Agnosticism is a philosophical view that the existence of anything (such as Supreme beings) beyond our human experience is unknown or unknowable.
Some who have identified themselves as agnostics believe it’s impossible to know whether God or other divine entities exist.
This article will provide you with an insightful guide on agnosticism, its types, beliefs, common misconceptions about it, and the practice of agnostic spirituality.
What Is Agnosticism?
According to Sacred Footprints, compared to atheism (the disbelief in any ethereal forces), Agnosticism is the belief that we can never be completely sure of the existence or non-existence of anything without evidence or through scientific means or logical reasoning.
British biologist T.H. Huxley was the one who coined Agnosticism in 1869 at the meeting of the Metaphysical Society in London. It was derived from the Greek word Agnostos which means unknowable.
He coined agnosticism to describe his view regarding knowledge and religious beliefs. According to him, one cannot and should not claim to know a certain body of knowledge if they have no evidence to prove its existence.
As a young man, Huxley lost his religious faith. He asserted that Christianity does not have a monopoly on morality and that agnosticism is the honorable and honest way to face the world.
- One should accept or believe something if it is supported by evidence,
- Disbelieve it if its negation is supported by evidence,
- and suspend judgment on the matter if its evidence is neutral.
Randy Pollard explained that agnosticism is complex as people are often confused and argue about its subtleties.
He added that since agnosticism is beyond the premises of a belief system, its reasoning processes are applicable to religious (theistic and atheistic) and non-religious (secular) contexts.
For instance, a person can be agnostic and religious by believing or not believing in a god while accepting the insufficiency of scientific or logical proof of that god’s existence or non-existence.
The Types of Agnosticism
Agnosticism can vary according to the strength of belief of the individual. Randy Pollard shared that there are several types of agnosticism which are as follows:
This type of agnosticism believes that the existence of a Supreme Being and the ultimate reality is scientifically and logically unverifiable and, therefore, cannot be known by anyone.
A person with strong agnostic beliefs can perceive that everyone does not know if a Supreme Being exists.
Weak agnosticism believes that the existence or non-existence of a Supreme Being is currently unknowable but can be knowable in the future.
A person with weak agnostic beliefs may perceive that everyone does not know if a Supreme Being exists, but one day we will come to know.
This type of agnosticism believes that the existence of a Supreme Being and the ultimate reality is unknowable, but if they do exist, this Supreme Being seems to be unconcerned about humanity. Therefore, humans should not be concerned with this Supreme Being.
Apathetic agnosticism can be associated with the concept of deism, which believes that a Supreme Being created the universe but ceased to interact with it after.
People with apathetic agnostic beliefs perceive that they do not know if a Supreme Being exists and do not concern themselves with the existence of the Supreme Being.
Pragmatic Agnosticism believes that there is no evidence to prove whether a Supreme Being exists.
People with agnostic theistic beliefs do not claim that they know the existence of a Supreme Being but still believe in its existence.
Agnostic atheists do not claim that they know the existence of a Supreme Being but do not believe in its existence.
This type of agnosticism views the concept of a Supreme Being as unverifiable. Therefore, it’s meaningless to delve into the question of the Supreme Being’s existence.
What Do Agnostics Believe In?
- It is not completely possible to know if God exists or not.
- Agnosticism is a philosophy that highlights the limitations of human knowledge and experience.
- Depending on the individual’s belief, agnostics can identify as atheists or theists.
- Agnostics believe that science is a great tool for learning about the natural world, but it cannot explain anything about the supernatural.
- Agnosticism does not mean it is a tool to avoid taking a stance on religion.
- Agnostics can be spiritual without identifying themselves with a particular religion.
The Common Misconceptions on Agnosticism
Alejandro Betancourt explains that there are common misconceptions about agnosticism which sometimes hurt those who identify themselves with the philosophy.
- Some people think that agnostics are ambivalent and indecisive regarding their beliefs which is not true.
- Agnostics have a strong belief system that differs from other known world religions.
- Some people think that agnostics are fence-sitters afraid to take their stance on anything.
