Posts Tagged ‘agnosticism


Questions from thebiblereader

thebiblereader asked some questions in a reply to a previous post, and I thought it would be best to answer them in a new post. So here goes:

Hello, I’ve been reading through some of your blog, and I find it great. It might be my Favorite blog yet. I have some questions, How did you know that you were an atheist and not an agnostic? How did you feel when you finally admitted it? How do people treat you, when the issue of religion is brought up and you let the other person know you are an atheist?

First off, thanks for reading and enjoying the blog, and for the kind words. But seriously, if this is your favorite blog, I respectfully suggest that you read more blogs… especially some that are updated a lot more often than mine!

Okay, on to your questions:

How did you know that you were an atheist and not an agnostic?

I originally considered myself an agnostic before I had a clear understanding of both terms. Once I attained that understanding, I came to know myself as an atheist.

Really, I’m both. The term “agnostic” is based on knowledge (gnosis), while the term “atheist” is based on belief (theism). I claim no knowledge of the existence or nonexistence of any gods, and I choose not to worship any of them as well. Therefore, I am an agnostic atheist, sometimes known as a “weak” atheist.

How did you feel when you finally admitted it?

Relieved, and a little scared.

I was relieved because I knew that I didn’t have to carry around a lot of religious baggage anymore. I was scared because I wasn’t sure how my family or friends would respond to it. It was a long time before I could talk to any of them about it.

How do people treat you, when the issue of religion is brought up and you let the other person know you are an atheist?

I’ve mentioned on the blog before that I keep my atheism a secret from most people I meet, for various reasons. Usually it is to keep their personal prejudices at bay, so that they won’t get into the way of any relationship we may have. Sometimes, it’s to avoid confrontation.

The only people I have “come out” to, outside of my family, are people that I have trusted with this knowledge. They are the ones that I have carefully assessed will have no issue with my lack of belief, and whom I trust will keep this information to themselves.

There are a few exceptions, however. On two recent occasions, I came out as an atheist to complete strangers, and found it to be amazingly liberating.

The first happened when I was waiting in our car in a shopping center parking lot for my partner and daughters to finish some shopping. It was a nice day, so I decided to wait there with the windows open and the radio on. A man approached the vehicle and began to talk to me, asking first if I went to church. When I said “No,” he said “Well, you believe in god, right?”  When I gave the same answer again, he brushed it off and went into his spiel – he was panhandling, trying to get gas money to get out of town to find a new job, and so on. It was interesting to me how unimportant the issue became once he realized that we didn’t have faith in common. Had we met under other circumstances, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been cast aside so easily.

The second occasion happened this past fourth of July, as I was getting ready to take the family to see a fireworks show.  Two young men in white shirts and ties called out to me from down our street as I was heading into the house to get something, and I stopped what I was doing to talk to them. I pegged them as Mormons before I could see if they had name tags on their shirts, and found out I was right a moment later.

They asked what my religious beliefs were, and I told them I was an atheist (again, with an incredible sense of liberation. It really does feel good to admit it to someone when you know that there won’t be any serious negative repercussions).

We talked for the better part of an hour about religion and belief. They had a couple of questions for me about atheism, and were very surprised when I told them that I had read the Book of Mormon (and proved my claim with examples). I even managed to teach them a few things about Christianity (they had no idea what omnibenevolence, omnipotence and omnicience were, for example.)

Before they left, I shook their hands and told them that I hoped I had improved their opinion of atheists, and maybe even cleared up some misconceptions, and they told me that I had. So that was good.

So the short answer in this long story is, on the rare occasions that I have made my atheism public, the response has been fairly neutral – but I suspect that if I were more open about it, my results would vary greatly.

Thanks for the questions, and take care!


I am an atheist, a person who does not believe in the existence of any gods.

Many people don't know a lot about atheists, and have questions about them. In this blog, I do my best to answer them, to help build an understanding between atheists and theists.

Do you have a question? You can post it in the comments to any of my blog entries, and I will do my best to answer it in a new entry.