Feedback on chart

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MakPo's picture
Feedback on chart

I created a chart to help describe the difference between theist/atheist and gnostic/agnostic. Do you guys have any suggestions on how to improve it?



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Nyarlathotep's picture
Can you give us an example of

Can you give us an example of an actual state someone might have?

MakPo's picture
I can't seem to add a second

I was thinking something like this.


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CyberLN's picture
I don’t understand the

I don’t understand the gradation for a/theist. What is a 5 on, say, the atheist side vs. a 7 on it?

MakPo's picture

10: "I completely believe there is a god ..."
5: "I'm pretty sure there is a god ..."
0: "I have no idea if there is a god ..."
5: "I'm pretty sure the is no god ..."
10: "I completely believe there is no god ..."

10: "... and I can prove it."
9: "... and I am so certain of this that if it was ever proven to be wrong it would be mind altering."
5: "... but I don't know for certain."
1: "... but it wouldn't surprise me if I was wrong."
0: "... but I could just as easily believe the opposite when convenient."

On this scale, you can never be more gnostic than you are theist or atheist. You can't have a 5 belief and a 10 knowledge. At the same time, the greater the difference between belief and knowledge, the greater the cognitive dissonance.

Cognostic's picture
The chart is wrong. I

The chart is wrong. I suspect you are new to atheism. Your chart indicates that atheism is a belief system. This is not the case. You must compare Theism with Anti-theism. Many atheists are also anti-theist but not all. Many Agnostics are theists.

--------------------Belief -------------------
5 -------------------- 0 ------------------5
Antitheist ---- Atheist -------- Theist
-------------------Agnostic ---------------
5 -------------------- 0 ----------------- 5
----------------- Knowledge -------------

Think about it this way.....

FACTS / KNOWLEDGE -------------------------------- LABEL ---------------------- OUTCOME

To a Theist - 0+0+0+0+0+0+0+0 = --------- THEISM -------------- God obviously exists.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------All those 0's are 1's.
To an Atheist - 0+0+0+0+0+0+0+0 = No REASON TO BELIEVE ----- Lack of belief
To an Anti-theist - 0+0+0+0+0+0+0+0 = DISLIKE/HATE RELIGION -- Religion is evil. _____________-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------All those zeros are -1's
To The Agnostic - 0+0+0+0+0+0+0+0 = No knowledge is there --- But I will either believe --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------or disbelieve anyway
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- because it feels right to me.

What is the atheist position? To get this try imagining a jar of jelly-beans or gumballs. You look at the jar and you make the assertion - "The number of jelly-beans or gumballs in that jar is even. (God exists.)

So being the good skeptic (Atheist) I ask you. "Have you counted them? Did you weigh them? How do you know this? You can show me no evidence at all as to how you came up with the idea that the number of items in the jar was even., You show me an old book that says a jar of that size always contains an even number of jelly-beans. That is demonstrably false. Add just one more bean or take one away and the beans in the jar will be odd. You talk about divine inspiration. Well that may be fine for you but it does not convince me. You tell me about design. Why would a designer make anything odd. Everything should have balance. This argument is equally unconvincing. In the end... (THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART) I DON'T BELIEVE YOU!

At no point did I suggest that the number of Jelly-beans in the jar were odd. (That God did not Exist.) (This is what you are showing on your chart when you juxtaposed Atheism with Theism. Theism is belief in 0. Atheism is a lack of belief in 0. Atheists do not assert, "GOD DOES NOT EXIST." This is an anti-theist position or sometimes called "HARD ATHEISM." No one needs to adopt the position of "God does not exist to be an atheist." Theism is juxtaposed to Anti-theism and not Atheism. Hard core atheists are generally anti-theist and you hear more from them as they are more outspoken. But Atheism does not make the assertion "God does not exist. " Atheism is a lack of belief in God. Atheism and Agnosticism are both BEGIN at the ZERO POINT.

MakPo's picture
From the way I understand it,

From the way I understand it, according to Matt Dillahunty and other YouTube atheists, anti-theist is a subgroup of atheist. According to my chart, it would be someone that is high belief and high knowledge. It could also indicate that they are actively fighting (not in a bad way) against religion. This would be a case of all A is B, but not all B is A logic.

My chart shows that meny agnostics are theists. Yellow is agnostic and it is in both theist and atheist.

I don't understand the 0+0+0... part.

I get the gumball analogy. Tracie Harris gives a good demonstration of this on The Atheist Experience. This chart is just meant as a visual graph of where people's beliefs in and knowledge of the existence of god might be. I don't think people are completely binary, I am 100% theist or I am 100% atheist. When I was deconverting from Christian to Atheist, it wasn't just overnight. It was a gradual change and both my knowledge and my belief shifted differently.

