The Instigator
Candid_atheism
Pro (for)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
AndyHood
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

It is reasonable to be Agnostic about a creator to the universe!

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Candid_atheism
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/31/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 922 times Debate No: 72689
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (18)
Votes (2)

 

Candid_atheism

Pro

Looking for an Atheist, theist or deist that is willing to challenge my claim!

Agnostic: a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.
synonyms: skeptic, doubter, doubting Thomas, cynic; More

Creator: Someone or Something that creates

Source: 'Google Definitions'
AndyHood

Con

Thanks for an interesting topic; it's good to debate somebody who has their definitions sorted out :D
Isn't that atheist-agnostic-theist spectrum nonsense just such a bore?

So, the question before us is whether it is reasonable to conclude that nothing can be known about the existence or nature of God. I say squarely that it is not.

For instance it cannot be true that God is simultaneously existent, omnipotent, omniscient and onmibenevolent.

Slightly tweaked from Wikipedia's page on the Problem of Evil [1], I present a compelling argument:

1. Assume that God exists and is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent.
2. An omnibenevolent being would want to prevent all evils.
3. An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence, and knows every way in which those evils could be prevented.
4. An omnipotent being has the power to prevent that evil from coming into existence.
5. A being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, who is able to prevent that evil from coming into existence, and who wants to do so, would prevent the existence of that evil.
6. If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God, then no evil exists.
7. Evil exists
8. The logical contradiction between 7. and 8. implies that the assumption (1.) was wrong.

That there cannot be an existing, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God seems to me to be a positive statement about God's existence and/or nature, which seems to me to run counter to the definition of Agnostic that Pro setup. I contend that at least this one thing is known about the possible nature of God.

(I am an atheist myself; not happy to argue for "there are no gods", since some might choose to hide, but quite happy to argue that the proposed God of the Bible patently does not exist)

Agnosticism seems to me such a technical position and, as such, quite unnecessary. Why complicate matters with beliefs about what can be knowable? Why not settle for "I've heard the claims of Theism and I'm not buying any of them. Some of them I just don't buy, some cannot be true"? I do...

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Candid_atheism

Pro

First of all Con is asserting that the hypothesis of a creator to life has to be defined under those biblical terms of God. However, I can argue "God" can just be a catalyst to what sparked the Big Bang or "God" could even be a malevolent entity in the sky that is just indifferent to the world and just likes watching us suffer in Calamity. We just don't know! Secondly, Con's argument is very dull, in the sense that, he is trying to disprove the bible God rather then really trying to show us why it's not reasonable to be Agnostic. Unless he's trying to debate why all the Agnostics of the world shouldn't be Agnostic and why it's not reasonable, then he's not forming a valid argument. If he's going to argue against the existence of Yahweh, he needs to argue against the existence of all the religious and non-religious concepts of "God" too. For example he says it can be known that the theist God can't be true. And let's just say that is the case, but what about the Deist God? The God that people like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson had faith in. They were two of the most well known founding fathers in the United States of America. Also, he says Agnosticism is a real technical thing. Which I highly disagree with. Last time I checked "I don't know" isn't really that technical. Personally even being an Atheist myself, I still find it reasonable for people to be Agnostic because there is no proof or evidence proving or disproving the existence of God. All there is, is fallacy after fallacy and theory after theory attempting to outsmart ones opponent with logic and reason. But, in reality Science just doesn't have an answer yet either way. Even Deists would agree with me on that one. Agnosticism is a neutral stance. That is totally reasonable. It's like with politics, people don't have to be too far right or too far left. They can just be in between. Neil deGrasse Tysonne of the most controversial Astros-physicists that is alive is Agnostic. In his words, "I just don't know and don't really care". I'm paraphrasing but it went something like that in his interview with Big Think.

Source: YouTube.com/bigthink. (Interview with Neil deGrasse Tysonne about being Agnostic)
AndyHood

Con

I'm going to take this down in the order of most important (to the debate) first.

I quote Pro:
"For example he says it can be known that the theist God can't be true. And let's just say that is the case, but what about the Deist God?"
Answer: I've made (and justified) a universal comment about the nature of (if there is one) a god:
God cannot be simultaneously existent, omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent.
Pro does not seem to argue with this point. If this point is true, then it represents something knowable about the nature of God and thus totally refutes the position that nothing can be known about the nature of God.

This next Pro quote might explain why Pro didn't even try to refute my proof:
"Last time I checked 'I don't know' isn't really that technical."
I fear that Pro has missed the point of agnosticism! Let's go back to Pro's original definition of agnosticism:
Agnostic: a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God

In the meantime, Pro seems to have reduced the definition to "somebody who doesn't claim to know anything". The definition that we should be working with is "somebody who claims that any knowledge about God is impossible". This is, as I say, quite a technical position. It is, to a greater or lesser degree what the term "agnostic" means. Over time people have lessened the meaning to a very loose "unsure" position, but Pro did provide the original and more proper definition of agnostic - and it sounds like Pro isn't even in that camp!

