(my question was born from bill maher's remarks at  the 4:20 mark)

I have found myself thinking, am I really an atheist or an agnostic? 

I'm not as religiously or savvy as most atheists are. You all have your arguments, your references and keen intellect to fall back on. I try to learn as much as I can from people like this but I know that I will probably not amount to their level of expertise on the subject.


The thing is, (and I saw this recently on a youtube video) I chose to be an atheist in because I knew that there was no such thing as god, and that I believe all the stories of religion, as well as it's followers are deluded. The fact that they are so certain about their beliefs annoys me even more.


However, my own certainty is that god does not exist and I use the basic arguments in order to debunk their theories. So, does me having this certainty that makes sense to me, mirror the certainty of religious people and their beliefs?


Of course I will never accept any kind of religion as an answer, nor do I think our lives are dominated by any kind of sentient force.


To this I ask, can I really consider myself an atheist? A person who doesn't believe in religion or its doctrines and deities.

To my understanding an agnostic is a person who  is not certain of these supernatural powers, but may disagree with religions. Is this it?

And lastly can we say FOR SURE, there is no god/deity/force/giant energy ball of life/ flying spaghetti monster, just by presenting a lack of evidence from opposing arguments?





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I'm sorry, YAA, but really it's not the "same difference."  The difference is pointed and telling.

"Lack of" and "absence of" are not synonymous.  That's exactly my point.  What's more, your definition does not fit your statement.  Instead, it suggests clearly that an atheist is someone who does not have enough belief in gods.  That, obviously, is a mistaken definition.  The distinction I advocate may seem subtle at first, but to atheists it's crucial, because the use of "lack" plainly denotes the theists' pejorative view of the word.    

Let me refer you you to Webster's Third Unabridged, in which the first definition of lack is:  "to be wanting or missing."  Further, the first definition of the transitive verb lack is:  "to be void or destitute of; to be without or deficient in."  And "to stand in need of."  Let's note, too, that the two chief synonyms of lack offered here are  "want" and "need."

Belief in gods is nothing that atheists lack, because we are not in want of it, and we do not need it.  The word lack unarguably carries the primary connotation of deficiency.  Because the absence of theistic belief is NOT a deficiency, it is nothing we atheists lack.
Oh just DROP it already. You know what I meant. Stop playing word games and focus on the point at hand. What I meant is more important than what some random Christian might THINK I meant, or implies by their own usage of the word. Just enough already.Delete

Sorry to irritate you.  Yes, of course I know what you meant.  The point here is that you didn't know quite what you were saying.  And it's a point very much worth making, not so much for you as for others who, like you, may not have noticed a pertinent and significant distinction, especially for atheists. 

These are not "word games," not even close--although your belittling characterization is understandable.  What we're discussing here, in fact, is precisely what words mean, so that we can use them accurately and effectively.  I'm glad, at least, that you've achieved that much understanding.

This is the last I'll say on the matter. The fact of the matter is that one of the definitions (of which there are many) of the word "lack" is merely an "absence of" something. There are dictionaries (maybe not yours, but mine and many others) that define it as such. Therefore, I did NOT use the wrong word, nor did i not "know quite what [I was] saying". I knew exactly what I was saying. I'm very careful with the words I use, and I used "lack" correctly.


But to prevent further argument, let's just call it an "absence", OK? Just so you're happy.

There is more than one connotation of "lack."  But--no question--the primary connotation is of deficiency.  One lacks what one is better off having.  That's what the word means.  And that is the reason that "lack" is too often used in defining atheism; that is, to denigrate atheists.  So, in parroting that usage, we unwittingly denigrate ourselves.

I'll concede to your point regarding connotation. I suppose I wasn't thinking about the connotation of the word "lack" as opposed to "absence". Absence may be more neutral.


So I meant "absence". Are we good? :)

We're good.  Thanks, YAA.

Atheist" Doesn't believe in any god/spirit/bah bah bah (none of that garbage)

Agnostic: Believes in something or at least thinks about it, just not sure what or who.  Doesn't follow any religion.  Might hold some belief to a spirit or reincarnation of some kind but again, just not sure what that is or who it is so they don't want to make any commitment to anything right now.  LOL


IMO  It's rather funny for someone to state that they are Agnostic Atheist.  That's like half an oxymoron statement.

"gnosis" is greek for "knowledge". People who call themselves "agnostic atheists" mean that they don't know whether gods exist, but don't believe in them.


It makes more sense that definition you used, which I don't really like. Just make a commitment, there is no point in staying in the twilight zone

IMO It's rather funny for you to completely make up a definition for "agnostic" that has no basis in reality.

It seems to me that some people are afraid to say, "There Is No God!". Is this because some philosopher might come along with some word game which concludes (to their satisfaction) that one cannot know this? To me it's no different from stating, "There is No milk in the fridge." (Heck, I'd better not say that because someone might wish to employ some different usage for the term, "Milk" and they will expose me as Not a true philosopher because I didn't account for THEIR meaning of "milk" - even though I still have nothing to put in my coffee.)


Speak truth - not word games.

Not sure why you felt the need to weigh in, Mike, but I have to infer that your references are to the discussion about the meaning of words.  In good communication--particularly in written communication--it's always important to ensure (as best we can) that people who choose words with the expectation of influencing others choose them with an accurate comprehension of their basic meanings. 

To clarify the definitions of words--which is what this discussion is fundamentally about--is definitely not to play "word games."  Rather, it's to work toward enabling all the participants in a dialogue to express themselves with care and to avoid sloppy expressions and usages that may have come into vogue because, without meaning to, some writers have parroted them thoughtlessly.  As is the case here.  


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