Ignosticism Versus Atheism

Webcast Q&A: 29 January 2012, Question 3

I answered a question on ignosticism versus atheism on 29 January 2012. You can listen to or download the podcast of just this question below – or check out the whole episode of Philosophy in Action Radio.

Should rational people describe themselves as "ignostics" rather than "atheists"? By rational principles, no cognitive consideration should be given to arbitrary assertions. Since the concept of God is invariably a floating abstraction and incoherent in its definition, shouldn't the claim that God exists be dismissed as arbitrary and invalid – rather than being answered in the negative? If so, shouldn't rational people describe themselves as ignostics? In contrast to atheism, ignosticism is "[the] view that a coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of God can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition is unfalsifiable, the ignostic takes the theological noncognitivist position that the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless." [Wikipedia]

My Answer, In Brief: "Atheism," not "ignosticism," is the proper name to describe a person who reject the claim that God exists, and that's justified not only by the failure of the arguments for the existence of God, but also God's impossible qualities.

Tags: Atheism, Faith, Metaphysics, Religion

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I'm Dr. Diana Brickell. I'm a philosopher specializing in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, is available for purchase in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."

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