Religious Religion

Agnostic

Being an agnostic is becoming more and more common. Every day people are coming to a realization that they're actually not certain God exists. They're becoming more skeptical and beginning to see the downsides of religion. Agnostics are, well, sort of like atheists, but there are some key differences. Let's dig in.

What does it mean to be agnostic?

ag·nos·tic /aɡˈnästik/
A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.Oxford

Agnostics tend to abstain from concluding if God exists. They believe that a god's existence isn't something that can even be proven. So where exactly did we get the word from?

Origin of the word

Thomas Huxley coined the term "agnostic" in the 19th century. Huxley was a biologist, speaker, and philosopher, as well as one of Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species" most staunch supporters. Huxley once described agnosticism as: “Positively, (agnosticism) may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him.”

Who identifies as agnostic?

Well, according to a review of various global studies on atheism, sociologists Keysar and Navarro-Rivera estimate there are 450-500 million people identifying as either an atheist or agnostic. The exact numbers can be tough to asses, since agnostics are often counted along with atheist and non-religious groups.

A 2010 survey from Encyclopædia Britannica found that almost 10% of the world's population as non-religious or agnostic. [1]

The Financial Times, back in 2006, polled the rate of agnosticism and found some staggering numbers [2]:

CountryRate of agnosticism
United States14%
Germany25%
Italy20%
Spain30%
Great Britain35%
France32%

Be sure to check out our page about what it means to be religious.

Sources

  1. "Religion: Year in Review 2010: Worldwide Adherents of All Religions". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  2. "Religious Views and Beliefs Vary Greatly by Country, According to the Latest Financial Times/Harris Poll". Financial Times/Harris Interactive. December 20, 2006. Archived from the original on July 23, 2013. Retrieved April 9, 2011.