The term has come to be equated in popular parlance with skepticism about religious questions in general and in particular with the rejection of traditional Christian beliefs under the impact of modern scientific thought. The word agnosticism was first publicly coined in at a meeting of the Metaphysical Society in London by T. Huxley , a British biologist and champion of the Darwinian theory of evolution. He coined it as a suitable label for his own position. Etymology, however, and now common usage, do permit less limited uses of the term. The Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin , for instance, in his Materialism and Empirio-Criticism , distinguished the extremes of true materialism on the one hand and the bold idealism of George Berkeley , an 18th-century idealist, on the other. Agnosticism, moreover, is not the same as skepticism , which, in the comprehensive and classical form epitomized by the ancient Greek skeptic Sextus Empiricus 2nd and 3rd centuries ce , confidently challenges not merely religious or metaphysical knowledge but all knowledge claims that venture beyond immediate experience. Agnosticism is, as skepticism surely could not be, compatible with the approach of positivism , which emphasizes the achievements and possibilities of natural and social science—though most agnostics , including Huxley, have nonetheless harboured reserves about the more authoritarian and eccentric features of the system of Auguste Comte , the 19th-century founder of positivism. It is also possible to speak of a religious agnosticism. But if this expression is not to be contradictory, it has to be taken to refer to an acceptance of the agnostic principle, combined either with a conviction that at least some minimum of affirmative doctrine can be established on adequate grounds, or else with the sort of religion or religiousness that makes no very substantial or disputatious doctrinal demands.
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Nature and kinds of agnosticism
In March, driven by parishioner deaths and lack of interest, the U. Mennonites held their last collective service. It might seem easy to predict that plain-dressing Anabaptists—who follow a faith related to the Amish—would become irrelevant in the age of smartphones, but this is part of a larger trend. Around the world, when asked about their feelings on religion, more and more people are responding with a meh. The religiously unaffiliated, called "nones," are growing significantly. In the United States, nones make up almost a quarter of the population. In the past decade, U. France will have a majority secular population soon. So will the Netherlands and New Zealand. The United Kingdom and Australia will soon lose Christian majorities.
Huxley’s nonreligious agnosticism
Agnosticism is the view that the existence of God , of the divine or the supernatural is unknown or unknowable. The English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley coined the word agnostic in , and said "It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe. Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or modern. It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe. Consequently, agnosticism puts aside not only the greater part of popular theology, but also the greater part of anti-theology. On the whole, the "bosh" of heterodoxy is more offensive to me than that of orthodoxy, because heterodoxy professes to be guided by reason and science, and orthodoxy does not. That which Agnostics deny and repudiate, as immoral, is the contrary doctrine, that there are propositions which men ought to believe, without logically satisfactory evidence; and that reprobation ought to attach to the profession of disbelief in such inadequately supported propositions. Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle Positively the principle 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.
Entry 1 of 2 1 : a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality such 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 2 : a person who is unwilling to commit to an opinion about something political agnostics agnostic. It's not on. This distinction can be troublesome to remember, but examining the origins of the two words can help. Although both words share a prefix which is probably the source of much of the confusion the main body of each word is quite different. Agnostic shares part of its history with words such as prognosticate and prognosis , words which have something to do with knowledge or knowing something. Atheist shares roots with words such as theology and theism , which generally have something to do with God. Examples of agnostic in a Sentence Noun Even polytheists … were in fact tolerated, as Islamic rule spread to most of India. Only the total unbeliever—the agnostic or atheist—was beyond the pale of tolerance … — Bernard Lewis , Islam in History , Supporters of education vouchers … will love what Norman Macrae has to say on the subject. Teachers' unions and other opponents of vouchers … will deplore it. Voucher agnostics and I include myself might find that the proposal not only answers most doubts but also makes sense on issues they've never much thought about.