Re: You may not believe in God but She still believes in you, most of the time

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Mon Jun 19 2000 - 20:10:44 MDT

>However, this not being the case, what then is an agnostic?
>Ronin Cuervo

Huxley describes how he came to originate the term 'agnostic' as follows:
When I reached intellectual maturity, and began to ask myself whether I was an
atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; a Christian or
a freethinker, I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was
the answer; until at last I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor
part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which
most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from
them. They were quite sure that they had attained a certain "gnosis" -- had more
or less successfully solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I
had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble. And,
with Hume and Kant on my side, I could not think myself presumptuous in holding
fast by that opinion. [...]

So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of
"agnostic". It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the "gnostic" of
Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I
was ignorant; and I took the earliest opportunity of parading it at our Society,
to show that I, too, had a tail, like the other foxes.
My definition of agnostic is probably different from any that you have
previously heard. My (modern) definition is that everyone is an agnostic. That's
right, everyone is either an agnostic/atheist or they are an agnostic/theist
because no one can 'know' god. Atheists probably don't have a problem with this
definition, but I'd be willing to bet that many theists who are reading this
don't appreciate being labeled an agnostic.


J. R. Molloy

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