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What’s the difference between atheism and agnosticism?

What is the difference between atheism and agnosticism?

A recent survey on religion caused a stir when it revealed that many Americans lack some basic knowledge about their own religious faiths. Another provocative finding indicated both atheists and agnostics are surprisingly knowledgable about a variety of religions.

This prompts us to address a commonly-asked question: What is the difference between someone who defines themselves as “atheist” and a professed “agnostic?”

There is a key distinction. An atheist doesn’t believe in a god or divine being. The word originates with the Greek atheos, which is built from the roots a- “without” + theos “a god”.

(You may also be interested in our explanation of what “amen,” one of the key words of faith and prayer, literally means. The answer is here.)

However, an agnostic neither believes nor disbelieves in a god or religious doctrine. Agnostics assert that it’s impossible for human beings to know anything about how the universe was created and if divine beings exist.

Agnosticism was coined by biologist T.H. Huxley and comes from the Greek agnostos, which means “unknown or unknowable.”

To complicate matters, atheists and agnostics are often confused with theists and deists.

A theist is the opposite of an atheist. Theists believe in the existence of a god or gods.

(One place where science and spirituality intersect is the concept of the “God Particle.” Learn what that means, here.)

Like a theist, a deist believes in God. But a deist believes that while God created the universe, natural laws determine how the universe plays out.

Deists are often connected to Isaac Newton’s Clockwork Universe theory, where the universe is compared to a clock that has been wound up and set in motion by God but is governed by the laws of science.

Are there any questions of religion or spirituality you would like us to define or explore? Let us know.

Dayton, Ohio-area building supply companies forced to adapt to changing market.

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News September 25, 2004 By Jaclyn Giovis, Dayton Daily News, Ohio Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News Sep. 25–DAYTON, Ohio — Local building supply companies have seen their industry shrink as volume home builders gain strength in the Dayton area.

Volume home builders often contract with national building supply manufacturers, forcing local companies to diversify their product lines and services and form partnerships with national manufacturers to be a local liaison to the builder. go to web site builders first source

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve had to align ourselves with national manufacturers and co-exist with them in an account, and bring value-added services between our distribution and the national manufacturer,” said Dan Brower, vice president of sales for Nisbet Brower. “Not necessarily all suppliers are set up to offer all those services that are needed.” In order to be successful in a market with growing competition from national manufacturers, the company had to make several changes: expand its footprint to include Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, beef up its marketing, offer labor services to builders for installing various products and be ready to change, Brower said.

“It has started to really whittle down the market for the distributors to play in,” he said. “To be a player, you have to provide these bundled services.” Another Dayton supply company, Builders First Source, 773 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, is in the process of closing its Dayton office and consolidating to the company’s Warren County office, said Kelly Kimbrel, executive vice president for the Miami Valley. site builders first source

The move was not driven by the change in the market. Rather, it was a business decision that allows the company to be more efficient and provide better service, Kimbrel said.

He noted, however, that “our business has been kind of flat, but we plan to grow our business up there” from the Warren County office.

According to David Bohardt, executive director of the Home Builders’ Association of Dayton and the Miami Valley, the level of activity among production and volume builders has had a significant impact on local building suppliers.

“We’ve seen a substantial consolidation of the building supply business,” he said.

204 Comments

  1. Helga -  March 23, 2012 - 9:48 am

    Atheism stands for desbelieve that there’s any God the Creator. It’s just a complete areligiousness and a product of socialist ans anarchist philosophy. Agnosticism stands for a uncertainty whether there’s a God or not. It’s just an admittance that the human intellect can’t comprehend or have access to comprehension of the genesies of this Universe, so there’s no prove for both God’s existance or His ansence.

    Reply
    • Tyler -  July 3, 2014 - 1:32 pm

      So Atheists don’t believe that there is an actual God, creator. What do they believe in? Do they believe in an afterlife or that their spirit or soul does exit the body? Is it just the “god’ factor they don’t believe in, but the afterlife they do? Or is it all of it they don’t believe in. They just believe that everything goes dark and that’s that?

      Reply
  2. hart -  November 20, 2011 - 2:06 am

    In this stage of my life I have many questions and multiple varibles to any such answers; therefor do not know what to classify as my religious believe or lack of. If you know please inform me.

    I believe that there might have been a higher being(s) that may or may not exist today. That did create the galaxies and mankind. This “God” as been known by many names, thus the differ religions, but the same god. So i believe that all religions are right as long as they do no harm to other living beings. I do not believe in miracles but do believe in spirits. History can not be wrong with so many accounts of a god in many different cultures. No one knew of one cultures belief until centuries later when we were able to cross the seas. Also the common factor was many gods though many had different names they still had the same purpose thus Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Pagen, etc…
    I do, however, find reason to believe that our mordern day christian god was just a govermental strategy to gain favor and power over the people that were being conquered. We now call this the law ie.. do not commit murder and so forth.The reason is not only age but the conversion of holidays many of which are orginally from other religions. Also the bible, is it not reasonable to say that Mary got pregant with a man but because she was not married came up with a story to save her form disgrace and may be death? Also that Jesus was just a magician and the people not knowing any better called it miracles. Also the bible states that there are only so many that will go to heaven, i think 777,777, or something like that. If I truely believe that why would I tell everyone. I wouldn’t tell to many people to ensure I get to go on that vacation.
    Also I do not believe that they have any control over the universe. It has been set in motion and now is human nature and science that detrime the outcome of everyday life. And it is selfish to belive we are the god’s choosen with so many other planets and galaxies to explore it stands to reason that there are other beings on other planets. So what if we were the failed attempt?

    Reply
  3. Cameron -  June 12, 2011 - 6:22 pm

    I fail to understand how someone could choose to be an agnostic. They would have to outline their own definition of god (i would assume through some sort of evidence, rather than totally arbitrary) and then not know whether or not they believe in it. Of course if it was totally arbitrary then i could understand questioning its existence.

    Reply
    • Tyler -  July 3, 2014 - 1:35 pm

      No, I think someone who identifies as Agnostic is really just saying that they don’t believe there is a God only because they haven’t come into contact with some sort of proof. However, they’re not severely closed and rigid about that to the point that there not also open to the idea that there could be. Agnostic’s are basically on the fence and freely admitting it. They’re open to the idea that there could be a God and that there also couldn’t be. They simply don’t have enough believable proof on either end to pick a side.

      Reply
      • Amy Lee Faulkner -  August 5, 2014 - 7:58 pm

        That would be an Atheist.

        Reply
        • Courtney -  August 25, 2014 - 7:16 am

          No, Atheists just don’t believe in any God(s). Agnostics are people who do not claim there is or isn’t God(s). I’m an agnostic, but I rarely think about religion (I’m fairly knowledgeable about religions because I’m a curious person…also a large skeptic of anything…but I often don’t think about it to the point that I can often forget it’s called agnosticism) . I just find the debates and feuds of people who have religion and believe in a God or several Gods and those who completely deny it are stupid. It’s not something that can be proven or not (actually there are a lot of things even outside religion that are uncertain).

          Either way, I’m not ashamed to say I don’t know and never will know.

          Reply
  4. Francis -  April 13, 2011 - 12:54 pm

    I am a theist. I believe that God exists. Simple and straight :|

    Reply
  5. Me -  March 9, 2011 - 5:59 pm

    As all the (rather intelligent) hippies say: “In the beginning, MAN created GOD.” (and that is ever so true)

    Reply
  6. Dakota -  January 10, 2011 - 9:23 am

    “God is a gentlemen. He wont mess with you if you don’t want him.” Thank you for that.

    Reply
  7. Dakota -  January 10, 2011 - 9:12 am

    “Yeah, here’s where you’re wrong, Cymnast:

    Agnostics don’t believe in anything. They don’t want to know where we came from. They don’t want to know if there’s any higher being that’s watching over us on a cloud in the sky. They don’t want to hear another person’s opinions on how the universe was created. Oh, but there is one thing agnostics believe in: They believe ignorance is bliss.”

    I’m sorry to say, when I read this comment, I grabbed the scroll bar and headed straight for this box. I am agnostic, and while you may believe because of this, I am so livid. You are right in the respect that people redefine things, but by stating that Agnosticism is the religion of ignorance(no quote intended) I must correct YOU!.

    So “Yeah, here’s where you’re wrong, Mike P.”

    I have researched all of the widely known religions for about 6 years, and originally thought I was an Athiest, but upon the Question “Religion?” when I was creating a Facebook, I saw the answer “Agnostic.” I was baffled by the thought that I may have chosen improperly. I thus dove into reading about this newly-found religious preferrance of mine, and realised it had given me a feeling of self accomplishment I hadn’t had before. Agnosticism is defined as believing in what is, and can be proven with tangible evidence. Can you give me something that proves the existence of something? Wind? Sure, walk outside. Feel it, embrace it. I can walk outside and feel the sun on my face, and the cool breeze. I can see the snow falling and the clouds above. But passed those clouds, I cannot see a man, or woman that is claimed to be there. Show me evidence, that hasn’t been tampered with, that proves he/she/it was there. Do it, Challenge me. I dare you.

    Reply
    • Tyler -  July 3, 2014 - 1:39 pm

      I’m very well connected, but I love and understand Agnostics more then Atheists for the very reason you describe. Agnostics are much more open and less rigid. They’re open to their being something greater out there or not. They just require valid enough proof before they decide. There’s nothing wrong with that. Atheists I’ve found to be too rigid. And as you’ve discovered yourself realizing you identified with being under the wrong label.

      Reply
  8. Hoodaloo -  December 8, 2010 - 6:46 pm

    By the way, I don’t believe in a god or gods. You can call it whatever you want. However, I don’t have any feelings of hatred toward people who do believe in a god or gods, at least not because of that alone (they might just be assholes as well).

    I’m in a position where I would love to be able to believe in a divine being. I want there to be a heaven (sometimes). I want to believe that people around me that I love aren’t just dying and disappearing off the face of the planet; that my relationships with those people are only for the short-term, and have no eternal meaning. I just can’t. I can’t lie to myself no matter how much I want it.

    Moslty, I just have a lot of questions about life here on Earth, and I can’t accept answers unless they are given to me in a certain way – a more scientific way. But even a scientist knows he’ll have to reject old theories, and hypotheses, no matter how right they *seem*, if he ever wants to make progress in understanding the universe. Einstein did it to Newton, and one day someone will do it to Einstein.

    Reply
  9. Hoodaloo -  December 8, 2010 - 6:31 pm

    @Norman
    “Even though -at first glance- atheism appears to reject every notion of God, deep down, it is inconceivable for someone to reject something, unless they have related it to something. We reject something, when we have somehow related it to something else. Hence, a notion of God must pre-exist in our mind, which want to reject.”

    Of course a notion of God pre-exists in our minds. Someone said, when we were young, in religion class, with no idea about anything, “God exists.” There, it’s in our minds. Now we reject it.

    Or perhaps you could relate God in your mind to your parents. When you’re young, they can seem godly. You can, in your mind, extrapolate that there are parents (or one parent) of all human beings. Now we reject it.

    Most importantly, there is no reason to prove God exists. If one were to find out that God exists, there would be no need for faith, and hence no need for God. If, in fact, faith is important.

    Reply
  10. BUTTER -  November 4, 2010 - 6:24 pm

    CORRECTING MYSELF I MEANT TO PUT @Waleno!!! SORRY MY BAD!!!!!!

    Reply
  11. BUTTER -  November 4, 2010 - 6:23 pm

    I’m not sure who your talkin’ to but I’m assuming it’s me!!!
    @LISTEN HONEY I AM WELL AWARE OF WHAT THE CONCEPT OF BELIEF IS!!!!!! AND I WOULD HAVE TO DISAGREE WITH YOU BECAUSE EVERYTHING I SAID WAS SOMETHING FOR YOU OR ANYONE ELSE TO THINK ABOUT!!!!! NOW ONLY PERSON WHO WOULD DISAGREE WITH ME IS SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF BELIEF HONEY!!! AND IF THAT SOUNDS CRAZY TO ANYONE THEN YOU NEED TO HAVE A LONG CONVERSATION WITH GOD BECAUSE SOMETHING IN YOUR SPIRIT ISN’T RIGHT!!!!! AND WHAT I DON’T GET IS WHY YOU WOULD EVEN SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT!!! BUT IF YOU CAN SEE IT’S KIND OF MY POINT!!! BECAUSE IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT THEN YOU REALLY NEED TO PRAY AND START BELIEVING!!!!……. SO UM THAT’S ALL I HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT BECAUSE IM KIND OF TIRED!!!! BUT GOD BLESS YOU AND GOD KEEP YOU UNDER HIS WING BECAUSE YOU OBVIOUSLY DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT I SAID SO IM PRAYING FOR YA!!!
    @(‘_’)@
    ♥(LIYAH)BUTTER♥

    Reply
  12. Waleno -  November 4, 2010 - 12:18 pm

    I am not sure you understand the concept of belief; if you did you would understand that disbelief makes everything you just said sound a little crazy.

    Reply
  13. BUTTER -  November 2, 2010 - 1:14 pm

    @Crowe I just wanted to point out that GOD LOVES everyone even if you don’t believe. GOD’S heart is full of love that mankind has taken for granted!!!!!!! Just because you don’t believe doesn’t mean GOD doesn’t want you, it just means’ GOD will love you even stronger and send someone to you it could be a friend, it could be a family member, it could be someone on here who has commented but who ever it may be GOD will have them sent to you and have them teach you about him try and help you get closer to him! GOD is not here to harm you. GOD is here to protect you and to give you peace and harmony for when your works here on earth is done you will be called up to meet him face to face and he will say “WELL DONE THY GOOD AND FAITHFULL SERVANT WELCOME HOME” see idk about you but I want to meet the king of my life one day! And HELL is a real place it’s not made up it’s not used as a scare tactic it’s real GOD is real the devil is real and I just hope and pray that you soon see the light! And I just want to say I have nothing against you on how you believe, but we are living in the last and final days we need to stop all hatred stop all evil and stop hurting one another and be there for each other. It’s sad that a natural disaster has to happen for us to come together!!! so lets’ stop this and just come together so when we are done we will be called up to study war no more to walk down the streets of gold to that Heavenly place the pearly gates will open and heaven to rejoice and be glad in it! I just want to know one thing though…. when the lord comes back and cracks the sky will you be ready??? And there is a reason in believing in GOD see if you believed you would know that…. see when you believe GOD will open the windows of heaven and pour out so many blessings that No man can receive at once! see the job you have that wasn’t luck that was god the place you live in the food you eat the clothes you wear the water pop juice etc.. you drink that was all given by GOD!! even if it came from someone else it was possible through GOD! it’s not dishonest ’cause when you think about the goodness and the mercy of GOD… in EPHESIANS 3:16 it says this: That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
    (EPHESIANS 3:17)- that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,(EPHESIANS 3:18)- May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth and height;(EPHESIANS 3:19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.(EPHESIANS 3:20)-Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that he ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,(EPHESIANS 3:21)- Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.

    –LIYAH– :-)

    Reply
  14. Waleno -  October 21, 2010 - 8:04 am

    I like you Crowe

    Reply
  15. Crowe -  October 16, 2010 - 1:22 pm

    I hope I’m reitterating things already pointed out here but it needs to be said to the blogger it’s important to know (a)theism and agnosticism aren’t incompatible.

    Theism deals with beliefs.
    Gnosticism deals with knowledge.

    Therefore you get Agnostic theists and agnostic atheists. I think it’s impossible to get gnostic theists (it’s definitely impossible to get gnostic atheists).

    Most atheists are agnostic as well, we don’t believe but we don’t know – we don’t believe often because we feel there’s nothing to know. But we would change our minds if given real evidence for god or gods.

    Atheism (if you allow the definition to include lack of belief, as well as negative belief) or agnosticism are the default position; the null hypothesis. It’s all very well and god for theists to say “there’s no evidence against god” (considering there couldn’t be), this is really a weakness in the concept of god because it makes it an unfalsifiable hypothesis. It means that if you believe in god and are wrong, there’s no way you could know – perhaps therefore it’s best to air on the side of caution and disbelieve until incontrovertible evidence is found? I think so.

    ——–
    The all american girl-next-door!!! on October 7, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Atheist1: I have to admit you did some reading and I was just wondering what is stopping you from becoming a christian? What is so wrong with believing in a God that died for you because he loved you so much and only wants the best for you.
    ——–

    Believing with no reason is intellectual dishonesty, ie. lying, and I thought you christians called that a sin?

    ——–
    God is a gentlemen. He wont mess with you if you don’t want him.
    ——–

    Hell? Or is that just a fabricated scare tactic?

    Reply
  16. --GOD'S ANGEL LIYAH-- -  October 14, 2010 - 7:23 am

    @Ann I wanna say thank you and may god continue to bless you and keep you under his wing!!! And to everyone i hope and pray that GOD keeps you and and blesses you!!! I was always taught to pray for everyone especially the people i come in contact with or have the pleasure talking to so i will continue to pray because GOD loves a cheerful and thankful person!!! :-) ;-)
    –God’S ANGEL LIYAH–

    Reply
    • Thnkr -  July 19, 2014 - 8:45 pm

      Why oh why do bible toting Christians insist on getting on every freaking website I go to to get information and waste all the comment sections with the same blather. All they ever say is Gawd loves yew honey and THAT’S why yew should believe in him and how ken yew nawt believe in him. There’s also always one of them who posts a big long message in all caps because they learned straight from their preacher man that if you scream at the heathens loud enough and long enough they will see it your way.

