Benct Philip Jonsson wrote:
> The problem in discussing (a)theism and agnosticism is
> that one first needs an agreed-upon definition of
> [g|G]od(s). It is not so simple that theism means
> "belief in the existence of beings with powers superior
> to Man". 

Exactly - it is, of course, quite possible to believe in the 
existence of powers superior to Man (science fiction often 
does it) without a belief in an omnipresent transcendent 
deity - the ancient Romans & Greeks managed to do this for 
centuries ;)

Indeed, the definition of [g|G]od(s) and/or [d|D]eity/ies 
ain't so simple at all.

[stuff I agree with snipped]

> values. Clearly there are and have at least since the
> pagans of Antiquity those who define (a)theism as
> "(not) sharing my religious values", as well as those
> who define it as "(not) believing in (a) certain
> concept(s) of [g|G]od(s)", "(not) believing in the
> (possibility and/or actuality of) [g|G]od(s).

Personally, I think it's misleading to equate the ancient 
Greek adjective _atheos_ with our modern English word 
'atheist' - sure, the latter is derived from the ancient 
word, but then our 'electron' is derived from the ancient 
_electron_ = "amber"  :)

The prefix a(n)- corresponding most closely in meaning with 
the English suffix -less. _atheos_ meant "godless" either in 
the sense of being abandoned by the gods (godforsaken) or of 
neglecting the gods (or both, of course). It did not 
necessarily imply anything about a person's actual belief.

When the term "atheist" was coined in English, I don't know. 
Clearly it was bringing the ancient adjective back to life 
and giving it the suffix -ist (also of Greek origin, but one 
the word did not have in ancient times) with a rather 
different meaning.

> The term agnosticism has an analogous range of
> definition problems and varieties, 

Yep - it does indeed.

BTW it derives from the ancient Greek adjective _agno:stos_ 
= "unknowable."     ;)

Nid rhy hen neb i ddysgu.
There's none too old to learn.