Archive

Atheist, Gnostic, Theist, Agnostic

Atheist, Gnostic, Theist, Agnostic

Too many times I have informed someone that I am an atheist, only to have them reply, ‘Oh, but how could you know that God doesn’t exist? You’re taking a faith position!’

Many headaches later, we finally come to an agreement over the definitions of these words.

This arrangement is an attempt to clarify and classify these words, so that their rogue meanings no longer confuse and muddle religious debate.

To begin with, here are the four key terms arranged on a graph with their opposites across from them. This should allow a very rough placement of one’s theological position. It will be refined in greater detail later.

final1Now here are the terms defined. If the terms are new to you, refer up to the graph to get an idea of how they relate to one another.

The horizontal axis concerns WHAT YOU BELIEVE:

athtothe1

The vertical axis concerns WHAT YOU THINK WE CAN KNOW:

agtogno

So, to restate:

final3These four labels can be very useful in describing the way we feel about gods. They can combine together to make more precise labels.

An atheist agnostic is someone who does not believe in gods and also thinks that the existence of gods cannot be known. This might mean that they don’t believe in gods because they haven’t seen any evidence that supports their existence.

A theist gnostic is someone who believes in a god/gods and thinks that the existence of gods can be known. This position is usually referred to as just ‘theist‘, since people who believe in gods, usually also think that their existence can be known.

An atheist gnostic is someone who does not believe in gods, and who thinks that we can know that gods do not exist. A fairly unusual position, they might think they have found proof of the non-existence of gods, or might have been persuaded by life experiences.

A theist agnostic is someone who believes in gods, but thinks that they could not know for sure that their god exists. Another fairly unusual position, as people who have faith in gods usually also think that their god can be known to be real.

So we have two common positions: atheist agnosticand theist
and two less common positions: atheist gnostic and theist agnostic
and we can change the graph to reflect that:
final41In terms of numbers, the main positions are represented here, and the fringe positions minimized. Though the corners are cut, these positions are by no means impossible. For example, absolute atheist gnostic would express: “I know with absolute certainty that no Gods exist.” And absolute agnostic theist would express: “There is absolutely no way to know God’s existence for certain, but I have no doubt whatsoever that there is one.”

The direction of the arrow represents the direction of skepticism on the graph. The upper-most left is the position of the most doubt, whilst the lower-right displays the position of the most certainty.

The absolute central position is one of apathy or indifference. An apatheist, perhaps. *

Someone who does not know what they think yet cannot be placed on the graph, and should make up their mind if they wish to find a theological label for their views.

A very important point is that claims to knowledge are only made in the bottom half of the graph. Only gnostics make claims to knowledge.

A quirk of the theist/gnostic box is that the concept of God changes from corner to corner.

final51

So, to get an idea of what all this means, here’s some common positions located on the graph:

final6It’s important to remember that these terms can still be misleading.

When talking about different gods that people believe in, we could pick different positions on the graph depending on which god is under discussion. For example, Christians will be on the theist axis when it comes to Jesus, but on the atheist axis when it comes to Zeus.

People who refer to themselves in casual usage as atheists usually mean that they are atheists for all possible gods, whilst a Muslim would be an atheist for all gods except Allah.

Finally, here’s the graph in its final form. Where do you fit?

final7Note: Such a person will act as if there are no gods, since they are utterly indifferent to the idea. For all intents and purposes, they are an atheist. This is a non-trivial point. Babies are born indifferent to the idea of gods – indeed – they cannot conceive it, and accordingly are atheists: they do not believe in gods because they can not.

• This item was first published by the Freethinker on September 25, 2009

130 responses to “Atheist, Gnostic, Theist, Agnostic”

  1. Willo says:

    This don't cover all positions.

    What do you call someone then who not only doesn't believe in god, but also believes that god does not exist. Note that this is not an atheist gnostic. Reason being: I (under your taxonomy) am an atheist, I do not believe in god, however I also believe it is possible to know whether god exists or not, furthermore I believe that I have not aquired this knowledge, I just think it's possible given the right circumstances. As such, I am counted as an atheist gnostic (something which I thought would be fairly common). But I plainly do not believe that god does not exist. I imagine by symmetry, there would be a similar deficiency in the theist camp.

    This is interesting, because the use of "atheism" which you are objecting to in this post is exactly the position that fills this gap.

