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Religion 101: What is the difference between atheism and agnosticism

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- Atheist: Lack of belief in a deity. This is derived from the prefix “a” meaning “lack of” or “no” and the word “theist” meaning belief in a deity.

- Agnostic: Lack of knowledge in a deity. Again, this is derived from the prefix “a” meaning “lack of” or “no” and the word “gnostic” meaning “knowledge.” The context provided the deity aspect but it is certainly possible to be agnostic about the weather or any number of other things.

There seems to be some question about the terms “atheism” and “agnostism” so it is time to discuss it. The definitions are listed above, but they are not mutually exclusive terms as many people (particularly Christians), seem to think. Atheism concerns belief while being agnostic is a claim about knowledge.

This may get a little complicated, but let me try to explain it. I don’t know if there is a purple house on Oak Street, so I might lack the belief that there is. That doesn’t mean that I disbelieve that there is a purple house on Oak Street necessarily, but it could mean that too. However, if someone showed me a picture of a purple house on Oak Street, then I would have knowledge of the purple house and would almost certainly believe that there is in fact a purple house on Oak Street. By that same reasoning, if I said that I don’t have any reason to believe that there is a purple house on Oak Street, that doesn’t mean that I believe that there is no purple house on Oak Street. It also doesn’t mean that I believe there must be a blue house on Oak. In other words, atheism is a lack of belief in a deity, but it is not a disbelief in a deity necessarily and it is not necessarily a belief in something else either. It can be, but that is not a requirement of the set of people who lack the belief.

There are atheist religions such as Secular Humanists, The Brights, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, etc. Believe it or not, I have even met an atheist Christian (I don’t understand it either so don’t ask) and there are also a number atheist Jews that I have met. I might even be considered one of them. But that has to do in part with the Hebrew heritage and traditions and less to do with the Jewish religion. But when someone claims to be an atheist, they are not talking about a belief that they hold, but rather a belief that they don’t hold. Unless it is modified or married to some other belief, the term “atheist” is not about the person’s beliefs but rather the person’s lack of belief in a particular being or beings.

If someone were to tell me that there was a man named David living in Israel, I could say that I lack the knowledge of such a person, but I still believe it to be true. David after all is a pretty common Jewish name and it is pretty likely that there is a man named David living in a country full of Jews. This is an example of belief without knowledge. And if I were at a magic show and the Magician sawed a girl in half right in front of me, I could say that I have knowledge (in that I saw it happen right in front of my eyes) but I still don’t believe that it happened. One could argue that I know it was a trick and that is additional knowledge but I can’t really say that I “know” it as much as I can say that I don’t believe it was real based on other factors.

My point here is that knowledge and belief are two separate things and so it is entirely logical to be both an agnostic and an atheist at the same time. I also want to again clarify that atheist does not necessarily mean an active disbelief in a god just a rejection of a belief in a god. Personally, I will make the claim that particular Gods do not exist. I am reasonably certain that Thor, Zeus, and Yahweh are made up fictional characters. But that isn’t to say that I am not open to the idea of some vague higher power entity. But currently, I see no knowledge to suggest that such a vague higher power entity exists, so I lack that belief. Show me evidence for the purple house on Oak Street and I would probably believe it, but I am reasonably certain that there isn’t an Igloo on Oak Street (especially not during these summer months if we are both talking about the same Oak Street in Pennsylvania). I have no knowledge of that Igloo and I also have no belief in that Igloo.

Atheism 101 Articles:

Atheism 101: What is the difference between atheism and agnosticism?
Atheism 101: Is there moral grounding without God?
Atheism 101: The Purpose of Life
Atheism 101: Is the Bible the inspired word of God?
Atheism 101: The anti-intellectualism of religion
Atheism 101: Why has Christianity demonized nudity, sex and sexuality?
Atheism 101: Does it take more faith to be an atheist?
Atheism 101: What came before the Universe?
Atheism 101: How to respond to the ex-atheist

Comments

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Etymology is not a definition. It is the root of the word. Words are not defined by etymology and if they were then words could never have multiple valid definitions like "relative" for example. Relative means something different in logic than it does in physics or geneology. In any case, the root of the word atheism is ATHEOS, or "without god", not "without belief in a god". And the greeks did not have the word atheism, it is not derived from greek at all, the word originated in french, not greek.

