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Agnosticism Is Not Atheism
At some point, the lines between agnosticism and atheism blurred. Even when the difference between the two is recognized, atheism is confused for something more than what it is. To make matters worse, some fail to see the difference between an agnostic and a deist. Overtime, all three terms have become misunderstood, causing unnecessary conflicts. Part of this dilemma could simply be a matter of not having any prior knowledge of the terms. Considering this, the following information explains the difference between these three terms.
In the hub Godless: Negative View of Atheism As Old As Faith, we looked at the different views of others in regard to atheism over the millenniums and the need to include atheists in interfaith relations today. In the most basic terms, an atheist is someone who does not believe in any gods or goddesses. According to their beliefs, there is no deity in any form. An atheist may have many other beliefs and it is possible that no two will share the same beliefs. However, this particular belief in regard to deity is what atheists have in common and sets them apart from those of other faiths and spiritualities. It is a valid belief supported by the same type of "evidence" as those whose belief is that deity or deities exist.
Agnosticism sits in the middle, not just of atheism and deism, but in all areas of belief. An agnostic approach is one that recognizes that a particular religious or spiritual view cannot be proved nor disproved. The explanation is that the human mind is too limited that it cannot possibly possess answers beyond that which can be proven by worldly means, such as through scientific discovery. As a result, an agnostic holds the belief that we cannot know the answer to whether or not deity in any form exists at all. This does not mean that deity does not exist, simply that the human mind does not have the capacity to answer this question either way. Like atheists, agnostics may hold many other beliefs. Some agnostics may actually identify with a specific religion. What sets the agnostic apart from other members of religions is that the agnostic recognizes that his or her religious beliefs may be right or they may be wrong. Regardless of what the answer turns out to be, they simply choose to believe and recognize that their beliefs are not the same as concrete facts
Deism is an approach to deity that is rarely given as much attention. Many of the founding fathers of the United States of America were deists. Because of the lack of understanding of what this means, some individuals misinterpret this fact to mean these men were Christian based upon their values and inclusion in particular groups with requirements often misunderstood by the public. A deist is someone who believes in God. Like atheists and agnostics, deists may have several other beliefs, but they do not limit God to a single religious view. They do, however, often agree that God does not (or only in extremely rare circumstances) intervene in the affairs of the universe that God created. Because God does not intervene, it is impossible or nearly impossible to know anything about God. This "we cannot know the answer" approach to the details about God is what often causes the confusion between agnostics and deists.
- Dictionary.com - Agnostic
Definition of the term "agnostic"
- Agnostic Religion
Agnostic Religion - Having trouble figuring out Agnosticism? This article discusses Views, Viewpoints, Reality, and God.
ReligiousTolerance.org - Agnostics: Doubting the existence of God
- Agnosticism 101: What is Agnosticism? Index of Documents and Articles
Agnosticism: what is it, what isn't it? How did Huxley originally define agnosticism? What did Spencer say the definition of agnosticism is? What is the difference between agnosticism and atheism?
Words from Agnostics
- Why I Am An Agnostic
A more detailed account from a self-proclaimed agnostic. Begins by explaining that anyone who doubts any theology is agnostic.
- What is an Agnostic?
Article explaining what agnosticism is as opposed to atheism and other view points. Covers some common questions asked of agnostics.
An Agnostic's Brief Guide to the Universe; essay pointing out flaws in both atheistic and theistic viewpoints.
© 2012 Evylyn Rose