      Reply
  17. ann -  October 8, 2010 - 4:59 am

    @-GOD’S ANGEL LIYAH-same hir,.. may God bless you always and continue to be His angel!!!

    Reply
  18. Waleno -  October 7, 2010 - 9:22 am

    @Atheist1: I like your posts, they are well written.

    I do not think most people think about their beliefs very deeply (no reference to anyone specific in this discussion); nor do they have the need. It will not likely increase the total good in their life to do so; this is not an Epicurean statement. Few people benefit from it and even though it may eventually decrease suffering in your life to evaluate your beliefs and the impact they may have on your cognitive structure it is not without suffering that you do it. This is not an all inclusive statement. There are people that have had the benefit of a good intellectual upbringing that may have psychologically prepared them for that kind of self introspection and to some degree I think everyone does this a little. But, it is not for everyone to do it to the degree you obviously have. I would not want anyone to feel as though it impacted their worth in any way. Still, if you do it you should do it well and try to remain intellectually honest in the process.

    I do not believe in any religion. I like what a lot of the Eastern beliefs have to say about living and dying and so I read them a good bit. When I was young I was into Christianity. Now it all seems so ridiculous. I would as likely believe in Harry Potter’s universe as in another cosmology. I can find no verification in the supposed power of any religion. For me it can all be clumped together and generalized as magic versus science.

    Still, there seems to be some draw in me toward this kind of thing. Atheist1: Your psychological placeholder explanations are interesting. I have read some similar things in some books by Levi-Strauss, Roy Rappaport and Richard Dawkins but none of them deal specifically with this issue. Perhaps you could recommend some other reading for me that is more along the line of what you are talking about with the mental placeholders.

    I should have been more clear with my reference to Descartes. I was referring to his self imposed four laws of logic and intellectual honesty. He started out well but quickly started breaking his own rules. It seemed very dishonest to me.

    Atheist1: I would enjoy talking with you some more. Is there another way we can communicate more privately?

    Reply
  19. The all american girl-next-door!!! -  October 7, 2010 - 5:57 am

    Atheist1: I have to admit you did some reading and I was just wondering what is stopping you from becoming a christian? What is so wrong with believing in a God that died for you because he loved you so much and only wants the best for you. I mean he is the one who made you not some gene in an animal that formed you.God is a gentlemen. He wont mess with you if you don’t want him. He loves and cares for you very much and just wants you to be happy that’s all.

    Reply
  20. --GOD'S ANGEL LIYAH-- -  October 6, 2010 - 6:18 pm

    I MEANT TO SAY GOD* BLESS YOU AND MAY GOD KEEP YOU!!!:-)
    –GOD’S ANGEL LIYAH–

    Reply
  21. --GOD'S ANGEL LIYAH-- -  October 6, 2010 - 6:17 pm

    I agree with you Ann :-) i have nothing against you for being the way that you are!!!! just wanna say GOOD BLESS YOU AND MAY GOD KEEP YOU!!!
    –GOD’S ANGEL LIYAH–

    Reply
  22. ann -  October 4, 2010 - 9:58 pm

    good thing is that God gave us free will- its us who decides who we’ll believe in
    me, i choose to believe in God and hope for Heaven that i will spend eternity in Heaven with Him,..hope ill see ya’ll there!!!GOD BLESS YOU!!

    Reply
  23. Atheist1 -  October 4, 2010 - 5:21 pm

    @The all amercian-girl-next-door,

    Just for clarification regarding my previous post to you; unicorns, dragons and satyrs are elements of fantasy.

    Fantasy: “3. a mental image, esp. when unreal or fantastic; vision: a nightmare fantasy. 4. Psychology . an imagined or conjured up sequence fulfilling a psychological need; daydream. 5. a hallucination. 6. a supposition based on no solid foundation; visionary idea; illusion: dreams of Utopias and similar fantasies.”

    Fantasy is a genre within literary fiction:

    Fiction: “1. the class of literature comprising works of imaginative narration, esp. in prose form. 6. Law. an allegation that a fact exists that is known not to exist, made by authority of law to bring a case within the operation of a rule of law.”

    Myth typically centers on a hero, entwined within a book/canon of fiction – hope this clarifies things better.

    Reply
    • Tyler -  July 3, 2014 - 1:44 pm

      That’s a typical Atheist response to be 100% rigid and close minded about things they know nothing about.

      Reply
  24. Atheist1 -  October 4, 2010 - 3:36 pm

    @Waleno: “As we followed our beliefs out to their logical conclusions we would realize that we are all wildly inconsistent and full of contradiction.”

    Of course, belief supported by belief is different than belief supported by non-psychological physical evidence/reality.

    Waleno: “If we did do this we would hopefully realize that we are still okay and able to live a decent life.”

    I agree, but those who live a less conflicted life, will have less suffering.

    Waleno: “Most of us do not have the time to do as Descartes supposedly did.”

    Descartes suggested that the only thing he could know with certainty was his imaginative self; all else in our reality (to include this post), is as uncertain as living in the Matrix, where god is the master programmer.

    Of course, I wonder how many people agree with Descartes, that we are nothing but a brain in a vat, dreaming reality into existence by the insistence of a benevolent god programmer – somehow, he chose a good god programmer instead of an evil god programmer – both as unproven as the other of course, he may have been programmed to write his meditations because of the evil god programmer – if one fancies imaginative hypothetical as he did.

    Reply
  25. Atheist1 -  October 4, 2010 - 2:29 pm

    @The all american girl-next-door!!!: “Well a myth is something that people believe is true but cannot prove it. In history we have proved that JESUS CHRIST WAS REAL AND WAS A PERFECT MAN!!!”

    Myth: “a traditional or legendary story, usually concerning some being or hero or event, with or without a determinable basis of fact or a natural explanation, esp. one that is concerned with deities or demigods and explains some practice, rite, or phenomenon of nature.”
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/myth

    (KJV) Numbers 23:22 – “God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.”

    (KJV) Revelation 12:3 – “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.”

    (KJV) Isaiah 13:21 – “But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.”

    An example of myth would be unicorns, dragons, satyrs… et al.

    A determinable basis of fact for an historical figure, would be physical evidence of a body – there exists no physical evidence of a being named Jesus.

    Some suggest that words on paper are evidence worthy of belief – belief, not fact, as fact would be the corroboration between words on paper and the associated physical evidence.

    If words on paper are all we need to elevate belief to the status of fact, then unicorns, satyrs and dragons can be believed with the conviction of fact.

    My point is not to attack your right to belief, I’m tolerant of diverse belief, and we each have a right to believe what we wish within the legal standards set forth by our country.

    As an atheist, I just lack a belief in a god/s; it’s not an attack on theism – that would be anti-theism.

    Where we can find common ground, is that we both don’t believe in the other thousands of gods as worshipped throughout history – the only theological difference between us, if you are a monotheist – is that you believe in one more god than me.

    Reply
  26. Tom Slick -  October 4, 2010 - 1:54 pm

    The Wikipedia has some meaningful explanation of the terminologies. I think it’s pretty nuanced and demonstrates the difficulty of clear-cut categorization.

    Nonetheless, atheism as default position makes sense to me. After all, if a concept that “Wookiee created everything” took foothold in the Western culture, that’s what most of us would be introduced to in the upbringing or as part of the social consciousness. And we’d be debating if Chewbacca is the embodiment of Wookiee, there are many wookiees or none exists at all.

    And to make a point, for those who says the existence of God cannot be disproved, let’s try to disprove that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree.

    If you study the GW and cherry tree story honestly, you’d realize how a folklore transforms into a “proof” and people literally attributes the story to GW in a religious fashion. Just because someone simply wrote or reported it, doesn’t mean it’s real.

    And that’s how a “proof” goes “poof”.

    Reply
  27. The all american girl-next-door!!! -  October 4, 2010 - 5:41 am

    Atheist1: “Of course, if ontological (being/existence) proof only requires a book and faith – then, how does one define “Myth”?”

    The all american-girl-next-door: “Well to answer that it is very simple: you are an atheist right? So you believe there is no God right? Well you are 100% sure there is no God, well i am 100% sure there is one.”
    ————————-
    Thanks for the response. So, how you define myth or distinguish between fantasy and reality is by explaining to me what I believe (because all atheists are the same), and then doing a compare and contrast between your caricature of me and what you personally believe about the concept of god? Just want to make sure I understand – the question still seems unanswered.

    Atheists do not reject the concept of god as a word/concept; but, the concept is totally abstract for us – abstracts are psychological only, and do not represent anything in our shared concrete reality, concepts are intrinsically bound within each of our own psychologies.

    An anti-theist rejects the concept of god, which underpins theism. I am not an anti-theist; because I am humble enough to understand that the concept of god can be provided meaning by the individual, based on their personal values and experiences – albeit, their god concept (psychological understanding) can be no greater than the extent of their values and experience.

    I do not speak for theists, nor am I obligated to accept what it is they value and venerate. I can however, and often do, ask theists for the context of their god concept, e.g., is it a psychological impression only, or does their psychological concept represent a social expression/something in our social/shared common objective reality?

    We are different, because I (an atheist) have not developed/adopted a meaningful psychological context for the abstract concept of god (thus, I lack ontological belief (which requires context) in a god/s), and you believe you have developed a meaningful psychological context for the abstract concept of god.

    Some believers can bring their god into context for society; let’s say some worship a golden calf… I will not be praying to the almighty golden-calf; while there may be ontological proof for the existence of a golden calf, I gain no inner benefit from worshipping the golden-calf and neither does the golden-calf – I don’t reject people who want to bow to a golden-cow, but I am not obligated to see their belief as meaningful for me either – I personally, do not value material worship.

    Some believers adopt the view that terminally abstract concepts are meaningful beyond the mere value of a concept alone, which is a contradiction in terms – terminally abstract concepts serve as mental placeholders, that will never be filled – or given meaning beyond a mental placeholder (one’s personal psychology).

    Those who seem to adopt the terminally abstract concept (worthy of veneration) are those who believe that god as a presupposed ideal is beyond human understanding, thus indefinable and beyond human understanding/context. It seems interesting that a particular religion who worships an entirely abstract concept, can distinguish itself from any other religion who believes the same – the obvious distinction between such religions is cultural (values based), not theological (ontological).

    Some believers adopt the view that the abstract concept of god, can be given particular context based on one’s values and experiences alone, a combination of knowledge & emotion, but such a god conception is a personal one, not one that can be socially expressed for others to valuate/understand.

    I suppose I lack the need to worship undefined concepts (psychological abstractions/mental placeholders); I suppose I lack the need to worship defined personal psychological concepts (my knowledge/emotion); I suppose I lack the need to worship material objects (material addiction).

    Somewhere along the way, believers have/continue to have one (or a combination thereof) those needs – as an atheist, I do not. And, I think it is fair to suggest that there exists irrational needs; for example, phobias are real to the individual, and phobias drive an individual to have special needs.

    I think we could all agree, it is the right for the individual to have a phobia, and even seek to find a means to satisfy their needs, through some routine/behavioral practice as a naturally occurring event brought about through human development.

    But, is it civil to allow someone the express, unlimited, unregulated ability to influence society to develop irrational psychological states, such that particular needs manifest and where only their particular solution is the coping mechanism?

    Some suggest that instilling such psychological drivers that manifest in needs, while providing a single coping mechanism is an act of love… others may suggest that such endeavor is unethical exploitation.

    Again, thanks for the response, we all have natural needs – I believe I have the right to determine which needs are valid and which ones are not, that is not an attack on someone else; it is a defense of my inalienable right to freedom.

    Well a myth is something that people believe is true but cannot prove it. In history we have proved that JESUS CHRIST WAS REAL AND WAS A PERFECT MAN!!!

    Reply
  28. Dethanos -  October 3, 2010 - 7:30 am

    “Dethanos

    When did you start believing as a child? Were you born that way?

    Uh,umm… think that the answer to that might be an indicator of volition”

    Obviously, I was not born believing, but I was indoctrinated at a young enough age that I do not remember a time before I believed.

    I did not choose my beliefs. They were taught to me as fact. Saying I chose them would be like saying I chose to believe that A comes before B.
    ——–

    Non-religious examples:

    I hate Rick Perry. I don’t want to believe that he will win reelection in November. Still, I do believe he will win.

    My friend is a Cowboys fan. He wants to believe they’ll have a winning season. He does not.

    Most people don’t want to believe that their spouse is cheating on them, but when the evidence starts piling up…

    Reply
  29. Maggie -  October 3, 2010 - 12:08 am

    Dear Pat Lisenbee:

    “Imagine” is Buddhist philosphy. We don’t beleive in a God, and hate even to be defined as a religion because, as you have pointed out, religions usually get in the way of being a “brotherhood of man.” Compassion is our religion.

    Signed,

    A fellow John Lennon fan.

    Reply
  30. Athiest1 -  October 1, 2010 - 7:10 pm

    @Jason,

    Jason: “Just as there are some ignorant atheists, there are also believers who have seriously examined and tested their faith.”

    Jason: “I’m not sure one goes about testing their faith. It just happens.”

    Just wondering here, which of your two comments do you have more affinity towards; faith can be tested as demonstrated by believers, or faith can’t be tested – it just happens?

    Let me provide a neutral definition from dictionary.com for the word faith.

    Faith: “confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability”
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith

    I’m not averse to describing my navigation through life in terms of a natural faith; I have faith that gravity will continue to exist while I live, but my natural faith is confidence founded by personal experience and the empirical evidence of physical laws.

    However, there is a difference between natural faith based on empirical evidence/physical laws and supernatural faith.

    If someone were to take the abstract concept of god, and provide particulars to that abstraction to give it contextual meaning, like… God is: an immutable being, which describes a being that is unchangeable, e.g., immortal, then such a particular trait (immutable) would contradict all the physical evidence we currently have about our reality, e.g., change is a constant.

    My natural faith is centered on a personal confidence that the evidence I have gathered throughout my life and the empirical evidence to support my experience – will continue.

    A supernatural faith is centered on a personal confidence that rejects all physical evidence as established through research yesterday as well as right here and now where everything is in some form of transition/change, to include our physical bodies.

    All belief traditions that sprinkle supernatural particulars into the abstract concept of god to give it contextual meaning, must inherently reject all the physical evidence we have and all the experiences we are currently having right here and now in this physical reality.

    Thus, it is why religious/supernatural faith is typically described as the belief in contradiction to evidence or in the absence of evidence – such supernatural faith is required to support the supernatural particulars ascribed to their abstract god concept.

    Jason: “The reality of gravity, for example, introduced itself to me. I don’t believe reality is limited to scientific discovery. So my faith can morph either by challenge from any input, whether scientific data or personal experience. Ideally, faith and discovery form me rather than me building my own faith.”

    Jason, is your reality natural or supernatural?

    And, while you inject natural factors into your explanation, which would imply natural faith – you employ the concept of faith as a metaphor when you suggest that faith forms you – metaphors do not exist in our shared objective reality, metaphor is a speech concept and entirely psychological.

    Your explanation suggests you think nature is forming you – are you a pantheist?

    Pantheist: “the doctrine that god is the transcendent reality of which the material universe and human beings are only manifestations: it involves a denial of God’s personality and expresses a tendency to identify God and nature.
    2. any religious belief or philosophical doctrine that identifies God with the universe.”
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pantheist

    I’ll respond to the rest of your post in a short while, and leave you to consider your position in terms of why you are a pantheist or why you disagree with pantheism.

    If you are a pantheist, then the word God and Nature are synonyms, and it seems that the only advantage for using the word God, is for political maneuver around supernatural theists – in my opinion.

    Reply
  31. Waleno -  October 1, 2010 - 5:59 pm

    Some of this is interesting speculation. Some is cheap sophistry.

    I do not believe in unicorns. There is no negative implication in this statement implying that I do in fact believe in unicorns simply because I have a concept of unicorns. You probably do not believe in unicorns either….. or do you?

    Belief and/or disbelief in metaphysical concepts and the further belief that you can prove yourself in argument are exercises in vanity; read Dale Carnegie. Up to the point where this was turned into a game of intellectual one-up-man-ship the discussion was nice and without pretense.

    It does not really matter what another person thinks about what I believe. The truth is that almost everyone writing here would seriously think all the rest were loony if we were to define our beliefs in clear terms for everyone to understand. Some of us may even lack the vocabulary. Others of us could not be so honest with ourselves. As we followed our beliefs out to their logical conclusions we would realize that we are all wildly inconsistent and full of contradiction. If we did do this we would hopefully realize that we are still okay and able to live a decent life. Most of us do not have the time to do as Descartes supposedly did.

    Reply
  32. Atheist1 -  October 1, 2010 - 3:04 pm

    Atheist1: “Of course, if ontological (being/existence) proof only requires a book and faith – then, how does one define “Myth”?”

    The all american-girl-next-door: “Well to answer that it is very simple: you are an atheist right? So you believe there is no God right? Well you are 100% sure there is no God, well i am 100% sure there is one.”
    ————————-
    Thanks for the response. So, how you define myth or distinguish between fantasy and reality is by explaining to me what I believe (because all atheists are the same), and then doing a compare and contrast between your caricature of me and what you personally believe about the concept of god? Just want to make sure I understand – the question still seems unanswered.

