What is agnosticism?
Who coined the term 'agnosticism'?
What did Huxley say about agnosticism?
How does William L. Rowe define agnosticism?
What does George H. Smith suggest about the definition of atheism and agnosticism?
What did Charles Darwin say about his faith?
What is ignosticism?
What does Richard Dawkins believe about agnosticism and atheism?
What is the Catholic Church's stance on agnosticism?
Agnosticism: The View That the Existence of God or the Supernatural are Unknown or Unknowable
- Agnosticism is a belief that the existence of God, the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable.
- The term was coined by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1869, but earlier philosophers like Sanjaya Belatthaputta and Protagoras had expressed agnostic views.
- Huxley presented agnosticism as a form of demarcation, stating that a hypothesis without objective, testable evidence is not an objective, scientific claim.
- Philosopher William L. Rowe defines agnosticism as the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either belief that God exists or does not exist.
- George H. Smith promotes broadening the definition of atheism and narrowing the definition of agnosticism.
- The term agnostic comes from the Greek word gnosis meaning knowledge, but Huxley used it to describe a method of skeptical, evidence-based inquiry.
- Scottish philosopher David Hume contended that meaningful statements about the universe are always qualified by some degree of doubt.
- Hinduism has a strong tradition of philosophic speculation and skepticism.
- Charles Darwin was raised in a religious environment, but he eventually doubted parts of his faith and stated that he was an agnostic.
- Robert G. Ingersoll, an orator in 19th-century America, was referred to as the "Great Agnostic."
- Demographic research services do not differentiate between various types of non-religious respondents, so agnostics are often classified in the same category as atheists or other non-religious people.
- Agnosticism is criticized from various standpoints, with some atheists criticizing the use of the term agnosticism as a "middle ground" between theism and atheism.Agnosticism: Views from Theistic, Christian, Atheistic, and Ignotistic Perspectives
- Theistic critics claim that agnosticism is impossible in practice.
- A person can either live as if God did or did not exist.
- Pope Benedict XVI believes strong agnosticism contradicts itself.
- Agnosticism is a choice of comfort, pride, and utility over truth.
- The Catholic Church is historically opposed to full denial of human reason to know God.
- Blaise Pascal argues that it is a safer "bet" to choose God.
- Richard Dawkins believes that a distinction between agnosticism and atheism is unwieldy.
- Dawkins identifies two categories of agnostics: Temporary Agnostics in Practice (TAPs) and Permanent Agnostics in Principle (PAPs).
- Dawkins considers PAP a "deeply inescapable kind of fence-sitting".
- Ignosticism is the view that a coherent definition of a deity must be put forward before discussing the question of the existence of a deity.
- If the chosen definition is not coherent, the ignostic holds the noncognitivist view that the existence of a deity is meaningless or empirically untestable.
- Some philosophers see both atheism and agnosticism as incompatible with ignosticism.
Test your knowledge about the philosophical belief of agnosticism with our quiz! Learn about the origins and definitions of agnosticism, as well as perspectives from theistic, Christian, atheistic, and ignostic viewpoints. Discover the criticisms and debates surrounding agnosticism and see how much you know about this fascinating topic.
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