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Jeruba's avatar

What do you suppose a "nonpracticing agnostic" does (or doesn't) believe or do?

Asked by Jeruba (55858points) May 5th, 2012
20 responses
“Great Question” (5points)

We were going around the room and each saying a few words to introduce ourselves to the group. The setting was a daylong workshop, and it was based in a spiritual program, so there was some relevance in speaking about one’s spiritual position.

A young man whom I didn’t know, and had no chance to speak to afterward, included these words in his self-introduction: “I’m a nonpracticing agnostic.”

To me that was a mind-boggling statement, and so remarkable that I fished in my pocket, found a pen and a slip of paper, and wrote it down. I copied it into a text file, just those two words, and it has sat on my desktop for nearly eight years now. Every once in a while I open it and ponder it.

Far be it from me to start one of those pointless arguments over matters of faith here. All I want to know is—what do you think the characteristics of a nonpracticing agnostic would be? How do you be one?

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rebbel's avatar

He has (for the time being) given up on pondering whether there is, or there is not a God?

Sunny2's avatar

Perhaps he was being ironic. I don’t believe there are practices for agnostics, since there is not an organized group for them. They may have personal rituals. . .or not. I guess they would be welcome at Unitarian or Bahai meetings and don’t choose to participate.
I think he was saying religion is not an important issue for him. You don’t do anything; you just are and you believe what you believe or don’t, or aren’t sure. Wow. That’s clear as mud.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

To me, a non-practicing agnostic is someone who just doesn’t care about learning the different perspectives of others when it pertains to religions or atheism.

Blackberry's avatar

He’s agnostic but doesn’t care to debate, or has no passion about the notion of god. He’s essentially apathetic, or that’s what I take from it, although I agree it doesn’t make much sense to me.

CWOTUS's avatar

I think he was just playing with the words and making a joke. Apparently a pretty profound joke, based on your reaction.

Or maybe he just doesn’t / didn’t know what an agnostic was.

I think I’m going to start calling myself a mehtheist, as in, “Meh, who cares?”

DominicX's avatar

Sounds like a joke to me as well. Obviously the term “practicing” is in reference to religious practices/observances, etc. and obviously agnosticism is not a religion. Sounded like he was just trying to emphasize his apathy about it.

CWOTUS's avatar

Hey, an apatheist. I like it!

Jeruba's avatar

His delivery (and the setting) did not suggest a joke, but I suppose it’s possible.

I thought that if I could understand the notion of a practicing agnostic, I’d at least have a starting point. The inside-out thinking that it took to put those two ideas together, “agnostic” and “nonpracticing,” was what baffled me: “I’m an agnostic, but I don’t practice my belief.”

tinyfaery's avatar

I think maybe a non-practicing agnostic wouldn’t pray, go to church, or practice/celebrate religious rituals of any kind. Maybe he believes in a higher being, but it in no way affects his life.

Coloma's avatar

Non practicing agnostic? Hmmm….must mean he is waiting for Jesus to descend on a tangerine colored cloud before he commits to any spiritual practices.

He’ll practice when he’s given sufficient proof to practice. lol

ucme's avatar

He’s a pretentious tw@?

ragingloli's avatar

Someone who does not know anything and is intellectually lazy and dishonest?

bkcunningham's avatar

The answer is 42.

augustlan's avatar

I would guess it was a joke, too, but a well-used one by the time you heard it, so his delivery was flat.

What popped into my head was, he’s such a good agnostic that he doesn’t need to practice anymore.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

He probably thinks what he said sounds smugly intellectual. I think it’s just smug tosh.

CWOTUS's avatar

Great, now you’ve got this running through my head, too.

It may be that he is starting to find religion, but he hasn’t quite decided (or been able) to do that yet. So, the way a “non practicing” or “lapsed” Catholic may be starting to have doubts about his religion, maybe a non practicing agnostic is… having doubts about his doubt, or having insights and revelations that he can’t or won’t explain as “natural” and he’s thinking “supernatural”.

It is an interesting term.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t know exactly what it means, but I love it. I think that is what I am too. I can’t wait to use that description in conversation. Actually it seems to sum up my feelings, it simply isn’t worth arguing about because no ones knows for sure despite their protestations in one direction or the other.

Thanks for sharing!

ratboy's avatar

I believe that pervasive weirdness has jarred him into a state of willingly suspended disbelief.

Ron_C's avatar

A “non-practicing agnostic” is a double negative. The person is probably a believer with a poor grasp of the English language or doesn’t know the definition of an agnostic.

Here is a definition to help him out: “a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.”

lillycoyote's avatar

I think it must have been a joke. It’s the kind of thing I would say to people, with a straight face, just to mess with their heads.

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