It is difficult to quantify the number of atheists in the world, but estimates show that about 7%-16% of the global population does not identify with any form of religion. About 76% of the atheist population is in Asia, with China registering more than 200 million. A further 12% is in Europe, 5% in North America and 4% is in the Caribbean and Latin America. The Middle East and Africa have the least number of atheists. Europe and North America lead the world in adopting atheism as 16% of Americans consider themselves non-religious. Agnostic people neither deny nor conform to the ideology of a supernatural.
Agnostic people believe that the existence of God or a supernatural being is unknown and beyond human reason. The phrase “agnosticism” was first used by Thomas Henry Huxley against religious people who accused him of denouncing the role of God in the creation of the universe. Huxley supported the theories of evolution by Charles Darwin and did not subscribe to religious beliefs. He believed that nature was too diverse to have been created and that natural selection provided a better explanation provable by evidence. Huxley thought that agnosticism was a principle and not a belief. He reiterated that it is wrong for one to claim a phenomenon is a definite truth unless logical evidence is provided. The word was coined as the antagonist of the phrase “Gnosticism,” meaning “knowledge.” Gnosticism was a religious ideology in the first and second centuries that suggested that the material world was ungodly while the spirit world was the better choice. Although agnosticism was not intended to raise the question of whether God exists or not, it found its way to the religious world. Huxley justified his stand by claiming that he did not deny or affirm the mortality or human and therefore, did not see the reason to believe or disprove the existence of God. He challenged the religious and atheists to prove or disprove the presence of God.
The Difference Between Atheism and Agnosticism
Theism is the belief that God exists while atheism disproves the existence of God or any related superior being. Theism and Atheism are metaphysical contradictions that deal with finding an answer to the nature of reality. While atheism disapproves the existence of God, agnosticism adopts an epistemological approach of whether we can prove or disprove the presence of God by providing compelling evidence to justify either claim. Logically agnosticism dodges the question of whether or not you believe in the existence of God. Instead of a decisive yes or no, it introduces the position of neither. Critics of agnosticism claim that agnostic people are simply atheists who do not want to be portrayed as so. They claim that there are only two sides in the existence of God. If you are not for, then you are automatically against, and vice-versa. Philosophers agree that at face value, questioning the presence of God and not believing in the existence of God are divided by a thin line.
In the real world, agnostics and atheists are all categorized as non-believers. Most researchers categorize the two as “non-religious” or not affiliated to any religion. However, agnosticism and theism can correlate. One can buy to the ideology of religion and faith, and believe in the existence of God, but lack enough evidence to justify the claim. Agnosticism works side-by-side with apophatic theology, which claims that the existence of God is unknowable. The 13th-century theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas asserted that it is logical to define what God is not rather than what he is. In this manner, it is rational to consider how God does not exist rather than the way he does. Technically, one can be a faithful believer and an agnostic at the same time, but it is more common for agnostics to side with atheists.
The Future of Agnosticism and Atheism
Agnosticism and atheism are not going away anytime soon. In fact, the number of non-religious people is rising across the world. Millennials lead the frontline in adopting the ideologies as they view religion as a stumbling block in global integration. A survey of the American population revealed that millennials are disengaging from religion and prefer raising their children away from the church.
About the Author
Victor Kiprop is a writer from Kenya. When he's not writing he spends time watching soccer and documentaries, visiting friends, or working in the farm.
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