Re: How Atheism Helped Me

Hal Dunn (
Fri, 29 Nov 1996 12:10:30 -0500

>From: Michael Lorrey <>
>I tend to live a proactive life under the guise of:
>" "God" helps those who help themselves". I also, unlike
>supertstitionists, have no idea of the location or nature of whatever
>caused our universe to come into existence, so rather than atheist, I
>tend to be agnostic. I have no convictions either way, and demand proof
>of both sides, religious or atheist for their postion. My mother for
>example considers herself a Catholic Agnostic, if you can believe it!

I think most everyone is agnostic, even tho many won't admit it. Most agree
that they don't KNOW -- absolutely for sure -- that there is a god; they
agree in the impossiblility of knowledge of the existance of god. (However,
a theist extropian might argue that some things that seem impossible now
might be overcome and one day we transhumans might be able to prove or
disprove the existance of god.) But as George Smith argues (*Atheism: The
Case Against God* and *Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies*) agnosticism
is not a third alternative to theism and atheism because it is concerned
with a different aspect of religious belief. Theism and atheism refer to
the presence or absence of BELIEF in a god; agnosticism refers to the
IMPOSSIBILITY OF KNOWLEDGE regarding a god or supernatural being.

An agnostic, therefore, is one who maintains that there might be some
supernatural being that is closed to human knowledge. Religious "belief" is
based on whatever it is you believe -- and usually "faith." One can't say:
well I WANT to believe, so I will. Nor can one say: I don't WANT to
believe, so I won't. You either believe or you don't believe. (Of course
you can always change your mind.) };-}

According to Smith, theism and atheism exhaust all possible alternatives
with regard to the belief in a god; one is either a theist or an atheist;
there is no other choice. (I guess he considers a deist a type of theist.)
One either believes god exists or one does not.

According to Smith, and I tend to agree, agnosticism is a legitimate
philosophical position, but it is not a third alternative or halfway house
between theism and atheism. Instead, it is a variation of either theism or
atheism. The self-proclaimed agnostic must still designate whether he does
or does not believe in a god -- and, in doing so, he commits himself to
theism or he commits himself to atheism. BUT HE DOES COMMIT HIMSELF.
Agnosticism is not the escape clause that it is commonly thought to be.

The issue of BELIEF still must be addressed regardless of one's agnosticism.
I consider myself an agnostic, of course, regarding many things, but on the
issue of god, I'm an atheist because I simply don't believe.

Of course, then there's Omega . . .

Anyone who is familiar with George Smith's writing might also be familiar
with his response to Pascal's Wager: Smith's Wager. I can't quite remember
how it goes. Anyone know?

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