The Instigator
Rob1Billion
Pro (for)
Losing
29 Points
The Contender
cody30228
Con (against)
Winning
31 Points

Agnosticism should be considered as genuine a religion as Christianity

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/16/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,133 times Debate No: 1860
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (15)
Votes (16)

 

Rob1Billion

Pro

Why not? Why does religion have to be linked with superstition before it is considered genuine.......
cody30228

Con

Feel free to prove me wrong here
Agnosticism is Greek for without (a) knowledge (gnosticism)
In the sense of religion, this means that Agnostics simply claim they do not know if God exists or what aspects of him are true.
Correct?

Assuming this is, here is the definition of religion
"conduct indicating a belief in a divine power"
Online Etymology Dictionary

"a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny"
WordNet

"Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe."
American Heritage Dictionary

These three definitions all claim that religion resides on a belief. Now, in a religion, people BELIEVE what is taught.
Agnostics aren't sure, and don't believe.
Thus, agnostics do not portray any belief, thus, they aren't a religion.
Debate Round No. 1
Rob1Billion

Pro

Thank you for taking my challenge, Cody.

You'll notice, if you look up agnosticism on dictionary.com, that there will be listings of the word with and without the word religion in it. Simply naming dictionary definitions of the word is not enough, and we must ask ourselves what religion really is. What do you define as your "religion"? If you are Christian, you will probably have no problem, because Christianity is wrapped up in a neat little package. For me, a non-Christian believer, I have to think a little harder to discover what it is. Religion definitely involves your beliefs in the metaphysical, and often deals with a deity. But I would resist the notion that a deity is absolutely necessary to qualify religion as such, as hinduism and, generally, atheism attest to.

Wikipedia defines religion as "a set of common beliefs and practices generally held by a group of people, often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. Wikipedia also states about agnosticism: "...Some agnostics are termed agnostic theists since, while they do not claim to know any deity exists, they do believe (with varying degrees on skepticism) in, at least, one."
Dictionary.com has this to say about religion: "1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

Now we could throw definitions out of books and websites at each other for this whole debate, but it is clear that a precise definition of religion should probably be general enough to include each person's beliefs. Every person necessarily has some, even if it is insignificant, idea about something metaphysical or pertaining to the existence of God or lack thereof. Given the spirit of why our country was founded, and the strict protection of religious rights, I therefore postulate that everyone should be entitled to their own religion. Christians are easily recognized and respected in regards to their religion, and everyone should share this right even if they aren't Christian, muslim, etc. By denying any person a religion, the government is in effect establishing its own concept of religion, which is a clear and present violation of their first amendment rights. I was told in a past debate that my religion, agnosticism, is not viable and therefore should not be recognized by the government. I had a problem with assertation, so I am expressing it now.

Let me explain to you what agnostic means to me. It means that I believe that the universe is the way it is, and I believe that I don't have the essential capablilites to apprehend it. I look at theists and atheists, and wonder why they invest so much in ideas that really have no logical foundations in reason. At best they are decent guesses. I've read philosophers that attempt to prove the existence of God, and the arguments are so weak that my best guess at why they wrote them is that they were expected to. The penalties in past centuries for opposing Christianity have been brutal, and I can certainly see how they ended up at the conclusions they did. I guess my point is that using pure thought to probe the depths of the universe is simply not enough to find answers, and there aren't any answers for us in the physical realm either. Since there is no good evidence, I believe that we are not meant to know the deepest answers; not in life anyway.

My religion is as real as anyone elses, and I think it would be nice if my system of beliefs were as respected as someone who calls themself Christian. I don't care if one other person in the world actually believes that I am right; all I am asking is that the first amendment protect my religious beliefs in the same way as it protects Christianity's.
cody30228

Con

Ok, so no definitions since they will always differ.
Well...
Religion, I suppose we both agree, is a series of beliefs.
And agnosticism, I will accept from you, a believing in something, but can't discover what.
Fair enough?
But there is something else that goes along with religion. Faith, is a belief. Religion, is the practice of a belief.
So yes, Agnosticism is a faith, but not a religion. Why? There is no practice. How could you practice agnosticism beyond a belief in unbelievability? You can't, at least to my knowledge.
Since it is impossible to practice agnosticism beyond a faith, it should not be a religion.
Debate Round No. 2
Rob1Billion

Pro

Using myself as an example to prove my point, I do have faith. I'm glad you brought this point up, because I see how faith is used by people and I am usually disappointed. Here is what faith means to me, and how I can employ it while keeping the humble opinion that I don't truly know if God exists: Faith is believing that if I stick to my principles (most notably the seven cardinal virtues - prudence, fortitude, justice, temperance, hope, charity, faith) then I will continue to prosper, find love, wealth, success, and happiness. My faith tells me that if I treat another person well, even if there are no visible benefits, that I will do well in the future because of this. Now I certainly hope you don't intend on saying that I don't have any sense of faith, or that agnostics cannot employ the virtue of faith. I realize that faith has somewhat lost its meaning, mostly due to religions calling themselves "faiths", thus implying that their members are inherently virtuous simply due to them following their religion. But faith is not synonomous with religion. You can have faith IN a religion, but whether or not the principles of that religion are going to help you or not is a different story. Tell you the truth, I would rather use the seven cardinal virtues than the ten christian commandments. The seven virtues are much more helpful, precise and moral than the ten commandments, but that is for another debate. So you see, faith is very much a part of my religion, and I would argue that I use it better than most religious people do.