    Atheism, by logical necessity, is defined as a belief there is no god. Lacking belief is not an object, not a thing and as a definition it would violate basic formal logic and set theory as well.

    Lack always uses the logical operator NOT. X is not Y does not say what X is, even if X is not Y is true. It says what X is not, not what X is. Definitions say what something is, not what it is not. NOT Y, is not a thing... ever. X is not Y does not say what X is, it says what X is not.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Logic has thankfully come a long way since the greek language was formed. In 1905 Bertrand Russell wrote an essay called "On Denoting" which introduced problems with the logical NOT operator... saying things like "the present King of France has no hair and is not bald"... showing that we can apply the NOT operator to things that do not exist. eg: it is true you did not believe in a god 2 million years ago, you lacked belief in a god then and yet you were not an atheist. Likewise for rocks, plants, concepts or the present King of France (who we know does not exist)... they all lack belief in a god yet none are atheists they are nontheists except the present King of France which is not a member of any set (not nontheist) because to be a member of any set the object must exist. NON (set theory term) can only apply to existing objects, NOT (logical term) applies in statements that use objects that do not exist.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    All of knowledge requires some degree of belief. We cannot prove the axioms of logic are true, we assume so. Beliefs are statements that may be true and may be false. So to say an atheist (belief that there is no god) knows there is no god is not what atheism is or implies. Atheism necessarily must allow the possibility there is a god, because it is a belief. "Not believing" is not a thing at all as I said earlier. It is not a property of a thing and not what atheism is. It is what an atheist is not. ie: it is true to say an atheist does not believe in a god, but the subject of that statement is not "atheist" or what an atheist is, it is what an atheist is not. Atheism is not what an atheist is not. It is true I am not you, but that doesn't state what I am, it says what I am not. "Not you" is not a thing anymore than "not believing" is something, so your assertions fail the basics of classical logic, atheism is not, not believing in a god, and nothing is that, that is not a thing.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    This kind of article is a complete misrepresentation of atheism. It is proof the author does not know what atheism is, they think atheism is what an atheist is not. It is utter fail. Please learn a little about your topic before mirepresenting atheism. This form of ignorance is intolerable, easily refuted and it violates logic itself. The author defines nontheist and thinks that is good enough, when it in fact completely distorts what atheism is.

    Theism is a belief that god exists.
    Atheism is a belief that no god exists.
    Agnosticism is unrelated and asks what man can know. I am an atheist because I believe there is no god. I am an agnostic because I believe man cannot prove there is a god or not. We can prove some gods do not exist, like the christian god or the islamic god, via contradictions about them. God never repents and then god repents, as in the bible, is impossible and that god cannot exist. Likewise the god that can do anything and also cannot have a son, is impossible.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    If weak atheism is "lacking belief there is a god"... then weak theism is "lacking belief there is no god".

    If lacking belief was something at all (it is not), then rocks, AIDS, hate, anger, the number 238 and pigs are all atheists, yet none are.

    Atheists are a set, the set of those things that believe there is no god. This set, as all sets do, has a negated set (nonatheist). You've defined nontheist and think that is an atheist and you are wrong. Atheists are a set, not the negated set of theists. Rocks are nontheist and nonatheist. Babies are nontheist and nonatheist.

    It (lack of belief) is exactly this form of misrepresentation that provokes me to say things like "you do not know what atheism is". It's such a violation of basic logic and basic set theory that you have forfieted the right to use either... you cannot call theists poor at logic and say the kinds of things that would have you laughed out of any university logic class on the planet. I know theists who do better.

  • Ryan Noble 5 years ago

    The truth is, two definitions of "atheist" are emerging depending on whether you're an atheist or a theist. One definition describes the worldview of atheists, the other describes what theists think about those atheists. Generally speaking, theists go through great lengths to create the impression that the atheist lack of faith is itself a kind of faith. This doesn't make their position more defensible, but they think it puts atheists on the defensive. But theists definition of atheists doesn't actually describe the worldview of any atheist except for the obligatory straw-man "friend" of the arguing theist (every theist seems to know this "faithful atheist.") So despite Gregs impassioned and extremely verbose efforts to insist that I, as an atheist, "believe" there is no God, I am going to have to go with Stacks on this one. I am a man without God ... or Fairies, or Dragons, or Leprechauns, etc... and I don't give any of those things more odds than any other of existing.

