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2011-DEC: A communication problem caused by lack of clear, unambiguous terminology:

Origin unknown. Copied from the Religious Tolerance facebook page

Cartoon about terminology 1

Webmaster's note:

Almost four years after adding this essay to this web site, I happened to notice the teacup design on the youth's T-shirt. This is an obvious reference to Bertrand Russell's famous fictional teapot floating around the solar system. During 1958, Russell, an English philosopher, commented on whether "Atheist" or "Agnostic would be a better term for his religious beliefs about God. He wrote:

"I ought to call myself an agnostic; but, for all practical purposes, I am an atheist. I do not think the existence of the Christian God any more probable than the existence of the Gods of Olympus or Valhalla. To take another illustration: nobody can prove that there is not between the Earth and Mars a china teapot revolving [around the Sun] in an elliptical orbit, but nobody thinks this sufficiently likely to be taken into account in practice. I think the Christian God just as unlikely." 6

At first, the meaning of "WWBRD?" on his T-Shirt eluded me. One person in this office suggests: "What Would Bruce Robinson Do?" But I (Bruce Robinson) consider that almost infinitely improbable. It more likely means: ""What Would Bertrand Russell Do?"

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2012-JAN-01: Tebowing > Thinkering:

Tim Tebow is a quarterback for the Denver Broncos football team. He appears to have become better known for "Tebowing" than for throwing footballs. When Tebowing, he goes down on one knee and adopts a position of humility by tipping his head down, and praises Jesus for a victory. Many other fundamentalist or other evangelical Christians have adopted the pose.

This inspired Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, to adopt a pose called "Thinkering." It mimics the pose of Auguste Rodin's sculpture known as "The Thinker." He also gets down on one knee, but curls his fist under his chin and adopts a pensive expression as if he is trying to find a solution to a problem through the use of reasoning. He posted the photograph on 2011-DEC-28 and received 136 "likes" by JAN-01:

Thinkering pose       Giordano Bruno thinkering

Dave Silverman and Giordano Bruno "Thinkering" 

The object in the photograph that appears to be a spear stuck in Dave's back seems to be a corner molding in the wall.

He is a reasonably accurate duplicate of Rodin's sculpture, except that he has a lot more clothes on and he is looking straight ahead or upwards.

Rodin's statue

Auguste Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker"
(Image rotated about its vertical axis)

Silverman posted his photo on his facebook page on 2011-DEC-28. When criticized that his pose looked too similar to Tebowing, he replied:

"That's the point. The difference is we don't bow our heads in blind submission. Rather we consider, and conclude for ourselves." 2

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2014-AUG-24: The world loses a famous Atheist but gains a famous Agnostic -- again:

Suzannah Hills, writing for the Daily Mail, announced with great flair that Professor Richard Dawkins is not actually an Atheist; rather he is an Agnostic. She wrote about a debate between Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams:

"Professor Richard Dawkins today dismissed his hard-earned reputation as a militant atheist - admitting that he is actually agnostic as he can't prove God doesn't exist.

The country's foremost champion of the Darwinist evolution, who wrote The God Delusion, 3 stunned audience members when he made the confession during a lively debate on the origins of the universe with the Archbishop of Canterbury. ..."

"He said: 'On a scale of seven, where one means I know he exists, and seven I know he doesn't, I call myself a six.'

Professor Dawkins went on to say he believed he was a '6.9', stating: 'That doesn't mean I'm absolutely confident, that I absolutely know, because I don't'." 4

Ms. Hills apparently did not do her homework. Dawkins and Williams had an almost identical debate in 2012-FEB with the same outcome. In Chapter 2 of his book "The God Delusion" Dawkins had introduced his famous seven point scale about the certainty that God does not exist. a "1" rating is for theists who are certain that God exists; a "7" rating is for strong Atheists who are certain that God does not exist. In the book, he wrote:

"I count myself in category 6, but leaning towards 7. I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden."

Dawkins has used the term "agnostic atheist" to describe his precise position. During 2012, Paula Kirby wrote in Faith Street:

"An agnostic atheist recognizes that it is impossible to prove the non-existence of deities (agnostic), while also finding arguments for their existence utterly unconvincing (atheist). Likewise, if you are a Christian who finds arguments for God convincing but recognizes that his existence is impossible to prove and that it is at least possible you could be mistaken, then you are an agnostic theist." 5

Perhaps, instead of using titles like Theist, Agnostic and Atheist to define one's position, a better way would be to use Dawkins' rating system from 1 to 7.

Full disclosure by the webmaster: I am also at 6.9 on Dawkins' scale. As a child, I was taught that God existed, and was a 1. But personal comparative religion studies as a teenager got me to thinking. I had prayed to God nightly asking that my life be a little easier. But no help ever came. I began to doubt God's existence, and this has been my position for almost 7 decades. If God were to exist, then it is reasonable to me that he/she/they would have evolved from a less intelligent and powerful form of life. I see no evidence that this has actually happened.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Staks Rosch, "Thinkering: The atheist answer to Tebowing," 2011-DEC-30,, at:
  2. Giordano Bruno, "Thinkering at the liquor store," Facebook, 2011-DEC-31, at:
  3. book cover image Richard Dawkins, "The God Delusion," Mariner Books; Reprint edition (2008). Available in paperback, hardcover, Kindle, and Audible book. Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  4. Suzannah Hills, "I can't be sure God DOES NOT exist': World's most notorious atheist Richard Dawkins admits he is in fact agnostic," Daily Mail, 2014-AUG-24, at:
  5. Paula Kirby, "Why Richard Dawkins is still an atheist," Faith Street, 2012-FEB-29, at:
  6. Dale McGowan, "Voices of Unbelief: Documents from Atheists and Agnostics," Greenwood, 2012, Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store. Portions of this book are available online on Google Books at:

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Original posting: 2012-JAN-01
Latest update: 2018-SEP-24
Author: B.A. Robinson
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