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10 Agnostic Principles: What It Means to Be Agnostic

Dr. Thomas Swan has a PhD in psychology from the University of Otago. He specializes in the cognitive and evolutionary study of religion.

Three famous agnostics: Charles Darwin, David Hume, and Albert Einstein (left to right). Some of the greatest thinkers and scientists of the modern era were agnostic about God.

Three famous agnostics: Charles Darwin, David Hume, and Albert Einstein (left to right). Some of the greatest thinkers and scientists of the modern era were agnostic about God.

What is Agnosticism?

Etymologically, the word agnostic means "without knowledge" and it commonly describes a position on the existence of God. It is a blanket term that includes a broad spectrum of skeptics who may profess beliefs about God's existence without claiming to know their beliefs are true.

For example, agnostic atheists sometimes believe that gods don't exist, while agnostic theists believe in one or more gods. However, these two groups usually describe themselves as atheists and theists rather than agnostics.

The following 10 principles describe pure agnostics, i.e., absolute skeptics who are not inclined to add a statement about belief. This definition is closer to what was originally intended by Thomas Huxley, a biologist who coined the term in 1869.

It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe. Consequently, agnosticism puts aside not only the greater part of popular theology, but also the greater part of anti-theology.

— Thomas Huxley

The 10 agnostic principles that follow are meant to define and explain the agnostic position on God, although they can be applied to any other deity (i.e., not just the Abrahamic god).

1. An agnostic does not know if God exists and has no reason to think anyone else does.

Be careful with this first agnostic principle. It is not equivalent to “I don’t know and neither do you.” An agnostic cannot know about all the evidence that exists in the universe. They can only know that they haven’t observed any evidence or heard any arguments that are credible.

2. All beliefs and asymmetric judgments of probability are irrational if not supported by relevant evidence.

It would be presumptuous for an agnostic to say any more than “God might exist.” Agnostics know of no evidence for or against the existence of God, meaning that there is no reason to form any degree of belief in either proposition. This is the scientific position (i.e., no conclusion without evidence), which is why Huxley once said that "agnosticism is of the essence of science."

Furthermore, a claim about the likelihood or unlikelihood of God’s existence must be supported by evidence that is relevant. If something in a theist’s holy book is right or wrong, or the fossil record is convincing, or there is evil in the world, this should have no bearing on whether a deity exists.

I do not have enough faith to believe there is no god.

— David Hume

3. The scientific method is currently the best way to answer questions about life, the universe, and everything.

Through observation, experiment, and inductive reasoning, we can embark on a fruitful search for truth. Indeed, psychological studies can even help us to understand the evolutionary origins of religion, its social functions, and our cognitive attraction to gods. Similarly, physics can unearth the wonders of the universe, while biology can reveal the secrets of life.

4. There are no extant scientific instruments known to the agnostic that can provide evidence for or against the existence of God.

If such an instrument existed, evidence that is relevant to God’s existence could be obtained. To the best of an agnostic’s knowledge, there is no such instrument and, thus, no evidence.

The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. We can measure the God particle, but we can't measure God.

The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. We can measure the God particle, but we can't measure God.

5. The burden of proof is on whoever is making a claim.

Dismissing an unsupported claim about the existence or non-existence of God can be done in an equally unsupported way. Saying the opposite claim must therefore be true cannot.

So what people are really after is, what is my stance on religion or spirituality or God? And I would say, if I find a word that came closest, it would be agnostic.

— Neil deGrasse Tyson

6. Agnostics rarely believe what they do not know.

With enough skepticism, having belief becomes as difficult as having knowledge. In most cases then, the word agnostic should cover a pure agnostic’s position on belief as well as knowledge (as suggested by Huxley; see earlier quote).

An agnostic will generally consider it foolish to believe what cannot be supported to the level of knowledge. Thus, it is also foolish to suggest that a pure agnostic "has no stated position on belief."

7. Argumentum ad populum is a logical fallacy, even if you are talking about unicorns, fairies, and teapots.

Bertrand Russell’s space-faring teapot, pink unicorns, fairies, and the "flying spaghetti monster" are alleged by many atheists to be so unlikely (and so much like gods, apparently) that they reduce agnosticism to absurdity.

However, if the veracity of the Bible is not supported by billions of believers, then the falsehood of fairy tales is not supported by billions of disbelievers. These are both examples of argumentum ad populum, or an "appeal to the people" fallacy.

If something seems absurd because it commonly appears in fiction or a different cultural context, then this has no bearing on the possibility of it appearing in another context. Acknowledging this does not require agnostics to consider fairies or deities as causes of unusual events. Without evidence for their presence (see the 1st principle), there is no reason to consider them.

Although Bertrand Russell proffered his own brands of absurdity (the Homeric gods and a space-faring teapot), he recognized the philosophical failings of argumentum ad populum in the following quote.

If I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.

— Bertrand Russell

8. Agnostics are not divided between those who believe an answer will be found and those who believe it is unanswerable.

Richard Dawkins defined these two types of agnosticism as temporary agnosticism in practice (TAP) and permanent agnosticism in principle (PAP). However, it is not clear why an agnostic should rashly discard their skepticism by forming an unsupported belief of this kind.

The God question might be resolved or it might be impossible. The agnostic position is that we don’t know. Attempts by prominent atheists to implant belief (or faith) into agnosticism so that they can mount a criticism of it are straw man fallacies.

Three famous agnostics: Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell, and Neil deGrasse Tyson (left to right). Some of the greatest thinkers of the past century were (or are) agnostic.

Three famous agnostics: Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell, and Neil deGrasse Tyson (left to right). Some of the greatest thinkers of the past century were (or are) agnostic.

9. Agnostics usually aren't wishy-washy, indecisive fence-sitters.

Any agnostic that has seriously considered their philosophical position will require a considerable amount of evidence to change that position. This is because agnosticism is strongly grounded in skepticism, which can lead to vehement criticism of any unsupported belief, whether theistic or atheistic.

This skeptical stance cannot be described as "wishy-washy," nor as "fence-sitting" (if to describe someone who is unsure). An agnostic is sure in their skepticism, but they recognize that to be a critic of one position, they do not need to endorse the opposite position. As a result, an agnostic can and often will criticize religion as much as any atheist.

My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then forget about it. An agnostic is somebody who doesn't believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I'm agnostic.

— Carl Sagan

10. There are important differences between atheism and agnosticism.

Atheism, which means "without belief in gods" is a blanket term that includes several non-theist positions, including pure agnosticism. Some of these positions, such as having an unsupported belief in the non-existence of God, are contrary to the skeptical stance that many agnostics adopt. Therefore, agnostics sometimes wish to clarify their position by separating themselves from other brands of atheism.

Although agnosticism is also a blanket term, it may be the clearest way to communicate an agnostic’s specific position on the existence of God, and the best way to avoid being misrepresented. Criticism of this position by atheists (such as described in principles 6–9) is another reason why many choose to distance themselves from blanket atheism.

I should prefer the word Agnostic to the word Atheist.

— Charles Darwin

Why is Agnosticism Criticized?

Uncertainty causes anxiety, which is a universally unpleasant emotion. The purpose of the unpleasantness is to motivate people to extinguish uncertainty in any way they can. Generally, this is because certainty is a safer state of being than uncertainty.

In practice, our instinctual dislike of uncertainty biases how we attend to the world. It disposes us to see certainties or likelihoods where none exist. Whether the end result is religion or committed atheism, we cling to worldviews that bring some level of order to the chaos.

To be agnostic is to completely disregard our instincts by tolerating uncertainty and accepting it as an inevitable response to questions that we cannot answer. As such, agnosticism increases anxiety, making it the least comfortable theological position to endorse, and the most likely to be denied or dismissed by those sitting more comfortably.

You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.

— Albert Einstein

An agnostic's tolerance for uncertainty is a constant reminder for theists and (some) atheists of their intolerance for uncertainty, which can lead to angry reactions, criticism, and misrepresentation (e.g., principle 9).

Indeed, atheists sometimes respond to agnosticism by filing it away under blanket definitions of atheism that, on average, convey a greater degree of certainty about the God question. Furthermore, by denying or dissolving the middle ground, theism and atheism may appear less extreme, giving followers of both positions more confidence in their impartiality.

Thank you for reading. I hope that the ten principles outlined above have given you a better explanation of what agnosticism is and is not.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Thomas Swan


Truth on April 16, 2020:

This article is about confusion. Nothing to do with anything.

savvydating on August 23, 2016:

Very nicely written. I appreciate rule number 3 to an extent: "The scientific method is currently the best way to answer questions about life, the universe, and everything." Somewhat true, but not entirely true. It is likely that relying on natural science to prove or disprove God or the supernatural is likely the best way to remain an agnostic, if that is the goal. There is no way that, in our limited knowledge, we can prove the existence of God through science alone. But it is true that we lack knowledge.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 20, 2015:

You're right though (I read through some of the comments) this subject does lead to 'passionate debate'


Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on September 20, 2015:

Thanks lawrence, I think there a good arguments for him being an atheist too.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on September 19, 2015:


Just want to say i enjoyed this hub and was surprised to see Bertrand Russell listed as an agnostic as I always thought he was an atheist!



Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on June 29, 2015:

Thanks Catherine. I admit I've gotten rather concise with my wordage over the years and I may go overboard to the point of being convoluted at times. Too much practice sticking to word limits I suspect. I remember thinking the same thing about Nietzsche the first time I read him, so I'll content myself with that overly flattering comparison before I start waffling.

It's a joy to read your hubs too. They generate lots of impassioned debate. I like how you deal with the less mature types who don't know how to disagree without being insulting. I've stumbled across a few of them before!

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on June 29, 2015:

This is such a learned and educated discussion of agnosticism. I learned quite a lot from it. It is a joy to read your hubs on religion, although it is sometimes slow going because I have to slow down to take it all in and to think about it. Keep up the good work. Voting up ++ and sharing. (H+ and social media.)

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on June 23, 2015:

Thank you Akriti Mattu, Ausseye, and Alexis Cogwell for your kind comments.

Ashley Ferguson from Indiana/Chicagoland on June 19, 2015:

Awesome parallel to "The 10 Commandments". I have heard no greater explanation. :)

Ausseye on June 16, 2015:

An awe inspired work of the unknown and known, making a true believable gap in knowledge. Beautiful and so, so very true. The universe has a lot to answer for, so much space to believe and disbelieve and just our knowledge and it's there and unbelievably vast. A small mind has just a small thought in a vast depth of the possible. Now where in the heck am I,a speck in the space of time, waiting, waiting for some inspiration about the emptiness of our potential?

Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on May 04, 2015:

I really like this post

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on March 22, 2015:

Thanks for commenting Phil. I don't think that's in the sixth commandment, so I'm not sure what you're referring to.

However, I can say that I'm absolutely "not believing in god" as that's what any pure agnostic or skeptic would say, given a lack of evidence. Perhaps any confusion can be cleared up by saying: an absence of belief in the existence of god is different from believing god doesn't exist. Agnosticism, in it's purest sense, is an uncommitted position. An agnostic is someone who see's no evidence, or a near-perfect balance of evidence, and thus has no reason to form any kind of belief or commitment regarding the existence or non-existence of god(s).

Phil Perez on March 21, 2015:

You mention how Agnosticism to be, "Agnostics know of no evidence for or against the existence of God" in the second Agnostic Commandment. However, in the sixth Agnostic Commandment, it says how questioning God's nature or power will lead you to doubt or feel skeptical. Doesn't that contradict ? If that is true, aren't you essentially "leaning" towards not believing in God just because you keep finding no evidence to His existence ? I consider myself Agnostic on the sole reason of the Cosmological Theory. I would just like to further my knowledge on the belief of Agnosticism.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on March 05, 2015:

I wouldn't worship that entity either, but I'd still call it a god if it could do all those things. I don't think calling something a god means you have to worship it.

I think the word `god' can be used to describe a superior being, so if the human race evolved into entities like that, we'd still be `human', but if we compared that with our present selves, we could call those future selves gods because they'd be so superior to us.

Jesus wouldn't be a human being, scientifically, if we could observe him rising from the dead, turning water into wine, and doing all the other miracles he is supposed to have done. He'd be some kind of superior being, and might be called a god.

There are thousands of definitions of gods, but I think all of them have some kind of counter-intuitive power or feature of their being that makes them superior in some aspect to human beings. Many are deemed to be creators of the world or universe, or at least part of a pantheon that includes a creator god. I think we can reduce most gods down to that definition, with religions adding more specific attributes that form distinguishable cultural mythologies. These attributes are more difficult to support, because the source could be completely wrong. The god they worship might be one thing, but the worshipers could be claiming he/she is something else. But, just as all mammals share a number of features; all gods appear to share the features I described above.

Some gods might be imaginary, but I can't say that with certainty, and I have no reason to think you or anyone else can either.

