I’m Not Agnostic

For years, I called myself an agnostic. I had no evidence of any gods, but I didn’t have any evidence against the idea either. Labeling myself an atheist seemed too definite and closed minded; if I had no evidence of absence, then stating that there was no god was simply putting my head in the sand.

So what changed? Well, to understand that, let’s try a thought experiment. Do you believe in fairies? There are thousands of stories about them, entire encyclopedias devoted to them, and probably millions of pieces of art featuring them. Despite this, there’s absolutely no evidence that fairies exist, so saying “I don’t believe in fairies” doesn’t surprise most people. It’s the default assumption after watching the world for thousands of years and seeing nothing.

However, if a fairy appeared to you and a group of trusted friends, you would likely be pretty well convinced that they did actually exist.

The same thing goes for atheism. Saying “god doesn’t exist” is equivalent to saying “we have no evidence for the existence of god, so there’s no reason to believe in one”. Any atheist presented with corroborated evidence 1 would likely be willing to change their mind.

Calling yourself an atheist doesn’t make you closed minded, unless you say that there can’t possibly be evidence of a god. At the end of the day, it’s important to be honest about what evidence does and does not exist. When I called myself an agnostic, I was giving undue weight to the idea that there is a god by default; that wasn’t fair to myself or to other non-believers.

1: The “corroborated” part there is important. Many have been convinced of the existence of a god by dreams, hallucinations, and other sensory glitches. Much like failsafes, something as big as the existence of god should follow the “1 is none, 2 is 1, …” rule; unless someone else sees it, it’s a pretty fair assumption (although not necessarily a correct one) that you’re experiencing a false vision.

 
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