Difference Between Gnostic and Agnostic

Key Difference – Gnostic vs Agnostic
 

Gnostic and agnostic are two contrary terms that appear in religious contexts between which a key difference can be highlighted. When speaking of religion, there are believers as well as non-believers of higher powers. Also, there is a third category that does not believe in the existence of God because there is no scientific manner in which it can be proved. This article discussed some of the concepts that are associated with these ideas.  First, let us define the two words. Gnostic is associated with spiritual knowledge. On the other hand, agnostic refers to someone who is unaware of the existence of God, or someone who believes that it is impossible to know the existence of God. Through this article let us gain a clearer understanding of the two words.

What is Gnostic?

Gnostic is associated with spiritual knowledge. This is derived from Greek and denotes knowledge. It is believed that the term was first used by Christian writers to refer to spiritual knowledge. This knowledge is not a rational, scientific form of knowledge, but knowledge or a firm belief in divine power. These forms of spiritual knowledge contrast with the rational knowledge because they cannot be observed, analyzed or studied. If a person still has a firm belief in God, higher power, and spiritual knowledge, such a person can be considered as a gnostic.

Difference Between Gnostic and Agnostic

What is Agnostic?

Agnostic refers to someone who is unaware of the existence of God, or someone who believes that it is impossible to know the existence of God. This word should not be confused with atheism. An atheist directly rejects or denies the existence of God; an agnostic does not completely reject the existence of God. He merely believes that there is no way of knowing whether God exists or not. Unlike the gnostic belief of divine power, an agnostic fails to completely have faith in a divine power. He requires scientific evidence. This is why an agnostic can be considered as rational.

When focusing on the history of the term, the word was coined by Thomas H. Huxley. He believed that knowledge is a result of material phenomena. Hence, to create a contrary word of gnostic, he added the prefix ‘a’ and created the word agnostic. This highlights that the words gnostic and agnostic are two contrary words. The difference between the two can be summarized as follows.

Key Difference - Gnostic vs Agnostic

Thomas Huxley

What is the difference between Gnostic and Agnostic:

Definitions of Gnostic and Agnostic:

Gnostic: Gnostic is associated with spiritual knowledge.

Agnostic: Agnostic refers to someone who is unaware of the existence of God, or someone who believes that it is impossible to know the existence of God.

Characteristics of Gnostic and Agnostic:

Belief:

Gnostic: Gnostic is associated with belief in the existence of God.

Agnostic: Agnostic is associated with non-belief in the existence of God.

Rationality:

Gnostic: Gnostic is irrational.

Agnostic: Agnostic is irrational.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. Holy Wisdom (1812,_Russian_museum) By Anonymous, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

2. T.H.Huxley(Woodburytype) By Lock & Whitfield – original w:Woodburytype, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons