Bart Ehrman describes himself as an agnostic. But given the fact that he appears not to believe in God, and given the fluidity with which these terms are being used these days, it has never been clear to me what Ehrman believes about the existence of God. I was pleased, then, to hear Justin Brierly ask Bart to clarify his position on the August 26th edition of the Unbelievable radio program.
Brierly asked Ehrman if he was open to the evidence for God’s existence since he stylizes himself as an agnostic, and that usually means one is undecided on the question of God’s existence. Bart answered (beginning at 43:42), “I don’t believe that the God of the Bible exists, or the God of traditional Christian teaching exists. So I don’t believe there is a God who created this world, who created us, who redeems us, who’s active in this world. So I don’t believe in that kind of God. But if someone were to ask me, ‘Do you think that there is some kind of higher power in the universe?,’ my response is ‘I don’t know.’ And I don’t think anybody else knows either. It may be that I’m just holding onto a very small sense of humility in the face of the universe. I don’t know. But I don’t believe in the Christian God anymore.”
So there you have it. Bart definitely believes there is no personal God. What he allows the possibility for is some sort of vague “higher power,” whatever that means. But on that point, Ehrman is a hard agnostic, claiming no one can know whether such a power exists. At the end of the day, we might term Bart an agnostic atheist. He does not believe in a God, nor does he believe we can know whether such a being exists. But for all intents and purposes, Bart is definitely a practical atheist.