Agnostic theists don’t blame God

Core to the belief of an agnostic theist is knowing that we do not know if God exists; we do not know of his involvement or lack thereof. Whilst we believe there may be a God, most do not attribute our fates to God.

Too often I hear people blaming God for their situation, for some let down of another. Agnostic theism in a sense does allow someone to blame God as they believe God to be; however, it is more common for an agnostic theist to be practical.

If a series of events happen it is more sensical for an agnostic theist to see things as they are. Blaming an invisible force often leaves us blind to reality. The same argument can be made to believing in luck, superstition, astrology and other invisible forces. One does not exclude their possibility however it is clear that in life there is normally a more factual explanation to hardship.

Let’s take something that happened recently in my life. My grandfather passed away from stage 4 cancer. I could blame God for it and I could blame God for not saving him. I could also thank God for allowing him into the world in the first place. A more practical approach is understanding that cancer is a cell mutation that can be caused by a number of things. Cancer can sometimes be cured and other times it cannot. Most importantly it is about understanding that there is probably no invisible force that had spitefully made my grandfather sick because I did not go to Sunday mass.

As an agnostic theist I do not need a supernatural explanation to a very natural thing. I also can acknowledge my feelings of grief, respect, love and the fact that I will never see my grandfather alive again.

When I lose a client or a friend; it is not God teaching me a lesson and if I cheat on my spouse it is not the devil luring me to do so. When I do something wrong I don’t blame God or his adversary; I blame myself. When the economy is bad I look for opportunities but I don’t blame God.

Knowing that I do not know God let’s me focus on the things I know and this is one reason why I am proud to be an Agnostic Theist.

Agnostic Vs Atheist

Gnosticism vs Theism or Apple Vs Orange

So what is the difference between an Agnostic and an Atheist?

What is the difference between a soldier and an American? Both the word soldier and the word American are used as nouns in this case. Had I used the term American soldier that would change things slightly but let’s think a little here.

An American could be an American Actor or an American entrepreneur. A soldier could be an African soldier he could also be a young German soldier. The two nouns agnostic and theist or gnostic and theist for that matter mean two different things. Whilst over time words and meanings merge a little it is important to understand that belief and knowledge are not the same thing; they therefore do not negate each other but rather compliment each other to paint a clearer picture.

Many agnostic atheists frown on agnostic theists claiming that one cannot believe that which one does not know. This is however where things get a little tricky; most of what we think we know is actually belief. This is why many find it hard to understand that knowledge and belief when presented as the words gnostic and theist are as different as when we use common English wording.

A week ago my wife ran into the room and told me that there was a mouse in the house. I did not know or certain that she was saying the truth and most importantly I did not know that there was a mouse in the house. What I did know was that my wife had told me that there was a mouse in the house. I believed my wife; I prepared to face the mouse. Quite the sight was I as I made my way to the room where the mouse was last seen. I was tense and ready to fight, broom in hand ready to wield with might.

I opened the door and lo and behold was a two foot tall mouse. My daughter had gotten dressed up in a mouse costume and my wife had set me up for a prank.

Yes being an agnostic theist may open you up to a prank every now an again but so can being an agnostic atheist. To spend a life believing that there is no supernatural being of any sort simply due to the lack of evidence is akin to not believing in dinosaurs because you never saw them.

Differences between Agnostic Theists and Agnostics

A Gnostic knows. A Theist believes.

To determine the difference between an Agnostic Theist and an Agnostic it is important to first understand that the two words describe two completely different things. Using the two descriptors together gives a deeper explanation of a person’s point of view on the subject.

An Agnostic Theist is telling you more.

Let us assume that as far as belief in God goes; (emphasis on belief) there are three possible positions one can hold.

Theist, Atheist and undecided – Belief

  • Believes in God or similar deity/supernatural being
  • Undecided, unsure, uncommitted or similar stance
  • Does not believe in God or similar deity/supernatural being

Gnostic and Agnostic – Knowledge

This part relates to Gnosis (knowledge) from the Greek word gnó̱si̱ γνώση which literally translates to knowledge. Unlike belief there is no reasonable third option as far as knowledge goes; you either know or do not know. A Gnostic knows (or at least claims to know); an Agnostic does not know.