  • Jay Hutchison 5 years ago

    Quoting greg "If lacking belief was something at all (it is not), then rocks, AIDS, hate, anger, the number 238 and pigs are all atheists, yet none are."

    Huh? Thats one of the stupidest things ive ever heard.

  • Soulless 5 years ago

    Great article Staks. Hopefully one day it will sink into some hard heads.

    Speaking of hard heads...
    Hi Greg, I knew I would see you here with your pet diatribe.

  • William Sternman 5 years ago

    I’m a Jewish Unitarian (aka “Junitarian”). I think of myself as an agnostic: I don’t think it’s possible for me to know whether there is a god or not, but I tend to doubt it. I sometimes refer to myself as a non-Christian Christian: I believe that Jesus was an inspired teacher and humanitarian but not divine.

  • Carmenego 5 years ago

    Argh Greg! Loads to read there! Have you read "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins? In Chapter 2, Section 4 (The God Hypothesis, The Problem of Agnosticism) he suggests a spectrum of Atheism to Theism, with Agnosticism in the middle. Whilst I can see your point, I do feel that it could have been made a lot more succinctly.
    If you haven't read it already, I strongly suggest you do, it's a fantastic book :-)
    Do you run a blog where you could publish your views on the subject in full? It's a great area for debate as I don't think I've ever met two atheists who hold the same opinions on this matter!

  • Robb 5 years ago

    Great article, BUT, many sects of Buddhism are not atheist; they are instead non-theistic, meaning that they take no position one way or another on the existence or even the very definition of "God". Atheism by even your own definition implies a belief, which when broken down is really nothing more than opinion. The Buddha himself is accredited with having said "People with opinions just go around bothering one another", so...

  • Staks 5 years ago

    Robb, the definition does not imply belief at all. It is as stated a lack of belief. That was the whole point of the article.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Carmenego,

    I have read the god delusion only in excerpts. I am gklr at youtube. youtube
    (dot)com/gklr

    and Staks, wrong again, and you violate the basics of propositional logic in saying atheism is a lack of belief. 100% false and impossible. Not X is not a thing, not an object, yet you are saying that is what atheism is.

    You are a notter, not an atheist. Notters are those who say they are what they are not. That is how you describe yourself. You are, what you aren't. And you think theists violate what is sensible? You have no business writing on atheism because you have no clue as to what it is, and you say atheism is what an atheist is not. Wrong. 100% wrong.

    Saying X is not Y, does not say what X is. Ignore logic if you like, just do not think for a minute you are an atheist by that definition. Repeating it after you have been told where the error is, without response, is simply shutting your ears to the truth. Dogma by any name is still dogma. Proof is not an enemy.

  • Staks 5 years ago

    Greg, again I stand by my article and we are going to just have to agree to disagree. According to your definition, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Chris Hitchens aren't atheists. I think the mainstream media would disagree with you.

    "Saying X is not Y, does not say what X is." Very good. I agree. Atheism isn't an is, it is an is not. One needs to probe deeper to learn what each particular atheist believes on a host of issues. The atheist community for example tends to be Humanistic. But lack of belief or even belief is not an object. Your logic is flawed and you have become trapped in the bottle as Wittgenstein would put it.

    I have been told by others that this is your pet obsession Greg and that you post this type of stuff on all the atheistic Examiner pages. You need to get over yourself.

  • Daniel Birkin 5 years ago

    Greg, just to pick up on what you said.

    What is a vacuum? It is an absense of anything isn't it?
    As atheism is an absense of belief?
    I believe you can name something because of the lack of something else.

    In regards to Prof. Dawkins book and his scale i think you will find he wasn't too friendly towards one of the two choices of Agnosticism and Gnosticism...as an intelligent fellow he correctly (in my opinion) came to the conclusion that anyone who believes the KNOW (gnosticism) something which there is no proof for is either a fool or is ill. He therefore accepts his title of Agnostic, but he then goes on to say "I count myself in category 6, but leaning toward 7 – I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies" about himself on his scale from Gnostic Theism (1) to Gnostic Atheism (7), (2-6 being Agnostic beliefs).

