After reading several blogs on religion I began to question what exactly the distinction is between theism, agnosticism, and atheism. The answer isn’t as easy as it seems. After putting some thought into it, I came up with a little chart to help illustrate the way it seems people define the three. I’m interested in hearing people’s thoughts on it, and whether they agree or disagree.
From what I gather, agnosticism deals purely with knowledge—that is, what you can or can’t know for certain. As a result, it can be applied to both theism and atheism, since those are a matter of beliefs—more specifically the belief or disbelief of god(s). I think that most people tend to think of religion in terms of figure 1. It shows three basic groups, none of which overlap with each other. I am more inclined to lean towards figure 3. I think this quote is a good explanation of it:
Thus, it is clear that agnosticism is compatible with both theism and atheism. A person can believe in a god (theism) without claiming to know for sure if that god exists; the result is agnostic theism. On the other hand, a person can disbelieve in gods (atheism) without claiming to know for sure that no gods can or do exist; the result is agnostic atheism.
It is possible for agnosticism to overlap with both theism, and atheism. It is also possible for people to rely solely on beliefs. That is why I think figure 3 is the most accurate. Any opinions?
**Edit** Here is an additional chart, meant to be sort of a correction to Figure 3 in the first one. The idea is that belief and knowledge are two different planes that intersect. I realize that these charts are a bit crude, but it’s the best I can do with MS Paint. Anyway, please check this one out as well, and as always input is appreciated.
***Edit Again***Thanks to the help of one of my friends, I have a well-polished final version of the chart😀 Eventually I’ll rewrite the distinctions to sum up the ideas everyone contributed. Here it is: