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No to the Illogical Agnostic.
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Posted 12/22/10

Cuddlebuns wrote:

I haven't read the whole thread, but I haven't seen anyone dispute the OP by using the etymology of the words (a)gnosticism and (a)theism. Agnosticism and gnosticism pertain to knowledge of deities, while theism and atheism refer to belief in deities. There is a big difference between knowledge and belief, which I don't feel like explaining since any dictionary could clarify the differences for anyone who might not know. Agnostic simply means "without knowledge," meaning that they don't know for sure if there are deities. This does not mean that they cannot believe in deities, in fact (a)gnostic by itself is not a very accurate adjective for describing one's attitudes about divine beings, which is why they are usually paired with "theist" or "atheist." Most agnostics (based on personal experience) are actually agnostic atheists since they seem to act as if they don't believe in any deities while professing their lack of knowledge about the existence of deities. Of course it is always possible that they are agnostic theists.

So my main point is that agnosticism and atheism/theism are not mutually exclusive, in fact a combination of the two is the best way to accurately describe a person's attitude towards deities. The OP is clearly a gnostic atheist, since he claims that he knows his beliefs (or lack thereof) are true. Agnosticism, whether it be theistic or atheistic, is the neutral stance, or at least the most open-minded stance, since it allows one to be open to criticism of their own beliefs, while gnosticism makes people profess their beliefs as true knowledge despite any and all contradicting evidence.


Thank you so much for shedding light on this matter!

I really appreciate your clear and concise writing. You put it so simply and elegantly.

However, I thought Gnosticism was a specific belief (heresy) that branched out from Christianity around the 3rd century. I vaguely remember reading about it in my Medieval music history course. If my memory serves me, I think their beliefs and practices differed from Christianity. If that is true, then it would mean that it is not possible to be a Gnostic and a Christian simultaneously....

Of course I might be completely wrong since it's been a while......
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Posted 12/23/10

qweruiop wrote:


Cuddlebuns wrote:

I haven't read the whole thread, but I haven't seen anyone dispute the OP by using the etymology of the words (a)gnosticism and (a)theism. Agnosticism and gnosticism pertain to knowledge of deities, while theism and atheism refer to belief in deities. There is a big difference between knowledge and belief, which I don't feel like explaining since any dictionary could clarify the differences for anyone who might not know. Agnostic simply means "without knowledge," meaning that they don't know for sure if there are deities. This does not mean that they cannot believe in deities, in fact (a)gnostic by itself is not a very accurate adjective for describing one's attitudes about divine beings, which is why they are usually paired with "theist" or "atheist." Most agnostics (based on personal experience) are actually agnostic atheists since they seem to act as if they don't believe in any deities while professing their lack of knowledge about the existence of deities. Of course it is always possible that they are agnostic theists.

So my main point is that agnosticism and atheism/theism are not mutually exclusive, in fact a combination of the two is the best way to accurately describe a person's attitude towards deities. The OP is clearly a gnostic atheist, since he claims that he knows his beliefs (or lack thereof) are true. Agnosticism, whether it be theistic or atheistic, is the neutral stance, or at least the most open-minded stance, since it allows one to be open to criticism of their own beliefs, while gnosticism makes people profess their beliefs as true knowledge despite any and all contradicting evidence.


Thank you so much for shedding light on this matter!

I really appreciate your clear and concise writing. You put it so simply and elegantly.

However, I thought Gnosticism was a specific belief (heresy) that branched out from Christianity around the 3rd century. I vaguely remember reading about it in my Medieval music history course. If my memory serves me, I think their beliefs and practices differed from Christianity. If that is true, then it would mean that it is not possible to be a Gnostic and a Christian simultaneously....

Of course I might be completely wrong since it's been a while......


You are not wrong, it is just that english is inadequate to express difference between the two expressions: one is used in philosophy (Greek philosophy, some few hundred years bc), other really represents the heresy. That heresy was actually caused by gnostic philosophical schools in Greece.

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Posted 12/23/10

qweruiop wrote:


Cuddlebuns wrote:

I haven't read the whole thread, but I haven't seen anyone dispute the OP by using the etymology of the words (a)gnosticism and (a)theism. Agnosticism and gnosticism pertain to knowledge of deities, while theism and atheism refer to belief in deities. There is a big difference between knowledge and belief, which I don't feel like explaining since any dictionary could clarify the differences for anyone who might not know. Agnostic simply means "without knowledge," meaning that they don't know for sure if there are deities. This does not mean that they cannot believe in deities, in fact (a)gnostic by itself is not a very accurate adjective for describing one's attitudes about divine beings, which is why they are usually paired with "theist" or "atheist." Most agnostics (based on personal experience) are actually agnostic atheists since they seem to act as if they don't believe in any deities while professing their lack of knowledge about the existence of deities. Of course it is always possible that they are agnostic theists.

