When discussing religion, I’ve heard Stephen Colbert say this a couple times: “Isn’t an agnostic just an atheist without balls?”
I used to think Agnosticism was a fair position to take. The first openly non-religious person I ever met was a girl who called herself agnostic back in 8th grade. I don’t remember how she explained it, but whatever she said, it made sense to me at the time even though I was still religious myself.
But now, that term makes me cringe.
It’s the atheist version of the word “spiritual.”
It’s a “safe” way of saying you don’t believe in god. “Atheist” sounds evil and wrong and scary, but “agnostic” sounds safer and milder: People will still like you if you say you’re “agnostic” — It makes it sound like you haven’t fully decided where you stand on that whole “God” thing. But people will run away screaming if you say you’re an atheist.
The argument I tend to hear from agnostics is that we don’t have all the information about god’s existence, so we shouldn’t take a position on it. We can’t definitively say god exists or doesn’t exist, so let’s put ourselves somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.
[Cue up the Russell’s Teapot argument.] Of course, we don’t have “all the information” on damn near anything you can make up, but no one says they’re agnostic about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. No one says they’re agnostic about Zeus or Thor. So why are they agnostic about “God”?
It all just seems very wishy-washy.
And it gets to the heart of this Toothpaste For Dinner cartoon:
I can understand the reasons people give for calling themselves atheists or Humanists or Skeptics, but I don’t get why people still cling to Agnostic.
Is anyone out there a self-proclaimed agnostic? Why do you use that term instead of atheist (or whatever else is in that family of terms)?