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So they are not atheists?   They would be agnostic would they not?

It's possible to be both simultaneously.  Theism and atheism are positions on the subject of belief, whereas gnosticism/agnosticism are positions on the subject of knowledge.
  • If you claim to know that a god exists, the title "gnostic theist" would fit.
  • If you claim to know that no gods exist, you would be a gnostic atheist (also called a strong atheist).
  • If you believe that a god exists but accept that you don't have (and may never have) knowledge that a god is real, then that would make you an agnostic theist.
  • And if you have no belief in gods but also don't claim to know about the existence or nonexistence of gods, you'd fit into the "agnostic atheist" category.  The atheism in this case is "weak atheism" (simply not believing in gods, rather than positively asserting that they don't exist), and appears to be the most common variant of atheism.
There are also weak ("unknown") and strong ("unknowable") degrees of agnosticism.  For instance, I'm a weak atheist but a strong agnostic.  I think that it's technically impossible to determine if any given being actually is a god, even if it were to fly around in plain sight, toss lightning bolts with great abandon, and turn its enemies into grilled cheese sandwiches.  For all we know, it could be advanced technology, an illusion, or some other non-divine cause.
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junebug72 loved it June 19, 2013, 08:01:56 AM