So my main point is that agnosticism and atheism/theism are not mutually exclusive, in fact a combination of the two is the best way to accurately describe a person's attitude towards deities. The OP is clearly a gnostic atheist, since he claims that he knows his beliefs (or lack thereof) are true. Agnosticism, whether it be theistic or atheistic, is the neutral stance, or at least the most open-minded stance, since it allows one to be open to criticism of their own beliefs, while gnosticism makes people profess their beliefs as true knowledge despite any and all contradicting evidence.


Thank you so much for shedding light on this matter!

I really appreciate your clear and concise writing. You put it so simply and elegantly.

However, I thought Gnosticism was a specific belief (heresy) that branched out from Christianity around the 3rd century. I vaguely remember reading about it in my Medieval music history course. If my memory serves me, I think their beliefs and practices differed from Christianity. If that is true, then it would mean that it is not possible to be a Gnostic and a Christian simultaneously....

Of course I might be completely wrong since it's been a while......


Gnosticism is both a noun and an adjective in the English language. The one you're thinking of is the noun, which refers to the specific denomination of Christianity, while I was discussing the adjective that describes one's knowledge of deities.

I don't know why I sound like an English major.
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Posted 12/23/10

Cuddlebuns wrote:


Gnosticism is both a noun and an adjective in the English language. The one you're thinking of is the noun, which refers to the specific denomination of Christianity, while I was discussing the adjective that describes one's knowledge of deities.

I don't know why I sound like an English major.



blancer wrote:
You are not wrong, it is just that english is inadequate to express difference between the two expressions: one is used in philosophy (Greek philosophy, some few hundred years bc), other really represents the heresy. That heresy was actually caused by gnostic philosophical schools in Greece.


Thank you both for clarifying this. It makes so much more sense now.

So now you've interested me to do more searches and read up on this matter. Do you agree with the simple explanation on this website:http://freethinker.co.uk/2009/09/25/8419/

I like their visual treatment of the terms.
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Posted 12/25/10

qweruiop wrote:


Cuddlebuns wrote:


Gnosticism is both a noun and an adjective in the English language. The one you're thinking of is the noun, which refers to the specific denomination of Christianity, while I was discussing the adjective that describes one's knowledge of deities.

I don't know why I sound like an English major.



blancer wrote:
You are not wrong, it is just that english is inadequate to express difference between the two expressions: one is used in philosophy (Greek philosophy, some few hundred years bc), other really represents the heresy. That heresy was actually caused by gnostic philosophical schools in Greece.


Thank you both for clarifying this. It makes so much more sense now.

So now you've interested me to do more searches and read up on this matter. Do you agree with the simple explanation on this website:http://freethinker.co.uk/2009/09/25/8419/

I like their visual treatment of the terms.


it's good and simple. Although it is also full of personal issues, which is why I both like (makes it interesting) and dislike (too much hatred for different opinions) "scientific" internet articles done by amateurs.
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Posted 12/25/10

blancer wrote:


it's good and simple. Although it is also full of personal issues, which is why I both like (makes it interesting) and dislike (too much hatred for different opinions) "scientific" internet articles done by amateurs.


Yeah too much personal issues, but leaving that aside, do you agree that the agnostic believes that God is unknowable? I always thought that an agnostic would state that he/she is uncertain in the existence of God-- not that everyone is incapable of determining the existence of God....maybe I'm misreading the site?
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Posted 12/26/10

qweruiop wrote:


blancer wrote:


it's good and simple. Although it is also full of personal issues, which is why I both like (makes it interesting) and dislike (too much hatred for different opinions) "scientific" internet articles done by amateurs.


Yeah too much personal issues, but leaving that aside, do you agree that the agnostic believes that God is unknowable? I always thought that an agnostic would state that he/she is uncertain in the existence of God-- not that everyone is incapable of determining the existence of God....maybe I'm misreading the site?


I think that the guy on the site says agnostic is uncertain if god exists or not. I am sure there exists name for people who think the existence of god can not be determined... in philosophy, empiricists had that stance about knowledge of god. I am not sure how those people are labeled in modern English. (empiricism dates from 17th century).
My personal opinion is this: there are believers and unbelievers. Believers like to call themselves "Christians", "Muslims", "Hebrews" or whatever, while those who don't believe call themselves "agnostic", "atheist" or whatever. Funny thing is that members of all groups want to be recognized as something "special" or "different" for what they do or believe in (or not believe). Professionally I care about those tiny differences (OK, not any more, since I quit that kind of work), but personally I think it is all the same. Strong believers (or not believers) are strong/charismatic/idk anyway while sheep are sheep. (I am sorry if I moved away from the subject).
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Posted 12/26/10

qweruiop wrote:

Yeah too much personal issues, but leaving that aside, do you agree that the agnostic believes that God is unknowable? I always thought that an agnostic would state that he/she is uncertain in the existence of God-- not that everyone is incapable of determining the existence of God....maybe I'm misreading the site?


People who are unsure of the existence of god(s) describe themselves as as agnostic, but based on the literal meaning of the world it means that they believe that their existence is unknowable to anyone.
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Posted 12/26/10 , edited 12/26/10
And then there's the people who just don't care. I think the label for them is "apatheist"

More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apatheism
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