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Preach to the choir
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Crux of the matter
Speak of the devil
An act of faith
NOTE: An ietsist is not a Letsist with a lowercase l.

Ietsism (pronounced eetsism in accordance with Dutch orthographic conventions) can be summed up wholly as a belief or a theory that there is some sort of higher force, or more to the universe than meets the eye.


Ietsism (Dutch: ietsisme (pronounced [itsˈɪsmə]) – "somethingism") is an unspecified belief in an undetermined transcendent reality. It is derived from the Dutch word iets meaning something, literally, and indeed the term had originated in the Netherlands, which is full of wonderful things. It's not completely sure from where the word originates. It was popularized by atheist biologist Ronald Plasterk (who would later become education minister) in the late 1990s but the word appears to be older. Plasterk initially called ietsism 'an annoying sign of our time' but later said he preferred it over theism, calling it "like atheism with a whiff of nostalgia. Intellectually poor but much more sympathetic than the idea that there is some angry god who wants all this misery". The word has been included in the official Dutch dictionary since 2005.


It is difficult to categorize ietsist beliefs, since there is no shared ideal. In general, ietsists say they believe in a something; it should not, however, be concluded that they believe in a god, per se. An individual ietsist may believe in something more akin to a binding essence within the universe or in a 'clockmaker' creator - a similar view to deism. One may consider an ietsist a sort of agnostic deist (or in snark, agnostic-light) in that they believe or suspect there is a something, but whatever it is, it is either not a god, not present any more, incomprehensible, or some force of nature. Alternatively ietsism could be defined as agnosticism not with respect to the existence of a supernatural entity but rather to its nature. However, it's better not to put too much effort in defining ietsism since lack of interest in any definition is kind of exactly what ietsism is all about.

How an ietsist explains their beliefs[edit]

"There is something, but I don't know what it is. But there must surely be something. Not nothing. Something. I don't know what that something is, but that there is something, of that I am sure. I think."

Assuming that ietsists even bother to discuss their beliefs, discussing ietsists will likely cause both atheists and theists (and agnostics and deists and ...) to facepalm over the ietsist's cobbled-together thought process and indecisiveness, or their indecision to hop on board a more mainstream and more easily defined set of beliefs. An ietsist can frequently just be the infamous spiritual but not religious with a smattering of agnosticism.

Ietsism is not religious or nonreligious[edit]

As ietsists can not be neatly classified as religious or nonreligious, ietsism is somewhat notorious for mucking up statistics on religious demographics. A poll from 2004 showed that as much as 40% of the Dutch population could be considered ietsist, and other European countries would probably get similar rates. Hence labeling ietsists as either religious or nonreligious will tilt the demographic balance for those countries to either predominantly religious or predominantly nonreligious.

See also[edit]