Choosing the label Agnostic vs Atheist?

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Lauren's picture
Choosing the label Agnostic vs Atheist?

In the grand scheme of things I feel that I am an Agnostic because I have come to the realization that the concept of a higher spirit is so vast and unexplainable, I believe it is a phenomenon that we as humans cannot grasp no matter what state of consciousness we are in and therefore it is possible for a higher spirit to exist. Having said this, saying I am Agnostic does not mean I am giving the okay for the Christian God or any other higher spirit we are so accustomed to, it just means I cannot explain it or even care to.

At times I feel like simply telling others I am Atheist though because I feel that if I use the term Agnostic people will assume I believe in the possibility of the Christian God's existence and will view me as a partial believer which is the last thing I want people to think. I do not want to support organized religion at all but I feel that the term Agnostic permits this association.

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Zaphod's picture
Eh, either way I am sure no

Eh, either way I am sure no matter what way you present yourself, you will meet you fair share of people who will try to convert you. I don't believe in a god, have not ruled it out completely, got no proof for or against there being one, am firmly convinced that any religion that thinks they got it figured out is wrong and I don't want people making it their mission in life to try and convert me to their belief system either. I look at God as a tool but really as a made up term to define what is unexplained and religion is a technique employed to gain influence using this tool. Sometimes its used for good and sometimes its used for evil. I don't subscribe. If there is, and I am not saying there is or is not, a creating force to this universe though logic seems to stand there may be, I don't think its God as any religions put forth.

I really enjoy reading your post! If you lived out here instead of where you have mentioned before, I would suggest we hang out sometimes and talk about things we could do like organizing some sort of events. There was a group who called themselves the Christian Do Gooders who a long time ago in a town I once lived in, would give out food to whoever wanted it in a local downtown park. They started by baking cookies, I suggested soup to them and they added it in there. Everybody loved the weekly events they threw and they were not pushy at all with their religious views, it was doing good for the sake of doing good and nobody knew but the people in the group what sort of Christians they were unless they were specifically asked. It was great but eventually fizzed out. It would be cool to do a similar type of thing. I remember there being goth people even joining in on the fun. Eventually more and more people started bringing things to the events. Everyone it seemed looked forward to Wednesdays I think it was, but it could have been Thursdays.

Lauren's picture
lol yes that's me in the pic

lol yes that's me in the pic with the basketball ;) The only thing I have really wanted to get going is a Talking Circle where people gather to simply share information. It is more geared towards people teaching and learning, not debating. I have done general promotion through FB but it's gone no where. I think I'm going to have to actually make fliers and pass them out :/ Not my fav thing to do plus takes time but I would love to have a group to call home.

On the subject, in the end I think I connect more with the label Atheist because the concept of a higher spirit has no appeal to me whatsoever. I basically say eh, it could be possible in some kind of inconceivable way, but I really have no interest to ponder it. Life goes on.

Zaphod's picture
And that me in the picture

And that's me in the picture with the two heads! LOL

Zaphod's picture
So, who is this in the

So, who is this in the picture now?

DarkLight's picture
Don't choose any labels. You

Don't choose any labels. You are a human being and you learn and evolve, you believe different things at different stages of life and you decide just how open you want to be to logic instead of fairy tales.

Zaphod's picture
Definitely with Darklight

Definitely with Darklight here, no need for labels I definitely consider myself to be agnostic atheist with agnostic tendencies for now but people do learn and evolve and belief changes with the stages of life for some! But labels do help you to explain your point of view with less words as long as the person you are talking with understands the label you are using. I understand that with some people who less understand the labels and tend to stereo type people who carry such labels, you can be easily put into a situation you don't want to be in by using them. So it may be best to avoid the labels all together.

James's picture
I agree we should avoid

I agree we should avoid labels, that is way to separate people from each other and it is already done in the name of religions, race, nationality

SammyShazaam's picture
If I had to look in my heart

If I had to look in my heart and tell everyone what I believe, I'm kind of leaning toward Athiest. However, out of principle, I'm definitely agnostic. I really don't believe in any of the gods presented to me up to this point, but being as it is impossible to prove the *non* existence of any god at all, I figure the jury's still out so I shouldn't call the verdict early :)

Rob's picture
To religious people both the

To religious people both the atheist and the agnostic and insane people who are going to hell anyways. I personally dislike all those labels because they make no sense at all if you're trying to break out of the regular standards of religion.

Unknowntyper's picture
These terms are not mutually

These terms are not mutually exclusive, as has been said. However, ultimately the agnostic stance goes over better in general conversation. Personally I use them together to describe my thoughts and feelings. I used to consider myself specifically an "agnostic deist". However, my purposed deism was likely due to my past as a dyed-in-the-wool believer. Regardless, I still wonder if the label fits in some way. I do necessarily believe in the "Deist God"; but I do think that a deist god is the most likely form if God(s) does/do in fact exist. So my stance is basically one of wonder. This of course defines me for all intents and purposes an "agnostic atheist", a wishful one, but one one the less. I do not hate God, nor do I hate spirituality (in fact I believe that emotional spirituality is a real and natural thing - Most scientist do feel these sensational wondrous experiences in our work, devoid of theism and the supernatural).

