Guest Author - Theresa Faulkner
What, exactly, is agnosticism? It is a philosophical position of skepticism, used to refer to a deity. First coined by Thomas Huxley, a huge supporter of Charles Darwin, its name is a derivative of the Greek and Latin variants of gnostic, meaning knowledge. Therefore, someone who is agnostic is ‘without knowledge” of a deity and believes that any such knowledge cannot be known and most likely will never be known.
However, the term agnostic may not be specific enough for some. Therefore, two terms that are more specific may fit the bill: agnostic atheist and an agnostic theist. Both mean that the person reserves judgment for or in the existence of a deity of any kind, but that is where the similarity ends.
An agnostic atheist is someone who does not believe in a deity of any kind but believes it cannot be proven or disproven. On the other hand, an agnostic theist believes there is a deity or some other kind of spiritual presence in the universe but believes it cannot be proven or disproven.
Some agnostics may, or may not, attend religious services, because they may not have made a decision about a deity and may be looking for information on which to form a more solid position. Some just want to ‘fit in’ because of the negative stereotypes surrounding agnosticism and atheism. Some may want to have their friends and family believe that they are, in fact, still a believer and some may not have made a firm opinion.
Agnostics know that lack of physical proof does not prove or disprove the existence of a deity. Discussions with various friends and family have yielded the opinion that being agnostic may be the most logical position to take, as it does not require faith for, or against, a deity, and just flat out scientific proof. However, many also believe, and make fun of, agnostics, stating they are ‘fence sitters’ and this is understandable. However, this comment seems to be more by those who have a firm feeling and faith about their belief, or lack thereof. One can argue that agnostics may just be more ‘open-minded.’
Agnostics are always skeptical and if you suddenly find yourself in this position, it can be disquieting. Just remember, you are not alone.
"The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic".