Agnostic belief embraces uncertainty

Theism is the belief in a god, or multiple gods.

Atheism is the belief that there is no god, or gods, of any sort.

The world seems to have a relatively easy time understanding these two ideologies. However, many are confounded by the existence of a viewpoint that exists in between, or perhaps outside of, these two concepts.

Agnosticism is the belief that it is impossible for us to make firm conclusions about the existence of a god or gods. This belief, shared by almost 11 million people in America, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center study, has more subscribers in the United States than Islam, Judaism or Mormonism. Despite this, it remains one of the least-discussed and least-understood ideologies on both the social and political spectrums.

When a recent class discussion turned to religion, I casually mentioned that I was agnostic.

“What’s that?” asked one of my classmates.

I explained it as succinctly as I could, to which my classmate responded by furrowed brows and a long pause.

“So, you’re like, an atheist?”


A common misconception is that agnosticism and atheism are one in the same. A number of factors contribute to this myth, mainly that agnostics and atheists are usually grouped together in polls and studies. Likewise, many religions see belief as an “all or nothing” situation, wherein one who doesn’t firmly believe in a higher power must therefore be one who firmly believes there isn’t a higher power.

In truth, agnosticism is less about belief in a god and more about knowledge, or lack thereof. Some agnostics will say they think there is a God, and others will say they do not, with the caveat, of course, that there is no evidence to support either of these thoughts. Theists and atheists hold a strong belief (or disbelief) in the existence of a higher power. The key difference is in how secure the person is in those beliefs – an agnostic will recognize a realistic possibility that their beliefs are incorrect, whereas a theist or atheist generally will not.

Many seem to think that agnostics intend to be at odds with theists and atheists, but this could not be further from the truth. Agnostics do not hold their beliefs to spite others or to challenge religion. Just like Christianity, Islam or atheism, agnosticism is a sincere belief system. And, just as most religions aim to teach lessons about humanity and morality, agnosticism tells us that regardless of whether or not an afterlife awaits us, we should be kind and caring to all around us.

That being said, many agnostics will not tolerate the elements of many organized religions that harm people – homophobia, transphobia and a disdain for outsiders being among them.

Agnostics are not indecisive, ignorant or morally gray. They are legitimate voices that deserve to be heard within the conversations of faith that we have in the United States and abroad.

Jason Donnelly is a freshman majoring in instrumental performance.

Featured photo courtesy pixabay user DanielReche.

December 1, 2017


Jason Donnelly

Around the Web
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

A large number of University of Miami students attended the final day of the symposium, and a few sh ...

Hosted by the University of Miami and spearheaded by the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ...

In its fifth year, the conferenceā€”hosted by the School of Education and Human Developmentā€™s Sport Ad ...

Through the end of this year, they will join a group of statewide leaders from a variety of perspect ...

A unique exchange program brought 10 high school students from Botswana to South Florida and the Uni ...

Both D'Eriq King and Quincy Roche bring glittering resumes to Miami. Now, they say they're ...

Junior forward Tia Dupont garners conference accolades for the first time. ...

CBS4 reporter Lisa Petrillo will serve as the emcee of the sixth annual Celebration of Women's ...

After a pair of games in the Tar Heel State, the Miami men's basketball team returns home Tuesd ...

Alex Toral and Slade Cecconi were recognized as some of the top players in the country ahead of the ...

TMH Twitter
About Us

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.