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Atheism Vs Agnosticism

Atheism and Agnosticism are two theological perspectives that many people use interchangeably, though they are two very different viewpoints. In this article, we will discuss each one and their validity.

Atheism Vs Agnosticism Differences: (8 Important Things To Know)

 

What is Atheism?

Atheism is the belief in the non-existence of God. Atheism is indeed a religion, contrary to what man people say. However, it is a very loosely designed religion in that they do not have any widely held doctrines, except for the lack of belief in God. This view they hold to staunchly but cannot prove. The majority of atheists do not have any religious ceremonies. The Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Church of Satan are two of the most prominent atheistic groups.

 

 

What is Agnosticism?

 Agnosticim is a belief system that is even more unstructured than Atheism. Agnosticism is in itself not a religion but merely the belief that any knowledge of God is unknowable. To what degree this is unknowable will vary from individual to individual. William Rowe, in the book Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy said, “human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God dose not exist.”

 

 

The history of Atheism

Atheism in its various forms has existed throughout history, there is even references to it in the Bible. Buddhism, some variants of Hinduism and Taoism claim that there is no god. The Greek philosophers Epicurious and Democritus were atheists. However, the “First Atheist” title belongs to Diagoras of Melos. Francis Bacon in the early 1600’s was a major proponent of their teachings. Historically, Atheism was a major contributing factor to the French Revolution and the Enlightenment Period.  

 

 

The history of Agnosticism

One of the earliest agnostics was the Greek Sophist named Protagoras in the 5th century. The word “agnostic” was first coined by T. H. Huxley. One of the first agnostic philosophers who spread the term was Herbert Spencer in the 19th century. Agnosticism rivaled atheism in ideological debates, and for the most part agnosticism was pushed aside and considered the lesser of the two. In 1900 only about 0.18% of the world’s population was agnostic. That number jumped up to 14.7% in 1970. In 2000 the number of agnostics had decreased to only about 10.75% of the world’s population.

Herbert Spencer was also a proponent of social Darwinism. Most atheists are too. This is one of the similarities between the two theological viewpoints. Social Darwinism has been widely influential in Nazism, Communism, Imperialism, Racism, the Feminist Agenda, the Homosexual Agenda, and the Abortion movement.

 

 

Famous atheists in history

  •       Dan Barker
  •       Michael Newdow
  •       Greta Christina
  •       Ophelia Benson
  •       Susan Blackmore
  •       Hirsi Ali
  •       Philip Pullman
  •       Woody Allen
  •       John Brockman
  •       Susan Jacoby
  •       Victor Stenger
  •       Robert Wright
  •       Richard Carrier
  •       Michael Onfray
  •       Steven Pinker
  •       Patricia Churchland
  •       Peter Atkins
  •       William B. Provine
  •       David Sloan Wilson
  •       Alexander Rosenberg
  •       Sam Harris
  •       Lawrence Krauss
  •       Christopher Hitchens
  •       Steven Hawking
  •       Richard Dawkins
  •       Kathy Griffin
  •       Hugh Hefner
  •       George Carlin
  •       Julianne Moore
  •       David Cross
  •       Lewis Black
  •       Roger Ebert
  •       Larry King
  •       Paul Biamatti
  •       Sir Ian McKellen
  •       Kevin Bacon
  •       Dame Helen Mirren
  •       Sir Noel Coward
  •       Daniel Day-Lewis

 

 

Famous agnostics in history 

  •       Charles Darwin
  •       Thomas Henry Huxley
  •       William Stewart Ross
  •       Bertrand Russell
  •       Robert Ingersoll
  •       Brad Pitt
  •       Keanu Reeves
  •       Roman Polanski
  •       Joaquin Phoenix
  •       Bruce Lee
  •       Angelina Jolie
  •       Daniel Radcliff
  •       Morgan Freeman
  •       Charlie Chaplin
  •       Keira Knightly
  •       Jodie Foster
  •       Carrie Fisher
  •       Emma Thompson
  •       Marie Curie
  •       Katharine Hepburn
  •       John Steinbeck
  •       Francis Crick
  •       John Keats
  •       Edward FitzGerald
  •       Arthur Conan Doyle
  •       Thomas Carlyle
  •       Neil Gaiman
  •       Thomas Hardy
  •       Mary Shelley
  •       John Steinbeck
  •       Thucydides
  •       Mary Wollstoncraft
  •       Elon Musk

 

 

Atheist quotes about God

  • “I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.” – Stephen Hawking
  • “The whole image is that eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s infinite love. That’s the message we’re brought up with, isn’t it? Believe or die! Thank you, forgiving Lord, for all these options.” – Bill Hicks
  • “I don’t know (why we’re here.) People sometimes say to me, ‘Why don’t you admit that the humming bird, the butterfly, the Bird of Paradise are proof of the wonderful things produced by the Creator?’ And I always say, well, when you say that, you’ve also got to think of a little boy sitting on a river bank, like here, in West Africa, that’s got a little worm, a living organism, in his eye and boring through the eyeball and is slowly turning him blind. The Creator God that you believe in, presumably, also made that little worm. Now I personally find that difficult to accommodate…” – David Atenborough.

