The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Agnostics are Atheists

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/8/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 467 times Debate No: 56274
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




The word atheism comes from the Greek word 'atheos,' the word, 'theos,' meaning God and the prefix, 'a-,' meaning, 'without,' together it means, 'without God.' Now the modern English word is similar only, 'theism,' means, 'belief in God,' and therefore, with the addition of the, 'a-,' it means, 'without belief in God.' The word, 'gnosticism,' means knowledge, so the word, 'agnosticism,' means, 'without knowledge.' One pair of words, theism and atheism, regard belief, whereas gnosticism and agnosticism regard knowledge; they're separate areas. Going by this, all theists and atheists are agnostics, because no one knows; even though theists claim to know. Atheists certainly don't know but aren't about to use ignorance as an excuse to exercise faith. It can be concluded that therefore, all agnostics are atheists since they disbelieve in all gods as well as atheists.


My opponent is essentially claiming that all agnostics are atheists. He/she is not simply claiming that some agnostics can be atheistic.

In actual fact, Pro's entire argument is self-contradictory.

If atheist means 'without God' and agnostic means 'without knowledge', then anyone who has no knowledge of God existing is, by these definitions, an agnostic Theist. For them to qualify as both godless and lacking all knowledge they must be without any knowledge whatsoever and Pro must prove that God does not exist.

Aside from this, the actual self-contradiction comes from Pro's following statement:

"Going by this, all theists and atheists are agnostics."

Pro actually stated that all Theists are agnostics. This means that there are agnostics who are not atheist.

Pro then finishes his/her round one he following statement:

"All agnostics are atheists since they disbelieve in all gods as well as atheists."

Not only does this contradict the earlier claim,. made by Pro, that all Theists are agnostics but claims that all agnostics disbelieve in god.

If agnostics are defined as lacking knowledge in God's existence, Pro cannot assume that Occam's Razor will be the methodology that all agnostics will use to reach their conclusion.
Debate Round No. 1


Well I must say nayme tore my argument apart! I had not even realized how contradictory my argument was until he/she pointed it all out in his/her first rebuttal. In this case, I will have to rephrase my argument:

One is either theist or atheist, there is no in between agnostic. So many people label themselves as agnostic which doesn't tell me anything, because one can be an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist as pointed out by someone in the comments and by nayme in his dissection or my initial contention. Being agnostic means one is admitting he or she does not know, which I wager is the case for most atheists. No one knows for sure, but what we BELIEVE is made known by our title theist or atheist.

If you do not believe in any gods, you are an atheist. If you say, "Well, there could be, I don't know," you're just speculating and should therefore be labeled as, "Undecided." After all, atheism and theism regard belief, whereas agnosticism regards the body of knowledge, and how could you know something you don't know? How can anyone know the unknowable?

I can't wait to see nayme bring out all of the flaws in this argument!


Before I proceed to explain why the resolution is not upheld by the argument I will like to point out another self-contradiction:

Pro specifically states that "one is either theist or atheist, there is no in between agnostic." before proceeding to claim that "If you do not believe in any gods, you are an atheist. If you say, "Well, there could be, I don't know," you're just speculating and should therefore be labeled as, "Undecided."".

The issue with this is that if there is only the possibility to be a Theist or an atheist, how can one be labeled 'undecided'? Surely this would mean they'd be the agnostic middle ground which Pro proclaimed to not exist.

Aside from that self-contradiction the more pressing issue that the resolution is not being upheld by Pro in the slightest.

Pro makes a clear distinction between belief in God and knowledge of God's existence. This contradicts the notion that not knowing God means one doe snot believe in him/her/it.

"God" is unknowable according to Pro. Thus, Pro states that it is actually impossible for one to be a Gnostic Theist or Gnostic atheist. Even if we accept this to be true, Pro has failed to explain why there are no agnostic Theists.

In Round 1, Pro states that all Theists are agnostics and seems to have completely dropped this notion by Round 2. Then, after dropping this notion, Pro asserts that one can only be a Theist or an atheist and that it's impossible to know God (meaning all Theists are forced to admit to being agnostic).

