Can Atheists and Theists find common ground as Agnostics?

Some time ago I listened to a theist podcast, it’s not something I often do. The host was interviewing a man who was putting forth the argument that because Atheists could not prove that god didn’t exist (I understand about proving a negative but that point never came up) it would be more honest for Atheists to call themselves agnostic since they didn’t actually know. That got me to thinking that wouldn’t that logic fit better for theists. Would it be more honest for all theists to come together as agnostics? Reminiscent of those coke commercials where children from all over the world, “teach the world to sing in perfect harmony”.
Note: Not sure whether this should be in Random Fun or the Debate Forum


Well this seems perfectly well reasoned to me, but then I have never understood how anyone can believe a claim when they admit they cannot know anything about it. I mean it’s pretty obvious that a lack of knowledge as to whether a claim is true or not, is rationally incompatible with believing that claim, but perfectly aligned with withholding belief from it.


I’ll repeat what I’ve already stated here in the past, on the basis that it is relevant here.

Item one: a mistake that many mythology fanboys make (obviously not applicable to you, but still relevant) is that because I dismiss specific cartoon magic men from specific pre-scientific mythologies , this somehow means that I dismiss the very idea of a god type entity in its most general form existing. Wrong.

Dismissing specific named candidates for the “god role” does NOT for one moment dismissing all possible candidates, though I’m used to seeing mythology fanboys engage in quantifier abuse of this sort.

But that’s another problem with mythology fanboys - the moment this topic arises in discourse, they all immediately operate on the basis that their favourite choice of cartoon magic man from their favourite choice of pre-scientific mythology is the only possible candidate, and base their entire apologetics on that unwarranted presumption.

The mere fact that humans have been prolific with regard to the business of inventing various “god characters” alone should inform the astute observer that multiple possibilities exist for the occupant(s) of the “god role”.

But, two very important reasons for my rejecting cartoon magic men from pre-scientific mythologies are: [1] all of them have only ever been asserted to exist, and within the texts of mythologies containing fatuous and absurd errors at that, and none of the mythology fanboys have ever supported the requisite existence assertions with anything resembling genuine evidence, and [2] the cartoon magic men in question have all been asserted to possess contradictory and absurd properties, and can safely be dismissed on this basis alone, let alone on any other basis that springs to my mind (of which I’ve repeatedly mentioned several here - repetition thereof will be superfluous as a corollary).

Item two: I am also on public record here and elsewhere, of being perfectly willing to accept a non-mythological candidate for the “god role”, one that is either consistent with known physics or provides consistent extensions thereto, and doesn’t rely upon magic.

But of course, until we have rigorous and robust evidence for such an entity,we may all safely operate as if such an entity does not exist, while treating said safe operation as provisional of course.

I am also on public record both here and elsewhere, as welcoming any genuine evidence for any god type entity that might exist, on the basis that said evidence will almost certainly FALSIFY all of our silly pre-scientific mythologies at a stroke.

There’s also the little matter of my entertaining ideas about this topic that mythology fanboys are incapable of even fantasising about. The canonical example being my speculations presented in the Braneworld Cosmology thread, which again I need not repeat here for the diligent.

That discourse in the Braneworld Cosmology thread should be an eye opener for anyone who hasn’t read it of course, but I suspect none of the mythology fanboys will exert even the elementary level of discoursive diligence required to look that up, and the few that do will almost certainly subject said discourse to summary dismissal (quite possibly leavened heavily with snide condescension into the bargain, as is the usual wont of the more egregious specimens).

But, rigour in discourse is strikingly absent from almost all mythology fanboy offerings, and indeed, many of them demonstrate to a woeful extent, their failings on even an elementary level in this matter.


Since there is yet no evidence to support the idea, what’s wrong with defaulting to “I believe gods don’t exist” until it’s demonstrated otherwise?


Wow Calilasseia so much verbiage. Not sure if you’re insinuating that I’m a mythology fanboy and I’m not sure what you got so riled up over but before I post another topic thread I’ll be sure that it meets your approval. But please a simple yes or no would suffice. Cheers

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That’s my default I don’t believe gods exist and theists do believe gods exist. My understanding of agnostic is something might be true or untrue neither can be proven.

