The one principle linking all meanings of "Agnostic" is that God's existence can neither be proved nor disproved, on the basis of current evidence. Agnostics note that some theologians and philosophers have tried to to prove for millennia that God exists. Others have attempted to prove that God does not exist. Agnostics feel that neither side has convincingly succeeded at their task. Further, most Agnostics act on this belief by concluding that they cannot believe -- or disbelieve -- in a deity without evidence.
When asked what their religion is, many of those who are unsure of the existence of a God will reply "Agnostic." Since so many Agnostics regard this as their religion, we have a policy of capitalizing the term out of respect, as we do for all religions on this web site. This is not often seen on the Internet or in print, but we feel that it is appropriate.
When asked whether they believe in the existence of one or more Gods and/or Goddesses, Theists will answer in the affirmative; strong Atheists will say no. Agnostics often cannot give a straight "Yes" or "No" answer. They might respond with one of the following:
- I don't know.
- The Gods that various believers worship are like unicorns: they are obviously fictional creations of humanity. But, who knows. They might actually exist.
- There is no way to know, but perhaps someone will find a proof or disproof in the future.
- There will never be any way to know.
- The question is meaningless.
- I doubt it, but cannot be sure God doesn't exist.
- I think so, but cannot be positive that God exists.
- I don't know but will lead my life in the assumption that no God exists.
- I don't know but will lead my life assuming that God does exist -- perhaps because of the rewards I would receive if God does exist.
- I will have to withhold my opinion until God, if he exists, decides to make his presence known. Rearranging, say, 10,000 stars in the sky to read "I AM" would be a great start. Even recreating an amputated leg would be a strong indicator. But, of course, neither has ever happened.
- I think that God exists, but have no proof.
- I worship a god (or a god and goddess, or a goddess, or some combination of god(s) and goddess(es) but cannot prove that they exist.
- I cannot give an opinion because there is no way that we can prove the existence or non-existence of God given currently available knowledge.
- I cannot give an opinion because there is no way to know, with certainty, anything about God, either now or in the future.
- Yes, God exists. But we do not know anything about God at this time.
- Yes, God exists. But we have no possibility of knowing anything about God, now or in the future.
Some people criticize Agnostics as simply being indecisive -- unable to make up their mind. But most Agnostics have actually taken a firm stand that it would be meaningless to become a Theist or strong Atheist without evidence. Not being able to prove his/her/its/their existence, most Agnostics consider it unethical or irrational to pick a side.
Many Theists believe that Agnostics are merely going through a phase in their spiritual life. They are actually searching for God, perhaps without being aware of it. They will eventually find God. The Bible promises it.
Ultimately, the term "Agnostic" is something like "Christianity." Both refer to a wide diversity of belief systems. In many cases, an individual asserts that their particular definition is the only fully valid one. There are many definitions circulating, and no real consensus.
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