    Only just found your blog but will make a note to check back from time to time.

  • Daniel Birkin 5 years ago

    (I'll have to ask you to forgive my many typo's, I can assure you that they are due to haste rather than challenged intellect.)

    Please accept my apollogee ;)

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    S: Greg, again I stand by my article and we are going to just have to agree to disagree.

    G: I agree we do disagree and I will continue to disagree.

    S: According to your definition, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Chris Hitchens aren't atheists.

    G: False. Have you heard of Dawkins scale? He places himself a 6 of 7 in certainty there is no god. His own words "I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there." Assumptions are beliefs. Sam Harris wants to reject the word atheism altogether. Harris, "We should not call ourselves atheists". Meanwhile he says "God is imaginary" a belief. Hitchens says atheism is a belief. Dawkins is all over the map on this issue, sometimes calling it a belief like in his scale and then also saying it is a lack of belief. He speaketh with forked tongue, but according to his own scale is an atheist because he believes there is no god.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    S: I think the mainstream media would disagree with you.

    G: An argument by authority and I disagree, the mainstream media says no such thing. I expect better than logical fallacies Staks. Using that reasoning it amazes me you are not a theist. The mainstream media says a god exists too. Is that how you reason? Someone else says so, so it's true? What an example you set for freethinkers everywhere.

    S:"Saying X is not Y, does not say what X is." Very good. I agree. Atheism isn't an is, it is an is not.

    G: Nothing is what it is not. And you contradict yourself, since you are saying atheism IS a lack of belief. Definitions say what something is. Greg is not Staks, is valid, but it doesn't speak about what Greg is, it speaks about what Greg is not. Atheists do not believe in a god is valid, but not about what atheists are, it is valid about what atheists are not. You have this mistaken impression that atheism is what atheists are not.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    S: One needs to probe deeper to learn what each particular atheist believes on a host of issues.

    G: And it would be irrelevant since the only concern atheism has is the existence or not of a god.

    S: The atheist community for example tends to be Humanistic. But lack of belief or even belief is not an object.

    G: Yet you say a lack of belief in god IS atheism. Make up your mind, you just contradicted yourself. Lack always uses the not operator. I lack wings is true, but it is not true about what I have or what I am. Not wings is not anything. Not 1 is not a number. Atheism is not the number 1 is true about what atheism is not, not true about what atheism is. Atheism is: not believing in god, is false, since "not X" in this case "believing" is X, is not anything for every X.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    S: The atheist community for example tends to be Humanistic. But lack of belief or even belief is not an object.

    G: Objects are things that exist, belief exists. "Not believing" is not a thing at all. Not X refers to nothing. Not red is not a colour. When I say my green car is not red, not red is not a property of my green car. Not red is not anything. God has a better chance of existing than "not red" or "not believing". They are not things, they describe nothing. Atheism is not red, but not red is not a property of atheism anymore than not believing is. Belief is a something, not belief is not a something. Not believing is not a thing. Not X is not a thing, no matter what X is and so long as X is something.

    To say belief is not a thing is to say belief does not exist. False Staks.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    S: and you have become trapped in the bottle as Wittgenstein would put it.

    G: I'm sorry, but it is you that is trapped in a bottle, obviously since you're holding to what is logically impossible. When you say that "Not X" is a thing, when you contradict yourself, then not only do you violate the very basics of formal logic you continue like any zeolot after being shown your error. Notters (derived from nutter) say they are what they aren't. What should give you pause, not that I expect a surge of intellectual integrity from you, is that most notters (those who say atheism is a lack of belief) disagree with you. There are 5 categories of notters.
    1 - only people are atheists
    2 - animals are atheists as they lack belief in a god
    3 - rocks are atheists as they lack belief
    4 - concepts are atheists, like the number 1 as that too lacks belief in a god
    5 - non-existant beings like the present King of France are atheists as it is true that the PKoF does not believe in a god.

    cont..

