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Ignosticism is the idea that the word 'god' does not have a meaning or does not have a clear meaning.

Eckhart Tolle

The concept, or the sentiment behind the concept, has been described by the German author Eckhart Tolle, although he does not use the word 'ignostic' to describe his perspective:

'The word God has become empty of meaning through thousands of years of misuse. I use it sometimes, but I do so sparingly. By misuse, I mean that people who have never even glimpsed the realm of the sacred, the infinite vastness behind that word, use it with great conviction, as if they knew what they are talking about. Or they argue against it, as if they knew what it is that they are denying. This misuse gives rise to absurd beliefs, assertions, and egoic delusions, such as "My or our God is the only true God, and your God is false," or Nietzsche's famous statement "God is dead."'[1]

Tolle goes on to explain that linguistically 'the word God has become a closed concept':[1]

'The moment the word is uttered, a mental image is created...of someone or something outside you...Neither God nor Being nor any other word can define or explain the ineffable reality behind the word, so the only important question is whether the word is a help or a hindrance in enabling you to experience That toward which it points. Does it point beyond itself to that transcendental reality, or does it lend itself too easily to becoming no more than an idea in your head that you believe in, a mental idol?'[1]


The term ignosticism was coined in the 1960s by Sherwin Wine, a rabbi and a founding figure of Humanistic Judaism.

Distinction from theological noncognitivism

Ignosticism and theological noncognitivism are similar although whereas the ignostic says "every theological position assumes too much about the concept of God", the theological noncognitivist claims to have no concept whatever to label as "a concept of God",[2] but the relationship of ignosticism to other nontheistic views is less clear. While Paul Kurtz finds the view to be compatible with both weak atheism and agnosticism,[3] other philosophers consider ignosticism to be distinct.


James A. Lindsay in his book, Everybody Is Wrong About God, claims that people do mean something by the word God and most people have a sense of what the word means. He also says that ignosticism is "poorly equiped" in situations where people are being quite clear on what they mean by "god".[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Tolle, Eckhart. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. ISBN 978-1-57731-152-2. 
  2. ^ Conifer, Theological Noncognitivism: "Theological noncognitivism is usually taken to be the view that the sentence 'God exists' is cognitively meaningless."
  3. ^ Kurtz, New Skepticism, 220: "Both [atheism and agnosticism] are consistent with igtheism, which finds the belief in a metaphysical, transcendent being basically incoherent and unintelligible."
  4. ^ Lindsay, James A.; Boghossian, Peter (1 December 2015). "Everybody Is Wrong About God". Pitchstone Publishing (US&CA) - via Google Books. 


External links

  • The dictionary definition of ignosticism at Wiktionary

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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