I realize how difficult it is for people who are not atheist or agnostic to understand and accept what either term means. Yet, a reasonable dictionary like Merriam-Webster is a good start. The more religious a person is, the harder it may be to grasp the concept of either, as simple as it may be. This is because so much of their belief is based on religion and nothing else.
Conversely, I never will understand why so many people continue to believe that people who do not believe in any god automatically lack both a moral compass and common sense. Maybe it is too difficult, too simple, or maybe they prefer what they have been told (not usually by a member of any nonbelieving entity) for most of their lives.
I cannot recall a time in my life when I thought less of someone because they did not believe in God. More often, it was some believers who troubled me. I’ve had friends and acquaintances from most large religious groups and even some wiccans and druids.
A theist believes in the existence of a god or gods; specifically, one believes in the existence of a God viewed as the creative source of humans, a god who transcends yet is immanent in the world. A person who lacks that belief is an atheist. Morality and trustworthiness must be discerned separately.
Agnostics claim that an ultimate reality such as God is unknown and probably unknowable. It’s not a halfway point between theist and atheist. This is something theists are more likely to get wrong than are atheists. Many folks are hyphenated agnostics: agnostic-atheist, agnostic-theist. I lean toward the former.
I found this PsyPost article regarding research that had been previously reported on in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. It was about a published report that claimed to be “new” research. The PsyPost piece is dated May 9, 2022. It is bylined Patricia Y. Sanchez.
According to their webpage, “PsyPost is a psychology and neuroscience news website dedicated to reporting the latest research on human behavior, cognition, and society.” It is funded by advertising and claims to have three million readers.
PsyPost further claims, “We are not interested in over-generalizing or mischaracterizing research to get more clicks. We are not interested in confirming or disproving ideological beliefs. We are only interested in accurately reporting research about how humans think and behave.”
Overall, the subject research proports to investigate stereotype opinions held by various groups about atheists, religious (oddly, they chose protestants as a category), and, mainly, agnostics. The sample size was neither random nor sufficiently large to be statistically reliable. However, investigation of the obvious (my opinion) requires little serious statistical effort.
I thought everyone already knew, at least as far as stereotypes are concerned, that religious people generally favored their own ilk in terms of trust and general morality. But that is not my point.
The first sentence in the PsyPost article said this: “Agnosticism and atheism are often categorized into one “nonreligious” group in research despite these being distinct belief systems.”
It is safe to say that agnosticism and atheism do not compete with each other. One person may be both. It would also be right to say they should not be placed into the same religious category. However, it is wrong to categorize, state, or even to imply that either agnosticism or atheism is (or has) a belief system. Such a bogus first sentence places doubt upon either PsyPost or the researcher’s reporting and makes me question the peer review process of Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.
Sometimes it may seem like hair splitting, but this is how atheists.org said it, and I agree: “Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.”
To do research on stereotyping it would seem appropriate to me that one must first stop one’s own stereotyping.
One more important thing. Cher, (Cherilyn Sarkisian) was born on this day (May 20) in 1946.
Happy Cher’s (76th) birthday, Y’all.