  • Andreas 3 years ago

    Wowowow...i think my head is about to explode. Gotta ask a couple of questions, and I don't expect answers since this is over year old, but:
    To this "not X' arguement (X is not Y, does not say what X is), if a situation, thing, state can only be one of two and is not one it has to be the other. Law of Logic states this. A light can only be on or off. If it is on, it is NOT off. So, if X (on) is not Y (off) it surely explains what X is...On. If we take only X and Y and proclaim that X is not Y...well then, logical thinking tells us that X is X.

  • Andreas 3 years ago

    Read this AFTER the comment below as it seems the newer posts are listed first.

    Atheist or Theist. Agnostics are a state of in-between. A little more information, research and personal involvement of expanding knowledge will swing an agnostic to either side. Is or is not. On or off. X or Y.
    ...and I am about to confuse the heck out of myself.

    The inability to be something does not automatically make it something else (rocks, pigs, numbers, animals or whatever else can be used). Just because a rock can not be atheist, does not make the rock theist. Only because the pig is unable to be atheist (due to lack of ability to think logically at a human level, which is needed to eliminate such human invention as religion is) does not mean that the pig is theist.
    I find it a bit funny that you did pick rocks, pigs, animals and such. It seems a bit offensive as there might be a subliminal attack. It takes more action to be a non-believer than it takes to be a believer. You have to be able to reason, think logical. One could assume that rocks, pigs, animals, toiletpaper would have an easier time being theist than atheist. Takes less work.

    There...I think I popped a vein in my eye...

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Whichever category you fit in leaves you in disagreement with your fellow notters. To show some integrity on the issue would mean addressing those views. Yet you are silent on it.

    S: I have been told by others that this is your pet obsession Greg

    G: See the difference between you and I is that I am an atheist. You don't know what that is. Then you run around posing as an atheist while misrepresenting atheism. I correct you and others like you as a matter of defending atheism from misrepresentation.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    S: and that you post this type of stuff on all the atheistic Examiner pages. You need to get over yourself.

    G: Only the ones who misrepresent atheism. I recently complimented D. M. Murdoch, a freethought examiner, for saying things like "we cannot fail to conclude that there certainly could not be a good god omnipotently in charge of the cosmos", which is a belief. But at least she has a conclusion that she can talk about, you do not. By saying atheism is a lack of belief you have nothing to promote, nothing to defend, so all you have is finger pointing that you masquerade as atheism.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    You've rejected the very basics of formal logic to argue sillyness from a position of dogma while misrepresenting atheism itself. Dig in your heels if you like, it won't change the fact that you are wrong and it is proven why. You are not an atheist unless you believe there is no god, which itself allows for the possibility there is a god. The bus ad says "there is PROBABLY no god", a belief. As troubling as this must be for your worldview and understanding of atheism, it remains the position of atheists. They say there is a god, we say there is not a god. You have no conclusion at all, simply the lack of a conclusion. You reduce atheism to nothing at all. No position to defend, no stand to take except opposing theism. That is not atheism, it is anti-theism. I too engage in anti-theism but realize it when I do it, you see it as Atheism 101 to simply attack what they say while standing up for nothing.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Daniel Birkin,

    D: What is a vacuum? It is an absense of anything isn't it?

    G: No, it is space that has no mass. It is not "no mass". Atheism has no mass. Logic has no mass. They also take up no space. A vacuum would have a location, concepts have no location. Physical objects like a vacuum are shown to exist via an empirical truth. Concepts are shown to exist via tautologous truths, they are true necessarily by definition. Empirical truths are contingent on facts, not necessary by definition. ie: there are no facts, like a location, of any object that exists by way of analysis like logic or mathematics or language itself.

    The present King of France does not exist, has no mass, and is not a vacuum. The PKoF also does not believe in a god is not an atheist. Rocks do not believe, they lack belief in a god and are not atheists. The number 1 lacks belief in a god and is not an atheist. Troubling? It shouldn't be. Atheism is the belief there is no god.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    "Believe it or not, I have even met an atheist Christian (I don’t understand it either so don’t ask)"

    That you allow for the possibility of an atheist christian raises doubt that you know what either is. Tell me Staks, if someone tells you they are a UFO abductee, does that make them a UFO abductee?

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Jay Hutchison,

    "Quoting greg "If lacking belief was something at all (it is not), then rocks, AIDS, hate, anger, the number 238 and pigs are all atheists, yet none are."

