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Atheism and Agnosticism

Before you say you believe or don't believe something you must know what that something is. If you claim no belief, knowledge or understanding about anything called a god, you should call yourself an agnostic. If you claim that you believe there is no god (as someone defines it, him or her) you can call yourself an atheist (a non-theist).

There is a difference between not believing and believing, which many "believers" don't recognize. They describe non-believers as metaphysical like themselves.

We also have in this world people who call themselves agnostics and describe themselves as transcending their agnosticism through faith. They are entertaining a contradiction: belief through faith is still belief.

The question of atheism versus agnosticism is complicated by historical considerations. Belief in gods has arisen from visions of spiritual magic — the only force outside themselves that early humanity believed in. And it survives today as the agent gods that many people worship. Those who reject magic as a force (and reject the myths associated with it) might want to call themselves atheists insofar as they know what it is they are not believing.

Let us not try to be absolutistic about it. A writer for the website LifeDaily, Helen Butacova, describes Brad Pitt as having said he considers himself 20 percent atheist and 80 percent agnostic, which Butacova says "sounds like 100% agnostic" (100 percent being an absolute).

Butacova quotes Jodie Foster as follows: "I absolutely love religions and the rituals. Even though I don't believe in God, we celebrate pretty much every religion in our family with the kids."

I'm with the celebrity Butacova describes as saying,

"If I get into trouble, there's no God or Allah to sort me out. I have to do it myself."

Here are a few famous agnostics: Carl Sagan; Neil deGrasse Tyson; Ludwig Wittgenstein; Susan B Anthony; Mark Twain; Albert Einstein (check it out); Bob Kerrey of Nebraska; and Susan Rice former United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota, is on a video telling Larry King that he is an atheist, that he doesn't believe in the "tooth fairy, the Easter bunny and Santa." Responding to King he said he didn't mind if people say "God Bless America." that it was their choice.


Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.