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Agnostic theism, also called theistic agnosticism is the philosophical view that encompasses both theism and agnosticism. An agnostic theist hopes in the existence of God, but regards the basis of this proposition as unknown or inherently unknowable. It can also mean that there is one high ruler, but it is unknowable or unknown who or what it is. The agnostic theist may also or alternatively be agnostic regarding the properties of God.
Views of agnostic theism
There are numerous beliefs that can be included in agnostic theism, such as fideism, but not all agnostic theists are fideists. Since agnosticism is in the philosophical rather than religious sense a position on knowledge and does not forbid belief in a deity, it is compatible with most theistic positions.
The classical philosophical understanding of knowledge is that knowledge is justified true belief. The founder of logotherapy, Viktor Frankl, may have well exemplified this definition. Seidner expands upon this example and stresses Frankl's characterization of unconscious. Agnostic theism could be interpreted as an admission that it is not possible to justify one's belief in a god sufficiently for it to be considered known. This may be because they consider faith a requirement of their religion, or because of the influence of plausible-seeming scientific or philosophical criticism.
Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard believed that knowledge of God is actually impossible, and because of that people who want to be theists must believe: "If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe."
Christian Agnostics practice a distinct form of agnosticism that applies only to the properties of God. They hold that it is difficult or impossible to be sure of anything beyond the basic tenets of the Christian faith. They believe that God exists, that Jesus has a special relationship with him and is in some way divine, and that God should be worshipped. This belief system has deep roots in Judaism and the early days of the Church.
- Smith, George H (1979). Atheism: The Case Against God. pp. 10–11.
Properly considered, agnosticism is not a third alternative to theism and atheism because it is concerned with a different aspect of religious belief. Theism and atheism refer to the presence or absence of belief in a god; agnosticism refers to the impossibility of knowledge with regard to a god or supernatural being. The term "agnostic" does not, in itself, indicate whether or not one believes in a god. Agnosticism can be either theistic or atheistic.
- Seidner, Stanley S. (June 10, 2009) "A Trojan Horse: Logotherapeutic Transcendence and its Secular Implications for Theology"[dead link]. Mater Dei Institute.
- Kierkegaard, Søren. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments.
- Weatherhead, Leslie (1972). The Christian Agnostic. Abingdon Press. ISBN 978-0-687-06977-4.