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Theist: BELIEVES their god exists… Atheist: Does not BELIEVE any god(s) exist.

Gnostic: To KNOW… Agnostic: To NOT know.

Knowing and Believing are two different things. Fact is, ALL theists and atheists alike are AGNOSTIC. While I may not BELIEVE any god(s) exist, I certainly never say for certain that I KNOW god(s) don’t exist. See the difference?

The problem arises among the religious faithful who often claim they KNOW without a doubt their chosen god exists (Gnostic Theist). Then there are those who are honest enough to admit they do not know for certain their god exists, but they BELIEVE it exists anyway based solely on faith (Agnostic Theist). So, with that in mind, the same goes for atheists. Can’t speak for all atheists, of course, but those I know who have more than a couple of functioning brain cells are smart enough to say they do not KNOW for certain if any god(s) do not exist (Agnostic Atheist). Then there are those who claim they KNOW for certain a god does not exist (Gnostic Atheists). Personally, I will openly admit to the possibility (although not likely a PROBABILITY) of some type of god(s) existing. Hey, who the hell knows?.. (shrugging shoulders)… But until such time such a god makes itself known, I withhold my belief in such entities. Moreover, in the case of the all-too-popular bible god, I actually HOPE it is NOT real. It’s a fucking MONSTER! And even IF it was somehow real, it does not mean I would ever worship it. But I digress…

Anyway, bottom line is, try to avoid letting yourself get sucked into the whole Know vs. Believe “argument” most theists use in an effort to muddy the waters. Simply explain to them the difference between Gnostic/Agnostic (Know/Don’t Know) and Theist/Atheist (Believe/Don’t Believe). Could save you a bunch of headaches in the future.

(Edit because I believe I know that I fucked up and left out some stuff.)


Yo, Canuk. Cali ain’t mad at you. He is our resident friggin’ Super-brain who has contributed a vast amount of worthwhile knowledge to this site over the years. And once you learn how to properly read his incredibly amazing prose, you will discover he also has a particularly wonderful sense of humor at times. (Although I doubt he would ever fully admit to the humor part. :sweat_smile:) @Calilasseia Love ya, dude! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Thanks Tin Man that did clear things up although I rarely talk to Theists aside from my sister and then never about the cult she is into.


I didn’t think he was mad. I was only pointing out that his use of so many words to make a point reminded me of some university profs I knew who took such pride in the depth and breadth of their vocabulary that they often left their class yawning and glancing at their watches. The fact that you appreciate him suggests that I should learn to.


I buy into the idea (I believe it was Hitchens who first suggested it, although I may be wrong) which states: “That which is asserted without evidence may be dismissed without evidence.”

Paradoxically, I identify as Jewish . . . despite G-d (or Yahweh) being–for all intents and purposes–a genocidal, bloodthirsty, infanticidal, misogynistic psychopath.

So, it seems to me that finding common ground with someone who prays to such a monster would be exceedingly difficult . . . rather like trying to find common ground with a Nazi or a Klansman.

I have enough trouble trying to find common ground with my fellow Jews. As an example, I heard two fellow Jews (one a nurse and one a social worker) who were criticizing a Jehovah’s Witness because they refused a blood transfusion for their 8 year old kid who was injured in a car accident . . . and as is typical of my autisic social incompetence, I did (of course) put my two cents in.
“Do you plan on donating your organs and tissues when you die?” I asked.
“No,” said the nurse. “It’s against Jewish custom. You know that,” she answered.
“But you would accept a kidney if you or your kid needed one, right?” I asked.
“But that’s different,” she said.
“One body can save up to 14 lives through donation after death,” I answered. “So who is worse? You . . . or the Jehovah’s Witness? And yes, I’m a donor.”
“You’re an asshole, and I doubt that you’re really a Jew,” she answered.


Either that, or that’s just the way they talked.


