University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Why I’m Not an Atheist: The Case for Agnosticism
More than 16% of the world is unaffiliated by religion. Agnostics and atheists alike fail to comprehend that there can be one God since by history many religions have had different gods. Agnostics hold the view that the existence of God is an unprovable phenomenon. Atheists, on the other hand, hold the view that God does not exist. The purpose of this paper is to synthetically analyze the views of agnostics and those of atheists.
All religions differ in ideology and doctrines. Atheists completely reject the existence of God. Whereas, agnostics are more open minded and leave this for further prove. Additionally, atheists base all their arguments on scientific evidence. Agnostics are more cautious and they leave all the unknowns to be subject of further prove.
The major difference between an atheist and an agnostic is on the opinion of the existence of God. Atheists completely reject the existence of God. Further, they reject all kinds of religious doctrines. In addition, they reject the belief of the afterlife; eternal fire or eternal life. Atheists would view prayers as meaningless; opting to view humans as the sole beings responsible for their wellbeing with no other power above them. Atheists view the existence of religion as a hindrance to man’s continued development in science. Agnostics, on the other hand, are more open minded concerning this concept. While they belief that God’s existence is unknowable, they leave the concept of a higher being to further scrutiny.
When asked why he does not believe in God, Ricky Gervais, a renowned atheism defender, answers that there is no scientific evidence for His existence. Further, he says God’s existence is a logical impossibility in this universe. Atheists view science as the truth. The lack of prove in the existence of something in science is taken to mean that such thing does not exist. In contrast, agnostics explain that such a notion is like telling the house cat to explain the process by which the jet engine is made. Whereas atheists claim that science does not discriminate, agnostics view this form of rejection of all things unknown as a type of discrimination.
Albert Einstein once described being religious as sensing anything that is being experienced as being caused by something out of man’s control; and the beauty of such experience reaches us indirectly. Agnostics are to some extent semi-religious; they recognize that the debate of whether or not God exists is beyond the current capabilities of man. Agnostics believe in one truth, the one given to him/her. A blurry line exists between Agnostics and Atheists. The difference is that Atheists consider all things unproven as non-existent. In contrast, Agnostics leave all unproven things to future developments in man’s capabilities.
However, in the spectrum of belief, atheism and agnosticism is often viewed in the term of degree of the person’s conviction. The number of Agnostics continues rise daily all over the world. Study now shows one in every ten Americans is an agnostics. This translates roughly to 2 million people.
Agnostics and Atheists hold that the belief (or unbelief) of a person should not make them infringe on the rights of others. The level of intolerance exhibited by some religious groups has led to these groups making this conclusion. In fact, most atheist sound like agnostics when they are further probed. True atheists are highly knowledgeable. While atheists hold the opinion that the burden of prove on religious matters falls on the believer, agnostics disagree; refusing to disapprove either opinion.
Agnostics and atheists differ greatly in many aspects. While agnosticism does not disapprove the unknown, Atheists consider all things unknown as nonexistent. In simple terms, atheism is rejection of the existence of the supernatural, while agnosticism is the belief that prove of the supernatural is simply “unknown.” For this reason, agnosticism may be seen as non-commitment to religious beliefs.
Atheist reject all knowledge which is not scientifically proven. To the atheist, belief in something unproven or unseen is illogical. Atheists hold that a person who believes in the existence of one God is himself an atheist. This is because there about 2870 known gods. Rejecting 2869 and believing in one is a form of atheism because it is a denial of the supernatural. To a large extent, an agnostic may be viewed as religious depending on which side his/her views incline more. One who inclines more towards science may be viewed as an atheist, while one who inclines towards existence of a supernatural being may be viewed as a theist. Therefore, agnosticism is compatible with both religion and atheism. A person can believe in God (theism) without claiming to know if God exists, and the result is agnostic theism. A person can also reject existence of God without claiming whether gods do exist or not and that is agnostic atheism. This shows that Atheism and Agnosticism cannot be mutually excluded.
The writers of these two articles give their experiences of being Christians once then later falling out with their religion (Christianity), for some reasons. Atheism is of the view that since everything in the universe can be explained in a satisfactory way without using God as part of the explanation then there is no need to say that God does exist. The Agnostics have the humility to say they don’t know when questioned on there being a high power beyond their comprehension that has anything to do with existence of the universe. They can`t get their heads around space and time and they are not qualified to have strong opinions about God since they do not know a thing yet.
In contrast, atheists cannot prove what existed before ‘something’. Atheists argue that if one understands the complex things in the universe, then they may also understand the simple. However, nothing can be further from logic. Knowing the simple is more important than understanding the process of coming up with the complex. Interestingly, this paradox makes atheists appear very religious. Atheists would need a lot of faith to believe that ‘something’ was formed out of ‘nothing’. The failure of atheists to explain what existed before all things makes atheism appear like a religious group. In addition, atheists spend a lot of their energies in disapproving God. Whereas, believers only need faith in prove of God’s existence.
Baddar, Omar. “Why I’m Not an Atheist: The Case for Agnosticism.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 28 May 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/omar-baddar/why-im-not-an-atheist-the-case-for-agnosticism_b_3345544.html>.
Gervais, Ricky. “Why I’m an Atheist.” Speakeasy RSS. 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2014. <http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/19/a-holiday-message-from-ricky-gervais-why-im-an-atheist/>.