In this article we will consider who agnostics and atheists are, and how they differ from each other.
In the modern world, positions are quite common that, in various ways, oppose the existence of some religions or simply do not adhere to them. They are similar to each other, but not identical. The words atheism and agnosticism, as well as atheist and agnostic, cause a majority of different associations in most people. But ordinary citizens often have a misunderstanding of the problem, which lies in the main difference between the adherents of these two concepts.
How to distinguish an atheist from an agnostic?
This is a question of the existence of gods from the point of view of the vital positions of agnosticism and atheism. Because of this, conflicts arise in society and misunderstanding between the adherents of these positions. In order to destroy any prejudices and misinterpretations of these terms, it is necessary to consider the differences between atheists and agnostics. But first, it is important to understand the meaning of each of the words.
Who is an atheist?
An atheist is a person who does not believe in any god. Moreover, he denies all paranormal phenomena and mystical figures. Yes, and all other things that can not be explained by logic and thinking.
- At first glance, atheism is a very simple concept, but it is often perceived incorrectly or not quite accurately. Atheism can be interpreted in different ways, for example:
- this lack of faith in gods or one god;
- distrust of the gods or, again, one god.
- But the most accurate definition that expresses the essence of the concept is that person who rejects the widespread statement "at least one god exists."
- This statement does not belong to atheists and is not categorically perceived by them. To be an atheist, a person does not need to take any active actions and it is not even necessary to realize that he adheres to this position.
- All that is required of such a person is not to support the claims made by others, namely representatives of theism and the church. Moreover, he neglects both believers and faith itself.
Atheist does not recognize a single god
Important: Atheists are no less than supporters of the church. And in some countries they cover half the population. And even without hiding his position.
What kind of person can be called an agnostic?
An agnostic is any person who does not claim that there is any god. In other words, he doubts his convictions. This idea may be misinterpreted, which is why agnostics are often confused with atheists.
- Since he does not claim that he knows for sure about the existence or absence of God, such a person is an agnostic. But there is a certain division in this matter. It is also worth finding out whether he is an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist.
- An agnostic atheist does not believe in any god, and an agnostic theist believes in the existence of at least one god. However, both of them do not claim to receive knowledge to support this belief. They believe that it is impossible to obtain true knowledge and confirm their hypothesis.
- It seems contradictory and complicated, but in fact it is quite easy and logical. Regardless of whether the agnostic believes or not, it is convenient for him not to declare his beliefs. It is enough for him to simply know - either this is true or false.
- Understanding the nature of atheism is easy enough - it's just the lack of faith in any gods. That agnosticism is not, as many believe, the "third way" between atheism and theism.
- After all, agnosticism is it is not faith in God, but knowledge of him. It was originally coined to describe the position of a person who could not declare his beliefs. That is, he knows about the existence or absence of any gods.
An agnostic believes but does not know
Important: However, many people have the erroneous impression that agnosticism and atheism are mutually exclusive. But, in fact, "I do not know" does not logically exclude "I do not believe."
How to understand who is an agnostic and who is an atheist?
There is a simple test that easily determines whether a person is an agnostic or not, or to which category he belongs.
- If a person says that he knows for sure about the existence of any gods or one god, then he is not an agnostic, but a theist. That is, a believer familiar to us. Which god is another conversation.
- And if he believes and even knows for sure that God does not exist, then this is not representative of agnosticism, but of atheism. That is, I am 100% sure of my ideas. It is even simply pointless to convince him of something. Unless to show the real arguments.
- Everyone who cannot answer “yes” to one of these questions is a person who may or may not believe in one or more gods. Or he believes, but cannot reasonably explain the concept itself. Therefore, doubt arises within him. This person belongs to the group of agnostics.
What do agnostic and atheist have in common?
Yes, you can even establish a thin thread of similarity between these simultaneously opposing and similar views.
- It should be noted that these are sane people who guided by their mind. They have a clear idea of the world and its components, which should be visually confirmed. That is, everything should have a logical explanation and, preferably, a good example.
- Continues their thinking and inability to prove the existence of god. Yes, there is a Bible and legends about past events. But nobody saw with his eyes, but did not touch his hands. The proverb “it is better to see once than hear 10 times” refers to them.
