Why do Agnostics and Atheists often get labelled as the same thing?

Why do Agnostics and Atheists often get labelled as the same thing? Why do some identify as Agnostic Atheists or Agnostic theists when this seems like a contradiction? Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

The first “agnostic” references knowledge.
The second “atheist” refers to belief.

Gnostic… I know
Agnostic… I don’t know

Theist…I believe
Atheist…I withhold belief

An “agnostic theist” would be someone who says, “I don’t believe god is knowable but I believe in god” (or to that effect).

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I think I’m an apathetic agnostic atheist.
Don’t know. Don’t believe. Don’t care.

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Do they? Can’t say I believe your claim. A cursory examination of their definitions shows they are not the same, but are not mutually exclusive.

How are they a contradiction?

Since agnosticism is the belief nothing is known or can be known about any deity; and theism is the belief in a deity or deities; and atheism is the lack or absence of belief in any deity or deities. Then clearly neither theism, nor atheism are mutually exclusive with agnosticism.

Though I can see no rational or epistemological reason for believing a claim, if you can know nothing about it.

That would mean you’d have to believe all unfalsifiable claims. It makes more rational sense to disbelieve all unfalsifiable claims.

Lets test the first position, do you believe we are surrounded by invisible pixies?

NB Please note the claim is designed to be unfalsifiable, as are many core religious beliefs of course, why is that do you think?

I believe something when sufficient objective evidence can be demonstrated for it. Otherwise I disbelieve it. If a claim is unfalsifiable then it cannot be evidenced at all, and thus I disbelieve it, the difference between me as an atheist, and theists, is that I apply the same open minded unbiased standard to all claims and beliefs. Theists favour one, and reject all the others.

Well I see 3 possible explanations:

  1. You are insane.
  2. We are insane.
  3. You don’t mean the same things by those words, as we mean.

@bloopynoopy: The way I see it, either you are insane, we are insane, or this is a semantics argument.

  1. My point Is:
    Beliefs view on god:
    Agnosticism = I don’t/can’t know as God might be able to hide itself from me.
    Agnostic Theism= I don’t know. maybe there is?
    Agnostic Atheist = I don’t know. maybe there isn’t?
    (So if you understand you can’t know the answer, then surely the need for disambiguation is a contradiction.)

You are the first person I’ve heard describe agnostic atheist in that way. And pretty much the same for the other two terms you mentioned.

The word agnostic applies to knowledge. Agnostic means I don’t KNOW. Belief ought, IMHO, to be what follows as a consequence of one’s knowledge. Of course one might claim to have knowledge, yet be wrong, ie. gnosticism is a claim, which needs to be upheld by good evidence and good reasoning. I think that one ought to maintain unbelief on any posited truth, until there is convincing good evidence and good reasoning to back it up. Thus to me, to say: “I am agnostic about {X}, but I believe it anyway”, is irrational. The idea of agnostic belief boils down to belief without good evidence and good reasoning; which is a no-no for me.

Thus, to be an agnostic theist, is not rational. It amounts to saying that the person chooses to believe in a god or gods, without having a good rationale. However, to be an agnostic atheist is, IMHO, the only way to be, if one is agnostic on the question of the existence of god(s).

Agnosticism on the question of the existence of god(s), to me, means that I can’t show that there is(are) a(some) god(s) in existence, nor can I show that they do not exist. On the other hand, some proposed gods are incoherent, and illogical in their definition, and supposed make-up . Those incoherent / illogical gods can be shown to be impossible, assuming that we require coherent logic, in our epistemic analysis.

Some atheists may be so convinced that no gods exist, that they take a gnostic stance. Likewise theists ought to be convinced that a god or some gods exist, so they take a gnostic stance in the opposite direction.

So in summary . . .

I think that on the topic of theism, ‘agnostics’ and ‘atheists’ ought to be bracketed together. To be an agnostic theist is claiming an unjustified belief, and it implies belief in something which may be wrong. It seems to be a belief, based on just liking the idea of god(s) existence. To be an agnostic atheist is withholding a belief, until it can be justified, (if ever).



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That’s not agnosticism. Are theists not allowed to Google word definitions or something?


The belief that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.

I’ll ask again then, do you believe all unfalsifiable claims?

Agnostic Atheist is not a contradiction. Agnosticism is about “Knowledge” Atheism and Theism are about what you believe.

Knowledge is best described, IMO, as “Justified True Belief.” Knowledge is a subcategory of belief that is accepted to a degree that if it were to be proved wrong it would shake your world. 2 + 2 = 4 is a knowledge claim (in base 10. He he he .) “Gravity pulls us towards the Earth.” is a knowledge claim, as long as you do not read Einstein. That which is true can not be “Known” 100% Solipsism does not have a solution.

So let’s look at the question of “Does god exist?”
The agnostic Atheist says, I have no reason to believe the claim “god exists.” He may or may not, but until some convincing evidence is given, I have no good reason to believe in God claims. Theists have not met their burden of proof.

