, then I will seriously reconsider my belief system. I realize that what I just said kind of sounds like weak agnosticism, but if you refer back to the definitions that I so painstakingly supplied, you will realize that I have not reserved judgment. I am saying that “I do not believe in any deity.”

*This blog does not necessarily express the views of BNFree, any of its members, or any half wit in general. These comments are the sole beliefs of one individual who has been given permission to let the voices in his head have there say. Please direct any complaints to someone who cares. Thank you.

About Jay Pea

I was born in Kentucky in 1809 and served as US President from 1860 to 1865 and have a strange fondness for stovepipe hats. I'm married with no children (yet), enjoy reading, sports, my wonderful x-box 360, and pretending that I understand what's going on most of the time.
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4 Responses to A theist And A gnostic Walk Into A Bar…

  1. Derrick says:

    I’ve consistently tried to promote the concept (shamelessly lifted from Matt Dillahunty) that atheism and agnosticism are orthogonal–you can graph them as X and Y axes, and label the quadrants Gnostic Theist, Agnostic Theist, etc. Like you said, one is a claim of belief, the other is a claim of knowledge.

    I don’t particularly like the words agnostic and atheist, because in terms of real communication, neither conveys an accurate concept to the average individual. Drives me nuts. I self-identify as “skeptical rationalist” because I don’t want people to think I’m either a wishy-washy fence-sitter or a firebreathing, god-hating a**hole. Still trying to change the discourse on that one…

  2. Happy Skeptic says:

    This is where laziness comes into my life, sometimes I really do want people to think I’m a religion hating fire-breathing asshole. It can be amusing.

  3. Happy Skeptic says:

    Oh, and I like this title. Sorry about that.

  4. Aleda says:

    Your writing is very amusing! Thanks for the levity on a topic in which it is all too easy to get bogged down.

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