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Ignosticism, or igtheism is a theological position. If followed to its logical end it concludes that the entire question about God's existence is a non-question and that taking a yes, no or even ambivalent position is absurd. It is based on an expectation of strong critical rational analysis of any proposition including the existence of God.

As with any topic, and especially in the realm of the supernatural and woo, the subject of any debate should be coherently defined. If one offers a clear definition of an entity, then in order to take a position whether it exists or not the definition of the entity must be one in which its existence can be falsified (there is a rational and logical method by which we can test the existence of the subject as it has been defined). Few theists ever offer a clear definition of God. The few who do offer a definition almost never offer one in which the existence of that God could be tested. The rare falsifiable definition offered regarding God's existence is easily falsified. And so as with any subject (such as the existence of almost all supernatural entities) debate about the existence of God is, for the far majority of such conversations, pointless.[1][2][3]

Ignosticism goes one step further than agnosticism; while agnosticism states that "you can't really know either way" regarding the existence or non-existence of God, ignosticism posits that "you haven't even agreed on what you're discussing" (see Concepts of God). The term was coined by Sherwin Wine, founder of the Society for Humanistic Judaism.[4]

Ignostic arguments[edit]

Whereas atheists say "God (Yahweh) does not exist," ignosticists say "I have no clear concept of anything labeled 'God' nor any reason to suspect that anyone does either." The practical differences from plain old atheism, strong agnosticism and ignosticism are trivial but in terms of certainty about the existence of God and the approach to the question of the existence of God the differences are notable. A strong agnostic will claim that one can never be certain but that it is extremely unlikely that God exists and an ignostic claims that the certainty of the existence of something that cannot even be defined let alone verified is almost always pointless and a non-debate.[5][6][7]

Theological non-cognitivism[edit]

Ignosticism is sometimes considered synonymous with a closely related concept known as "theological non-cognitivism," which states that talking about "god" is cognitively meaningless. It is slightly distinct in that ignostics would be happy to jump off the fence if a decent enough definition of "God" was put forward. Some theological non-cognitivists reject anthropomorphic gods as false but maintain that non-anthropomorphic gods are meaningless.[8]

A lightbulb joke[edit]

How many ignostics does it take to change a lightbulb?

First you tell me which one fits.

See also[edit]

  • Apatheism – which is a matter of not caring rather than not knowing.

External links[edit]


  1. The Spinozistic Spirit in Mordecai Kaplan's Revaluation of Judaism Author(s): Shaul Magid Source: Modern Judaism, Vol. 20, No. 2 (May, 2000), pp. 159-180
  2. "So Ayer was an igtheist, that special category of people who think that all talk of God existing or not existing is complete nonsense." Neil Warburton. A little history of philosophy. 2011. Yale Press.
  3. "Ignosticism The attitude, also known as igtheism, that the question of God's existence is meaningless". The Economist. July 2010.
  4. Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine profile, International Federation for Secular and Humanistic Judaism
  5. "Here is a recap of religious identities: ... Igtheist: You say that the statement God exists is meaningless". Adventure in Human Knowledges and Beliefs. Andrew Ralls Woodward, 2014.
  6. Paul Kurtz. The New Skepticism. 1992.
  7. The Secular Outlook: In Defense of Moral and Political Secularism. Paul Cliteur. 2010
  8. The Argument from Non-Cognitivism, Strong Atheism