Three Sided Coin

Three Sided Coin
By: Me

Written on September 20th, 2012
"One of the earliest definitions of agnostic atheism is that of Robert Flint, in his Croall Lecture of 1887–1888 (published in 1903 under the title Agnosticism).

The atheist may however be, and not unfrequently is, an agnostic. There is an agnostic atheism or atheistic agnosticism, and the combination of atheism with agnosticism which may be so named is not an uncommon one.

If a man has failed to find any good reason for believing that there is a God, it is perfectly natural and rational that he should not believe that there is a God; and if so, he is an atheist... if he goes farther, and, after an investigation into the nature and reach of human knowledge, ending in the conclusion that the existence of God is incapable of proof, cease to believe in it on the ground that he cannot know it to be true, he is an agnostic and also an atheist – an agnostic-atheist – an atheist because an agnostic... while, then, it is erroneous to identify agnosticism and atheism, it is equally erroneous so to separate them as if the one were exclusive of the other.."

I have taken this piece from Wikipedia so that we have a standard to compare to. Although the term "Agnostic-Atheist" has gone through some traditional evolutionary changes, its basic definition is used above. This term has bothered me for some time because it seemed to be an effort to allow for a "soft" Atheism that really had no place in the debate.

For starters lets isolate the two terms for a better understanding of them as a stand alone. Agnostics agree that there is insufficient evidence to support a "belief" if a deity and yet suggest there may in the future be sufficient evidence. Agnostics also claim the right to say...."I just dont know and it is currently an unknowable issue". As stated by Flint...it is incapable of proof.
Agnostics agree that there remains a possability that at some time in the future there may be found the "proofs" sufficient for "belief".
Let me mention that Diests have an acceptable level of proofs such as the world around them which, they insist, require a creater god that does not involve itself in the affairs of human kind.

Atheists take Agnosticism a step (or two) futher and suggest that since the existance of a deity is "unknowable and incapable of proofs", it stands to reason that there is no god that can be identified. Let me preface by also saying that Atheist are NOT saying that it is impossible for there to be an existant deity, only that it is improbable given what we know. Atheists do not anticipate any new revelations of evidence, yet do not rule out the possability.
The difference between possability and probability is an important one and tends to be the turning point in the definitions.

If we take these two ideas on face value, if we can stick to a face value, I find that Agnosticism cannot stand on its own because it waits for something that may never come and, given current knowledge, does not exist now. It has tried to couple possability with probability. If you do not believe in a deity, for whatever reason, you will live out each day as an Atheist does. Not going to a church, not praying to something, not doing any of the things Theists do. If an Agnostic anticipates the possability of future proofs it must be based on a likelyhood that must be based on probability that must be based on currently "unacceptable yet questionable" proofs. There are, to the Agnostic, no such proofs. If there were, one would more likely be a Deist than Agnostic. In light of this, I deem the term Agnostic-Atheist to be a three sided coin....or at least, wanting a three sided coin. Not because they are in conflict with one another, but because given what we DO know, one cannot stand in limbo on the issue of "belief". Either you believe because there is a certain level of acceptable evidence, or you dont believe because there is not. To remain in a state of "anticipation" or "waiting" does not change the reality of where you stand today and how you behave given that reality.
Yes, I know, there will be many or most that will say, "It is my right to say I dont know and await further evidence". Given the thousands of years that we have been roaming this planet, if there were a god or deity that 1) Created all things (most importantly....us) 2) Wanted to be involved in human affairs 3) Wanted to "reveal" itself............Dont you think that it would have done so by now in such a way as to leave no doubt in anyone's mind.?
I support anyone that stands on the premise that "all things are possible"......but "all things are NOT probable". As it has been said before, I may believe that pink elephants not only exist, but can fly as well. But if there is no way for me to confirm that with evidence beyond doubt, under most people's understanding of doubt, the elephant exists ONLY in my mind and in the minds of others that may think similarilly. Especially, if I was raised in a culture that both believed and taught that pink elephants existed........and could fly.

There is no heads AND tails in this struggle for "spiritual" identity. We are either positioned on one side of the coin (theism) or the other side (atheism). It is defined by how we live our lives out day by day. What are we conscious of and what do we act upon? Where else can we stand.
Kindasorta Kindasorta
56-60, M
4 Responses Sep 20, 2012

In reply i say that i did join the atheist site for the sole purpose of posting a few articles in an effort to stop being misrepresented.This resulted in an out and out campaign by a select few to have me thrown off EP, by what amounted to a small bunch of cry babies, who beat their chest about being open minded and free thinkers, when in reality they do no like inconvenient truths.
From my own research the deconversion rate is from Roman Catholicism and i fully understand the reason behind this. Catholicism is religion not Christianity.
There is no doubt at all that each and every individual will have a slightly different reason for reaching out to Atheism/ Agnosticism. If you have found peace of mind after your search for truth then i am not going to try and tear it down, all i ever seek is open dialogue on a rational basis, and you are the exception to the rule, baseless name calling and carrying on like unruly schoolboys as some do within the Atheist group i joined did not give them any credibility, and if you look carefully there will always be a small group that are in control most of the time, my own position is based on a lot of research which involved changing several things taught in Bible College culminating in being forced to leave including my local church, so i do not consider myself closeminded. And due to the internet have managed to gain enough quality websites as a basis to having apologetics material, thanks for the reply.

