Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dinner dictionary 2

During a rectangle table discussion of religious beliefs we looked up the following words.

agnostic n. & a. of the view that nothing is or can be known of a god or of anything but material phenomena

atheism n. disbelief in the existence of a deity

I think I had the wrong idea for agnostic all these years. I had pictured it as more of a spiritual, non religious belief in a creator of some sort. Like people who say they believe in God but not in church. This definition above looks like a belief in only that which can be proven or shown.

Any thoughts?


  1. Agnostics usually like to say they are sitting on the fence about God. Since it cannot be proven one exists, it is hard for them to have faith. On the other hand, since we do not know everything and all is possible, there is room for accepting the possibility there might be some type of "god".
    The big difference between atheists and agnostics is the willingness to accept the slim possibility of a deity. Agnostics usually do not dwell on the subject, which is why you don't hear a lot about this group.

  2. I tend to think an agnostic view similar as SariJ points out believes in a supreme being, forces governed by "things that cannot & should not be attempted to explain." Perhaps similarities between the atheist view and agnostic view are the 'disbelief or confusion' arising from numerous perceptions and understandings that come out of teachings about religion and spirituality.

  3. I remember looking this up back in the early 90's when the churchy secretary at my then work told me in a horrified whisper that our director was agnostic.

    My view of agnostic is pretty much what Sari said-- that agnostics entertain the possibility of god but also think that if god is ever proven that it will be vastly different and much more amazing than humans have imagined up until now.

  4. I always thought agnostics were just waiting for a sign.

    I love this quote from the life of Pi

    “It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation”

  5. I like that last quote. Christ never experienced doubt, though. He knew what His mission was. It was just something he had to go through alone so He could have empathy and understanding for all mankind.

    I've always been confused by these two groups of thinkers, too. Always thought it was the other way around. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about it.

  6. Kim, I am glad I was not the only one confused!

  7. I have always heard agnostic is just "I don't know if there is a God". Atheist is "No, there is no God". Personally, I'd hate to have nothing to believe in!


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