It’s not a surprise to me that the public forums where people debate religion quickly turn into name calling and insults.
It is difficult to have an actual conversation or debate when the basic terminology isn’t being used to mean the same things.
There seems to be a common misconception – mostly with theists – that there are three positions in the debate:
Theist – Believer in the one true religion (luckily, that happens to be the one they were born to)
Agnostic – someone who just isn’t sure, but may or may not identify with a religion
Atheists – people who are immoral god haters.
These three terms do not reflect the spectrum of belief to non-belief nor are the meanings correct.
Theism and Gnosticism are different things entirely and adding the “a” prefix, reverses the meaning of the word.
We have not three positions of belief – sort of like how people also erroneously think there’s three sexual places on that spectrum of straight, bisexual and gay – but really there’s two positions faith and knowledge with the setting to on or off.
Theism is the belief that there’s deities. Atheism is no belief in deities.
Aside: “no belief in deities” is not the same as “belief in no deities”
Gnostic is not about what the beleif is, but rather it’s a position on the nature of knowledge itself – so the gnostic knows and the agnostic isn’t sure we can know.
Which puts theism and gnosticism sort of like genes – you can have the gene, but whether it’s turned off or on is a separate matter.
Atheists could be called agnostic atheists, but in the modern sense of the word, the idea of knowledge is blurring into atheism.
I think that it’s partly because atheists tend to be comfortable with not having an answer to questions. We don’t know yet with the current state of technology and understanding. We’d rather leave the answer a question mark than insert “goddidit” as a place holder.
Since “goddidit” provides no meaningful answer at all.
We might find out in our lifetime or we won’t. Either way, we’re going on with the one life that we know we have, being the best person we can be.
What more is there, really?