When Avoidant Cowards Hide Behind Words
I used to address agnosticism on the Atheism 101 page simply because self-described agnostics are in actuality disingenuous atheists who are too afraid to answer one simple question. (We’ll get to this question shortly.) I have since created this page so as not to sully the intellectual honesty of the atheist perspective.
In short, this page was created to establish the great divide between apples and oranges. Theism and atheism pertain to belief and the lack thereof. Agnosticism has absolutely nothing – NOTHING – to do with belief or disbelief.
Grab a Dictionary
Thomas Huxley coined the term agnostic in 1869 for a purpose which as has since been perverted, but before we get into it, it’s essential that you understand and accept what belief and faith mean, and that that they are synonymous. They are an expression of the same position.
- An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
- Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.
faith – trust – confidence – persuasion – credence
- Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
- Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
belief – trust – confidence – credence – credit
Somewhere along the way through the century and a half since Huxley’s time, the definition of agnostic/agnosticism got buried under a dung heap of intellectual dishonesty shat from the asses of bet-hedging cowards who refused to answer a simple, fair question. Society at large has come to ignore (or remain ignorant of) it’s prima facie definition:
From the Greek word agnostos: a (not) + gnostos (to be known)
Agnosticism addresses KNOWLEDGE (specifically referring to the nature of god), not belief.
Agnosticism, irrespective of one’s personal theism (i.e. BELIEF or lack thereof), is the position that the existence of any deity is UNKNOWN and possibly UNKNOWABLE.
Pulling Back the Curtain
An inexplicably large sum of people seem to think that an agnosticism is some vague position of neutrality of belief in a supreme being based on some degree of uncertainty. Admittedly, some of these people are just ignorant of the word’s true meaning, and as such they are exempt from the following charge, but most who use it to define their place in the god debate deserve a moment of pause.
Make no mistake about it. When someone uses the sole word agnostic to describe their position of belief, they are intentionally conveying that they are NOT an atheist.
Make no mistake about it. They are intentionally conveying that one is an agnostic instead of being an atheist, that you must be one or the other.
Make no mistake about it. These people are intellectually dishonest cowards – and they get VERY cranky when you point it out.
We, the atheist community, are terribly sorry that you don’t like the meanings of these words, but being a whiny bitch about it doesn’t change anything.
We, the atheist community, thank and laud you for remaining firm in your position that you cannot KNOW god to a certainty, thus leaving the eternal question at hand to a matter of faith.
We, the atheist community, as it pertains to KNOWLEDGE, agree with you 110%. Fucking fantastic.
We, the atheist community, are heretofore clear on your position of KNOWLEDGE, and as such no longer need to discuss it (or hear from you about it) until or unless your position changes. But you have not addressed (and it would appear that most of you refuse to address) the question of BELIEF, which is separate and distinct from the question of KNOWLEDGE.
Setting the Record Straight on Choices
I won’t waste my time setting the parameters for choice as it pertains to babies, young children, the mentally incapacitated, and some weird aberrant instances of people raised in total ignorance of religion, nor will I entertain the related knee-jerky obfuscations of insecure agnostics who don’t like what I have to say here. And so I will denoted a choice to be made by rational, lucid adults with the word OR.
You have only two choices for BELIEF. You either believe (theism) OR you do not believe (atheism).
You have only two choices for KNOWLEDGE. You either claim to know (gnosticism) OR you do not claim to know (agnosticism).
But belief and knowledge and apples and oranges. There is no OR involved. You don’t get to choose one or the other. There is in fact an AND in play.
Every rational, lucid adult…
- declares their position of BELIEF through some flavor and degree of theism OR atheism
- declares their position of KNOWLEDGE through gnosticism OR agnosticism.
Every lucid, rational adult who has ever lived falls into one of four categories:
- A gnostic theist is an arrogant asshole who declares absolute knowledge that their god is real, ironically pissing all over the concept of faith.
- An agnostic theist is an intellectually honest theist who believes in one god or another but concedes that it is a purely a matter of faith. For example, a Christian can also be agnostic, and most outside of the fundamentalist movement are. They do not claim knowledge and must necessarily concede that they could be wrong.
