Agnosticism questions the possibility of knowledge of existence beyond the phenomena of experience. It is often equated with a general scepticism about religious questions and can lead to spiritual apathy and a loss of direction.
Agnosticism can be a way of life in three ways. Lazy, superficial or pragmatic agnostics cannot be bothered by religious questions, refuse to take difficult and contentious questions seriously and prefer to spend their time on problems that can actually be solved. Scrupulous agnostics are quite different as agnosticism is not an escape but a burden. They see the vastness of human knowledge and are paralysed. They have a deep fear of commitment, not through caring too little, but from worrying too much. They seek certainty, logical perfection, truths beyond criticism. The third type are the necessary agnostics who acknowledge that God is God, they are human beings and the first step toward wisdom is the acknowledgement of ignorance. They don't fall into the folly of believing they have it all worked out. They know faith is a process of seeing and then not seeing, of rising to great religious heights and then being humbled and corrected, this hoping and finding hope shattered, this dying and rising to new life is the source of their faith.
The significant drop in church attendance of recent years indicates the prevalence of agnosticism in developed countries.
According to this teaching human reason is confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that appear, and in the manner in which they appear: it has neither the right nor the power to overstep these limits. Hence it is incapable of lifting itself up to God, and of recognizing His existence, even by means of visible things. From this it is inferred that God can never be the direct object of science, and that, as regards to history, He must not be considered as an historical subject. Given these premises, everyone will at once perceive what becomes of Natural Theology, of the motives of credibility, of external revelation. The modernists simply sweep them entirely aside; they include them in Intellectualism, which they denounce as a system which is ridiculous and long since defunct. Nor does the fact that the Church has formally condemned these portentous errors exercise the slightest restraint upon them. Yet the Vatican Council has defined, "If anyone says that the one true God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason by means of the things that are made, let him be anathema"; and also, "If anyone says that it is not possible or not expedient that man be taught, through the medium of divine revelation, about God and the worship to be paid Him, let him be anathema''; and finally, "If anyone says that divine revelation cannot be made credible by external signs, and that therefore men should be drawn to the faith only by their personal internal experience or by private inspiration, let him be anathema." (Papal Writings, Pascendi Dominici Gregis: On the Doctrine of the Modernists, 8 September 1907).