An Agnostic theist is telling you:

I do not know; I believe. Whilst this seems contradictory it absolutely is not. A great example is fidelity; unless you have kept a watchful eye or some other sort of measure to ensure someone is faithful to you; you can never be certain. (Not recommended) Although you do not know and cannot know with full certainty you generally believe that your significant other is loyal.

An Agnostic is telling you less

When someone simply tells you they are agnostic they are only giving you information about their knowledge of God. This can mean that they remain undecided or that they are a theist or an atheist with regards to belief. Most commonly (not always) an Agnostic feels that since they have no knowledge then they cannot make a commitment with regards to belief.

Whilst the logic of the agnostic is not necessarily flawed it does put the undecided Agnostic at odds with both theists and atheists. It could be argued that in truth all humans are actually Agnostic since knowledge of God is at the very least uncertain. Most religions ask us to have blind faith in that which we do not understand or truly know.

In fact one could argue that an Agnostic Theist could be of any faith since they simply state they do not know but believe. In this sense it could be argued that Agnostic Theists fill the ranks of many religions.

Unaffiliated Agnostic Theists

Whilst an Agnostic theist may be affiliated or believe in any religion many Agnostic Theists are actually unaffiliated simply believing in the existence of a God, Supernatural being, deity or any such being without the need to label it in anyway. An unaffiliated agnostic theist; does not know, believes but not in a specific interpretation of God; rather the knowledge that s/he does not know also extends to not needing to know or believe in a particular God. This interpretation should not be assumed to mean that the unaffiliated agnostic theist is a pacifist. In fact it may be quite the contrary and the unaffiliated agnostic theist may feel that to interpret or label God is inappropriate especially when used as a form of manipulation or to exert control on another human being or any creature.

Is there a God ?

Asking an Agnostic Theist – Is there a God.

The Question “Is there a God?” is a frequently asked question and depending on who you ask you will get a different answer. An atheist will tell you the answer is no. A Christian will tell you the answer is yes and further add a string of assertions as well as give you a long list of details as to what God is. Some Christians share some similarities with Agnostic Theists due to the belief in the existence of a God. Christians may also state that they base their conclusion on faith and not on knowledge; this however is not the same as the answer that a pure Agnostic Theist might give.

Is there a God?

From an Agnostic Theism point of view, the question itself elicits other questions before it can be answered. What is God? What do you mean by God? The simplest answer is I don’t know if there is a God. If the word God is being used in an extremely broad sense of the word implying that God is not defined; God may be the universe as a whole, God may be one entity or many. An agnostic theist does not know or ever claim to know if there is a God; this however does not stop an Agnostic Theist from believing in the existence of a God or similar equivalent being.

Therefore an Agnostic Theist’s answer to the question Is there a God ? From a theistic and belief point of view; yes. Can the answer to this question be satisfied with only belief? It is actually one of those questions that can at present only be answered from a belief perspective. The reasoning behind this statement is based on the following:

Having not found something to be true does not make it false. Having not found something to be false does not make it true. Since there are no conclusive findings on a personal level it is impossible to ascertain from a knowledge perspective if God or a similar being exists.

From a belief perspective one can interpret a number of clues to lead them to the belief that such a being or God exists. It is important to maintain that this is not based on knowledge but rather on belief. Do you believe in God? Yes. Do you know if there is a God? No.

Agnostic Theists disagree on the answer to: Is there a God?

Basing an answer solely on belief and in the absence of knowledge allows for a multitude of interpretations. For this reason one Agnostic Theist may believe that God exists as a singular being. Another Agnostic theist may believe that there is more than one God. Furthermore an Agnostic Theist may believe that God per se does not exist but rather we all form part of one massive supernatural being. It is clear that each of us is made up of cells and parts; these parts form part of a greater whole, the individual. Beyond that each individual then forms part of a greater whole, the human race. The human race then forms part of a greater whole, for example animals as a whole. Earth in turn forms part of a greater whole. For some Agnostic Theists the ultimate greater whole is their interpretation of God or such an equivalent.

