I'm having a discussion on Facebook with my Goddaughter concerning Agnostics.  I find that ironic. I told her that the only difference between Agnostics and Atheists is that an Agnostic is open to the concept of an afterlife.  Both reject scripture. 


I was wondering what people on this site felt about the difference between Agnostics and Atheists.

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Atheism and agnosticism are quite different, agnosticism deals with knowledge, whereas atheism deals with belief.

Some people belief that ultimately knowledge about whether god(s) exists or not is unknown or even unknowable, these people are considered to be agnostics. There are also people that belief that knowledge about god(s) can be known, these are gnostics (from the Greek "Gnosis", meaning knowledge).

So, technically speaking an atheist is anyone who answers "no" to the question "Do you belief in god(s)?" whereas an agnostic can answer that they believe in god(s) as long as they do not claim to have knowledge about it.

Therefor, there are agnostic atheists, and agnostic theists.

Some people feel that atheism is the claim (of knowledge) that god(s) do(es) not exist, but that is not correct, the position of atheism is a position of belief, not knowledge.

So, in regards to your opening remarks, both atheists and agnostics can be open to the idea of an afterlife. There are not many atheists who do believe in an afterlife, but as long as it does not involve a deity it still would be an atheist.

There's a lot of division and derision between atheists and agnostics, some feel that atheists are dogmatic, yet as atheism is the "lack of belief" and nothing more, it cannot be dogmatic. There is no claim of knowledge involved.

Absolutely clear as a bell, Dr Grixis. 

This is the dictionary definition:

"as atheism is the "lack of belief" and nothing more, it cannot be dogmatic.

However, in real life it often doesn't work out that way. 

Very good. I think a similar issue developes out the the assertion, 'babies are born atheist'.

If as you say 'atheism is a position of belief', if babies are yet not capable of belief, none can be born so.

Are babies theists?? no. So they are not theists.... or atheists. 

Atheists do not need to believe there is no god. They just need to not believe there is one.

No, atheism in it's most basic form and the one that is most common means the "lack of belief" it is not an positive term describing any affirmation of belief and as such requires no conscious action on the part of the atheist.

Irreligion (adjective form: nonreligious or irreligious) is the absence of religion, an indifference towards religion, a rejection of religion, or hostility towards religion.

So this 'definition' works even in folks that can't yet harbor the belief, like new borns? Interesting...

I agree with your comment on agnostic atheists and agnostic theists.  I have gone back and forth between the two my whole life until a couple of years ago when I decided to leave the RCC.  I researched other denominations and other religions and discovered that the gospels were not original works; They were just a retelling of the story of Buddha.


I do believe in an afterlife of some sort because of an experience I had in college (bet you can image what that included).  Because of this I've never considered myself to be a true atheists, just an agnostic atheist.  So under what conditions would an atheists believe in an afterlife? 


To be honest, I've always thought atheists knew there was no god, not believe there is no god.

IMO an atheist is just 'not a theist' so technically a deist in an atheist. It's just that deist is a better descriptive term in that case. So an atheist can believe in a god so long as it's not a theistic god.... BUT that is probably not the best way to communicate the issue as most people will misunderstand.   

Agnostic is someone who answers "i don't know" when you ask "is there a god?". If you ask "do you believe there is a god?" that is a very different question. 

I am an atheist.... but if you ask me "is there a god" I definitely cannot say "no". However at the same time if you ask a more specific question like "does the god of the bible exist" I can say with complete certainty "no!" because I have researched the topic sufficiently to know it is more likely that unicorn riding leprechauns exist. I don't believe Yahweh doesn't exist, I know it.

I usually say that I don't believe in the god as he is described in the bible.  After 4,000 years of oral and written tradition, Jewish and Christian changed the meaning, It may mean that Yahweh/Elohim that you deny is the god that you cannot say "no".  (for the sake of debate)

Yes, but for the sake of debate, if the god of the bible is based off any sort of reality it has been perverted way past recognition. It would be akin to debating if leprechauns exist and taking into account midgets as a possible answer. At least 99.9% of the traits and actions given to Yahweh are false. There are enough logical problems with any 'theistic' god to know one does not exist. 

I wouldn't agree that "agnostics are open to the concept of an afterlife" is a good, or even accurate description of the difference

Atheism is a belief that there is no god. For some people, this belief comes from logical/rational/philosophical reasoning. For others, it's just a feeling they feel in their heart. 

Agnosticism is a philosophical viewpoint that a particular question cannot, even in principle, be answered. For example, I could ask you: "Can God (be he fictional or nonfictional) devise a task even he could not complete?" This is a classical paradox; since he is all-powerful, the answer is yes he can, but because he is all-powerful, the answer is also no, because he would be able to complete the task. Because any answer results in a logical contradiction, the question has no meaning. The conclusion, therefore, is that the concept of omnipotence is logically impossible, and therefore God does not exist (this is a particular example of agnosticism, which happens to conclude with atheism [sorry if that's confusing]).

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