Obviously, if theism is a belief in a God and atheism is a lack of a belief in a God, no third position or middle ground is possible. A person can either believe or not believe in a God. Therefore, our previous definition of atheism has made an impossibility out of the common usage of agnosticism to mean 'neither affirming nor denying a belief in God.' Actually, this is no great loss, because the dictionary definition of agnostic is still again different from Huxley's definition. The literal meaning of agnostic is one who holds that some aspect of reality is unknowable. Therefore, an agnostic is not simply someone who suspends judgment on an issue, but rather one who suspends judgment because he feels that the subject is unknowable and therefore no judgment can be made. It is possible, therefore, for someone not to believe in a God (as Huxley did not) and yet still suspend judgment (ie, be an agnostic) about whether it is possible to obtain knowledge of a God. Such a person would be an atheistic agnostic. It is also possible to believe in the existence of a force behind the universe, but to hold (as did Herbert Spencer) that any knowledge of that force was unobtainable. Such a person would be a theistic agnostic.
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Many of the innovations in science and philosophy have come from unbelievers, some of whom died for their 'unbeliefs.' Without unbelief, we might well be living in the Dark Ages or at least in the intellectual equivalent of that time. In past centuries many theists savagely attacked atheists on the ground that someone without a belief in God must be a moral 'monster, ' who would permit any action. This argument is rarely heard today, as the number of people who are openly atheists has become so large that its falsity is self-evident. Atheists do have a moral code to guide them. It is usually based upon the Golden Rule, plus a variety of utilitarian reasons, although there are a number of other possible systems. Rather than being immoral, most atheists are extremely moral. There are a large number of people who can and do manage to lead decent upright lives with no use for a belief in God as a guide. Atheists do not care whether others believe as they do. They do ask, however, for the right to believe as they wish...
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We should always keep an open mind about any new phenomenon in nature. To merely say that's impossible, therefore it doesn't exist, is to commit a serious error. A much better approach would be to say That's quite unlikely, but show me the evidence you have that says that it may be so. It would be the height of arrogance to think that man knows everything possible about the Universe or the Earth. There are many things yet to be discovered, and that is why we have scientific research (or any kind of research). That should be the rationalist's approach to parapsychology and the occult.
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