Are the terms agnostic and atheist superfluous?

masonicatom 2008/10/26 01:45:59
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There aren't words for not believing in Santa Claus or unicorns. I don't need a word to let everyone know I don't believe in the tooth fairy. Why should it be any different with a god?
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  • Tsuki 2009/10/05 23:19:45
    Because we have known that Santa Claus is for children, unicorns don't exist everyone knows that, god on the other hand has had a major impact on our species, we built temples for it, we pray to it, we have killed each other for it, people actually think that a man is his incarnation, so it is natural that we who don't believe in him be separate from the rest just as the different religions separate each other even tough they're supposed to adore the same god, like jehova's witnesses and christians and catholics, but then again you don't need to specify yourself in a group because there is no need (at least for me) I don't believe maybe that makes an agnostic but none of us believe in horus or zeus either so we are agnostic on that
  • rustex78 2008/10/28 01:32:41
  • hcurrie7 2008/10/27 13:32:31
    Because religion is much more important than the tooth fairy. Temples are built, constitutions are written, countries fight wars over Gods not Tooth fairy.
  • jones cynique 2008/10/26 23:05:17 (edited)
    jones cynique
    here's more dictionary stuff: the words are not superfluous.

    From Merriam-Webster:



    Greek agnōstos unknown, unknowable, from a- gnōstos known, from gignōskein to know — more at know

    1: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable ; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

    2: a person unwilling to commit to an opinion about something


    : one who believes that there is no deity

    os opposed to:


    belief in the existence of a god or gods ; specifically : belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world
  • RealityApologist 2008/10/26 17:45:37 (edited)
    That's why I prefer "Bright."

  • scarletsiren 2008/10/26 05:45:27
    There is a clear distinction, and a pretty big misconception of both definitions.

    Being agnostic doesn't mean that you don't believe in god, but you're 'open-minded'; and being an atheist doesn't necessarily mean you believe there is no god.

    Theism: a belief in (the existence) of a deity.
    Atheism: the *absence* of a belief (in the existence of a deity.)
    Agnosticism: a questioning of the 'truth'

    You can be a theist, and be agnostic if you wonder if your god is the 'right' god. There are a lot of religious agnostics who believe there is a god, but can't say for sure who or what it is.
  • scarlet... scarlet... 2008/10/26 05:58:03
    And to touch on your point down there about the Loch Ness monster, you would still call an uncommitted believer [or non-believer] agnostic. As for the 'atheist' equivalent, there probably is a word for it, but it won't have anything to do with 'theism' unless the person believes the Loch Ness monster is god.
  • masonic... scarlet... 2008/10/26 14:30:14
    I'm still aware of the distinction between and the definition of both words. :)

    Let me lead off with a quote from the man who coined the term agnostic: "I ... invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of 'agnostic,' ... antithetic to the 'Gnostic' of Church history who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant."

    Though the word has a much broader philosophical meaning these days, it was born in the need to identify opposition to those claiming spiritual or esoteric knowledge of the unknowable. My point is that it should have been unnecessary to invent a new word to apply to questions of a spiritual nature, and that the question of gods should be in the same category as the question of the tooth fairy.

    The question was also a bit rhetorical in nature. Far more people believe in some sort of theism than do Santa Claus, for example, thus necessitating a bit more distinction between nonbelievers of the former than the latter. I just hope that one day we'll be enlightened enough to realize there's no difference between the two and that we don't need special words for one tiny area of skepticism.
  • tierney 2008/10/26 05:21:59
    Obviously not. ;)
  • masonic... tierney 2008/10/26 14:32:10
    Oh yeah, well obviously not YOUR FACE. OHH BURRRRN!