    Atheists do not reject the concept of god as a word/concept; but, the concept is totally abstract for us – abstracts are psychological only, and do not represent anything in our shared concrete reality, concepts are intrinsically bound within each of our own psychologies.

    An anti-theist rejects the concept of god, which underpins theism. I am not an anti-theist; because I am humble enough to understand that the concept of god can be provided meaning by the individual, based on their personal values and experiences – albeit, their god concept (psychological understanding) can be no greater than the extent of their values and experience.

    I do not speak for theists, nor am I obligated to accept what it is they value and venerate. I can however, and often do, ask theists for the context of their god concept, e.g., is it a psychological impression only, or does their psychological concept represent a social expression/something in our social/shared common objective reality?

    We are different, because I (an atheist) have not developed/adopted a meaningful psychological context for the abstract concept of god (thus, I lack ontological belief (which requires context) in a god/s), and you believe you have developed a meaningful psychological context for the abstract concept of god.

    Some believers can bring their god into context for society; let’s say some worship a golden calf… I will not be praying to the almighty golden-calf; while there may be ontological proof for the existence of a golden calf, I gain no inner benefit from worshipping the golden-calf and neither does the golden-calf – I don’t reject people who want to bow to a golden-cow, but I am not obligated to see their belief as meaningful for me either – I personally, do not value material worship.

    Some believers adopt the view that terminally abstract concepts are meaningful beyond the mere value of a concept alone, which is a contradiction in terms – terminally abstract concepts serve as mental placeholders, that will never be filled – or given meaning beyond a mental placeholder (one’s personal psychology).

    Those who seem to adopt the terminally abstract concept (worthy of veneration) are those who believe that god as a presupposed ideal is beyond human understanding, thus indefinable and beyond human understanding/context. It seems interesting that a particular religion who worships an entirely abstract concept, can distinguish itself from any other religion who believes the same – the obvious distinction between such religions is cultural (values based), not theological (ontological).

    Some believers adopt the view that the abstract concept of god, can be given particular context based on one’s values and experiences alone, a combination of knowledge & emotion, but such a god conception is a personal one, not one that can be socially expressed for others to valuate/understand.

    I suppose I lack the need to worship undefined concepts (psychological abstractions/mental placeholders); I suppose I lack the need to worship defined personal psychological concepts (my knowledge/emotion); I suppose I lack the need to worship material objects (material addiction).

    Somewhere along the way, believers have/continue to have one (or a combination thereof) those needs – as an atheist, I do not. And, I think it is fair to suggest that there exists irrational needs; for example, phobias are real to the individual, and phobias drive an individual to have special needs.

    I think we could all agree, it is the right for the individual to have a phobia, and even seek to find a means to satisfy their needs, through some routine/behavioral practice as a naturally occurring event brought about through human development.

    But, is it civil to allow someone the express, unlimited, unregulated ability to influence society to develop irrational psychological states, such that particular needs manifest and where only their particular solution is the coping mechanism?

    Some suggest that instilling such psychological drivers that manifest in needs, while providing a single coping mechanism is an act of love… others may suggest that such endeavor is unethical exploitation.

    Again, thanks for the response, we all have natural needs – I believe I have the right to determine which needs are valid and which ones are not, that is not an attack on someone else; it is a defense of my inalienable right to freedom.

    Reply
  33. dT -  October 1, 2010 - 1:45 pm

    Dethanos

    When did you start believing as a child? Were you born that way?

    Uh,umm… think that the answer to that might be an indicator of volition

    Reply
    • Tyler -  July 3, 2014 - 1:46 pm

      Your born connected and 100% psychic and in tune. It’s your peers, your surroundings that cement you into the physical world that causes blocks preventing any input beyond what you’ve been taught.

      Reply
  34. nerd -  October 1, 2010 - 12:44 pm

    um how to reply lol @cathlic anyway stephen hawking proovd that there is no god hes like the smartest guy on earth

    Reply
  35. Kevin -  October 1, 2010 - 11:08 am

    @Ginny does bring up a good point, that there is a group called the Gnostics. This group shouldn’t be confused with gnostics in general though. This is exactly how there is a political party in America called Independent, even though many people identify as independents and have nothing to do with this political party.

    @Kyle: my copy of The Language of God is littered with notes in the margins. :) In my opinion, several of Collins’ conclusions are laugh-worthy, and he should really know better. Most of the book is good though, since he spends a lot of time saying why our current scientific theories are so powerful, and he probably pisses off more Protestants than atheists if they’ve read the book. When he starts talking about theology, though, his logic just shuts down.

    Reply
  36. Bee -  October 1, 2010 - 10:41 am

    I just realized that there is a cure for atheists like myself. I’m pretty sure doctors can induce temporal lobe seizures. The only thing left now is for religious people to convince us that we are sick.

    Reply
  37. Bee -  October 1, 2010 - 10:35 am

    @dT The previous post talking about the God gene actually reveals the source of this gene. It is an evolutionary adaptation. Also, consider brain seizures. People that have brain seizures in their temporal lobes (they sometimes call them electric storms) come out of the seizure with a new understanding of the world. They usually either believe they are god, or believe they perfectly understand God. Now, you don’t find it in the least peculiar that a brain malady can make one believe in god? It would be funny to think about but we might be able to invent a medicine to cure belief. Please don’t take this the wrong way, I am not implying that your belief in god is a disease. Evolutionarily speaking… quite the opposite.

    Reply
  38. Saf -  October 1, 2010 - 10:26 am

    Also @ Ray-

    I should have prefaced that last comment by letting you know that I’m already intimately familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh, Torah, Egyptian and (to a lesser extent Babylonian) mythology. I “get” your parallels (Adam Geb, Enki Cainan, Noah Utnapishtim, et cetera), and while I find your assertions pretty interesting, I don’t follow how you arrived at them (and the evasive old “Do your own research and if you arrive at any conclusion other than mine, then you did it incorrectly” jive doesn’t impress me).

    So if you care to enlighten me, I’m all ears — but if you insist on adopting the “Don’t dare challenge my worldview because I read books and stuff” demeanor, then expect to be ridiculed.

    ~Saf

    Reply
  39. Dethanos -  October 1, 2010 - 10:18 am

    “Specific to the charges against atheists of ramming their opinions down others’ throats: Science teachers at the collegiate level who lose their jobs and get blacklisted for even SUGGESTING the POSSIBILITY of Intelligent Design. If that is NOT the result of atheistic DOGMA, I don’t know what is!”

    Intelligent design is a religious/philosophical concept and it has no place in any science class.

    Anyone who would introduce such a silly notion into a collegiate level science course deserves to be blacklisted.

    Reply
  40. Dethanos -  October 1, 2010 - 9:59 am

    Belief is not a choice.

    When I turned away from the religion of my childhood, I didn’t choose to stop believing. I came to the realization that I had already stopped believing.

    Today, I could no more choose to believe in that religion than I could choose to believe that I can fly by flapping my arms.

    Reply
  41. Saf -  October 1, 2010 - 7:33 am

    @Ray
    I’d be curious to hear about why your interpretation is the “correct” one.

    @Parch
    I do not refute these claims. Although I only really come across as pretentious on the internet — I’m not so bad in person.

    Reply
  42. dT -  October 1, 2010 - 7:08 am

    First dentistry was painless;
    Then bicycles were chainless
    And carriages were horseless
    And many laws, enforceless.
    Next, cookery was fireless,
    Telegraphy was wireless,
    Cigars were nicotineless
    And coffee, caffeineless.
    Soon oranges were seedless,
    The putting green was weedless,
    The college boy hatless,
    The proper diet, fatless,
    Now motor roads are dustless,
    The latest steel is rustless,
    Our tennis courts are sodless,
    Our new religions, godless.

    - Arthur Guiterman

    Reply
  43. Liam -  October 1, 2010 - 6:40 am

    Right, to all you believers in ‘God’, why is it, if he loves you so much he gives you the choice to do bad things, or to sin? And if there really is a ‘God’, do you think he really cares so much about our insignificant lives? After all if he/she/it has the power to make worlds, what makes you so sure he’s/she’s/it’s still even watching over you, and listening to your prayers? I think there could be two answers to that.. Maybe he’s/she’s/it’s at the other end of the Universe watching over another world he’s/she’s/it’s created, or my favourite answer.. HE’S/SHE’S/IT’S A LOAD OF CRAP!
    Come on seriously. ‘God’ made us? ‘God’ is an escape for people who are scared to die, scared to realise that that once you’re gone, you’re gone. After all we’re just another type of animal on earth.. If there is such thing as heaven, then do animals go there aswell? Why do we think we’re the most important things on this planet? Why are there dinosaur bones? Apparently ‘God’ put them here to test your belief..

    Its complete nonsense!

    Reply
  44. liyah -  October 1, 2010 - 6:39 am

    OKAY IMA PUT IT TO YA LIKE THIS GOD DID THIS AND IF YOU DONT BELIEVE I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU I HOPE GOD HAS MERCY ON YOUR SOUL! THERE IS NONE OF THIS BIG BANG THEROY, SCIENTOLOGY ETC… BUT THE BIBLE SAYS ” THAT GOD COMES BACK ALL KNEES WILL BOW AND EVREY TOUNG SHALL CONFESS THAT JESUS IS LORD” SO I FEEL REALLY SORRY FOR WHO SO EVER DOSEN’T BELIEVE THAT GOD MADE THIS AND ITS GOD WHO CAN BREAK THIS NOT (NO DISRESPECT TO ANY ONE BUT I HAVE TO SAY THIS!) BUDDA, ALAI(<– HOW EVER YOU SPELL IT!) NOT NONE OF THEM ITS GOD! I MEAN IM NOT A CERTIAN RELIGION BECAUSE HOW DO I KNOW IF BEING A CHRISTIAN IS WHAT GOD WANTS IM NOT SAYING I DONT BELIEVE IN HIM IM JUST SAYING THAT I DON'T WANT TO DISAPPOINT GOD AT ALL. AND NOW ITS NOT EVEN SAFE TO GO TO ALOT OF CURCHS BUT MY MOTHER ALWAYS TAUGHT ME SOMETHIGN EVEN THOUGH YOUR AT CHURCH DONT PUT ANYTHING PAST ANYBODY! AND TO BEWARE OF FALSE PROFITS!!! THATS ALL I WANT TO SAY!!!! HAD TO GET THAT OFF MY CHEST!!! :-) :-) :-):-)
    LIYAH♥♥

    Reply
  45. Atheist1 -  October 1, 2010 - 6:07 am

    @Jeff: “Wow what a response… a lot of opinions … although only one truth…”

    Egocentrism:
    1. having or regarding the self or the individual as the center of all things: an egocentric philosophy that ignores social causes.
    2. having little or no regard for interests, beliefs, or attitudes other than one’s own; self-centered: an egocentric person; egocentric demands upon the time and patience of others.

    There is only one truth to an egocentric individual, who is incapable of understanding the concept of other minds that wield personal truth(s) equally.

    Not sure there’s a huge distinction between the concepts of egocentrism and narcissism.

    Personal truths are subjective and qualitative (non-falsifiable); social truths are objective and quantitative (facts). So, it would be more accurate for you to say, there is only one truth – it’s the assessment you’ve made of your personal opinion, yet, your opinion is not a fact transferable to society.

    Reply
  46. dT -  October 1, 2010 - 5:27 am

    So man’s predisposition with God is a genetic malady? Oh!, so that’s what driving the scientist in their benevolent quest to complete the mapping sequence of DNA; to rid us of this “god” gene.

    Just one question: Who put it there?

    Perhaps, that the question which deserves all of our energy

    Reply
  47. The allamerican girl-next-door!!! -  October 1, 2010 - 5:24 am

    Atheist1:Of course, if ontological (being/existence) proof only requires a book and faith – then, how does one define “Myth”?

    Well to answer that it is very simple: you are an atheist right? So you believe there is no God right? Well you are 100% sure there is no God, well i am 100% sure there is one.

    Reply
  48. Jason -  October 1, 2010 - 5:13 am

    @Atheist1: I’m not sure one goes about testing their faith. It just happens. The reality of gravity, for example, introduced itself to me. I don’t believe reality is limited to scientific discovery. So my faith can morph either by challenge from any input, whether scientific data or personal experience. Ideally, faith and discovery form me rather than me building my own faith.

    Yet, I do feel like I own my faith in a way. I can certainly take responsibility for it. When I was a child, I believed whatever my parents taught me and accepted their traditions and values. When I was a teenager, I rejected or tried to ignore almost everything they taught me. When I became an adult, I began to realize an adaptive blend of what I’d been taught. My faith is still morphing.

    I don’t think your equation [> Faith = > Psychological Immunity to Reality] is correct. In my own life, I’ve let go of a lot of beliefs (including spiritual ones) with which I started out. But some beliefs have become more real, whether tested by scientific discoveries or questioned by Freudian psychology or whatever. Perhaps one equation could look like: [> faith-questioning by Reality/realities = > faith + doubt + wisdom] or maybe: [> struggle = > orthodoxy + orthopraxy + orthopathy]

    I can’t prove to you that my wife loves me, but I believe she does without a second-guess. I believe God loves the world and I think this is in keeping with reality because we *live*. There is a foundation for life not only in the inexplicable material existence of stuff in space, but in the order of things like 24-hour days, weather patterns, and the ability of the earth to produce as much food as we need, for example. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for me. Reality moves me on a quest that sheds both faith and doubt.

    To engage with your response to @Ginny, where you said, “Concepts that lack context, are without contextual meaning, e.g., arbitrary and meaningless . . . Thus, if one can neither prove nor disprove the concept of god – it’s because the concept is meaningless, and confined within one’s imagination.”

    What is the context that gives the concept of Reality-as-a-whole meaning? If there is no Creator/Spirit/Lover, wouldn’t that mean we live in a meaningless, arbitrary Universe (or Multiverse)?

    And isn’t imagination how Edison, the Wright bros, and Einstein discovered reality (albeit scientifically measurable reality)? It seems to me a concept like the Theory of Relativity can be confined to one man’s imagination and at the same time also be true of reality. It’s worth the search for something like this even if it takes your whole lifetime to find it. If this is true of a scientific theory, how much more so of an eternal, loving God.

    I believe in God, not because of scientific persuasion, but because there’s been no scientific dissuasion. Maybe you should checkout where a lot of scientists chime in about their faith or http://www.experimentltheology.blogspot.com where a psychologist tests the psychology of theology.

    Reply
  49. The allamerican girl-next-door!!! -  October 1, 2010 - 4:58 am

    HIGILL THAT IS RUDE AND UNCALLED FOR!!!!! Also we might share that much but think about this, if you shared 98% of a gene with a dog does it mean you were once a dog??? UH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you want to argue about things, bring it on i may be a christian but i love to fight!!!!!!

    Reply
  50. Atheist1 -  September 30, 2010 - 9:52 pm

    @Ginny: “You cannot prove or disprove the existence of a god.”

    Concepts like god, when provided context – can be proven or disproven.

    Concepts that lack context, are without contextual meaning, e.g., arbitrary and meaningless.

    Thus, if one can neither prove nor disprove the concept of god – it’s because the concept is meaningless, and confined within one’s imagination.

    I wonder if theists understand that when presenting a prove/disprove defense for belief, they are actually declaring their concept (god) to be meaningless and/or imaginary.

    Reply
  51. Atheist1 -  September 30, 2010 - 9:25 pm

    @Jason: “Just as there are some ignorant atheists, there are also believers who have seriously examined and tested their faith.”

    Jason, just curious – how does one go about testing faith?

    It takes a willed decision to form a belief by rejecting known evidence or believe in the absence of evidence, e.g., faith – does the amount of evidence a person rejects elevate their faith status/maturity?

    If so, is the equation correct?
    > Faith = > Psychological Immunity to Reality

    Reply
  52. Athiest1 -  September 30, 2010 - 8:54 pm

    @saf: “Good lord, leave those poor quotation marks alone already!”

    “Why”?

    Reply
  53. catherine -  September 30, 2010 - 8:06 pm

    @ nerd-
    science does not prove that. im catholic and id like you to try and tell me how exactly science proves that. Please, id honestly like to try an see your point of view

    Reply
  54. Jeff -  September 30, 2010 - 7:32 pm

    Wow what a response… a lot of opinions … although only one truth…

    Reply
  55. Kyle -  September 30, 2010 - 6:55 pm

    I highly recommend the book “The Language of God” by Francis Collins, former atheist. It really helped me understand how science and religion can co-exist. At least check it out.

    Reply
  56. nerd -  September 30, 2010 - 6:46 pm

    good post i am atheist sciense proved that no god

    Reply
  57. April -  September 30, 2010 - 5:15 pm

    The book Why God Won’t Go Away could probably clear a lot up for all of you. It shows a mechanism in the brain that essentially serves the function of looking for a god. My interpretation of this, from a psychological perspective, is that it is an adaptive function to help maintain social groups. In the book, it is discovered that cats’ “God” mechanism is self-reflective, while a dog’s influences it to look outward. The nature of cats is to be isolationist and self-reliant; dogs thrive best in social groups. It is adaptive for dogs to look outside themselves for a “God” or “leader” just as it is adaptive for cats to consider themselves the highest order, so to speak.

