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The Contender
Con (against)
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Atheists cannot be Agnostic at the same time.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/1/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 347 times Debate No: 87428
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
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As many atheists falsely assume. Agnosticism is not the position of "i dont know." That's just..ignorance. Agnosticism is the position the "it is not possible to know." or "it cannot be known." And thus it is illogical to combine the two terms together, and Agnostic atheist is an oxymoron, or in the least redundant.

if one disclaims knowledge, and prefaces with a "i dont know if your God exists"... then immediately follows up with a "but i dont believe your God exists." then they have made the first portion of their position of null effect. No?

Thats the relationship between knowledge and belief that you overlook. They cannot hold the same place in your mind at the same time. When you say you dont know, you disclaim knowledge. That means you must believe or disbelieve, and there is no evidence either way.

So when an agnostic atheist says, i dont believe there is a god, because there is no evidence. They are really saying "i think there is evidence to be had." If the absence of evidence is your reason to believe something did not happen, then you are assuming that if something happened, there would be evidence! If God existed...there would be evidence... So.. you believe its POSSIBLE to KNOW if GOD exists. Therefore, they are by definition NOT agnostic, by any true sense of the word.



I accept this debate and will do my best to make it enjoyable for everyone involved.

Since Pro did not specify the structure of this debate, I will present my arguments against the resolution before proceeding to rebut Pro's arguments.

The resolution is straightforward: "Atheists cannot be Agnostic at the same time."

However, I contend that atheists can not only be agnostic, but must be agnostic. I believe that the two terms are not mutually exclusive.


1. The Possibility for Atheists to be Agnostic:

Let's begin by defining the two terms.

According to Atheism .org,

"Atheism is usually defined incorrectly as a belief system. Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods." [1]

According to the Meriam - Webster Online Dictionary,

An agnostic is "a person who does not have a definite belief about whether God exists or not." [2]

Now, comparing these two terms, it becomes clear that there is overlap. This is good news for my position.
The phrases "lack of belief" (atheist) and "a person who does not have a definite belief" are very similar. The only difference is the degree of disbelief. Both groups doubt a supreme deity's existence. But does this mean that one cannot be the other, and vice versa?

Of course not! Here's what Austin Cline, an expert in atheism and agnosticism, says:

"Atheists are thought to be closed-minded because they deny the existence of gods, whereas agnostics appear to be open-minded because they do not know for sure. This is a mistake because atheists do not necessarily deny any gods and may indeed be an atheist because they do not know for sure " in other words, they may be an agnostic as well." [3]

Because there is overlap, there exists the possibility for an atheist to be an agnostic, and vice versa. Moreover, some might oscillate between the two positions depending on how they feel on the issue.


2. The Necessity for Atheists to be Agnostic:

No atheist can definitively say that God does not exist. Such a statement would be absolute which, as any honest atheist will admit, is unprovable. After all, it is logically impossible to verify a negative!

However unlikely, God's existence is still granted to be a possibility by leading atheists:

1. Brian Greene has stated that God might exist. [4]
2. Richard Dawkins has stated that he is a "de facto atheist" - meaning that he is slightly agnostic. [5]
3. Sam Harris has stated that he doesn't know everything, that spirituality is possible. [6]

Based on these three forefront atheists, it is certain that agnosticism is not only possible for atheists, but also a necessity in order to be intellectually honest and factually accurate.


3. Refutation of Pro's arguments:

Pro delivered three complex arguments to support his/her case. Let me now dismantle them one by one.

1. "Agnosticism is not the position of 'I don't know.' That's just . . . ignorance. Agnosticism is the position [that] 'it is not possible to know.'"

Well, according to Professor Richard Dawkins' Scale of Religiosity, that claim is decidedly incorrect. There is a spectrum of belief from the theist, to the agnostic, and to the atheist. By definition, agnosticism means - literally - "no knowledge". It is absurd to remove a word from its actual meaning for the sake of convenience. Agnosticism is ignorance. Pro is trying to re-invent an established word. Moreover, professional atheists disagree with Pro Thus, given that Pro offered no sources in
defense of his argument, I claim superior credibility with mine.

2. "If one disclaims knowledge . . . then they have made the first portion of their position of null effect. No?"

First of all, huh? I am utterly confused. I could not follow this incoherent argument.

Secondly, no. Saying "I don't believe in God" does not nullify the statement "I don't know if God exists" because they logically follow as a syllogism. They are by no means contradictory. In fact, as previously established, they are complementary.

Ex. of syllogism:

Major premise: God's existence requires knowledge in order to believe.
Minor premise: I don't know if God exists.
Conclusion: Therefore, I do not believe in God.

See? The logic flows perfectly! No problem.

3. "If the absence of evidence is your reason . . . You believe its possible to know if God exists. Therefore, [agnostics] are by definition not agnostic, by any true sense of the word."

Hmmm... This is an original argument. But I think I have a convincing counterargument.

The agnostic and atheist alike doubt that any evidence exists in support of God. Until evidence is presented, it is impossible to know if God exists. This goes against your claim that an "absence of evidence" view means that one has to belief that it is possible to know God. The truth is exactly the opposite. Until evidence is presented, it is impossible to know if God exists.
Thus, agnostics remain agnostics according to the true definition of the word.


Thanks for reading! I look forward to Round 2



Debate Round No. 1


Thank you Con for accepting my argument and setting forth a formidable defense. It was enjoyable to say the least.