Each of the above arguments is plausible to an Agnostic Theist since neither is proved or disproved; the answer is unknown. An agnostic theist accepts that the answer is unknown but chooses to believe in the possibility of such a thing as God. An Agnostic Theist however is unlikely to argue with a differing belief since they have already accepted that the correct answer is unknown.

A personal point of view from one Agnostic Theist

It is important to note that the following is a personal interpretation and not necessarily the same point of view held by other Agnostic Theists; I provide it only to give some personal insight on the matter.

Is there a God ? I strongly believe that God or a similar being is truly unknown however I do believe that such a being exists. However I am averse to any particular belief system adopted by mankind. I believe that if such a being wishes to make itself known it would not be through fellow man but rather through our collective consciousness.

I have in fact accepted that I do not know God or a similar being and probably will not have such knowledge in my lifetime. I do not require an explanation or an interpretation of what God is. I am not in search of God or a similar being. I in fact do not seek the answer to such a question. I do not seek the word of God or some set guidelines as to the way I should live.

I do however believe that God or a similar being may have already established the base rules of existence. These may be the rules of physics, the rules of time, the rules of death and other natural laws of which we have some certainty. If there is some great architect of this universe it may be that we already have the rules that such a being wished us to have.

You can’t be an Agnostic Theist …

Agnostic Theism makes no sense

This is a common argument that as an Agnostic Theist I am faced with, predominantly by Atheists and even fellow Agnostics.

It is for this reason that I am writing this post to explain why it is irrefutably possible to be both an Agnostic and a theist. The best way to clarify this point is looking into each of the words separately and then seeing how they work together.

Agnostic – Agnosticism

Merriam Webster: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

Theist – Theism

Merriam Webster Theism: the belief that God exists or that many gods exist

Belief – Where Agnostic Theism gets complex

Merriam Webster Belief: a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true.

Knowledge Vs Belief

Merriam Webster Knowledge: information, understanding, or skill that you get from experience or education

Agnostic Theism is contradictory

What I will say next will probably sound a little off at first but hear me out. Agnosticism in and of itself pertains to the knowledge of God or Gods.

It is actually the definition of agnosticism that is somewhat flawed in this case; it is contradictory to confuse knowledge with belief. Agnosticism cannot be the knowledge and belief since knowledge and belief are two distinctly different things. I cannot know a thing and reasonably disbelieve it; this is true – however if I do not know a thing which is what agnosticism implies – then I am free to believe or disbelieve it.

Origin of the word Gnosis and its meaning

Gnosis is actually the Greek word for Knowledge; feel free to google translate to confirm this. It is therefore the bastardization of this word that is improper. This taken into account and going with the original and true meaning of Gnosis the root of Gnostic and Agnostic; one quickly finds that Agnosticism actually pertains to the knowledge part of things.

Once this is ascertained and accepted since it is indisputable it becomes easier to explain agnostic theism in the following way.

Agnostic Theism – I know I do not know but I still believe

An atheist for example has no certain knowledge that God does not exist; however an atheist believes that God does not exist. A theist on the other hand has no certain knowledge that God exists – yet chooses to believe in the existence of God.

The difference between a theist and an Agnostic Theist is that an Agnostic Theist is specifically professing and accepting that they have no real knowledge of the existence or lack of existence of God. A Gnostic Atheist and a Gnostic Theist profess to have made their decision based on knowledge.

Simply saying atheist or theist does not define if the person has reached their conclusions based on knowledge or the lack of it.

An agnostic theist is stating that they do not know. Adding agnostic is a way of explaining that the individual has no known knowledge on the subject.

It is due to this very reasoning that Agnostic Theism becomes irrefutable. Agnostic Theism is plausible, it is not truly contradictory because it makes two statements – One is about knowledge the other is about belief. Knowledge and belief are two different things.