Am I an agnostic or gnostic atheist?

For some time, I’ve considered myself an agnostic atheist merely because I can’t prove that god doesn’t exist. However, I find the idea of a personal god preposterous; the likelihood of a personal god must be worse than Russell’s teapot.

A deist god on the other hand, well, I’m more circumspect. My take is that it’s a useless hypothesis that explains nothing, but it seems vaguely plausible to me that future discoveries in cosmology and physics may indicate that the universe really did “appear out of nothing” in some meaningful sense. In other words, it seems plausible to me that we might be able to prove scientifically that the universe as we know it could not exist without some “external” cause, e.g. a knob twiddler, in which case that cause could be reasonably identified with the deist’s God.

Feel free to take these arguments apart if you like, but I’m wondering whether (a) you would consider a person in my shoes a gnostic atheist and (b) whether it makes any difference what I call myself?

Posted: October 21st 2011


I used to spend time thinking about things like that, but as I’ve grown older I’ve decided it doesn’t really matter.

The whole gnostic/agnostic strong/weak perspective only matters if you have a coherent definition of something. Since I don’t know of a coherent definition of god, spending time considering whether I lack belief in a specific god or actively disbelieve is a waste of time.

Posted: October 24th 2011

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Dave Hitt www

I pick B.

If we met, it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference to me what you called yourself. Usually, I don’t care at all what someone does or doesn’t believe, as long as they don’t try to force it on others. (Which includes putting oppressive godders in office and making religion part of our government institutions.)

Religious belief, or lack of it, should be no more important than your favorite baseball team. You can feel as passionately as you like about it, and I’ll consider it trivial.

Posted: October 24th 2011

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SmartLX www

You’re an agnostic atheist, because you don’t know for sure. Gnosis can be defined as “knowledge of the divine”; therefore, a “gnostic atheist” either knows there are no gods or is a contradiction in terms.

Posted: October 24th 2011

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