Difference Between Atheist vs. Agnostic

Primary Difference

People generally think that both the atheists and agnostics are the same group of people with similar beliefs which are that they do not believe in God or the existence of God and other religious affairs. But, in truth, they both are a separate group of people with vastly different beliefs. Atheists believe and state that there is no God and also give various reasons and proofs supporting their theory of the non-existence of God. Agnostics, on the other hand, believe that human beings do not possess enough intelligence or knowledge about the unseen, meaning that they cannot think beyond the physical world or physical realm which they can actually see and thus cannot know whether God, angels or Satan exists or not. Atheism is a belief that God does not exist and they support their belief too and no amount of knowledge can convince atheists and falter them from their belief while agnosticism is a theory of knowledge, they believe that they do not have such knowledge to know outside their physical realm, they do not deny that there is no God neither they agree that there is God, they just state that they cannot know what is the truth and what is false. An agnostic can also be an atheist but an atheist cannot be an agnostic because no matter what an atheist does not believe in the existence of God whereas an agnostic firmly stated that he has no knowledge but he does not even deny the existence of one God. Atheism and agnosticism are two fundamentally different philosophies, atheism has taken a bold step regarding the mysteries of the unseen that God does not exist which implies that human perception can be unlimited and human beings can make such claims about the unseen regardless of the proofs whereas to claim there is no point in trying to prove or disprove God’s existence is to acknowledge the limits of human perception.

Comparison Chart

AtheistAgnostic
DefinitionAn atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of God and firmly believes that no God exists.An agnostic person does not know whether God exists or not
NatureAn Atheist would never change his belief and even give the benefit of the doubtAn agnostic does not deny that there is no God, also he does not even agree that there is a God
StanceExtremeNeutral
OpennessWill deviate from his belief even after proofs from others.Will give the benefit of the doubt and listen to other people’s answers and beliefs.

Definition of Atheist

An atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of God and firmly believes that no God exists. Widely explained in different terms atheism is the lack of belief in a god or the absence of belief in a god or simply a disbelief in god. An Atheist would never change his belief and even give the benefit of the doubt, no matter how many reasons or justifications or facts they are given their belief will not change. Of all the atheists living together, you can have a wide variety of reasons for their denial as well as many different levels of certainty. Some will deny out rightly that God does exist and will also give a variety of proofs of God’s non-existence while Other’s will simply say they do not believe there is a God though they will have no proof to support their theory that God does not exist. The common denominator is that they do not believe in God. Although atheists are commonly assumed to be irreligious, some religions, such as Buddhism, have been characterized as atheistic because of their lack of belief in one God.

Definition of Agnostic

An agnostic person does not know whether God exists or not, an agnostic will simply say that people cannot possibly know of the outer world that is outside their physical knowledge and perception. Agnosticism is a theory of knowledge, that people cannot have knowledge that whether God exists or not, they simply cannot know of the unseen. An agnostic does not deny that there is no God, also he does not even agree that there is a God, he just stays neutral and just says that he cannot know. An agnostic is a person who is doubtful and non-committal meaning he has the benefit of the doubt, which also means that at some point he does believe that God is there because he is not denying it. Agnostics claim that they cannot have absolute or even certain knowledge of the existence of God.

Differences in a Nutshell

  1. An atheist is a belief while an agnostic is the theory of knowledge.
  2. An atheist does not believe in the existence of god while an agnostic says that he cannot possibly have enough knowledge to know about the existence or nonexistence of God.
  3. An atheist claims to that there is no God while an agnostic is neutral.
  4. An atheist denies the existence of God whereas an agnostic neither affirms and neither denies the existence of God.
  5. An agnostic can be an atheist but an atheist cannot be an agnostic.
  6. An atheist will deviate from his belief even after proofs from others while an agnostic will give the benefit of the doubt and listen to other people’s answers and beliefs.

Conclusion

We all know about Atheist but there are other similar words which have a different meaning, they might be similar in the way they sound but the actual root can be variable. This article has, therefore, gave the details about the two terms and then given the differences to make it easier for people to understand the correct usage.

Author:

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

View all posts by Aimie Carlson