Atheism and Postmodernism - June 2009 essay plan


Atheism and Postmodernism

07: Explain each of the following terms: Positive atheism, negative atheism, agnosticism. (30 marks)


The term atheism derives from two Greek words: 'a' meaning 'without' and 'theos' meaning God. Atheism therefore describes a person being without belief in God. Agnostisim, also has a lack of belief, however, does not actively deny Gods existence, so could be interpreted differently.

Positive atheism: Like negative atheism there is an absence of God however, positive atheism goes one step further. It is the firm denial of religion, the person has thought about the possibility of religion and has consciously denied it. For example,  Prof Brian Cox has suggested that religion is a 'fairy story' which shows positive atheism as he has consciously made the decision to reject religion.We can assume God does not exist.

Gavin Nyman 'Definitive metaphysical claim about the non-existence of God'

Negative atheism:  Absence of God: does not actively deny God. An example of this would by a baby who has not had time to make a conscious decision about the existence of God. We cannot assume anything, so we must assume he does not exist.

Agnosticism: From the Latin 'without knowledge.' Like Negative atheism there is an absence of belief, however, unlike Negative atheism it does not deny the existence


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