Phil for Humanity Phil for Humanity
A Guide for the Survival of Humankind and Helping the World, Society, and Yourself.

Atheism versus Agnosticism

I am often asked what the difference between atheism and agnosticism is, and how someone chooses between being an atheist versus an agnostic.

An atheist is someone who does not believe in a god, gods, devil, or any form of supernatural deity. An agnostic is someone who believes that there is no way to know if a god or deity exists. At first, both definitions appear to be very similar, since both types of people do not believe in any religion, because they believe it is impossible to prove the existence of a god or deity. The main difference is that an atheist is certain that there is no god, while an agnostic is uncertain.

Both atheists and agnostics believe there is no undeniable evidence for the existence of a deity. Therefore, a logically rational person believes that there is no proof of a deity because of the lack of evidence. And since there is no scientific proof, no god should be worshipped without evidence.

A truly scientific person should always keep an open mind for explanations outside of their understanding, because it is impossible for anyone to know and understand everything. This is the strength that agnostics have over atheists, because agnostics are willing to re-assess the existence of god if new undisputable evidence presents itself. Of course, all new evidence would be scientifically investigated. A questionable weakness that agnostics have is that the uncertainty of a god would not prevent them from entering heaven, if it exists and if they lived a good and moral life. This is equivalent of hedging one’s bet just in case there is a god.

On the other hand, atheists believe that the existence of a god is not logical no matter what evidence exists or will exist. The strength that atheists have over agnostics is that they believe a scientific explanation can, and not necessary will, be found for any supernatural evidence. Therefore, if any new evidence did arise, this evidence would be scientifically scrutinized until a logical explanation can be found.

As a result, atheists strictly believe that the scientific process of logic and reasoning can understand everything, while agnostics leave the option of the unknown and unexplainable after logic and reasoning has discovered no answers. Therefore, if someone is extremely logical, they tend to be atheist. Otherwise if someone is logical yet uncertain of their commitment to science and reasoning, they tend to be agnostic.

by Phil for Humanity
on 01/21/2008

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