    Reply
  58. Hagill -  September 30, 2010 - 4:37 pm

    All American girl next door……a chimpanzee and a modern human share 96% of the same genes – simple.
    Look up evolution in any school science book…chimps separated a couple of million years ago. Your granny (hopefully) more recently.

    Reply
  59. Jason -  September 30, 2010 - 4:22 pm

    Atheists, agnostics, and religious people all have the potential for sarcasm and arrogance it seems.

    But there are varieties of each. Just as there are some ignorant atheists, there are also believers who have seriously examined and tested their faith. Who’s to say which category is the most open-minded or sincere or intelligent? There are so many variables and varieties.

    Reply
  60. Bee -  September 30, 2010 - 3:39 pm

    I’m thinking of Norman and Meranada and other Christians that wrote posts with proofs they have for Christianity. We know what we will find after death, exactly what we had before we were born. A famous Romanian poet wrote “life is but a mere break between two eternities.” You will go where you came from and nobody is waiting for you there. I’m not trying to be mean, but this is a proof of some sort (at least as good as they get).

    Reply
  61. Ginny -  September 30, 2010 - 3:20 pm

    Interesting discussion but I’m not sure how enlightening. I am an agnostic and I arrived at that conclusion at this time in my life after a lifetime of studying, reading, attending church (which I do–Unitarian), and thinking. But there are a lot of us (and even a name for us but I don’t remember it–Atlantic magazine article)–for those of us who don’t think about it much and don’t really care too much.
    You cannot prove or disprove the existence of a god.
    The Gnostics (I have read quite a bit about them; they’re fascinating) are an entirely different group. They were among the earliest “believers” in Jesus’ wake, but they never believed Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected. They believed in Jesus’ principles and belifed. They also met in each other’s homes and women were equal with men in leading services. There’s much more. Elaine Pagels’ books are good. In some ways, I think this early group was closer to the truth than the “christians” were, although they had a really odd and demonic view of the world. But they also show that in the years after Jesus died, several groups vied for power and claimed absolute authority.
    No way could Gnostics ever become a “true faith.” They didn’t care about money or power and establishing theirs as the correct faith.

    Reply
  62. Don -  September 30, 2010 - 2:53 pm

    I think the comment by #1 Skillet fan is the perfect example of how religions are able to increase their membership.
    How about this for belief, we should all do the right thing just because it is the right thing to do.
    That’s my belief, call it what you will however I did enjoy the article and love the comments.

    Reply
  63. Don -  September 30, 2010 - 2:48 pm

    #1 Skillet fan:

    Good luck with that one! I hope it works out for you, you know, believing only because your scared of the consequences of not believing. I don’t really think that is true belief.
    I am a self-described Agnostic and I must be very “soft” because I will jump on the chance to be proven that there is a God and that I get to heaven and it is totally sweet, et c. I am the doubting-Thomas of the New Testament, he wouldn’t believe until he touched Jesus’ hand and saw & felt the evidence (not to say he wasn’t a schyzophrenic or delusional or that it was just a made up story). All that being said, God would be cool and living forever in pure happiness would be awesome, although pretty boring after a few million years I would think. Maybe in heaven God shakes things up with a calamity here and there like we get here on earth, but just not so many and not so bad.
    I believe that we all believe in something that we feel must be believed!

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  64. World Traveler -  September 30, 2010 - 2:36 pm

    And what about gnomenostics – people who don’t believe in gnomes. That’s just wrong!

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  65. Diane -  September 30, 2010 - 2:29 pm

    Hmmm……all interesting points of view. I personally believe my life is changed by an inner working of Gods’ Holy Spirit and I didn’t understand that until, it happened. I was not raised to believe anything but that there was a power greater than me who loved me unconditionally. Not bad, I would think. I have many questions and doubts, I don’t think that negates my higher power loving me. I do wonder where people go when they’re despondent and don’t have a belief system, again, just my personal thoughts. Blessings on all.

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  66. Aaron -  September 30, 2010 - 2:21 pm

    Nevermind, it has appeared from nothingness, as have we. I’ll leave you to it then. :)

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  67. Aaron -  September 30, 2010 - 2:20 pm

    Does anyone know where my previous comment went? That angers me more than the suppositions of any ideologue could.

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  68. asdf -  September 30, 2010 - 2:05 pm

    @isis

    You’re correct. Deists don’t believe in the “same” God as the Abrahamic religions, as those religions involve miracles and the idea of God watching over us.
    A deist thinks God made the universe and its “rules”, and he either left or decided to never interact with it. He didn’t stay around to create a demi-god son or flood planets.

    It’s still a form of faith I suppose, but a very weak one.

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  69. AvidReader -  September 30, 2010 - 2:05 pm

    Don’t feel bad Dictionary.com! I found it a very interesting article :)

    Reply
  70. Danielle -  September 30, 2010 - 1:59 pm

    @Norman

    You claim that atheists tend to be prejudiced, and yet your OWN perception of atheists is stereotyped. I am not saying that ignorant, prejudiced atheists do not exist, but many of us tend to be quite open-minded, which is why we deviate from the mainstream belief. Many of us have experienced religious discrimination, know how it hurts, and do not discriminate against others. On the other hand, if your first impression to an atheist is that YOU are ignorant and close-minded, they may lose the motivation of explaining themselves to you, and that can make them seem like they cannot explain themselves at all.
    Also, there is the logic of not believing in “God” because there is no evidence on either side of the arguement. Since we cannot know for sure, there is no sense in accepting something new. For example, if somebody claimed that he could pinpoint the exact coordinates of a black hole trillions of light years away, but he had no evidence, why should you believe him? He obviously doesn’t know know how he found that information, or he would tell you, and nobody else can give it to you. And thus, you may logically come to the conclusion that he did it for publicity and followers (because people will always find some reason to believe him and blindly follow him).
    Many atheists have come to this conclusion (or a similiar one) about many religions. There is no evidence and thus no reason to believe it. And the end result is the absence of a religious belief at all.
    Now you have an atheist’s logic.

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  71. jude -  September 30, 2010 - 1:56 pm

    @alice
    i totally agree

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  72. Ulises -  September 30, 2010 - 1:54 pm

    If you look up theism on dictionary.com the definition you get is “belief in a god or gods”. Therefore the definition being used in this article for atheist is incorrect. If the prefix a means without and theism means belief in god or gods then the correct definition of atheism is “without belief in god or gods. This definition is definitely distinct from the one given in this article which is given as: “belief that there are no gods or god.” Some writers here need to use their own website for definitions.

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  73. Guest -  September 30, 2010 - 1:50 pm

    Who would have thought that a blog about atheism and agnosticism would be so supercharged?

    Reply
  74. Parch -  September 30, 2010 - 1:23 pm

    @Saf
    You’re a pretentious troll, and an esotericist. Just thought you might like to know.

    Reply
  75. Charles Transue -  September 30, 2010 - 1:17 pm

    This is for Norman and all others who seem to believe that rational thinking is the “be-all, end-all” of the process of examining existence itself.

    First, a quote from Carl Sagan: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

    Second, consider that the very argument that consciousness cannot exist without existence is bogus at best, and lacking in imagination at the least. That argument is based on the notion that what can be observed as having physical properties – it can be detected with one or more of the five physical senses (either “naked” or with the help of detecting instruments) – is all that can be verified and, as such, all that EXISTS. Apparently you haven’t been paying attention to the LAST HUNDRED YEARS of the ever-developing field of quantum physics. Seeing what appear to be particle collisions on photographic plates may be evidence that they exist, but it does NOT prove that they REMAIN in existence. If the universe is essentially energy that can be neatly divided into one of two categories (physical or potential, because nothing is ever destroyed – it only changes form or goes back to its potential state) how can you assume that you know ALL states of existence or even all states of consciousness? Take Carl Sagan’s quote as advice: Proof of something is NOT DISproof of another thing.

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  76. Charles Transue -  September 30, 2010 - 12:59 pm

    All belief systems are, in essence, ways for people to cope with what is ultimately unknowable – including that of atheists. Atheists assume there is no God because it’s an easy out – just as they claim that the belief of theists that God created everything is an easy out. Neither belief system (and they are BOTH belief systems – don’t kid yourselves…there is no absolute “proof” for or against Intelligent Design)is more inclined to promote or deny the inestimable value of both critical thinking and imagination, even though some atheists seem bent on concluding (and ramming this opinion down the throats of others)that belief in God stunts the desire to examine and explore our deeply mysterious existence. Specific to the charges against atheists of ramming their opinions down others’ throats: Science teachers at the collegiate level who lose their jobs and get blacklisted for even SUGGESTING the POSSIBILITY of Intelligent Design. If that is NOT the result of atheistic DOGMA, I don’t know what is!

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  77. progress -  September 30, 2010 - 12:59 pm

    thanks for making that survey and thereafter making me more KNOWLEDGEABLE

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  78. DD -  September 30, 2010 - 12:58 pm

    Agnostic says “I don’t know if God exists”.
    Athesist says, “no, God doesn’t exist.”

    Reply
  79. Saf -  September 30, 2010 - 12:50 pm

    @Atheist1

    Good lord, leave those poor quotation marks alone already!

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  80. Neal -  September 30, 2010 - 12:32 pm

    Knowing that many non-believers don’t believe because they’ve never “seen” is actually a faith builder for the Christian because the scriptures tell us that those who have seen Jesus believe, but those who live and believe who have not seen are even more blessed.
    You know, if unbelievers are right, then we who believe have nothing really to lose. BUT, if we believers are right, and God exists, and those who’ve taken Jesus as Savior are correct,…the unbeliever loses EVERYTHING for ever and ever and ever!

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  81. Atheist1 -  September 30, 2010 - 12:32 pm

    @The all american girl next door: “Well then people say where is your proof that he is real? To answer that question it’s very simple the BIBLE and faith.”

    Of course, if ontological (being/existence) proof only requires a book and faith – then, how does one define “Myth”?

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  82. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  September 30, 2010 - 12:23 pm

    There are two, literal meanings to Scripture: The misinterpreted-literal and the correctly-interpreted-literal, meanings–

    FOR EXAMPLE: ‘Cain went down to the bottom of the mountain’.

    THE LITERAL (MIS)INTERPRETATION: Cain descended from the mountain top to the base of the mountain.

    (But, mountain top, was not in the original….)

    THE LITERAL (CORRECT) INTERPRETATION: Cain traveled east, 300 miles, and as he approached– the mountain appeared (literally) to loom upward ever higher until it was a mile above him and he was at the bottom.

    (That is, what he did– He was sent east: You were told so, but you did not get 2+2=4 because you say you were given only 2+2 and kept 2+2=2+2: because you buried your talent so that it did not increase … Parables are for inspiring you to think, re-think, re-re-think, not repeat.)

    Which, literal interpretation is correct-? You know what you’ve been fed by the self-styled religious literalists, and by spiritualists who don’t have the correct-literal-interpretation so they give you something else, to comfort your thought until you pass away (happily spiritualized). Are they doing you harm–? Jesus said, “Before Abraham was…(and ducked out to avoid the harm of the stone-slingers).” Do you, know what Jesus meant about “before Abraham was,” Do you have a correct-literal-interpretation?

    (Here I am telling you what’s-what, and you still complain that nobody else said it first … That’s weird: Why, do you think the first-lineage gods should tell you what they’re doing…They didn’t even tell Cain’s wife, and she was second-lineage: She had to invent in her own thought what the first-lineage was doing…ergo you being-believers of what the gods tell you, pro or con or neutral, believe Cain’s wife as surely as you believe Cain … REALLY: Did you know that Cain and Abel were twins 8-years apart and second-lineage Abel killed first-lineage Cain because he thought Cain’s-wife-to-be should become his because she was second-lineage-not-first … so Jehovah THEN PUT THE MARK of first-lineage on Abel and said, ‘You are now the [living] firstborn: the new Cain….’ That’s what the Bible says literally directly, and the Egyptian agrees exactly…if you know how to correctly interpret the literal meaning.)

    Ray.

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  83. The guy who asks alot of questions. -  September 30, 2010 - 12:09 pm

    You do realize that Atheism is pointless right?
    If you’ve ever been to a baseball game or other large event, you’ve probably recited the National anthem.
    “One nation, under God…”

    If you’ve ever used US dollars to purchase something you’ve probably seen:
    “In God we trust”

    Statistically, the odds of the universe forming itself out of nothing is 1 in 100 trillion, That’s the same chance there is of surviving a direct hit from a neuclear warhead.

    What happens when you die?

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  84. Aaron -  September 30, 2010 - 12:02 pm

    Atheists, Agnostics, De Facto Atheists, Christians, Muslims, Evolutionists, and the thousands of other faiths — all of these cannot prove their “assertions”.

    Everyone “asserts” (one could as easily exchange the words faith, or belief, for assertion) based on suppositions which are reached through some deficient form of reasoning. Make no mistake, the foundation of All is supposition.

    No one can prove the existence of God. No one can disprove the existence of God. No one can prove that you cannot know if there is a God or is not a God. You are all faithful in your beliefs and fail miserably at being creatures of pure ratiocination. As Chesterton said, Holmes was an irrational person’s ideal of what a logician (should there be one in existence) should be. Reasoning people are ridiculously idealistic. Idealistic people are ridiculously reasoning there ideals.

    All perceptions, lack of perceptions, and perceptions perceiving nothing as being perceptible are wondrously irrational.

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  85. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  September 30, 2010 - 11:54 am

    The AGNOSTIC looks at the overcast sky and says, ‘No man can tell whether it is day or night, because we cannot see the sun…’. [*]

    The ATHEIST looks at the overcast sky and says, ‘There is no sungod…Ergo there is no reason to believe in any god…’.

    The NATURAL SCIENTIST (believes in his own shadow) looks at the overcast sky and says, ‘All is caused by the interplay of natural forces without intelligence…’.

    GOD looks at the overcast sky and says, ‘Looks like Venus. Are you sure your guidance-computer got the right planet…?’ So, ANOTHER GOD looks too and says, ‘No god can tell, because there are no mankind looking up and worshipping us: We’ll have to go down and tell them what’s-what….’

    Are they paying attention to reality, Or to their opinion of what others jabber–? Each, argues for argument-sake because that’s what others do– in their opinion….

    Ray.

    * [never look directly at the sun]

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  86. Ken Bartsch -  September 30, 2010 - 11:32 am

    Questioning the existence of God is so 20th century! Religion has moved beyond the philosophical questions and resumed its practice of faith. We’ve grown tired of imponderable posers like “Why is there evil?” and “Is there a God?” and “How many angels can dance on a pinhead?”
    Practical faith does not “assume the existence of God.” It is a response to the love we have heard in our prayers. Those who have not heard the love weren’t there to hear it, and they call themselves atheists or agnostics. That’s like saying you’ve gone blind because you wake up one day with tape over your eyes. The question is not do I believe in God. The question is will I receive the love God has offered me from before I was born. Will I open my eyes within a safe place, such as a house of worship, and see what is going on here? Will I accept the God whom others adore — surrendering my precious, pointless individuality — and give myself to the Only One who is worthy of M?

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  87. The all american girl-next-door!!! -  September 30, 2010 - 10:46 am

    I like the way you think #1 Skillet fan. Also I am too a skillet fan, but on to what i really want to say i agree with you 100%

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  88. Rob zantay -  September 30, 2010 - 10:15 am

    Anyone who is older than, let’s say 10, and identifies themselves as an agnostic is really just an atheist who is trying to hegde their bets. Since Christians who manifest the holy spirit do have proof of a spirtual world and of god, it is the unreasoning unbelief of Atheists that keep them ignorent of God. after all Peter and John heard God’s voice say “This is my son in whom I am well pleased”, when they were on the mount with Jesus. One other thing according to the bible when you die, you sleep. You don’t go to heaven or hell, you don’t meet god, you don’t float around on a cloud playing a harp, you sleep, as has every person who has died since Adam. The dead believers rise when Christ returns. That’s what it says, that’s what it means. all that other junk comes from movies and cartoons.

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  89. Elly B -  September 30, 2010 - 10:01 am

    The dictionary’s definitions are supposed to be the most correct and modern day definitions of the words.

    The fact that some people do not “believe” in atheists would not be a point to be made. The dictionary is for defining terms, not for creating beliefs.

    I wondering if some people would try to eliminate the word because they, personally, find it invalid? That would bring up another term: censorship. If anyone has a right to debate the meaning of the words it should be those who wish to use it in defining themselves. Take the word “pagan” for example. The people who call themselves such probably go for the first definition(as according to this site) of being a believer of some sort of polytheism. At least that is the most non-aggressive definition that most pagans would be alright with. The second one is suggesting that if you do not follow an Abrahamic religion you are a pagan, which, as I see it, may not completely but does largely line up with the first definition. And the last says you are a heathen(which in my own opinion is a word, in this context, that should have been worn out along time ago, and brings to mind narrow-mindedness and witch burning, but nevermind that.)

    I do find the idea of a church of atheists….strange. I know people who claim to be atheist who would agree. For most of them it’s “I do not believe in any higher power and the others carry the burden of proof…the end.” But, as it seems, many, if not most, beliefs tend to create extremists, and extremists like to warp ideas around their very mortal wants or needs. “Jihad” indeed. *rolls eyes.