Neil deGrasse Tyson deliberately removes himself from the title "atheist" simply because he doesn't want to get involved in religious debates. He does self-identify as an agnostic but says only that it seemed the closest term to describe him; he goes on to define agnostic as "someone who doesn't know". He is not claiming that there can be no knowledge, which is what Pro is claiming (by Pro's own definition of Agnosticism). Here, I've done the research to find the video that Pro didn't bother to link to - you can judge for yourself whether Neil has the slightest intention of justifying the idea that nothing can be knowable about God: [1] (it is true that the term Agnostic has become weakened over the years, but please remember that Pro provided the definition which included the stricter meaning)

Further proof that Pro hasn't quite got a handle on what the word "agnostic" means:
"Personally even being an Atheist myself, I still find it reasonable for people to be Agnostic because there is no proof or evidence proving or disproving the existence of God."

Pro, do you realise that it is possible to be:

a) An agnostic theist [2]
An agnostic theist believes in the existence of at least one deity, but regards the basis of this proposition as unknown or inherently unknowable.

b) An agnostic atheist [3]
Agnostic atheists are atheistic because they do not hold a belief in the existence of any deity and agnostic because they claim that the existence of a deity is either unknowable in principle or currently unknown in fact.

gnostic/agnostic are all to do with positions on knowledge
theism/atheism are to do with acceptance or rejection of the basic theistic claim

I quote myself in my opening comment (second line):
"Isn't that atheist-agnostic-theist spectrum nonsense just such a bore?"
And here we have yet another person who is under the false impression that there is some sort of spectrum that goes from Theist to Atheist through Agnostic. Never has been, never will be.

[1] YouTube Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Big Think talking about his agnosticism
https://www.youtube.com...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Candid_atheism

Pro

First of all don't be silly Con, i already know that! There can also be Agnostic Deists! Con, we can completely dismiss your whole argument on how you addressed the concept of a creator and put labels on "it". I defined the creator as someone or something that creates from the get go. Not the "theist God" creates. However, since I'm benign, I will give your argument the benefit of the doubt and analyze it. Voters, take copious notes now! In Con's rebuttal he completely avoids bringing up deism. And I'll show you why. In number 6 of his not so compelling argument he states, "if there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God, then no evil exists. This is actually an immature logical fallacy called Petitio Principii. ( e.g. It's like saying since there's no evidence for God, then no God exists. What Con is making is an assertion. In Deism they believe in a God that is all of those things, but does not intervene. Sure, this world is like a put off Science project and like a C- at best, but that doesn't mean God isn't omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. You attempted to disprove a creator but you can't. You can't prove or disprove a creator. And because of this, you as a Voter must, theist, atheist deist or agnostic, need to be unbiased and find it reasonable to be Agnostic about a creator to the universe.
AndyHood

Con

Okay, let's wrap this up;

=+= Agnostic does not mean ambivalent =+=
=+= Agnostic does not mean (just) "I don't know" =+=
=+= Agnosticism includes an element of "you can't know" =+=

To evidence this, I quote (again) Pro's very original set-up post for round 1, in which Pro neatly defined this for us:

Agnostic: a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.

I think that Pro is arguing for a little bit of an off interpretation of the debate that they set up, given that they included this definition, but I'll tackle the narrow interpretation here (which would require a different definition of the word Agnostic than the one originally posted).

Pro is essentially trying to argue for the very narrow "you can't prove or disprove that a god (including Deism) created the universe", which is a very different argument indeed. However, by nature of how Pro has worded it, it's far more than that, even if I allow an unfairly tight definition of the debate:

Pro is at the very least claiming not just that "you can't prove or disprove god the creator"
Pro is at the very least also claiming that "you could never do so"

First, let me note that for Pro's claim to be true, one has to make the assumption that God, if such a being exists at all, never has nor ever will interfere with the World in a testable fashion. That seems like a strong claim for which we've seen no justification from Pro. For, if there were a creator God and they were to start talking to us, we may well be able to know. Agnosticism in this regard is not just "I don't know", it's "nobody could ever know"... and you can't get there by reason alone...

Another way to see this is that
It is reasonable to say: "I don't know whether or not a god created the universe"
But Pro adds: "It can never be known whether or not a god created the universe"

And that's a leap of faith that Pro simply hasn't provided justification for.

Here are three holes that I can see in Pro's assumption:

1. As I already pointed out, it assumes that if there is this creator-god, he will not ever communicate with us; in other words, it assumes Deism (and that Theism is wrong).

