What is Agnosticism?

Worldview is a complicated idea. There are many different world views. Actually, there are about 7 BILLION world views. Each person has their own unique of looking at the world.

eight-important-worldviews

There are; however, some basic worldview categories that most people align with. I think there are 8 primary categories.

  • Agnostic
  • Atheist
  • Mono-theist (non-Christian)
  • Deist
  • Mystic/Spiritualist
  • Pantheist
  • Post-modernist
  • Biblical Worldview

This post is the first in a series of posts that will begin to explain each of these eight categories.

AGNOSTIC:

Agnostic is an often misunderstood worldview. I’ve heard it called “the wimpy version of atheism”. I’ve heard others say its the same as Atheism. Neither of these are true.

Agnosticism is the belief that some truths are cannot be known or are not known.

The main truth claims that are un-knowable are claims about the existence of God, metaphysics, evil, and morals. An agnostic would believe that if a truth is unknowable, its not relevant to everyday life.

The word “agnostic” was first coined by English biologist, Thomas Henry Huxley. He describes Agnosticism as the following:

Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle … Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. link to citation

The single, most important thing to an agnostic is positivity. Unless we can know something without any doubt, we shouldn’t base decisions or beliefs on it. To illustrate this idea, let’s look at how three different worldviews would answer the question of God’s existence.

Historically there are two answers to the question “Does God exist?”

  • The Atheist would answer this question with the audacious answer of “No”.
  • The Theist would answer this question with the audacious answer of “Yes”.

The agnostic would add a third answer. “I don’t know.” 

So, why do so many people view agnosticism and atheism as the same belief? I believe it lies in the consequences of this belief. If you answer the question of God’s existence with a yes, you must now see what God’s will is. If you don’t know the answer, and therefore, think the question is irrelevant, you are going to live your life as if God doesn’t exist.

Atheism and Agnostics is not the same; however, the consequence of believing these two ideas are very similar.

Huxley, like most agnostics, subscribed to Darwin’s theory of evolution. To show the consequences of the agnostic worldview, I would end this post with another quote by Huxley.

“I know no study which is so unutterably saddening as that of the evolution of humanity, as it is set forth in the annals of history. Out of the darkness of prehistoric ages man emerges with the marks of his lowly origin strong upon him. He is a brute, only more intelligent than the other brutes, a blind prey to impulses, which as often as not lead him to destruction; a victim to endless illusions, which make his mental existence a terror and a burden, and fill his physical life with barren toil and battle.”

Atheism and Agnosticism are different worldviews, but their outcome is one of “endless illusions which make mental existence a terror and a burden”

What do you think about the consequence of the Agnostic belief?

 

John Lane is a worldview teacher and curriculum writer at Artios Academies. He has a passion for teaching the next generation to think deeply and live biblically. He currently resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife, Windy, and his daughter, Riley.