Agnostic and atheist

Even people who are not religious or who do not follow a traditional faith like to put labels on themselves. Naturally the human seeks to categorize himself, such as: “I’m vegan,” “I’m Hispanic,” “I’m a runner / cyclist / swimmer / model.” People label themselves for everything, necessary or not. At present, two labels that people use interchangeably to describe what they believe, or rather what they don’t believe, are atheism and agnosticism . However, using them interchangeably is wrong. If you don’t follow traditional religion, or if you have a hard time identifying what you believe, consider the true meaning of each of these terms to decide if one, or both, is right for you.

Agnostic
Atheist
DefinitionAn agnostic person does not pretend to know whether or not there is a god, because he affirms that humans do not have the resources, the intellect or the capacities to know something beyond the physical realm and within the metaphysical one.Some atheists may actively believe that there is no God, while others argue that it is simply a lack of faith in him. The common denominator is that they do not believe in the existence of any god
TypesAgnostic atheism, agnostic theism, apathetic or pragmatic agnosticism.Agnostic atheism, gnostic atheism, atheism, implicit atheism, explicit atheism.
Belief in godThere is no proof that there is a God.Any.
Important peopleThomas Jefferson, Carl Sagan, Piers Anthony, Susan B Anthony.Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Dan Dennett.
EtymologyThe word agnostic comes from the ancient Greek ἀ- (a-, “no”) + γιγνώσκω (gignōskō, “I know”).On the other hand, the word atheist comes from the ancient Greek “atheos”, which means: “without a god, there are no gods.” a- “without” + theos “a god.”

What is atheism

To begin with, atheism is not necessarily a belief system; some claim that their “followers” actively believe that there is no god , while others argue that it is simply a lack of faith in a god . In fact, etymologically speaking, the word means “no god.” People within the field of atheism live with different levels of certainty. Some will deny, with conviction, that any god exists and will provide evidence to back up their claim. Others will say that they do not believe a god exists, but will not claim to have any evidence for their claim. Regardless of where a person falls in this field, the common denominator is that they do not believe in the existence of any god.

What is agnosticism

Agnosticism is not a belief system but a theory of knowledge . “Agnostic” means “no knowledge.” An agnostic person does not pretend to know whether or not there is a god, because he affirms that humans do not have the resources, the intellect or the capacities to know something beyond the physical realm and within the metaphysical one . Therefore, agnostics also do not pretend to understand the existence of angels, spirits, demons, gods, etc. A person who leans more toward agnosticism may further declare himself an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist.

Theistic Agnostic vs Atheist Agnostic

Agnostic theism refers to the belief that there must be some god or higher being , but they do not claim to have “proof” that this is so. Agnostic atheism refers to the belief that there is no God / Gods . However, like his theistic counterpart, an agnostic atheist does not claim to have evidence to support this claim.

Essentially, agnostics, regardless of their stance on gods and higher powers, do not claim to know what is true and what is not . Agnostics base their claims on logic and proven knowledge. They tend not to tell others that they are right or wrong about their beliefs because they are convinced that no one (including themselves) can know for sure .

The term agnosticism became popular when some people finally realized that individuals don’t have to claim to have all the answers. It is not, despite popular belief, a term used to describe someone who has found some alternative between theism and atheism, or between the presence and the absence of belief.

Atheism and agnosticism are not mutually exclusive

Many people think that they must be atheists or agnostics if they do not believe or claim to know, but that they cannot be both. This assumption implies that knowledge and belief are mutually exclusive, which they are not. In fact, they are very compatible. Many people who depend on science and education often choose not to believe due to lack of knowledge. At the other end of the spectrum are people who need to believe because they don’t know, and not knowing is scary. A person can be an atheist, an agnostic atheist, or even an agnostic theist.

If you firmly believe that a god or gods do not exist, you are an atheist. However, if you don’t know what to think because you don’t have enough “evidence,” you are probably an agnostic. Whatever label you assign yourself, don’t let it limit your spiritual exploration or search for answers.

Differences between an atheist and an agnostic

To clarify the definitions of atheist and agnostic, note that they are both prefixed with ‘a-‘. This prefix “a-” means “no” or “without,” as in the words atypical, amoral, and asymptomatic. So the words atheist and agnostic come from the words theist and gnostic.

  • Theistic: From the Greek theos, meaning “god,” theism in its most basic form is the belief in the existence of a god. These days, theism is most commonly associated with monotheism, the belief in a single and lonely God.
  • Atheists , therefore, simply do not believe in the existence of God.
  • Gnostic: From the Greek gnosis, which means “knowledge”, they believe in the redemptive power of knowledge. Gnosticism can be found in many corners of the religious world and is older than Christianity, but what all Gnostics have in common is the belief that the only way to achieve salvation is to discover the esoteric secrets of the universe through the study and through various religious rites.
  • Agnostics believe that such ultimate knowledge can never be known, or at least not known with certainty. Generally, an agnostic is someone who believes that we can never really know whether or not God exists. These can be theistic or atheistic, depending on what they believe (versus what they know).

At first glance, there seems to be a fine line between saying “I don’t see any evidence that God exists” and “I don’t believe God exists . ” But the truth is that you can be an agnostic and an atheist, just as you can be an agnostic and a believing Christian (or Buddhist or Muslim). That’s because agnosticism, like its core, is separate and unrelated to matters of faith.

A related philosophy is deism . Derived from the Latin word for “god,” deus, deism is the belief in the existence of God on purely rational grounds, unlike theism , in which God is known by revelation. Especially during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, deists believed that God created the universe, established its natural laws, and set it in motion, but then no longer participated in its function. For that reason, some have compared deism to a kind of atheism.

If you firmly believe that a god or gods do not exist, you are an atheist. However, if you don’t know what to think because you don’t have enough “evidence,” you are probably an agnostic. Whatever label you assign yourself, don’t let it limit your spiritual exploration or search for answers.

We hope you have been able to understand the differences between the terms atheist and agnostic . If you have any concerns you may have, write us a comment below, we are here to help you. In turn, we strongly ask you to share our article on your favorite social networks so that we can continue to grow and provide all kinds of information.

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