Ask a Franciscan

Is Agnosticism a Sin?

man praying

I know that being an atheist is looked down upon, but I want to know if being an agnostic is a sin.

Agnostics say that there isn’t enough evidence to say with certainty that God exists. Many people who say this are not challenging God as much as they are observing that some of those who loudly proclaim their faith in God may, by their actions, make it harder for other people to believe in God. For example, people who try to justify violence to oppose certain religious beliefs can discredit religion altogether.

If one spouse abuses the other one, that is clearly wrong, but does this action discredit all married love? Similarly, people who believe in God are still people—with all their virtues and blind spots (places needing deeper conversion). What the world’s bishops in Vatican II’s “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” wrote about atheism also touches on agnosticism: “Taken as a whole, atheism is not a spontaneous development, but stems from a variety of causes, including a critical reaction against religious beliefs, and in some places against the Christian religion in particular.

“Hence, believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion” (19).

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