Saturday, January 5, 2013
On Atheists And Agnostics And Faith
Atheism means without belief in god, just as atypical means without typicality or amoral means without morality, the prefix “a” meaning without. An agnostic is therefore someone without Gnosticism, which is to say, without spiritual knowledge, an epistemological proposition, that we can’t know what is beyond materiality.
So there is some confused thinking about agnosticism.
Those who doubt God’s existence but hold themselves open to the possibility of his existence are not agnostics even though their disbelief is tentative. They are not agnostics because their tentative disbelief renders them without belief in God’s existence and therefore atheists. Doubt here constitutes disbelief, and the militancy or tentativeness of this disbelief doesn’t go to an analytical distinction between agnosticism and atheism. So if there is virtue in open minded disbelief, atheists can have it.
As noted, agnosticism is an assertion about what we can know: that we can’t know what is beyond nature. Therefore the claims of agnosticism don’t go to belief or disbelief in God. And in this sense, it follows, that theists can be atheists because they can say that they cannot know the supernatural but believe as a matter of faith in God’s existence.
So my question is what is the faith that necessarily marks atheists? Is it faith in the proposition that God does not exist? If faith is belief not based on proof, then what does it mean to say that the assertion of god’s non existence is a matter of faith? Does it mean that the assertion of non existence of anything is a manifestation of faith, like unicorns or cosmic tea cups, or the existence of any number of gods, (why just one?)
This reasoning seems absurd. So until someone can persuade me of the difference in principle between disbelieving in unicorns not implicating faith and disbelieving in God not implicating faith, I’d contend they can’t make a case for atheists as necessarily marked by faith.