    Maybe you need to redefine agnostic and gnostic. i.e. gnostic is someone who believes they do know whether god exists or not. Of course by doing this, you've thrown away the possibility of all the nice positions you have outlined. I'd suggest a third category. Doing this though would result in two rather large problems. 1) What word do you choose, seems to me the standard word used in at least some everyday language is "atheist" and "theist" (of course with meanings different from what you have defined here. As such, I think the response you have to make to people would to not show them such a chart, but point out that "atheist" is ambiguous, and needs to be distinguished between (at least) 2 different meanings.
    and 2) your chart won't look so pretty.

  2. Erik R says:

    Brilliant! This post very well explains what I was trying to get across in a similar post last year.

  3. RooCH says:

    I would disagree with regards to one small justification. You've written under gnostic atheist "I'm pretty sure". That wouldn't be gnostic atheism, gnostic would be "I know god doesn't exist."

  4. Arv says:

    that was great! i was always confused by these terms. i know now that i was/am atheist agnostic. i always thought atheist means one who says Gods don't exist and Agnostic means one who says i don't know whether they do, they might. i have read recently that the psychologist Dr Albert Ellis described himself as probabilistic atheist. What could that mean?
    Thanks Peter. i will sure give you a thumbs up AND subscribe to the RSS.

  5. I posted some thoughts on this chart here http://camelswithhammers.com/2009/10/08/distingui… in case there is any interest.

  6. starr says:

    as and Ignostic I dont fall into any of these! woot! heh

  7. diego says:

    the one in the middle. could be a relativist person. someone who can believe in the 4 extremes at the time. ^^

  8. Anon says:

    I find it amusing that the first post is completely distracted from the point of the article…

  9. Sal says:

    I’m thinking that it quite rightly represents the situation today, which amounts to a kind of blackmail. Any truly free thought or act is rendered impossible by these coordinates. I see three options, not four (or the multiplicity of “options” within the four spaces of the graph): 1.) choose a place, and hold it; 2.) move around, explore; and 3.) draw a circle around the graph, then draw a diagonal line through it.

    Actually, 1. & 2. could perhaps be thought of as only one. As for 1., is this not the definition of dogmatism? What about fundamentalism? If nothing else, your representation is useful for seeing how there can be atheist fundamentalism just as well as a theist one. As for 2.), is this not a kind of nomadic-anarchism? What are the implications and effects of that?

    What interests me about the latter option is how radically opposed it is to the central point of the graph, that is, the point of indifference.

  10. Anon says:

    While I agree with most of what the author said, there is a bit of this that is very misleading.

    The first mistake:
    He attempts to explain what Atheists are by only one general label: “Atheists Don’t believe in God”. This is not an accurate portrayal of all Atheists. I’m an Atheist, or more appropriately titled an “Anti-Theist”… which is the rejection of all theism -which is man-made religion. I do not reject the idea of there being a God. I do not pray. I do not believe there is enough evidence to support the idea of a God but I am willing to understand that there is a possibility one could exist. I rule nothing out. [Wiki: “Atheism can be either the rejection of theism, or the position that deities do not exist.”]

    Second mistake:
    Whether or not there is God, no one knows for sure which makes everyone an automatic agnostic because they do not know, nor could they ever. By the definition; Agnostic means “without knowledge”. This makes me an Agnostic Atheist. If you believe or have “faith” in God, then this makes you an Agnostic Theist.

    Third mistake:
    To say there is no God would require a leap of opposing irrational faith. However, most Atheists I’ve met are smart enough not to say this but instead say “It may not be said there is no God. It may, however, be said that there has never been any reason to believe there ever was one.” Or something to that effect.

  11. tigerrage (aka) NUMBER1NUCKFAN says:

    There is only one problem with what you have said that i can tell,that being your definition for gnostic.Which supports the knowledge for a god(god’s)existence,however the definition of gnostic says nothing of that knowledge knowing a god doesn’t exist.

  12. casey wollberg says:

    “theism -which is man-made religion.”

    XXX wrong. Theism is belief in god(s). School’s out now, run along. Don’t forget to do your homework.

  13. I’d have a straight line in this. I am definitely a “hard core” atheist. I sometimes call myself an “evangelical atheist”. That laways confuses theists. That’s amusing. 🙂

  14. Proud Kuffar says:

    Clarity of discussion is valuable. Bravo!