"Since it is impossible to practice agnosticism beyond a faith, it should not be a religion"

Your short response in round two, summed up by this line, leads me to conclude that you have all but abandoned winning this debate aside from this point that will hopefully save your position.

I will beat this horse a little more to death, since you have no more points to refute. My religion, agnosticism, believes that there is or is not a god, parralel universes, supernatural beings, aliens, etc. but it takes the position that mankind has not enough evidence to show beyond a shadow of a doubt, one way or the other, whether or not they do or do not exist. Instead of putting my faith in a pre-packaged set of beliefs perpetuated by an ancient book filled with old fables that could have been easily fabricated, I instead put my energy and faith into the seven cardinal virtues, since they are infallible and produce consistent positive results. I have faith that the universe is real and perhaps does have a Christian "transcendant reality", but my failure to assert that I do know for sure should not make a legal, moral, or practical difference. Thank you for debating me, this was an enjoyable dialogue.
cody30228

Con

I agree with what you say about agnosticism being a faith
But this is what you also said
"But faith is not synonomous with religion. You can have faith IN a religion, but whether or not the principles of that religion are going to help you or not is a different story."

You only argument made was that you believe in seven virtues. I still do not see any sort of PRACTICE that is necessary for a faith to be classified as a religion. I did not, as you say, give up on this debate. I simply made a short and easy to understand argument that proves you are wrong. That short argument still stands.
1. Following virtues does not mean practicing a religion. That means following your morals
2. You never showed any instance in how you practice any belief.

You never proved that agnosticism was any more than a faith.

Good Luck
Debate Round No. 3
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Lenfent 9 years ago
Lenfent
>>You have a presidential candidate right now (huckabee) who has openly announced to seek to change the constitution of the USA to be concurrent with God.

While you were looking at my profile you seemed to miss this part of it:
Country:United Kingdom

So this Huckabee fellow is not my presidential candidate, for obvious reasons.

As far as the silly "Faith" thing that this website does, I think it is ridiculous that it uses that word, since (as far as I am concerned) Atheism/Agnosticism and the like are not faiths but stances on the existence of God/on the issue of religion, however I'm not going to argue that so take it as you see fit. I selected it regardless of the misleading title because I felt that at least people would be able to tell where I stood on the existence of God (since this is a debate site), whether or not I liked or agreed with the way it was presented.

