Greek agnōstos, unknowable, strictly speaking, the doctrine that humans cannot know of the existence of anything beyond the phenomena of their experience. The term has come to be equated in popular parlance with skepticism about religious questions in general and in particular with the rejection of traditional Christian beliefs under the impact of modern scientific thought
The American Heritage Dictionary notes that 19th-century British scientist Thomas H. Huxley invented the word agnostic
the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. As such, it is usually distinguished from theism, which affirms the reality of the divine and often seeks to demonstrate its existence. Atheism is also distinguished from agnosticism, which leaves open the question whether there is a God or not, professing to find the questions unanswered or unanswerable
- The religion question is voluntary; 94.0% (56.0 million) of usual residents answered the question in 2021, an increase from 92.9% (52.1 million) in 2011.
- For the first time in a census of England and Wales, less than half of the population (46.2%, 27.5 million people) described themselves as Christian, a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 59.3% (33.3 million) in 2011; despite this decrease, Christian remained the most common response to the religion question.
- “No religion” was the second most common response, increasing by 12.0 percentage points to 37.2% (22.2 million) from 25.2% (14.1 million) in 2011
Freedom to be irreligious had been limited by the country’s blasphemy law, which punished criticism and mockery of Christianity, particularly the state Church of England. The last conviction was in 1977, with the law being abolished in England and Wales in 2008. Similar offences remain in statute in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and remain theoretically incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998 and European Convention on Human Rights
- The American Heritage Dictionary
- Encyclopædia Britannica
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