2. But, on the other side, it also assumes that if there is no creator-god that we will never have the knowledge or the wit to prove it - and this assumption may also be false. For instance, if all of existence were a paradox where the big bang was created by mankind's far descendants, we could know what created the universe. I know that's a bit science-fictiony but how can Pro rule it out?

3. How are we defining "universe"? For if you mean by that "all that stems from the big bang" then we might one day find that we live in a multiverse (and therefore know how our universe came about).

(p.s. don't try to extend the word Universe to include "everything" just in case you swallow God into that definition, too, eh? What's His cause? It's significantly less reasonable to propose an eternal external sentience as it is to propose an eternal external random soup).

*** okay, that's the end of that bit - the next bit is on agnosticism in general ***

Here's the real reason that I personally object to the term "agnostic" and refuse to be labelled by it...

Remember the part of the definition that says "or of anything beyond material phenomena"? That essentially boils down to the word "supernatural".

The Agnostic claims that we can never know anything about the supernatural. That sounds oh-so-reasonable as you sit on your fence... but, when we look more closely then either:

1. The Agnostic's position is right and therefore the term "supernatural" has no practical meaning and therefore "agnostic" itself has no practical meaning.
2. The Agnostic's position is wrong and one day we will know something about the supernatural

So I imagine the Agnostic sitting on an imaginary fence saying: "Aren't I reasonable for not making a judgement about something that doesn't exist?".

Okay, you think that I'm putting unfair words into the Agnostic mouth? Sorry, I kind of just did, to illustrate a point. Let me correct that last statement to be more fair to the Agnostic position:

So I imagine the Agnostic sitting on an imaginary fence saying: "Aren't I reasonable for not making a judgement about the existence of something that hasn't affected, isn't affecting and can't affect anything that exists in nature?". And I stand shouting up at them "get off that ridiculous imaginary fence, please; you're not even on the fence right now!".

Or let me put that same idea another way:

I suggest that by the Agnostic's own definition it is literally not possible to tell the difference between a World with supernatural causation and one without supernatural causation. Well, that's like saying "to all intents and purposes, I know that there is no supernatural". It's simply couching naturalism by climbing and perching on an imaginary fence.

And that is, ladies and gentlemen, exactly what Agnosticism is... a self-satisfied "ah, but nobody can ever know; aren't I the wise one?". It logically implies atheism (I know that there are agnostic theists, but they have to admit that they're not being logical and justified in their belief). And it makes a claim far more bold and arrogant than Atheism does, too...

The atheist simply says "I do not accept the claims of theism"
The agnostic says "The claims of theism are absolutely wrong! Not only that, anybody making any claims is wrong! Oopsy-daisy, did I just make a claim?"

Honestly, agnosticism is self-defeating. It boils down to this (compare this to Pro's original definition and make up your own mind whether the following is a fair definition in line with Pro's):

The agnostic asserts that nothing can ever be known about the supernatural.
But there is one thing we know about it... that it can never be known about! You've just claimed it might as well not exist

So, who's more reasonable? The atheist, of course, who doesn't say "theism is wrong" but merely "I do not accept the claims of theism".

So if you like sitting on fences, you really ought to call yourself an atheist.

And if you're not convinced by that, why define yourself with a double negative? That's peculiar, to say the least... has any agnostic ever heard of naturalism?

In philosophy, naturalism is the "idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world."

That to me looks like the same damned thing... so an agnostic is a naturalist who loves sounding smart by using double negatives!

I accept that it's reasonable to be a naturalist. It seems to me utter lunacy to be an agnostic. And if you want to drop the idea of "can ever be known" from the definition of agnostic - sorry, the sense that there can never be knowledge of the supernatural is really baked into that word... in rebellion to the Gnostics who went around bleating about what they did know.

If you currently consider yourself agnostic, I beg you reconsider defining yourself as a naturalist. At least you'll have removed a double negative from your life... the only reason you could possibly have to hold onto "agnostic" as a label is because you think that it will appease theists who think that agnosticism is closer to theism than is atheism... seems odd, but as it turns out, that's not true!

I repeat my second ever line in this debate one last time:
Isn't that atheist-agnostic-theist spectrum nonsense just such a bore?

If people would only see that it's more like:

THEISM - I believe there is a personal god
ATHEISM - I don't actively believe that
AGNOSTICISM - Nobody can know anything

I urge you all to fight against the madness that is agnosticism and self-identify appropriately!
Not to do so would not be reasonable :)
Debate Round No. 3
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by AndyHood 2 years ago
AndyHood
I don't know about a good job, but it was fun; thanks for the debate!
Posted by Candid_atheism 2 years ago
Candid_atheism
Good job @Andyhood for a great debate man.
Posted by AndyHood 2 years ago
AndyHood
Thanks Molzahn; the pain is knowing that I live in a World where people are lazy about thinking for themselves... it is reassuring to know that there are some people who do make a habit of thinking :)
Posted by Molzahn 2 years ago
Molzahn
If it's any consolation Andy, if I had voting rights, you would get my points for convincing argument and conduct.
Posted by AndyHood 2 years ago
AndyHood
I know that Pro essentially SAID the following:

"If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God, then no evil exists" is actually an immature logical fallacy called Petitio Principii

But I didn't think it worth refuting because I didn't think that anybody would be so damn stupid as to believe it. Seriously, how is that Petitio Principii? I challenge anybody to read the following page and still think that I was guilty of the "immature logical fallacy" that Pro immaturely accused me of:
http://philosophy.lander.edu...

