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"I ought to call myself an agnostic; but, for all practical purposes, I am an atheist." - Bertrand Russell

Atheism, I find, is often misunderstood. To a significant number of people, it is seen as a firm belief that God does not/cannot exist - meaning it's 'just as bad' as religion itself. This is wrong.

Calling Atheism a belief (or 'belief system' as I made the mistake of referring to it in an earlier post, hoping my poorly judged conversational sarcasm would be picked up and my true meaning made clear) is like calling baldness a hairstyle. Again, Atheism is not a belief in the non-existence of God, it is simply a lack of belief that 'he' does.

There is no faith element in Atheism. 'Belief' in certain things from the non-religious is earned when there is a significant amount of evidence to support them - like evolution, or the 'Big Bang'.

Apply this empirical mindset to the God Hypothesis (in it's many forms) and what you're left with is a very easy to define scientific standpoint on the plausibility of the issue; which is that there is no physical evidence for God and we therefore cannot verify 'his' existence... And people interpret this in different ways (and are free to do so, of course).

One way is to declare oneself an Agnostic. Agnosticism - as a stance - concerns knowledge, and some things, it may state, are, despite utilising all possible scientific methods, intrinsically impossible to address. These things, many would say, are not even worth debating. The fence is the adopted position (a reasonable stance in its own right), and Agnostics are likely to neither believe nor 'disbelieve' in God. But this is of course a spectrum, and self-identifying doubters may choose to find the God Hypothesis likely but not certain; unlikely but not impossible; or just not care either way.

Atheists tend to agree with this. The only major difference between the two philosophies, I find, is the interpretation of the inherent unfalsifiable nature of deities, as well as each individual's motivation... (Read more of this post)

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Tags: Agnosticism, Atheism

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Comment by Carnun on February 22, 2013 at 8:55pm

Bloody hell... I forgot to reply to these comments as they came, and now look! :P

I may as well crack on then.

Michel: Ha, brilliant. I like to think that the original software developers added a teapot for a laugh...

Neal: Isn't there more than one way to be a freethinker? There may be people who self-identify as 'agnostic' precisely because they despise the notion of dogma-driven thinking, but still like to fantasise about some sort of mathematician or physicist 'creator'... Which I admit is a little absurd, but entirely commendable as an alternative to full-blown religious faith. :)

Perhaps I misunderstood though...

Rose: Isn't that what a freethinker is? (As Neal pointed out) :P

Adriana: Agreed. I do enjoy the rare confusion I see in people when they try to work out how I can be an Atheist and a nice guy... It's always fun to challenge people's prejudices :)

Marianne: Thanks. I see no use in simply attacking/ridiculing agnosticism as I feel I must seriously consider the position before I even think to dismiss it... Otherwise I'm not being reasonable even in theory.

Me too. :)

Onyango: I've never really understood why 'pride' is considered a 'sin'... Wear them proud. :)

Michel, Hope, Onyango, and Adriana: Wait, wouldn't someone who doesn't believe in an afterlife just be an Atheist? Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't ideas of 'soul' tend to exist in tandem with some sort of divine being? :P

Comment by Michel on February 17, 2013 at 2:20pm

Adopted!

Very flexible: polyzoist, bizoist, azoist...

Comment by Onyango Makagutu on February 17, 2013 at 1:57pm

I will remember that A. 

Comment by Adriana on February 17, 2013 at 1:51pm

Michel, my husband who loves languages, proposes "monozoist" for those who don't believe in the afterlife, meaning we believe in only one life.

Comment by Hope on February 17, 2013 at 1:38pm

In my humble opinion, agnosticism is almost equal to skepticism.. Being skeptical is the reason you are agnostic..

Freethinkers are independents, and the reason why is because they are skeptical people too!

It's all about skepticism :)

Comment by Hope on February 17, 2013 at 1:34pm

@ Michel ~ Could be a deist right?

Comment by Michel on February 17, 2013 at 9:48am

Is there a term for someone who doesn't believe in afterlife?

Comment by Onyango Makagutu on February 17, 2013 at 5:19am

I alternate between calling myself a free spirit or an Atheist. I like both tags and proudly wear them

Comment by Marianne on February 16, 2013 at 11:49pm

I was very glad to see a sensible point of view considering agnoticism.  And I'm not one, I'm definitely an atheist.

Comment by Adriana on February 16, 2013 at 9:58pm
I like the word atheist, precisely because many people in America shy away from it. I like the word freethinker because it sounds really cool, it has a nice historical ring to it. I like to define myself as secular, and. Humanist. I nev considered myself an agnostic.

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