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2008 Obama said it perfectly
Tuesday. 12.7.10 1:41 pm
Atheism vs Agnosticism
Sunday. 12.5.10 5:46 pm
Randomjunk and Middaymoon both commented on how agnosticism is a more neutral stance than atheism. This is an opinion held by many people, christians included, but I think it stems from a misunderstanding of what it means to be atheist or agnostic.
First, the actual oxford dictionary definitions of the two words.
disbelief in the existence of God or gods.
a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.
Two very import points from those definitions. Atheism is not the stance that God (or Gods) absolutely do not exist, and no one can ever say otherwise. That would be fundamentalism, which for obvious reasons is the very opposite of most atheistic beliefs. While there may be a few, less intelligent atheists who say things like that, the most celebrated and intelligent atheists take a stance that, while it is possible that god exists, the probability of his existence is very low, due mainly to the sum of all scientific knowledge and how it relates to the stories of the bible.
On the other hand, Agnosticism, by that definition, is actually something I find annoying. By the wording ".. that nothing is known or can be known" it suggests that an agnostic would believe that the existence of god (or gods) is entirely outside the realm of science. Which is simply not true. I think scientists have every right to view existing evidence and make statistical analysis on the probability of the existence of god (or gods).
For this reason alone, I'm proud to call myself an atheist and would never call myself an agnostic. As many prominent atheists have asserted, christian fundamentalists have created a backwards debate, whereby they are constantly demanding of scientists to present their proof. When by all rights, the burden of proof should lie at the feet of christians. Their claim is far more wild, irrational, and based on absolutely nothing even closely approaching scientific fact. In comparison, evolution, the age of the universe, and many other widely held scientific facts and theories have been tested, retested, and most have stood the tests of time and the challenges of the scientific process.
Religion, specifically christian fundamentalism, has miserably failed to provide scientific proof of the claims of a "young earth" theory to support creationism. Many theories have been put forward, and have withered under direct investigation by scientists. Some don't even warrant a response, so ridiculous is their premise.
I'll end with a very interesting link to a website I'm still sifting through. It provides a very detailed list of many creationist rebuttals to evolution and other widely held scientific facts, and the response of science to these rebuttals.
Talk Origins - And index of creationist claims
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