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Difference Between Gnostic and Agnostic

Gnostic vs Agnostic

“Gnostic” and “agnostic” are words that have opposite meanings. These two words are generally referred to in religious contexts.

In a religious context, “gnostic” usually refers to one who possesses knowledge or one who seeks knowledge about God. “Agnostic” is just the opposite, and they are persons who have no knowledge about the existence of God.

“Gnosis” refers to “knowledge” in the Greek language, and so “gnostic” is all related to knowledge or some secret knowledge. They do think in an irrational way and do believe in some divine power. Agnostics are persons who think rationally and do not believe that there is some divine power.

It was Thomas Henry Huxley who first defined the term “agnostic.” He referred to the term “agnostic” in 1876 during one of his speeches at the meeting of the Metaphysical Society. According to Huxley, agnosticism was not a creed but a method of skeptical and evidence-based inquiry.
Some people refer the term “agnostic” to atheism. But this is not true. Agnosticism lies in between theism and atheism. According to atheists, they believe that there is no God. But according to an agnostic, he just believes that it could not be proved if there is a God and if there isn’t. For an agnostic, this is unexplainable. A gnostic person, though, cannot prove the existence of God but do believe in that divine power.

A gnostic person is one who claims to be 100 per cent sure of the existence of God. On the contrary, an agnostic person is only doubtful about the divine existence.

A gnostic person is one considered to be knowledgeable whereas an agnostic person is not considered to be knowledgeable especially in divine powers.


1.In religious contexts, “gnostic” usually refers to one who possesses knowledge or one who seeks knowledge about God. “Agnostic” is just the opposite, and they are persons who have no knowledge about the existence of God.
2.Gnostic persons do think in an irrational way and do believe in some divine power. Agnostics are persons who think rationally and do not believe that there is some divine power.
3.A gnostic person is one who claims to be 100 per cent sure of the existence of God. On the contrary, an agnostic person is only doubtful about the divine existence.
4.It was Thomas Henry Huxley who first defined the term “agnostic.” He referred to the term “agnostic” in 1876 during one of his speeches at the meeting of the Metaphysical Society.

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  1. Man! It is like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is good blog. A wonderful read. I will definitely be back.

  2. Thank you to all that mystical jazz about agnostics (I have no evidence that this is not a religion, I suspend judgement). I learned a 15% increase of the misunderstood heresy: 1. as agnostic I’m to swear to deny revelations, i.e. “revealing” of gnosis in any phenomenon of any cult. 2. to judge decent conduct for myself without religion getting in the way. 3. I’m to accept that what’s in religious texts could be or not be pointing out history based on other cults. 4. I’m not to believe that any divine Creator controls my life, furthermore I’m not supposed to believe a Creator exists. 5. I have to accept that gods and God are undetectable and whether they exist or not is uncertain, plus I should think it’s highly improbable. 6. I’m to accept that “how do you know the “right” religion?” based on my scepticism with knowledge that religious behaviour varies and lays no evidence of the truth though they convince themselves they have evidence. 7 finally, I’m supposed to think it’s irrational to follow a religion, to extend this conception I like to add it’s irrational to behave based on faith, I’m thus, along with feelings, supposed to behave and think based on logic and rely on the wisdom of others and I’m supposed to keep in mind a person’s wisdom can be questionable. In what way is agnostic not a religion? Like a religion I think what I’m taught to think and it has to be exactly right, is this even not even mysticism?

  3. Agnostics do not necessary disbelieve in God, they just cannot prove there is a God. I have agnostic friends who believe that God exists, He’s just distant and uninvolved in humanity.

  4. Since Gnostics are knowledgeable in the field of religion, couldn’t you say you could be a gnostic atheist? Meaning you’re knowledgable about religion, because of that you’re atheist, or vice versa? Agnostic atheist, you’re not really sure but you’re not going to say you’re christian just to be “safe”. I believe I’m a gnostic atheist, meaning I don’t believe in a god, because I know there isn’t one. Am I the only one that seems to make sense to?

    • I have to say, that you’re actually making more sense than the author of this article.

    • Religion and God are very different. A religious person follows man made rules that in many cases have nothing to do with a loving creator/ God

    • I feel sorry for you… and I will pray for you… to go to the lengths you do to disprove God. You cannot achieve “your” solution based on the premise that God doesn’t exist. The belief lies within us all… free will to scoff and free will to believe… niether side will convince the other… However, I “believe” Gnostics are happier/purposeful/kinder/ and humbled by our wonderful universe and “it’s” creator.
      Agnostics and Atheist’s are in general Arrogant / Lonely / and defiant… and that is their choice.

