I’m not one of those atheists who vociferously denounce agnosticism; most of the time I really don’t care if somebody identifies as such, and indeed, I think that it’s a comfortable position for a lot of people to take- when you don’t have faith in the supernatural, but atheism sounds so final and resolute*, it just feels right to call yourself agnostic.
But this picture, and the snarky tone it takes, bothers me enough to make me tackle the topic.
Bethany asked for me for the link to this brilliant article not too long ago, which posits that conservative media creates a false narrative of “Both the left and the right do it; they’re both guilty of ____.” in order to legitimize their actions. I believe the same is true for many theists- and I’ve written about it before. This demotivator is evidence of that in action- it equates atheism to theism as though they were equal but opposite viewpoints. They’re not. Atheism and theism employ opposing thought processing, which leads them to opposing viewpoints, but the fact that those viewpoints are the opposite of each other is the result of their different processing. In other words, atheism vs. theism is not “there is a God vs. there is no God”; it is “I require logical processing to arrive at a conclusion vs. I do not require logical processing to arrive at a conclusion.” (And once again, I will point out that I am not loading the word “logical” with any value judgments- it simply means “of deductive reasoning”).
If you try to frame atheism as a form of faith, equal but opposite of religion, then obviously, agnosticism will be seen as the most sane option. And indeed, if I accepted the concept that atheism and theism are two sides of the same coin, then I would probably be in full agreement with the caption here- yelling back and forth about something that can never be resolved (barring undeniable, miraculous proof of the divine) is the epitome of stupidity.
But atheism is not faith- it is the absence of evidence. Stephen Colbert has a penchant for cutely saying “Agnostics just atheists without balls.”, but the honest truth is that agnostics just don’t get it. (Or that they get it but are too afraid to either call themselves atheists, or to follow their weighing of the evidence to its logical conclusion).
I value consistency over pretty much anything else- if you are not trying to push your agenda on me and you remain consistent in your ideology, then I tend to ignore you. The only problem is that it is impossible to be consistent with a flawed premise, and agnosticism is no different:
If you want to champion agnosticism, I stand by your choice, so long as you apply your agnosticism widely and consistently. Not only must you consider and give validity and credence to the possibility of EVERYTHING that has ever been mentioned but not disproven (the FSM, Lochness, Big Foot, a monster hiding under your kid’s bed), but also those things which nobody has even claimed to exist but still cannot be conclusively proven to not exist. And if you really do approach life this way, well, 1) kudos, you are amazingly consistent, and 2) I feel incredibly sorry for you, living in a frightening and unpredictable world that must make mere existence rather horrifying.
ETA: In perusing Tumblr, I came across a post featuring the following wonderful image, which is incredibly elucidating and shows clearly how agnosticism is not a middle point between atheism and theism:
* Which is still the way it is often perceived, even though nothing could be father from the truth. Atheism is predicated on there being no credible, observable, objective proof of the supernatural. If there were such proof, no atheist would deny it (although they might very well point out that something which is undeniably proven no longer requires faith and is such, can no longer be called supernatural).