First, I would like to contend as the topic of my debate implies, Agnosticism and Atheism are mutually exclusive positions. This is why you will find plenty of Agnostics philosophers (whom appear to be Atheists and are heralded as such by their lesser Atheist followers) whom vehemently disown the label "Atheist." Chomsky, Einstein, Hume, Kant and so on.

As I will attempt to demonstrate further, one should be able to gather that Agnostics do not call themselves Atheistic Agnostics, nor do they recognize Agnostic atheists and atheists to truly be agnostic about God. Those who claim the label of Agnosticism, disclaim Atheism (as well as Theism), on the grounds that the BELIEF of atheism is irrational. The Belief that it is unlikely a God exists, given the AVAILABLE EVIDENCE. (which is the same thing as what my opponent said his beliefs were. That the possibility is not denied, but deemed unlikely due to the available evidence against and lack of valid evidence for God's existence.) They key difference here, is that the agnostic does not say 'there is no valid evidence." the agnostic claims that the evidence for God would be incomprehensible, should the evidence exist. The agnostic does not claim 'there is no evidence." only that "we do not SEE or UNDERSTAND the evidence, should it exist." In short, the Atheist lies about "NOT knowing" as he proceeds to acknowledge that he would know, if there was anything to know. He says he doesn't know,,, then continues to act like he knows about God's existence when he asks for valid evidence. The Agnostic is honest about not "knowing." as he is acknowledging that knowing requires the ability to RECOGNIZE (not gather) Valid evidence.

Also, please allow me to rectify the narrative by RE-defining the words agnosticism and atheism, more properly, as my opponents proposed definitions seem to carry a bit of Bias (being taken from an atheist website) as well as a lack of distinction (being a one-sentence statement, taken from a random dictionary. The dictionary will also define CAT as 'a feline animal.' And I will attempt to show, a Lion is a Cat but an Atheist is not Agnostic) It should be noted, many dictionaries also define atheism as "the denial or rejection of God's or gods' existence."

An Atheist , contrary to what an Atheist will tell you, is not someone simply "lacking a belief." An Atheist is , in actuality, by definition, by logic, and by any practical means, someone who has specifically "Rejected and continues to willingly and consciously deny any belief in religion, God, gods or any form of higher or supernatural powers whatsoever." To make this contention, it needs to be made absolutely clear what Atheists are actually saying when making such claims about themselves. At face value, to "lack a belief." may seem like a fair and justifiable description for the term Atheist, but I would like to point two problems with this definition.

First, the description "a lack of belief," is ( as my opponent also pointed out and as I mentioned with my "cat the feline animal" analogy), too broad of a description, which would by default INCLUDE agnostics and atheists. Thus, the definition provided, lacks the ability to distinctly tell us How an atheist is different from an Agnostic, if at all. It's a loaded definition, leading the audience to fallacy. Even if both terms were not mutually exclusive, Con must specify for us what is the deciding factor that makes one go from Agnostic to Agnostic Atheist, if they are both people who lack beliefs and they both CLAIM that they do not know... There is little to zero difference between an Agnostic and an Agnostic Atheist. IF we are to accept Con's definitions without regard for clarity, the differentiation between Agnosticism and Atheism utterly fails, and Agnosticism loses its true meaning. Thus, the adjective "agnostic" in the label "agnostic atheist," becomes a mere shell for protecting the atheist's true beliefs about the unknown - which is that they believe it CAN be KNOWN, via evidence ; which is in turn, diametrically opposed to Agnostic philosophy.

The second problem is that Con seems to assert that Atheism is not a belief system. Yet also says that he doesn't know. If he doesn't know, and he doesn't believe... Then What are his thoughts exactly? Atheism is absolutely a system of belief, and just as any other system of belief, it evolves and builds improvements to its constructs over time. When multiple unrelated individuals gather around a unified belief (atheism, theism, agnosticism, democracy, capitalism, Marxism, Socialism), it is by definition and purpose a SYSTEM of BELIEFS. If atheism were not a belief system, Con would not be able to regurgitate famous Atheists to make his point.

Although instinctively, one may assume Atheism is not a belief system, I would beg the audience again not to incline to superficial "instinctive" conclusions about what things are, but rather lean on their intellectual discernment towards truth by using reality and logic as a benchmark for verification, rather than appealing to authorities.

Further, Atheism is the rejection of all claims regarding God, gods or any claims made by any religion. Their rejection of such claims may inevitably result in a lack of belief in such claims, but their rejection of the belief itself, must be based on their own BELIEF that the claim is wrong. Less, the Atheist is claiming to KNOW the theist's beliefs are wrong, and therefore worthy of rejection. Whichever the case, the atheist ideology is ironically opposed to itself, and to remain intellectually honest about the true position of an atheist, one must admit (as my opponent did) that all people are agnostic by nature and the atheist CANNOT KNOW if the theist's claims are wrong. So it's inevitable and logical to conclude that Atheism is a belief, not a lack of it, and it is shared by many, to create a systematic set of beliefs to adhere to, such as the belief and requirement of scientific evidence to justify any of their other beliefs.

Finally if Atheism is the rejection of ALL claims regarding God, including the claim that "a god of ANY kind exists" it IS, by necessity, a rejection of belief in God or ANY kind of god. The moment an Atheist decides that ANY god claim is worthy of suspension of judgement, they would not be able to reject said claim, because rejection is judgement, not the suspension of it, and then that atheist would in effect no longer be an atheist. He would be Agnostic. T

Con's proposed definition of "Agnosticism" is also suspect, at best. Agnosticism is not simply lacking a "definite" belief in God, gods or religion." If that definition were to justify the true meaning of Agnosticism, then Con is claiming that Agnosticism is nothing but a FORM of atheism.