 

 

Agnostic quotes about God 

  • “If faith is what you have to go on, if faith is the link between your beliefs and the world at large, your beliefs are very likely to be wrong. Beliefs can be right or wrong. If you believe you can fly, that belief is only true if indeed you can fly. Somebody who thinks he can fly, and is wrong about it, will eventually discover there’s a problem with his view of the world.” – Sam Harris
  • “It is often said, mainly by the ‘no-contests’, that although there is no positive evidence for the existence of God, nor is there evidence against his existence. So it is best to keep an open mind and be agnostic. At first sight that seems an unassailable position, at least in the weak sense of Pascals’s wager. But on second thoughts it seems a cop-out, because the same could be said of Father Christmas and tooth fairies. There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can’t prove that there aren’t any, so shouldn’t we be agnostic with respect to fairies?” – Richard Dawkins
  • “I am an Agnostic because I am not afraid to think. I am not afraid of any god in the universe who would send me or any other man or woman to hell. If there were such a being, he would not be a god; he would be a devil.” – Clarence Darrow

 

 

Types of agnostics

  • Strong Agnosticism, or Epistemological Agnosticism believes that the question of the existence of God is totally unknowable since we cannot verify any experience without it being subjective     
  • Mild Agnosticism, or Empirical Agnosticism believes that the question of the existence of god is currently unknown but not completely unknowable. And until that answer is revealed, all judgement on the matter will be halted.
  • Pragmatic Agnosticism simply believes that there is no proof either way to prove in the existence of or the lack of existence of God.
  • Apathetic Agnosticism believes that there is no evidence for or against God and that since God does not appear to be concerned about His creation, the question doesn’t matter much anyways.

 

 

Types of atheists 

  • Antitheists are atheists who fiercely oppose any religion and work towards demolishing it.
  • Accomodation Atheists are those who believe that there are common grounds between those who support religion and those opposed.
  • Humanists are atheists who focus on living a moral life in a natural universe.
  • Religious Atheists are the atheists who follow a religion that does not believe in the existence of God such as Unitarians, Buddhists, some Hindu, and some Jainism, etc.

 

 

What is right?

The are a plethora of arguments such as the arguments of reason, logic, morality, and evidence that points to God. The Bible is very clear that there is indeed a God and that only a fool says that there isn’t one. The Bible also says that God is knowable. This isn’t to say that we can know everything about Him, but that He has revealed Himself to us in creation and in Scripture.

John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”

Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no god.” They are corrupt; the do vile deeds. There is no one who does good.”

Psalm 10:4-7 “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.”

 

 

Questions for agnostics

  • “If you believe that we can’t or don’t know anything for sure, then how can you be sure that we can’t know anything with certainty?”

 

 

Questions for atheists

  • “Where does your morality come from? Morality has to have an authority for it to work. Someone has to decide what is right and what is wrong. If a man on an island thought that it was perfectly morally right for him to slaughter everyone with blonde hair, and he goes about seeking to obey his moral compass all over the world – you would think that is awful and immoral of him and that he should be stopped. You both can’t be right.”

 

 

How to respond to atheists and agnostics?

Firstly, we should respond in love and treat them with dignity and respect. When speaking to them we should be good listeners and pray for the Holy Spirit to move in the conversation. I encourage you to learn basic responses to common questions from atheists.

 

 

Conclusion 

There are no good people. The Bible says so. We are all born sinners. We are all completely guilty and deserve Hell. There was only ever one good person – Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity – and the world hated Him because He was good. The Bible says that we must repent of our sins and cling to Christ. It is only through Christ’s atoning work on the cross that our sins can be forgiven and our debt paid. 

Our goal as Christians should never be to win a debate, but to show atheists and agnostics the splendor of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the hopes that they may be saved.

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Ashley Evans

I was raised in a quaint little rural town in North Alabama and my childhood had many adventures exploring the woods and caves and taking care of critters. Now I am married to my best friend and we have two daughters. I am looking forward to years of ministry serving in the local church with my husband serving in a pastoral role, homeschooling my children, counseling others, marriage ministry, missionary support, and pursuing art, engraving, and writhing.... and maybe a little hunting and fishing when I get time. Please take a look at my blog at www.sopronetowander.com.

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