    Huh? Thats one of the stupidest things ive ever heard."

    Rocks, hate, anger, AIDS and the number 238 all lack belief in a god. Staks article uses a definition that applies to each of these things. I agree, it is stupid. It's why Staks definition fails.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Robb,

    "many sects of Buddhism are not atheist; they are instead non-theistic"

    Congrats on being able to tell the difference.

    "Atheism by even your own definition implies a belief, which when broken down is really nothing more than opinion."

    No. Beliefs come in 3 types. Opinions are subjective and the only belief type that is. Inductive logic like "the sun will rise tommorow" uses assumption, not opinion. Myths are objective like assumptions are. It is not an opinion that Mickey Mouse is male. It is a myth that he is male. How we tell one belief type from another is the method of decision applied to the proposition. If the only means of verification is a story it is a myth. If the only means of verification is inductive logic it is an assumption and if the only means of verification is someones private experience it is an opinion.

    Atheism vs theism is at it's best with assumptive arguments like 'first cause v.s. an eternal universe'. Theology rests on more than myth.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    I am an atheist because I believe there is no god.
    I am an agnostic because I believe man cannot know if there is a god or not.

    There is no relationship between agnosticism and atheist at all. They ask seperate questions, atheism asks if a god exists and agnosticism asks what man can know.

    No-one is gnostic. When theists say they do not believe in a god, that they know god and have a personal relationship with him with no belief required, tell them that they do in fact believe this and do not know it at all. If they know it, they can show it. You cannot know what you cannot show. So prove it. But they can't. 1 truth about god would prove a god exists, they have none, they only have beliefs.

    Staks wants to allow that they do know, by allowing for "gnostic theists". They do not know, they believe.

    To deny that, is to deny the definition of theist itself. Theists try this, Staks just walks right into it.

    His definition of gnostic theist is a church based fairytale.

  • Staks 5 years ago

    Greg - Oh no, you aren't obsessed or anything. How many comments did you just make on this? I stopped reading after awhile. Let me put it another way. There is a set of people who believe in a god or gods. This set is called the set of theists. Anything that does not fit into this set, we will call atheists or non-theists. So when we are talking about atheists, we are talking about all the people who do not fit inside the set of people who are theists. In this way atheism IS that which does not belong in the set of Theism. It IS a null-set. This null-set has become a set in and of itself because of the pressures imposed by the set of theists. If Astrology were taken seriously by 80% of America, than an a-Astrology set might start to form. Talking about rocks and imaginary kings is ridiculous in that the meta-set we are discussing is people.

  • Staks 5 years ago

    Greg - When I said there is something called gnostic theism the claim wasn't as you assert that theists know there is a god, but rather that theists claim to know. This gets into the question of what knowledge is. That is a question I am not willing to touch at the moment. But what I am willing to touch is that "claim of knowledge." Some theists "claim to know." Does that mean that they actually know? Of course not. But can we claim that we actually know anything? This is why Dawkins is a 6 on his scale of 1-7 on God. Dawkins doesn't believe there is no god, his claim is that there "Probably is in god." Therefore, according to your own definition, he would not be an atheist. Maybe you should go break the news to him.

  • Daniel Birkin 5 years ago

    Greg, where to start.

    With the vacuum analogy I was showing that you can name something because of a lack of something else...like Atheism is a lack of Theism. You call it mass, I call it matter. Still is named after a lack of something. The origin of the term itself owes it form to the word Empty in latin, as does vacant etc.

    SO in this case we have something X(vacumm) is X(vacumm) because it lacks Y (matter/mass/cheese/pickle anything you like..still means the same thing).

    So we have established that X is X because it lacks Y is a valid equation. "100% false and impossible" according to you, but by your very logic you have proved you were wrong.

    Atheism is Atheism because it lacks belief (theism).

    We have therefore arrived at this through YOUR logical test.

    Secondly,
    Theism is a belief in gods
    Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, this is in answer to whether you believe in Gods.

  • Daniel Birkin 5 years ago

    There are so many questions being thrown around in different contexts and I honestly believe everyone thinks they are right. I would ask you to use your scientific brains here people and expel all notions which are proved false. Greg's 'impossible' logic equation for example.