Pro is labeling all Theists as agnostic Theists and this completely contradicts the resolution in itself. On top of this, Pro has entirely separated the concept of knowing God from the notion of believing in his/her/its existence.

In conclusion, Pro has not only forced all Theists to identify as agnostic Theists but has additionally separated the knowing of God from the belief in his/her/its existence. In doing so, Pro has not only contradicted the notion of all agnostic being atheistic but has also rendered the resolution fundamentally impossible to uphold as knowledge and belief are independent of one another, according to Pro's logic.
Debate Round No. 2


I never stated that there were no agnostic theists. My problem with someone labeling themselves as merely agnostic is that it tells me nothing, because there CAN be agnostic theists as well as agnostic atheists. I don't know where you are in regards to belief, only that you admit you don't know. When people say they're agnostic, they generally imply that they don't know, NOR BELIEVE in the existence of a deity. If that is the case, then they are similar to atheists, in that THEY DO NOT BELIEVE.
This being said, why not simply say you're an atheist, because this would tell me where you are in regards to your beliefs. You can go further by saying agnostic or gnostic in front of either theist or atheist, but in regards to a person's belief, saying you're a theist or an atheist, or a deist for that matter, is more important than admitting you don't know or asserting you do.


My opponent has again contradicted the resolution. They openly admit that "there CAN be agnostic theists" and yet the resolution disagrees with this statement.

The claim that 'When people say they're agnostic, they generally imply that they don't know, NOR BELIEVE in the existence of a deity." is irrelevant due to Pro's concession that agnostic Theists exist. It doesn't matter if the majority of agnostics happen to be atheist, the resolution states that all agnostics are atheists, binding one to the other.

The way the resolution is worded, agnosticism is a subset of atheism whereas Pro is claiming that atheism is a subset of agnosticism. Actually both of these are wrong because neither is a subset of the other.

Pro then states agnostics "are similar to atheists, in that THEY DO NOT BELIEVE." yet they earlier stated that "there CAN be agnostic theists as well as agnostic atheists." meaning that one does not need to lack belief in God to qualify as an agnostic.

The last section of Pro's Round 3 is not relevant the resolution of the debate and is another debate in itself.

In conclusion, Pro has failed to uphold their burden of proof and thus Con has won the debate.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Publicaccount 2 years ago
I'm agnostic. Agnostic meaning that I believe that there may or may not believe in a god. I believe that any religion (and science. And many other things) is possible. I believe in everything and nothing. I believe that we might never know what is true and what is not. So we should keep our minds open to possibilities. I don't force my beliefs on others though. Religion is never a good reason to fight.
Posted by nayme 2 years ago
If the resolution you intended to put was 'Atheists are atheists' then I wouldn't have taken you up on it.
Posted by SweeneyTodd 2 years ago
Oh, excuse me for being unable to change the title of the argument! When I said agnostics, I meant what people generally mean by agnostics, that is, essentially atheists. My main argument was that there can be agnostic theists, making the term, "Agnostic," useless. I changed my premise after the first round because I felt silly, and wrongly said "Agnostic" in the title. I assumed that it was made obvious by my general argument, but nayme was hung up on my misuse of the word, which I only used for lack of a better one.
Posted by SweeneyTodd 2 years ago
Agreed. If I could 'like,' your comment, I would.
Posted by Samreay 2 years ago
My 2 cents: although Pro is right on the distinction between agnostics and atheists referring to two different concepts, I want to point out that all combinations are possible:

A gnostic theist is someone that believes they know (strongly believe) god exists
An agnostic theist is someone that believes god exists, but recognises that they cannot support their BoP.
An agnostic atheist is someone that rejects theistic claims but does not claim to know god does not exist.
A gnostic atheist is someone that claims to know god does not exist.

In this light, I am an agnostic atheist for a general, deistic deity, and a gnostic atheist with respect to the Christian god Yahweh, as I believe I can actively argue that such a being - by being contradictory and a product of human thought - does not exist.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by doomswatter 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro did not uphold his resolution (which is assumed to be the title if you do not separately list one in your opening round).