Are you an atheist, I once had someone ask me. I thought that was an interesting question considering that an atheist is the direct opposite of what they were, which was a theist. In other words, someone with a theistic view is someone that has a conviction that their religious point of view is the right one. Often times this can seem like a conceited viewpoint as they will argue against and criticize anyone that have a dissenting opinion regarding the validity of their belief in a higher power. “My God is the one true God,” they will say, because after all how dare I question their beliefs? Even if I were to ask them to produce something of tangible evidence about the existence of their God, because their belief is predicated on faith, this request will most likely attract more scorn rather than the revelation that I sought.
Atheists on the other hand are the direct opposite of someone that possesses a strong theological viewpoint. To a theist, an atheist's view will seem conceited as they hold on to their opinion that they know the answers to the existence or in their case the nonexistence of God. Although they can’t prove that God does not exist, the belief in his nonexistence is finite. Therefore the belief system of an atheist can appear the complete opposite to the belief of the person with the theological view.
An agnostic is someone that does not have a definite knowledge about whether God exists or not. In other words agnosticism is often - but not always, between atheist and the theist. Sometimes the agnostic can appear the less arrogant of the two. What type of cojones does it take to not only say that I am 100% sure that God exists, but then that I might have also spoken to him personally. However on any street corner church or synagogue there is guaranteed to be one pastor or church member who will stand up and proudly proclaimed that they had spoken to God just the other night. It’s also very arrogant for the atheist to say that despite the billions of people around the world that have a belief system in a higher power, they are right in their conviction that God is nonexistant.
To me any one of them can be right or wrong. Also, it is impossible for either one of them to prove how right they are. Atheists can no more disprove the existence of God than the theologically inclined can prove his existence. That is why I choose to consider myself agnostic.
I had a recent conversation with an atheist however, and realized that often the lines between the two can be blurred. There are considered several levels of agnosticism.
- Agnostic Atheism - The view that God does not exist, however you also feel that the truth is unknowable.
- Agnostic Theist - You believe in God, although you do not believe it is ultimately knowable or provable.
- Apathetic or pragmatic agnostic - You believe that knowing whether God exists or doesn't exist is unknowable, and frankly, you do not care either way because it is not impactful to humans.
Post my conversation with my atheist friend, I realized that the approach to both of our systems of understanding can be considered similar and the lines between the two often removes the distinction. Similarly, I do not want to totally alienate my friends in the religious community. Their belief and conversation are always welcome on theblackagnostic.com.
By: Waleed Shareef 2/2/2014