    I will start from the very beginning and list my view of terms used. Please feel free to correct if you have reason to believe they are wrong. Dan_Birkin@yahoo.co.uk

    Theism - Belief or faith in Gods

    Atheism- lack of belief or faith in Gods (can also be for people who do not think there is a god, however the initial definition is always present)

    Agnosticism- Do not KNOW or cannot KNOW

    Gnostic- They 'Know'

    Belief - A personal guess in the positive, often confused with
    faith

    Faith - A fixed held belief, unwilling to change or evolve with newer information, while still aknowledging no decisive evidence

    Knowledge - (a tricky one) A Justified belief. (this is where it complicated though)

  • Daniel Birkin 5 years ago

    Justified in my definition is having sufficient evidence that is independently verified beyond doubt to be correct supporting your belief.

    Obviously therefore having 'knowledge' or being gnostic is only ever used incorrectly by people who THINK they know, rather than ACTUALLY knowing.

    Now the difference between lack of belief in Gods and believing that no Gods exist.. one requires belief, one doesn't. Both are atheistic points of view. One is assertive, the other isn't. Only a very slight difference though.

    However, there is a huge difference between belief in Gods and the belief that there aren't Gods. Partly due to the different ways 'belief' is used by theists and atheists. Theists generally don't have belief, they have faith. Atheists however have belief, which is NOT fixed.

    Only theism is provable as it is claiming the existence of Gods, it is the lack of any evidence supporting this that causes atheists to disagree or 'BELIEVE' theists are wrong.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    S: Oh no, you aren't obsessed or anything. How many comments did you just make on this?

    G: Enough to give a full answer. Not as many as the articles I've read saying atheism is a lack of belief in god, which is outlandish and silly.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    S: I stopped reading after awhile.

    G: Plug your ears all you want, it doesn't make you right. You can ignore all the problems I posed to you all you wish. But when you say silly things like belief is not an object, and I show it is, you can skip right over it if you like and it doesn't make belief disappear.

    Further, you contradicted yourself and skipped over that like any priest does when asked about how time can begin. Not X is not a thing at all, yet you want it to BE atheism. Not X can't be anything at all.

    S: Anything that does not fit into this set, we will call atheists or non-theists. So when we are talking about atheists, we are talking about all the people who do not fit inside the set of people who are theists

    G: False, that is a nontheist. Nontheists are those that do not believe in a god. All atheists are nontheists, not all nontheists are atheists. Eg: babies. Babies are nontheists and nonatheists.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    S: In this way atheism IS that which does not belong in the set of Theism.

    G: Then rocks are atheists. Mathematics is atheistic. This is false Staks. Rocks are not theists.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    S: In this way atheism IS that which does not belong in the set of Theism.

    G: Theism is not a set at all. Theists are a set. Theism has no members. Nontheism does not exist since theism is not a set. Nontheists exist. Set theory error.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    S: Talking about rocks and imaginary kings is ridiculous in that the meta-set we are discussing is people.

    G: Rocks lack belief in a god. They are also members of the set of things not theistic. The present King of France does not exist and is not a member of any set. The PKoF is not a nontheist. Members of sets must exist.

    FYI - The empty set is a set with no members. Eg: the set of months with 32 days is an empty set. The empty set exists, but has no members in it.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    "Atheism concerns belief"

    In one moment you had it right. :)

  • Staks 5 years ago

    Greg: Let's try this again. Let's start with the set of all people. This set does not include rocks or imaginary people, but only ALL people. Out of that set of people, let's create a new set of all those PEOPLE who believe in a god or gods. This new set will be called the set of theists (or theism). Every PERSON who is not in this set are in the default set. We will label that set as the set of atheists (or atheism). Atheism means nontheism. That is what the term means!

    You claim that the rocks fall into this set by my definition and that is simply not the case. You then make the same mistake you claim that I make when you talk about non-theists. Are rocks non-theists? You seem to think they are. The problem Greg is that you don't seem to understand that the term "atheism" literally means "non-theism." You have created two definitions where only one applies.

  • Staks 5 years ago

    Greg: You are basically claiming that all bachelors are never married men, but not all never married men are bachelors. The fact is that you don't understand words and their use. You are the fly trapped in the bottle as Wittgenstein would say. Instead of playing word games, you should be spending your time discussing real issues. Move on Greg and stop being so obsessed.

