Randomly Mental ™

My Online Junk-Drawer of Blogging Miscellany ™


Posted by kristobaldude on October 7, 2009

(09/08/09) – 10:30PM – 12:47AM

gnostic pentagramOk, Great GRAB-A-BREW tonite! One of the questions that came up during discussion topics was what is the difference between GNOSTIC, AGNOSTIC, and ATHEIST. As, promised, here is what I found:

(It is useful to note that the understood meaning of these words have indeed changed through the millennia)

Although there are websites that delve into much greater detail on the epistemology, etymology, origins, and etiological, and CONTROVERSIAL aspects of these concepts, this is the “bumper sticker” version I was able to distill. 😉

GNOSTIC – A person who believes in God, but believes that salvation cannot be had without understanding of secret esoteric knowledge. The Jewish Quabala, Magickal Grimoires, The Bible Code, and the movie “PI” all come to mind, for a better understanding of what “esoteric” knowledge might refer to. The gnostic movement spanned many religions simultaneously and predates Christianity.

(NOTE: The next two can be generally classified under the heading of “NONTHEIST”)

AGNOSTIC – My reading of this concept is thus: One who professes to be agnostic, is saying, where faith is believing in the existence of something for which you have not sufficient proof, the Agnostic will not claim belief in a supernatural being for which, in their experience, there is no proof, or not enough evidence to prove. The term has only been around since the 1860’s and it has permutated in many slight variations. Needless to say, one common meaning it has taken on today is essentially “I do not believe in God because there is not enough evidence” or “I do believe in God because I have experienced him/her empirically”, as opposed to just being taken as fact on the word of the preacher. Another common connotation is that an Agnostic believes either a) there is not enough evidence to prove the existence of a deity (though he may exist), or b) the existence of God cannot be proved or disproved, and therefore is inherently knowable.

ATHEIST – The semantics of this word have stirred a lot of controversy. Essentially, it is not believing in the existence of a God or Gods. However, there are nuances to the interpretation that have engendered ‘classifications’ of atheism. For instance, Buddhists who believe Gods don’t exist choose that belief. Whereas, newborn infants, or wildmen of the forest who are not exposed to society would also be considered atheists, as they have no concept of Gods, and thus no belief in them. Wikipedia says: “Writers disagree how best to define and classify atheism,[26] contesting what supernatural entities it applies to, whether it is an assertion in its own right or merely the absence of one, and whether it requires a conscious, explicit rejection. A variety of categories have been proposed to try to distinguish the different forms of atheism.”

The question of moral and atheists with good values was raised today. I think this term address that issue quite well:

Positive Atheist – “…entails such things as a being morally upright, showing an understanding that religious people have reasons to believe, not proselytising or lecturing others about atheism, and defending oneself with truthfulness instead of aiming to ‘win’ any confrontations with outspoken critics.”

[Here is an interesting variation on the theme:]
IRRELIGION: absence of religion, indifference to religion, and/or hostility to religion. This is not mutually exclusive with deism; many who are opposed to relgion, still believe in some form of deity.

Please follow the links provided to learn more.

Thank you for reading this post. Comments are welcomed!


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