If you identify yourself as a non-believer, possibly with some history of hostility towards organized religions, would you call yourself an Atheist, or an Agnostic?
I can’t care less about labels and names. But since they have a practical use – saving time and energy – we can discuss them.
* * *
Once upon a time nefore the chemical outbrake of puberty introduced a wave of changes in my body, it impacted my mind. I rebelled – still quite analyctically – against the delusions of the local culture, which let to tossing out religions amonst some other outdated codes. I turned in to a non-believe and I called it atheism three years later when I learned that I am not only alone, but there may be even a conventional name for the state of my belief system. And it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized agnosticism is a better term to describe this state.
Typically the naive distinction between atheism and agnosticism is tested with whether or not one would answer “No”, or “I don’t know” to the question of existence of *any* God. This is in the grey zone, and a metter of definition and interpretation: How do we define God?
Some believe in Gods because in the hierarchy of beings in the vast universe and possibly beyond, there can be creatures above us. Aliens, Gods, simulators, our own Gaia or some parts of it, concious super-organisms that we may can be their building blocks, etc. All these can have God-like powers over us, by shaping and controlling us. But is that all it takes to be a God?
The problem here is that all these beings, even if proven and spotted, are things just like us. They have weaknesses and struggles for their own survival, and simply put they aren’t “in charge”. They don’t have control. A God that knows how everything at every level unfolds, comes from a much motr strict definition of God and that is a level of God-ness that I am a non-believer in. This is a very generic definition for a God, one who has made everything, knows it all, and can control all existence at all its levels. But to me its existance still as unlikely as exotic concept such as Allah, Jesus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Atheists – including my past self – typically view agnostics as mild atheists. Atheists that have woken up but not quite enough to completely get over their religion, and they may be statistically right. But to me agnosticism isn’t compromised atheism. It’s an ultimate state disbelief. So an agnostic refuses religion, but also atheism itself as a replacement that could be vulnerable to the flaws and biases of any other man-made culture. And this was the point that I had not understood in the spiritual beliefs of not-quite-atheist thinkers like Spinoza, Darwin or Einstein.
So agnosticism that I refer to is more of a non-believer than atheism. And as there are infinitely many ways to define God, there can be infinitely many levels in between agnoticism and atheism. The atheist culture, perhaps in order to unify better against the organized religions, wants these two classes and all in between them to collapse in one. But in my eyes they are quite distinct, and I think there are a lot of interesting belief systems also in between them.
I may be going through another phase of chemical changes but currently I feel like I am somewhere in that in-between space.