    Is there a church of agnostics? I would imagine something more like a club instead. They can just sit around, drinking coffee or whatnot, and discuss the possibilities, no pressure.

    To the article writer, you really wanted this can of words, I mean worms to be opened, didn’t you?

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  90. Julia -  September 30, 2010 - 9:59 am

    I stopped when she began quoting the Bible :P

    This article helped me understand a lot. But oddly I feel more confused. I was under the impression agnosticism is not knowing what religion you are, rather than the belief that we can’t know. So that raises a personal question–I don’t know what I believe (I still have plenty of exploring left!) so what does that mean? When someone asks me what faith I am, what should I say? I don’t want to bore them by explaining what I know for sure, and what I don’t know, so is there any way for me to respond to that question?

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  91. Saf -  September 30, 2010 - 9:30 am

    @Meranda

    You’re brainwashed. Just thought you might like to know.

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  92. #1 Skillet fan -  September 30, 2010 - 9:30 am

    my oppinion is this- if you believe in God and when you die you find out he dosen’t exist, you’re ok. But on the other hand, if you don’t believe in God and when you die you find out he does exist, you’re in trouble.

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  93. dT -  September 30, 2010 - 9:20 am

    error….”that which rocks dream about”

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  94. dT -  September 30, 2010 - 9:15 am

    C’mon, this is too much ……..whether consciously or unconsciously we all subscribe to a worldview through which we filter all thought and consequently live out day to day…

    Plato was once asked to define nothing and answered,

    “that which rocks think of.”

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  95. Dave B -  September 30, 2010 - 9:09 am

    A Christian believing that God exists is like someone believing that a hamburger tastes good. You can love it with all your heart and fully live your life dedicated to that notion, but no matter how much you absolutely BELIEVE that a hamburger is the tastiest thing in the world, YOU JUST CAN’T PROVE IT. It’s always been impossible to prove and will never be proven. And, on the other side of the coin, someone who doesn’t like hamburgers can’t PROVE that they do not taste good. It’s just personal, and nobody should force their POV about a hamburger on anyone who doesn’t want to listen.

    Unfortunately, Christians cannot be argued with because they either: a) choose to believe blindly, or b) have been forced (i.e. raised in a religious household) to believe blindly. But I’m mostly OK with that as long that they keep to themselves. The thing that really jacks my jaws is that prosthelytizing is a major part of their rules, and that’s just WRONG to the very core. Go on, believe your burger tastes good, but LEAVE ME ALONE ‘CAUSE I AIN’T GONNA EAT IT!

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  96. dT -  September 30, 2010 - 9:03 am

    Yo Nildog, so whatcha say’n is atheists believe in nothing? I wonder how much thinking one must do to arrive at that conclusion? hmm…..

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  97. The all american girl-next-door!!! -  September 30, 2010 - 8:55 am

    Also chelsea when you said in your comment, Lack of evidence only brought the doubt (so many questions with no answers), which then fueled my decision to investigate the christian faith more vigourously. My studies are what caused my loss in faith, not my lack of proof. I purposefully sought out reasons for belief and disbelief. It was almost like a tally chart, god vs. no god, and “no god” was the overwhelming victor in that contest. Well I am a christian and I too have aske myself questions about is there really a God, and if so then why is there so much hate,pain,killing,stealing,cheating,dying,and lying in the world? Well if there was a God and he did love us why on earth is he doing this stuff and letting bad things happen to good people? And Hagill on you comment i can see absolutely no reason for the old man in the sky – evolution is the answer and we can all see it happening all around us. If that is the case then prove it!!! Show me where my great great great great great great great greta great great great great great great great ect. grandparents were at one point once came from the same gene as that of an animal came from??? I’m not trying to be a smart-butt, but I really want to know your answer. You see I have friends who believe in evolution and they have taught me alot about what they believe in and it is hard to agrue with but it is hard to agree with. You see some people will say there is no God while others will say God is real. Well then people say where is your proof that he is real? To answer that question it’s very simple the BIBLE and faith. But we christians also can ask people of different faiths where is your proof? And then you tell us what you believe in and that is how the fighting usally starts. But it isn’t important, if you do or don’t believe in a God that may or may not be real all we christians have is faith and when you think about it people of other faiths are the same they are so sure that what they believe is real which is faith.

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  98. Saf -  September 30, 2010 - 8:54 am

    @Ray

    I never knew you were completely crackers! Thanks for sharing, that was very interesting. ^_^

    Love, Saf.

    Reply
  99. pink monkey -  September 30, 2010 - 8:40 am

    Atheism is the empty set. “a”[God] does not exist in the atheist ontology, there is no possible way to endorse it’s negation. Quit starting w/ the Theist worldview as the positive a priori. There is not even the proposition that deities exist w/in the Atheist paradigm. We’re only defined as the opposite of theists[a-theists] precisely because theism enjoys special truth claims in this world. We don’t start w/ “a” in an atheistic worldview and choose to not believe in it. There never was an “a”. The theists have invented a set “a” for which the negation is meaningless. “Religious” Atheism [whatever that may mean] would be something else entirely.

    Just because someone dreams up a whimsical set “a” that there is no evidence for in reality[could be anything, not just god concepts], I am not included in a set of those subscribing to “~a” because I reject their fantastical ideas. You can attempt to include me in it, but that’s silly and meaningless. What I am is a member of an empty set, and they’re just crazy. o0

    And yes, I agree, this discussion is pointless.

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  100. The all american girl-next-door!!! -  September 30, 2010 - 8:35 am

    If life is death, and death is life, then to live is to die and to die is to live.WEIRD. Wrong!!! Because if to love is to fight and to fight is to go to war then isn’t it better to say I would rather love than die?
    Or is it???

    Reply
  101. Rindy -  September 30, 2010 - 8:14 am

    @Mike P.

    Are you joking? I consider myself an agnostic, and I know a great many people who are the same. We love and value knowledge, and are open minded to the fact that a supernatural being *could* be revealed at some point. Atheists have already decided it isn’t possible, although I wouldn’t necessarily say they are closed minded. I know many who aren’t. I think the definition of agnostic could be altered to say we believe it is *probably* not knowable.

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  102. CAT -  September 30, 2010 - 7:59 am

    What about the Gnostics?…These are people who know of God’s existence …due to a spiritual experience that they have had. Gnostic, of course, means… to know…and they actually are well-read on all religions.. My favorite adage and my belief is as follows:

    Science without Religion is lame
    Religion without Science is blind

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  103. Carlos -  September 30, 2010 - 7:45 am

    An “agnostic” should be defined as someone who acknowledges that it is currently not within man’s capabilities to know with certainty whether God exists. Within that definition, we are all agnostics. Agnostics stand apart from theists and atheists in that theism and atheism are belief systems, whereas agnosticism would be best categorized as erudition.

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  104. Chris -  September 30, 2010 - 7:43 am

    Norman, I didn’t finish reading your rant because I found it so incoherent and illogical, it made me a little annoyed. But you have managed to conflate a few things.

    Firstly, if you are asking that people should require evidence for the lack of something then you are a little deluded. Absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence, but it is certainly a strong argument in favour of absence. You for example do not have evidence for the proposition that there are no unicorns, however, if I were to ask you what evidence you had for not believing in them, then you would think me rather mad. It is therefore the case, that when being introduced to a proposition our position must necessarily be one of disbelief by default since it is impossible to prove a negative. Therefore, Atheism IS the default position. As one poster has already stated it is perfectly possible to be an Agnostic Atheist, and the two terms are not mutually exclusive. See ‘Betrand Russell’s Celestial Teapot’ for an example as to why trying to prove a negative is a ridiculous thing to ask of anyone.

    The fact of the matter is, that I suspect that you have already decided yourself a man of faith, and are therefore quite happy to demand things of Atheists that you would not demand of other people, in a sour attempt to prove yourself right and them wrong. Indeed, you have already betrayed yourself of hypocrisy, in the statement that ‘most atheists’ are prejudiced. I couldn’t consider making such a sweeping statement about any group of peoples, let alone one that are necessarily NOT a group by definition. You have shown your true colours my friend.

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  105. Atheist1 -  September 30, 2010 - 7:33 am

    Wow, this point of this article is to illuminate the “ignorance” of many who profess to understand the concepts of atheism and agnosticism – how humorous.

    There are two basic ways of defining terms; one… is based on fact and the other… “opinion” and lacking support.

    Someone who basis the understanding on “fact”, will be informed of the mountain of cognitive science and biological science evidence, that humans in their “default” state do not have the capacity to “believe” anything – to include psychological concepts as “god”.

    Thus, atheism is the “factually” based default position, as… there is a “lack” of belief in “god”… it is “not” a choice in the “default” position. Every single “theist” on this planet was “factually” born an “atheist” to include the pope himself.

    Atheism does not “premise” an argument for/against the concept of god, as that indicates the individual actually understands the concept of god. There is no means to attack the atheist position intellectually – thus, those who attack the atheist position are levying a personal attack, e.g., anti-atheism.

    Likely, such attacks stem from some deep psychological need to believe in the “false dichotomy” that there are only two types of people… those with “disbelief” and those with “belief”, because… it’s entirely impossible to have “non-belief” (read as sarcasm to the shallow minded).

    Of course, mainstream theists tend to have “faith”, e.g., unfounded opinion, that humans are born with “souls” that are completely accessorized with knowledge and high-order thinking skills, such that rational analytic and belief formation is possible, e.g., we are all born “knowing” god – and thus, the default position is theism/belief in souls/gods.

    Basically, this “faith” based position, fundamentally demands that it is impossible to have a “lack of belief”, or “non-belief”, e.g., atheism as lack of belief… therefore, what is left are those who reject their innate knowledge of god (disbelievers), and those who accept their innate knowledge of god (believers).

    Definitions like atheism/theism anti-theism/anti-atheism are ideated “concepts”; they are “tools” for discussion. “How” one applies those tools effectively in discussion to describe one’s greater world-view is the hallmark of an educated person – or not.

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  106. Drew O -  September 30, 2010 - 7:07 am

    Much of this has been said above, but perhaps it bears repeating:

    All people who are not theists (those who explicitly believe in a god or gods) are atheists. That is the simplest and most consistent definition of “atheist.” The refinement of that idea is that there are “strong” atheists, those who explicity reject the notion of a god or gods, and “weak” atheists, those who have taken no formal position on the matter.

    Most self-described agnostics I’ve known are, in fact, “weak” atheists in addition to being true agnostics as well: those who claim that the existence of a god or gods isn’t or can’t be known. But in the strictest sense an agnostic can be anywhere on the theism spectrum: theist, weak atheist, or strong atheist.

    Of course I’m not saying those are the only interpretations of those words, clearly people differ in opinion on what each term should mean, but generally speaking considering the groups in the above manner minimizes ambiguity.

    Now of course it is in the interest of theists to push the idea that atheism is just as dogmatic as any religion or that belief in a god or gods is “natural,” but hopefully any intelligent person will be able to see through that rhetoric. The fact that the word “atheism” doesn’t even refer to any sort of fully developed belief system but rather a person’s position on one single, specific issue of belief makes any direct comparison absurd to begin with.

    @Meranda: When you realize that the majority of the Christian Bible was written, compiled, edited and translated years (sometimes hundreds of years!) after Jesus’ presumptive life, death and resurrection you will understand how trivial most of its “prophecies” are.

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  107. Sir Mike Tallon, PhD -  September 30, 2010 - 6:51 am

    It was my understanding that a soft agnostic says that we DON’T know if there’s a god while a hard agnostic believes that we CAN’T know if one exists. Similarly, a soft atheist says they have no belief in god while a hard atheist says with certitude that there is no god.

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  108. louis paiz -  September 30, 2010 - 6:38 am

    i read the book GOD and the astronomers were people that not concieve that god exist travel through the universe where there is nothing and from nothing there were coming out something like smoke they have no name for it and that was life . so they reach to the conclusion that god exist and the way every thing is planned is nessesary tho have someone that controls heaven and earth the way it is so perfect controled.

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  109. Yvette -  September 30, 2010 - 6:37 am

    @Norman,

    You remind me of the little realised fact that all Satanists are, by definition, Christians.

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  110. Murphy -  September 30, 2010 - 5:55 am

    I was going to comment on Norman’s stupidity, but I’m glad to see it has been handled already.

    As for the topic, it’s hard to believe people still think that agnosticism is some kind of “middle ground” between atheism and theism. Those words pertain to two completely different things. One deals with the belief in the existence of god/gods, the other deals with the know-ability of the existence of god/gods.

    Also, what is it with people demanding that atheists provide proof for the non-existence of a god? Do you guys realize how stupid it sounds to demand evidence for the non-existence of something? Can you provide evidence for the non-existence of anything?!

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  111. will basham -  September 30, 2010 - 5:36 am

    Raymond Kenneth Petry, has several “Who knows what epistles he quotes?” Sounds as if they should stay in his imaginations figments. Never heard of such TRIPE! O.K. show me your documentation, and I shall defer to your misguided source! Will

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  112. The Flying Spaghetti Monster -  September 30, 2010 - 5:34 am

    Atheism is a non-prophet organisation…

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  113. will basham -  September 30, 2010 - 5:22 am

    “With a couple of exceptions, ie. M.Grayson, Meranda”,After all the other astute observations,rantings,and totally without merit statements; I wonder how any of them cope with God’s statement,”I am, that I am!” Indicates to me, he was always present, and always remains the same, and always will be an entity; even past the End of our earthly stay! God said it, what else can be said with credence? Thankfully, He saw fit to allow me the privilege of being raised in a Christian home,despite all I did to circumvent that up to and including my third decade; Thankfully, he let me see the folly of my ways, after saving my life from a Motorcycle accident in Mexico…

    Am still working on the why of my now living! Exasperation leads me to express the vehemence I did, when blind simple faith in our Risen Lord and Saviour, after repentence is all that is required to experience God’s all enveloping Spirit of Love! Would certainly hate to face our present STATE OF AFFAIRS, of this O.J.T.president we now have; throwing the country and all we have stood for these two hundred plus years,under the bus! and now to WHAT! REFORMATION THEOLOGY a la JEREMIAH WRIGHT, and Progressives starting with Woodrow Wilson? The coins still read “IN GOD WE TRUST”!~

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  114. Cymast -  September 30, 2010 - 5:17 am

    Nathan D, Cryptic, Someone, Meranda, et al: The burden of proof rests on the positive claimant. That’s Logic 101. “Default” means “start,” i.e., “birth.” All people are born without belief in god(s). As children, many are taught to believe, but none are born with this belief.

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  115. The allamerican girl-next-door!!! -  September 30, 2010 - 5:11 am

    Also there are atheists who will agree with you and say there is a GOD and he is real but WHO MADE HIM THEN?? Well to answer that question God has always been here and he will always be here!!!!!!!!!!

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  116. The allamerican girl-next-door!!! -  September 30, 2010 - 5:03 am

    I am christian and I know some people who are atheists and agnostic one of my best friends nick is atheists and he came to church and asked me what was the differences in believing in a God that isn’t real? Well God is just as real as you and me are. Think about it.Do you believe in love? What about life, or hope or faith? Well they are all of God!!! God is love and he loved all of us to die for us on the cross!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  117. Geert -  September 30, 2010 - 4:32 am

    It surprises me how often “Atheists are X” and “Agnostics are Y” is being thrown around. Atheism and agnosticism are very broad terms, just like Christianity, Islam and Judaism, that we can use in order to describe someone’s general view on these matters.

    Lets take agnosticism for example. In discussion regarding the existence of god it is often defined as someone who hold one of the following beliefs.

    1. We do not know whether or not god exists.
    2. It is not possible to know whether or not god exists. (after which 1 follows)

    These are to me, important differences. The term agnostic would on it’s own not be enough to adequately describe someone’s stance on the issue. To make matters worse, they also don’t tell us anything about why someone reached their conclusion (the interesting bit for me), or what kind of person they are.

    Anyone claiming things such as “Atheists are X” or “Christians are Y” is simply ignorant to the individual. If you want to know about someone’s personal beliefs: Ask, don’t assume.

    @Bimston: I like your analysis.

    @John: Thanks for sharing. :)

    @Meranda: While I understand you might not be particularly interested in philosophical ideas, to many others they are the “meat of the issue”. Also I’m curious to know. What would you take as evidence for the non-existence of god?

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  118. Graham -  September 30, 2010 - 4:11 am

    Well, I would at first state that no self-proclaimed agnostic I’ve known/met would say that it’s impossible to know how the Universe came to be. This article seems to be at odds with the commonly accepted notion that agnostics believe there is no way to tell if there is a God or not.

    This leads me to point out that Agnosticism and Atheism are compatible with each other. As an atheist, I have to say it’s rather impossible, at this time, to prove that God doesn’t exist, therefore I would also describe myself as agnostic by regular standards.

    As an aside, relevant to the religious discussions above, you need to both prove the existence of God and also that your own religion ( out of the 1000′s around) is correct before theism becomes credible.

    -Graham.

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  119. Alan Turner -  September 30, 2010 - 4:04 am

    Believe, believe, believe with all your heart and soul and live your life by the good offices of Christianity but do not confuse belief with knowing. There cannot be anyone in this world who knows, and I mean knows that there is anything other than the world around us. Is there a God? I don’t know but I hope there is, I’m going to be dead a much longer time than the time I can live and if there is anything to go to then I hope it is really heaven as we perceive it.

