What is the real difference between an atheist and an agnostic?

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  1. Darrell Roberts profile image73
    Darrell Robertsposted 9 years ago

    What is the real difference between an atheist and an agnostic?

    Atheist deny the existence of God but they do not know for a fact that God does not exist. Agnostic are defined as not knowing if God exist. I do not see any real difference, can some one please explain.  I think that a person believes but they do not know for a fact that God exists,or a person disbelieves and they do not know for a fact that God exists.

  2. Steve Orion profile image60
    Steve Orionposted 9 years ago

    Without splitting hairs (if it's even possible to prevent), the difference is that atheists say, explicitly, that God does not exist, while agnostics don't say he does or doesn't. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in one of his books, sets up a "spectrum of theistic probability." I'd advise a Google search for more info, it certainly is persuading!

  3. profile image0
    Poetic Foolposted 9 years ago

    Your definitions are quite correct.  Simply put, an atheist does not believe that God exists.  An agnostic believes that God exists but that he is unknowable. 

    a·the·ist     [ey-thee-ist]

    a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

    ag·nos·tic   [ag-nos-tik]

    a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.

  4. junkseller profile image81
    junksellerposted 9 years ago

    There doesn't seem to be universally accepted or clear boundary between the two.

    My interpretation is that they address different things: belief and knowledge. Atheism addresses the belief spectrum. An Atheist doesn't believe, a theist does. Agnosticism addresses the knowledge spectrum. An Agnostic thinks we can not know, a Gnostic thinks we can.

    From there you could combine them. An Agnostic Atheist would say I don't believe in God but there really is no way of knowing either way. An Agnostic Theist would say I do believe in God but there still is no way of having personal knowledge of them.


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