Agnostic vs. Atheist

By Jaxson

  • Atheist

    Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.The etymological root for the word atheism originated before the 5th century BCE from the ancient Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning “without god(s)”. In antiquity it had multiple uses as a pejorative term applied to those thought to reject the gods worshiped by the larger society, those who were forsaken by the gods or those who had no commitment to belief in the gods. The term denoted a social category created by orthodox religionists into which those who did not share their religious beliefs were placed. The actual term atheism emerged first in the 16th century. With the spread of freethought, skeptical inquiry, and subsequent increase in criticism of religion, application of the term narrowed in scope. The first individuals to identify themselves using the word atheist lived in the 18th century during the Age of Enlightenment. The French Revolution, noted for its “unprecedented atheism,” witnessed the first major political movement in history to advocate for the supremacy of human reason. The French Revolution can be described as the first period where atheism became implemented politically.

    Arguments for atheism range from the philosophical to social and historical approaches. Rationales for not believing in deities include arguments that there is a lack of empirical evidence, the problem of evil, the argument from inconsistent revelations, the rejection of concepts that cannot be falsified, and the argument from nonbelief. Nonbelievers contend that atheism is a more parsimonious position than theism and that everyone is born without beliefs in deities; therefore, they argue that the burden of proof lies not on the atheist to disprove the existence of gods but on the theist to provide a rationale for theism. Although some atheists have adopted secular philosophies (e.g. secular humanism), there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere.Since conceptions of atheism vary, accurate estimations of current numbers of atheists are difficult. According to global Win-Gallup International studies, 13% of respondents were “convinced atheists” in 2012, 11% were “convinced atheists” in 2015, and in 2017, 9% were “convinced atheists”. However, other researchers have advised caution with WIN/Gallup figures since other surveys which have used the same wording for decades and have a bigger sample size have consistently reached lower figures. An older survey by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 2004 recorded atheists as comprising 8% of the world’s population. Other older estimates have indicated that atheists comprise 2% of the world’s population, while the irreligious add a further 12%. According to these polls, Europe and East Asia are the regions with the highest rates of atheism. In 2015, 61% of people in China reported that they were atheists. The figures for a 2010 Eurobarometer survey in the European Union (EU) reported that 20% of the EU population claimed not to believe in “any sort of spirit, God or life force”.

  • Agnostic (adjective)

    Of or relating to agnosticism or its adherents.

    “His agnostic viewpoint is summarized in his book.”

  • Agnostic (adjective)

    Doubtful or uncertain about the existence or demonstrability of God or other deity.

    “She left the church when she became agnostic.”

  • Agnostic (adjective)

    Of a software polymorphic; modular; pluggable

    “The socket communications layer is agnostic with regard to its underlying transport mechanism — it is “transport-agnostic”.”

  • Agnostic (adjective)

    Having no firmly held opinions on an issue or matter of uncertainty.

    “I’m agnostic on whether ethanol is a green fuel.”

    “He says he’s agnostic concerning the Secretary’s claims.”

  • Agnostic (noun)

    A person who holds to a form of agnosticism, especially uncertainty of the existence of a deity.

  • Atheist (noun)

    A person who does not believe in deities.

  • Atheist (noun)

    A person who believes that no deities exist one who has no other religious belief.

  • Atheist (noun)

    A person who rejects belief that any deities exist (whether or not that person believes that deities do not exist).

  • Atheist (noun)

    A person who does not believe in a particular deity (or any deity in a particular pantheon), notwithstanding that they may believe in another deity.

  • Atheist (adjective)

    Of or relating to atheists or atheism; atheistic.

  • Agnostic (noun)

    a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.

  • Agnostic (adjective)

    relating to agnostics or agnosticism.

  • Agnostic (adjective)

    (in a non-religious context) having a doubtful or non-committal attitude towards something

    “until now I’ve been fairly agnostic about electoral reform”

  • Agnostic (adjective)

    denoting or relating to hardware or software that is compatible with many types of platform or operating system

    “many common file formats (JPEG, MP3, etc.) are platform-agnostic”

    “our industry is moving towards a device-agnostic model”

Oxford Dictionary

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