Re: Agnosticism and the Fear of Atheism (was re: Vital Essence)

From: Dana Hedberg (
Date: Sun Jan 23 2000 - 14:48:49 MST

"E. Shaun Russell" wrote:
> Upon reading some of the responses to Max's original post on God,
> arrogance and belief, it strikes me that there seems to be a sort of fear
> of commitment to the term "atheist." In my experience, many who call
> themselves agnostic and cringe at the word "atheist" have a deep rooted
> fear of possible repercussions from taking a firm stand on such a
> self-description --almost as if the slightest percentage of a possibility
> of God Itself (usually in the traditional 'image of man' form) condemning
> one's soul to eternal damnation is enough to leave the loophole in their
> belief systems.
Well, that may be so in your experience. My personal position of
agnosticism isn't born of fear of committment however, but born from a
genuine uncertainty. As I stated before, I lean towards the belief that
any god(s) that has come to notice in our history from any culture lacks
evidence for their existence. However, this in no way precludes the idea
that we are the direct creation of a higher power. And for that, I am
uncertain as to the answer. So, I label myself as an Agnostic, because
at my core, concerning the broadest definition of god, I am uncertain.

Perhaps others would call me a weak atheist, or rather an atheist who is
open to further evidence. Which, looking over the last few posts on
this, and related, threads would indicate something that isn't quite

> Quibbling over semantics is not the real issue; the real issue is why many
> rational thinkers cannot trust their rational beliefs enough to call
> themselves atheists. With all due respect to the self-proclaimed
> agnostics, I find such a belief position weak and compromising, with the
> underlying fear of commitment to one's most rational desires and thoughts
> as its basis. The bottom line is this: either there are gods (or God, if
> you prefer) or there are not. I cannot prove one way or the other, but I
> have a tremendously strong, rational belief that no God or gods exist. For
> those who take such an either\or, compromising view as Agnosticism, I would
> not put much weight on any other view which they claim to support either.
> This is the same reason why many like-minded individuals could have a far
> friendlier conversation with a fundamental Christian, Buddhist --whatever--
> than with a non-committing Agnostic.
Maybe then, when speaking with you, I would call myself an atheist who
is willing to enterain evidence that suggests the existence of a
Creator. But, I think it's grossly unfair to doubt a proclaimed
Agnostics sincerety on other issues that the person in question might
have a very hard stance. Overgeneralization (ie, stereotyping) is one of
the worst errors I can think of when it comes to a mental model of the
world. Because that type of heuristic cognition touches the most future
data with the least amount of critical thinking effort.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:02:36 MDT