Agnostic atheism


Agnostic atheism

Agnostic atheism, also called atheistic agnosticism, is a philosophical doctrine that encompasses both atheism and agnosticism. An agnostic atheist is atheistic, in that he or she does not believe that any deities exist, but is also agnostic, in that he or she does not claim access to definitive knowledge of this. The agnostic atheist can be contrasted with the agnostic theist, who is theistic, in that he or she "does" believe that one or more deities exist, but is also agnostic, in that he or she does not claim access to definitive knowledge of this.

Agnostic atheism should not be confused with weak atheism, which makes no reference to knowledge. It is possible for an agnostic atheist to subscribe to either strong or weak atheism, independently of his agnosticism.

Individuals identifying as agnostic atheists may justify their position by reference to epistemology, theory of justification or Occam's razor.

Examples

Bertrand Russell uses the example of the celestial teapot. He argues that although it is impossible to know that the teapot does not exist, most people would not believe in it.

Prominent atheist Richard Dawkins makes a similar point:

History

One of the earliest definitions of agnostic atheism is that of Robert Flint, in his Croall Lecture of 1887-1888 (published in 1903 under the title "Agnosticism").

"The atheist may however be, and not unfrequently is, an agnostic. There is an agnostic atheism or atheistic agnosticism, and the combination of atheism with agnosticism which may be so named is not an uncommon one."cite book|last=Flint|first=Robert|title=Agnosticism: the Croall Lecture, 1887-1888|publisher=William Blackwood and Sons|year=1903|pages=49-51]

"If a man has failed to find any good reason for believing that there is a God, it is perfectly natural and rational that he should not believe that there is a God; and if so, he is an atheist... if he goes farther, and, after an investigation into the nature and reach of human knowledge, ending in the conclusion that the existence of God is incapable of proof, cease to believe in it on the ground that he cannot know it to be true, he is an agnostic and also an atheist - an agnostic-atheist - an atheist because an agnostic... while, then, it is erroneous to identify agnosticism and atheism, it is equally erroneous so to separate them as if the one were exclusive of the other..."

References

Further reading

*Martin, Michael. "Theism." MSN Encarta, 2000. Microsoft Corporation.
*Martin, Michael. "Atheism: A Philosophical Justification." Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1992. ISBN 0-87722-943-0
*Smith, George H. "Atheism: The Case Against God." 1st ed. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1980. ISBN 0-87975-124-X
*Stein, Gordon. "The Encyclopedia of Unbelief." Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1985. ISBN 0-87975-307-2


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