You must log in or register to comment.

BeaverFur t1_irbnuna wrote

I love David Mitchell, but I don't agree with him here. Agnosticism is not some sort of middle ground between belief and atheism. It's a claim about knowledge, not belief. You can be an agnostic atheist (in fact, most atheists are): someone who doesn't believe that there's a god, but doesn't claim that they know with certainty that god doesn't exist.

Also, yeah, other -isms have caused atrocities. The real problem here is dogma, and political movements can be pretty dogmatic too. But the thing with big organized religions is that they have an innate and strong tendency to default on dogma, because one of their core tenets is the idea of belief based on faith alone, even when (especially when) you have no evidence of a claim being true. And believing on principle that you must be right, and not allowing for re-examining or second guessing when new evidence arises is dogmatic by definition.


EunuchNinja t1_irby71t wrote

I've always had trouble splitting up the ideas of agnosticism and atheism. You inspired me to dig a little into the definitions. Agnostic as a word looks like an adjective in "agnostic atheist" but after reading up on agnostic, agnostic atheist, and atheist, they feel like different points on a spectrum and "agnostic atheist" is a name for one of those points/philosophies instead of being a clear modifier of atheist.

I'd even go so far as to argue against your point about agnosticism not being about belief; it's the belief that we do not and cannot know about the existence of God and consequently do not believe or disbelieve in god. An agnostic atheist doesn't believe we can know about the existence of God but also believes God does not exist.

Even after typing all of this I feel like I'm splitting hairs on the definition of belief. The only thing I'm confident about is that the terms "agnostic" and "gnostic" are too fluid for easy discussion. Even gnostic vs Gnostic (capital G) don't mean the same thing.


JFHermes t1_irccpyp wrote

> You can be an agnostic atheist (in fact, most atheists are): someone who doesn't believe that there's a god, but doesn't claim that they know with certainty that god doesn't exist.

This is just atheism. What class of atheist can prove god doesn't exist? No one can know with certainty that god doesn't exist.


BrettMoneyMaher t1_ircf79q wrote

No, it's not. It's agnostic atheism. You can't just eliminate words because you disagree with their definition, lol.

No one can prove that a god does exist (gnostic theism), but billions of people worldwide are still 100% certain that there is a god. Atheism would be the same thing, but the opposite. The "agnostic" part of "agnostic atheism" is a critical component.


JFHermes t1_ire29g9 wrote

If you are agnostic: you believe that there could or could not be a god. Basically it's unknowable if there is or there is not a god. That makes perfect sense to me, as religion is based on a system of faith and not logic (verifiable truth). Take that distinction as you may but that's not my point.

My point is that all atheists are agnostic - there isn't yet a way to disprove the 'existence' of god. There isn't a special class of atheist that has the ability to disprove god, therefore it's only reasonable to conclude that there only exists one type of atheist - the one that doesn't believe in god but also cannot prove/disprove it's existence.

What's more, gnosticism (is this what you mean by gnostic theism? - I looked it up but only found some dodgy quora answers using your terminology) is based on an inward looking acceptance that there is a divine force in the universe. It's not provable because the idea of god in this sense is purely spiritual and operates through the actions of people.

The interesting thing about Gnosticism is it's relation to greek/roman polytheism and their influences on early Judaism and Christianity. Much like one of the core components of the reformation - they believed that the channel between humans and god(s) were irrespective of organised religion and was a deeply personal projection of the forces of the universe (god).

I don't have to believe in god to be called a moron by an atheist because I feel a connection to a divine force that underpins the passage of time. I feel sorry for people who get organised religion tangled up with spirituality - I can feel there is something larger at play I just don't think it's personifications should be taken as gospel.

If an atheists prime example of disproving religion is taking a personification of god(usually intended for children because they don't have the mental capacities to understand more abstract concepts) as a way of invalidating everything ELSE that comes from texts/studies on religion then they are also like children.. unable to see the forests from the trees.

This is the whole point of the video - don't trip up on religion's gaps and throw the baby out with the bathwater. For a lot of people, they find a deep sense of contentedness when they believe in God, Religion, Unicorns... whatever. That is the point of Religion, not scientifically debugging texts from 2000 years ago.


ign_lifesaver2 t1_irchgn4 wrote

This is mostly semantics but If you told me you believed in a god that was irrational like a squared circle God I could be certain that particular God does not exist but It wouldn't prove no god exists.


klavin1 t1_ircl2de wrote

> This is mostly semantics

Or, ya know... epistemology.


