agnostic

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Wookie

Senior Member
Korea, Korean
We are agnostic at this time on the Marine’s proposal for Afghanistan but are relieved that at least somebody is starting to plan for leaving Iraq. (source)

In that example, it seems it has nothing to do with God.
I'm not sure what "agnostic" means here.
 
  • cropje_jnr

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    Here, agonostic is linked to antagonism, or opposition, I think. (I.e. we are against the Marine's proposal).

    "Agnostic" does not necessarily have to be related to religious skepticism, according to the Wiktionary.
     

    Matamoscas

    Senior Member
    Ireland English
    You are right, Wookie, nothing to do with religion.

    In the same way that an agnostic is neither a theist - who believes in God, or an atheist who positievly does not believe or disbelieves, this person has no fixed view, or a neutral view, on the topic mentioned. S/he neither arees nor disagrees...
     

    Wookie

    Senior Member
    Korea, Korean
    Here, agonostic is linked to antagonism, or opposition, I think. (I.e. we are against the Marine's proposal).

    "Agnostic" does not necessarily have to be related to religious skepticism, according to the Wiktionary.
    I think agnostic means a neutral state - neither antagonism nor opposition. I'm not 100% sure though. Could you explain this to me in detail?
     

    Matamoscas

    Senior Member
    Ireland English
    In everyday usage, agnostic no longer has any of the philosophical refinement its definition presupposes.
    Just as people, say very loosely that they are philosophical about something somewhat unpleasant happening, when they mean they don’t care about it, so the speaker uses agnostic in a would-be sophisticated way to mean that s/he is not prepared to debate the merits of the Marine’s case relating to Afghanistan, although some of his/her readers may feel it is a relevant issue, he is dealing exclusively with the Iraq question....
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    The idiomatic meaning of agnostic is doubtful, uncertainty or even untested. The problem here is that the word agnostic has so often been associated with its usage in the context of belief or non-belief in God that when it is used in a different context, agnostic sounds out of place. Worse it sounds pompous. Finding it in an editorial of the New York Times does not surprise me.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    The problem here is that the word agnostic has so often been associated with its usage in the context of belief or non-belief in God:tick: that when it is used in a different context, agnostic sounds out of place. Worse it sounds pompous.
    It sounds fairly bizarre to me. And pompous. And not a little confusing.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm surprised at some of these reactions. I've noticed this usage developing over the last ten years at least. The word has become an image from religious thought: you're neither on one side (belief) nor on the other (disbelief - atheism); you're in the middle, you don't know, you're agnostic. It seems to me to be a useful and unambiguous word in the context.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    We've obviously been reading different things, TT ~ I'd never come across it until today.
    It can't be very new, Ewie. After reading what you said I did a round of the dictionaries and found that the American Heritage Dictionary gave two definitions of agnostic, the adjective, as follows:

    adj.
    1. Relating to or being an agnostic.
    2. Doubtful or noncommittal: "Though I am agnostic on what terms to use, I have no doubt that human infants come with an enormous 'acquisitiveness' for discovering patterns" (William H. Calvin).
    I was curious to know when Calvin used the expression, and found it in an essay dating from Aug 10, 1997.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm with TT on this. I don't use 'agnostic' in that way, but I don't see anything odd or remarkable about it when I read it.
     

    Blue Spotted Frog

    New Member
    United States, English
    I believe that "agnostic" is being used too much in place of "indifferent".

    I read the term in technology literature more (i.e., "technology agnostic", actually).

    Certainly, people have qualms with Bill Gates being considered a "god" (or the devil, depending on the circles) in the technology world, but that is no reason to go "software agnostic". :D
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English

    Welcome to the forum BSFrog. When you make this comparison << I believe that "agnostic" is being used too much in place of "indifferent".>> do you include being
    indifferent to god as well as anything else? The reason I wonder is because there seems to be a very large part of a population that calls themselves Christians or Church members and yet, they do not participate at all in the rites, services or anything where the recitation, "I believe in . . . " is called for. Or, is the shoe on the other foot, that "indifference" is used too much as a euphemism for agnostic?
     
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