ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Agnosticism Is Not Atheism

Updated on July 11, 2014

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.

Source

Atheists' Beliefs

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.

Source

Agnostics' Beliefs

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

Deists' Beliefs

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.

© 2012 Evylyn Rose

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • bborrello profile image

      bborrello 5 years ago from Oregon, USA

      Thanks for this clarification. I am always interested in what people believe, likely because my own beliefs are very eclectic.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
      Author

      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Thanks for the comment, bborrello. Glad I could help. :)

    • Robert Pummer profile image

      Robert Pummer 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      In order for a belief to stand it must be provided feet by the believer whereas fact stands on its own feet and does not require artificial support.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
      Author

      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Robert, such a wonderful way to illustrate the difference between belief and known fact! Much of what was once mere belief has become supported by facts with the advances in technology and science. Of course, not all beliefs will always be supported. For example, the beliefs that the world was flat or the earth the center of the universe were later disproved. They were accepted as fact only until technology and science could contradict them.

      This is why belief is a matter of choice. Which beliefs we choose to follow are based upon observations, personal experience, and current knowledge. When the beliefs are later contradicted by confirmed facts, the individual will either deny the fact to avoid change (and subsequently growth), or they will successfully adapt and grow with the new knowledge. The three viewpoints described here (especially agnosticism) are especially beneficial for handling such changes.

      Thank you for the thought-provoking comment. :)

    • Robert Pummer profile image

      Robert Pummer 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      If a person realizes they are using a belief to stuff a pigeon hole for which they have no facts in support thereof that is one thing. But if a person accepts an unsupported belief as fact then imposes that belief upon others that is another.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
      Author

      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      Robert, I agree entirely. There is no harm in sharing beliefs with others, but when "sharing" turns into an unnecessary and uncalled for "battle" of who is right and wrong injustice, hatred, bigotry, and negativity breeds and spreads like wildfire. When it comes to matters of beliefs (whether spiritual or value-based), we have to recognize the nature of those beliefs and understand that there is no right and wrong, merely human perceptions of it. As new facts are revealed, some beliefs will either be supported or become outdated. The "right or wrong" mentality that leads to imposing beliefs on others serves no purpose other than to bring down humanity. Thanks again for sharing. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      What a wonderfully enlightening hub. One I feel so many would benefit reading. I could just HUG you. Thank you so much for clarifying these concepts...I needed a refresher myself. :) Voted up and shared.

    • Robert Pummer profile image

      Robert Pummer 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Evylyn Rose, unfortunately, even when beliefs are outdated they persist. Mankind has not learned all that much ...

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
      Author

      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      cclitgirl, Thanks for the comment, vote, and share! I'm glad I could help. ;)

      Robert, Mankind as a whole hasn't learned that much. However, as more and more individuals "wake up" and begin to think for themselves (or, at least, add their own thoughts to what they are taught) we find that mankind is learning more and more on the individual level. Let's hope this trend begins to outweigh the persistence of outdated beliefs!

    • billgaede profile image

      billgaede 5 years ago

      Sorry Ev, but you make the same mistake that theists, atheists and agnostics make. There is NO difference whatsoever between a theist/deist, an atheist, and an agnostic. All of them are divorced from the Scientific Method. In Science, we neither believe in nor attempt to prove existence! Period!

      .

      https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Why-God-D...

      .

      https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Why-God-D...

      .

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
      Author

      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      billgaede, Thanks for the information! This hub did not cover these topics from the Scientific Method approach but from an approach of lifestyles and views in terms of deity. It's interesting the Scientific Method approach would consider so many obviously different views as one and the same. Thanks for sharing an additional perspective. :)

    • billgaede profile image

      billgaede 5 years ago

      "This hub did not cover these topics from the Scientific Method approach"

      .

      There is no other approach. What other approach are you talking about when you mention the word 'proof'? I thought 'proof' was supposed to be 'scientific'?

      .

      .

      "an approach of lifestyles"

      .

      What does 'lifestyles' have to do with proof?

      .

    • Robert Pummer profile image

      Robert Pummer 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      billgaede

      Quite obvious your lips miss the derriere. Interesting comment.

    • Evylyn Rose profile image
      Author

      Evylyn Rose 5 years ago from Colorado, USA

      billgaede, this hub is not discussing "proof" but lifestyle perspectives in terms of faith and beliefs (or as some pointed out, lack of faith and beliefs). You have "proved" my point with your comment. ;)

    • fatfist profile image

      fatfist 5 years ago

      Boy, the nerve of that Bill Gaede character. If somebody's lifestyle dictated that God exists, then certainly God exists for them. Nobody can argue otherwise. Conversely, if God does not exist from someone else's perspective, then good for them.

      Lifestyle beliefs should be able to state if something exists or doesn't exist. If I believe that Elvis exists, then nobody can claim he doesn't. After all, you can't prove a negative, so they say.

    Click to Rate This Article