A Former Theology Professor Who Turned Atheist Now Claims to be an Agnostic

I received an email from a retired theology professor friend of mine who had previously embraced atheism, but now claims to be an agnostic instead. I'll share his email below, along with my response. But I think this video by QualiaSoup does a good job on his concerns.

Here is his email and my response:
I make a very important distinction in my mind between what I can claim to KNOW and what I feel I BELIEVE.

Almost all people equate “atheism” with the position that a person does not think God exists.

That is the reason why I want to make it absolutely clear that I simply do not KNOW whether God exists or does not exist. I prefer to see myself as an “agnostic” as to God’s existence! I trust many of you can identify with that label!

I reject the name of “atheist,” because, though my struggles with making sense of the Bible continue, I do not want family and Christian friends to think I deny God’s existence.

In fact, my ongoing studies lead me to embrace the belief that the human being transcends the totally of his physical brain and body and that there is hope beyond death. Bottom line is that I now reject materialism and naturalism as adequate explanations for authentic human existence.
My brief response:

"God" is an English moniker referring to the God of Christianity. That's how most people understand it. Are you unsure whether such a god exists? Or do you reject its existence? You surely reject the existence of all god's who purportedly revealed themselves in holy books as claimed by prophets, priests, bishops, and kings. That sounds like you're an atheist (i.e. non-believer) toward almost all of the gods believed around the world.

What's left? A deistic god? Are you are a spiritualist?

When it comes to atheism, the etymology of the word leads us to define an atheist as a non-theist (a-theist). Such a person is not a theist, pantheist, polytheist, or panentheist. By extention an atheist is a non-believer, one who does not believe in god, gods, or goddesses. But in an intriguing way this can describe an agnostic. See what you think.

Here's another video by QualiaSoup:

Maybe my friend will respond here, who knows?


John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist credited with 12 critically acclaimed books, including The Case against Miracles, God and Horrendous Suffering, and Varieties of Jesus Mythicism. Please support DC by sharing our posts, or by subscribing, donating, or buying our books at Amazon. Thank you so much!