Santiago Ochoa on March 04, 2015:

That is what makes me an Atheist, instead of an agnostic. I would not consider that entity you are mentioning a God and I would not worship it. Suppose we evolved into a being that could do all of that, to me we would never be gods. People can worship many things as you say, like Jesus, for example, but that doesn’t make Jesus anything more than a human being (if he really existed). The thing is that scientifically, Jesus is just a human being, even if all Christians consider him to be a God. To Christians, Jesus is the son of God and God at the same time but to science he is not. The religious conception of Jesus is as a God, but the scientific conception is as a human being. There are thousands of definitions of God and the characteristics you mentioned do not necessarily fit all of those definitions. The concept of God is whatever the people who worship that God decide it to be, there cannot be a scientifically defined being that could fit the definition of God because there is no consensus as to what God is. As I said, God is just an imaginary religious conception made up by humans and that is what it will always be.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on March 04, 2015:

Thanks for commenting Santiago. I'm not sure I agree. If an entity appeared tomorrow that could click its fingers and make anything happen; that could explain the blueprints and mathematics of the Big Bang and show how it caused the explosion to occur; that could read minds, answer prayers, be in several places at once, answer any question, alter time and space, and never die... I think it would match most people's definition of a god. I expect such a being would be called a god too. It could exist as a scientific reality, as well as being a focus for religious worship. After all, we deify all sorts of beings, from outright gods, to demigods, to emperors and kings, to celebrities... and all things in between. I don't think gods and science are mutually exclusive.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on March 04, 2015:

Thanks Ali Dawn R. I agree that individual spirituality is better for personal development, social diversity, and for avoiding group-think and the discrimination that comes with it. Unfortunately, we have dispositions to be tribal, to mold children in our image, and to take shortcuts in how we learn new things. Perhaps one day humanity overcome it.

Santiago Ochoa on March 03, 2015:

God, gods and all deities are religious concepts, not scientific concepts. Religious concepts cannot be real because they were created in the past with no proof whatsoever. Any religious concept that turns out to be true just by chance, becomes a scientific concept and is no longer a religious concept. Any religious concept that is based on reality already has a scientific name and it makes no sense to give it a religious name. Therefore, any god-like creature that is real and scientifically proven, by definition, cannot be god. Once we understand what it is and where it comes from, we can give it the right scientific name. Maybe it's an all-powerful alien, or a creature from another dimension, or post-humans from the future. It doesn’t matter what they are, once we know, they are no longer god(s) or deities. Even if we cannot understand what they are and where they came from, they are still not god(s) or deities. We can give it whatever term we want, like “unknown entity”, but never god.

Ali Reese from Jefferson City on March 03, 2015:

Amazing piece of writing, Thomas! Spirituality is an individual sport I'd like to think and one does not need a group of people, a building or a book to have his own kind of faith.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on March 03, 2015:

Thanks for your views Mutley365. I agree that atheism is a rejection of positive claims about god. I'd be interested to know the specific sentence(s) that you think misrepresents atheism. I'd probably be willing to change or reword it. I tried very hard to describe things properly, such as putting the word "sometimes" into the sentence "agnostic atheists sometimes believe gods don't exist", as not all agnostic atheists have such a belief. I may have described something imperfectly though.

Yes, agnostics will say they don't know if gods exist. Not all atheists will. Some will claim to know. Only yesterday I saw a facebook post in an atheist group about the Dawkins scale of belief/knowledge. Perhaps 20% of the atheists who replied said "7" meaning they think 100% that gods don't exist.

Also there's a difference in belief. On average, agnostics will have no position on belief. Many will be pure agnostics or skeptics; some will be agnostic theists or agnostic atheists. On average, atheists drift towards a belief in god not existing. This is because, though the definition of atheism is lacking a positive belief in gods, atheists can still possess any number of negative beliefs, and many do. If so, they'll either flat out believe that gods don't exist, or they'll believe in some level of improbability.

So atheism, by its broad definition, includes people who lack any belief on the matter, people who believe gods probably don't exist, people who believe gods don't exist, and people who know gods don't exist. Most of those positions are unacceptable to agnostics who base their agnosticism on stringent skepticism and scientific reasoning. So while most agnostics are atheists, it's as unspecific a definition as saying you're an acommunist or an a-police officer. It communicates very little and, given the confusion that most people have about the definition, it often leads to improper categorization of an agnostic's actual position, i.e. if I say I'm an atheist, most people would think I believe gods don't exist. They're wrong (it's a lack of belief), but I might as well just call myself an agnostic, as it's more likely to lead to proper categorization.