  15. Excellent article Peter. I’m going to add it as supplemental reading on the most popular page on my website:
    http://www.rationalresponders.com/am_i_agnostic_or_atheist

    I agree with your dissection.

  16. Charles says:

    Would’ve been more impressive if you hadn’t butchered the term “gnostic”, which means someone who seeks “gnosis”, which is not mere knowledge of the existence of God, but like of the fundamental truth of everything.

    Or at least disclaimed that you were so doing. Because this kind of undermines your ability to look learned and stuff.

    Hint: it’s not the antonym of “agnostic”. Serves you right to play around with word roots without understanding how they’ve been appropriated into English.

  17. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by thefreeth: New blog post: Atheist, Gnostic, Theist, Agnostic http://freethinker.co.uk/2009/09/25/8419/

  18. Q P L says:

    I would say that you can be 100% certain that there is no Christian god. There is no entity that fulfills the requirements therein, and it is easily testable.

    I can’t say 100% certainly that there is no “higher power” or nebulous “force” that lives somewhere, nor can I explain the origins of the universe or matter itself.

  19. B-Chick says:

    I do not believe in any gods. I think it is impossible to prove non-existence, but I think if a god or gods existed, then they could prove their existence if they wanted to. (For example, I am going to a memorial service for a friend’s father this weekend. We will be on a farm in the middle of nowhere, many people from many walks of life and levels and types of god-belief/disbelief. If while we are there suddenly Odin and friends floated down to us from the open sky and told us who they were and did some nifty god-stuff, most of us would become believers in Odin & Co and could/would say we know they exist.) For me it would take a god or gods physically appearing to me in a way that could not possibly be explained away. This would include others witnessing the same thing, so I could confirm that it was not in my head.

    However, one thing that I think is not discussed enough is the worship of god(s). The god of the Bible sounds like a pretty big jerk. If there is an “all knowing, all powerful” god, then I cannot consider him/her a loving god. I might fear an “all knowing, all powerful” god; but if he/she allows innocent beings to suffer, I could not worship or love him/her.

    So, if someday some god decides to prove his/her existence to me, then he/she might as well say to me, “Here I am, fear me. Do what I say or you will suffer badly, just because I like to watch people suffer.”

  20. Ferret says:

    This is nice, actually. So many times I refer to myself as an atheist agnostic and get called stupid, or other names.

  21. Paul J says:

    This model is elegant, but sadly untenable.

    The model essentially plots belief in god (x axis) versus the person’s philosophical stance on certainty (y axis.) It then calls the latter “gnosticism/agnosticism,” which is a bit of a conflation in a few ways.

    Where the model fails is that it does not leave any room for people who have no opinion or can’t decide on their stance on one axis or both.

    The chart assumes that each person either has a belief in god or not. In practice, a large number of people, probably larger than atheists themselves, honestly can’t make up their mind. They see all religions as somewhat tenable, but also see atheism the same way. Traditionally, a person who has no idea about god one way or the other is called an agnostic. This person does not fit on the chart.

    Additionally, there is a missing sector for the other axis. I, for example, don’t believe in god, but I don’t have an opinion one way or another about what it means to be certain of something. I am what I would call agnostic about what the chart calls agnosticism.

    The traditional model is superior. A theist is someone who believes in god, and may or may not believe they can know with certainty. An atheist does not believe in god, and may or may not believe they can know with certainty. An agnostic cannot decide if there is a god or not, but may or may not believe that it is possible to be certain of it.

  22. Shadus says:

    Dead in the middle is– Apathetic Agnostic “We don’t know and we don’t care.”

  23. Randy Vibe says:

    doesn’t make sense a lot of condradictions, example you clearly state agnostic can’t predict if god is real then in your next summary chart state agnostics think we can predict if god is real or in heaven.
    It looks like you put a lot of effort into this, but i would not recomend it to anyone, sure up some of your beliefs, you realize none of this is facts, this religon is made from free thinkers.

  24. qed says:

    For a rational person, the atheist-gnostic position is the only possibility.

    An atheist agnostic does not believe in a ‘god’ but acknowledges the possibility of one. Where does such acknowledgment end? Logically, one would have to acknowledge the possibility of toothfairies, gnomes and flying spaghetti monsters.