Agnosticism is defined, high and low, anywhere you look, dictionary or wiki, as the position that "it CANNOT be known or proven that God , a god, or gods exist." Plenty of Atheists will hide their true position by falsely assuming the ideology of an agnostic. An agnostic atheist claims that they "do not believe, because there is no evidence to prove God." In contrast, an agnostic claims they "do not KNOW, because there is no evidence to prove God." These two positions are quite different, but easily confused. The lack of evidence is not evidence at all, for the Agnostic, and the agnostic cannot make the claim of belief. As I mentioned, but my opponent missed, knowledge is a prerequisite for belief. if one claims to believe or disbelieve, he/she also claims knowledge. Just as people are by necessity agnostic, ppl are by necessity rational. It does not mean the knowledge is true, only that it supports the belief of the individual, as they are necessarily rational.

As such, if you must know something to believe or disbelieve...Atheists cannot be agnostic


This will be a succinct reply.

1. Introduction:

Perhaps, in the distant past, agnosticism and atheism were mutually exclusive. But that is no longer the case. Now, especially in the twenty-first century, the two categories are not completely separated from each other. Instead, they overlap like two links in a chain.

2. Clarification

As a result of this analogy, there are now at least three categories:

1. Absolute atheist: "It is absolutely impossible for God to exist. Therefore, I do not believe."

2. Agnostic atheist: "There is no evidence to verify the existence of God. Therefore, I do not believe."

3. Absolute agnostic: "It is absolutely impossible to know if God exists. Therefore, I do not believe."

Categories 1 and 3 represent the extremes. However, category 2 is a compromise of both extremes. Category 2 is the overlap.

Thus, agnosticism and atheism are no longer mutually exclusive.

3. Refutations:

There are five points that Pro raised that I would like to attempt to discredit.

1. "Agnosticism and Atheism are mutually exclusive."

First of all, where are Pro's sources? So far, Pro has provided no evidence in support of his claims. (see refutation 5 below)

Secondly, Dr. Richard Dawkins' "Scale of Religiosity" is now only a reasonable model of human deistic belief, but it is also a widely accepted one as well. The "Scale of Religiosity" proves that there is overlap between agnosticism and atheism. Dr. Dawkins is a known atheist and scholar; he is a much more credible authority than Pro.

2. "Agnostics do not call themselves Atheistic Agnostics..."

Of course not! I invented the term to easily convey my argument in this debate. Agnostics call themselves agnostics and atheists call themselves atheists, but their titles do not necessarily solidify their stances. Just as Republican and Democrats disagree on matters within their own parties, so agnostics and atheists may disagree as well.

3. " [opponent's] proposed definitions seem to carry a bit of Bias (being taken from an atheist website) ..."

First and foremost, why is "bias" capitalized? Gasp! The rules of grammar have been broken!

Secondly, why is it wrong for me to define "atheism" according to how real-life atheists define themselves? If anything, this is the right bias. Would it be better if I used God's definition of "atheism" instead (i.e. heathen who will burn in Hell)?

4. "An Atheist, contrary to what an Atheist will tell you, is not someone simply 'lacking a belief' ..."

Geez, what's up with the inappropriate capitalization? Did you write your response in a hurry? That would explain why your arguments are haphazard, to put it kindly.

So, you cannot trust an atheist to tell you what he/she believes or, in this case, does not believe in? That is absurd. I feel like I should have to prove how absurd your argument is, but I will do it anyway.

Imagine if you tried to order a burger at a restraint and the cashier told you that wasn't really what you wanted. The cashier is not a psychic; the cashier is a fool.

In the same way, Pro is trying to tell atheists what they disbelieve in. That, my friend, is bad form. That is a manipulation of the facts. You cannot do that because, for starters, you aren't them!

If you were them, you'd know you're wrong.

5. "I would beg the audience ... to ... lean on their intellectual using [logic]... [and not] appealing to authorities."

If Pro's arguments were logical, surely someone out there agrees with his/her viewpoint. Authorities provide additional support to logical arguments; they tend to make them more credible, especially if the source is reputable. Logic is the bare minimum for rational debate. I have gone the proverbial "extra mile" in researching and citing sources. There is no way in heck that I am going down to Pro's level. Let Pro find some sources and catch up if he/she can.

Having dismissed Pro's arguments, I advance to my conclusion.

4. Conclusion.

I have not covered everything that Pro raised because, honestly, most of it is repetitive and unpersuasive.

Here's the paramount point that secures me the win:

THIS debate is impossible for Pro to win because he must absolutely prove that there is no middle-ground between agnosticism and atheism. Pro must prove that the two are irreconcilable. But given the obvious overlap between the two, Pro immediately fails his goal. Pro's resolution is indefensible.

Thank you. I await Pro in the third round.
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks Con for providing your rebuttal. However, for the sake of honesty, please allow me to re-clarify what Con has attempted to obscure. I agree, I was rushed to finish round 2, but allow me to drive the final nail in the coffin in R3, as R4 will just be wrap-up.. As for my grammar.. All your base are belong to us!

