Atheist vs. Agnostic: Definitions and Distinguishing Factors

Can an Agnostic believe in God?

An agnostic theist believes in the existence of a god or gods, but regards the basis of this proposition as unknown or inherently unknowable. The agnostic theist may also or alternatively be agnostic regarding the properties of the god or gods that they believe in.

Do Agnostics celebrate Christmas?

Non-Christians are a diverse group. They include Americans who are religiously unaffiliated (atheists, agnostics and people who describe themselves, religiously, as “nothing in particular”), of whom 87% celebrate Christmas.

What is it called when you believe in God but not religion?

Agnosticism is the doctrine or tenet of agnostics with regard to the existence of anything beyond and behind material phenomena or to knowledge of a First Cause or God, and is not a religion.

Agnostic vs. Atheist: two of the most common beliefs in today’s society. What makes them so common? And why are they so closely associated with each other?

You may have heard before that they both involve disbelief in a god or gods, but they may be a lot more different than you realize.

To understand their similarities and their differences, let’s take a look at the meaning of each one.

Agnosticism:

The term Gnosticism refers to an ancient set of beliefs and systems that originated in the first century AD. The early fathers of the church went on to disregard these teachings as heresy.

Agnostic, you would then assume, would be a lack thereof of these beliefs, though the modern definition is a broader term than that. Agnostic now simply states that nothing is known or can be known about the existence or nature of God.

Agnostics claim to neither believe or disbelieve in God. One of the more common expressions is to say that they are “sitting on the fence.” It actually brings to mind one of Socrates’ more well-known quotes, “I know that I know nothing.”

This type of thinking is quite common in Greek philosophy or philosophy in general. Philosophy involves questioning everything, which many times may lead to the conclusion that there are no absolutes.

Therefore, someone who is agnostic may fall into one of two categories: the first being someone who has either not done enough research to make a valid opinion or simply does not care to, or the other being someone who is eternally conflicted by two very convincing opposing sides.

Perhaps Jude understood and felt empathy for those in the latter, as he asked God to have mercy on those who doubt (Jude 1:22). Many verses in the bible may relate to both atheism and agnosticism as far as informing them of their condemnation, but there are some verses of encouragement for the agnostics:

John 8:31-32 says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” which encourages an agnostic to learn the truth through listening to and following his word.

1 Thessalonians 5: 21-22 says, “But test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” This verse may actually be one to turn over the critical agnostics, as it is encouraging them to question everything; which may be the very mindset that makes it challenging for them to choose a side.

Atheism:

The term Theism refers to a belief in a God or multiple Gods; Atheism is a lack thereof.

Those who claim to be atheists most often believe in theories of creation based on science, including evolution and the big bang theory. They also believe that the earth is 20 million years old, making what the bible says about the age of the earth incorrect.

Atheists can most commonly be found in debates with Christians. Although that is mostly because it is still the largest religion in the world, of all popular religions, Christianity has the strongest counterpoints to atheism.

What’s the Difference:

As you can clearly see, there are many differences between the two beliefs (or in an agnostics case, the lack thereof). Since being an atheist is, in fact, a set of beliefs – specifically, disbelief in any gods and beliefs grounded in science – it is much easier to understand the type of person that believes in this.

The same cannot be said for an agnostic. An agnostic could mean almost anything on the spectrum of belief: a person who’s faith in Christianity has recently been shaken, someone who is still weighing all the pros and cons, someone whose belief in atheism has been shaken, the list goes on.

One could hold hope for an agnostic going into heaven if he were to see the truth at the last minute and take a stand. The same, however, is not likely to happen with an atheist, although who knows what an atheist may say or try at the end of his life.

If his life truly is meaningless beyond what he does during his time on earth, then he may, in fact, attempt to be saved at the last minute. In the end, only God would know of the sincerity of someone’s last-minute confession or conversion to Christianity.

 One of the scariest things about atheism is that it brings up the school of thought on moral relativism: the idea that right and wrong is relative to our point of view and perspective. It’s not.

Christianity has been used as a pillar for modern morality, law, justice, and even just modern-day philosophy on how to live. The ten commandments still ring true to this day throughout our society, while even common terms such as Goodbye hold Christian roots (the term coming from God be with you).

Societies without these common foundations of what is good and evil have been known to be susceptible to barbaric practices such as cannibalism, voodoo, human sacrifice, and other such evils in the past.

Atheists, when asked about this before, have said that good is “innate” within us. I would beg to differ as we have countless examples of evil deeds in the past, therefore, it is obvious that we cannot trust that we as people are constantly and instinctively “good”.

Conclusion

To sum it all up, an Atheist will tell you that he has very fervent beliefs, while an agnostic will say the opposite. I suppose one perceived “perk’ of being agnostic is not having any accountability since even atheists are accountable to their supposed scientific beliefs.

If you are on the fence or know anybody who is on the fence, realize how important it is to choose your beliefs wisely. Just like Geddy Lee said, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice!” Do not wait until the last minute to make your choice, you may not have the opportunity.

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