A Gnostic Atheist would assert, “I know there is no God.” A sweeping generalization that is nearly as hard to evidence as the claim that a God exists. Any argument for the non-existence of God is going to have holes in it ‘UNLESS’ the theist has clearly identified a specific god. In this case, it is generally quite easy to shoot down the theists assertion for that particular God claim. That does not mean some other version could not exist. The god claim is non-falsifiable as is the claim that a God does not exist. I personally assert that most of the actual evidence lines up in agreement with the non-existence; however. absolute certainty is not yet achievable IMO.

The Agnostic Christian is simply a Christian who has no idea if a god exists or not but chooses to believe anyway. PASCAL’S WAGER! This is the position of the Agnostic Christian. You might as well believe and go to heaven. You will live a good life and believing is not going to hurt you. (This whole thought process is fallacious but that is Pascal’s Wager anyway.) The wager specifically targets the “Doubting Thomas’s.” It targets those who do not know and whose belief can be swayed.

The Belief continuum is Theist --------------- to ------------------- Atheist.
The Knowledge continuum is Gnostic --------------- to --------------- Agnostic.

You can believe all sorts of crap without knowing anything about it. Lincoln freed the slaves, going outside with wet hair can make you sick, Washington was the first president, Edison invented the light bulb, we only use 10% of our brains… bla bla bla… how much crap do you believe that you have never looked into? (There is good evidence for the existence of Jesus?)

So, do you believe in a god or not? ‘yes’ and you are a theist. ‘no’ and you are an atheist. It’s just that simple.

What do you know about a god. If you know stuff you are a ‘gnostic’ and if you don’t know shit about a god, you are 'agnostic." Problem here is that most theists are “agnostics” but don’t know it.

I think the problem is in the order in which you approach these things. If you first ask if you can know there is a god. You realise that since god can live outside the realms of knowledge the answer must be no. So if you know god cant be known you have no evidence for god or no god. my view is you cant be an agnostic atheist (or agnostic theist) as to choose a to know you cant know and then to add an answer is a contradiction.

Can I know god? No (Agnostic), Yes (gnostic),
If you think you can know god. then you can give an answer of theism or atheism.

I know no such thing, nor does anyone else, including you of course. Try again…

You’re wrong, as I have already explained I’m an agnostic towards all unfalsifiable claims, and I am an atheist. Try again…

Atheism is an unfalsifiable claim as you can not know there is no god without assuming that you can know. You can be an atheist, and you can be agnostic, but you cant be both.

If the question is reversed: Can I know God doesn’t exist? As there is no evidence to support this claim then to say:

Well in this case ignoring the unfalsifiable claims would make you a theist.

For something to be true it needs its own evidence to support it, not by denying the alternatives.

Holy fuck - rarely do I call someone stupid on this forum but your repetition of YOUR idea of the meaning of terms and refusal to acknowledge NOT believing is NOT the same as “opposing” is absolutely stupid.

Again… I do not collect stamps. I am a non-stamp collector. I don’t give a fuck about those that are stamp-collectors. I am NOT in opposition to those who collect.

The even/odd analogy has been used twice.

A claim WITHOUT evidence can be dismissed WITHOUT evidence.

Jesus fuckin’Christ- it’s not that difficult to understand.


Atheism isn’t a claim at all.

Nonsense, do you think you’re the first theist to come here with this troll?

More idiotic illiteracy, go look at a dictionary.

Wrong again, there really is no limit to your ignorance.


He’s trolling, and he’s not an agnostic. I had my suspicions from the very start.


Have you lost your mind? “Realize” - come to knowledge God can exist outside of knowledge?

What kind of double speak bull shit is this? How many fallacies can you string together in a single sentence?

"If you know god can live outside the realms of knowledge. " *** You win*** Stupid comment of the night! How do you ‘know’ god can live outside the realms of knowledge without knowing something about god?

God can ‘LIVE’ outside knowledge: You Win Again Inane bullshit assertion of the night! And once again you are professing to KNOW something about God while at the same time professing it is outside of knowledge. (It’s like being a fuctard that exists outside the definition of fucktard.)

“You know, god can not be known.” YOU WIN AGAIN Fuck dude you are on a roll. Doit doit doit doit, what do you do to keep the drool off your keyboard? I just fuckiing told you…

DO YOU EVEN READ RESPONSES TO YOUR POSTS? How in the FUCK are you going to know that a god can not be known?
(HERE ----- have a fucking **** DOOR PRIZE **** too. )

The question is not “Do you know of God’s existence” This is a question of Gnosticism or Agnosticism. .

The question is "Do you believe god or Gods Exist? This is theism or atheism.


Can I know God - NO! but I believe anyway (Pascal’s Wager) – Agnostic Theist
Can I know God - Yes! (Knowledge is a subcategory of belief) – Gnostic Theist
Do I believe in a god - Yes but I have no knowledge - Agnostic Theist
Do I believe in a god - Yes and I know it exists because… Gnostic Theist
Do I believe in a god - No, because I have no knowledge to base belief on - Agnostic Atheist.
Do I believe in a god - No, I know god or gods do not exist. Gnostic Atheist.


Oh oh oh, I know this, the answer is lots…

Also none, since he/she clearly is incapable of recognising any logical fallacies…

Or he’s a none too bright troll.

He’s like a weird syllogism. :sunglasses:

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Perfect answer, “lots” Here is your heart shaped cookie and you can move to the front of the line.

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Why do so many people get this confused? It seems to be a common misunderstanding.