Con has already conceded to my resolution by acknowledging " the distant past, agnosticism and atheism were mutually exclusive." Con argues that because times change, so do the meaning of words and their application. Although we see this in some words.. like "f*g" or "dope," it would be a false categorization and a fallacy to assume that the meaning of Agnosticism and Atheism has changed as well. As we all know, these words have not necessarily changed in how we use them. Only recently, certain atheists that recognize their own irrationality have begun adopting the term 'agnostic' to assuage their irreconcilable belief, which was explained in Round 2.

Con unwittingly admits this by defining Agnostic incorrectly, once again, demonstrating his own misconception about what "agnosticism" even is. He claims an absolute agnostic is part of an atheist spectrum of beliefs. He AGAIN miscategorizes agnosticism as a subset of Atheism, obfuscating the actual meaning of Agnosticism, to suit his own agendas, even after he admits " the distant past, agnosticism and atheism were mutually exclusive."

Con believes 'Absolute agnostic is defined as "It is absolutely impossible to know if God exists. Therefore, I do not believe."' This is obviously false categorization of Agnosticism, as I have aforementioned that Agnosticism, in its original sense, is the suspension of belief and disbelief altogether. The correct position would be "It is absolutely impossible to know if God exists. Therefore, I do not believe or disbelieve."

It must be noted, that my logical explanations (being haphazard) were 'dismissed' and not 'challenged' by my opponent. He did not attempt to explain why my logic was wrong, but instead utilized character assassination and a repetition of his beliefs. I will now begin to demonstrate, using LOGIC, that my opponents arguments are not only illogical, but employs textbook critical thinking fallacies one after another to demonstrate his point. Shall we count the ways? And to close, I will reconfirm that my argument is not only valid and sound, but absolutely true.

Of the 5 points raised by Con, he does not provide a single logical or rational explanation for his position. Instead, Con relies on petty ad hominems, appeals to authority, false analogies and categorizations, along with arguments from ignorance to support his position. If Con is unable to provide any logical reasoning for his position, his position is without logic and reason.

Point 1 : ". Dr. Dawkins is a known atheist and scholar; he is a much more credible authority than Pro." An appeal to authority fallacy. Further Dawkins is an Atheist, whom would obviously concur with Con's contention. Setting forth a biased cheerleader, as an intellectual or unbiased authority on the matter is disingenuous, and a fallacious argument that should be outwardly visible to anyone trained in critical thinking.

Point 2: "Just as Republican and Democrats disagree on matters within their own parties, so agnostics and atheists may disagree as well." Another false categorization on part of Con. The ideologies of Atheism and Agnosticism are singular beliefs based on a singular concept. Political affiliations and respective beliefs are in regard to multiple areas of life. Sure Republicans disagree with other republicans about life, or specific policies, why not? Republicans do not disagree with each other about what being a Republican means in essence - which is conservatism and accountability. Neither do Republicans decide that, since their party is found wanting, they should start calling themselves Democratic Republicans. What is more, Republicans cannot be Democrats at the same time.

Point 3: Ad Hominem. Secondly, IF my contention is that Atheists are incorrectly defining themselves, whether it is out of genuine ignorance or intellectual dishonesty is besides the point. If I say atheists have confused the notion of Agnosticism , and falsely placed it upon themselves while changing the definition of Atheism, whether they did it knowingly or unknowingly, they are still falsely defining themselves. If an atheist claims (as Con did) that atheism is a 'lack of belief,' they do not do justice to their own beliefs and actions which is the active rejection of all God claims. (as explained in round 2, and yet to be refuted using logic from my opponent.) It is wrong to accept the superficial definition of atheism from an atheist, if the Atheist consistently LIES about his BELIEFS. Such as the claim that he only believes what he knows. And Con's argument from ignorance is not a refutation to my argument that Atheists have incorrectly defined themselves as being a "lack of belief." As seen in the 3 definitions of Atheism provided, they are all forms of belief. The only 'lack of belief' is agnosticism.

Point 4: False Analogies. Ad hominems. etc. An atheist is not 'lack of belief.' a lack of belief also implies a lack of disbelief. The prefix "dis" meaning opposed, not "without." So a disbelieving something,,,is an opposing belief, not suspending judgement or a lack of it, as atheists would have you believe. A lack of belief also implies that belief is that status quo. But no atheist can ever attempt to minimize their "lack" of belief. The moment they do, and begin to refrain from saying they "disbelieve" , then they become agnostic by virtue of their own words. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. The fast food burger analogy does not take into account that atheists willingly lie about their position when saying they are "agnostic" or "lacking belief.". Imagine that you went a restaurant and asked for a burger.The waiter gives u a chicken burger and told you it was the same thing. And that a chicken burger could also be hamburger and both are , in essence, burgers. I find this analogy more effective and I would immediately demand a refund. I suppose Con would be forced to accept the waiter's logic and see the chicken burger as true hamburger. Since, Chickens and Burgers are not mutually exclusive.

Con cannot tell someone they are using "bad form," for laying out logical explanations for why a claim such as "Atheism is a lack of belief." is a FALSE claim. If an American says America is a peace-loving country, am I not allowed to asset logical explanations to refute this claim? Simply because an American said it? How far gone is the logic?

Point 5: Con says "authorities provide additonal support to logical arguments." This statement is true. However Con has not provided ANY VALID logical arguments and ONLY relied authorities to make his point. This is an appeal to authority fallacy.