      • What you believe or don’t believe is not your essence of being. I am agnostic, but I grew up catholic. I love my belief because it is the only belief where you are completely free of any and all biblical rules, but you still have the ability to question. A gnostic persons only difference, is they are sure there is a god, they are just unsure whom it is, and how many there are…

    • Only a fool would deny the existence of The One True God. He is best seen in the face of Jesus Christ and his shed blood on Calvary.

  5. What a contradictory, inconcise article with no citations. Why do people always try to answer questions with personal feelings instead of available facts? People hate using these words to describe themselves because of the stigma attached to being a non-believer (remember, the Bible says that God spits the “lukewarm” believers out like sour milk, so if you claim to no be able to know, you’re still damned), and no one is getting any closer to confidently owning their identity because there are all of these ridiculous opinion articles that go way beyond what the words really mean.

  6. I read the first paragraph of this article and found extremely biased and subjective remarks…so I had to comment. “Rational” and “irrational” thought processes are influenced by the society in which one lives. Hitler was rational, according to those who followed him. Donald Trump is rational, according to Christian terrorists…so, who’s writing this article? What’s your agenda, bud?

    I want to warn other people, who may not be well versed in such subjects, that this article has misleading information.

    On the bottom of the screen, it tells me that “comment moderation is on”, which means free speech isn’t free here.

    God bless the planet. I Love you all.

    • Another irrational person comparing Donald Trump with Hitler. And who are the “Christian terrorists” in whom you speak? Did you know that since the resurrection of Jesus, an estimated 50-80 million people have been murdered for the simple fact that they call themselves “Christian”? And more than half of those murders occurred in the 20th century? Did you know that there is a genocide going on right now in the Middle East of Christians and Yazidi? So please, verify who these “Christian terrorists” are, without mentioning Westbrook Baptist, since there are literally less than 20 members of that church.

    • Also “free speech” refers to the government not being able to interfere. Not with private entities. So if a website wants to moderate comments, they have every right to do so. Now if a public university that is partially funded by state and/or federal tax dollars allows a small faction of the student body to disrupt a speaker they agree with, that is an infringement of the First Amendment.

      • You triggered bud? Why the anger towards a very simple comment (which you also avoided to directly comment). This article makes a very wrong assumption:
        agnostic = rational
        Gnostic = irrational

        Which is a completely illogical assumption to make based off cultural bias. For something to be rational (by the scientific method) it must be able to be disproved, and to be proved. But the existance of God can neither be concretely proved nor disproved by its very nature of existence! Meaning that an atheist, agnostic, Gnostic all have their brief systems either rooted within divinity, without it or on the periphery. Agnostism is a theory as much as Gnosticism so one cannot be more rational/irrational than another by its very definition of the word.

        Rational = being of reason
        Reason = Applying logic and adapting practises/institutions/beliefs from new or existing information.
        Logic = The systematic process to attain an accepted conclusion. E.g. the process I’m using now.

        Logic paradoxically also has its roots in “Logos”. A word used in the bible for the word of God and also used by Greeks to describe a connection with cosmic rationality, or the ability to externalise thought, to be able to rationalise good against evil. And aren’t these all moralistic modes of thinking? Aren’t these rooted in that which seperate man from “beast”? (To be crude)

        As God is a belief system. The non belief of God also must be a belief system. So now this means that the reason behind Gnosticism/Agnosticism is belief that is built on logic. With logic being that which bridges the gap between reason (within mind) and the action of man (his ability to externalise it).

        Gnostics have their “reason” rooted within god (and god being knowledge itself), their logic therefore connects them to this knowledge. Whereas Athiests have their “reason” rooted outside of God and therefore their logic is also outside of it. Agnostics have their “reason” rooted on the periphery of belief, that they can never know because it is impossible to verify. Thus their logic is built upon not-knowing [a (not) and Gnostic (knowledge/awareness)]

        One is no more rational or irrational than another. They are merely different conclusions built upon a different belief systems.

        • The article is precise. The first premise is one that has been spelled out, but overlooked as it relates to one’s faith and foremost of God and that oversight as it relates to rational being agnostic because one is looking for what makes sense opposed to gnostic being irrational as in for those of us that believe in the True and Living God who gave HIS – Son Christ Jesus whom we who hold in our hearts- by faith for us it does not have to make sense. Spirit defies logic- period. We don’t have to see the waters part in the way Moses saw and he is not seen in part as just a great bible story. We by faith believe he was before we were and are here. None of us just showed up and when the roll is called and our time is up- we will be in route to one of two places- heaven or hell and will not be able to negotiate it rationalize our way out of it. We don’t take chances and we don’t play games. We who are sure will take off these corruptible bodies and put on the incorruptible and we will do it without the influence of this world and the agnosticsor atheists of it being in the way. But- as long as there is breath in us- Space Available.

