I've heard a bunch of quite well-known scientists and other famous people (e.g. Niel deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye) who have claimed that scientists, to be true to themselves, "must" be agnostic, not atheist. Their defense of this is that since there is no evidence, a decision can't be made one way or the other on the existence of any mythical beings.

Isn't this kind of claim not entirely valid, though? Does there have to be positive evidence either supporting or contradicting something to make a claim about it, or can a staggering (significant...) lack of any evidence -- when evidence would essentially be expected -- defend a similar claim from a negative aspect as well?

It seems to me that saying "there is no specific evidence, therefore: agnostic" is being dishonest to oneself. This brings up arguments like Bertrand's Teapot, IPU, FSM, or even a "square circle". While there isn't any universe-encompassing body of evidence that rules such things out, the complete lack of any evidence of any sort is really just a different kind of evidence, isn't it?

Do you have any unique perspectives, particular experiences, or tidbits to offer to help solve this fluke of reasoning?

Tags: agnostic, atheist, bill, degrasse, niel, nye, science, tyson

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Many would claim to be both Atheist and Agnostic. I am an Atheist because I do not believe in the existence of any gods. The reason I do not hold any positive belief is because I have no reason to believe otherwise. I can find no “knowledge” or any evidence to justify the statement “God Exists” to warrant changing my mind. So for this reason I am also Agnostic.

When it comes to the “Possibility” of a god existing then we must allow for that or we end up “denying” that a god exists and that leaves us with the onus of proof - proving a negative. So, to paraphrase Kant, while I admit to the “logical possibility” of any god existing it is meaningless other than it is a coherent concept we can imagine. For the proposition to have any “material possibility” of being true is must have objective evidence to support it.

So when someone says they believe in god they are only relating their subjective mental state to me. I understand (to an extent) what they mean. However I see the “Probability” of what they are claiming to be the Truth as close to zero and getting closer all the time because there is nothing objective to support such claims.

So I am an Atheist because I do not believe there are any gods and also Agnostic because I have no knowledge of any. However I am perfectly happy to allow myself to accept that no gods exists. From what knowledge I do have to the contrary, it makes the probability of any god existing so slight as not to register in my mind or warrant me using the word “agnostic” to describe myself. There may be some miniscule dribble of a mathematical probability in a parallel universe that I am wrong but I have zero doubt that I am. I just don’t believe in any god existing.

Just how impossible must something be for people not to believe it?

I've always felt that "agnostic" is a meaningless label. Sure, it has practical use in day-to-day interactions as a synonym for "not religious", but to really try to defend it as a serious philosophical position is just pedantic. Clearly, most educated, intelligent people will freely admit that we cannot prove (have knowledge) that God exists. Therefore, we are all technically agnostic. If everyone is agnostic, it's kind of pointless to call yourself that as though it were some unique category.

The only relevant position is one's belief. Some believe, others do not. When it comes to belief, there's no in-between. If you're undecided, then you don't believe yet and are an atheist. If you don't have enough information, then you don't believe yet and are an atheist. I would not call such people atheists in everyday conversation, but if we're talking technicalities, that's what they are.

It's not either/or. You can be atheist based on the lack of evidence but remain open (agnostic) to some proof that you can't even imagine at the moment. To say something doesn't exist is very hard to prove. If you can't prove something, it's very hard to defend. Do you strong atheists have an actual proof of God's nonexistence? 

Has the idea or the word god been coherently defined to even start the debate?

I think to be a scientist you can't go into a laboratory with any preconceived belief or non-belief. I think they have to look at what the evidence shows them and not what they want to evidence to show them.

Everyone has there own interpretation on the meaning of agnosticism. The part about it being unknown and possibly unknowable is what I find interesting. To my line of thought if a being actually possessed the qualities humans attributed to most gods then the jury would certainly not still be out. This entity could easily remove all doubt and suspicion once and for all. The onus is certainly on the god believer to substantiate their claim as it is not the responsibility of the atheist to prove a negative. To me it boils down to likelihood and with the increasing amount of scientific data that continues to explain in a verifiable way the nature of our universe the argument for god(s) becomes increasingly tenuous.

  1. Agnosticism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism
    Agnosticism is the view that the existence or non-existence of any deity is unknown and possibly unknowable. More specifically, agnosticism is the view that the ...
  2. Agnostic - Merriam-Webster Online

    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 ...
  3. Urban Dictionary: agnostic

    An agnostic is a person who believes that the existence of a greater power, such as a god, cannot be proven or disproved; 

I believe the Atheists stance is that when someone offers proof of the existence of a god, then I will believe in the god, but until then I won't.  Is this accurate?

To me, this is totally different than Agnosticism, but most religious people can't understand the differences.  Shoot, most of the religious people I know are certain that Atheism is a religion and requires faith.

So I don't confuse the simple-minded, I just call myself an Atheist and let them decide for themselves what that means.

Yes it's important to make a distinction between "I don't know" (which some people call "agnosticism") and "It is impossible to know" (which is what others seem to think the word necessarily means).

I believe all of us Atheists are agnostics as we don't cannot disprove the existence of mythical deities with 100% probability. We can go up to 99.9% but that 0.1% will still remain. That is just how mathematics works. There is no really "100% probability. 

So at one point we can say "it is impossible to know if god doesn't exist with complete assurance but with high probability you can say god doesn't exist"

I believe Dawkins once said that Agnostics are just Atheists without "balls" lol. 

I'd say it depends on the mythic deity, Adam.

If someone were to claim to worship the god Dahgipabv, who is both red and green at the same time, then I'd say that god absolutely does not exist, because he/she/it is a contradiction in terms.

I'd maintain that any "infinite" god is a contradiction in terms.  Now Thor, on the other hand....

I've heard this sentiment expressed in real life, and the source of irritation with atheists is the church state separation activism some of us engage in.

I read recently somewhere that 90 percent of the population wants to (for example) leave "In God We Trust" on the coins and paper money.  If so that means even almost half of the "nones" side with them, and unfortunately I find that all too plausible as I believe many "nones" are not in fact our allies but just people who consider themselves non-religious because they don't go to church, even though they do believe in doG.  (An annoying misuse of the word "religious" but there it is.)

If it truly does have 90 percent support we won't be getting rid of it any time soon.

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