Are agnostics afraid to call themselves atheist?

I love the thoughtful answers you all give on this website. I feel like you are champions for atheism and that is what the world needs. It seems in practice that the difference between atheists and agnostics is that atheists are willing to challenge the status quo and the religious powerhouses that rule so many peoples lives. Agnostics, on the other hand, seem to shy away from the controversy. I feel like we need more atheists to make a change in the world. So what’s up with those agnostics, how do we get them to join the movement? Or is there a fundamental difference between the two I am missing?

Posted: February 20th 2013

Dave Hitt www

I’ve never liked to the idea that agnostics were just wishy-washy atheists. I’m sure some are, but agnosticism comes in many flavors. For some people, being agnostic is part of their path to atheism. Others are honestly unsure and will never become atheists. Some simply don’t care – it’s not an important issue in their lives. Some, as you’ve observed, are atheists who don’t want to get involved in the fight, which is fine.

Posted: March 26th 2013

See all questions answered by Dave Hitt

Blaise www

I suspect you may be conflating the two concepts, as many in the “Why don’t you just admit you are an atheist” debate do.

Agnosticism is defined as the lack of gnosticism, which is the belief that you can know the truth of the universe by looking within yourself, with no evidence necessary. Atheism is defined as the lack of theism, which is the belief that there are one or more gods who have created, and take part in the running of, the universe.

Looked at like this, the person who declares themselves an “Agnostic” is really saying, “I don’t really believe anything until someone can prove it to me.” However, this is not a commitment to, or rejection of, theism, per se. There are lots of agnostic theists, just as there are lots of agnostic atheists. Most people who choose to call themselves agnostics are somewhere closer to the middle of the theism-atheism spectrum, and aren’t comfortable using those labels for themselves…

Posted: March 26th 2013

See all questions answered by Blaise


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