    The fundamental principle of rational thought is that in the absence of evidence or compelling logical argument, nothing can be assumed. This principle is called Occam’s Razor. Any deviation from this principle would represent a deviation from rationality, and therefore, a nod to superstition.

  25. Sinclair Smythe says:

    Well as an atheist gnostic all I can add is that I know there can be no god in a way that can only be summed up as similar to the way I know I exist. The old “I think therefore I am”.

    When I search my thoughts for god or even the possibility of god there is nothing. Reading the bible doesn’t help as for having read it, and thinking on it, still I find no god. Not in the same way I find that I exist. I know, with enough certainty to satisfy myself, that I exist.

    For listening to theists and the many supporting points they offer, their guidance regarding faith, still nothing. Seems to me theist themselves don’t actually qualify as believing in god. Rather they are taking god’s existence on faith not belief. They may think they believe in god, but isn’t it more like a child believes in Santa Claus than an evolutionary biologist believes in Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection.

    Relying on some wishful notion, that anything is possible, doesn’t really lend to me much confidence in suspending my thinking and taking on faith the existence of the supernatural.

    I wouldn’t believe pigs could fly simply for having read it in the bible or any other book.

    Lastly, for the fact that the bible is so old, out-dated, ancient in it’s authors understanding of even their own time, discounts it’s credibility significantly. It is absurd, like thinking it reasonable for your doctor to prescribe a potion and send you off to see an alchemist instead of medicine from a pharmacist.

  26. Kamrom says:

    Lovely post, theres only one problem I have with it. What if you believe that gods exist, but that they arent divine, and are just personally powerful entities that, for whatever reason, like to manipulate the peoples of various worlds by convincing them they are divine? By divine i generally mean, can influence things that happen after death.

  27. Andrew says:

    Brilliant post. You have no idea how many people I talk to who don’t even understand what the term “atheist” means. It is *not* a positive belief, but a *lack* of belief, and therefore not a “faith position” (it is, however, rather amusing to be criticized for taking something on faith by people who base their lives on a faith-based belief system).

    As for my position on the chart… well, that’s difficult. I’m certainly an atheist due to the sheer lack of evidence or logical necessity of a god or gods, but I am not sure about about my gnostic position. Even if there *were* a god, I’m not sure if he would be epistemologically accessible or not. If you forced me to choose, I suppose I’d go with atheist-agnostic.

  28. Carol says:

    Why must we label everything? I am so sick of hearing it. Who cares? Really, in the grand sceme of things does it really matter “what” you are? Believe what you want to and let others believe what they want to. Respect eachothers views and accept that others are not exactly like you. I read this article trying to figure out exactly where I fit in to this whole thing. But then realized that you cannot put a lable on me or my beliefs. I really don’t want to be acssociated with any “group” or any one way of thinking. I find most people who label themselves as one thing or another tend to become a hypocrate at sometime in their lives. I, personally am open to any possibility. I will not make up my mind until I see proof one way or another. I have actually seen things happen that cannot be proven by science. Was it God? I have no idea. I did not see proof of God either. So tell me….what was it? Put a lable on something that I have seen with my own two eyes but there is no proof either way of what it was. I have seen no proof of God,(does he need to come down in human form and get a social security card to prove he exists?), but I have also not seen any proof that one does not exist. And really, how do you actually prove that something DOESN’T exist? Bigfoot has been seen by thousands of people, but there is no scientific proof that he exists. Tell the people who saw him that he isn’t real and see what they say. They do not need hair samples in plastic baggies and DNA samples to believe he exists. They have seen him with their own eyes. How do you disprove what someone saw? But how do you prove it as well? So who is right? To make along story short…there are too many possibilities in this world to believe in one thing or another. All of the “labels” on beliefs are flawed in one way or another. How can you lable someone’s mind or heart? It makes no sense. And once you have put a label on yourself and you see something with your own two eyes that contradicts everything you supposedly believe in, do you turn a blind eye and say you didn’t see it? I understand this article was supposed to help people understand the different terms associated with different kinds of beliefs. I just have to say, be careful what you label yourself as.

  29. Ummmmm... says:

    you guys are turning atheism into a religion of it’s own… shame on you

    Aspects of religion include narrative, symbolism, beliefs, and practices that are supposed to give meaning to the practitioner’s experiences of life. Whether the meaning centers on a deity or deities, or an ultimate truth, religion is commonly identified by the practitioner’s prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things, and is often interwoven with society and politics. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws and ethics and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience.

