Trend Watch

Agnostic

Yes, it's different from 'atheist'


Lookups for agnostic spiked on June 3rd after CNN.com published an article by Penn Jillette titled “Time for atheists to stand up and be counted.”

agnostic

An agnostic is "a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god."

Jillette wrote:

We try other words: "humanist," "non-religious," "heathen," "infidel." Some of us even lie about the term "agnostic," and pretend that it means "atheist with an open mind" or "atheist lite," but it really doesn't.
—Penn Jillette, CNN.com, 2 June 2016

It really doesn't. Agnostic refers to someone who doesn’t know whether there is a god, or even if such a thing is knowable.

We've written about the origins of—and distinctions between—secular, atheist, and agnostic before. It's a subject that's sure to get more attention in the future; as both Jillette and the Pew Research Center have noted, “the percentage of Americans who are losing their religion is rising.”



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