As far as the infraction of the U.S. Constitution, however, I admire your willingness to fight back against an oppressive majority, but if they're willing to break that law/standard in the first place, I don't think much can be done in the way of stopping it by merely relabeling non-theists as religious. The courts would probably be the best location for one to fight that particular battle.
Posted by Rob1Billion 9 years ago
Rob1Billion
continued from below... Huckabee can only get away with this tyrannical religious zeal because his religion has a complete monopoly over our government, and if left unchecked, could eventually be successful in harming our constitution. Allow me to read you the very first line from amendment I of the bill of rights: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or restricting the free exercise thereof; ..." Now huckabee's actions are a CLEAR infraction of the first part, and anyone's attempt at stopping me from expressing my religion is a clear infraction of the second part. Why do you think the framer's considered this sentence SO important that they not only included it in the constitution but made it the very first line of the bill of rights, before anything else (right to bear arms, due process, speech, jury trial, etc.)? They understood how people can get wrapped up by religion and confused by it, and they wanted to remind us that religion is to have NO PART in our government. I believe that religion does have too much power in gov't today, and the best way to check it is too stop running away from them and saying "I want no part in religion". We need to get back in the game, and declare atheism and agnosticism bonified religions that deserve equal protection and equal rights to influence governmental decisions as Christians get. Why do our atheist/agnostic politicians hide their faiths? Why are they "closet atheists?" Why is every single presidential candidate, save Mike Gravel, openly Christian (I don't believe they REALLY are christian, they just dont stand a chance without saying they are)? Do you want to see this trend continue? I personally don't, and I think that it will be a great day when our atheist politicians can come out of hiding and represent us non-christians the way we deserve to be represented, the way the constitution dictates that we ought to be represented.
Posted by Rob1Billion 9 years ago
Rob1Billion
well that's the thing, lenfent, I always considered (as I see almost all of us atheists/agnostics do) that my agnosticism was a breath of fresh air to get AWAY from superstitious religious beliefs. But what I see happening here is a seperation that is not a positive thing. under your profile lenfent, it says "Faith: atheism". If atheism is not a faith or religion, then why don't you remove atheism and put "none"? Is there even an option for that? It isn't that hard for me to say "this is my religion, my practices, my beliefs, etc." and jump through any hoops CON can come up with to disqualify my claim (although the votes didn't seem to reflect my success, disappointingly). But what exactly makes a religion viable? YOU are giving Christianity a clear monopoly over the entire concept of religion (since there a few other prominent religions in our country) by denying both me and yourself the right of religious acknowledgement. I know you have absolutely ZERO motivation to be religious, because you see the glaring logical fallacies that all religions fall into, but I think that there may not be a problem with religion in general; maybe it is just the specific religions that people have chosen thus far that is the problem. I am only saying here that I would like the chance to start a religion that is not obviously plagued by ignorance and superstition, like every single other imaginable religion today. I would like to bring agnosticism out of the dark, where it sits now as a non-genuine faith alternative, and give it some recognition as a bonified choice of religion. This would be an important first step for loosening Christianity's hold over the public, and more importantly Christianity's hold over the government. You have a presidential candidate right now (huckabee) who has openly announced to seek to change the constitution of the USA to be concurrent with God. continued above...
Posted by Lenfent 9 years ago
Lenfent
What I am saying is that, if you want to begin to compromise the meaning of words, by all means go ahead and call it a religion. Calling it a religion, however does not make it so. You just sound upset like you're being kept out of some V.I.P. club. Personally, I don't know why you'd want your opinions held alongside those of people who think that the world was created in six days. It seems insulting. But to each their own, I suppose.
Posted by FexHere 9 years ago
FexHere
Simple but Straight answers. You've got it all cody.
Posted by Rob1Billion 9 years ago
Rob1Billion
lenfent, all your points below have pretty much been addressed already. If someone wants to make the sunrise their complete religion, who are you to tell them that your religion deserves prominence over theirs.
Posted by Lenfent 9 years ago
Lenfent
Agnosticism is not considered a religion for the same reason atheism isn't. There is no creed, doctrine, or any other form of rules or guidelines. One does not base one's life around atheism or agnosticism. It is one simple belief (atheism = there is no God; agnosticism = there may or may not be a God). A religion is a set of beliefs that are usually taken on faith and usually used as a guideline for how to live one's life. If one simple belief qualifies as a religion, then practically everything is a religion. For example: believing the sun will rise tomorrow would be a religion. If you start considering these two as religion, then you begin to destroy the meaning of the word by stretching it to encompass something else.
Posted by moosewings 9 years ago
moosewings
Thank You For Clarifing Your point
As with All Things Each Choice or Journey in Life Or Belief Starts with a series Of Steps, Thoughts, Questions, Observation, Theology, With Fact or Faith In whats Is therory based in a well Thought out Argument ,opinion or Beleife a means to a end
Chances are i Become enlightened Through Humulity Respect And Knowledge Opean Mindedness accepting Others Opinion With Out Belittleing Them In The process.
IE:"I dont know" opeans A Broad Door Too Enlightenment& Faith or A certain Beleif On a Very Broad Plane, though your Path is Yours Mine Is Mine They Coexsit On a Level Playing Feild ie: Respect
It Is what it Is
Posted by Rob1Billion 9 years ago
Rob1Billion
well moose, I say I am agnostic because I believe not enough evidence has surfaced to decide 1) there is definitely a God, beyond a shadow of a doubt or 2) there definitely is not a God, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Just because this is the case, does not mean I am totally confused about everything in life, have no faith, have no values, and am running in circles all the time. I find myself quite fortified in logic, and quite satisfied that I am making the best religious choices possible.

The ten commandments: These are not that useful in life, at all. Thou shalt not kill(literally "do murder") - this is simply not good statement. If someone is running at my loved ones with a knife and ready to hurt them, I won't be consulting the ten commandments because I will be a fool if I do, for very obvious reasons. The rest of the commandments are pretty much either common sense and unnecessary, not fundamentally viable, or only applicable to Christians. What I mean by "not fundamentally viable" is this: If you look at the seven virtues, you will notice that they lay out an absolute framework for morality. They ar of fundamental importance, meaning there are no values/principles more important than them, and they are as close to infallable as you can possibly achieve. Also, they are extremely enlightening and useful, and by using them blindly you will achieve tremendous results, in a scientific way. The ten commandments have barely a shred of the utility of the seven virtues. While the virtues are theological in nature, I am not ignorant enough to discredit them just because they are tied to religion. Agnostic doesn't mean that one is confused, inept, and insignificant; it is a demonstration in humility that has theological utility.
Posted by moosewings 9 years ago
moosewings
Ok Let Me Understand Rob1Billion
you are Agnostic in Faith, Then You Say You believe In the seven Virtues A Catholic&Christian Belief Based On God& theology but see the 10 commandements as flawed tho each is based on ancient text written By scholars
Yet You do not believe in God Seems A bit Of a running circle Enlighten Me Then as this has become a conundrum
Or am i confussed
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