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  120. John Baker -  September 30, 2010 - 3:38 am

    I think the best way to describe an the difference is that agnostics dont believe in anything that has not been proven to them. The rise in agnostics who often get described as atheists is probably due to education in science and the methodologies behind proof.

    An agnostic would “believe” in God if he were to stand infront of them and prove through whatever means that he created the universe and everything in it. An atheist would still discount this evidence.

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  121. Poliwhirl -  September 30, 2010 - 2:47 am

    I think a lot of theists and deists don’t really understand what goes on inside an agnostic or an atheist’s head. Like most of the people commenting here, I’m an agnostic at an intellectual level, but an atheist at heart. By this I mean that I don’t believe we’re equipped to understand the origin of the universe, at least at this moment in time, if ever, but personally, subjectively, I’ve reached the conclusion that there is no God.

    Again, a lot of believers think that we reject God, or we hate her/him/it. This just shows how they reason: how can we reject or hate something we don’t believe in? It’d be like hating Father Christmas, or unicorns.

    Another thing I’ve been told several times by Christians is that I don’t WANT to believe in God, that I’m wilfully rejecting the idea. Again, this reasoning strikes me as twisted. Personally I think it’d be great if there really was someone “up there” taking care of everything down here, but I just don’t believe there is; none of the atheists I know are making any particular effort: it’s a just a matter of reasoning, observation and common sense. No hate involved. Maybe the odd joke or dig, yeah, but that’s because a lot of us find religion funny.

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  122. isis -  September 30, 2010 - 2:37 am

    while you all squabble over god existing or not, i’m interested to know about Deists – I had been told that Deists believe there is A god (some sort of god) but not God (as in the god that Christians believe in), however this article does not define it like that.

    ?

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  123. BoabyWan -  September 30, 2010 - 2:34 am

    I like to use the term non-theist. It causes less contraversy.

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  124. ms.karma -  September 30, 2010 - 2:24 am

    i have a friend who once studied Theology. he actually was a seminarian, he quitted a year before finishing the course. he should have been a Roman Catholic priest. we used to talk about his experiences inside the seminary. he told me almost everything. but when i asked him why he decided to quit, he said it’s better for him to keep it. i again asked why, he just smiled at me. then he said,
    “i don’t want your faith to be shaken. believe me when i say i could destroy your faith in a matter of seconds. so please stop asking me why.”

    it’s been a year now since the last time we talked about it.
    still, those lines remained to be a puzzle to me.

    i am thinking, does he still believe in God?
    if so, is his faith not shaken or remain undoubtful despite of the things he’s been keeping to himself?

    haiz. i am terribly worried about it.
    i hope he is not going to be an atheist or an agnostic.

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  125. snooty snoopy -  September 30, 2010 - 1:56 am

    Times goes by and so is a thought.

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  126. Audun -  September 30, 2010 - 1:20 am

    I guess the key from the definition of agnostic is that an agnostic thinks it’s not within our power as humans to discover proofs either way by our own research and investigation, but if there are higher powers, they could still reveal that to us.

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  127. Audun -  September 30, 2010 - 1:08 am

    From some of the things written here it sounds like agnostics somehow hold the ignorance holy, but that’s far from the truth. I’m very skeptical to the definition that an agnostic has a belief that knowledge about god will forever be impossible.

    An agnostic, as far as I am concerned, thinks there’s nothing we’ve seen so far that tells us for sure if there is a god, or forms of spirituality or not. We don’t know if that’ll change either. Although, very unlikely, an agnostic is also open to the possibility that god will descend on earth tomorrow and all will be revealed. It’s also very wrong to think that an agnostic isn’t interested in where we came from and thinks it’s best to not know, although most would think it’d be futile to search for a definite answer in prayer or any of the established religious rituals. Even if most agnostics have found peace with not knowing for sure, and doesn’t crave and search actively for more meaning, they’re still open to pondering, discussion and would change if there were actually any revelations to prove anything either way.

    Mike P wrote: “Agnostics don’t believe in anything. They don’t want to know where we came from. They don’t want to know if there’s any higher being that’s watching over us on a cloud in the sky. They don’t want to hear another person’s opinions on how the universe was created. Oh, but there is one thing agnostics believe in: They believe ignorance is bliss.”

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  128. Keegan -  September 30, 2010 - 1:05 am

    in response to meranda on the evidence for christianity and for atheism,

    Its impossible to have proof of atheist beliefs because it is impossible to prove that something does not exist. On that note, to say something does not exist also cannot have evidence. But that isn’t to say that the opposite must be true.

    Furthermore, although deism may have evidence for reasoning, all of that relevant evidence is debatable in its content and its source. Using a holy text as evidence cannot give sufficient reasoning to an atheist. Whether what it states is true or not, spiritual events can only be believed through faith, and have no physical evidence to make them relevant to those without faith. Although physical events such as the birth of Jesus or an earthquake following his death may be proven scientifically, the links of deism to these events cannot.

    Being on either side is purely a matter of faith or (non-faith); reasoning is impossible because neither can provide absolute evidence sufficient for the opposing belief to be persuaded. A conversion comes from a change in belief, and is derived from aspects which may or may not be in addition to reason, such as emotion or lack of critical thinking.

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  129. Ralph -  September 30, 2010 - 12:47 am

    Anyone that disagrees atheism being anything other than the lack or absent of belief in god(s) is both wrong and probably distorting it in order to promote an antagonistic view thereof.

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  130. chelsea -  September 29, 2010 - 11:25 pm

    It’s good to know the difference between these 2 terms. I always considered myself atheist, and now it’s confirmed.

    Some comments got me perplexed, however…

    I was reading Norman’s post, and he stated:

    “Many atheists claim: ‘I don’t believe in God, because I have no evidence of this.’But when you ask them: ‘What evidence do you have of the opposite?’ they can only present their hypotheses, without a shred of actual evidence.”

    This just seems like an odd statement to me. I used to be christian, but I gathered evidence that disproved the existance of God. That’s when I considered myself atheist. The lack of proof of the existance of God certainly helped in my final decisions on my religion, but it wasn’t the driving force for the switch. Lack of evidence only brought the doubt (so many questions with no answers), which then fueled my decision to investigate the christian faith more vigourously. My studies are what caused my loss in faith, not my lack of proof. I purposefully sought out reasons for belief and disbelief. It was almost like a tally chart, god vs. no god, and “no god” was the overwhelming victor in that contest.

    Some self reflection:

    Although I can also see some truth to Norman’s statement. Perhaps it would be different if I wasnt, at one point, Christian. I never investigated the Jewish or Islamic faiths as rigorously as I did the Christian faith, and yet, I reject them with almost no proof.

    That last paragraph was food for thought, really. How many Christians are just Christians because they grew up with it? Would Islam or Judaism be a better fit?

    Thanks :)

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  131. bimston -  September 29, 2010 - 11:20 pm

    Similar to other posters, I consider myself both an agnostic and an atheist. An atheist is most basically defined as lacking belief in a god or gods and does not necessarily indicate an active denial (though some atheists certainly do actively deny that there are or could be gods). I would be a theist but for want of proof, just as I would believe in alien abductions if there was proof. How can an atheist be agnostic? In my case, I contend that metaphysical claims are unprovable. While I don’t believe in things that have no evidence, it may be that I’m wrong (i.e. there are things that exist for which there is no evidence), and there’s no evident way to determine which is the case. To contend that metaphysical truths are ultimately unknowable – or to contend that they have neither true nor false statement value – is in essence an agnostic position. Similarly, one could be a theist agnostic (though this seems less likely), contending that there is a god (or gods) but that it is impossible to know or prove this outside of blind faith.

    Theism and Atheism lie on opposite sides of an axis of belief;
    Gnosticism and Gnosticism lie on opposite sides of an axis of knowledge.

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  132. Hagill -  September 29, 2010 - 11:17 pm

    All religions have a serious whiff of humans desperately hoping.
    Agnostics simply believe that their is no proof either way.
    Atheists can see no reason for a human lookalike creator.

    I can see absolutely no reason for the old man in the sky – evolution is the answer and we can all see it happening all around us.

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  133. Todd -  September 29, 2010 - 10:54 pm

    “Deism is good sense not yet instructed by revelation, and other religions are good sense perverted by superstition. All sects differ, because they come from men; morality is everywhere the same, because it comes from God.”

    — Voltaire

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  134. the bakester -  September 29, 2010 - 10:45 pm

    its important to note that religious faiths/inclinations/proclivities are not ignorant or close minded, people are. to say that all agnostics or that all atheists are close minded, as well as suggest that any self proclaimed theist may be, is to prove your own closed mind.

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  135. Escombo -  September 29, 2010 - 10:37 pm

    Actually, Atheism is becoming more and more a very fundamentalist belief system/doctrine. They have their high priests who write holy books that are supposed to show us the error of our ways and tell us what is the “Truth”… And even have their own form of Jihad (“An Atheist’s call to arms”)… Buncha bigots, if you ask me.

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  136. M. Grayson -  September 29, 2010 - 10:24 pm

    This is for “Norman”.
    There is a reason behind the assertion that God does not exist. As near as reason can devise, the fundamentals of reality are derived from two fundamental aspects: existence and consciousness, both of which are presupposed by the statement: existence exists. Observing that existence exists proves two things: that it does (any statement would be impossible if it did not) and that a consciousness exists, as a distinct aspect of it, of which makes the observation possible. Existence without consciousness is possible, because not everything that exists is conscious. Consciousness without existence is not, because a consciousness must exist to be conscious. Chronologically, the observation comes first, that one is observing it comes second; or, existence precedes and presupposes consciousness. God is a conscious being, Whom, to have created existence, must have been conscious before existence. There is no basis for this belief. Nor is there basis for the belief that all is “blind chance”. What is, is; what is not, is not. Proper identification of reality follows logically from there.
    There are certain corollaries to accepting or rejecting this argument. If the existence of God does not conform to reason and the rules of logic, and He creates existence, then neither does the laws of His creation, i.e., the object of the physical sciences, and the illusion of reason is a cruel joke played by God on mankind. If all follows according to our rules with the exception of God, the same still holds true – logic cannot be trusted. If this is the case, then distinctions such as atheism, agnosticism, deist, Christian, Muslim, etc. are all arbitrary and interchangeable. I do not accept this.
    Religion lies in the area of faith; i.e., of blind obedience the judgment of other minds without reference to one’s own. Faith also gives people to strength to carry on with the difficulties of life – it is not without its utility.
    Leave religion in the realm of faith, reality in the realm science. Neither benefits by crossing with the other. Amen.

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  137. male angel -  September 29, 2010 - 10:19 pm

    What a load of codwallop from Norman.
    I am an atheist AND I KNOW IT!!
    Norman shouldn’t f#*k with people’s minds with his sick philosophies!

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  138. John -  September 29, 2010 - 9:54 pm

    With all due respect, I’m going to take a bit of exception with Joan’s statement that, “Religion is based on faith, it relies entirely in what you believe in your heart, not your brain or logic.”

    Christian faith is not just a “belief” without some kind of factual evidence. There is ample historical evidence that Jesus Christ was a real, living person. That, in and of itself, doesn’t prove or disprove the existence of God; however, there is also ample historical evidence from reliable, first-hand, witnesses to support the reality of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Taken as a whole, that miraculous and supernatural sequence of events should prompt some kind of rational consideration of the reality of God.

    I don’t believe in God and place my faith and trust in Jesus Christ simply as a matter of choice to do so with the “hope” that the claims of Christianity really are true. That faith is accompanied by factual understanding of historical events. It certainly involves the heart but also the mind and the will.

    If Christians are going to engage in any kind of conversation with those of other religions, or those who choose no religion, they are going to have to do so from a variety of platforms, including the rational mind. To do otherwise makes Christians appear to be a bunch of dismissive bumpkins who have checked their brains at the door and are blindly following superstitious nonsense. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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  139. yay -  September 29, 2010 - 9:28 pm

    yay!!!!

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  140. Meranda -  September 29, 2010 - 9:28 pm

    Great article!!

    I have to disagree with Joans comment. “Religion is based on faith, it relies entirely in what you believe in your heart, not your brain or logic. Atheism, on the other hand relies more on reason even though it is also a belief.”

    I can speak from the Christian viewpoint that the evidence for the specific God of the Bible is vast and incredibly large, which INCREASES a persons faith in it. It certainly is not based on BLIND faith. After talking with many Atheists and Agnostics alike I have NOT found ONE atheist who can prove that God doesn’t exist without using some sort of crutch relating to religion for their denial in a God. If “A God” did not exist there should be a vast amount of evidence in every direction for that reasoning, but we find no real concrete evidence for that claim (Astronomy,Biology,Archaeology) I can say the same for the Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist religions; there is no evidence that is unique and vast. WHEN it comes down to it, truth should have an overwhelming amount of evidence for it, NOT just in claims, philosophy and reasoning, but REAL TRUE concrete evidence. Here are just a couple unique pieces of evidence for Christianity….. There are -*2000 prophecies in the bible, -*Jesus fulfilled over 456 unique character traits that were told about the coming messiah,-*Thousands of Bible Codes exist under the text of the Hebrew Bible – *Ivan Panin generated over 43,000 pages of the unique complex mathematics that are present in the bible -*When Jesus died on the Cross, an earthquake and a world wide eclipse happened for several hours, noted by 13 non biblical individuals -*Coming blood red moons and LUNAR eclipses will happen ONLY on the Jewish (The Christian Gods celebrated dates) festivals in the next couple years. NOW that is specific evidence. The beauty of Christianity is that there is SOOO much more evidence to support it. I find though when it comes to Atheists and Agnostics THEY really DO NOT want to hear any of the evidence for God even if you present to them pages and pages of amazing evidence (for Christ). Wouldn’t you want to know the truth that is backed up by evidence. If you are anything like me, you want to get to the meat of the issue and throw aside the crap of everyone’s thoughts and opinions. Philosophy just isn’t for me. Again, fantastic article!!

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  141. Steve -  September 29, 2010 - 8:46 pm

    @Mike P

    I consider myself agnostic, and I believe that it is a thin definition. I do not believe in a god. I am however open to listen to others opinions. I also believe in the creation of a universe by means of the Big Bang. Be careful when you use such all encompassing statements. One statement you made does apply to me. I don’t care about the existence of a higher being. I believe that anything that man presents is a bastardized representation of what a true god would actually be. The need to be worshiped is wholly a desire of man. Any self respecting god, especially one that is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient would have no desires and therefore it is not necessary for me to care about them.

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  142. j01 -  September 29, 2010 - 8:45 pm

    I don’t think I like religion generally. It tends to teach intolerance or nonacceptance (by trying to convince them to convert) of people of other religions/no religion. It’s caused so many conflicts and wars in the past and present, and perhaps even in the future. I think I’d rather stay out of all the trouble.
    I also don’t like the way some people are generalizing atheists and agnostics. Each person is entitled to their own beliefs – just don’t force it on others. If they choose to be labeled something, they should recognize the consequences of it.

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  143. nilbog -  September 29, 2010 - 8:32 pm

    @NathanD:You don’t actually have to create anything in order to not believe something. For example if you tell me you can turn water to wine, then in order for me to say that I don’t believe you all I have to suppose is that you can not actually preform the action you have claimed to be able to. I need no system created in order to deny your claims, I can give you reasoned arguments for why I deny those claims, and if you want to say that reasoned arguments and a cache of observational conclusions are themselves belief systems then we’re talking about different things.

    This website defines belief system as “a fixed coherent set of beliefs prevalent in a community or society”. It’s absolutely incorrect to say that in order to deny the claims of anyone about anything requires the construction of such a thing. If you told me there was an omnipotent being that has always and will always control everything from an unmeasurable and unknowable space, then I’d like an example of the sort of system I’m supposed to create in order to think you are spewing nonsense. (This is for the sake of argument, I’m not saying you said any of that.)

    @Norman:”Who exactly should be called “godless”? The person who BELIEVES THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST. But, this phrasing alone makes it obvious that atheism presupposes a faith in the non-existence of God. This is not a play on words here.”

    If you claim something, say the existence of a particular god, and the only evidence you can present to me is anecdotal experiences, then please tell me how it’s required that I have faith in your claim not being true? If this we’re the case you can then draw the line along every idea anyone has had and say that to deny anyone’s unprovable claims require that I claim something just as unprovable. If I tell you that I believe that the universe is nothing more then a giant bowl of soup would you then say to anyone denying my unprovable claim that they themselves must have faith that the reverse(i.e. the unprovable claim that our universe is not a giant bowl of soup) must be true? No you would say I am presenting a failed argument that is not capable of being refuted.
    (I am making a distinction here between truly unprovable beliefs and beliefs that are as of yet unprovable.)

    “And it is so improvable, as is the acknowledgment that “God exists”. Hence, atheism is not aligned with rationalism and logic. It is simply one more religion.”

    This statement is hard for me to comprehend. If you truly believe that in order for me to deny someones unprovable supposition about the universe I must myself have constructed an opposing system of belief that is both shared and practiced then it makes it impossible for me to have a reasoned argument with you.

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  144. M -  September 29, 2010 - 8:30 pm

    Mike P (and original author implies the same)- You are incorrect when you say the following regarding agnostics:

    “They don’t want to know where we came from. They don’t want to know if there’s any higher being that’s watching over us on a cloud in the sky. They don’t want to hear another person’s opinions on how the universe was created.”

