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*NOTE - This is mainly just me getting stuff out of my system due to being frustrated for not coming up with a clear answer/understanding. I am also partially typing as I'm thinking/rethinking so some of this post may be a little muddled.


I am basically confused as to what the term "agnostic" means. I don't really see it as a clear answer to a question of "what you believe in", but I'm presuming that I'm just misunderstanding the meaning of the word correctly and thus why I am making this thread to try and understand it better and I'm hoping some of you better equipped to answer this can help me out :D

(I think I am a "weak" atheist?)


I use to consider myself as agnostic (after leaving the Christian faith) and not as an atheist/theist until I looked up the term agnostic in various dictionaries and found different meanings for the word which made me come to the conclusion that the definition agreed on in those dictionaries could sway whether someone considers themselves as agnostic or an atheist (I don't believe they are exclusive from one another).


Dictionary definitions;

Houghton Mifflin: "One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God. One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism."

Columbia encyclopedia: "[A belief] that the existence of God cannot be logically proved or disproved. Agnosticism is not to be confused with atheism which asserts that there is no God."

Merriam-Webster: "A person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god."

Die.net: "One who professes ignorance, or denies that we have any knowledge, save of phenomena; one who supports agnosticism, neither affirming nor denying the existence of a personal Deity, a future life, etc."

Dictionary.com: "a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience."


I am not sure what I would classify myself as specifically, all I can work out at the present is that; in my extremely privative wording, "I don't believe a higher power exists but I would if proof was shown to me."

Obviously an issue with this is what is classified as "proof" and I can not clearly define this at the present but it would have to be quite substantial and the best way I could think of wording it would be that it would need to be "intelligent proof".


From what I have researched I would have to say that the word agnostic doesn't seem to be all that clearly defined...to me at least.

Taken directly from wiki (it is not the best source);

Agnosticism (from the Greek α-γνωστικισμός, a, meaning "without", and gnosticism or gnosis, meaning "knowledge")


Thomas Huxley, who first coined the word in 1869.

"Agnosticism is not a creed but a method, the essence of which lies in vigorous application of a single principle. Positively the principle may be expressed as: in matters of intellect, follow your reason as far as it can carry you without other considerations. And negatively, in matters of the intellect, do not pretend the conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable. It is wrong for a man to say he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty. That is what Agnosticism asserts; and, in my opinion, it is all that is essential to Agnosticism. ... The application of the principle results in the denial of, or the suspension of judgment concerning, a number of propositions respecting which our contemporary ecclesiastical "gnostics" profess entire certainty."


To me it seems to explain the essence of the scientific method where a hypothesis is proven (or disproved) based on the evidence resulting from some form of testing. It is wrong in this light that you should be certain of the results before any evidence has been presented but there is no reason why you can't think that a particular result may occur.


The final thing I'll say for now is that I think there is a negative stigma attached to being an "atheist" which is why a lot of people (such as myself) who left religion didn't want to classify themselves as atheists but rather as agnostics.

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To me, it means that you don't know and you find it be satisfying all across the board. I can't explain why it feels so good to me, but that is where I was led to by my reason and my emotions. If there is enough verifiable evidence to suggest the existence of or to disprove the existence of a being of higher metaphysical intelligence, it tells me that mankind ultimately cannot decide upon an answer or find an answer suited to satisfy the query totally and utterly. Since this choice is ultimately up to the individual, agnosticism is the default metaphysical belief system for humankind as a whole.

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I know a guy who put it rather well one time:


"Functionally athiest, but technically agnostic."


I've heard athiests on YouTube say this in different ways. If we're going to be really honest with ourselves we have to say that God cannot be proven nor disproven which is really an agnostic standpoint.


However, if you really want to stick a label on yourself I have found that "non-religious" fits just about everything...

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Gnosis is ancient Greek for knowledge. Gnostic is one who knows or is seeking knowledge. "A" before a word indicated the opposite, as our "non." Agnostic, therefore, is literally one who doesn't know. I fall into that category, although I consider myself an atheist, I really can't be 100% sure.


edited because i lernded hukked on fonics

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