People who follow agnosticism are referred to as agnostics. Agnosticism is not exactly a religion, but more like a set of beliefs surrounding absolute knowledge that a god or supreme being actually exists. The premise of agnosticism is that humans do not have enough knowledge of the world, the universe or the supernatural to claim the definite existence or non-existence of a supreme being. Agnosticism is primarily concerned with knowledge and trials, rather than with beliefs.
The agnostic beliefs date back to the 5th century BC, when the philosophers of Greece and India began to question the history of human origins, the existence of the gods and the idea of a life after death. Despite this long history, the term agnostic was not created until the end of the 19th century. This word, in its literal definition, means “without knowledge”. This ideology is rooted in the scientific belief that proof is needed to get true knowledge.
Agnosticism and scientific method
The agnostic approach to understanding life, death and what happens next is of a very scientific nature. Start first with the basic doubt. In other words, all statements must first be questioned rather than believed. This step is followed by establishing a solid understanding of the language used to describe the situation in question. In other words, an appropriate definition of specific terms must be established. Subsequently, the situation must be analyzed in a non-polarized way, which means that all possibilities must be considered without preference for a particular result. The situation in question must be examined from all points of view in order to gather as many truths as possible.
For an agnostic, to suggest the existence of a higher power or an afterlife is like having a hypothesis without a method to test the theory. This lack of evidence means that the scientific method cannot be used to prove or disprove the hypothesis. The truth behind the hypothesis that God exists remains unresolved. Some philosophers have therefore defined agnosticism as a way to make skeptical investigations into human knowledge of spiritual matters. However, other philosophers have suggested that the imperfect nature of humans means that no claim can be made with the absolute certainty that religions make god and the hereafter.
Agnosticism and reality
Several philosophers have attempted to describe the way in which the human relationship with reality supports agnostic beliefs. One of these philosophers, Immanuel Kant, argued that humans gain knowledge through sensory perception of personal experiences. However, humans do not share the exact same perception of reality. Reality can only be understood on an individual level as a person could never understand life as another person lived it. Since each person has a different personal reality, the human understanding of supernatural deities is impossible because these deities would be different for each person.
Agnosticism and religion
Since agnosticism is rooted in real knowledge rather than belief, possession of agnostic thoughts or beliefs may be possible while part of a particular organized religion. Just because an agnostic person admits that he does not know whether God’s existence is real does not mean that the same agnostic person cannot believe in a supernatural being. In this case, beliefs and knowledge are not necessarily mutually exclusive and can therefore coexist. Moreover, in a religion that requires faith (unbelief), agnostic belief is almost a requirement. This is because faith requires the faithful to confess a lack of knowledge. In other words, the religious person does not need to know that something is true to have faith. In these faith-based religions,
Agnosticism and the afterlife
Most organized religions try to offer an explanation of what happens after a person dies. This explanation generally implies a sort of afterlife, in which the human soul is rewarded or punished for how they chose to live. Other beliefs of the beyond include: reincarnation, nothing, the return to life in the same body, uniting with another species of afterlife that is neither a reward nor a punishment.
According to the scientific method, used by an agnostic, not all of these possibilities can be true. Therefore, the majority (if not all) of them must be false. In fact, the idea that humans have a soul or that the soul continues to exist for a long period of time is illogical in agnostic reasoning.
Types of agnosticism
Agnosticism can be divided into three basic types: strong, weak and apathetic.
The strong agnosticism, also known as closed or severe, is the idea that humans can never come to know if God, or some other omnipotent divinity, really exists. This inability to know if it is rooted in the idea that human experience is a very personal event. This means that what a person experiences or pays in a particular situation may not be what another person feels in the same situation. Because of these differences, the idea of God cannot be shared; therefore, the existence of God is impossible to confirm.
Weak agnosticism, also known as open or empirical, is the idea that human beings do not have enough information at this time to ascertain the existence of a deity. This type of agnosticism leaves open the possibility of discovering scientific evidence of God in the future. Because of this lack of evidence and knowledge, weak agnosticism cannot deny or confirm the existence of god.
Apathetic agnosticism takes the position that the existence or non-existence of a supreme being is of little or no consequence in the life of humans. An apathetic agnostic questions the importance of the gods, arguing that if they exist, they have done little to influence the lives of humans until now.
Criticism of agnostic beliefs
Agnosticism has been criticized by a number of individuals and groups. He is criticized because he attributes too much importance to knowledge and material evidence. Critics also claim that this belief system cannot be applied to everyday life because human beings can only live under one of the two absolutes: god exists or god does not exist.