- This is also wrong, as agnostics can also create great decisions; they just don’t involve the existence of a Supreme Being in their everyday life.
- People often associate agnosticism with apathy and laziness in knowing about God’s existence.
- This is inaccurate as many agnostics try to find the answers to their questions. They just haven’t found the answers yet.
- Agnosticism is often confused with atheism, but they are greatly different.
- Atheism is the premise that there is no God, while agnosticism believes that knowing God’s existence can be impossible and possible.
- Agnosticism differs from apophatic theology, a method that perceives God as unknowable through negation.
- Agnosticism differs from religious non-cognitivism, which believes that questioning whether God exists does not make sense as it does not refer to anything observable and, therefore, cannot arrive at a meaningful answer.
- Like non-cognitivist, agnostics are neither theists nor atheists. However, they still believe that the question about the existence and non-existence of God can still be answered.
Sacred Footprints explained that agnosticism and spirituality might seem to contradict one another, but they are greatly compatible.
Similar to the concept of spirituality, agnostic spiritualists also believe that there is something greater than the self that the material world cannot offer. They may not want to be confined to a particular religion but still seek to have spiritual fulfillment.
Spirituality is not a single path, as there are various ways to involve oneself in spirituality and attain the benefits of its experience. Because of this, many agnostics turn to spirituality, an energy that links all things but is not limited to a belief or religious standard.
You might think that it is not possible to be agnostic and spiritual at the same time, but it’s highly plausible. Here’s how.
Shift your focus to your inner being.
Agnostic spirituality focuses your energy on the things you can prove with your senses. You are encouraged to appreciate what you can feel, touch, see, and hear.
This means that you rely on the voice that tells you what is right and wrong. Remember, something right for you need not necessarily be right in someone else’s eyes.
In agnostic spirituality, you make your own sets of rules that follow the guidelines of the universal truth of love, kindness, compassion, and peace.
You are shifting your focus from what God is, or where God is, to what you know to be true for yourself.
In this practice, you are not rejecting the concept of God. You are redefining what God means to you personally.
Your feelings and experiences are valid. You need to become conscious of your thoughts and emotions to bring back focus to your inner being.
Practice mindful meditation.
As someone who follows agnostic spirituality, you might wonder how to strengthen your relationship with yourself. Spirituality consists of realizing that our sense of self— the ego, is an illusion. The ego is dissolved through the practice of meditation.
Spirituality is about attaining a balance between opposites. Human beings are attached to their thoughts and their emotions. They derive their sense of self through identification with their experiences.
Through the practice of meditation, you will see who you truly are and the power of your consciousness. By learning the power of your inner self, your ego and material attachments start to dissolve.
Since it is a fact that thoughts and feelings do exist, it is easier to practice regulating these aspects of life. Once you practice meditating every day, you will start noticing yourself becoming more happy, forgiving, and joyful.
Do not be afraid to ask questions.
Agnostic Philosophers like David Hume and Soren Kierkegaard relied on empiricism and skepticism. Question everything you are told, and rely on your rational mind to make sense of the world.
Agnostic spirituality encourages you to question everything you think will lead you to your higher self.
Agnosticism most rely on logical evidence to reach conclusions, and you can apply scientific inquiries to your daily life. Similarly, spirituality follows the same approach. It will help you know your true self and purpose.
Science aims to know the true knowledge about how the world works, and the aim of spirituality is to connect you to something bigger than yourself by seeking the truth.
Any scientific hypothesis and spiritual pursuits first start with a question, then observation, pursuit of finding the answer, and lastly, arriving at a conclusion.
Seek many paths to reach the same goal.
All experiences are valid, and people have reasons for following a particular path. As an agnostic spiritualist, you must think rationally about religion and various spiritual practices that can help you achieve your spiritual goals.
If a belief from a particular religion or spiritual practice helps you at that moment, you have the freedom of choice to try it out for yourself. You can also know more about a particular spiritual practice to borrow from it and help yourself.
A person who practices agnostic spirituality recognizes that there are multiple paths to the same goal of enlightenment. Enlightenment is where you are in touch with your inner self and have a joyous existence on the planet while being empathetic to those around you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Agnosticism
Do agnostics believe in God?
