Agnostic



a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.
Synonyms: disbeliever, nonbeliever, unbeliever; doubter, skeptic, secularist, empiricist; heathen, heretic, infidel, pagan.
a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.
a person who holds neither of two opposing positions on a topic:
Socrates was an agnostic on the subject of immortality.
of or relating to agnostics or their doctrines, attitudes, or beliefs.
asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.
holding neither of two opposing positions:
If you take an agnostic view of technology, then it becomes clear that your decisions to implement one solution or another should be driven by need.
Contemporary Examples

According to Pew, close to two-thirds of those who identify as atheist or agnostic are men.
Are Atheists the New Mormons? Michael Schulson April 17, 2014

RJC and the Emergency Committee are agnostic about its democratic character.
How Bill Kristol and JVP Are Both “Israel-Agnostic” Peter Beinart August 26, 2012

But suffice it to say that for the agnostic, like the mystic, it is the journey and not the destination that matters most.
An Agnostic’s Manifesto Reza Aslan November 3, 2010

Because of that, the banks that facilitate these transactions have always been agnostic about who is on which side.
Can You Hear Goldman Laughing? Tunku Varadarajan July 15, 2010

What Krasny wanted, in essence, was to construct an agnostic credo.
An Agnostic’s Manifesto Reza Aslan November 3, 2010

Historical Examples

But to be an agnostic does not mean to be without a religion; it only means to be without a revealed religion.
What was the Religion of Shakespeare? M. M. Mangasarian

The world is not the same to the Christian theist and to the agnostic.
Elementary Guide to Literary Criticism F. V. N. Painter

In much more serious matters it is assumed that the agnostic is impartial; whereas the agnostic is merely ignorant.
All Things Considered G. K. Chesterton

I am not saying Pendleton did not have, you understand; I am an agnostic on that subject.
A Circuit Rider’s Wife Corra Harris

I am an agnostic in many things, and the way I understand art is this: In the first place we are all invisible to each other.
The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, Vol. 12 (of 12) Robert G. Ingersoll

noun
a person who holds that knowledge of a Supreme Being, ultimate cause, etc, is impossible Compare atheist, theist
a person who claims, with respect to any particular question, that the answer cannot be known with certainty
adjective
of or relating to agnostics
n.

1870, “one who professes that the existence of a First Cause and the essential nature of things are not and cannot be known” [Klein]; coined by T.H. Huxley (1825-1895), supposedly in September 1869, from Greek agnostos “unknown, unknowable,” from a- “not” + gnostos “(to be) known” (see gnostic). Sometimes said to be a reference to Paul’s mention of the altar to “the Unknown God,” but according to Huxley it was coined with reference to the early Church movement known as Gnosticism (see Gnostic).

I … invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of ‘agnostic,’ … antithetic to the ‘Gnostic’ of Church history who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant. [T.H. Huxley, “Science and Christian Tradition,” 1889]

The adjective is first recorded 1870.

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