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Letter: Someone needs to read the definition of atheism

Gaul responds to a recent letter that argued "there are no ‘true’ atheists."

A person holds a letter with the text "letter to the editor" overlaid on the image.

In his March 16th letter to The Forum, Michael Rachow says:
“ … there are no ‘true’ atheists. I would define them as agnostic. In their heart, they know there's a God.”

What a doozy. Where to begin? First of all, one cannot be an agnostic and know “in their heart” there’s a God. Secondly, it’s insulting to a whole class of people, insinuating that we are liars. Furthermore, since the late 1800s, agnosticism was considered by many philosophers as an epistemological category of atheism.

An academic book, titled Agnosticism, (published in 1903, of 1888 lectures), noted that if a nonbeliever concluded that “ … the existence of God is incapable of proof, cease to believe in it on the ground that he cannot know it to be true, he is an agnostic and also an atheist, an agnostic- atheist — an atheist because an agnostic. There are unquestionably many such atheists. Agnosticism is among the commonest of apologies for atheism.”

This is not atheistic spin. The author was Victorian Britain’s foremost Christian apologist, Reverend Dr Robert Flint. He was an esteemed professor, clergyman, and philosopher of religion. His intellectual honesty is something today’s pop apologists of Christianity can learn much from.

Ron Gaul lives in Fargo.

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This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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