Are You An Atheist? An Agnostic? Or Both?

The word "agnostic" comes from Greek roots meaning "without knowledge". Therefore, an agnostic (a-gnostic) believes that the existence of god(s) is an unanswerable hypothesis because it’s untestable.

Whereas, an atheist (a-theist), as many of us already know, does not believe that god(s) exist. According to PEW Research, atheists in the US are generally male, younger than the overall population and highly educated.

Pakistan is one among seven countries in the world, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Maldives, where a confession to atheism can attract capital punishment.

Even in India, the world’s largest secular democracy, practicing atheism or agnosticism is not easy. Many people continue to go to a temple or a church just to ‘fit in’.

The popular film ‘Oh My God’ featuring Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal satirically questioned age-old rituals of worship and portrayed how the life of an agnostic ‘Kanji’ could be made difficult for holding his beliefs. The movie did not actively support agnosticism or atheism, but the message was loud and clear- ‘God’ is to be found in human beings.

Although belief in God is not a pre-requisite to being moral, it is often assumed to be. God is someone we are deeply conditioned as children to have faith in and never question. Despite this conditioning, the number of atheists has been growing around the world. According to sociologists Ariela Keysar and Juhem Navarro-Rivera's review of numerous global studies, there are 450 to 500 million atheists and agnostics worldwide (7% of the world's population), with China having the most atheists in the world (200 million atheists).

Some people say that ‘I do not believe in God, but there might be something else’. Well, it could be true. It could be the superpowers of a Supreme Being, Thor or Rajnikant. In that case, you qualify as an agnostic.

I identify myself as an agnostic but a weak atheist. I believe that in a secular country like India, if we have the right to choose and practice a religion of our choice, then we should also have the right to reject all religions.

#Simran #Atheist #Agnostic

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