An example of Con's poor logic is demonstrated in Round 2, that I did not have space to cite, but did clarify above with my argument that Knowledge is a prerequisite for belief (or disbelief).

Con's Faulty Logic:
Major premise: God's existence requires knowledge in order to believe.
Minor premise: I don't know if God exists.
Conclusion: Therefore, I do not believe in God.

Pro's Correction of Con's Logic:
Major premise: To accept or reject a claim requires knowledge.
Minor premise: I don't know if God exists.
Conclusion: Therefore, I cannot accept or reject any claims about God.

IF an agnostic atheists disclaims the possibility of having knowledge on God, saying "i CANNOT know if God exists," it would be dishonest for an atheist to reject any claim at all, based on any knowledge that they cannot have. In debates, logic is the bare minimum. And Con has been found to be unable to surpass that bar


I must remind Pro that this debate is not measured by the length of one's arguments. If you are trying to win by confusing us all, I must say that you're doing an excellent job. In fact, keep it up!

In my response, I will be attacking all of Pro's points in alphabetical order:

A. Pro claims that I have unfairly defined my terms. I say that I have fairly defined my terms. My definitions are better because most of them are derived from credible sources. Oppositely, Pro has not only produced no sources to back his definitions, but Pro's definitions have already been rejected by atheists themselves (i.e. Dr. Dawkins' Scale of Religiosity)

B. Pro claims that I conceded his resolution. But Pro twisted my words. I said: "Perhaps, in the distant past, agnosticism and atheism were mutually exclusive. But that is no longer the case . . . Instead, they overlap like two links in a chain."
Pro is being dishonest in twisting my words against me. This is another example of Pro's "bad form".

C. Pro maintains that I have misdefined agnosticism " suit [my] own [agenda]..." But Pro is relying on his unproven definition of agnosticism to suit his own agenda. What makes my definitions better is not only do they make sense, but my definitions are affirmed by credible authorities. Moreover, I have conceded nothing! Pro is clearly misrepresenting me.

D. Pro says that "original" agnosticism is "the suspension of belief and disbelief together." This is incorrect for several reasons:

1. "Original agnosticism" is outdated; it no longer reflects the modern overlap between agnosticism and atheism. In other words, hardly anyone could qualify as an original agnostic anymore because times have changed.

2. "Original agnosticism" sounds more like spiritual apathy than an actual position on the spirituality. Pro equivocates apathy with agnosticism; the two terms are not interchangeable. Even if Pro is correct, Pro's resolution still fails because atheism can be motivated by apathy. In other words, apathy and atheism are not mutually exclusive.

3. "Original agnosticism" is based on a misunderstood onus. (Note: Onus means "burden of proof") The onus is not placed on agnostics to say whether God exists. Quite the opposite, theists must prove that God exists. After all, Socrates once said that "He who asserts must prove." Agnostics believe that theists fail their onus and, therefore, cannot believe based on said failure. This harkens back to my previous statement: 'Until evidence is presented, it is impossible to know if God exists."

E. Pro states that my insistence of Dr. Dawkins as a source constitutes a logical fallacy. Pro is in error because he misapplies the "appeal to authority" fallacy. Here's the deal: the fallacy occurs when the wrong authority is cited, not when a biased authority is cited. For instance, if I claimed that the President of United States can issues pardons and used Barack Obama as a source, that is not a fallacy. Rather, that is a proper authority that enhances my argument. It would not matter that Barack Obama is biased as a Democrat. It only matters that he is a proper authority, which is evident in the case of President Obama.

F. Pro attacks my Republican/Democrat analogy, saying that it is a false parallel. But hang on. Does the amount of disagreements matter? My point was simply that persons can disagree with generally like-minded persons. Pro missed the entire purpose of my analogy. Thus, my analogy stands in spite of the alleged difference.

G. "Republicans cannot be Democrats at the same time."
Yes, they can. Has Pro ever heard of an Independent? Independents vote both ways all the time! In the same way, there is middle ground between absolute agnosticism and absolute atheism. It's called agnostic atheism!

H. "Atheists have incorrectly defined themselves as being a "lack of belief".

First, the grammar in this sentence is faulty.

Second, - I cannot repeat this enough - times have changed. There are no longer definitive walls between agnosticism and atheism, if ever there were any. The Scale of Religiosity allows for positions to bleed into each other. Pro's logic only makes sense if one adopts the outdated definitions of agnosticism and atheism. In fact, the difference between them is now very insignificant. They are nuanced approaches which can, for some, overlap.

Third, look at the comments section of this debate. All of the commenters agree with me that there is middle-ground between agnosticism and atheism. What's more, most of the commenters are agnostics/atheists who know themselves and their own beliefs much more than Pro.

I. "The fast food burger analogy does not take into account that atheists willingly lie about their position..."

Seriously? Did you just accuse all atheists of lying about their positions? Every atheist is a liar? Pro just made an absolute statement which, by definition, is impossible to prove. Here's the real deal: Pro is trying to tell all atheists that they're wrong. Even worse, Pro is saying that atheists cannot define themselves. If this isn't fallacious, I don't know what is!

J. "Con has not provided any valid logical arguments and [has] only relied [on] authorities to make his point."

Firstly, Pro's grammar seems to get worse with length. Perhaps Pro should make shorter arguments.