  • Dan B 5 years ago

    Thank you for completely ignoring my posts Greg, which I believe you claim is "plugging your ears" RE Vacuum Analogy.

    Since the word Atheist outdates the word theist, we are not bound by the limits of the word theist.

    Therefore Atheist can mean anything we want, nontheist is the very thing Atheist was invented to mean.

    In my opinion rocks are atheist, they are 'without gods'. It would be silly to claim them as a part of your group.

    Just like if someone set up a Not-Catholic group and decided to allow membership to trees and carrots and the like, technically they AREN'T catholic so can join...but they are inanimate so won't.

    Rocks, babies, fish are all atheist..they are also not muslims, not jewish, not catholics, not buddists, not taoist...you get the picture...as the term is simply to not be a theist (which takes conscious human belief anything without that is an atheist.)

    I am happy with that definition. Maybe Anti-theism for the those that actively deny Gods.

  • Dan B 5 years ago

    I'd like to point out that I am an Atheist and an anti-theist(new/strong) atheist.

    While I accept rocks are atheist (they lack belief) thats the great thing about us atheists we each have an individual understanding and view of atheism, untied to dogma and free from forced thought.

    Atheism can mean almost anything to any atheist, the only required view is that you atleast lack belief in Gods. If you were on a fantasy game show and someone asked you "Is there a God?" (and the asker knew the correct answer) and if you got the answer right you would be showered treats, would you answer yes or no. If No you're an atheist, if yes you're a theist...if 'I don't know' you're a moron.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    S: this way atheism IS that which does not belong in the set of Theism

    Theism is not a set. Theists are a set. Atheism is not a set. Atheists are a set.

    Theists are the set of those who believe there is a god.
    Nontheists are the set of those that do not believe there is a god.
    Atheists are the set of those who believe there is no god.
    Nonatheists are the set of those who do not believe there is no god.

    Nontheism does not exist, since theism is not a set to begin with. A set theory error on your part in calling theism a set. Dead wrong.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    S: When I said there is something called gnostic theism the claim wasn't as you assert that theists know there is a god, but rather that theists claim to know. This gets into the question of what knowledge is. That is a question I am not willing to touch at the moment. But what I am willing to touch is that "claim of knowledge."

    G: Good enough. I agree this is what they claim. I disagree that is what they actually are. Much like how someone who claims to be a UFO abductee is not one.

    My apologies for the double post below on set theory. It was unintentional.

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Staks,

    S: This is why Dawkins is a 6 on his scale of 1-7 on God. Dawkins doesn't believe there is no god, his claim is that there "Probably is in god." Therefore, according to your own definition, he would not be an atheist. Maybe you should go break the news to him.

    G: Actually he agrees with "there is probably no god". That is my definition. Probability is a belief. It is saying "we do not know there is no god, we think there is no god as a matter of probability". While quite unapplicable to gods like the christian god or islamic one, this definition is what I hold to and Dawkins does as well with his scale of belief.

    The christian and muslim gods can both be proven to not exist. P and not P at the same time is a contradiction, proof of nonexistence. The god of the bible never repents and then does. The god of the koran can do anything and then cannot have a son.

    Not all gods can be shown to be P and not P at the same time, thus belief is required to say they do not exist

  • Greg 5 years ago

    Daniel Birkin,

    D: We have therefore arrived at this through YOUR logical test.

    G: No, you defined nontheist that way.

    D: SO in this case we have something X(vacumm) is X(vacumm) because it lacks Y (matter/mass/cheese/pickle anything you like..still means the same thing).

    G: Not at all. The number 238 has no matter, no mass, and is not a vacuum. A vacumm requires space, the number 238 or logic or mathematics takes up no space. Metaphysical things like language have no mass and are not in a vacuum or a vacuum themselves.

    D: So we have established that X is X because it lacks Y is a valid equation. "100% false and impossible" according to you, but by your very logic you have proved you were wrong.

    G: Not so, not even close. It is 100% false and impossible that anything is what that thing is not. In fact Not X is not anything, it does not exist, there is no such possibility of it being something.

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