- It is worth highlighting yet specificity. Namely, in the matter of faith. That is, it is not. Neither the agnostic has an exact formulation of faith, nor does the atheist have extenuating circumstances in this matter.
What is the difference between an agnostic and an atheist: a comparison
The appearance of agnostics and atheists was provoked by the historical conditions of the development of mankind. The main reason for their appearance is the presence in the world of a large number of different religious beliefs. After all, each representative claims that his position is the only true option for creating the world.
- Already in primitive society appeared people who questioned the authenticity of any religious belief. Whether it is paganism, Christianity or Judaism - it is not particularly important. They did not recognize the existence of God as the creator of all living and nonliving things.
- Among such people, representatives of agnosticism and atheism are most popular, but their positions in life to a certain extent differ from each other.
- Nowadays, the difference between an atheist and an agnostic should be quite clear and easy to remember.
- Atheism is faith or, in this case, its absence. More precisely, it exists, but lies in the opposite character, that there is no god.
- Agnosticism is knowledge or, in particular, unconfirmed ignorance. Moreover, it does not want to state or receive any facts.
- In other words, an atheist does not believe in any god. And the agnostic does not know whether any god exists or not.
- It is a common misconception that agnosticism is a more “reasonable” attitude. While atheism is "dogmatic" and, ultimately, indistinguishable from theism, with the exception of details. This is not a valid argument because it distorts or misinterprets the concepts of theism, atheism, and agnosticism.
- Atheists and agnostics, no doubt, have common features. But the differences are much greater. The first difference is the attitude of representatives of both groups to theism.
- Atheists do not recognize theism and consider all believing supporters to be their opponents. Moreover, they are distinguished by a certain aggressiveness in this matter. Psychologists also note that among atheists there are more egoists and overly stubborn people.
- Agnostics, on the other hand, are loyal to theism, and nothing prevents it from being both a theist and believing in God. By the way, it is among them that there are many altruists. That is, they show excessive kindness to others, even strangers.
- It is also worth noting that the same person can act as an atheist and agnostic. The fact is that a person does not face the need to be only an atheist or an agnostic.
- Regardless of how they approach the question of the existence of God, agnostics and atheists are fundamentally different. Many people who have accepted the label of agnostic simultaneously reject the label of an atheist, even if it is technically applicable to them.
- Theists, in turn, recognize the existence of agnosticism and try to use the hypotheses developed by him to combat atheism, sometimes distorting them.
- It is worth noting that there is an evil double standard. After all, theists argue that agnosticism is better than atheism. Because it is less dogmatic. But agnostics who take this argument into account rarely talk about it explicitly. More often than not, they try to approve of religious theists by attacking atheists.
- Another difference is position in society. Atheists are still condemned and despised by society. The attitude towards agnostics is completely different.
- Yes, without exaggeration. A distinctive feature of the concept of atheism is constant social pressure and prejudice against atheism and atheists. People who are not afraid to say that they really do not believe in any god are still despised by society.
- At the same time, the word “agnostic” is perceived as a more respectable position, and the position of agnosticism is considered more acceptable to the rest.
- What is it, it’s even prestigious to be an agnostic, because they are considered representatives of science. Many agnostics were philosophers, and scientists are considered to be their opinion even now.
Atheist does not hide his beliefs, but society does not always understand him
Important: But there is a major difference between the two concepts. Atheism is the lack of faith in any gods. Agnosticism is a recognition that the existence of the gods is an unconfirmed hypothesis. Since it is impossible to verify.
- It is also worth noting that they have different views. on the human soul. And her, by the way, also can not be seen or touched. But, the atheist in this matter remains unshakable, but the agnostic has changed his position. He acknowledges the presence of a soul in man. And he argues this by the fact that he feels it inside himself.
- And in conclusion, I would like to recall the old folk traditions or even family rites. Yes, even banal birthday presents. The agnostic does not see the point in them and even reacts a little maliciously to all useless expenses. The agnostic, and in this matter, has changed a little hardness - he approves with both hands for all the traditional celebrations, if he likes them.
It is worth summing up to never confuse these words with each other. Atheist - a concept related to faith, or rather, its absence. Agnostic is a term associated with knowledge, or rather, with the impossibility of reliable knowledge.