Basic Description Edit
Agnosticism is the perfect "fence-sitting" position between Theism and Atheism. One type of Agnosticism is view that the question "Does God exist?" was an unanswerable question before, today, and forever until the universe draws it's final breath as it is impossible to know. (See Hana Zubby)
Another type, temporal agnosticism, is that no-one today knows the answer to the question "Does God exist?". (See Steve McRae)
Detailed Descriptions Edit
The definition of agnosticism might be used differently from person to person, just as the word atheism. Here are some different usages listed (feel free to add some that are left out).
- Agnosticism (doxastic)
"The rejection of belief in the existence and non-existence of deities”
By this usage, an agnostic is someone who rejects the theistic proposition that at least one god exists, but also rejects the “strong” atheistic position that no gods exist. Doxastic agnosticism could be considered a "fence-sitting" position between theism and "strong" atheism, and is somewhat synonymous to “weak” atheism. This position can be reached by many means, most reasonably by having the belief that neither propositions have sufficient evidence to warrant their respective cases. A common objection to this usage is that agnosticism is most often used to refer to epistemic (knowledge) positions, not doxastic (belief) ones.
- Agnosticism (epistemic)
"The position that the existence of deities is unknown"
According to this usage, an agnostic is one who claims that there is insufficient reason to justify either the belief that at least one god exists nor the belief that no gods exist, and thus neither beliefs could qualify as knowledge. Or, putting it more softly, an agnostic is someone who doesn't claim to know whether a god exists or not. Note, since knowledge is a subset of belief, it is not incompatible to hold a belief that doesn't qualify as knowledge. Thus, (while agnosticism in the "doxastic" sense is incompatible with theism and "strong" atheism) an agnostic (in this sense) can still be a theist (and vice-versa) or an agnostic can still be a "strong" atheist (and vice-versa). Though it would be very rare to see someone admitting that their belief(s) are not justified to be true, it is still possible nonetheless.
There are two subsets of Agnosticism (epistemic): Edit
- Permanent (strong) Agnosticism
"The position that the existence of deities is unknowable"
Permanent Agnosticisms hold the view that it is forever impossible for us to justify theism nor "strong" atheism.
- Temporal (weak) Agnosticism
"The position that the existence of deities is currently unknown, without making the assertion that it is unknowable."
Unlike permanent agnostics, Temporal Agnostics are open to the possibility that we potentially could acquire knowledge on the existence of deities.