I believe that every person regardless of “belief” is Agnostic and it is the correct label for everyone on the planet. I believe that none of us really know and anyone that claims to know is wrong or even intentionally lying. The alternative is Gnosticism, which would be a claim that you do have real knowledge of gods. If there really was such knowledge then we could consider that and examine it instead of having all of these religions and theistic beliefs based upon faith. Well, since the theists only have faith to stand on then humanity obviously has no real knowledge. Since we are all without knowledge that would mean we are all Agnostic. It’s still the only label I really care about because it still says the most to me.
I understand the root meanings of a- and theism and see that atheism itself doesn’t really mean much. Most people using that label apparently want it watered down since it isn’t truly synonymous with antitheism or an explicit rejection of gods. Theism is the belief in gods and the prefix a- only means someone who lacks that belief or someone who isn’t in the god believer category. As a word it doesn’t mean anything more than that. It doesn’t mean the same thing as antitheism if anyone actually uses that label for themselves. If you’re not a theist then you are a-theist. Even if you might have a god belief in the future, you don’t presently so you’re still an a-theist. If you’re a hardcore antitheist then you also fit in the broad category of atheist since you also lack a belief in gods. It can be a little confusing but anyone that is non-theist is atheist. The anti- prefix is the one that means “opposed to” whereas the a- prefix just means “without”.
A reader asked what happens to the middle ground between atheism and theism, which perhaps should be phrased as between antitheism and theism. Well, I think that there really isn’t a middle ground unless you want to remain undecided on the whole subject. Agnosticism isn’t about being undecided. Maybe we could make a new word like untheist for that. 🙂 Agnosticism is truly about the lack of knowledge and being the unknowing people we are. It’s a decision to say we don’t know. A middle ground would be a nonreligious person firmly planted in the secular world and unwilling to even enter the argument enough to have a label. What is a neutral path other than to not have a label for belief or nonbelief? To all god believers (theists) we are all outsiders to their belief and the “without theism” (atheism) label is valid for anyone that is not them. If you believe like I do that we don’t know and the theists don’t have the answers, then the theists don’t care if you do so primarily from a simple lack of sharing in their belief or the added acknowledgement of your lack of knowledge on the subject. In the end I see that nontheists are both atheist and agnostic, but I think we should still choose which word says the most about us, which for me is Agnostic.