Was Korihor an Agnostic or an Atheist

Daniel H. Ludlow

The position of the agnostic is “I don’t know whether or not there is a God, but I don’t believe there is; furthermore, I don’t believe anyone can know that there is a God.” The atheistic position is “I know there is not a God.” This position cannot be defended by reason or logic, for how can a person know there is no God unless he has the power of God to see everything and everywhere in the entire universe at one time? Perhaps Alma had this fallacy in mind when he told Korihor, “I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit.” (Alma 30:42. Italics added.) Korihor’s position in Alma 30:48 is essentially that of the agnostic: “I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God.”

Inasmuch as it is impossible to prove there is not a God, some people have also tried to argue that it is impossible to prove there is a God. However, this argument does not necessarily follow. God can be, and has been, proven to many people. James E. Talmage suggests that “the evidence upon which mankind rest their conviction regarding the existence of a Supreme Being, may be classified for convenience of consideration under the three following heads: (1) the evidence of history and tradition, (2) the evidence furnished by the exercise of human reason, (3) the conclusive evidence of direct revelation from God.” (Articles of Faith, p. 30.) The Book of Mormon is primarily concerned with the highest or most conclusive evidence—direct revelation from God.

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