Agnosticism is the view that knowledge of whether or not God exists is unattainable, that we cannot be justified in believing either that God does exist or that he does not. There are two approaches to arguing for this view: first, it can be argued that knowledge of God’s existence is unattainable because no evidence could ever justify religious belief; second, it can be argued that knowledge of God’s existence is unattainable because evidence of God’s existence is unattainable. One argument of each kind is considered here.

The Argument from Uncertainty

The argument from uncertainty takes the fact that we cannot achieve certainty as to whether God exists as justification for agnosticism. Whatever evidence there is for theism and for atheism is fallible, the argument suggests, and therefore ought to be rejected. Of course, we accept fallible evidence as sufficient justification for many of our beliefs, so this argument will only be persuasive if there is some reason to require better evidence when answering religious questions than we require in these other cases. One possible reason for so doing is the importance of being right concerning the existence of God.

The Argument from Incomprehensibility

An alternative approach to arguing for agnosticism is the argument from incomprehensibility. Theists have often been content to say that we are unable to comprehend God, that his being transcends our mundane experiences and that our concepts, which are derived from such experiences, cannot be used to describe him. If true, then this might be thought to count in favour of agnosticism; if we cannot comprehend God, then how can we reason with any confidence concerning his existence?