If I had to put myself on this scale when I was strongest in my faith, I would put my belief at a 9 or 10 but my knowledge at a 4 or 5. The harder I tried to bring up the knowledge of God's existence, the more it fell. As it fell, it dragged my belief down also. As my knowledge in god's existence slipped to knowledge of his non-existence, so did my belief slip to athiesum.

As far as burden of proof, most atheists don't put themselves at a 100% knowledge of god's non-existence so we don't have the burden. Those that do would have the burden. I also don't think that a theist that puts himself low on the knowledge should have to have the burden of proof. They don't claim to know completely. The problem is, I feel like most theist do put themselves much higher on the knowledge scale and as they do, their burden of proof increases.

Going back to the gumball analogy, I get the odd and even as being a good way to describe it, but I like my twist on it a little better. In my version there jar is almost completely blacked out so you can't see inside. One group of people say that "there is a big blue gumball"; another group says that "it's not blue, it's red"; while another group says, "There isn't one big gumball, there are lots of little ones and they are all sorts of colors." Now the atheist comes along and says, "How can you tell what the color is? I can't see anything in there. In fact, when I pick it up it feels like it's empty." If you would like to throw anti-theists in the story, then the he also picks it up and strait up claims that "Not only does it not feel like there is nothing in it, there is without a doubt nothing in it. On top of that, you guys are making laws and regulations based on the idea that there is a gumball in the jar."

My last thought on the topic of burden of proof is that even if the theist has high belief and high knowledge of god's existence, he still might not have the burden of proof. There is one last element and that is the claim or the attempt to push his belief on people. If he is lazy and makes no effort to convert you and he makes no effort to effect your life, then he doesn't need to prove anything.

Nyarlathotep's picture
MakPo -

MakPo -
10: "I completely believe there is a god ..."
5: "I'm pretty sure there is a god ..."
0: "I have no idea if there is a god ..."
5: "I'm pretty sure the is no god ..."
10: "I completely believe there is no god ..."

You have assigned the same value to 2 very different situations. I really don't think that is a road you want to go down; but it looks easy to fix.

Cognostic's picture


"From the way I understand it, according to Matt Dillahunty and other YouTube atheists, "

Yes. This is correct. The error occurs in juxtaposing atheism with theism. Atheism is the default position. It is at the ZERO point. (This is the point of the jelly bean analogy.) I like your version as well. In your chart, Atheism belongs at the ZERO point with BELIEF and KNOWLEDGE. BELIEF at the zero point is not making an assertion for or against belief. KNOWLEDGE at the ZERO point is not saying there is or there isn't knowledge. Atheism at the ZERO point does not claim there is sufficient reason for belief or non-belief. (The burden of proof is on the Theist). (The anti-theist is also adopting a burden of proof.) Atheism is in the middle. It is a position without theism. It is equally without anti-theism. It is from the Atheist position that we move one way or the other.

Non-belief ----------------------------------- BELIEF ---------------------------- Having belief
Anti-theist -----------------------------------ATHEIST ---------------------------Theist

Atheism is a position on belief. It is the ZERO point between anti-theist and theist. This is what the jelly-bean analogy points out. The atheist is not making an assertion. The theist has not met their burden of proof. It may be equally said that the anti-theist has not met a burden of proof.

(Personally I will assert that 6000 years of failed gods an apologetics line up in favor of the anti-theist. It takes only a small leap of logic to become an anti-theist and a huge leap of faith to be a theist. ) Atheism is the default position. The atheists asks both the theist and the anti-theist to prove their claim.

*This is what I see as the error on your chart.

Clearly you can see that anti-theism is a subcategory of atheism. Atheism; however is not juxtaposed to theism.


MakPo's picture
How about this?

How about this?


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MakPo's picture
My only issue with this is

My only issue with this is that pretty much every anti-theist I know think of themselves an atheist. Are you saying they are not? Am I wrong in defining atheism as simply the lack of a belief in gods. I don't feel like the definition even addresses the position of anti-theist. I see anti-theist the same way that I see fundamentalist-christians. They are both a part of their respective groups, but would more strongly claim their position as fact instead of just believe or lack of belief. They are the gnostics. They both have the burden of proof. Saying an anti-theist isn't an atheist is like saying a fundamental bible literalist isn't christian.

Cognostic's picture
The same category error

The same category error occurs with Gnosis . Gnosis equals knowledge.

Knowledge supports NO GOD ------- AGNOSTIC ------- Knowledge supports God

The Agnostic is in the center position ( at the ZERO point). Agnosticism is not the assertion that there is no knowledge. It is the request to "show me the knowledge. Agnostic means without knowledge. It means no knowledge from the side of belief and no knowledge from the side of non-belief. No knowledge from the THEISTS and no knowledge from the ANTI-THEISTS. Having no knowledge there is no point to move in either direction.

This is the reason there can be Agnostic Christians. They can admit that there is no knowledge but still profess belief because it seems right to them. Agnostics can also be Atheists or anti-theists. The anti-theist Agnostic knows that there is no knowledge so obviously the theists are lying and are therefore being manipulative and evil.

