[Originally published as Agnosticism is Insane]
The title is deliberately provocative, but it is also very true. Agnosticism cannot be a long-term position for a sane person. Before you close this page, give me the opportunity to explain what I mean.
Defining our Terms
Atheism is the position that holds that there is no god. Atheists hold this as a certain fact, though sometimes they prefer to phrase it as “no evidence for gods” in order to sound intellectually superior. Theists believe in a god, or, in the case of Hindus, multiple gods.
Agnostics are in something of a twilight zone. They are literally in the position of not knowing whether there is a god or not. In other words, agnostics are unsure about the existence of a deity, who, if he does exist (spoiler, he does), probably has some things to say about how we live.
For all practical purposes, agnostics are functional atheists either unwilling or unable to correctly title themselves.
To be clear, I am not saying all agnostics are atheists, nor am I saying all agnostics are insane. I am saying the agnostic position is either cowardly atheism or insanity if held permanently. There is either no god at all, or there is at least one. That statement should not be hard for everyone to agree to on a propositional level. There is no “in-between” position. Therefore agnostics eventually must decide if there is a god, or if there are no gods. The position cannot be logically held forever. It may serve as a stepping stone for some people, a period of questioning while attempting to determine the truth, but it cannot be held forever by a sane human.
Why A Choice Makes Sense
Suppose there is a god. Would it not be the wisest, most sensible course of action for a person to find out who that god is, and what it is that this god wants from said person? After all, if that god is real, does it not make more sense to worship that god and serve him, her, or it in the hopes of gaining some kind of material benefit in this life, let alone the next, than to continue as an atheist/agnostic? Obviously, the answer is yes, but this presupposes a deity exists.
Suppose no god actually exists. Would it not make more sense to give up attempting to claim to be unsure if there is a deity and simply reject the concept? Obviously, it would. Yet, despite the clear unreasonableness of agnosticism, for many people, agnosticism is a permanent home.
Why Would People Choose the Agnostic Label?
There could be a couple of reasons. Some of them could truly be searching and choose the label to reflect that. Others look at how toxic the new atheists are, and, as atheists, do not want to be associated with that, so choose to label themselves agnostic.
However, I suspect most agnostics are atheists trying to make themselves appear more open minded. Because the term agnostic refers to a person who does not know if there is a god, by calling themselves agnostics, the atheists hope to appear more open minded in a culture that dogmatically hates dogmatism. However, despite this language change, they present the same arguments as atheists, make the same objections to theism that atheists do, and live lives that are functionally indistinguishable from that of an atheist. This is why I term most agnostics either cowardly or deceptive atheists.
To repeat, not all agnostics are atheists. Some people legitimately are trying to figure out if there is a god or not. However, most of the people you will meet on the internet that claim the agnostic label are probably atheists. While it is important to give them the benefit of the doubt where you can it is also important to point out to them that their agnosticism is wildly inconsistent with reality. At least for the purposes of discussion, they need to pick a side. I can almost guarantee they will pick atheism, and you can then have a discussion accordingly.