  30. Aidan says:

    I’d like to see this great idea turned into a ‘religious compass’ the way there was a ‘political compass’ made along similar lines with authoritarian up top, libertarian down bottow, socialist or something on the left, and fascist or something on the right

  31. Ron DeMay says:

    I know for certain there is no god. I don’t understand the rationale to clip the corners of this chart, it seems pointless. Or rather, it was designed by an agnostic who can’t comprehend actually being decisive.

  32. Jack Johnson says:

    I am one of the rare cases of former atheist turning believer. I knew all the typical atheist arguments and was glad when I could use them against theologists. Then I moved on. If you consider yourself somewhat of an intellectual you will agree with me that your opinion now probably will not be your opinion tomorrow. With knowing all the atheist arguments I also knew all their weaknesses, but I will only give you a hint: When you walk across a museum doesn’t it bother you that so much of the classical arts (even the music) seems to be inspired by faith? Because you cannot deny the genius at one hand and what seems to be madness at the other. Know one thing: By labeling yourself atheist all you do is limit yourself. But you have to understand science to know what I am saying.

  33. Logos says:

    I find this more helpful for the differentiation between atheists/theists/agnostics.
    It offers a great, and very scientific, perspective of agnosticism. Especially important for those who believe that agnosticism is some wonderful middle ground:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQOxvTKKpOg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yns5GfXVgfE

  34. Melissa says:

    I agree with qed completely. After only reading the very beginning of this article I decided I would fit under “atheist gnostic” because I KNOW there is no god or higher power or whatever else you wanna call it. The possibility of it’s existence has the same probability as Santa existing–none. Just like people MADE UP Santa Claus, people MADE UP god.

    It is impossible to be “atheist agnostic” because of the inherent contradiction. Atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist, whereas agnosticism holds that there is a possibility. If you are an “atheist agnostic” you are not an atheist. You’re agnostic!!!!!

    oh and ‘Jack Johnson’, you can’t be an intellectual if you seriously went from atheist to theist….just sayin

  35. Katy says:

    I think this is a noble attempt to make sense of the labels we confuse ourselves with. However, I don’t think faith in God or gods or lack thereof can be charted in this way. Faith is far deeper and more complex than we like to imagine, and it does injustice to everyone’s beliefs to try to box them into categories. Words can help us to communicate complex ideas to one another, and for them to be effective we have to clarify what they mean in the context we are talking about. This “beliefs compass” tries to do that, and I think it makes some important distinctions between agnosticism and
    gnosticism, atheism and theism. But to say that everyone with any opinion on the subject would fall somewhere on this chart would be fnarrowminded. The fact that most of the people who have posted here have a different take on the subject indicates the complexity of the subject area.

    Looking at this topic from scientific, philosophical, sociological,
    political, and religious perspectives would produce vastly different
    interpretations of the same question, let alone the answer to that question. I’m just saying that often, people don’t realize that they are stuck in their own worldview, and are thinking on a completely different level than the people they interact with.

    I am a Christian, and a comparative religions major. I think this is a fascinating subject that exceeds the bounds of this particular debate. Religion itself goes waaaaaaay beyond “I think there is a god” vs “I think there isn’t a god.” It is a multidimensional and extremely relevant topic that often gets tossed aside as unimportant.

    Thanks to everyone for posting. I enjoyed and benefited from reading about everyone’s thoughts/opinions/experiences.

  36. Gouber P. says:

    Those who argue about the existence/non-existence of god/gods are metaphorically impaired… argue instead about what it is a metaphor for – nature? power? ignorance? longing?… Sort it out.

  37. Jeff says:

    Well that was a waste of time…

  38. Nathan Toups says:

    The logical fallacy is that the burden of proof is not with the person hearing the claim, but on the person who makes the claim. If a person claims, “There is a God”. There is a burden of proof that must be presented by this claim. Just like if I claimed, “Invisible Elvis is standing next to you.” It isn’t your job to disprove that. It is my job to prove it. You “not believing” in my claimed “Invisible Elvis” is completely rational.

