What’s the Deal with Atheism?

I guess I can’t get away from this subject so I’ll explain it again to answer this video from Hemant Mehta on his blog post titled What’s the Deal with Agnosticism?

Agnosticism isn’t in the middle of a spectrum for belief because it concerns knowledge of gods and not god beliefs. In response to this video I have to ask: what’s the deal with atheism? I could say atheism is a reactionary term that just means you reject theism. Why not use a term that better describes the limits of human knowledge concerning the supernatural? This is what agnosticism provides and isn’t a “wishy washy” middle ground on beliefs. I don’t recall reading anything from Huxley about it being a “wishy washy” middle ground term when he created it. If you read what he wrote about not identifying with atheism, it was the strong anti-theist form of atheism of his time that he was referring to and not the weak atheism many claim today. This is causing much confusion with agnosticism since agnostics and weak atheists are agreeable and overlapping positions. They have essentially the same result even though they answer the god “question” from two different questions for belief and knowledge.

Who are these theists anyway? I’ve known people that calls themselves Catholics, Methodists, Hindus, Christians, etc., but I’ve never met anyone that called themselves theist. Theism is the collective term that unbelievers call the religions. Christians, etc. (those theist people) believe what they believe based on faith alone. Atheism only exists as a term to describe those that don’t have a religion. There would be no atheism without religions so why do people think this term is such a wonderful term when all it means is you disbelieve?

The religious say to us that they believe and the “atheist” term only says that you don’t believe in response to their belief claim.

Agnosticism isn’t about belief at all. Yes, let’s stick to the basic definition of agnostic. It’s not that you don’t take a position on god since the term for that is secular. Agnostic literally means without knowledge and was created to speak of being without knowledge of gods. If we’re without knowledge then we don’t assume gods might be there since there’s no knowledge for it. Belief doesn’t enter into at all. We don’t know so don’t bother me with your religious nonsense. I don’t know where the universe came from or why because nobody knows that.

Christian beliefs without knowledge is still just a Christian. Throwing agnostic on faith-based beliefs doesn’t meaningfully modify the term just like female theist is accurate but doesn’t change the belief term. Agnosticism speaks of knowledge instead of belief or disbelief. The agnostic that evaluates current human knowledge honestly would most likely agree with weak atheism. I can’t guarantee all agnostics think that way because we don’t all agree on standards of human knowledge. We are human after all. Regardless, agnosticism is a description of open-minded skepticism and not a permanent destination of proven disbelief.

Agnostics aren’t digging in and hardening their minds against the possibility of anything supernatural ever being true. This is why atheism is unappealing to some agnostics because they think atheism means any potential god concepts is proven false and disbelief is permanent and eternal. I know this isn’t true of all atheists just like it isn’t true all agnostics are wishy washy. Personally, I’m a weak atheist today and don’t care if you call me one. Agnosticism does imply that I may not always remain a weak atheist if some knowledge of the supernatural were ever discovered. I’m sure if it is then the truth will be nothing like the primitive religions people believe today. I’ll probably be a weak atheist until I die but I honestly don’t know if we’ll always remain ignorant of the origin for this universe.

Strong atheism should just leave agnosticism alone if you don’t identify with it or agree with it. I could say that disbelief is a wishy washy and somewhat childish reaction to belief if I wanted to attack something that doesn’t neatly align with how I think. There’s absolutely no reason to stop calling myself agnostic since I place the utmost importance with knowledge. I acknowledge the limits of what we know concerning what may be beyond our known phenomena. Huxley spoke of what may be beyond what has been dreamt of in our philosophies. His descriptions of agnosticism resonates with me. I am agnostic.

When the religious say to me that they believe, I explain to them that knowledge is more important than belief or disbelief with my agnostic response.

It’s not wishy washy at all because describing myself as agnostic is still not describing myself as a Christian, Muslim, etc. I’m simply agnostic and that’s a perfectly acceptable term to describe what we know.

Bald Isn’t A Hair Color

I’m going bald so I can relate to the phrase “bald isn’t a hair color.”  It’s a rebuttal people use to describe how atheism isn’t a religion.  Agnosticism isn’t a religion either.  Neither of them have dogma associated with them. Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.  It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system’s paradigm, or the ideology itself.

Some folks add their own beliefs and assumptions for what atheism and agnosticism are about, but without dogma the atheists and agnostics tend to argue over what these very words mean.  In their purest sense they’re just different answers to the god question.  Atheism says “I don’t believe” and agnosticism says “I don’t know.”  They are a lack of theism based on disbelief and a lack of theism based on lack of knowledge.

I won’t believe in something if there isn’t knowledge for it as justified true beliefs so I’m primarily an agnostic in my response to religions.  I don’t believe in any religious nonsense so I’m an atheist as well since I lack religious beliefs.  Anything more to these simple facts that you may try to add to those words, then that’s just your own issues. I’m tired of arguing over the meaning of these simple words.  I don’t really care.  There is no church or undisputed leaders of either term to rule on any dogma people try to create around them.  These aren’t religions so folks shouldn’t try to use them as religions. This means you can’t criticize how someone else uses them beyond their root meanings of “without theism” and “without knowledge.”

Atheism and agnosticism aren’t religions just like:

  • Bald isn’t a hair color
  • Off isn’t a TV channel
  • Not collecting stamps isn’t a hobby
  • Inactivity isn’t a sport
  • Health isn’t a disease
  • Unemployed isn’t a job
  • Nowhere isn’t a place
  • Not playing tennis isn’t a sport
  • Silence isn’t a noise