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Discussion 2 to Meditation 810
Since we disagree, it makes sense for us to use different labels for our beliefs.

by: Will Petillo

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It seems to be that Facebook argument clouded the issues of whether Agnosticism and Atheism are different and which represents a more rational way of thinking. While figuring out the latter will certainly involve unresolvable disagreements, determining whether there is a difference in belief is--for an agnostic such as myself--a simple matter of reading Atheist arguments and deciding if there is anything beyond the definitions that I disagree with. In Mr. Pigliucci's article,[1] I did not have to look far to find this:

"The important point is that there are plenty of notions, such as that of gods, that cannot be rejected in the same way (pace both Coyne and Dawkins), and yet can be rejected on reasonable grounds for the simple fact that they are extraordinary claims without the support of extraordinary evidence (to paraphrase Carl Sagan paraphrasing David Hume)."

Mr. Pigliucci rejects the notion of God. For reasons stated elsewhere on this site, I do not. We disagree. Since we disagree, it makes sense for us to use different labels for our beliefs. Case closed. Now, if we were to argue about which of us is RIGHT--whether one SHOULD reject the notion of God because of the lack of evidence--then we would have an ambiguous point to argue about.

In fact, I find it bizarre that Massimo Pigliucci is making an effort to equate agnosticism and atheism in the first place, given that later in the article he writes:

"But skeptics should not fool themselves into thinking that the most reasonable position is agnosticism, or simply not taking a stand: believing in anything without evidence is contrary to reason, and reason is the foundation of skepticism."

Once again, I disagree. Whether or not the notion of God seems reasonable to me depends on which mindset I use to look at the world at any given moment and the differences in these worldviews run so deep that it is difficult for me to even define them, let alone conclusively determine the superiority of one over the other.

Furthermore, if "agnostics are also atheists", and agnosticism is "contrary to reason," then atheism--including adherent Massimo Pigliucci--is also contrary to reason...as is trying to tell people that they believe something that they don't.


  1. The Gotham Skeptic