    Thus, saying, “There is no God.” is both true and meaningless by default because the burden of proof is on the person who making the claim (the theist). It is a classic Simulacrum. If I, as an atheist, must defend why a god does not exist, when it never did in the first place, I am attempting to defeat “a copy of an original that isn’t there”.

  39. Ron McKeown says:

    Hi,
    I am new to the freethinker and my curiosity brought me to the
    article by Peter Brietbart. I am afraid I do not fit anywhere in his
    box because I have no beliefs at all. (Belief = taking a position or
    holding an opinion without evidence or contrary to evidence –
    my interpretation).
    I do not hold political, philosophical, scientific, religious or
    any other belief. I hold opinions based on the evidence presented but
    am quite willing to change my mind. I would make a useless martyr.
    To me the term “atheist belief”is a total
    contradiction. Is there anyone else out there like me and are there
    any sites that are dedicated to people like me, that is absolute
    atheists?

  40. Greg Barlow says:

    I’m with you 100% Ron. A very sensible comment. Peter did a great job but i was surprised that being a Free Thinker himself, he does not adequately place Free Thinkers in the middle of his many daigrams.
    His “I don’t care” does not do us justice. We do care, but we neither believe nor disbelieve and are totally comfortable with those on all ends of the diagrams. For us, it’s very much a personal decision based on scientific fact, research and our own interpretations.

    To “believe” something inherently means that you do NOT accept the contrary position. To “believe” there is no such thing as a unicorn, ignores the possibility that there MAY have been such a creature. Same with God, angels, heaven, hell, afterlife, or the categorical non-existance of the forementioned. Come on guys, prove it; convince us!!! That is what a Free Thinker is.

  41. Ruby says:

    Hi there! You’d better put a tiny pixel point in the bottom left corner for me, please! Rare I am, but exist I do: an absolute atheist gnostic. Also I would like to point out that there’s a difference between someone who “doesn’t believe in God” and someone who “believes there is no God.” I would be the latter.

  42. Eni says:

    I am an agnostic theist. Thanks for helping me realize that I’m not a complete fucking wacko!

  43. PJ says:

    I now know that I am an atheist agnostic. I don’t know if there is a god or not and I refuse to commit to one position or another until I have proof, one way or the next.
    I have a friend who is an atheist. I tease him, all the time, telling him that I have a more scientific viewpoint than he does. He just calls his god, “Science.” (He gets really angry with me as I prove to him that his god is Science. He gets even more angry when I tell him that my approach is more scientific. “God is an interesting theory.”)
    Blind faith in anything is dangerous. But, I am willing to accept other people’s ideas. I can always be wrong.

  44. j says:

    Gosh, it looks a little complicated like this. Aren’t the concepts simpler than that?

    …maybe not. D:

  45. Andrew says:

    Pete, I think this is an awesome post. I have and always will be a Christian that clings to the Roman Catholic Church. I think that faith/religion/philosophy/orthodoxy/whatever you want to call it is the most fascinating study, and when you consider the implications…. by far the most important. Kudos to you for displaying the beliefs of many in a single graphical representation. I think it is more accurate than people are willing to accept. Shoot me an email, I would love to chat about all issues involving god/gods existence or lack there of.

  46. Barnaby says:

    I dont quite understand why the corners are cut on the graph..? It makes it somewhat inaccurate in my mind:

    In its current form the graph makes it seem as though the positions of absolute atheist gnostic and absolute theist agnostic are impossible, which I completely disagree with (although I wouldn’t class myself as either).

    I know you said that these positions are by no means impossible, but the way the graph is at the moment makes it appear this way.

    I think you have cut the two edges to represent that these positions are unlikely or rare. This would be fine, I suppose, if the size of the boxes were somehow also supposed to represent the amount of people summed up in that section. If that’s what you have intended then again I think the graph is very misleading as it implies that there are an equal amount of theists and atheists in the world.

    I also don’t think that being a gnostic atheist is as rare as you would think as there are many people who don’t beleive a god exists due to aspects of science. A lot of people who take this view, I believe, also trust that science can prove that a God does not exist. Although I do agree that there are many more atheist agnostics and theist gnostics than the others.

    Just my thoughts.

