Posted on AsktheAtheist could you please help me further [YOU RESPOND]
Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2008 7:28 AM
Subject: [General Question] Could you help me figure this out?
skepticchick sent a message using the contact form at
Hello, I just joined on a friend's recommendation. Just so you know I'm not
the skepticchick known as Rebecca- I am someone else-just to avoid
confusion as I have been confused with her in the past. I must say I'm
amazed at how well you guys have organized people together.
I have been struggling with something for a few months now, it's really
been tormenting me and I was hoping you could help by giving me a little
clarification. I posted this question on "ask the atheist" as well, and I
am going to send you both my original question and the 1 answer I was given
on there b/c I was hoping someone could elaborate and offer their opinions
too. I understand you are busy and probably won't be able to email me
back, so if you want to post this in a forum and have people comment on
it, feel free, I need all the help and input I can get (I would have
posted in a forum but had no idea which one was best for this kind of
thing). All that I ask is that if you reply by email, please don't make
fun of me for this-it may sound silly to some, but it's honestly tearing
me up inside and I really need someone to talk to about this. My family
is religious so I can't talk to them, though I do have non-religious
friends I've been able to talk to. Okay, here is the original question
and answer I posted on ask the atheist.
Hello, I have a question and I really hope someone can answer. I consider
myself an agnostic. Many people tell me I am really a weak atheist and
after reading the rrs article I am wondering. So, I will explain my
outlook here and hope someone answers. Forgive me this will be a bit long.
I'm quite a skeptic (and that is the term I like most) although I am
sometimes spiritual and attend a Unitarian-Universalist church from time
to time, but I am not religious and go back and forth on the whole god"
issue-if you ask do I believe in "god" my answer is honestly, "I don't
know". I would like to, but I've seen little to no evidence to convince
me. If someone asked do I deny the holy spirit, I would hesitate to use
the word "deny", but I would say "I doubt the holy spirit". Is doubt the
same as deny?
I do have a fondness for pantheism and deism, but I hesitate to call
myself either b/c while they make more sense that outright theism and
religion, there is little to no evidence for either of those either.
Sometimes I do think there might be a god (I hesitate to say "I believe",
just "I think there might be", but when I do I think of the deist or
pantheist conception of a higher power, as the religious theistic one
makes little sense to me-I think there is quite a low probability that one
exists. Other days I think there is no god. I literally go back and forth,
although I will never say "I know" on either. Which way I "lean" literally
depends on my mood and my research. I grew up liberal catholic and I still
like some of the rituals (though they are just rituals to me now), as well
as some of the meditative aspects of Buddhism. Does this really make me a
weak atheist? Is doubt really the same as a lack of belief? I ask b/c it
just sounds weird-an atheist who sometimes thinks there might be a god?
That sounds kind of odd to me.
I do think religion (especially the fundamentalist form and Islam) is a
big problem in this world, but I do have many liberal religious friends as
well as non-religious friends, and we get along fine. I support separation
of church and state, obviously. I'm not someone who says I'd like to get
rid of all religion, but I would certainly like to see the most
fundamental forms gone or at least have no power. Honestly liberal
religion doesn't bother me, I don't care as long as it doesn't infringe on
my rights to not be religious. I like many of the points the "4 horsemen"
make and am glad I do not live in the bible belt-I feel very sorry for the
nonbelievers there and I do think speaking out about stuff like that is
good. Anyways, what in the hell am I? I use agnostic (though I prefer
skeptic) b/c I doubt seriously and my answer to god claims is "I don't
know-I would like it if there was, but I see little to no evidence for
one". Maybe this makes me a "fence sitter" but it is honestly how I feel
and who I am, at least right now.
I live my life this way: I try to be the best person I can be and help
people. I figure if there is a god, hopefully he/she/it will judge me by
my actions. If there is not one, then I still will have lived a good life.
Sorry for the long post. Just this has really been on my mind and would
really appreciate an answer. Thanks.
Mon, 2008-01-07 22:00
To begin with, "weak atheist" definitely does not apply. It means someone
who does not believe in gods simply because he/she has not been exposed to
religion. Young children, some remote tribespeople and the mentally
impaired can be weak atheists, but you can't be one if you've been to a
church service and understoood what was going on.
Your answer, "I would like it if there was [a god], but I see little to no
evidence for one," is absolutely atheist. You can be an atheist and either
wish there were a god or be glad there isn't.
During periods when you do think there's a god, however, you are
definitely not an atheist. You don't accept the truth of any particular
religion, so I would suggest "agnostic spiritualist": someone who believes
in spite of the lack of evidence that there is SOMETHING out there.
You accept at all times that there is no evidence for gods. I'd say
therefore that you are an atheist when this premise leads you to the
conclusion that there are no gods, and an agnostic spiritualist when
you're nevertheless inclined to believe there is one. These terms are just
too tightly bound to specific positions for just one term to apply to
someone who swings back and forth.
For the sake of conversation, I would regard you as an agnostic on the
verge of a decision.
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