Secondly, not so! In my first two rounds, I made several, logical points of my own. Furthermore, citing an authority is a valid argument. The Greek philosopher Aristotle, in his masterpiece called "Rhetoric", wrote that there are three legitimate ways to convince: logos (logic), ethos (authority), and pathos (emotion). I have consistently used logos and ethos throughout my speeches.

K. Pro attacks my syllogism but he doesn't explain what's wrong with it. Pro merely proposes one of his own that is decidedly inferior.

My syllogism:
Major premise: God's existence requires knowledge in order to believe.
Minor premise: I don't know if God exists.
Conclusion: Therefore, I do not believe in God.

Pro's syllogism:
Major premise: To accept or reject a claim requires knowledge.
Minor premise: I don't know if God exists.
Conclusions, I cannot accept or reject any claims about God.

Here's my analysis, along with my reason for why my syllogism is superior.

Pro's only "correction" of my syllogism was to add the clause: "accept or reject" to my major premise and my conclusion.

But here is where Pro errs greatly: Can't I reject a claim that has not be positively proven to me?
Socrates said that "He who asserts must prove." Thus, whoever makes the claim that God exists must prove that it is true. The agnostic makes no such claim. Rather, the agnostic investigates to see if the theists' arguments (that assert God's existence) are true. The onus, or burden of proof, is only theists, not the agnostic.

Pro errs because he/she places the onus on the agnostic. The agnostic is suddenly responsible for asserting and proving if God exists. No, this is wrong because the responsibility lies solely on the theists.

Here's the most important part: Unproven assertions can be dismissed without requiring any disproving knowledge.
This is the agnostics' true position. Since the theists fail to prove their assertion, I can dismiss their argument automatically.

I apologize for the long response, but it was made necessary by Pro's overdone responses. Hopefully, Pro's next speech will be substantially shorter.

Nevertheless, I eagerly await the next round. Selah!
Debate Round No. 3


Since it seems my opponent is now grasping at Straw-men to add to his list of fallacies, I would like to take some time to go over our arguments to expose the constant fallacious logic of my opponent that obscures reality, while at the same time asking voters to truly consider the logic behind each statement.

Con says my arguments are confusing. Confusing or not, just because something is confusing, doesn't necessarily mean that that something is false. Is that sentence confusing also? Or does it just require some introspection & logic to see that that statement is logically true? I would also like to point out that "bad form" to me, is taking petty ad hominem shots at one's punctuation, with limited space to provide objective reasoning, and all the while complaining about the length of discourse on sufficiently heavy topics that may require more than 3 sentences to explain one's ideas clearly.

Also, I would like to remind Con that neither is this debate measured by one's ability to alphabetize, copy/paste, point fingers at one's "form".

I have already refuted Con's arguments using sound logic, and Con can only attempt to reduce my position by misrepresenting them, while ironically blaming me for the same. When in fact, all I have done is attempted to be honest in this debate, as a sideeff exposing the fallacies in Con's arguments. Exposing fallacies are not in any way attempts to insult or take shots at Con.

I have not misrepresented or "twisted [my opponent's] words against [him.]." In fact, I took a direct quote, from his argument that was indirectly granting me the correctness of my definitions from the beginning. I further paraphrased his correct position (or rebuttal) against my resolution, and explained using LOGIC that even in the 21st century, these words have not changed in their meaning. If a group uses a word incorrectly and unjustifiably to those whom originally claimed that word to label themselves first, then that minority does not have a justified claim to that label. You can call yourself whatever you wish, it doesn't make it necessarily true. A group of villains can call themselves Heroic villains, but that doesn't make them good guys. And as long as agnostics were before "agnostic atheists", agnostics CAN call that label a MISNOMER. and THAT again is LOGIC. is it that confusing?

All Pro can do is say he has "Credible sources." that back his definitions (or shall I say assertions? to which he has yet to provide any logical PROOF). I already pointed out why his sources were NOT credible, but BIASED. Being in a position of authority does not make someone credible. It would appear, Pro does not know what an appeal to authority fallacy even is. Richard Dawkins or any other "agnostic" atheist is not an unbiased source, and cannot give objective insight into the matter. Dawkins is a credible authority on Biology and Evolution, He is NOT a credible source on philosophy, politics, sociology, psychology, theology or atheism. THAT is Logic. You do not REQUIRE a credible source when you say something OBVIOUSLY TRUE. Logic.

When it comes to providing an objective definition for certain types of ideologies, it is important to note that any -ISM, is not necessarily a label for an individual to describe themselves, but a set of pre-established ideological frameworks, in which individuals fall into. Therefore, it's kinda ridiculous to think..someone can label themselves by a pre-established term, then decide what that label means "for me", especially if it doesn't fit with the original meaning. Doesn't it?

According to the philosopher William L. Rowe: "In the popular sense of the term, an agnostic is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in God, whereas an atheist disbelieves in God."

"Consequently Agnosticism puts aside not only the greater part of popular theology, but also the greater part of anti-theology."
-Thomas Huxley...the first agnostic atheist.

"According to philosopher William L. Rowe, in this strict sense, agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist.[2]"

All agnostics, from Hume, Kant, Huxley, Bertrand, Ingersoll, to Noam, whom all seem to agree with your atheist position, vehemently opposed the label atheist for themselves. Instead, all of them chose the term agnostic. It is my argument that those of lesser intellect and scientific understanding have latched on to the term, even hijacking the narrative and agnostic tenets, to represent their own irrational view of Atheism. subtly denying of God's existence. Each of the above characters specifically states their position is the "suspension of judgement and that they neither believe nor disbelieve. During their time, it was the Christian audience to whom they spoke, therefore they speak more about why don't believe. Nowadays, we have a good number of atheist readers, so that we can speak more about why we don't DISBELIEVE.

