Still struggling with labels

After reading Dikkii’s Diatribe, I felt a renewed commitment to my “agnostic” label. There aren’t many bloggers out there who self-identify as agnostic, specifically among the ones I read, and I tend to agree and side with the atheists on most things anyway, so I was kind of questioning my stance. Finding a fellow doubter was a great way to reaffirm my agnosticism.

But I’ve been reading some of the definitions of agnosticism online, and again I’m not so sure. One feature that keeps popping up is the belief that the existence of god(s) is “unknowable,” and that seems like a faith claim to me. Just because we don’t know now doesn’t mean we can’t know, and it seems like making a “can/can’t” claim is opening the door to refutation and outright wrongness.

I’m unwilling to make the faith statement that we cannot know the existence or nonexistence of god(s), due to some property or lack thereof. I still like the idea of considering myself an agnostic, though it seems to me that there’s a lot of overlap with weak atheism (not believing in god(s), accepting the null hypothesis until further evidence suggests otherwise). But I don’t want to play Humpty Dumpty and say that words mean precisely what I want them to mean.

I don’t know if I’m an agnostic. There’s a certain symmetry to that.

3 Responses to Still struggling with labels

  1. Jon says:

    I’ve always thought that being agnostic shouldn’t be exclusive. Ideally, everyone would approach religion from the position of an agnostic and recognize that, while you may believe in the Christian God, you’ll never be able to either confirm nor deny those beliefs on earth. Similarly, I don’t think there’s anything preventing someone from being an agnostic atheist: someone who tends to believe there is no god, but understands that such a claim is inherently unprobealbe.

  2. Dikkii says:

    Thanks for the plug, Tom.Drop by any time.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Jon: I agree. Part of the problem is trying to draw borders of definitions in what is probably a continuum of ideas (Is the “yellow” line on the road yellow or orange? or yellow-orange? Am I a believer who allows for doubt or an agnostic who tends toward belief?) Also, I think there is more than one dimension or variable that goes into these definitions. The distinction between believer, agnostic, and atheist depends not only on how strongly you believe in God/No God, but also how important you think the question is, how willing you are to admit that you might be wrong, how insistent you are that you need proof, and maybe a few other things.-CJV

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