Ignosticism & Irreligion


* Dependence on a particular view concerning the word God:

Ignosticism, or igtheism, is the theological position that every other theological position (including agnosticism) assumes too much about the concept of God and many other theological concepts. The word "ignosticism" was coined by Sherwin Wine, a rabbi and a founding figure in Humanistic Judaism.

It can be defined as encompassing two related views about the existence of God:

1. The view that a coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of God can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition cannot be falsified, the ignostic takes the theological noncognitivist position that the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless. In this case, the concept of God is not considered meaningless; the term "God" is considered meaningless

2.The view that is synonymous with theological noncognitivism, and skips the step of first asking "What is meant by God?" before proclaiming that the original question "Does God exist?" is meaningless. Some philosophers have seen ignosticism as a variation of agnosticism or atheism,while others have considered it to be distinct. An ignostic maintains that they cannot even say whether he/she is a theist or an atheist until a better definition of theism is put forth. Ignosticism and theological noncognitivism are generally synonymous, but the relationship of ignosticism to other nontheistic views is less clear. While Paul Kurtz finds the view to be compatible with both weak atheism and agnosticism,other philosophers consider ignosticism to be distinct.

In a chapter of his 1936 book Language, Truth, and Logic, A. J. Ayer argued that one could not speak of God's existence, or even the probability of God's existence, since the concept itself was unverifiable and thus nonsensical.Ayer wrote that this ruled out atheism and agnosticism as well as theism because all three positions assume that the sentence "God exists" is meaningful. Given the meaninglessness of theistic claims, Ayer opined that there was "no logical ground for antagonism between religion and natural science",as theism alone does not entail any propositions which the scientific method can falsify. Like Ayer, Theodore Drange sees atheism and agnosticism as positions which accept "God exists" as a meaningful proposition; atheists judge it to be "false or probably false" and agnostics consider it to be inconclusive until further evidence is met.If Drange's definitions are accepted, ignostics are neither atheists nor agnostics. A simplified maxim on the subject states "An atheist would say, 'I don't believe God exists'; an agnostic would say, 'I don't know whether or not God exists'; and an ignostic would say, 'I don't know what you mean when you say, "God exists" '."Ignosticism is not to be confused with apatheism, a position of apathy toward the existence of God. An apatheist may see the statement "God exists" as meaningless, yet they may also see it as meaningful, and perhaps even true.Dependence on a particular view concerning the word GodDrange emphasizes that any stance on "Does God exist?" is made with respect to a particular concept of what one claims to consider "God" to represent:Since the word "God" has many different meanings, it is possible for the sentence "God exists" to express many different propositions. What we need to do is to focus on each proposition separately. … For each different sense of the term "God," there will be theists, atheists, and agnostics relative to that concept of God. As God means very different things to different people, when the word is spoken, an ignostic may seek to determine if something like a child's definition of a god is meant or if a theologian's is intended instead. A theistic child's concept generally has a simple and coherent meaning, based on an anthropomorphic conception of God.Many philosophers and theologians have rejected this conception of God while affirming belief in another conception of God, including St. Augustine, Maimonides, St. Thomas Aquinas, Baruch Spinoza, and Søren Kierkegaard.

1. "The Argument From Non-Cognitivism"Retrieved on 2008-02-11
2. Conifer, Theological Noncognitivism: "Theological noncognitivism is usually taken to be the view that the sentence 'God exists' is cognitively meaningless."
3. Kurtz, New Skepticism, 220: "Both [atheism and agnosticism] are consistent with igtheism, which finds the belief in a metaphysical, transcendent being basically incoherent and unintelligible."
4. Ayer, Language, 115: "There can be no way of proving that the existence of a god is even probable. For if the existence of such a god were probable, then the proposition that he existed would be an empirical hypothesis. And in that case it would be possible to deduce from it, and other empirical hypotheses, certain experimental propositions which were not deducible from those other hypotheses alone. But in fact this is not possible."
5. Ayer, Language, 115–16
6. Ayer, Language, 117
7. a b Drange, Atheism
8. Rauch, Let It Be: "many apatheists are believers" Even regular churchgoers can, and often do, rank quite high on the apatheism scale."
9. Hanisch, Drawings

* Armstrong, Karen (1993). A History of God. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-679-42600-0
* Ayer, A. J. (1952) [1936]. "Critique of Ethics and Theology". Language, Truth and Logic. New York: Dover Publications. LCCN 52-860
ISBN 0486200108
* Conifer, Steven J. (June 2002), "Theological Noncognitivism Examined", The Interlocutor 4,Conifer. retrieved on 2007-05-24
* Cousens, Myrna Bonnie, ed., "God", Guide to Humanistic Judaism, Society for Humanistic Judaism
* Drange, Theodore (1998). "Atheism, Agnosticism, Noncognitivism". Internet Infidels. Retrieved on 2007-03-26
* Hanisch, Helmut (2002-10-21). "Children's and Young People's Drawings of God" Retrieved on 2007-04-26
* Kurtz, Paul (1992). The New Skepticism: Inquiry and Reliable Knowledge. Buffalo: Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-766-3
* Rauch, Jonathan (2003), "Let It Be", The Atlantic 291 (4) retrieved on 2007-05-24
* Spiegel, Irving (1965-06-20). "Jewish 'Ignostic' Stirs Convention; Dropping of 'God' in Service Deplored and Condoned"New York Times. p. 62



Irreligion is an absence of religion, indifference to religion, and/or hostility to religion.[1] Depending on the context, it may be understood as referring to atheism, deism, nontheism, agnosticism, ignosticism, antireligion, skepticism, freethought, or secular humanism. Irreligious people may have convictions equal in depth to those of religious adherents. For instance, followers of the life stance of Humanism may regard themselves as just as deeply believing in their life stance as corresponding to any religious belief.
Although people classified as irreligious might not follow any religion, not all are necessarily without belief in the supernatural or in deities; such a person may be a non-religious or non-practicing theist. In particular, those who associate organized religion with negative qualities, but still hold spiritual beliefs, might describe themselves as irreligious.

The Gallup poll has the most broad definition of irreligion: the question "Is religion important" was asked; the "no" answer is represented below. Dentsu Communication Institute provides data for respondents who stated they have "no religion". Phil Zuckerman uses the strictest definition, citing "atheist and agnostic" proportion numbers. The numbers come from different years, and might not be accurate for countries with governments that require or urge religion or secularism.
Atheists, agnostics and nonreligious, by the Dentsu Institute (2006) and Zuckerman


1. Irreligion. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. (accessed: December 14, 2008)
2. GALLUP WorldView - data accessed on 17 january 2009
3. Dentsu Communication Institute 電通総研・日本リサーチセンター編「世界60カ国価値観データブック (Japanese)
4. The Largest Atheist / Agnostic Populations Zuckerman, 2005



List of atheists · Demographics · Religion · History · State atheism · Criticism · Discrimination · Weak and strong · Agnostic atheism · Implicit and explicit · Antitheism · Antireligion · Atheist Alliance International


List of agnostics · Agnostic theism · Agnostic atheism · Weak agnosticism · Strong agnosticism · Ignosticism · Apatheism.


Secular Humanism · Post-theism · Freethought · Secularism · Secularity · Criticism of religion · Freedom From Religion Foundation · Transtheism · Russell's teapot · Parody religion.

Categories: Irreligion by country | Agnosticism |

Freethought | Opposition to religion | Secularism

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