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Agnosticism is to do with not knowing, particularly in connection with religious doctrine. In large part the ignorance is because the subject is unknowable.

The word agnosticism was first used by T.H. Huxley in 1869 at a meeting of the Metaphysical Society in London. Huxley professed to methodically pursue a logical conclusion as far as possible, but when the the method can not be used any further, to recognise that and admit that the limit of understanding has been reached.

Agnosticism is often compared with atheism, in that the atheist asserts that there is no god, whereas the agnostic does not know. In practice it might seem that there is no difference. however, agnosticism is more proactive and claims as false many views about god and human's relationship with god.

Similarly agnosticism is not the same as Skepticism, which challenges claims that go beyond immediate experience.

Agnosticism is, compatible with 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.


Gnosticism's Christian form grew to prominence in the 2nd century A.D. Ultimately denounced as heretical by the early church, Gnosticism proposed a revealed knowledge of God ("gnosis" meaning "knowledge" in Greek), held as a secret tradition of the apostles. In The Gnostic Gospels, author Elaine Pagels suggests that Christianity could have developed quite differently if Gnostic texts had become part of the Christian canon. Without a doubt: Gnosticism celebrates God as both Mother and Father, shows a very human Jesus's relationship to Mary Magdalene, suggests the Resurrection is better understood symbolically, and speaks to self-knowledge as the route to union with God. Pagels argues that Christian orthodoxy grew out of the political considerations of the day, serving to legitimize and consolidate early church leadership. Her contrast of that developing orthodoxy with Gnostic teachings presents an intriguing trajectory on a world faith as it "might have become." The Gnostic Gospels provides engaging reading for those seeking a broader perspective on the early development of Christianity. --F. Hall

Gnosis, which is the ancient secret knowledge that leads to the direct personal knowledge of the mysteries of life and death, is something so profound, so ground-shaking, so deeply penetrating, and yet its truths and its mysteries are one hundred percent PRACTICAL, meaning that they are accessed not through the intellect or through ideas or even through belief: they are discovered only and exclusively through ACTION.

Religious agnosticism .

When used in religious context, the term agnosticism becomes meaningless unless there is a minimum of conviction of religious beliefs which can be adequately supported or the religion does not have strong doctrinal demands. For example, a Christian agnostic would support religion with science and would not support propositions which had no scientific or logical support.

Religious agnosticism is difficult because of the conflicts between beliefs (unsupported) and science (facts). It is not sufficient to simply confess that one just does not know as in the following:

The God-men say when die go sky
Through pearly gates where river flow,
The God-men say when die we fly
Just like eagle, hawk and crow--
Might be, might be; I don't know.

(Aboriginal song from the Northern Territory, Australia.)

Similarly a lack of commitment about the object of worship is meaningless:

He is not a male: He is not a female: He is not a neuter.
He is not to be seen: He neither is nor is not.
When He is sought He will take the form in which
He is sought.
It is indeed difficult to describe the name of the Lord.

(Poem from the Telugu, inscribed on a cult object in the Royal Ontario Museum.)

Attempts to support religions have been difficult because faith, a core element of religion, is difficult to prove. It appears that an acceptable compromise is to only accept belief or faith which can be determined, without doubt, to be revealed by the object of worship.

Kant famously posed the issue: "I have found it necessary to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith" (Preface to the Critique of Pure Reason).

Spiritual Systems Main Religions
Agnosticism Atheism Monotheism Polytheism Buddhism Islam
Ancestor Deism Naturism Theism Christianity Judaism
Atheism Dualism Pantheism Totemism Hinduism  


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