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Agnosticism is defined by its place in a fourfold scheme of classification of truth-directed attitudes: theists believe that God exists; atheists believe that God does not exist; agnostics suspend judgment on the question whether God exists; and innocents have never so much as entertained the claim that God exists. Each of the first three positions in the fourfold scheme of classification admits of variation along a range of dimensions: strength of attitude; attitude towards the rational standing of the attitudes of others; views about proof; views about knowledge; and views about meaningfulness. Because historical usage has not always conformed to this account of the meanings of terms, not all who have called themselves “agnostics” turn out to be agnostics. We conclude by considering how Darwin, Huxley, Ingersoll, Einstein, and Russell are classified under the fourfold scheme.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication The Encyclopedia of Philosophy of Religion
EditorsStewart Goetz, Charles Taliaferro
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
ISBN (Electronic)9781119009924
ISBN (Print)9781119010951
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Agnosticism
  • Huxley
  • Naturalism
  • Atheism
  • Scepticism
  • Religion

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