The adult world is composed mainly of Theists: They believe in the existence of one or more Gods and/or Goddesses from among the many thousands of deities who have been worshipped by humans down through history.
A minority of people are strong Atheists who deny that any deity or deities exist. They believe that the hundreds of the religious creation stories that exist in the world have it all wrong: A deity or deities did not create humans; it was humans who created the many thousands of Gods and Goddess who have been devoutly and sincerely worshiped over many tens of thousands of years. The process of creating deities continues today.
And then, there is a third group. When asked whether a deity or deities exist, they don’t have a definite yes or no answer. Agnostics have been unable to find convincing evidence that one or more deities exist. They have also been unable to find convincing proof that no deity exists.
The beauty of Agnosticism is that it does not claim to know he answers. There is nothing wrong with not knowing – it just means that there is a lot to learn and discover.
An Agnostic is a person who is sensible enough to admit that they have no fucking clue what is going on in the universe. Contrary to both a Theist (someone who sits in a Church / Temple thinking they have shit figured out) and an Atheist (someone who sits at Starbucks thinking they have shit figured out):
- Theist: “God exists.” → Prays.
- Atheist: “God does not exist.” → Sips grande cappuccino.
- Agnostic: “We can’t know.” → Continues living left alone in peace.
Belief vs Knowledge
Atheism is about belief or, specifically, what you don’t believe. Agnosticism is about knowledge or, specifically, about what you don’t know. An atheist doesn’t believe in any gods. An agnostic doesn’t know if any gods exist or not. These can be the exact same person, but need not be.
“Doubt grows with knowledge.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
And here lies the dangerous part in the differences between belief and knowledge – causing wars of Religions:
- A belief is the subjective requirement for knowledge.
- “Knowledge” is defined as “justified true belief”. So, a belief can be considered knowledge as long as it is a justified truth.
- Truth plays an important role in the justification of belief. “Truth” is defined as “the objective requirement for knowledge”.
- As long as a particular belief is justified, it is considered to be knowledge.
- There are three types of belief: Vague belief, well-supported belief and belief beyond a reasonable doubt.
If we all were agnostics, the world was most probably a much safer place to live in.
Socrates probably was a true Agnostic as he stated the below… or he might as well have been a true Gnostic as he seemed to be quite certain about that knowing fact.
“I know that I know nothing.”
Perhaps he just believed he knew nothing or it was indeed pure, 100% knowing. However, he might just have been right as Plato, one of his students, came up with this (re-)cognition:
“On the walls of the cave, only the shadows are the truth.”
– Plato’s Cave
During 1958, Bertrand Russell, an English philosopher commented on whether “Atheist” or “Agnostic” would be a better term for his religious beliefs about God. He wrote:
“I ought to call myself an agnostic; but, for all practical purposes, I am an atheist. I do not think the existence of the Christian God any more probable than the existence of the Gods of Olympus or Valhalla. To take another illustration: nobody can prove that there is not between the Earth and Mars a china teapot revolving in an elliptical orbit, but nobody thinks this sufficiently likely to be taken into account in practice. I think the Christian God just as unlikely.”
– Bertrand Russell
I myself am neither arrogant enough to assume there’s nothing out there that may be beyond my ability to comprehend that manipulates physical law nor am I self-centered enough to think that a deity / being did create everything in the entire universe ever – including me.
“Belief and faith are the children of hope.”
“Atheism and agnosticism get confused quite often and so do pride and dignity as well as fear and respect.”
– Eric Roth
In the end, the fact of the matter is that a person is not faced with the necessity of only being either an atheist or an agnostic. Not only can a person be both, but it is, in fact, common for people to be both agnostics and atheists or agnostics and theists.
“So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?”
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
– Stephen Hawking