Hey everyone,

This is my first post on here and I have a rather simple question for you all.  I do not know how maany of you willl be able to answer this , but I have wondered why some people choose to be an "agnostic" rather than an "atheist".  I myself am an atheist and i have just always wondered why some people have chosen to be agnostic over atheist.

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That is my experience of English Canadian cultural "sensitivities". It's fine to reject god vaguely, but how dare one reject god honestly and how dare one choose to live without spirituality!!!!!!! As for the USA atheists, it seems, according to a pole running elsewhere on the site, that mostly they're Humanists. A true atheist without other accompanying dogmas is a rare thing indeed.
As a biologist, I totally disagree. Science provides but tools to attain useful decisions, "truth" is but an illusion religious people chase after. My experience with Humanists has been quite dogmatic indeed. Humanism just tends to be the 'now' fashionable dogma for a majority of atheists (on T|A anyway). Maybe in another decade, another dogma will have trend status. Just look at this discussion, many people assuming truths not based on historical facts, but based on dogma. Reading the Humanist manifestos through the years reveals dogma that albeit are not as grandiose as those of Abrahamic faiths, but correspond to the definition of dogma nonetheless.
Thank you kindly for your respectful quality of discourse...
We're back full circle. There are things I'm uncertain about because of conflicting evidence. As there is no conflicting evidence for gods, there is no justification to entertain that possibility. To entertain that possibility is to ascribe potential of reality to the imaginary, a mind game too close to belief for my taste.

I would have considered myself an agnostic from ages 15-27 or so.  That was after being brought up catholic.  I never liked to describe myself as agnostic, because to me, that meant that I had no idea what was going on.   But that was the reality.  I hadn't actively looked into the sciences to find evidence for or against a god. I think I still wanted god to exist, so I didn't want to look into it.


But the more I learned about god, the less it made sense.  And the more I learned about science, the more it made sense.  I can't recall the moment that I made the switch to atheism, but it wasn't long after realizing  that.

The terms actually address two separate claims. Belief and knowledge. Atheism states that you are without belief in a god and theism states that you do have a positive belief in a god. Agnosticism however, address knowledge and is applicable to more than just religion and deities. Being Agnostic means that you simply don't hold enough knowledge to say that something is 100% a fact. Since I don't believe and also lack omniscience, I would classify as an Agnostic Atheist. But why do people misuse or confuse the terms? Sometimes it's because people think Atheism requires the active denial and of gods as well as certainty that they don't exist. That is false, as an Atheist still lacks belief whether they are open to gods, closed to gods, sure of there being no gods, not 100% sure there are no gods, etc. So because of this, many see Agnostic as Atheist-Light. Part of this is possibly thanks to the religious spreading false understanding of the term Atheist and the will to keep the number that self-identify as Atheist as low at possible. Another reason is that Agnostic has the stigma of being more acceptable and less offensive than Atheist.


Hope that helps. Cheers!

Quite a few people say that religious belief is a choice, but I disagree. People's stance on religion is usually built on the information that they are exposed to. I know that from the things I've learned I am incapable of believing a god exists at this point in time. To simply will myself to believe a god exists would be dishonest to my self and a lie. A Christians views may be formed in a similar way. The only information they've ever been exposed to is that God exists and that ideas that god doesn't exist are scary. I don't know anyone who decides to be an atheist. It's not a chosen thing, but a conclusion reached through logic in the lack of evidence for the god claim.
I was a Christian until age 17 and before that, everything I had been exposed to about god and belief had told me god was real. At that point in time with my limited understanding denying god would have also been just as dishonest in light of what i had been taught. What information we expose ourselves too is a choice. But being a Christian or atheist or Muslim typically isn't something you choose like what kind of shirt you're going to put on. Everything we know and have learned has brought us to the conclusion that a god/s most likely don't exist. However most believers haven't been exposed to the information we have, or if they have, it's been misrepresented by apologists and undereducated fundamentalists. Their "choice" is between a belief they've been taught all their life to be true, and something that hasn't been properly explained to them.
I'm not proposing their are no choices. I'm saying knowledge isn't a choice. You can't choose to know something. You either do or you don't. Many people aren't exposed to other possibilities. Believers "know" god exists and there isn't a choice in that. Choice doesn't factor into this. Even though they are misinformed, their belief is based on that false knowledge.
The choice is in doing the research, not in the actual act of believing. When exposed to certain information you form a position. If the information you're exposed to is that god exists and that the bible is true, and you're not exposed to dissenting voices, than you're likely to form the same position. Also, there is a large movement of fundamentalist Christians who home school their children and keep them in tight communities of other fundamentalists. They rarely are exposed to anything until early adulthood.
Personally i would pick people who jump from religion to religion for what feels good in a different category. It's almost become trendy to be apart of some obscure ancient religion. I wouldn't call those people believers like what I'm talking about with firm believers in a religion. But I doubt we'll change each others minds so this will be my last post on the subject.

Also, just telling me I'm wrong doesn't actually prove a point. You should address and refute the points I made instead of just declaring me wrong.

Exposure to "other" ideas is a very relative term. Most Brits or French need only travel a couple of hours by car to be immersed in a completely different culture. Yet, some people still manage to never leave home.


In North America, one can travel 4-5 days non-stop by car and still not be exposed to a "other" culture. One can easily understand why "country bumpkins" have higher rates of religiosity than city folk or multi-national regions. Lack of exposure can be, on certain topics, a great hindrance in life.


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