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Peter Bjork

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Peter Bjork


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agnosticism
atheism
differences
humanism
secularism
Mon, Oct 06, 2014 - 02:52 PM

What’s the difference between atheism/agnosticism/secularism and humanism?



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Peter Bjork

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Print Mon, Oct 06, 2014 - 02:52 PM
Many humanists describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or secular humanists. Atheists and agnostics, by definition, focus on the lack of existence of the supernatural. While a basic tenet of humanism is the rejection of the supernatural, those who identify themselves as humanists tend to go further to focus on what we do know and what we might do to improve the lot of all humankind.

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Craig Good

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Print Sat, Mar 14, 2015 - 02:52 AM
Because questions like this are so common on Quora I wrote a whole FAQ over there to cover it. Here's the summary:

Atheism is the lack of belief in any gods. Agnosticism is the recognition that the existence of gods is an unanswerable (because it's untestable) hypothesis. They really answer two different questions. Ask me what I believe and I'm an atheist. Ask me what I know and I'm an agnostic. Some people like to use agnostic to mean "undecided", but that's not really a very good definition. If you don't answer the question "do gods exist?" with a yes, you're an atheist.

Note that atheism is not a philosophy or a movement. It is merely the lack of belief in gods. It has nothing to do with morality, good or evil, or anything else. It's just the gods thing. Really.

Humanist is the answer to yet another question: What is your philosophy or ethical stance? This Wikipedia entry is a good primer, but essentially it means one looks to human agency and science for knowledge, not religion. That's why it's sometimes known as secular humanism.


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Raul Rubio

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Print Sun, Mar 01, 2015 - 02:36 PM
What Peter said.

The exclusion of the supernatural as a cause or reason for things lands you in the middle of the camps you've included here (with maybe the exception being agnostics).


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Chuck O'Neil

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Print Mon, Mar 02, 2015 - 12:36 AM
Agnostic has several different meanings. Commonally it refers to one who cannot decide if there is or is not a diety. A better definition is the position that the existence of a diety can neither be proven or disproven. I think everyone, if honest, would have to agree with that and so every thinking person must admit to being agnostic. Beyond that, everyone has a belief about the existence of God. One can be agnostic and believe or not believe in God. I cannot prove that god exists, but I choose to believe in a diety. Or I cannot prove that a diety does not exist but I choose to believe no diety exists. A belief about god is just that, a belief, their is no proof either way.


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Stacy S
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Print Mon, Mar 02, 2015 - 07:49 AM
The difference between atheists and agnostics is belief of god and knowledge of god. An atheist (a-theist) does not believe god(s) exist and agnostics (a-gnostic) does not know if god(s) exist. There can be many combinations of atheist, theist, gnostic, and agnostic to describe people's approach to god. I am an agnostic-atheist. I don't believe in god (or gods), but I don't know for sure. Many religious people would consider themselves agnostic-theists.

Secularism doesn't have an opinion on belief or knowledge of god, it just tries to view things from a non-religious point of view. Secular morality, like Humanism, views human morality without any influence from a supernatural deity.


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Sue Parry
Sunday, March 15, 2015 - 09:24:52 AM
I don't quite agree with this. My own belief is that all gods are creations of the human imagination. I am no more agnostic about their existence than I am about the existence of Santa Claus or the Mad Hatter. Thinking about it this way, issues of proof or disproof become irrelevant.

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