Atheist and agnostic

An atheist is an individual who does not believe in the existence of gods or supernatural beings. An agnostic is an individual who has no knowledge of the existence of gods or supernatural beings.

In both descriptions, the key concepts are belief and knowledge , which are not mutually exclusive: an atheist may or may not be an agnostic, and an agnostic may or may not be an atheist.

Key conceptBeliefKnowledge
Existence of God or other supernatural beings.He does not believe.Does not know.
EtymologyDel griego “atheos”:

without God.

From the Greek “gnõsto”: to know, and “a-“: without:

without knowledge.

Argument.An atheist does not believe in the existence of gods.An agnostic does not believe that there are reliable demonstrations of the existence or absence of gods.
The term was used for the first time.Letter to Ephesians 2:12 by Paul.Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)

What is an atheist?

The atheist or atheist is the individual who follows atheism: the conviction that there are no gods. They reject the idea of ​​gods and supernatural beings since these do not pass the test of truthfulness.

The word comes from the Greek a -, which means “no” or “without” and theos which means “god”.

According to atheists, the existence of gods is based on absurd and irrational arguments that do not pass the guidelines of the scientific method. The idea of ​​the gods was created in principle by primitive human beings, where the gods are nothing more than nature seen in anthropomorphic terms.

Many religious see atheists as people who have a different belief, as if they were followers of another religion. In reality, atheism is not a religion but a statement of disbelief in any kind of supernatural force, be it gods, goblins, fairies, or angels.

“Atheism believes that questions from the natural world can be answered by starting with the proposition that there is no God. Instead, the atheist reviews the evidence before making a claim.”

SC Hitchcock in Disbelief 101 .

Classifications of atheists

  • Dogmatic atheist : there is no God.
  • Skeptical atheist : the mind is unable to discover whether or not there is a god.
  • Critical atheist : the evidence for belief in gods is inadequate.
  • Philosophical atheist : he does not find any evidence of the existence of a god in the Universe.
  • Speculative atheist : it is impossible to prove the existence of a god.

Brief historical reviews of atheists

The first atheists were the materialistic Greeks in the 5th century BC. Archimedes (287-212 BC) was the first to point out that physics governed the universe and not the gods.

The Renaissance (1400-1600) was the time when Humanism emerged with a greater focus on human potential rather than following religious guidelines.

“An atheist is a man who destroys dreams and chimerical beings that are a danger to the human race, in such a way that men can return to nature, experience and reason.”

Paul Henri Thiry, Barón de Holbach (1723-1789).

It was in the Enlightenment (18th-19th century) that atheism began to have a firmer base. In 1859, Charles Darwin (1809-1882) published his book The Origin of Species, welcomed by atheists for giving a rational explanation for the existence of life.

The suffragette movement in the United States featured many atheist women, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898).

What is an agnostic?

An agnostic is an individual who follows agnosticism, or the assumption that the existence or not of deities cannot be proven or there is not enough evidence to confirm one or another position. Agnostics can be atheists or believers.

The term “agnosticism” was used for the first time by the English biologist Thomas H. Huxley in 1869, a follower of the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin. In Spanish, Marcelino Menéndez Pelayo (1856-1912) uses the term “agnostic” in his Essays for philosophical criticism (1892).

Although the term “agnostic” could be used in any area of ​​knowledge (I am an agnostic of black holes), in practice it is predominantly used in reference to the existence of gods.

Agnostic classifications

  • Indifferent agnostic : it is the person who does not mind accepting that he does not know and does not care about it. The phrase that best describes this type of agnostic is: “I don’t know and I don’t care at all.”
  • Dissatisfied agnostic : it is the person who does not know but recognizes that he must seek information and learn about an issue. The phrase that best describes this type of agnostic is: “I don’t know but I am willing to investigate.”
  • Dogmatic agnostic : it is the person who claims that no one can know anything about God or the supernatural world. The phrase that best describes this type of agnostic is: “I don’t know, you don’t know and nobody can know.”

Atheist agnostic and believer agnostic

Agnosticism is based on knowledge about the existence of God. Thus, an atheist agnostic can say that he does not know if there is a god and therefore does not believe, while a believing agnostic can say that he does not know if there is a god but believes that at least one god can exist.

That is to say, the agnostic may or may not be religious, depending on whether he believes in gods or not.

Brief reviews from agnostics

“In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a god.- I think that in general (and more as I get older) but not always, that agnostic would be the most correct description of my mental state “.

Letter from Charles Darwin to John Fordyce, May 7, 1879.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist and science popularizer, listed as one of the hundred most influential celebrities in the world. Below you can watch the video where he explains his vision about his knowledge of God.

Atheist-agnostic relationship chart

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