I'm not sure about that definition of anti-theism. I'd call that irreligion. I'm quite irreligious and I think many agnostics are, hence #9.

I can respect your views. You're quite right that as the definition of god changes (as in religions), we attach new, falsifiable attributes. I'd say we can't trust scriptures and the words of priests as accurately depicting their own gods. For all we know, the Christian god could be looking down at his followers right now and saying "what on Earth are you doing"!

So I think most gods are reducible to more universal definitions, such as being highly intelligent creators with counter-intuitive, supernatural abilities. Beyond that and I start to doubt the source of the claim rather than the god being talked about.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on March 03, 2015:

Thanks for commenting Merne. I would say #6 covers how most agnostics approach belief. Indeed, it's quite foolish to believe what you don't know (beyond reasonable doubt), and this is especially the case for skeptics. I think this is also exemplified by #2.

You could say that all agnostic means is "without knowledge", ignoring all that Huxley envisioned for the word (as a form of skepticism). However, I could believe that all monkeys are frequently preoccupied with the exploits of Paris Hilton. If I then said, "I don't know if this is true", I'd be a terrible skeptic, but I could claim to be agnostic if I only accepted the Greek translation `without knowledge' as being an all-encompassing definition for the word. Given Huxley's writing's on the subject, I doubt he would have agreed.

Mutley365 on March 03, 2015:

While I agree with some of the above article, I feel it misrepresents atheism. Atheism is based purely on the rejection of man-made theistic claims and their associated gods. As these claims are not evidence in themselves (along with the associated scripture) and struggle for verification, then there is no reason to doubt that the same can be said for the God. However, this is were agnosticism and atheism converge, because when we ask the question, "is there a deity?" then you'll get the same answer, "we don't know". So atheists are not closed to the God question, they just reject the gods of religion. If an atheist or an agnostic wanted to go one step further, then they could say they were anti-theist. Again this makes no claims of the God question or necessarily whether that the associated religion is real (although most do reject these gods) but rather attack religion as a negative influence of the human condition. So what am I? Well I'm an atheist about religions and their associated gods, I'm agnostic about some kind of deity being involved in the creation of the universe and I am most certainly anti-theist. Anybody who States that there is definitely a god or definitely no God are just as stupid as one another.

Merne on March 02, 2015:

on #10 – you're right they aren't the same, but not for the reasons you give. agnosticism is dealing with what you know or don't know (gnost/knowledge), not what you believe. Atheism is about the belief (or lack of in this case) of god. I think agnosticism is criticized because people just use it wrong ALL the time–the people who thing they know what it means, really don't. They often are misinterpreting what is being said, and this is erroneously compared to theism/atheism when in reality it's a different subject matter. One can be agnostic and either theist or atheist.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on March 01, 2015:

Thanks pstraubie. Yes, the evidence you have for God is evidence that I have not witnessed. As you cannot show me that evidence any more than I can show you evidence that I thought about eating some biscuits yesterday, I have no reason to think you know God exists (commandment #1) but, at the same time, I cannot say you do not know God exists, because I haven't seen your evidence. So I respect your views also, for I might also believe in God if I'd observed the same evidence you have.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 27, 2015:

Well expressed and carefully presented. I have friends who are agnostics by their own definition and we have discussions on this topic from time to time.

As far as proving God, I need no 'proof'...I know.

That does not mean that I dis your is just that they are not mine, you know?

the lovely thing about this life is we can all have our own view on such things...

And please do not be offended but I will send Angels your way as that is how I close each of my hubs.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on February 26, 2015:

Cheers Ammon Beardmore. That might be an accurate description of it. As I wrote about on my "Cognitive Science of Religion" hub, we're born with intuitive tendencies that make belief in god very easy. Religions appear to channel those tendencies into particular cultural belief systems. Atheists have the same intuitions, but they're over-ridden in some way. Either the religion didn't harness them well enough; or they they were once religious and fell out of it because of a personal tragedy; or a different belief system took hold, perhaps one based around science, and they were more motivated to believe that. At the intuitive level, I don't think there's a lot of difference between the brain activity of believers and atheists. Differences occur in the conscious rather than the unconscious.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on February 26, 2015:

Thanks Medusa13. Yes, that's an unwarranted impression of agnostics that I'd prefer didn't exist. I suppose one difference might be in how agnostics criticize religion. I think we're less likely to show up on a religious hub itching for a fight, but we'll happily write our own hubs describing the silliness of some religious ideas.

