Atheist vs. Agnostic
A discussion on the merits of both
by: Keith Bennett
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According to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/) – emphasis added:
- Atheist: one who believes that there is no deity.
- Agnostic: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable
- Atheist = not believing
- Agnostic = not knowing
I had always considered myself an agnostic because I am a realist. I can easily admit that I don’t know. But when I don’t know and want to, I research. When I became active (slightly) in the atheist and agnostic community, I saw and heard a lot of banter back and forth about the monikers “atheist” and “agnostic”. I hadn’t really given the terms much thought before. But now I wanted to know more – so I researched. What I found is that there isn’t much research beyond the definitions above.
Based on these definitions, I think one can be both and Atheist and an Agnostic. I don’t believe in a god, but I also don’t pretend that I know everything and therefore am comfortable stating “I don’t know” if a god exists (maybe he’s hiding from us). There is definitely a lack of evidence supporting the existence of god.
Atheist vs. Agnostic is really the difference between believing and knowing.
For example, take the weathermen here in Oklahoma: On bad weather days you might hear one say “I believe this storm will cause tornados” but they do not know that it will. Once a tornado is produced and there is evidence of that tornado (video footage, damage, radar imaging, etc.) we now know a tornado existed.
Recently, the reverse of that actually happened. One weatherman said that a storm system would NOT produce any tornados. However, once the storm passed, several tornados had occurred. He believed there would be no tornado, but he did not know that. In fact, he was proven wrong (by evidence).
The common denominator here is evidence. Where there is evidence, one can know a thing. However, the lack of evidence does not necessarily equate to a lack of existence. Conversely, the lack of evidence does allow for the belief or non-belief of a thing.
After all this, I now consider myself to be both Agnostic AND Atheist.
What are your thoughts???
Quick Final Thought: If you are an atheist and state you know that there is no god, how is that any different than a religious person (Christian, Muslim, Jew, etc.) stating they know there is a god? As an atheist, you really are saying that you believe there is no god, just as theists believe there is a god. The UCTAA Articles of Faith are very well written and are the primary reason I am a Priest of UCTAA and consider myself agnostic.
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