Useful Notes: Agnosticism
"Agnosticism" is the belief that one either can or cannot know whether God exists. The term was coined by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1869, though the concept has been kicking around for much longer. Agnostics usually appear under the category of "non-believers" along with atheists. Incidentally, there is a large degree of overlap with atheism. Agnosticism is not mutually exclusive with atheism or theism since it is a question of if someone believes they can or cannot know a god exists. While agnostics generally agree with atheists on the subject of belief in God or gods, they disagree on the subject of disbelief: a common agnostic criticism of atheism is the scientific principle that "absence of proof does not constitute a disproof". Once again, this is only an issue for the minority of atheists who are gnostic/strong/positive/hard atheists, who are a minority. There are many different strands of agnostic thought, including the following :
- belief that God is inherently "unknowable". Adherents to this type of agnosticism believe that one cannot know of God's existence, role, appearance or ethics (assuming that he might exist at all).
- belief that God's existence is neither proven nor disproven. That is, that while God may be "knowable", we do not "know" yet either way.
- agnostic atheism, where there is not enough evidence to prove the claim that a god exists, but it is not impossible that one does exist.
- agnostic theism, where God probably exists based on the evidence at hand, but that it is not certain.
- apatheism (a portmanteau of "apathy" and "theism"), where the individual simply does not care whether god does or does not exist, or finds no practical reason to believe either way.