  7. The only weird part to be included in this article is the possibility of the agnostic atheists, gnostic atheists, agnostic theists, and gnostic theists. Now this is true because theism and atheism are both based on belief, whereas gnostic and agnostic are both based on knowledge. So to explain even further by definition:

    1. AGNOSTIC ATHEIST: An agnostic atheist doesn’t know there isn’t a god and doesn’t believe in a god.

    2. GNOSTIC ATHEIST: A gnostic atheist knows there isn’t a god, and doesn’t believe there is a god.

    3. AGNOSTIC THEIST: An agnostic theist doesn’t know there is a god but believes there is a god.

    4. GNOSTIC THEIST: A Gnostic theist knows there is a god and believes there is a god.

    Now a lot of people don’t go this far in declaring where they fall within these lines. This is mainly due to the fact that agnostics not knowing what they believe forcing them to be categorized as just agnostic instead of bringing in their belief to the equation.

    This to some is a false ideology most of the time though because where there is belief, there is practice(whether just thought or actual physical action) and where there is disbelief there is no practice(no thought or no practice). Therefore if they don’t practice then they are in a way, without even thinking about it, an atheist.

  8. I was confused when I was looking for a word that I myself identified with….which I thought was Gnostic. In trying to explain to a friend just now about what I am I looked up on Google “the difference between gnostic and agnostic and believe it or not there are articles that are more confusing than the one above. I myself BELIEVE that there is a higher power whether it be a god or gods but have NO KNOWLEDGE of that being true. I am wondering why as I’m typing Gnostic the “g” is automatically capitalized but the “a” in agnostic wasn’t and when typing the word God the “g” was automatically capitalized? Website, Google, or LG? Lol ty

  9. The simple answer is agnostics don’t know. But they won’t deny there is a God, as atheist do. Gnostics believe you can reach God through knowledge. Whereas God reaches out to man because of faith and grace in Christianity, works and pillars in Islam, following the law to a “t” in Judaism, etc., etc. u

  10. Gnostics believe in multiple gods/goddesses from various religions and mythologies, Christians only believe in God.

  11. Hello. One of my friends is a very religious Christian and is supposedly a big time expert of the Bible. Without pissing him off, how do I ask him not to attempt to throat-shove/convert me?

    Also, I believe in God, I’m aware of his existence, but I don’t worship him. I don’t worship anyone/anything, since that implies rigid religion. I’m more on an individualized spiritual path where I’m ambitioning to see the bigger picture. I still depend on God, thank him for miracles (which saved me from unforgiving life traps), and I work with God by using the gifts/abilities he gave me.

    Now, just like what ellen stated above, how do I tell my friend that I don’t agree 100% at all with religion, even though I still respect/tolerate if others I know follow any? How do I tell him that the Bible isn’t always an accurate historical reference to answer all of life’s questions?

    • I suggest saying something like “Bro, I respect your beliefs, but I don’t 100% agree with them. All that I ask is you don’t force your religion on me.” I’m agnostic so religion forcing situations happen a lot with me but you learn to deal

  12. Actually agnostics believe in a God without knowing. Gnostics believe in God to the point of knowing from experiencing gnosis and true understanding from inner knowledge.

  13. The statement, “According to atheists, they believe that there is no God,” is not true. Atheists, in general, are unconvinced of the existence of any god. That is very different than asserting that no god exists. Some atheists make that assertion, but they are not the norm.

  14. Gnosis means knowledg- implies – Gnostics are knowledgeable ( as per you in matters of religion and God) but are irrational and believe in existence of God but are not theist.
    Agnostics on the other hand are opposite of Gnostic (not knowledgeable) but are rational, can’t prove/disapprove existence of God but are not atheist.
    All this is nothing but semantics.

  15. Theory: it is possible to be gnostic agnostic. Defining gnostic as a “seeker” rather than a “knower”. So a “gnostic – agnostic” would be one who isn’t sure about the existence of God and isn’t sure that it is possible to know at all, but who nonetheless seeks knowledge of the existence and nature of God.

    • I believe the same way you do. I believe that there is something out there, that I cannot explain, only that I can sense it….and strongly believe in what I sense……I don’t know if I am nostic or agnostic….

  16. I dont understand why people even care about a name for their belief! Irrelevant. You decide yourself what you believe and what you dont. It doesnt matter what people think who you are or what you believe. Believe what you will. I wish these names would not exist. It doesnt matter.

  17. My 2 cents?
    Atheism: the adamant (and often vehement) belief that there is no proof of God, gods or any spiritual, occult, metaphysical or paranormal explanation that can be proven by science. Therefore it does not exist.
    Gnostic: a person who studies (with?) the belief in the existence of “something” greater than the human experience. A seeker of knowledge of any (or many) religious, occult, spiritual or metaphysical phenomena.
    Agnostic: A person who readily admits to no defined knowledge or understanding,( or sometimes desire to know ) of the existence of God et al. However, will not readily rule out the possibility based on their lack of knowledge.

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