I’m agnostic, and I’m getting quite fed up of self-proclaimed atheists saying there is no difference between atheism and agnosticism.
Michael Nugent, chairman of Atheist Ireland, told the Sunday Business Post’s Agenda magazine:
I think some people don’t believe in God, but don’t want to describe themselves as an atheist as the word has negative connotations. Instead they call themselves agnostic or humanist, or just non-religious. It’s more a concern about the label than the beliefs behind the label.
He was on RTE Radio 1 this morning saying much of the same thing. To be fair to Nugent he is by far not the only atheist coming out with this nonsense.
Why is it nonsense? Being agnostic means ‘maybe’ to “the god question.” It can never mean ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but it can mean both are possible. Yes, even, sitting on the fence. On the other hand, being atheist is widely understood to mean ‘no’ to the same question (including descriptions of the meaning of the word).
Nugent also says:
After Catholics, atheists are the largest group of people expressing an opinion on religion in Ireland. In the last census, a total of 180,000 people ticked the ‘no religion’ box. On top of that, there were around another 60,000 who didn’t answer the ‘what religion are you’ question.
Ticking ‘no religion’ does not equal atheist. You can exclude your self from religions but still believe in god. As for the 60,000 he says did not answer the question, there is no insight into what the reason for this. To link these to atheists is pure guess work at best, or distorting information at worst. This is not what I’d expect as an example of somebody heading a group which wants reasoned government.
Atheist poster boy Richard Dawkins goes on with this nonsense too. He heavily uses Darwen as part of his preaching of atheists. However, as he apparently is a very intelligent man, and he has researched Darwin, I have no option but to conclude he is wilfully leaving out facts to suit his own agenda. Darwen was agnostic. This is not in question. He was a self-proclaimed agnostic.
Anyway, back to Nugent:
The only way to overcome that prejudice is for people with that shared world view to use the term atheist, and to be seen to make rational and reasonable contributions to society. In time, the use of the word will be seen as a normal part of general public discourse.
Why not overcome the prejudice and stop using such a divisive word? Would that be too hard?
On his blog’s about page, he says:
Promoting atheism, because I believe that the idea of gods is bad for society as it makes good people do bad things.
Is this not overly simplistic? Would it not be more correct that gods have been used as an excuse to to ‘bad things’ or convince others to do the same? Non-religious ideas have also been used and abused for ‘bad’ ends. Rightwing and leftwing ideas, as well as science can be blamed for ‘bad things’. Thus, it is overly simplistic to paint this as a problem relating to ideas of gods. People twist things to suit their point-of-view. Just as Richard Dawkins does with Darwin.
What about Atheist Ireland’s views? Their constitution says their missions statement is:
1. Atheist Ireland provides a platform for people who wish to work together to build a rational, ethical and secular society free from superstition and supernaturalism.
And it says their aims are:
2.1. To promote atheism and reason over superstition and supernaturalism.
2.2. To promote an ethical and secular Ireland where the state does not support or fund or give special treatment to any religion.
Now, I’m going to take a big leap here and say these aims are mainly at getting the state to work in such ways… so, why did they not set up a group to just promote a rational, ethical and secular state or society? Why be divisive? Why make it about religion when many religious people already agree with the idea of a rational, ethical and secular state?