Special Issue "Agnosticism"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Francis Jonbäck
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Interests: secular worldviews; atheism; agnosticism; philosophical theology; the problem of evil; divine hiddenness and religious epistemology
Prof. emer Carl Reinhold Bråkenhielm
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Interests: systematic theology; empirical worldview research; the science and religion dialogue and secular worldviews
Dr. Lotta Knutsson Bråkenhielm
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Interests: cognitive science of religion; the science and religion dialogue; atheism; naturalism and agnosticism
Dr. Evelina Lundmark
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University, 751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Interests: agnosticism; atheism; religious agnosticism; religious fictionalism; default stance; hope; religious nones; agnosticism and the meaning of life; agnosticism and tolerance; agnosticism and religious diversity; secular worldviews; philosophy of religion; sociology of religion; psychology of religion

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

While a great deal of work has been done on belief in God and atheism, research on agnosticism is truly meager. One possible explanation for this omission (or sheer neglect) is that philosophers of religion assume that agnosticism is an unstable position, and one that most probably will lead to atheism, naturalism or belief in God.

Too often, agnosticism is in the shadow of atheism. This view deserves attention in its own right. The aim of this Special Issue is to cast light on agnosticism as a genuine position as well as to broaden the limited research on agnosticism. Indeed, this is, to our knowledge, the first issue of an academic journal that is fully devoted to this subject matter.

We welcome papers exploring answers to conceptual, epistemological, and pragmatic questions like: How should we understand and define agnosticism? Is there a difference, and if so, what is the difference between agnosticism and atheism? Can one and if so, how are we to justify the view? Should agnosticism, atheism or perhaps theism be considered a default stance one should take towards belief in God? Is it possible to pursue a religious way of life while at the same time being uncertain and agnostic about the existence of God or do agnostic views fit better in a nonreligious and secular society?

However, agnosticism raises significant issues beyond philosophy of religion. ”Don’t know” responses to religious issues are often reported in sociological research and psychological studies of agnosticism. We invite papers from these fields exploring questions like: How is agnosticism actualized and experienced in everyday life? How does agnosticism fit into identity construction or meaning making systems? Are there cultural differences in how agnosticism is conceptualized around the globe? We especially welcome studies which are focused on the intersection between empirical and philosophical fields.

Dr. Francis Jonbäck

Prof. emer Carl Reinhold Bråkenhielm
Dr. Lotta Knutsson Bråkenhielm
Dr. Evelina Lundmark
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • agnosticism
  • atheism
  • religious agnosticism
  • religious fictionalism
  • default stance
  • hope
  • religious nones
  • agnosticism and the meaning of life
  • agnosticism and tolerance
  • agnosticism and religious diversity
  • secular worldviews
  • philosophy of religion
  • sociology of religion
  • psychology of religion