Agnostics can be theistic or atheistic. People with agnostic theistic beliefs do not claim that they know the existence of a Supreme Being but still believe in its existence.
On the other hand, agnostic atheists do not claim that they know the existence of a Supreme Being and also do not believe in its existence.
Do agnostics celebrate Christmas?
According to Marty Nemko, Many non-Christians, including agnostics, also celebrate Christmas. They just celebrate it through practices different from those of Christians.
Do agnostics pray?
According to Chrissy Sexton, many people who identified themselves as not religious still pray during times of difficulty. One in four atheists and agnostics regularly pray when they experience personal crises.
Do agnostics believe in heaven?
Despite their philosophy, many agnostics believe in heaven. In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, three percent of atheists and twenty-six percent of agnostics believe in heaven and the afterlife.
Wrapping It Up!
T.H. Huxley coined Agnosticism from the Greek word Agnostos (unknowable) to pertain to the philosophy that we can never be completely sure of the existence or non-existence of anything without evidence or through scientific means or logical reasoning.
Agnosticism is not a religion, or a belief system, as the individuals who identify themselves with the philosophy have varying beliefs.
Different types of agnosticism depend on the strength of an individual’s belief. It varies from strong agnosticism, weak agnosticism, apathetic agnosticism, pragmatic agnosticism, agnostic theism, agnostic atheism, and ignosticism.
Despite people’s misconceptions and prejudice about agnosticism, one can still incorporate it with spirituality. Agnostic spiritualists turn to spirituality to seek spiritual fulfillment without having the need to identify themselves with a particular belief system.
Discover More About Spirituality
- 23 Best Spiritual Books to Enrich Your Soul
- Celtic Spirituality: A Quick Read
- Demons and Demonic Possessions: Everything You Need To Know
- Esoteric Spirituality: An Introduction
- Shinto Spirituality: Everything You Need To Know
- Spiritual Awakening: The Complete Guide
- Spiritual Caregiving: Your Complete Guide
- Spiritual Confusion: What It Is, Causes & How To Overcome It
- Spiritual Counseling: Everything You Need To Know
- Spiritual Death: Everything You Need To Know
- Spiritual Emptiness: 10 Signs & 11 Ways to Overcome It
- Spiritual Grounding: A Quick Guide
- Spiritual Health: A Comprehensive Guide
- Spiritual Illness: Everything You Need To Know
- Spiritual Meditation (A Guide to Strengthen Your Spirit)
- Spiritual Resilience: The Skill to Overcome Hardships
- The Divine Feminine (A Complete Insight and Ways to Unlock It)
- What Is Spirituality? Your Complete Guide
- 12 Ways To Attain Spiritual Maturity
- 13 Ways to Spiritually Cleanse Yourself
- 7 Healthy Ways to Deal With Anger
- 9 Ways to Spiritually Connect With Nature (A Quick Read)
- How To Be Spiritually Minded (Your Complete Guide To Spiritual Mindedness)
- How to Become A Spiritual Person (23 Ways & 7 Signs)
- How To Build Your Meditation Garden (An Easy Guide)
- How To Connect With The Universe (Everything You Need To Know)
- How To Form A Deeper Connection With God
- How to Heal Your Sacral Chakra (A Quick Guide)
- How to Incorporate Anglican Spirituality In Your Life (A Quick Guide)
- How to Lead a Spiritual Life: 13 Steps and Benefits
- How to Raise a Spiritual Child (Complete Tips and Signs for Parents)
- How To Remove Someone From Your Life (Signs and Ways to Break Free from Toxic Relationships)
- How to Spiritually Attract Money (A Complete Guide)
- God Loves The Broken: How Does Spiritual Brokenness Bring Us Closer to God?
- How Are Spirituality and Science Related? The Two Hands of a Clock (A Quick Read)
- How Does Spirituality Affect The Lives of Millennials? (A Quick Read)
- What Does ‘I am with You in Spirit’ Mean? (Explained)
- What Is Agnosticism? (Explained)