This question was posed on a friend’s page on Facebook this morning. My response to the question, “Is agnosticism ‘atheism lite’?” is this:
Most atheists also claim to be agnostic meaning they don’t know if there is a god or not. No one knows for certain if there is a god or not, including the most devout Christian (or any religious group) despite how much they will lie and claim that they know their god is real.
Everyone, atheist or theist, is agnostic. The thing is, though, the atheist goes one step further and takes the definitive stance that, based on the lack of evidence and the improbability of the existence of any deities, we do not believe in any of the thousands of deities that mankind has worshipped over the course of time. The problem is some people, of both atheist and theist persuasion, have falsely defined atheism as “Knowing there are no gods that exist.”
So, when someone claims to be just an agnostic, they are basically sitting on the fence and refusing to really take a position on whether they believe in a deity or not. Saying you are agnostic really means nothing. When someone tells me they are an agnostic, the follow-up question should always be, “But do you believe any gods exist?” If no, then you are an agnostic atheist. If yes, then you are an agnostic theist.
What I think a lot of self-described agnostics are trying to do is take a position where they feel superior to both groups. I’ve seen it a lot. Agnostics who show up on an internet site talking about, “I’m an agnostic but I think hardcore atheists are just as bad as hardcore Christians.” or some variation thereof.
So, to answer the original question, no, agnosticism is not “atheism lite.”