  47. BAXTER says:

    im pretty sure im in the i believe in creation, not so much as a huge guy looking down on us, but a tiny thing, so minute to really comprehend it with the mind you would probably want to meditate, exercise, grow a lot of plants and live with animals. but alas, the human race strives for money and recognition of their achievements that the government cling on to their populous. If we are all human, lol and for arguments sake you all thought like me.and we each thought that we need the earth and that oil has been abused, not saying it shouldnt have been discovered, but that the leaders of the world are abusing their power, aka, the media lol, its the way we get news and we give all of our focus to the monster lol ugh i know i sound crazy. back on track. you can see how easy it is for some single human to get caught up in their own thoughts that they eventually destroy the thought all together. and the human condition also shows that we are abusive cruel etc etc. how do we get control back when we have allowed even ourselves get out of control. we know what the only things we need to survive are, there is no reason to fear for together we can build for each other. ah great ideas drain me, but they never stop lol.
    sorry if you dont agree,
    KMD

  48. Blah says:

    I agreed with a few other replies that felt that the term “Gnostic” had a bit of a narrow definition in the chart. Gnosticism can refer to a group of people who believe that religious texts are highly metaphorical, and some of them see Gods as metaphors. For instance, one of the famous Gnostic myths is the Myth of Sophia, who represents wisdom. Because of the often vague and layered Gnostic definitions of what Gods actually are, I wouldn’t call them theists as much as philosophers. I’ve met a few Gnostic Christians who refer to God as more of a living concept than an existing being.

  49. Lich Mong says:

    The chart’s author shows us its not a dichotomy because the people that don’t know their believes can’t be placed on the chart. If there are people that don’t fall into either side of a dichotomy, its not a dichotomy.

    Also, the people right in the middle that “don’t care” don’t fit onto either side of the chart either (as he defines it). Again, showing that the chart is NOT a dichotomy.

    It seems to think that Strong Atheists aren’t common; most Atheists when they first become Atheists start out as Strong Atheists, and then move when they get deeper into atheism. It seems to think that theists like Doubting Thomas also aren’t common.

    AND it seems to think that ALL agnostics are Strong Agnostics….

    Anyway,
    Making theism/atheism a dichotomy, making it an epic struggle with no middle ground, were a person is either with YOU or with THEM, IS the same stuff that religions/governments/corporations do to create “Us vs Them,” the “Good vs Evil,” mentality that is, and always has been, the REAL problem.

  50. E Peers Meyers says:

    What is really being talked about on this page is what people who believe in them call spiritual beings (or in the singular ‘being’) which we can refer to here as ‘many gods or one god’ according to the believers’ or non-believers’ choice. So it seems to me that what we are really trying to define are the variances in what all persons believe about the existence of and belief in – any one or many gods. Of those who choose to believe in a god or gods, the question then whether they believe their chosen god or gods are or can be known to exist. To me this is quite straight forward and …who cares, they choose to believe… they are allowed to.

    But there seems to be a problem with establishing degrees of certitude in the belief among people who currently choose to reject a belief in a god or gods.

    It seems to me that all athiests readily agree that they currently do not believe that any kind of god exists, if that god is described as being made up of non-physical stuff – at least I gather that that is a broad description of the kind of god or gods we are talking about here. And some of these athiests will also readily agree that they believe there will be and can be no circumstance that will ever alter their belief that no god or gods exist…who cares, they choose to not believe… they are allowed to.

    But there seems, by reading the comments, that there are athiests who don’t believe now that god or gods exist but who have some degree of uncertainty about the future… maybe not their own future but the future of mankind. This uncertainty seems to revolve around two points : 1. that mankind currently does not know all there is to know so maybe in the future mankind will gain the kind of knowledge that will allow us to know for sure that a god (or gods) of some sort exists and 2. at that time these athiests will decide what they believe… and they are allowed to believe this.

    This allows them to be sitting on the fence because as it has been pointed out in several comments here… it is possible to believe that at sometime in the future we can learn to know that god or gods exist but that it is highly likely (given what we know about the nature of man) that we cannot ever know for sure there is no god or gods.

    What I read here is that amongst the absolute athiests there is an impatience and a rigidity of belief that if they could they would impose their belief in the non-existance of god or gods on all atheists – and these kind of people are no less dangerous than their opposite : the religious fundamentalist. In fact I see them as being the same coin.

    I beleive that debating about the existance or non-existance of god or gods is a jeuvenille approach to the debate about what is “good” and what is “no good”. May The Force Be With You…