SkyJohn t1_irbnmpx wrote

Sounds like he is taking about anti-theists not atheists.

And it's a bit of a straw man to say atheists would only want to stop people being religious because of the killings done in the name of those religions.

There are plenty of other immoral things that are being done in the name of religions that would point towards religious dogmatic teachings being a bad idea in general, and there are better ways to educate those people than telling them from birth that religious texts, religious leaders, your elders, your ancestors etc... have all the right answers and they should have complete control over how you live your life.


jaun_sinha t1_irbp3ic wrote

He's definitely talking about anti-theists. I'm an atheist and I couldn't care less which religion other people follow.


[deleted] t1_irc81ua wrote



SkyJohn t1_ircc68b wrote

Sure you can find someone who will fit any straw man you make but most atheists have more nuanced thoughts than just religion = wars = bad.

A huge chunk of the "atheist community" have trauma in their own lives that was caused by their religious upbringings, whether that takes the form of ostracisation of people from their communities for being different in any way, widespread child abuse or even worse shit like genital mutilation and forcing young girls who were raped to then give birth.

To just dismiss the cause of all of that trauma and say religion gets a free pass because it makes people feel good about where they'll go when they die is an insult to those victims.


Sate_Hen t1_irbl3xe wrote

This implies agnosticism and atheism are incompatible. You can be an agnostic atheist or a Gnostic atheist or an agnostic Christian or a Gnostic Christian. Agnosticism is more rational than Gnosticism but I don't think it's an alternative to atheism. He's right about the killings though


Podcaster t1_irbog51 wrote

I don’t think you understand the concept of Gnosticism if you believe a person can be a gnostic atheist. Gnostic atheism is an oxymoron.


Sate_Hen t1_irbp0sj wrote

OK Fair dos. I was under the impression Gnosticism was about being sure in whatever beliefs you had, I didn't realise it was specific to religious beliefs


Tersphinct t1_irbq1b6 wrote

> Gnostic atheism is an oxymoron.

Is it? I thought some versions of Japanese Shinto are considered godless (atheistic), but there's a belief in supernatural beings or spirits that reside in otherwise inanimate objects.


comingabout t1_irbqilj wrote

Doesn't gnostic basically mean "to know" and agnostic mean "to not know"?

So a gnostic atheist is someone that claims to know there isn't a god and isn't religious while an agnostic atheist is someone that doesn't claim to know that there isn't a god and also isn't religious.


Podcaster t1_irbrigp wrote

Not quite. Gnosis implies knowledge of god or spiritual matters. Divine knowledge.


deletion-imminent t1_irbseqa wrote

You are talking about Gnosticism, not gnosticism.


Tersphinct t1_irf9551 wrote

In the context of religion it's often meant to be a recognition of deities, not the degree of certainty you have in their existence.


Podcaster t1_irbsyud wrote

I don’t believe I was in this particular manner. I didn’t realize there was a difference but as far as I’m aware my concepts still check out.


04221970 t1_irbn0sy wrote

I do want to comment that killing in the name of religious belief is what really bothers me. Its not that communism, or fascism involves a god....but it involves commitment to an ideology with religious fervor in the righteousness of the cause.

I don't think a believer in god is inherently a large cause for killing, but religious devotion to an ideology is.


HasuTeras t1_irbx4fb wrote

Have we come full circle? Are we back in 2012 Reddit?


robklg159 t1_irca6ln wrote

I mean he's just not really on point here. Atheists aren't quite right and believers are fully wrong, but this kind of agnostic take is also wrong.

The thing about the concept of "god" is that said being would be so incomprehensible and beyond our scope as humans that to even begin to almost understand the edges of such a thing you'd have to be able to simultaneously imagine both everything and nothing at once... which is not possible since humans can't even imagine actual nothingness let alone infinity so both at the same time is just something we can't begin to think about touching.

That's really why being agnostic makes sense. There's just no way anybody at all could say they know anything about there being or not being some kind of godly power since it's so inconceivable to us and our pitiful pointless place in this universe as well as whatever else there may be that we just can't/don't experience lol