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What is Agnostic and Agnosticism

Updated on July 19, 2014

According to many standard dictionaries, literally Agnostic means a person who believes that the proof of existence of God is not possible. It has a number of interesting implications which broadly categorized agnostics between weak and strong agnostics.

Who coined the term agnostic- Thomas Henry Huxley, an English biologist? Coined the word agnostic in 1960.

Origin the word agnostic-it derived from Greek word agnostos which mean unknown.

”A” means “without” and “gnosis” means “knowledge.” Hence, agnostic means without knowledge, more specifically without the knowledge of gods. It may be technically correct, but rare, to use the word in reference to any other word that means knowledge; for example: “I am agnostic about whether O.J. Simpson actually killed his ex-wife.”

Agnosticism can be defined in the following ways:

  • Agnosticism is a doctrinaire which neither denies nor supports that existence of a deity or unseen power or god etc. To put it another way,the agnostics believe that no one can prove or disprove the existence of something (God) supernatural or the other dimensional beings responsible for the creation of this world.
  • Agnostics think that it is beyond human capacity to proof the existence of God and whatever evidence we have of creation are not sufficient to draw any conclusion about the existence of God.
  • It also can be expressed-- the one who hold the ultimate power of this universe is unknowable and beyond our knowledge.
  • God can not reveal himself to human, because he is infinite and humans are finite. Since he does not want to come or make himself known to the world known to humans, he remains someone unknown to human in terms of materialistic evidence.

Strong agnosticism vs. weak agnosticism

Agnosticism can be sub-divided into several categories like-pragmatic agnosticism, agnostic atheism, agnostic theism etc. but the two most important categories are-strong and weak agnosticism.

Strong agnostics claim that there is no one on Earth who can prove the existence of God. On the other hand, the weak agnostics claim that they don’t know if god exists. They don’t claim that it is not possible for others to find the existence of god, they only hold to their idea that they themselves are not sure about god’s existence. The main difference here is that the weak agnostics just speck their own state of mind about the existence, but strong agnostics make a strong statement about the existence of god by implicating to everyone’s believe system. One problem with the supporters of strong agnostics is that by calming the position that it is impossible to learn the existence of god, they made it clear that they actually know something about god, isn’t it. How a person cab be absolutely sure that it is impossible to know about god? it is possible only when one have a certain level of understanding of the existence of god.

Who are agnostics?

Anyone whose believe system falls into any of the mentioned categories of agnosticism is an agnostic-sound so simple. Actually, if your logic tells you that material evidence of proving the presence of god is not enough-instantly you become an agnostic regardless of the fact which religion you follow. Thus at a time you can be both theistic and agnostic, because your believe does not require any evidence or proof of god, you simply believe in Him. But, if your perception of the reality makes an impression in your mind that there is no material evidence to either prove or disprove god’s existence –you’re an agnostic.Can you figure out how many times of your life you became both theistic and agnostic?

How people become agnostic?

Most of the world population are born and brought up in religious families and environment, and until they reach certain ages, willingly or unwillingly, hold on to that faith. When a person develop free thinking power, a certain level of agnostic thoughts struck them, perhaps by watching many untoward incidents that are happening around the world. You must have heard about Zac Efron-the famous young actor of “High School Musical” movie series, he was brought-up as an agnostic.So, sometimes people become agnostics not because of the way they want to develop their idea of creation, but it is mainly because of their surrounding environment is agnostic.

Agnostic and theistic relationship.

Apparently it seems that antagonistic and theistic are completely two different paths of believe systems. Theistic people claim about the clear indication of the existence of God, where as according to strong agnosticism supporters it is impossible to know about god, but they never deny the existence of god, nor do they acknowledge. Can you find a subtle similarities between the two.

Agnostic vs. Atheist

Sometimes agnostics are misunderstood by many as atheists. Agnostics does not believe in anything, actually they are neither against nor for to theistic and aesthetics. Aesthetics people have already decided of non-existence of god, and to agnostics that mind set is just one of the two possibilities: non-existence of god cannot be proved. Agnosticism is not about if a person believed in god or not, it is all about one’s personal perception being not sure about the existence of super natural power.

Are Agnostics more Liberal than Believers and Atheists?

Since both theistic and atheists people take two extreme opposite side of faith about the presence of god, the believers of both parties are already partisan in terms of their faith. The judgment power of an agnostic tells him that his mind is powerless to know about the existence of someone having supreme power of this universe. There reason behind their logic is our existing evidence of the presence of god, primarily based on religious books, does not give any materialistic evidence for his presence. Think about an imaginary situation where god himself show up to both agnostics and atheistic. Now, the question is who will believe that he is god. Of course if he shows some miracles, there is a possibility agnostics might believe-because they were waiting for evidence. But what about atheists? Will they believe in him? God is simply out of their believe system. If you have any suggestion to these questions, please comment on it.

How Bertrand Russell viewed Agnosticism

Bertrand Russell, in a lecture in 1939, said that he could only discuss half about the nature and existence of, God, because if one arrived at a negative conclusion about god’s existence then discussing the nature of god is irrelevant and he was negative on the matter of god. He always insisted his audience to approach the matter of god’s existence with a free mind and fearless attitudes. He had an interesting view on non-anthropomorphic God and he did not disprove about the existence of that sort of god. His most strong agnostic statement came in 1947 when he claimed that as a philosopher in front of a philosophic audience he must describe himself as an agnostic, because of the lack of conclusion evidence to prove that there is no god. In 1953, in a easy, Russell said that he would be convinced about the existence of super human intelligence if someone could come from the sky and told him what would happen in the next 24 hours of his life. Unfortunately, during Russell’s life time no one came from sky to tell about super human intelligence!