Ammon Beardmore on February 25, 2015:

Nicely presented interesting article. I think a lot of people feel that believe in God or a higher being have an inner presence or self they recognize and then are drawn to religious or spiritual beliefs to understand or explain these feelings. Atheists do not seem to have these types of feelings or connection. It would be interesting to know if there are different ways of thinking or brain waves between agnostics or believers or atheists.

Chelsea Rowe from Henrietta, New York on February 25, 2015:

I enjoyed reading your piece. It was very interesting and validating for those who are agnostic. I love the way number 9 is worded: "Agnostics usually aren't wishy-washy, conformable, yielding, theists or atheists in waiting." It is correct that most true agnostics will criticize religion as much as any atheist.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on February 22, 2015:

Thanks Buildreps. I wonder if it is impossible. We don't know what caused the Big Bang yet. If an entity appeared tomorrow that could click its fingers and make anything happen; that could explain the blueprints and mathematics of the Big Bang and show how it caused the explosion to occur; that could read minds, answer prayers, be in several places at once, answer any question, alter time and space, and never die... I think it would match most people's definition of God. You're right though that the "first cause" really does demand agnosticism. We simply don't know. I think some people find `not knowing' absolutely terrifying.

I went with `life, the universe, and everything' because of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference, but perhaps there are some questions for which science fails us. I don't of any that can be answered better by other means of investigation though.

Buildreps from Europe on February 22, 2015:

Great Hub, Thomas. You provide great insight in the challenging issue of religion, agnosticism and atheism. I assume that agnosticism will last forever, since it is unlikely to deliver any evidence of God to exist. To deliver proof of God is in my view (by definition) impossible.

Agnosticism takes a more humble position than Abrahamism (and Atheism as well), since the alleged existence of a creator deity, induces the immense problem: who created the creator? And if the creator would be infallible, why create an imperfect world? This stance doesn't seem to comply with the principle of sufficient reason, thus resulting in Agnosticism.

I agree most with point 5. "The burden of proof is on whoever is making a claim", and least with point 3. "The scientific method is currently the best way to answer questions about life, the universe, and everything".

"Everything" is perhaps too much. I would fully agree with point 3. if we would live in the era of Star Trek era, but since we still live in the Capitalistic era, science is unfortunately not capable that runs against the interests of the elitists and therefore the establishment.

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on February 22, 2015:

Thanks Paula. My comment to you seemed to delete itself. A lot of problems with HP lately. We don't see a lot of Mr. Tyson in the UK, but from youtube videos I've seen over the past few years, I've come to share your respect for him. His story about atheists trying to "claim" him supports what I said about some atheists caring more about extinguishing uncertainty and reinforcing pride (which NDT's agreement would help to do) than arriving at the best possible truth (or lack thereof).

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on February 22, 2015:

Thanks for commenting Oztinato. I'll take a look at the arguments, but I'll be honest and say I don't expect to find anything convincing. If such a proof existed, surely all atheists and agnostics would be instantly converted upon seeing it?

Thomas Swan (author) from New Zealand on February 22, 2015:

Thanks for commenting Ask Queenmother. I'm glad you found it interesting, even if you don't agree. Tolerance is one of those universal commandments that everyone should keep in reasonable supply.

Colleen Swan from County Durham on February 21, 2015:

Brilliant article Tom, well researched and respectfully controversial. I especially liked the caption titles that kept me wanting to read more to the end. Voted up and shared on plus.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on February 21, 2015:

There are many rational and even scientific proofs of Gods existence. For example Kurt Godels ontological proof supported by hard math. Godel was arguably Einsteins anointed successor.

If you have time to read it I also have a proof in my Hub Irrefutable Proof of God. In it I use logic to prove that wisdom is totally separate from intelligence and separate from mundane human intellugence.

Suzie from Carson City on February 21, 2015:

Thomas.....Very well-presented, impressive piece of work. I find Mr. Tyson to be a realistic & intelligent man who has the talent & Scientific wisdom to express his thoughts & share his knowledge with the vast majority of the public, regardless of their personal beliefs.

This makes for invigorating & helpful discussion, giving us a broader view and much more to contemplate.

Thank you.....UP Useful & Interesting.....Peace, Paula

Ask Queenmother from Atlanta, GA on February 21, 2015:

Thank you Thomas for this interesting post. While, I do not agree. I believe that spirituality or lack thereof is personal I totally support your agnostics beliefs. This article explained the difficulties and differences between the two concepts.


Ask Queenmother