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Agnosticism
Founder: Unknown

Overview:
Agnosticism is a belief that we cannot prove either the existence or the non-existence of deity. Many Agnostics believe that we cannot know anything about a deity at the present time, but that this could conceivably change in the future.

There is a general consensus that:

  • A person who believes in a specific God, Goddess or combination of deities is a Theist.

  • A person who actively denies the existence of any and all deities is an Atheist.

  • A person who feels that we have no method by which we can conclude whether a deity exists is an Agnostic.

Agnosticism is a belief related to the existence or non-existence of God. An Agnostic is a person who feels that God's existence can neither be proved nor disproved, on the basis of current evidence. Agnostics note that theologians and philosophers have tried to to prove, for thousands of years that either God exists or that God does not exist. It is ironic that agnostics place their faith in a belief which they cannot prove, which is the basis for faith or religion.

Are they Theists? No, because Agnostics do not believe in a God.

However, some Agnostics consider themselves to be Atheists. That is because the term "Atheist" has two meanings:

  1. A person who positively believes that no God exists. 

  2. A person who has no belief in a God. Just as a newborn has no concept of a deity, some adults also have no such belief. The term "Atheist" is derived from the Greek words "a" which means "without" and "Theos" which means "God." A person can be a non-theist by simply lacking a belief in God without actively denying God's existence.

Some Agnostics feel that their beliefs match the second definition, and thus consider themselves to be both Atheist and an Agnostic.

An Agnostic usually holds the question of the existence of God open, pending the arrival of more evidence. They are willing to change their belief if some solid evidence or logical proof is found in the future. However, some have taken the position that there is no logical way in which the existence or the non-existence of a deity can be proven.

Bertrand Russell was a well known British philosopher of the 20th century. He was arrested during World War I for anti-war activities, and filled out a form at the jail. The officer, noting that Russell had defined his religious affiliation as "Agnostic" commented: "Ah yes; we all worship Him in our own way, don't we."  This comment allegedly "kept him smiling through his first few days of incarceration."

 

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