I would have to say that for all atheists the most common and ultimately logical stance is one of agnosticism. A gnostic atheist is more rare, and arguably not possible (hence it being more so an expression of very firm belief backed up by proofs).


mysticrose's picture
Well for me, I prefer the

Well for me, I prefer the label Atheism. What if there's god? At least I will be at safer zone, lol! I will not go directly to hell if it exists.

Unknowntyper's picture
I am not sure how that works

I am not sure how that works per se, or I missed exactly what you meant there. Was it that being labelled atheist (no capital 'A' by the bye) is beneficial?

Regardless, the terms are not "either or", they are not mutually exclusive. Atheism is the definition of one's belief, gnosticism defines what one knows.

You can be an agnostic atheist (I do not know no gods exist, but I believe no gods exist), gnostic atheist (I know no gods exist, and believe no gods exist), agnostic theist (I do not know that god(s) exist, but I believe that god(s) exit), gnostic theist (I know god(s) exist and believe that god(s) exist), and even agnostic or gnostic deist (specifically defined nature of said god(s)).

Zaphod's picture
When it comes to labels and

When it comes to labels and what you would prefer as a label it does not matter what you would prefer but rather what the entity judging you would prefer you be labeled. If such an entity were to be all-knowing there would be no point in trying to hide behind a preferred label as it would know what you were and how you arrived at being this. to put this simply what you choose to call yourself or deny of your past would not matter, it would stand to reason there would be no safer zone and your fate would no longer be in you hands on the day of your judgement.

mysticrose's picture
Sorry, I mean, I would prefer

Sorry, I mean, I would prefer the label Agnosticism to be on safer zone.

SammyShazaam's picture
I'm pretty sure God would

I'm pretty sure God would call you a cheater, in that case.

Lauren's picture
Wow, all these labels are

Wow, all these labels are going over my head. I think I'll just stick with Atheist but then again the term "Gnostic Atheist" may perk someone's ears since it's a less frequent label. I believe labels are beneficial at times because it is very easy to connect with others, for example when you are on a dating or networking site you can specifically seek out Atheists. They may not be straight up Atheist but at least you know they are somewhere along those lines.

I do think going around wearing tshirts with a label or being obnoxious about it though can be detrimental. For example here in Southern California I despise NOTW (Not of this world) stickers on the back of cars. I see them too often.

Unknowntyper's picture
Lol... the labels are crazy

Lol... the labels are crazy eh? I put this in another thread about the options on the profiles... I now think it will fit here. I happen to know a lot about these labels and did my best to explain them herein:

Again, I am not trying to spam the forums, this is a repeat post of mine from another thread in the suggestions room...

Unknowntyper presents: An Unknown production, in association with Nifty tid-bits Inc...

Defining the Terms for Religious Belief or: How you Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Terms

What you believe = atheist or theist
What you "know" or better yet "what you think we can know" = gnostic or agnostic

These terms describe our stances and thoughts on gods. We end up with four basic labels.

An agnostic atheist doesn't believe in gods and subsequently thinks their existence is not and or cannot be known. Most atheist fall into this category. E.g., they reject the existence of gods on account of the lack of evidence for them.

An agnostic theist believes in god(s), yet he or she does not claim to know that god(s) exist; and generally also thinks that we cannot know for a certainty that god(s) exist (even their own god).

A gnostic atheist does not believe in gods, while also asserting that it can be known that gods do not exist. This is not very common for atheists especially scientists.

A gnostic theist believes god(s) exist and asserts that it is known, and or, can be known that god(s) exist. This is a very common position for theists... Basically depends on the understanding and definition of "proof".

I hope this clears things up a bit.

SammyShazaam's picture
Thanks for breaking it down,

Thanks for breaking it down, I love etymology :)

I've heard plenty of people refer to themselves as agnostic (and I fall in that camp myself), but only here have I seen reference to gnoticism.

Unknowntyper's picture
If that was directed toward

If that was directed toward me, then you are very welcome. I also love etymology; especially when deducing the meaning of unknown words.

I do believe that there is a sliding scale here as well, but still hold to these basic "camps".



mysticrose's picture
I think I'll fall on gnostic

I think I'll fall on gnostic theist. I'm also a humanist because I'm more focus on humanity.

SammyShazaam's picture
I'd like to hear your

I'd like to hear your definition of humanism, it sounds interesting. From what I'd assume the word to mean, the world could definitely use more humanists, but let's see if we agree on the terms :)

ginamoon's picture
I think based on definitions

I think based on definitions of words, being agnostic is different from being an atheist.
On an atheist, he/she is certain of not believing to God while the other term is not being certain or sure. :P

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