- A gnostic atheist is an arrogant asshole who declares absolute knowledge that no gods have ever existed.
- An agnostic atheist is an intellectually honest non-believer who does not claim to know that no gods exist and necessarily concedes that they could be wrong.
Here’s a Quick Reference Guide for the hopelessly resistant.
For the record, I am an agnostic atheist, but as most people are confused by the term I refer to myself simply as an atheist. I do this only because I hate having to go through this painful explanation every single god damn time it comes up. And I must also confess that I often do say such things as “God doesn’t exist…” even though I do not claim to have such knowledge. I will confess my sin of such utterances merely to irritate. Call a lawyer and sue me.
Refer to my Statement of Faith for further clarification.
The Black & White of Belief
The meaning of agnosticism is put to bed when you take a quick and simple look at the words belief and faith as we have above.
Belief is not a gray area. Faith is not a sliding scale. You don’t kinda-sorta believe. You don’t sometimes have faith. You either believe, or you do not believe. You either have faith, or you do not have faith. What part of FIRMLY FUCKING HELD CONVICTION do you not understand? What part of COMPLETE TRUST OR FUCKING CONFIDENCE can’t you grasp? These are resolute positions. They are unwavering. They contain no fuzzy and they contain no gray, and as such, ANY DOUBT IS ENOUGH DOUBT.
Therefore, a person who questions the existence of god is a person who doubts, and a person who doubts (by definition) doesn’t believe, and a person who doesn’t believe in god is an atheist. Period.
Lord God Penn said it best:
Now Answer the God Damn Question
Okay, so you say you’re an agnostic. Mazel tov. You believe that god can’t be known. Your opinion on the matter of KNOWLEDGE has officially been settled.
We’re now moving on to the next matter: BELIEF.
When it comes to the topic of religion there is only ONE question that really matters, and you have yet to answer it: DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?
There are only two options: YES or fucking NO.
Kick and scream like the petulant little child you are, but there are no other options. And if you shrug and say, “I don’t know…” then we have your answer whether you like it or not.
“Not knowing” is doubt, and I think it’s sad that you can neither see nor admit it.
My experience reveals that virtually everyone who describes himself as an agnostic will always – ALWAYS – refuse to answer this question with a simple yes or a no – if they even answer it at all. But don’t take my word for it. Browbeat the next agnostic you meet as demonstrated here and see for yourself.
The Discussion Ender
A theist is someone who believes in a god. An atheist is someone who does not believe in a god. Since belief by its very definition is binary, then everyone on the planet is some flavor and degree of theist or an atheist.
Final Question: ARE YOU A THEIST?
If you’re not a theist then we know what you really are by simple deduction.
End of discussion.
Technically, nothing can truly be known. Everything requires some degree of faith, no matter how minuscule.
Is there a god? No one really knows for sure. Many say they do, but I think that’s just wishful thinking and confirmation bias in play. But practically speaking, everyone on the planet is an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist whether they know or accept it.
I have no problem embracing the agnostic position from a practical standpoint. But what pisses me off no less than Christians spewing their god rhetoric are these fundamentalist agnostic assholes who get all bent out of shape when people like me take a hardline approach to skepticism and the condemnation of organized religion and the lunacy of religious beliefs.
Personally, I think agnostics are just pissed off because they don’t have the balls to take an absolute position of belief one way or another. No balls to accept, no balls to reject, no balls to even critique or utter one word of criticism for fear of backlash. These are the “live and let live” agnostics. Yet for some odd reason this maxim doesn’t apply to their opinion of outspoken atheists.
Accept What You Are
When it comes to trivial matters I’ll happily concede the possibility of general uncertainty, but when it comes to an almighty creator whose existence is supposedly so evident that even a child could see it, again, any doubt is enough doubt. And your pitiable refutations and denials don’t change any of this. If you are self-described agnostic, then you are an intellectually dishonest coward.
At the end of the day all that matters is the black and white nature of belief. You either believe or you don’t believe. Period. If you’re unsure or you question or you doubt, then you don’t believe – and that makes you an atheist.
I’m done with you. Now go outside and play with your brother until I call you in for dinner.