Compare and contrast an atheist and an agnostic.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One point of similarity between both the atheist and the agnostic is that there is a lack of belief in the presence of the divine.  Atheism is fairly direct in its rejection of a divine presence.  There is little doubt in the atheist's mind that God does not exist.  Atheists tend to believe that God does not exist due to a lack of empirical evidence.  The arguments of faith and other such analyses are not persuasive to the atheists, who feel that the belief in the divine is a concept that lies within human constructs.  Consider the words of Baron d' Holbach:  "All children are born atheists; they have no idea of God."  In contrast to this would be the agnostic. Agnostics believe that skepticism must be made to claims of transcendentalism.  This position is different because it does not assert that God does not exist, but rather questions the ability to make such a claim of authority.  The atheist is able to assert that God does not exist with certainty.  The agnostic doubts whether such a transcendental claim about the presence of God can even be made.  It is a slight difference, but one that demarcates the line between atheism and agnosticism.

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