Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Tue Nov 24 00:20:51 UTC 2009

The last thing the non-theist community needs is yet another term
categorizing its beliefs.

The "absolute certainty in no deities" and the strong/weak atheist divide is
a bit of a straw man. I've read and listened to hundreds of non-theists (who
describe and categorize themselves in all sorts of colorful ways) and not
one has ever indicated that they have absolute certainty. Even Richard
Dawkins puts himself as a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being absolute
certainty that there are no gods. Any good skeptic knows that all
conclusions are always provisional and is willing to revise them in the face
of new and better evidence, but there comes a point when you just stop
trying to look for more evidence and simply state it as fact.

A better definition of "atheist" would be one who has concluded that no gods
exist, usually based on lack of reasonable evidence for such existence. (I'm
sure there are some, even though I haven't met them, who have irrationally
concluded that there are no gods, hence the "usually.") An "agnostic" is one
who has reached no conclusion about the existence of gods, or who has
concluded that the question cannot be answered to any reasonable standard of
evidence (i.e., it is unknowable).

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Benjamin Barrett
Sent: Monday, November 23, 2009 2:45 PM
Subject: Re: amonokerism

The ambiguities on words such as atheism and agnosticism is one of the
reasons I coined this term (with help from Bob Seidensticker on the

As Bob explained it to me, the term atheist has a wide range of meanings,
including the belief that there is no god and the belief that a god probably
doesn't exist. To him, an atheist at its most basic is a person who has no
god belief. He told me that a person who believes with absolute certainty in
no deities is a strong atheist, and one who is less certain is a weak

I personally do not believe that gods exist, but it's not the case that I
believe (with absolute certainty) that gods don't exist. He told me that
(weak) atheist, agnostic, humanist and naturalist all work for that.

I've considered myself agnostic for almost thirty years, but have come to
dislike it because it sounds equivocatory, it focuses my beliefs on gods,
and because I am fairly certain that gods don't exist.

I coined the term amonokerism to get away from the image of an atheism who
believes strongly that gods don't exist as well as away from theocentric
terms and the other terms with their various associations.

In sum, it's intended to encapsulate the belief that gods can certainly
exist, and that the person is willing to believe in them given proof, but
that their likelihood is not great.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

On Nov 23, 2009, at 2:25 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: amonokerism
> Is "amonokerism" atheistic or agnostic?  My mother told me that
> "amoral" meant "unrelated to morality", whereas "immoral" meant "not
> moral".  Would the definition work -- is it what was intended? -- if
> one simply replaces "atheism" in it with "agnosticism"?
> Joel
> At 11/23/2009 01:31 AM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>> FWIW, Urban Dictionary accepted my proposed meaning for my proposed
>> word amonokerism.
>> -----
>> The belief that unicorns do not exist. More generally, a form of
>> atheism that considers the proof that a deity exists to be no more
>> convincing than the proof that a unicorn exists.
>> <From Greek a = not, monokeros = unicorn (mono = one, keros = horn),
>> ism = belief>
>> Since I cannot deny with absolute certainty that there are no gods,
>> I decided to go with amonokerism to explain my beliefs.
>> -----
>> Amonokerist to follow.
>> Benjamin Barrett
>> Seattle, WA
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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