It's illogical to say the original definition of agnosticism is outdated. Just because a word is old... we don't go around changing what it means. He says it's "spiritual apathy", yet it's not spiritual anything. Agnosticism derives from one's deep and honest pondering about the nature of God, requiring a high degree of mental discipline and studiousness, not to mention HONESTY, that some are simply not equipped with. Even if I agreed, most agnostics are spiritually apathetic that doesn't mean Agnosticism IS spiritual apathy. First, the agnostic would have you define what you mean by "spirit."

Finally, Con thinks "the onus is on theists." As I keep saying over and over again, the onus is on Atheists and Theists. I do not know why Con thinks I am saying the onus is on agnostics. Con has outright fabricated a position to argue against, then provided a fallacious rebuttal against his fabricated argument. Well done. Con does not only misrepresent my ideas, but even that of Socrates. Con does not seem to know what an "assertion" is. Con believes an "assertion' is THE positive claim between two arguments. This is false. An assertion as Socrates used it is simply a "strong claim." In this debate, both Pro and Con are making assertions. If theists are making assertions about God's existence, Atheists are making assertions about the lack of evidence for God's existence. The agnostic is asserting that both sides need to define God, before making either of those claims.

Here are some classic example of Con's straw-men tactics. Con says "Here's the real deal: Pro is trying to tell all atheists that they're wrong. Even worse, Pro is saying that atheists cannot define themselves." Um.. no Con. Pro never said ALL atheists are wrong OR that they cannot define themselves.... this is preposterous..and almost laughable from how my logic flies right over Con's head. Pro SAID Atheists cannot call themselves Agnostic, because it is not an appropriate, fitting, or accurate definition for their ideological beliefs. Quite different.

Pro SAID, ...IF AN (not all) atheist lies about their position, then we are justified in not believing their self claimed position. If a white man calls himself the "n" word, because he feels like it, I guess since he knows himself better than anyone else we must believe the white man is really black.

Finally, in Con's syllogism the major premise is not necessarily true. the premises of an argument should always be necessarily true. I thought that was obvious.

At this point, it seems Con must stop calling himself an atheist to remain honest about his "lacking a belief." Atheism being a disbelief, is a belief and an assertion about the existence of God or lack thereof. And that assertion and belief will require knowledge, since atheists claim their beliefs are based on evidence (ie. know


This debate has unfortunately become a battle of definitions.
Thus, I will focus on establishing my definitions before refuting Pro's arguments.

A. Clarifying the definitions.

1. Atheism.

Literally from the Greek, Atheism is translated as "no (or without) god." [1]
Old atheists, or absolute atheists, contend that there is absolutely no God.

2. Agnosticism.

Literally from the Greek, agnosticism is translated as "no (or without) knowledge." [2]
Agnostics, or absolute agonistics, contend that God's existence is absolutely unknowable.

A good discussion on the two definitions can be found here: [3]
Now, given these definitions, is it possible for them to overlap? Yes!

3. Agnostic Atheism.

By combining both definitions, a third category can be created:

"No god because no knowledge."

This is a real position. [4] [5]

Another name for agnostic atheism is new atheism, which is espoused by the aforementioned Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, etc. [6]

In fact, I would go so far as to say that agnostic atheism is the amalgamation of old atheism and absolute agnosticism. But, regardless, I have proven that there is middle ground between the two positions.

New atheism believes that old atheism is flawed insofar as the latter accepts responsibility for disproving God's existence.
Rather, new atheism is more agnostic in the sense that it lacks belief.
Here are some sources to back this claim up: [7] [8] [9] [10]

New atheists place the onus, or burden of proof, directly (and rightly) upon the real asserter: the theist. Unless the theist can prove his own claim that God exists, the new atheist has no reason to believe or disbelieve at all. There is no reason to care.

I think I have established why my definitions are superior. That said, I advance to refutations.

B. Refuting Pro's Arguments.

1. "[My] opponent is now grasping at [straw-men] to add to his list of fallacies.

I have committed no such fallacies. Here's why:

o Ad Hominem: I have never attacked Pro's credibility expect with playful, hyperbolic sarcasm.

o Appeal to Authority: Bias does not disqualify authority. I made this clear in my President Obama analogy.

o False Analogy: I have defended my hamburger and Democrat/Republican analogies in previous speeches; Pro did not challenge my President Obama analogy. I will not bore the voters by repeating what I've already said ad nauseum.

2. "I would like to remind Con that neither is this debate measured by one's ability to alphabetize, copy/paste, point fingers at one's 'form'"

First of all, Pro's grammar is fallible.

Secondly, I would not have to carefully organize my arguments (i.e. alphabetize) if Pro wasn't so confusing.

Thirdly, expect for my sources, I have not copied/pasted anything. All of my quotations of Pro's arguments have been hand-typed. I am proud of that fact and I won't let Pro disparage my effort.

3. "I have already refuted Con's arguments using sound logic, and Con can only attempt to reduce my position by misrepresenting them..."

Again, the grammar is poor.