Churinga, if you visit Atheist sites with any regularity, you probably notice that a great deal of them (Atheists) have had deconversions. Agnostics are similar, but I think Atheists comprise the majority of deconversions. Deconversions more often result in Atheism than Agnosticism; as more a product of "cause and affect". The cause was simply a matter of questions that needed to be asked. The affect was finding that in many if not most instances, there was no answer to be found. Or, at least, the answers were lacking any real substance. The issue of "faith" worked only so far as I was unwilling to ask the questions. Taking it all on faith became inconsistant with my need to answer one critical question.......What do I believe, and why do I believe it. Universal truth was a concept I thought was attainable through faith, if I only believed. I've been exposed to a number of denominations and have been a staunch member in some of them. The more I "searched the scriptures" the more questions I had. The more often I asked the questions, the more stearn the warning......it was taboo to question. To wonder "why", was to question g*d himself (gender thing not withstanding). Even the scriptures were written in such a way as to strike fear in any who would ask the questions (see the writings of Paul). I eventually realized that I was not going to find the answers by asking the church. So I studied. Extensively. Who wrote what, when, under what circumstances, to whom was he writing, why was he writing to them, what did he say, did others agree....and so on. I have spent many years researching not only christianity and its writings, but others as well. I have studied religion as a phenomenon, and have found it to be every bit a part of cultural evolution. Let me repeat myself in one respect.....I was an avid supporter of the church and all its teachings at one time. I believed it all because I was "taught" to do so. Taught not to question. Taught that it was "g*d's truth". I believed it all and considered it as the "gospel truth". I even became a pastor and taught those same things.
Deconversion does not happen when only one or two of your basic touchstones of faith are in question. It happens when you ask straight forward questions and find the answers are not what you were taught. Deconversion is a default direction when after you have done your diligence and have found "faith" and theistic beliefs to be merely the adaptations of man to his surroundings in an attempt to understand those same surroundings. I find that most christians are sadly lacking in knowledge of the very history of their scriptures and its origins. O.T. and N.T. alike. Judaism is not exempt from this critique either. I find them both horses of the same color. Peas in the same pod.
My deconversion was a long process of search and rescue. The more I searched for the facts, the more they rescued me from certain deception. If I sound "hurt and wounded", I probably was, but I have recovered and feel more alive and free then ever. I no longer fear death and have a better understanding of life. I know there are many who would consider me an apostate, lost, going to hell, fallen from grace. I choose to define myself not by their misgivings, but by my peaceful acceptance of who I believe "I am". With full confidence I stand on this ground. It has been a long journey to this place. But it has been worth it. It has taken years to undo what religion had done to me. I have had to give up many "friends" that suddenly were not so friendly to me. Social networks were gone but new ones developed. When one moves from theistic belief to reason and evidence, lots of things change. But the changes have been good after the learning curve.
Sorry to be so wordy, but .....you asked.

Churinga, I appreciate your openness and your willingness to stand on what you believe. I agree that there are many Atheists that are rather militant in their approach to the freedoms of others. As an Atheist, I do not espouse the same beliefs as you. I had been a christian for many decades before my "deconversion". If you have studied the bible and have come to accept it as the ultimate truth, it is for you to do so. I will not take an opportunity to oppose what you believe, only to say that I have also spent a very long time studying the same and have come to a different opinion regarding its merits. There are inumerable sources of information available for both sides of the coin to investigate and make personal choices on. You have your reasons for accepting a faith based system of beliefs, as I have mine for doing otherwise. I promise not to evangelize you if you can promise the same.

Sorry i did not receive any notification of your response otherwise i wuold have replied sooner, it is of great interest to me to hear about your deconversion, as you are not the first person i have encountered along these same lines, there is little doubt that the modern church has lost it's way and in so doing has hurt a lot of people for a variety of reasons, thanks for taking time to respond.

1) Created all things (most importantly....us) 2) Wanted to be involved in human affairs 3) Wanted to "reveal" itself............Dont you think that it would have done so by now in such a way as to leave no doubt in anyone's mind.?

Have pasted the above from your post and will comment there.
I have no doubt that we are the result of creation, that God has revealed Himself and in so doing became involved in human affairs as contained in the Bible.
This has not always been my position, i grew up in a non religious environment and the only contact with religion was via the public school system once a week.
I had always been aware that there dwelt within me a God consciousness which did not come to fruition until my late 30s.
Following some things that we all probably encounter at some time i sought out whether this life has a purpose and a means to an end.
To keep this short, after studying with the JWs and Mormons i was born again following my linking up with a missionary from NC with the Baptist movement.
I have for almost 40 years now studied the Bible independently when i turned aside from denominational Christianity, and when i became involved with the internet the creationism has been supported by scientific men and women from all branches of science.
The way anyone seeks to nominate as to the merits or otherwise of Atheism/Agnosticism is their business entirely, i do not go into such groups unless something i believe in is blatantly misrepresented, this was not appreciated so i do not bother anymore, becuase a handful of people with closed minds on sites like EP are hardly worth losing sleep over, Christianity and the Bible are under attack on a daily basis here on EP and most contributors are said to be atheists, which i find hard to comprehend, if as they say God does not exist why spend time trying to destroy same?