Agnostics and Agnosticism
Numbers. Internet resources. Books.
How many Agnostics are there in the U.S.?
There are two ways of answering this question:
||The number of American adults with Agnostic beliefs: This is now
accurately known as a result of the ARIS studies: it is about 10% of the
adult population -- on the order of 23 million.
1 It is the second largest
religious belief system, after Christianity. |
|The number of American adults who identify themselves as Agnostic:
From the same study, this is about 0.9% of the adult population, or just under
2 million adults.|
The difference is because the vast majority of adults with Agnostic beliefs
||Identify themselves as freethinkers, Atheists,
Humanists, Freethinkers, NOTAs (None of the above), skeptics,
Unitarian Universalist, Ethical Culturalist having no
religion, or refusing to answer a survey question, or|
|Identify themselves as Christians or a member of an Eastern religion like Buddhism,
Taoism, Jainism, etc. or as a
followers of other religions.|
The Graduate Center of the City University of New York periodically conducts a massive
"ARIS" study of over 50,000 American adults. 1,2 They estimated:
|1990 study: 1,186,000 identified themselves as either Agnostics or
|2001 study: 991,000 identified themselves as Agnostics.|
|2009 study of 54,461 randomly selected American adults: |
||1,985,000 identified themselves as Agnostics, more than double the 2001
|When asked about the existence of God, 10.0% of adults indicated
|4.3% agreed with "There is no way to know." ARIS calls this a "softer"
form of Agnosticism.|
|5.7% agreed with "I'm not sure." ARIS calls this a "harder" form of
|6.1% refused to answer. Some of these were certain to have been Agnostics.|
|12.3% of American adults are either Atheist or Agnostic; 12.1% are
||The margin of error of the survey is less than ±0.5%|
currently over 4 times as many adults with Agnostic beliefs than
Atheist beliefs in the U.S. The number of persons with Agnostic beliefs exceeds the
number of followers of each of the organized religions, except for Christianity.
Agnosticism is really the second largest religious belief system in the U.S.,
and is growing fast.
The 1996 Canadian Census only counted 21,975 Agnostics. The 2001
census data showed that the percentage of Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists,
adherents of no religion, etc rose from 12.3% in 1991 to 16.2% in 2001.
Unfortunately, all public opinion surveys of religious affiliation include a
significant percentage of individuals who do not reveal their religion. In the
case of the ARIS 2001 and 2008 studies, this amounted to about 5% of the total surveyed, an
increase from 2.3% in 1990. We
suspect that many of them are actually Agnostics.
Agnostic resources on the Internet:
Many Agnostics contribute to the Atheist, freethinker and secular sites. Some resources
||The About.com web site has a group of essays on Agnosticism
||Agnostic church describes their web site as "the
net's premier Agnostic Ezine & resource site." See:
http://www.agnostic.org/ mirrored at
http://www.agnostic.com . Unfortunately,
since at least the end of 2009, this web site is offline.|
|A critical Agnostic Review of Christianity examines and evaluates "...
fundamentalist Christianity and the claims it
makes about the Bible and the nature of the universe." See:
|Agnostic Web features "An Agnostic's brief guide to the Universe"
at: http://www.agnosticweb.com/ It can
be downloaded as a PDF file at:
|Thomas Huxley and the Coining of Agnostic is described at:
||The Black Agnostic is "for black agnostics in particular, and all agnostics in general, to fellowship, debate, discuss, agree, disagree, grow the community, ... and disrupt the status quo." See: http://www.theblackagnostic.com/|
|The Internet Infidels has a great deal of material on Agnosticism. You
can find it by using their internal search engines.
|The Catholic Encyclopedia attempts to refute Agnosticism and gives
the Roman Catholic Church's position on Agnosticism. See:
||The Modern Ecumenical Church is a faith group centered in Melbourne Australia with independent international affiliates. They feature "modern, communitarian & agnostic spirituality." It appears to be compatible with Agnosticism. See: http://www.me-church.org/|
famous essay by Bertrand Russell titled "What is an
Agnostic" is online at: http://scienceblogs.com/ It is a fascinating and refreshing essay to read. It should be particularly useful to theists who proselytize, because it will help them understand the Agnostic worldview.|
|The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic delivers a sometimes light-hearted
view of Agnosticism. See: http://www.ApatheticAgnostic.com|
||You Tube has a listing of over 200.000 videos on Agnosticism! See:
A powerful indictment of Theism, Atheism, and organized religion:
Vincent Bugliosi, "Divinity of doubt: The God question," Vanguard Press, (2011). 352 pages. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
Two guides for Agnostic parents:
Dale McGowan, Ed., "Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring
Kids Without Religion," American Management Association (2007).
Read reviews or order this book Amazon customers rate this books with 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura, Amanda Metskas, and Jan Devor, Authors, "Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief," AMACOM, (2009). Read reviews or order this book Amazon customers rate this books with 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Other sources of information:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Barry A. Kosmin, et al., "American Religious Identification Survey 2008,"
Trinity College, 2001-DEC-19, at:
http://www.americanreligionsurvey-aris.org/ This is a PDF file.
- Barry A. Kosmin, et al., "American Religious Identification Survey 2001,"
City University of New York, 2001-DEC-19, at:
http://www.gc.cuny.edu/This is a PDF file.
Copyright © 1997 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update and review: 2014-FEB-17
Author: B.A. Robinson.
checked on 2014-FEB-17