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
On the Compatibility of Christian Faith and Theological Agnosticism
Religions 2021, 12(3), 155; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030155 - 27 Feb 2021
Viewed by 520
Abstract
Agnosticism is often understood as being in opposition to religious faith. This article examines the two concepts “agnosticism” and “Christian faith” and their interrelated character. We argue that agnosticism and Christian faith are compatible, although agnosticism has some negative consequences for Christian faith [...] Read more.
Agnosticism is often understood as being in opposition to religious faith. This article examines the two concepts “agnosticism” and “Christian faith” and their interrelated character. We argue that agnosticism and Christian faith are compatible, although agnosticism has some negative consequences for Christian faith seen from a Christian perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agnosticism)
Article
Default Agnosticism
Religions 2021, 12(1), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12010054 - 13 Jan 2021
Viewed by 864
Abstract
Agnosticism has always had its fair amount of criticism. Religious believers often described the first agnostics as infidels and it is not uncommon to see them described as somewhat dull fence-sitters. Moreover, the undecided agnostic stance on belief in gods is often compared [...] Read more.
Agnosticism has always had its fair amount of criticism. Religious believers often described the first agnostics as infidels and it is not uncommon to see them described as somewhat dull fence-sitters. Moreover, the undecided agnostic stance on belief in gods is often compared with being unsure about such obviously false statements as the existence of orbiting teapots, invisible dragons or even Santa Claus. In this paper, I maintain that agnosticism can properly be endorsed as a default stance. More precisely, I use a strategy presented by Alvin Plantinga and argue that it is rationally acceptable to be agnostic about the existence of God. I also anticipate and answer a number of objections. Finally, I offer my conclusion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agnosticism)
Article
A Non-Doxastic Fear of Hell: On the Impact of Negative Factors for an Agnostic Religious Commitment
Religions 2020, 11(8), 376; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11080376 - 22 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 818
Abstract
On the standard view, an agnostic might commit non-doxastically to religion because she wants to receive some goods, which might be either natural or supernatural in kind. I broaden the picture by showing how the agnostic must also take negative factors into account. [...] Read more.
On the standard view, an agnostic might commit non-doxastically to religion because she wants to receive some goods, which might be either natural or supernatural in kind. I broaden the picture by showing how the agnostic must also take negative factors into account. Negative mundane factors should be avoided as far as possible by the agnostic, and in extreme cases, even at the price of giving up supernatural goods. Negative supernatural factors, like eternal torment, work differently. An agnostic who considers an eternity of suffering in hell a live possibility might rationally make a religious commitment in order to avoid it. Non-doxastic religion is commonly conceived as requiring a pro-attitude. If fear can have the impact I suggest, we must broaden the picture to allow for a negatively based commitment as well. To make explicit the kind of attitude relevant here, I offer an analysis of fear as a rational, non-doxastic attitude. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agnosticism)
Article
Meaning Agnosticism and Pragmatism
Religions 2020, 11(6), 302; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11060302 - 22 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 968
Abstract
This paper proposes to reconsider agnosticism by taking a step onto a meta-level, investigating agnosticism not as an epistemic stance regarding the choice between theism and atheism, but as a stance toward the question concerning the cognitive meaningfulness and/or truth-aptness of religious discourse. [...] Read more.
This paper proposes to reconsider agnosticism by taking a step onto a meta-level, investigating agnosticism not as an epistemic stance regarding the choice between theism and atheism, but as a stance toward the question concerning the cognitive meaningfulness and/or truth-aptness of religious discourse. It is argued that this “meta-level” meaning agnosticism may actually be an attractive articulation of a certain kind of religious attitude. While pragmatists like William James have claimed that (epistemic) agnosticism practically collapses into atheism, meaning agnosticism at the meta-level can in fact be a pragmatist position focusing on our human condition and its limits. Additional issues, such as the relations between agnosticism and the theodicism vs. antitheodicism debate regarding the problem of evil and suffering, are also briefly examined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agnosticism)
Article
Eric Perl’s Theophanism: An Option for Agnostics?
Religions 2020, 11(5), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11050251 - 19 May 2020
Viewed by 1225
Abstract
Recent work in analytic philosophy of religion has seen increased interest in nontheistic, but still non-naturalist (indeed, broadly religious) worldview options. J.L. Schellenberg’s Ultimism has been among the most prominent of these. Another interesting option that has yet to receive much attention is [...] Read more.
Recent work in analytic philosophy of religion has seen increased interest in nontheistic, but still non-naturalist (indeed, broadly religious) worldview options. J.L. Schellenberg’s Ultimism has been among the most prominent of these. Another interesting option that has yet to receive much attention is the Theophanism advocated by the Neoplatonism scholar Eric Perl. In this paper, I summarize Perl’s theophanism (which he describes as being neither theistic nor atheistic) and assess it on two fronts: (a) whether it might be an acceptable philosophical option for agnostics, specifically, and (b) to what extent it is independently defensible philosophically. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agnosticism)
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