But, more importantly, Pro has consistently touted his logical prowess. Yet, I must point out that even Pro begins with some unfounded assumptions: his definitions. Until recently, Pro maintained that he/she logically devised his/her definitions. However, definitions are not concrete as words do change meaning over time. An example of this would be marriage which, as of last year in the United States, now includes same-sex couples. Logic cannot be used to ascertain definitions. Rather, current authorities must be cited and I have cited dictionaries in defining my terms.

Additionally, while on the subject of Pro's logic, Pro's arguments only make sense within his arcane, narrow, and rigid definitions.

4. "I have not misrepresented [Con]... In fact, I took a direct quote..."

No, you didn't. Pro purposely omitted the very first word of the sentence: "Perhaps."

Let me elucidate this point.

Here's what I really said in Round 2:

"Perhaps, in the distant past, agnosticism and atheism were mutually exclusive."

Here's what Pro quoted in Round 3:

"... in the distant past, agnosticism and atheism were mutually exclusive."

As you can see, Pro purposely removed the critical word "Perhaps". In doing so, Pro twisted my words by changing my conditional sentence to a direct sentence.

5. "All Pro can do is say he has 'credible sources' that back his definitions (... he has yet to provide any logical proof)."

Again, logic is insufficient to define words. For instance, based on pure logic, could you tell me what "gelid" means? Without a dictionary (an authority, mind you), how could you possibly know that "gelid" means "extreme cold"? [11] Definitions also require authorities because words change meanings. Likewise, the word atheism has changed and we need to acknowledge that fact. New atheists aren't liars; they're practitioners of the new meaning of a word.

6. "Richard Dawkins... is not a credible source on philosophy, politics, sociology, psychology, theology, or atheism."

What? Do I really have to defend the obvious? Hasn't Richard Dawkings published books on atheism and religion? Isn't there a book out there called "The God Delusion"? Hasn't Richard Dawkins argued with theists at colleges and universities? Couldn't one say that Dawkins is the face of new atheism?

How about you e-mail Richard Dawkins and tell him he isn't an expert (i.e. credible authority) on atheism. I wouldn't be surprised if he laughs at you. Seriously, Pro's audacity is both incredible and ridiculous!

7. "THAT is Logic. You do not REQUIRE a credible source when you say something OBVIOUSLY TRUE. Logic."

I am weary of correcting Pro's over-capitalization for artificial emphasis. I am also tired of compensating for Pro's horrific grammar. "Logic." That, my friend, is a sentence fragment.

On the actual substance, I agree with Pro. Self-evident truths need not require credible sources. But little to none of what Pro has stated can be classified as "obviously true." For instance, Pro maintains that his/her definitions are just logical. Yet, as I have shown, logic alone cannot ratiocinate the meaning of words. So Pro stretches the applicability of logic in an attempt to cover up his relative lack of sources.

8. "...William L. Rowe..."

Rowe is outdated; the words have changed since his time.

9. "Just because a word is old... we don't go around changing what it means."

Incorrect. Examples of changes include: gentleman, gay, and marriage.

10. "[The] onus is on [atheists] and [theists]"

Incorrect. Theists are the asserters. As such, following the rule of "he who asserts must prove", theists are alone responsible for proving God's existence. Atheists do not assert that God's inexistence. Rather, atheists find fault with the theists' proofs and, therefore, lack belief.

11 "Con does not seem to know what an 'assertion' is."

Actually, I do. That would've been a nice joke if only it had a punchline.

12. "Pro never said [atheists]... cannot define themselves."

But you say in the same paragraph: "...Atheists cannot call themselves agnostic..."
You just contradicted yourself.


There is overlap. I win


[6] Pigliucci, Massimo. "New Atheism And The Scientistic Turn In The Atheism Movement." Midwest Studies In Philosophy 37.1 (2013): 142-153. Academic Search Premier. Web. 5 Mar. 2016.
[10] (Pardon the profanity)
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by U.n 7 months ago
I say that I am somewhere between Agnostic and Atheist... Because I care so little about religion, that I don't even care what label I would be most accurately placed under.
Posted by JayShay 8 months ago
Agnostic atheist: someone who does not believe in god(s) but does not believe its/their lack of existence can be proven

Gnostic atheist: someone who does not believe in god(s) and is certain its/their lack of existence can be proven

Agnostic theist: someone who believes in god(s) but does not believe its/their existence can be proven

Gnostic theist: someone who believes in god(s) and is certain its/their existence can be proven
Posted by missmedic 8 months ago
God is not self-evident, so an intellectually honest person would be agnostic . Science is agnostic because this alleged entity has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe any thing or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful.
What should be most obvious about this technically accurate statement is that it isn't absolute. It does not deny for all time any possible existence of the entity or force in question; instead, it's a provisional statement denying the existence of any relevance or reality to the entity or force based on what we currently know.
Posted by zookdook1 8 months ago
An agnostic believes that nothing can ever be known about God. Therefore, they do not know whether God exists or not. If they assume to know, they assume they know something about God (EG He / She / It exists). If they assume he does not exist they assume they know something about God (EG He / She / It does not exist).

An agnostic does not know whether God exists.
Posted by missmedic 8 months ago
Atheism is merely the absence of belief in any gods, it becomes evident that agnosticism is not, as many assume, a "third way" between atheism and theism. The presence of a belief in a god and the absence of a belief in a god exhaust all of the possibilities. Agnosticism is not about belief in god but about knowledge " it was coined originally to describe the position of a person who could not claim to know for sure if any gods exist or not.
Posted by vi_spex 8 months ago
maybe no=agnostic
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