To the Atheists that This May Pertain To: Please be More Careful

To the Atheists that this may pertain to: please take into consideration when you define yourself, the definitional and historical differences between Atheism — “a.the.ism |ˈāθēˌizəm| noun, the theory or belief that God does not exist” — and Agnosticism — “ag.nos.tic |agˈnästik| noun, a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.”

You’re making yourselves look like idiots if you cannot distinguish between the two. With such a strong urge to see yourself as non-religious, you are crassly merging the two. The clash of their differing epistemologies is deafening and if you’re unaware, it results in some really broken categories. Your fideistic agnosticism, which is really a broken Atheism parading as an empirical agnosticism about the metaphysical, is philosophically laughable. You can’t actually be both and remain internally cogent. For those of you who mock belief, please choose one epistemology or the other before you continue. This is for your own good.

That’ll be all.


10 thoughts on “To the Atheists that This May Pertain To: Please be More Careful

  1. scaryreasoner says:

    agnosticism has to do with what is knowable — agnostics do not think that it is possible to know if any gods exist or not.

    atheism has to do with belief. An atheist lacks belief that any gods exist — subtly different than believing that no gods exist. The set of people who believe that no gods exist is a small subset of the people who lack belief in any gods. Whether a person lacks belief in any gods and that’s it, or lacks belief in any gods AND believes that no gods exist — both kinds of people are atheists. “Weak atheist” and “strong atheist” are terms commonly used to distinguish between the two.

    Atheism and agnosticism are orthogonal. It is perfectly possible to be an agnostic atheist — one who thinks it is not possible to know if any gods exist and who lacks belief in any gods. It is also possible to be an agnostic theist — one who thinks it is not possible to know if any gods exist, but who believes in the existence of one or more gods.

    You can appeal to dictionary to support your view but this will not change the fact that the way knowledgeable atheists use the words is as I have described it.

    It is you who are ignorant of the meanings of the words atheist and agnostic.

    • Goddamn dictionaries! Always getting in the way of truthiness.

      In all seriousness, the point of agnosticism is a negative knowledge, that is to say, we do not know. By the way, this tradition of arguing through reason is quite old in theology. We aren’t new to it. Epistemologically the agnostic says that the empirical method doesn’t work to determine a metaphysical reality, while at the same time finding revelation in religion about a metaphysical reality unpersuasive. They attempt to have no opinion on the matter because they cannot seem to judge whether there is a God or not.

      The atheist it seems more often than not attempts to use an empirical method to determine that there is not God in a metaphysical reality. “There is no evidence in this world that warrants belief in God, and in fact, evidence contrary to what religion calls revelation. Therefore the revelation is false and there is no God.”

      These are contradictory epistemologies. This isn’t splitting hairs, I just used a dictionary because I thought that would work as an adequate lowest common denominator.

  2. impleri says:

    scary, the definition of agnosticism is the lack of belief in any/all gods/goddesses while atheism is the belief that there are no gods. You used these two yourself. However, the belief that there are no gods (i.e. atheism) is a belief in any/all gods (i.e. the opposite of agnosticism). You’re contradicting yourself in order to make a dichotomy between “theism” and “atheism”, but by doing so, you mangle their definitions and remove alternate possibilities. Atheism is not “agnosticism plus nonexistence” but straight up “nonexistence.” If it were to be a process tree, it would look like this: (1) is a belief in gods discernible: no goes to agnosticism (the end), yes goes to (2) is the set of all existing gods/goddesses greater than 0: no goes to atheism (the end), yes goes to (3) is the set of all existing gods/goddesses exactly one: yes goes to monotheism, no goes to polytheism…ad inifinitum. By conflating agnosticism with atheism, the first step there is postponed or erased, typically by those on the second step, in order to create a stronger separation between the two at that level. Unfortunately, belief isn’t limited to a two-party system that gets to be determined by those two parties.

  3. impleri:

    It is the nature of a definition that it can be asserted or customized to fit the context of the discussion.

    We’ve had a Cartesian Plane (scary) and now a process tree (yourslef). Now consider a Venn Diagram: One big circle. Everything inside the circle is a ‘theist’. Everything outside the circle is an atheist. That’s all atheist means. Not being a theist.

    If a theist is defined by the presence of a belief that a deity exists, then to be an atheist is just to be absent of a belief that a deity exists. ‘Atheist’ contains no extra information whatsoever.


    1) Is a belief in God(s) discernable? Yes: Go 2, No Go 7;
    2) Is that belief discerned to be true? Yes: Go 3, No Go 4.
    3) Gnostic Theist; end
    4) Is that belief discerned to be false? Yes: Go 5, No: Go 6;
    5) Gnostic Atheist; end
    6) Gnostic Undecided; end
    7) Do you believe that God(s) existence is true anyway? Yes: Go 8, No: Go9;
    8) Agnostic Theist; end
    9) Do you believe that God{s} existence is false anyway? Yes: Go 10, No: Go 11;
    10) Agnostic Atheist; end
    11) Agnostic Undecided (once again, technically an atheist, but a nice point of refinement); end

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