Agnostic Atheist2012/11/04 - Author: Marco Neves - 3 Comments
Agnostic Atheist? Aren’t those the same thing? – I was asked more than once, and even more I was looked with confusion when using the expression.
But no, Agnostic and Atheist are independent concepts and none of them imply the other.
Theist/Atheist are related with your believe in the existence of God(s). Gnostic/Agnostic are related with how sure you are of your believe.
One is theist if (s)he believes thar there is god(s) , and an atheist if (s)he believes no god exists. On the other hand gnostic is someone who knows that his believe is right and an agnostic is someone who really don’t know (s)he is right or wrong.
You can see this as a bi-dimensional plane, on which you can be anywhere. You can believe that there is god, and understand that this is just a ‘believe’, that you never had any acceptable evidence that god really exists – and that makes you and Agnostic Theist.
Or you can believe in God’s existence, pray for his help, see your problems fade and accept that as evidence that there is god – and that makes you a gnostic theist.
And all of that is ok, and all of that can help you have a better life and be a better person – by an average definition. Specially while you are in the middle of the plane – the pink circle in the middle of the diagram above.
The real trouble starts when you get closer to the extremes of the plane.
On one side, humans have a very difficult time telling strong believes and knowledge apart, and that makes most strong believers, both theists and atheists into gnostics – strong gnostics.
On the other axis, it is probably ok to be a strong agnostics – someone who really don’t know, and most likely don’t want to know. People usually don’t fight about what they know they don’t know. In the other extreme we have the gnostics, who, sometimes, are so sure that their version of the true is all that there is to know – and everyone who have a different opinion is wrong, and needs to be corrected.
And that is the begining of a lot of conflits.
But if theism and atheism are restricted to our believes related to the existence of god(s), Gnosticism can exist, and often do, outside of the religious context – and a lot more than theism/atheism, it is that certainty that our believes are the ultimate true that we must keep checking. It’s when we are really sure that we are right that we need to step back and verify that we are not mistaking believes for knowledge. Knowledge is something that everyone can verify independently and get the same results. But nor a lot of things in humanity culture are complete and untouchable trues. There are a lot of conventions – including language and mathematics, there are a lot of theories – functional theories that allow for a better understanding of the world, but still are theories.
Humans, however, need believes – faith is one of the most important psychologic tools we have at our disposal.
So… have faith, your own faith, whatever that faith is. Just let all others have their own.