    That is a generalization. Some agnostics have came to the conclusion there is no way of knowing one way or the other. But many (myself included) do not necessarily believe there is no way of knowing – they believe they just may not have found the answers yet to make their decision whether creationism is correct or The Big Bang Theory is correct. There is no question that many out there just HAVE NOT DECIDED yet. I have NOT decided there is no way of knowing. I believe there may be enough evidence out there I have yet to find, so I’m not willing to say “Creationism is right. Or Atheism is right. Or there is no way of knowing which is right.” I believe there could be a way of knowing.

    I could be wrong, but I am not sure where else I would put someone like myself.

    My understanding is it goes something like this:
    Theist (Believes in higher power), Agnostic (Believes there is no way of knowing whether a higher power exists, or whether creation was purely scientific OR is not sure yet), then Atheist (Believes in science).

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  145. Kevin -  September 29, 2010 - 8:16 pm

    Most people get atheist and agnostic totally mixed up. I was hoping this blog would fix that, but it was very brief unfortunately.

    J is correct above. Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive because they pertain to entirely different things. If a theist is a person who believes in a god or gods, then prepending an a- means without the belief in a god or gods. This doesn’t mean that an atheist necessarily believes there is no god. He just *lacks* a belief in god.

    In fact every person alive is either an atheist or a theist. Every person alive is also an agnostic or a gnostic. There are four different combinations you could fall into:

    Agnostic atheist – Lack a belief in god, but say that ultimately it’s unknowable
    Gnostic atheist – Lack a belief in god, or believe there is no god, and think that knowledge is attainable
    Agnostic theist – Believe in god, but ultimately it’s possible you’re wrong
    Gnostic theist – Believe in god, and basically are sure you’re right

    Basically, most people don’t grasp this concept because they don’t understand two things:
    1. That there is a difference between knowledge and belief.
    2. That there is a difference between a lack of a belief, and believing the negative of something

    For instance, I lack the belief the leprechauns exist. I’m not 100% sure they don’t exist, and while I understand that I can’t know for sure, my conclusion is that they probably don’t.

    Saying that atheists can’t be agnostics is like saying that an atheist can’t be a humanist, or a secularist, or a democrat. You can be all of these things at once, because the words are talking about completely separate things.

    Most people think that there are one kind of atheist: the people who actually believe that there is no god, and they’re sure of it (gnostic atheists). But there are many other kinds of atheists. There are positive and negative atheists. Implicit and explicit atheists. Gnostic and agnostic atheists. (some of these types overlap each other) Wikipedia has an article on these terms:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_atheism

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  146. 89gh -  September 29, 2010 - 8:09 pm

    As an atheist, I was once on the fence about whether there was an actual GOD. Like many of us, we don’t accept something unless we see proof of it.
    Many people who believe in GOD are basing their “facts” on faith, and of course the bible.

    As an anthropologist,archeologists, biologist, and paleontology, I can provide facts and evidence of the many findings we have made throughout history.

    The difference between and Agnostic and a Atheist is the mere fact that Agnostic are those people that are not sure. They just don’t know.

    The most simple thing to do is EDUCATE YOUR SELF. Is the most powerful thing out there.

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  147. Bob -  September 29, 2010 - 8:08 pm

    J fairly well nails it on the head: atheism is simply the rejection of the positive claim that god(s) exist – no more and no less.

    I must thank Norman for implicitly providing an explanation why the recent Pew Foundation poll shows atheists and agnostics tend to know more about religion overall than members of every other religion, sect, and denomination: we atheists and agnostics are constantly correcting theists not only on our own philosophical positions but correcting them on their own dogma. Three questions for Norman: 1) Why are there more books in the Ethiopian Bible than in the NSIV or KJV (bonus points if you can point me to the canonical text), 2) which books of the New Testament were written by people who actually met Jesus while he was alive (e.g. before his ascension), and 3), when did the “He who is without sin, cast the first stone” story first appear in the Bible?

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  148. Rick -  September 29, 2010 - 8:02 pm

    What a bizarre set of definitions backed up by ill-informed opinion and muddling of definitions.
    Basic religious doctrine is theistic, in cases like Christianity it is mono-theistic (there is only one God). Atheists are the same, but in the opposite sense (there is no God). Both cases have to support their arguments with something in legal terms known as “the burden of proof”. Prove there is a God. Alternatively, prove there is not a God.
    The middle ground is called Agnosticism. Agnostics, which is how I would define myself.
    MikeP, please pay attention:

    I have, as have many agnostics, looked at a number of belief systems and found them to be wanting. My personal opinion is that many of them are oppressive and mysogonistic while proclaiming great things about love. They don’t add up. Though from a socialogical viewpoint religion is a fascinating topic, so many beliefs, so many differences, so many willing to actually kill another man over a difference in a story that may or may not have any grounding in reality. Why are there so many religions? Why are there so many quirks? Take a look at Christianity from the extreme (Amish, I might suggest) to the lackadaisical (insert your own preferred ‘soft’ group here). How do they actually differ? Wars have been waged between Protestants and Catholics. Um, both have God, Jesus, Moses… what’s the difference exactly? And why is it such a difference as to overrule the “thou shalt not kill” commandment?

    I believe. I believe in science. I believe in what I can see, touch, measure, feel. If I was smart enough, I would dedicate the rest of my life to trying to discover where we came from. You, MikeP, would appear to be writing your comment upon the principle of “all of the answers are in the bible”. No, no they aren’t. There is nothing that explains why we’re born, do stuff, get old, fall apart, then die. Not us, but everything. Every tree and bug and microbe. If you take into account everything on the planet, unimaginable numbers of things are born and equally unimaginable numbers of things die. Every day. What’s the point? Is there some lesson in futility we are supposed to learn? And why have we been so far unsuccessful in detecting life in outer space. Are we it? The vast plethora of little glowing dots in the night sky and there’s NOTHING? So why here? Why us?
    Like I said, if I had a brain like Stephen Hawking, I would set my life’s work to be trying to fathom some sort of answer. Perhaps. If I even knew the question.

    Is there a higher being? In agnostic fashion I would like to say that there is no evidence. Being agnostic does not mean “it is impossible to know”, it means “not proven”. My own personal thoughts on the matter swing to the “possibly” side of “not proven”. There seem to be too many things, to much cleverness and oh-my-goodness factor in mathematics to be “oh, it just happened like that”. Okay, so maybe it did. But so much of it smacks of being designed. But, if it was designed, who or what is the designer? I would love to know the answer to that question, even if it turns out that the design was itself the designer (say, random collections of atoms come together in a way that can only form one pattern). Hence the “not proven”.

    You want to talk to me about how the universe was created? Go for it. All I will ask of you is substantive evidence. But you will fail. I know you will fail because of the many religions on this planet, for if there was one true proveable God (or whatever), we’d all believe in that.

    You can delude yourself into thinking we think ignorance is bliss. It isn’t correct, unless you’ve met some really stupid cretins who think they’d call themselves “agnostic” because it is a cool sounding word.

    I will lay awake at night puzzling over stuff like this while others comfort themselves with scripture, and yet others light candles, chant over beads, ring bells, and whatever else it is that brings hope to your life. For that reason I would be happy to never know a definitive answer, for as stupid as we are as a species to slaughter one another for a mere difference of opinion, in a million quiet corners around the world people’s beliefs bring them hope in situations that would otherwise be without hope. Maybe that is the truth of religions that one day we will come to understand – it isn’t about how we feel about our concept of supreme being, it is about how we truly feel about ourselves.

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  149. Chandler S. -  September 29, 2010 - 7:54 pm

    @Cymast
    Here’s your agnostic, and I would not say that either of you are spot on, but, Cymast, you are closer than Mike P. Since, agnosticism is not an organized religion (have you ever heard of an agnostic church? No.) it varies from person to person, but we definitely do NOT believe that ignorance is bliss. We simply accept that we may not be able to figure out things like if there is a higher power or what our purpose is. We don’t say G-d doesn’t exist, but we aren’t quite ready to say he does.

    *Atheists are fairly hypocritical, in my opinion, because even though they scold blind faith they blindly believe there is no G-d.*

    @Sarah I’ll start believing you already knew what these mean when you can learn to use spellcheck.

    (Here’s an example of our religious knowledge I used G-d instead of spelling it out)

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  150. Jack Cervantes -  September 29, 2010 - 7:52 pm

    Awesome article.

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  151. raydirector -  September 29, 2010 - 7:47 pm

    To say that, and I quote, “Religion is based on faith, it relies entirely in what you believe in your heart, not your brain or logic” is to ignore the rich philosophic and rational investigation and discourse in the religious traditions of the west. I cannot say anything of eastern traditions because I am not really privy to such things.

    An important _rational_ and _logical_ formulation regarding the existence of God was developed by a noted theologian named Thomas Aquinas called the ‘ontological argument for God’s existence.’ This is just one example of how a religious individual used his ‘brain” and “logic” to discuss matters that some consider only the domain of the “heart.”

    Second, to say that atheism is a default position is to beg the question that it is in some sense a priori knowledge? But this would be absurd, since it is not knowledge of something, but the negation of a particular belief. The negation of a belief is a belief as well. This is to look at it in purely logical terms, which I presume is what the atheist desires to do all along. In that sense, it is also a doctrine, just one that is ~p as opposed to p (~p expresses that is the negation of p, whereas p is to simply say that p is. both are claims of belief if they follow from a series of premises even if one is a negation).

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  152. Mel -  September 29, 2010 - 7:16 pm

    Mike P, I think you are confusing the beliefs of agnostics. I think agnostics are probably the MOST open minded and least ignorant, as they believe that ANYTHING is possible… and NOT that we will NEVER know the answers, but just that we don’t have them NOW.

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  153. Nathan -  September 29, 2010 - 7:04 pm

    Oh my god, I’m an agnostic. Thanks dictionary.com.

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  154. tactileguru -  September 29, 2010 - 6:49 pm

    To me the atheist asserting that he knows that God doesn’t exist is just as ignorant as the Christian asserting that he knows that God does exist. If you understand what it is to truly “know” something then you realize that it isn’t even possible for either to really know what they profess to.

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  155. scourge99 -  September 29, 2010 - 6:46 pm

    If atheism is a belief then bald is a hair color.

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  156. Pat Lisenbee -  September 29, 2010 - 6:39 pm

    Normam, Sept 29,In my opinion, you are off the ball when it comes to atheists. I am one. I just don’t believe there is any sort of higher power, super being, etc, and so forth. No name for them, nothing. I do not make a choice that I know there might be one and choose not to believe in god or allah or leprechauns.

    BUT: I believe that for the poeple out there who do believe in a god, allah or leprechaun, a shoe or Harvey the 10 foot bunny god who will take his believers to his Great Nest when they die (my made up God), there really is one. Because they, in thier heart of hearts, BELIEVE. So it is so. As an Athiest, I will not be so crass as to tell them they are wrong, I will let them have thier beliefs. If I am visiting thier house and they pray at thier meal, I will hold hands with them, but I will not bow my head because I do not cater and bow to any god belief. And if I am asked to say the prayer I will graciously refuse. If insisted, I have a repotoire of very non-denominational, all-world, all-god/dess, all belief “prayers” that should satisfy any needs.
    The thing is, Harold, everyone, all this arguing is moot. If poeple choose to believe in a Power of some kind, so be it. It’s thier right.
    What’s NOT thier right is to shove it down everyone else’s throat. I was born into “christianity” and forced to live in it until I reached a time in my life when I could step out of it and shed the lies I was living. It’s hard to live a lie and I was soooo glad to get out! I just wish I had had the balls, when I got married, to tell my husband I was quitting and would not put the children through it, but I had the pressure of him, parents still and the family church all bearing down on me. Luckily my children have gone thier own way.
    My evening prayer is John Lennon’s “Imagine.” I hope many of you join me in it: I live in Alaska, I pray at 10 pm. Washington, CA, that’s 11PM, TX, I think it’s either 12 or 1, I forget, but NC, it’s 4 hours more. But even if you choose to pray at your 10 pm, you’re still joining me. Here’s the words, feel free to copy them if you don’t know them all.

    Imagine

    Imagine there’s no heaven
    it’s easy if you try
    no hell below us
    above us only sky
    Imagine all the people living for today

    Imagine there’s no countries
    it isn’t hard to do
    nothing to kill or die for
    and no religion too
    imagine all the people living life in peace

    You… you may say
    I’m a dreamer,
    but I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one.

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    no need for greed or hunger
    a brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people sharing all the world

    You… you may say
    I’m a dreamer,
    but I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one.

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  157. Someone -  September 29, 2010 - 6:24 pm

    First, Atheism isn’t a “default” position. All positions are learned, like it or not. Second, it is entirely irrational to claim that agnostics aren’t open to interpretation of the physical world around them. Some people prefer to examine things before they form an opinion, that’s an agnostic. Both atheists and theists have formed opinions, and of course, only the former is in the position of claiming a position which can not be supported via empiricism. One can not “prove” that some thing does not exist. On the other hand, one can build evidence to support that a thing does exist. These are basic logical truths which the common atheist overlooks as they do not base their attitudes within reasoning, but upon the arguments of authorities whom they trust.

    Norman, while you profess to be a theist at least you comprehend this logical fallacy of the atheists, who like to pretend as if “science” is what they predicate their attitudes on. Most atheists are incredibly lacking in logical reasoning and they are literally followers of authority figures, as are most of the religious.

    I have been an agnostic since I dealt with these issues back when I was 12-14 years old. About two years ago I was willing to acknowledge that we all came from some where and I’ve never seen the “big bang” as any thing more than the THEORY that it is. Your typical atheist embraces theory as if it is always empirically backed, which just isn’t the case. I’ve heard some terrible things about pantheists, but that is about the most rational thing that I’ve been able to perceive.

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  158. T. R. Valentine -  September 29, 2010 - 6:24 pm

    >>An atheist doesn’t believe in a god or divine being.<<

    I believe this definition (and it is frequently found) is incorrect. It doesn't **define** anything. It is a statement of exclusion only.

    Better, IMO: An atheist is one who believes there is no god or divine being.

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  159. Adrianne -  September 29, 2010 - 6:14 pm

    Wow, this was very interesting and informative. I enjoyed learning new words and some “history” per say. Thanks

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  160. mushymushy -  September 29, 2010 - 6:08 pm

    mike p., do you always talk out your a**? i consider myself an agnostic. and i am absolutely nothing like what you described an agnostic to be. i am very open minded and can speak for religious and scientific views on the creation of man. and so what if people think this or that. why does everyone have to be categorized? i have been to several churches of different denominations and found them all to be full of it. religion can be good for people if its not abused or manipulated. so its not that i have a problem with a higher deity, its the bs the churches teach/preach. you don’t need to go to a specific building on certain days to practice your religion or be religious. i am not religious. and i dont want to be however i am open to hear other’s opinions and views as long as they’re beliefs are forced on me.

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  161. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  September 29, 2010 - 5:34 pm

    (P.S. #2. Planets like newly-discovered Gliese 581g, 20-lightyears away, may have been in line to receive other ships of the Great-Diaspora and may even be our contemporary parallels: depending on their angle of approach.)

    Ray.

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  162. ms.karma -  September 29, 2010 - 5:32 pm

    how about anti-Christs? obviously they do not believe in GOD the SON. how about GOD the FATHER?

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  163. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  September 29, 2010 - 5:31 pm

    (P.S. I should have also included Heh and Kek who had lived 7666 and 8333 years before arriving, who served on the Council of Greats, the Ogdoad-8. N.B. The lesser Council the Ennead-9 was a mixture… They would have had two councils, Greater and Lesser of upto 30-each, but had suffered a loss of lineage before arriving….)

    Ray.

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  164. Tedweird -  September 29, 2010 - 5:31 pm

    And then there are what I call ‘antheists’: people who just don’t care one way or the other.

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  165. janos -  September 29, 2010 - 5:28 pm

    Is there a correct answer to religious beliefs? Can they truly be defined? Not everyone who belongs or claims to a certain religion is going to be exactly like everyone else in the group. People have different views and take things differently.

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  166. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  September 29, 2010 - 5:20 pm

    Basically a confused article…

    “Divine” has long been the translation for the longer-longevity Adam-and-Eve-type-gods living typically 900 years… though after the flood their longevity decreased (they messed-up their siring schedule and lost out);

    And, for the supralongevity-types living typically 9000 years…

    (Of which, three possibilities are known to potentially exist:

    1. Thoth who was Khonshu (Kh’An-Shw THE-LORD-Shw) Jehovah’s birth-twin and replaced him as first-son-of-Ra after Shw’s demise … but who may have been swept away in the Egyptian superflood recorded in the Bible, at the age of ca 1957 years;

    2. Seth because he was born 666 years after Shw, (the number of a Man), but who died or recused himself at 912 because Horus was back for more ruling years and more troublemaking (because Ra favored Seth as such);

    3. Eloi Eloah “the living god” formerly Noah Utnapishtim ‘whom the gods made immortal’ born about 1333+40~years after Shw, made famous by Christ Jesus’ last repute;

    But, Not included, were–

    4. Tubalcain born 1333 years after, but whom Lamech killed for causing him to shoot Adam while hunting, so, 40~years later Noah replaced him;

    5. Shw himself was murdered by Enki Ea Cainan;

    6. Ra already lived 7000 as Amun and 1000-more before leaving Thoth in charge;

    7. Ptah had lived 9000 before arriving and unknown after.

    Those are the men, The woman we know too little-of.)