Penguins are neither agnostic nor atheistic, and I suspect even not theistic, yet know better how to live in peace..
Penguins are neither agnostic nor atheistic, and I suspect even not theistic, yet know better how to live in peace..
define agnostic
define agnostic

Notable People who Declared themselves Agnostics.

* Michelle Bachelet

* Antonio Banderas

* Nick Becker

* Burton C. Bell

*Charles Darwin

* Monica Bellucci

* Sir Harrison Birtwistle

* Susie Bright

* Warren Buffett

* Gene Burns

* Kurt Busiek

* Rose Byrne

*Bill Gates

* Stephen Hawking

* David Horowitz

*John Humphrys

* Thomas Huxley

* Larry King

*Winston Churchill

* Uma Thurman

* Ted Turner

*Warren Buffett

*Bertrand Russell

*Carl Sagan

*Thomas Henry Huxley

* Albert Einstein

Source- & Wikipedia

Final Words

Finally, both theism and atheism talks about the belief system. Theistic belief system is based on religious books or revelations, on the other hand atheistic believe is based mostly on evolution theory. In contrasting to both atheists and theistic, agnostics do not believe in any ideology about god or his existence, rather they depend on knowledge. Thus agnosticism is a totally independent and different concept, because it is based on knowledge and perception of a person about the creation and its creator.


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    • profile image

      Unknown 5 years ago

      Unknown message

    • profile image

      toobsucker 6 years ago

      Gnosticism is not a valid term because no one KNOWS anything, there are only varying degrees of belief. Therefore the term Gnostic theist or gnostic atheist is invalid.

      Agnosticism (admittedly without knowledge) has come to mean undecided on Gods existence. Just as someone may have not made a decision on M theory or multiverse, agnostics are undecided on Gods existence

      Theists and atheists have both come to conclusion on Gods existence, agnostics have not

    • Cory Goodwin profile image

      Cory Goodwin 6 years ago

      You can't compare agnostics to atheists or theists since they deal with different things. Gnosticism deals with knowledge while theism deals with belief. You can be an agnostic Christian or an agnostic atheist. Technically speaking, everyone is agnostic since to my knowledge Christianity asks us to believe and have faith, which implies we cannot know.

    • profile image

      Spunky 6 years ago

      what does this symbol mean located near the lines

      How people become agnostic?

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 7 years ago

      @f_hruz-I agree with your presumption.Certainly, I will visit your hubs.Thank you so much :)

    • f_hruz profile image

      f_hruz 7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Religiosity maybe a tradition more wide spread among less educated people than folks with a solid background in science.

      You may enjoy reading my hubs 'Coping with Reality' and 'Analysis of Thought' ... it even has a very good video called 'Belief v Reason' included to make some important points easier to understand.

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 7 years ago

      @wrenfrost56-thanks wren, always like to have your comment :)

      @Dgerrimea-thanks a lot for the explanation and adding more valuable information to my knowledge. :)

      @sweetie1-thank you so much for your wonderful comment :)

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 7 years ago from India

      Hi very nice and unique hub. I never knew this term existed

    • Dgerrimea profile image

      Dgerrimea 7 years ago


      Richard Dawkins considers himself technically an agnostic, but for all practical purposes he is an atheist. He puts the likelihood of the existence of god(s) at the same level as unicorns, ie they may exist, but there's no reason to think they do, so it's rational to live your life as if they don't exist unless new evidence comes to light. He would be in the same category as Carl Sagan and Einstein.

      The question of whether atheism is a belief or not depends on your definition of atheism. Different people have different definitions.

      I favour the definition of atheism as "a lack of belief in god(s)". This is different from "a belief that no god(s) exist", because it's not making a claim about reality, it's merely responding to a claim made by people who believe that god(s) does exist.

      Some people define atheism as "the belief that no god(s) exist", which obviously is a belief, but either way it's nothing to do with evolution.

    • wrenfrost56 profile image

      wrenfrost56 7 years ago from U.K.

      Wonderful hub andromida, you took what I thought would be a difficult subject and handled it with great detail and ease. Very well done, I liked that you added a list of 'noteable people who declare themselves agnostic' a few surprises there! :)

    • andromida profile image

      syras mamun 7 years ago

      @masmasika-Thank you. I checked out your blog-it's great :)

      @dgerrimea-thanks for your feedback,I've made the correction.If atheism does not take evolution theory as a base then where is the base of atheists- doesn't it make atheism a kind of belief only. I need your help, can you please confirm me if Dawkins is atheist or agnostic or both.Thank you so much for taking your time.

    • Dgerrimea profile image

      Dgerrimea 7 years ago

      Good hub. There's a few minor things I would change though:

      The star of High School Musical was named Zac, not Jak.

      Atheism by some definitions isn't a belief system at all, and isn't based on evolutionary theory either way anyway.

      You could add Richard Dawkins to your list of notable agnostics.

      Also, I don't think penguins know how to live in peace ;)

    • profile image

      masmasika 7 years ago

      this is an interesting post. The only knowledge I have about agnostic is a person who knows no God. Thanks for sharing.


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