Just throwing around statements such as "ner ner you used a logical fallacy" should not be convincing, but it seems that people don't think for themselves!
Posted by bluesteel 2 years ago
bluesteel
======================================================================
>VotesforCandid_Atheism // Moderator action: Removed<

5 points to Pro (arguments, sources). {RFD = Reasons for voting decision: Numerous logical fallacies used by Con. Con also had invalid arguments and made many assertions. Pro did a good job pointing out what Con was trying to do. In Pro's last argument he broke down the whole argument Con was trying to refute Agnosticism with. I feel Con has to show why it's not reasonable to be Agnostic.}

[*Reason for removal*] Failure to explain sources.
======================================================================
Posted by AndyHood 2 years ago
AndyHood
@Molzahn

I admit that the last bit could have been seen as a strawman, but it was just (fairly labelled) my rejection of the principle of agnosticism.

As to when Pro implied that Agnosticism was ambivalence, it was when Pro said:

-== Also, he says Agnosticism is a real technical thing. Which I highly disagree with. Last time I checked "I don't know" isn't really that technical. ==-

The seems to be falsely equating agnosticism with sitting on a fence, which is not a fair depiction.
Posted by Molzahn 2 years ago
Molzahn
-Con used a strawman by the end but had a better grip on argument flow. Con had more reference material (albeit highly rooted in wikipedia). I would take away points from Con for making the argument end heavy.

-Pro called the opponent's argument 'very dull' which boarders on either a clever metaphor ("Your argument has no point and doesn't make the cut") or a mild insult. I wasn't sure how to interpret this.

From Con: "In the meantime, Pro seems to have reduced the definition to "somebody who doesn't claim to know anything". The definition that we should be working with is "somebody who claims that any knowledge about God is impossible""
-This is the strawman and contradicts the agreed upon definition of agnostic. A person who believes 1) nothing is known, or; 2) nothing can be known.
-Pro concedes the point the next round and doesn't challenge this?

Pro, R3: "agnostic deist"
-Deism is a subform of theism. The point in round 3 is off kilter.

Con, R3: "Agnostic does not mean ambivalent "
-When did Pro ever posit this position? I did in the comments. It has nothing to do with the debate. If you want to argue the point with me, feel free, but this shouldn't be taken against Pro's points.
Posted by Candid_atheism 2 years ago
Candid_atheism
How is that even possible to have multiple accounts? I thought you have to like confirm your number and email to have an account. But just so you know I can't control who votes for me and just because it looks suspicious doesn't mean it is. Don't judge a book by it's cover fam.
Posted by AndyHood 2 years ago
AndyHood
Well, I'm guessing that all of those accounts I listed are yours - all started at the same time, a couple of suspiciously similar and terse debates between a couple of them and they've all voted 100% your way with short copied comments... looks very suspicious to me... I do hope I'm not going to see a similar pattern when we're done?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by SlipknotAstronaut 2 years ago
SlipknotAstronaut
Candid_atheismAndyHoodTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: I agreed with Pro from the beginning just by him being Pro about this topi. I also agreed with him at the end. Both debaters had reliable sources. To be honest, I would give it to Con, but Pro had a reliable source too. Pro had better conduct and grammar! Unfortunately con used both Petitio Principii and A Strawman logical fallacy in his arguments. Which didn't make it real convincing to me. Pro did a pretty good job at taking apart number 6 of Cons compelling argument. However, I was hoping to see more. But, taking everything into account I would give the convincing argument to Pro.
Vote Placed by tejretics 2 years ago
tejretics
Candid_atheismAndyHoodTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con effectively demonstrated via. semantics how agnosticism implies *absolutely no knowledge*, as opposed to Con's semantic and demonstrative assertions of atheism, via. the problem of evil, et cetera. Prior to the semantics, Pro rebutted Con in saying the definition could be *anything*; yet, Con *did* [de facto] provide a definition in Round 1 where Pro *did not*, as in standard DDO maxims. Also, knowledge of x in the *future* is uncertain, but Pro asserts [via. bare assertion] that *EVEN* in the future, it cannot be known [as in the *definition* of agnosticism]. Con managed to refute that in showing the lack of possibility. Very close debate, but arguments to Con.