    “Semidivine” is the equivalent of demigod, having mixed parentage.

    And, otherwise, the notion of God as Creator, The One Intelligence of man, and the universe, The Immortal Principle (truly immortal not -a- longlived or killable principal), is what we study-about to understand.

    That all leaves “agnosticism” and “atheism” as quaint beerhall blather.

    Ray.

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  167. Anonymous -  September 29, 2010 - 5:15 pm

    Atheism is not a “lack of belief.” If that were true, there would be a whole lot more atheists in the world, like babies. Atheism is the belief that gods do not exist.

    Norman: Theists are the ones who have to prove the existence of a god. Atheists do NOT have to prove that a god cannot exist. Lack of evidence for the non-existence of a deity does not mean that that position is equally as invalid as lack of evidence for the existence said deity. If I said I could fly, you might say, “That’s impossible!” But you couldn’t prove it; it’s impossible to prove. So, for all you know, I can fly, but I choose not to. The burden of proof would be on me: I would have be the one giving evidence that I can fly in order for it to be accepted. I can’t just say “Well, you can’t prove that I’m wrong, so it must be true!”

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  168. Christopher T. Reese -  September 29, 2010 - 5:03 pm

    interesting blog .. very informal… but..and i say this with all the love and my heart….. this is really pointless.. do your research.. There is a God .. There Is A Heaven ….. And Jesus Christ is the son of god… And the only way to heaven is through him… Atheis Or Ango.. cling to Jesus Christ And you to will realise why this does not matter

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  169. NathanD -  September 29, 2010 - 5:01 pm

    @Joan and Cymast: Atheism does not rely on logic, because there is no proof that there ISN’T something grander, whatever you want to call it. Nor is it the default position.

    If someone posited that kangaroos drank turpentine, I shift my position as soon as I hear the statement (either I agree or disagree)…Prior to the statement being said, I did not know enough to have a position on the matter. The “default” position is NOT KNOWING ENOUGH TO HAVE A POSITION! Atheism is just one of many BELIEF-centered positions. The “belief” is that there is nothing to believe in (except that central tenet, of course!).

    I still don’t believe in atheists. I think the term is a misnomer and are better described as anti-theists.

    I am not defending agnostics here, but at least they have their logic right.

    Whether or not they’ve experienced the divine and want to attribute it to that, that is up to them. It is a choice.

    TO sum up, religion (or lack of one) is a belief, a position, and a choice.

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  170. LorenzoLf/KCMO -  September 29, 2010 - 4:59 pm

    i meant to say, seems to be nothing more than rigmarole. pardon my sigmund slip, lol.

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  171. Cryptic -  September 29, 2010 - 4:56 pm

    Cymast, I strongly disagree with your statement that “Atheism is not a choice, it is the default position. Atheists don’t believe gods exist just like they don’t believe leprechauns exist.” Atheism is not the default position, if anything, agnosticism (which is a position of neutrality) could be considered “default” if you had to. Truly though, there is no default position because ones faith (or lack of it) is influenced by your experience throughout life. I also disagree with your statement that atheism is not a choice. I can see why you would say this, but if atheism is not a choice, than neither is Christianity, or Judaism, or any other faith. As a child, it might not be a choice, but as one grows, and forms opinions of things, you do have a choice. The choice to practice whatever religion you believe in. Now, I realize that atheism is not a religion, but you still have the choice to abandon religion and belief in a “divine being” and become an atheist. Now, this is just my opinion of course and it is fine if you disagree. Thank you for hearing me out.

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  172. Alice -  September 29, 2010 - 4:52 pm

    Some of us don’t even care for labels…. some of us prefer not to waste time on definitions and recognize that most folks personal philosophies are just that. Taylor made just for them.
    I think the very idea of comparing what (you) believe to what (I) believe is detrimental to society.
    It causes rifts. Religious and non-religious people constantly struggle to co exist.
    Personally, I guess I am atheist. But I would never go around announcing it. It simply does not matter what I believe. What matters is, I get to walk this earth one time. And that’s enough.
    I’m grateful for that.

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  173. LorenzoLf/KCMO -  September 29, 2010 - 4:50 pm

    I agree this was a great analysis of the two beliefs. I on the hand of the deist am very excited to see that there was an actual name and explanation to my belief. You hear about atheism but agnosticism is rarely ever mentioned. I believe that if you aren’t 100% commited to one religion, then there is no atheism only agnosticism. when you have agnosticism, atheism seems to nothing more than rigmarole. But overall my soilid belief, no god as the bible explains it or is there all these different gods, but one creator who or whatever that may be that we’ll never be able to explain. I feel the day we’re able to explain where we come f/is the day we need no longer to exist. Life is one big mystery, lets not spoil the story by exposing the zenith. Love, Live, Life BAMN(by any means neccessary).
    comment trademarked.

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  174. Chris -  September 29, 2010 - 4:45 pm

    So a theist believes a god or gods created the universe and ensure it works, and a deist believes a god or goddess created the universe but natural laws ensure it works?

    Then as someone who believes gods exist but does not believe they created the universe, what does that make me?

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  175. AGNOSTICISM? ATHEISM | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  September 29, 2010 - 4:42 pm

    [...] is an idea creating itself — over and over again” — An Agnostic wants one of em to step forward and an Atheist needs no ONE to begin. — The Big Bang is a [...]

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  176. Atli -  September 29, 2010 - 4:36 pm

    “Who exactly should be called “godless”? The person who BELIEVES THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST. But, this phrasing alone makes it obvious that atheism presupposes a faith in the non-existence of God. This is not a play on words here.”
    Yeah, that IS a play on words if I ever saw it. It’s misleading. When working with logic, you don’t change phrases as you go along, but work with an original proposition, in this case “god exists.” Theists say “I believe god exists,” atheists say “I don’t believe god exists.” The fact that English allows for this kind of (awkward) paraphrasing shows only the shortcomings of the language, nothing more.

    Further, atheists don’t need to prove anything. All positive existential claims bear the burden of proof, or otherwise everything does, has always and will always exist by virtue of never having been proven to not exist. There is no getting around this; either prove god exists (and exactly the one you’re proposing) or lower your expectations for obedience from nonbelievers, but you have no right to accuse them of hypocrisy if you fail.

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  177. Kaereste -  September 29, 2010 - 4:29 pm

    @Norman

    I do see the point you are trying to make, but it is faulty logic. By saying an atheist is rejecting belief in a god, you assume there is such a thing to reject in the first place. One must presume the existence of a god in order to reject it.

    When the idea of such a being was first introduced to me, I thought it was a novel idea. The concept of a god or gods is really quite intriguing.

    I do not, however, feel compelled assign it any special significance. Honestly, it was years before I realized there were people who viewed deities as more than a narrative device. I don’t reject your god any more than I reject Luke Skywalker.

    Imagine you’d never learned of your god. Then one day, some one tells you about their belief in some deity. Is it really rejection to simply listen to what they say, accept their right to think freely, and go on as you did before?

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  178. john jacob -  September 29, 2010 - 4:24 pm

    atheism sucks and it is a choice

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  179. catherine -  September 29, 2010 - 4:23 pm

    and sarah im with you!!! i met an “agnostic” person just the other day who completely didnt know what it means to actually be “agnostic”!!!!!

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  180. catherine -  September 29, 2010 - 4:21 pm

    um… WOW.
    CYMAST: i love how you compared belief in God to belief in leprechauns…
    thats sarcasm if you cant tell—

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  181. John Bailey -  September 29, 2010 - 4:12 pm

    Norman: Sorry your essay or rather offensive diatribe IS infact making the most of a play on words. Unfortunately it was too long (and boring) to read beyond the first few paragraghs. Can’t be bothered responding to the points you raise as it appears you are just another blinkered member of the God-squad spouting their dogma by rote.

    Personally I would “label” myself as a rational agnostic and as such I don’t believe in such deities, gods, the Tooth Fairy or even Father Christmas.

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  182. sinbad -  September 29, 2010 - 4:11 pm

    I have to say that I don’t see the distinction between agnostic and atheist. An atheist doesn’t believe in god, but neither does an agnostic. Even if the agnostic claims to “not know” whether there’s a god or not, that still makes him an atheist because until he knows, he doesn’t believe and if you don’t believe, that makes you an atheist.
    But atheists don’t know either. No one knows.

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  183. Cymast -  September 29, 2010 - 3:50 pm

    Mike P: I did not redefine “agnostic,” that would be absurd. An agnostic, as defined by dictionary.com, *as it relates to a person defined by religious beliefs* (as this post does) is “a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as god, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.” The keys words in this case are “ultimate cause,” “essential nature,” and “limited.” Try having a real conversation with an agnostic, and you will find I am right.

    Norman: Atheism is not a choice, it is the default position. Atheists don’t believe gods exist just like they don’t believe leprechauns exist.

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  184. Joan -  September 29, 2010 - 3:48 pm

    Norman, lets say a living, talking shoe created the universe. A group that rejects that idea would be as wrong as the person who stated that because they can’t disprove it with evidence?

    I understand your ideas though, because atheism is a belief as well. No one has yet to prove that God doesn’t exist, but religion can’t really compare with atheism.

    Religion is based on faith, it relies entirely in what you believe in your heart, not your brain or logic. Atheism, on the other hand relies more on reason even though it is also a belief. To an atheist, if you say God exist, than you might as well acknowledge a octopus created the moon and a pile of dung created Saturn.

    To say one is just as wrong for not giving evidence to deny something that can’t be proved are similar to the methods of pseudoscience.

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  185. sarah -  September 29, 2010 - 3:33 pm

    Wow, Its sad that some grown people don’t know what these religeons mean… i’m a ten year olf kid and I know what they both mean.

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  186. mr waleed -  September 29, 2010 - 3:17 pm

    there is no god but allah who created every thing

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  187. NathanD -  September 29, 2010 - 3:12 pm

    @Nilbog: The absence of a belief system is still a belief in the validity of that absence. In order to believe in that validity, one must create a system.

    I do not believe in atheists because I think the term is an oxymoron. Rather, they are anti-theists.

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  188. Waltz -  September 29, 2010 - 3:07 pm

    I am more inclined to think that, moreso, religion by itself does not bring one closer to a personal theistic view, but through a personal spiritual development and a willingness to believe brings one closer to a theistic view. I imagine that a critical examination the world’s religions would be beneficial to a large number of people in choosing their own religious (or non-religious) beliefs, but I would not go so far as to say that theists accept without question. Faith is one thing, but being led by the nose is quite another.

    Further, I think analysis is open for what people refer to as “God,” a position that any force in the universe can occupy, if it has the right sort of person to believe as such. Money, for instance, could serve as a person’s god just as much as the sun.

    Also, I had held to the belief that an agnostic does not formally acknowledge, nor refute, the presence of any deity of any kind. Instead, I have known only a couple, that say “there could be anything out there, but I am not in a position to say what is or is not God,” as if an attempt to define in absolute terms as we may have experienced others do. Perhaps in essence, you do not, to yourself or others, assert that there is no way that a human being can define God in any qualitative way, but the insistence still exists that you do not give that definition to what you believe (or don’t believe) in the way others may.

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  189. Norman -  September 29, 2010 - 3:06 pm

    I most certainly disagree with the dictionary’s definitions.

    Most of atheists characterize themselves as “godless”. But, only few of them have comprehended the significance of this expression, or the logical contradictions that are prerequisites of its acceptance.

    Who exactly should be called “godless”? The person who BELIEVES THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST. But, this phrasing alone makes it obvious that atheism presupposes a faith in the non-existence of God. This is not a play on words here.

    Many atheists claim: “I don’t believe in God, because I have no evidence of this.” But when you ask them: “What evidence do you have of the opposite?” they can only present their hypotheses, without a shred of actual evidence. Thus, their atheist position is not the result of any evidence, but simply their CHOICE between two, improvable aspects: the existence and the non-existence of God.

    On realizing this impasse, and in their attempt to avoid this logical contradiction, some of them say: “I am not rejecting the existence of God; I simply don’t have a piece of evidence that will make me believe in God”.

    These people are consistent in what thy say. The only thing is, THEY ARE NOT CALLED ATHEISTS; THEY ARE CALLED AGNOSTICS. An Atheist is the one who rejects the existence of God. An Agnostic is the one who is open to the possibility of God existing, but has not yet been convinced of it.

    And of course this refers to the true Agnostics; the ones who can recognize the above difference. Because there are also those who claim to be open to the possibility of God’s existence, but declare themselves to be “atheists”, thus indicating that they have basically taken a stance, hence their claim of being open to the possibility of God’s existence is only a cover-up, to conceal their contradiction. But they are easily detected, by their open hatred towards anything that has to do with God. The fact alone that they claim to be open to the possibility of God’s existence, shows that: either they are not true atheists, but are suffering from a total confusion of meanings, or, they are actually atheists, who are trying to conceal their fanaticism behind the cover of agnosticism.

    It is therefore important –in any conversation with atheists- to clarify exactly what they mean, and what their affiliation is to Agnosticism.

    So, from the moment someone says: “I am an atheist”, he is actually declaring his faith in an unproven statement that: “God doesn’t exist”.

    And it is so improvable, as is the acknowledgement that “God exists”. Hence, atheism is not aligned with rationalism and logic. It is simply one more religion.

    Consequently the Dictionary’s definition is most certainly lacking.

    But, there is another contradiction in the logic of atheism:

    Even though -at first glance- atheism appears to reject every notion of God, deep down, it is inconceivable for someone to reject something, unless they have related it to something. We reject something, when we have somehow related it to something else. Hence, a notion of God must pre-exist in our mind, which want to reject.

    It is impossible for one to escape from the question of God, regardless whether he is a Christian, or a follower of another religion, or even a denier of every notion of God. That person first must sort out in his mind, exactly what it is that he is rejecting, before proceeding to reject it.

    So, when an atheist says: “I reject the notion of God”, it is consistent to ask him: “How do you perceive the notion of God?” because he has A CERTAIN NOTION in mind that he is rejecting. If we ask him more analytically, we usually hear him speak of a specific “type” of god, whom he understands as “God”.

    Comprehending the “type” of god he has in mind is very important for Christians, and especially for Orthodox Christians, because in Orthodox theology, even the minutest detail regarding God is of great importance, which can change everything. In doing this, we will realize that usually (if not always), an atheist has an entirely mistaken notion of “what is a god”, or, “what” or “who” is God.

    If the atheist is simply prejudiced –as is the majority of atheists– we perceive that he has entirely fallacious notions of all of the above; that he will speak of monster-gods, which not even we Christians accept. In the few atheists who reject God on true philosophical and consistent grounds, we perceive a rejection of the non-existent gods of both Western and Eastern religions.

    (Source: http://www.oodegr.com/english/atheismos/thriskeia1.htm )

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  190. J -  September 29, 2010 - 3:00 pm

    They aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive terms – it’s perfectly possible (and quite common) to be both atheist and agnostic. Atheism pertains to belief; agnosticism pertains to knowledge. For instance, I identify as an agnostic atheist – I don’t believe in any deities, but I also don’t think it’s possible to *know* beyond a doubt whether there are or aren’t any. It simply doesn’t matter to me.

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  191. Mike P. -  September 29, 2010 - 2:51 pm

    Okay, and I guess my entire rant is proven irrelevant, as Cymnast just redefined what an agnostic believes in. I’m useless…

    Yeah, here’s where you’re wrong, Cymnast:

    Agnostics don’t believe in anything. They don’t want to know where we came from. They don’t want to know if there’s any higher being that’s watching over us on a cloud in the sky. They don’t want to hear another person’s opinions on how the universe was created. Oh, but there is one thing agnostics believe in: They believe ignorance is bliss.

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  192. Mike P. -  September 29, 2010 - 2:45 pm

    Well, this clears up matters for me. I’m really not sure what I believe in. It’s almost as if I’m caught between two sides. Atheists and agnostics aren’t bad people, don’t get me wrong, but agnostics seem to be clouded in ignorance. From the definition of an agnostic, they don’t seem to be open to suggestions on how the universe was created. They essentially believe we’ll never know about things that are beyond us, but as human history has shown, we’ve learned many complex things. The universe, of course, is a vast, difficult… impossible to describe, and so are other things. But if we keep our minds open, perhaps we’ll one day know, just… just a little bit of how the universe was formed. It had to come from somewhere, right? Things don’t magically appear. There’s got to be a reason. But isn’t that the eternal question humanity has been wondering about since the beginning of time?

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  193. Nilbog -  September 29, 2010 - 2:31 pm

    It would also be good to note that atheism is not either a belief system or doctrine. That it simply means the absence of belief in one very specific thing.

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  194. Cymast -  September 29, 2010 - 2:22 pm

    Atheists and agnostic are surprisingly . . knowledgeable about religion? I’m not at all surprised, as atheists and agnostics likely arrived at their respective non-beliefs and ideas through critical examination of religions which most theists accept without much question. A correction- agnostics do NOT “assert that it’s impossible for human beings to know anything about how the universe was created.” Only theists do that when they say, “God did it.”

    Reply

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