Admittedly the phrase “agnostic-atheist” is mostly used online and I’ve never had an atheist run this line on me in public, but I see it thrown around a lot. Normally this is blasted towards Christians by atheists filled will anonymity as they are trying to set the record straight on what they really are.
So allow me to set the record straight. It’s nonsense.
Much like the atheists’ definition of faith and how they just merely “lack belief”, the “agnostic-atheist” camp is nothing but a rouse to avoid discussion. In an argument, the best position to be in is one where you don’t have to defend yourself. So what is a person’s natural instinct going to be? To deflect the burden of proof.
That’s not how I operate and I think it’s pretty dishonest, but it hasn’t stopped a faux-army of Internet Atheists™ from creating the mirage that “agnostic-atheist” is a camp and that they are not responsible for contributing to the argument.
One of the finest examples of an atheist struggling to define what he actually believes can be found in the debate between the late Christopher Hitchens and Dr. William Lane Craig. Craig, like me, thinks both sides share a burden of proof and attempts to get to the bottom of Hitchens’ position. It doesn’t go to well for Chris as he stumbles through his response. Craig had him on the ropes most of the debate as Hitchens’ mainly relied on his speaking attributes, which were not enough to carry him through.
My hope, as you read this, is that you don’t convey a negative tone from me. I am just adamantly against atheists who push the burden of proof on everyone else. I want everyone to share in the fact-finding and evidence, and present a positive argument for their view point.
Getting back to the definitions, in broad terms, there are three camps: theism, agnosticism, and atheism.
Theists believe there is a God, agnostics are unsure, and atheists believe there is no God. If you’re an atheist, you may be rolling your eyes right about now but be honest with yourself. Do you believe there is no God? You’d probably answer yes and therefore you are an atheist.
(A)-theist, that is, (without)-God. Or, no God. The etymology and the usage all point to the true definition of atheism.
Many atheists don’t want to do any of the work and just want to throw daggers into a conversation, not be responsible for any of their beliefs, and walk away. An example would be an atheist saying something like “If there is a God, why is there evil?” The theist would then give some type of response to the problem of evil and then follow up with a question like “How do you account for evil existing on atheism?” and then the atheist will say “I just lack belief, you’re the one who believes in a God” as a way to skirt the issue and avoid a real conversation.
Now, before my inbox starts filling up with anger, let me say this is not the case with all atheists. When I debated Justin Schieber he railed against atheists who did that both in person and online, which I think is very refreshing. The point is, and this is something I say a lot, you need evidence. It’s asking what each side has to put on the table and then doing our best to weigh it objectively. If we can’t do that then there is no point in having a conversation.
Don’t be someone who seeks to cop-out of a conversation when there is trouble on the horizon. Be an adult and admit when you don’t know something and when you are unsure. Until then, people are going to continue to talk at each other instead of to each other. The latter is far better than the former, my friends.
Grace and Peace