They really do hate when simple logic and rational thinking totally fuck up their “arguments”. :sweat_smile:

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Whoa! Holy shit! Let’s not get too carried away! Ask anybody else here, and I’m pretty sure they will tell you that relying on MY “better judgement” is ill-advised and more than just a bit risky. Hate to break it to you like that, but I’m afraid it’s one of the highlighted clauses in the Full Disclosure contract I had to sign a couple of years after joining this site. (Long and complicated story involving a can of sardines and kiddie pool full of melted chocolate fudge. We’ll just leave it at that.)


I’m late to the party. I have not read the other posts, so you’re getting this straight from the monkey mind. Most of the atheists on the site do call themselves agnostic. It’s really hard to be a Gnostic Atheist because you would have to demonstrate god’s non-existence. I don’t know of anyone that can actually do that.

What you are doing is putting atheism on a continuum with agnosticism. They are not the same thing. You are comparing peanuts to bananas.

Atheism is about what you ‘believe.’ If I ask you, “Do you believe in a god.” The answer is yes or no. If you tell me “I don’t know.” You have not answered the question. I did not ask you what you know. I asked you what you believe. Either god exists or god does not exist. It is a true dichotomy. If I say God exists, you either agree or disagree.

Agnosticism is about knowledge. A gnosis: Without knowledge. If you say you believe, then I ask you, on what do you base your belief. Now I am asking for knowledge. I am asking for facts and evidence.

A-theism - without belief in god or gods.
A-gnosticism - without knowledge of god or gods.


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Most of us still have memories (read PTSD) of that euphemistic “melted fudge” incident when you allowed Cog to ingest and extraordinary amount of banana ice cream laced with senna.

You were right when you said to us that the sardines would “mask the flavor of the senna”. “Trust me it will be funny” you said.

Oh, and theism/atheism is about belief.
Gnosticism/Agnosticism is about knowledge.


A word of explanation is apposite here.

The regulars are aware that I have a highly individual style, as at least one has already pointed out. That style is motivated by two concerns - being informative in depth and being rigorous,concerns that derive directly from my intensive scientific and mathematical background.

If I’m moved to enter a debate, my priority is to present detailed reasons for my various positions, and where possible, deliver robust evidential support for those reasons.

Which, in part, is also motivated by the manifest lack of either deductive rigour or evidential support in religious aplogetics, much of which is also disturbingly tendentious and duplicitous.

I also admit to being slightly puzzled when Canuk failed to notice that I explicitly excluded him as a candidate for mythology fanboy mischief right at the start of my exposition. Possibly a consequence of my language being influenced by an education that included Latin and Classical Greek. Yes, I’m of that vintage. :slight_smile:

Indeed, one of the ideas I attempt to cultivate here, is diligence in discourse, motivated by a long standing appreciation for the work of Willard Van Ormand Quine, one of the foremost logicians and analytical philosophers of the 20th century. Indeed, I regard his textbook Methods of Logic as a masterclass in this regard.

All too often, we see the usual suspects from the dismal world of apologetics wallow in the superficial and the naive - that is, when certain of their ilk are not being wilfully dishonest. This I consider anathema. One of my more pithy maxims may make my point succinctly here - bad ideas exist to be destroyed - preferably before, as history teaches us, the festering thereof leads to good people being destroyed.

The Latin is, as always, brief and to the point - semper vigilans. :slight_smile:


One thing worth noting is that many people think the definition of agnostic is to believe in a god, but to not know what it is like. Basically religion without all the trappings. I’m guessing that is what they meant. Definitions are important here and I doubt they provided one.

What I find interesting is that people have no problem saying the tooth fairy is made up by people and thus doesn’t exist, but they won’t say the same about god. If people ask me if god exists I would tell them no, the idea was made up by people. Could something like god exist? We don’t know. This has more to do with how we treat unfalsifiable ideas than the way we treat the concept of god.

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Yep I’ll give you that.

Well, fuck… now I’m offended. You took the time to specifically exclude Canuk and left me hanging in the banana tree. Okay, fine, I see how you are. Posting intelligent shit on the site and playing favorites. See if I ever respond to one of your posts again. I’m putting you on my blocked list, along with Tin Man, Old Man, Sheldon, Cyber, White, and the rest of the list.

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