    *ninja smoke*
  • tierney masonic... 2008/10/26 17:47:08
    Well damn, I should have known better! Very sneaky.
  • Axl Snaks 2008/10/26 04:42:06
  • ..... 2008/10/26 03:47:21 (edited)
  • masonic... ..... 2008/10/26 04:45:27
    I can copy and paste from the dictionary, too.

    agnostic: one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

    So my point was to ask why there aren't words like this for people who are equally uncommitted to the belief or non-belief of the Loch Ness monster and other fantastical sundries, and likewise for the term atheist.
  • ..... masonic... 2008/10/26 16:50:12
  • jones c... masonic... 2008/10/26 23:11:16
    jones cynique
    oops, accidentally raved you. I got excited because at first I thought you thought quoting from the dictionary was a good idea.

    As for the reason words don't exist for other non-beliefs, I don't know.
  • scarlet... ..... 2008/10/26 05:46:34
  • The Beaver 2008/10/26 03:16:15
    The Beaver
    We all end up with some kind of tag.
  • ChairmanOfThePessimist'sClub 2008/10/26 03:10:58
    There has to be a name for people who have faith in their disbelief. It's a whole lot riskier than belief is if you turn out to be wrong, so you at least deserve a name for it.
  • jones c... Chairma... 2008/10/26 23:12:22
    jones cynique
    Wow. Pascal's Wager? Here?
  • daehados 2008/10/26 02:29:22
    We'll have to keep them around until believing in sundry ancient myths no longer is the standard (which will likely be sometime after the first openly atheist President, so I'm not holding my breath.)

    Unicorns are real, though.
  • masonic... daehados 2008/10/26 02:35:35

  • daehados masonic... 2008/10/26 02:38:27
    Irrefutable evidence abounds.

    irrefutable evidence abounds
  • Tomus M... masonic... 2008/10/26 03:55:20
    Tomus Megalomania
    That's so wrong, it's right!
  • Tonio31~E Pluribus Unum~ 2008/10/26 02:29:01
    Tonio31~E Pluribus Unum~
    We only need one term for this group: Anti-Bullshit
    Deists are invited to join this group.
  • masonic... Tonio31... 2008/10/26 02:33:36
    If you have sex with a deist, do they just leave in the morning and you never see them again?
  • Tonio31... masonic... 2008/10/26 02:38:24
  • SparkleyPie 2008/10/26 02:19:12
    It would be nice if they were. But, until it is the norm (which I absolutely believe we will see in the coming decades), I think they will be necessary.
  • masonic... Sparkle... 2008/10/26 02:31:06
    True. One day, one day.
  • Tomus Megalomania 2008/10/26 02:15:55
    Tomus Megalomania
    There are words for those who do not believe in such entities: sane.
  • masonic... Tomus M... 2008/10/26 02:29:35
    Oh, now we don't have to go THAT far. Sanity can be pretty lame at times.
  • Tomus M... masonic... 2008/10/26 02:30:34
    Tomus Megalomania
    I didn't say it was exciting!
  • CitizenErased 2008/10/26 02:15:46
    They are totally superfluous...there should only be a word when you're adding something unnecessary to reality...not when you're taking it at face value.
  • masonic... Citizen... 2008/10/26 02:28:05
    I kinda like skeptic as a catch-all, but it also makes one sound like a pretentious douchenozzle.

    "Oh, hi. I'm a SKEPTIC."

  • Citizen... masonic... 2008/10/26 02:30:35
    Yeah I know what you mean...still atheist isn't so bad...at least it makes your views clear in a sea of ignorance.
  • jones c... masonic... 2008/10/26 23:14:20
    jones cynique
    Except that one can be skeptical about anything, whereas atheist or agnostic is much more specific.
  • masonic... jones c... 2008/10/26 23:18:11
    That's kinda my whole point.
  • Körïnthïän 2008/10/26 02:12:55
    I wish they were.
  • masonic... Körïnthïän 2008/10/26 02:27:16
    Same here, and I have little hope for the future.
  • Körïnthïän masonic... 2008/10/26 03:02:33
    Don't worry, it can happen. Calling yourself atheist/agnostic is superflous in pretty much all of Scandinavia.

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