Atheism is not a belief system.

Agnosticism is not a belief system.

They are not "Anti-theistic." They sit at the zero point and only make the request to see the evidence. In both cases the theists have not met their burden of proof so there is no reason to make a move in the direction of BELIEF (for the atheists) or knowledge exists (for the agnostics).

There is also no reason for either position to move to the anti-theist position. I believe god does not exist (for the Atheist) or there is knowledge supporting the non-existence of god (for the agnostic)

Agnosticism, like atheism is at the ZERO point. The "A" in both mean without. "Without" means ZERO.

AGAIN: Neither Atheism or Agnosticism is a belief system. They are not the assertion that a god does not exist. They are not the assertion that there is no knowledge. They are the ZERO POINT.
They are without belief (+) or (-). They are without knowledge (+) or (-).

MakPo's picture
Are you saying that agnostic

Are you saying that agnostic is 0 and gnostic is a 1. There is no scale on knowledge? It's binary?

chimp3's picture
I am an atheist. At times I

I am an atheist. At times I can be anti-theistic. When I am with my family I do not argue about religion. I do not oppose their beliefs. When I am online or in the voting booth I oppose religion consistently. There is no scoring for selective anti-theism

ShaMan's picture
I'm an atheist, I affirm the

I'm an atheist, I affirm the nonexistence of any god until proven wrong.

Nyarlathotep's picture
I'll say it again more

I'll say it again more explicitly: the numbers on one side of the scale need to be negative. Without that, someone could move from the left side of the line to the right side of the line yet have 0 displacement.

Cognostic's picture
@MarkPo "Are you saying

@MarkPo "Are you saying that agnostic is 0 and gnostic is a 1. There is no scale on knowledge? It's binary?"

Gnostic means KNOWLEDGE A = Withot Agnostic is "WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE" = ZERO

There is knowledge against God ------ AGNOSTIC ----- There is knowledge for God
____________________________ NO KNOWLEDGE ____________________

To move from the agnostic position you must either have knowledge that God exists or have knowledge that God does not exist. Agnostic is without knowledge. Agnosticism says nothing at all about belief.

An agnostic Christian knows there is no knowledge for the existence of god or gods but chooses to believe anyway. Probably because friends and family believe. Perhaps because he is a preacher or minister and he does not know how to do anything else. (SEE "THE CLERGY PROJECT")

Most Atheists and Anti-theists are also Agnostics. They are agnostic because they know there is no evidence supporting the existence of god or gods. The evidence just isn't there. Agnosticism is about KNOWLEDGE. Atheism is about what you do with the knowledge; BELIEF.

The reason some atheists have such a problem with agnostics is because agnostics AVOID ANSWERING THE QUESTION, "What do you believe?" or "Do you believe in a God." Responding "I'm agnostic." is a BS answer. The question was not "What do you know or what evidence do you have for the existence of a god." As far as I am concerned even the devout Christians are Agnostic and they are just deluding themselves into believing with false information they regard as facts. They are just as agnostic as the atheists when you confront their delusional thinking.

The Scale on Knowledge is AGNOSTIC. Agnostic means NO KNOWLEDGE. The (Plus 1 position) is that there is knowledge supporting the existence of God. The (Minus 1 position) is there is knowledge supporting the non-existence of God.

If you make the assertion "God does not exist," you have made a claim about reality and now you have a burden of proof. You are asserting that there are facts that support your claim. Agnosticism makes no claim. It is the default position. It is ZERO. The agnostic can demonstrate the claim of the anti-theist to be lacking. It does not imply he believes in God. Only that the claim is not sufficient for knowledge.

When the religious make their claims and say "God exists" the agnostic is capable of critical evaluation and can demonstrate the claim to be false. That does not mean they believe in the opposite. They only demonstrate that the claim as stated by the religious is not actual knowledge.

There are two claims - 1. God Exists This is either true or not true. 2. God does not exist. This is either true or not true. If I demonstrate that the claim "God exists" is false, it does not mean that I am asserting God does not exist. It only means your claim is false. If the anti-theist makes a claim that god does not exist and I show his logic to be fallacious. It does not follow that I believe a god exists. In both cases it only means the person making the claim has not met their burden of proof.

Claims are addressed ONE AT A TIME. From the ZERO POINT - Atheism and Agnosticism.

MakPo's picture
"Claims are addressed ONE AT

"Claims are addressed ONE AT A TIME. From the ZERO POINT - Atheism and Agnosticism."

This is the line that changed my mind and convinced me my chart might not be right.

Cognostic's picture
Cool! Whatever it takes to

Cool! Whatever it takes to get you there. Obviously you had the ability to actually think about it and you are in a better place now. Welcome to the club!!!! And thanks for the conversation! Glad you got it!!!

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