Merriam/Webster Dictionary
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 who is unwilling to commit to an opinion about something
One who believes that there is no deity

Oxford Dictionary

A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.
A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods

Rick Yost Dictionary
A person who's uncertainty comes from them believing in at least part of their story, which essentially means they believe. A person who is not sure whether they want to admit they believe in a lie or not. A person who wants to appear to be intelligent enough to question their belief, while keeping their connection to their faith. A person who lacks the power of conviction, strength of character, or willingness to admit to the world around them what they think.
A person who would rather live alone with the simple truth he perceives through his corporeal senses, than be a member of a group living an imaginative human-created lie.
A person who does not believe, in anything.

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Well, I have been quietly reading all the discussions here for quite awhile.....but after reading this post, I finally will come out (at least to you all) & say - "I am an Atheist!".  Definitely, unabashadly.  I have never been any other religiion, & was raised with the "Theory of Evolution".  But then my family moved to Utah, my mother married a Mormon (later divorced), my sister married a Mormon (later divorced), & I even married a Mormon (altho "Jack-Mormon --later divorced).  All my girlfriends in highschool were deep, deep "pioneer believers" - & have always tried to convert me, sending me Missiionaries, taking me to church, giving me Books of Mormon, etc. --but I could not be converted because I never even believed in God, let alone their silly religion - but to this day, I cannot bring myself to tell them I am an atheist.  I love them dearly - they are the only "family" I have left (I am now age 71 & this scenario has been going on since I was 15 yrs. old) -- & they still hope that I will be with them in heaven  -- & they still very much love me. I am totally surrounded by friends & neighbors who are all 99% Mormon - in this small town that is almost totally Mormon --- I even go (secretly) to a Post-Mormon group that have taught me the total stupidity of the Mormon religion & the reason why they have left - but even some of them still live with their "deep believing" wives. Am I just a total coward to not tell anybody (but you all) that I am a total Atheist??  I live alone & imagine all my dear loving girlfriends & neighbors  (I am female) will certainly desert me....& I will have noone to talk to or be friends with till I die.

Smiles, welcome to TA, Sand!  Wonderful that you've started posting - it took me a while before I finally jumped in, and even then it was a bit of a trial by fire!

You seem to have found a way to live that works for you.  Nobody will fault you for not "coming out" as an atheist, because they don't have to live with whatever consequences you might have to face.

You can enjoy posting free thought here, or reading some of other peoples thoughts, without endangering the careful balance that you have needed to create around you in your life.

Just so you know, there are several people here on TA who are older than you and have also chosen not to come out to their wives, families and friends because of other repercussions they don't need to face, or simply to avoid giving hurt where they don't feel it's necessary.  It's all good.  The only person you really need to be true to is yourself, and I am certain you don't need me to tell you that.

So enjoy your time here, and roll up your metaphorical sleeves, and give us the benefit of your thought processes - you are most welcome here.

Thanks, Strega, for your nice reply & kind thoughts.  It's nice to talk to people who are of the same mindset.  While living here, I have no one who truly knows the "real me".

Maybe I should quote from a child's story "the Velveteen Rabbit" because if you are indoctrinated heavily as a child, agnosticism could be a necessary final stepping stone to becoming an atheist (after questioning doctrine, clergy, rules, the bible, the saints, etc., etc.)

It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse.  "You become.  It takes a long time.  That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."


Well said. If I have to submit to a classification, and I dont, I would prefer FreeThinker.

I don't know, Rick.  I am perfectly alright with saying I am an agnostic and an atheist, and I have absolutely zero faith in a god to which I am surreptitiously clinging.  I can say I am an agnostic because I have no knowledge of the existence of a god, and an atheist because I do not believe in one.  I can't say definitively that there is no god, but I am not waffling.  I have plenty of conviction and strength of character, enough to clearly identify myself as an atheist (vs agnostic) when it is clear that it is my lack of belief in a god that is the issue that needs clarification.

I understand what you are saying about some people who identify as agnostics though.  I probably called myself an agnostic in the past when I didn't understand agnosticism the way I do now.  I applaud people who will even say they are agnostic if they are moving away from a place of faith, especially if they are saying that to people of faith.  I see that as progression along a continuum. 

This is not a linear process, necessarily, however, and sometimes people really don't know where they stand and/or their position is in flux.  

Rick, I've owned several Merriam/Websters. I now own an Oxford English and a New Oxford American. I always check dictionaries for their treatment of fuck and its derivative forms; I don't want any whose compilers create their own realities.

As someone who has recently come out as an Atheist, this topic is something that comes up frequently. I know I would have fewer people scoffing at me if I said I was Agnostic and not Atheist.

Saying that I'm Atheist usually gives me the ability to explain that most Atheists don't claim to know there is no god, we simply have seen no proof there is a god and if we did, we'd believe.  This is often seen as red meat to the religious!  

They are sure that they have proof, and so it puts the onus on them to continue the conversation.  Usually their first attempts at proof are easily shown to be illogical, like "the Bible is true because it says it's true."  I basically get to teach critical thinking 101 because of this approach.  I am somewhat of an evangelist for Atheism, so this works well for me, even though I might just as accurately be described as Agnostic.

I call myself an agnostic atheist because I disbelieve in the existence of a theistic god but am open to persuasion through evidence, though I can't imagine what form such evidence could possibly take. Something along the line of St. Paul's conversion, I suppose. I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime, I'm atheist. I see this as the most intellectually honest position.

For which god?

As a base default, I'll go with agnostic atheist. I neither believe in a deity (atheist), nor do I claim to know that there isn't a deity (agnostic). There is not sufficient evidence to say that there is a deity, and many gods are so defined that their existence is non-falsifiable. (Like the deistic god).

For other gods, their definitions are such that we can know about their existence. Augustus Caesar was declared to be a god, as were most of the Roman emperors. So for that definition of a god, you could call me a gnostic theist. :D  But for Xenu, I think we have enough evidence that Hubbard invented him to be a gnostic atheist.


  Webster says Atheism is a belief, while Oxford says Atheism is a disbelief.

  Therefore, an atheist is a person who either believes or a person who disbelieves.

 Agnosticism, however, is about defining the boundary between belief and knowledge.

 Thomas Henry Huxley, who coined the term described Agnosticism thus:

"Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle...Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable."

 In other words, Agnostics are unprejudiced pragmatists.

Agnosticism also meshes well with Existentialism, .a philosophy that sees no purpose of existence other than  that purpose which the individual self defines. Existentialism emphasizes the importance of individual  choices, and the greater importance of accepting responsibility for the outcome of those choices.

Other than a minority of religious agnostics, most religious people consider Agnosticism as synonym for Atheism.

Conversely many non agnostic Atheists believe agnostics to be neutral, non committal Theist-in-disguise.  The reality however seems to be that most self described Agnostics are Atheists who acknowledge the difference between what they know and what they believe.

Since every belief has negative converse, it's just a matter of how the dictionary wants to define the term. You'll find some here may prefer non-belief to disbelief.


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