The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Pro (for)
Winning
72 Points
The Contender
sydnerella
Con (against)
Losing
71 Points

One should be an Atheist Rather Than an Agnostic.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/17/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,895 times Debate No: 6955
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (22)
Votes (25)

 

TheSkeptic

Pro

I affirm the resolution: atheism is the more logical and supported position than agnosticism. If one had to either be an agnostic or an atheist, than given the current evidence and amount of scientific and philosophical progress, one should choose atheism.

[Definition - Atheism]
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

2 a: a disbelief in the existence of deity

[Definition - Agnostic]
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

1: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable ; broadly : one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god

The latter part of this definition

=====Arguments=====

1. Agnosticism is Epistemology

At best, agnosticism should be described as a position in epistemology, which is the part of philosophy that is concerned with truth and knowledge (to be broad). Agnostics believe that absolute knowledge about God is impossible unless we had absolute knowledge of the universe. And this is true - but also pointless to state. Because ANYTHING that is not a posteriori can not be known with 100% certainty unless one has absolute knowledge of the universe.

For example, what if I argued there are no such thing as fairies? Someone might go up to me and say "well you don't know! There could be fairies in some far-off distant star that we haven't discovered yet! Do you know everything about everywhere in the entire universe?! NO, didn't think so. Kiss the foot". Now if we can agree with this person's statement, than this means we have a whole new mess on our hands? That we have a-fairiests and agnosti-fairiests? Of course not.

When one says the don't believe something is true, they aren't saying that it's 100% impossible - unless it's a prior statements, which are claims that are fulfilled by definition (All bachelors are unmarried). God's epistemological position should be no different from any other thing out there, which is why Agnosticism shouldn't be heralded as a separate position. If this were valid, then we would have a million more things to be "agnostic" about.

2. Evidence collected thus far

I argue that since believe should be based on how PROBABLE or LIKELY something is to be true/exist/etc., the scientific and philosophical evidence we have at our disposal right now speaks more for the side of atheism than agnosticism. We can explain the diversity of life with evolution. We can start to explain how life begins with abiogenesis. We can explain the formations of planets and the beginning of our universe with the Big Bang and cosmological evolution. Now, advances in quantum cosmology are helping pave open the door for what possibly existed or happened pre-Big Bang. The evidence speaks.
sydnerella

Con

First off, I want to thank my opponent for inviting me to debate him on this issue. It will be fun to take a little break from my current debate (which has continued in the comments section, thankfully - it's an important issue to me and I like fighting for it).

==ATHEISM & AGNOSTICISM==

My opponent has provided some basic definitions of both atheism and agnosticism. There is nothing wrong with said definitions, but I would like to expand them.

Breaking down the word "agnostic" into two parts, you are left with "A", meaning "without", and "gnostic", meaning "knowledge". Therefore, "without knowledge". It is usually used to describe "without knowledge of gods", although, rarely, can be used to describe the absence of knowledge about other things. (Example: "I am agnostic about whether abortion is right or wrong.")

>>The literal meaning of agnostic is one who holds that some aspect of reality is unknowable.<<
-Gordon Stein, "The Meaning of Atheism and Agnosticism".

Agnosticism is *not* just the sitting-stage between athiesm and theism. It is, as my opponent stated, a matter of knowledge concerning god/gods and not a matter of belief in god/gods. It is not correct to assume that an agnostic is someone who is undecided on the matter of god. It is not a third way - it is congenial with atheism and theism.

Besides being epistemological, agnosticism can also be considered a moral principle: If there is a lack of adequate knowledge on the existence of an "ultimate reality", then it is ethical not to declare whether its existence or lack thereof is indubitable.

==COUNTER ARGUMENTS==

That being said, I'd like to look at some of the statements made by my opponent.

>>"Agnostics believe that absolute knowledge about God is impossible unless we had absolute knowledge of the universe. And this is true - but also pointless to state. Because ANYTHING that is not a posteriori can not be known with 100% certainty unless one has absolute knowledge of the universe."<<

Perhaps you see no point in it, but I would argue otherwise. Recognizing the absence of absolute knowledge is recognizing humanity's flaws and the depth of the universe. Just because I believe there are aspects that cannot be understood concerning god does not mean that I am content with never pursuing that knowledge. My belief only enforces my curiosity. Until absolute knowledge exists (assuming that it could exist), there is a point to agnosticism.

>>God's epistemological position should be no different from any other thing out there, which is why Agnosticism shouldn't be heralded as a separate position. If this were valid, then we would have a million more things to be "agnostic" about.God's epistemological position should be no different from any other thing out there, which is why Agnosticism shouldn't be heralded as a separate position. If this were valid, then we would have a million more things to be "agnostic" about.<<

Agnosticism is not heralded as a separate position. Granted, it has its distinctions, but it is compatible with both theism and atheism. One could be a theistic agnostic, believing there is a deity but is aware they lack the knowledge to be certain. Atheistic agnostics believe there is no deity but are aware that they lack the knowledge to be certain. Those two forms are known as "weak agnosticism" (which is not to say that those beliefs are bad). "Strong agnosticism" is the belief that no knowledge concerning a deity is possible.

Also, you would be technically correct in stating that you can be agnostic about many things, but this is irrelevant. The topic of this debate is atheism versus agnosticism, and I am assuming that what you meant by agnostic was concerning the existence of god.

==CLOSING STATEMENT==

In conclusion, my opponent has not really made any statements that support his claims suggesting that agnosticism is sophistic. The decision of whether to choose a form of agnosticism or atheism depends on individual perception. It cannot be merely "wrong" or merely "right". There IS a case for recognizing the extent of our knowledge. This is what has driven the growth of human knowledge - when you recognize your limits, only then can you begin to push them. Respecting what is not yet known is anything BUT pointless. Whether you are theist, atheist, or agnostic, you can agree that there is reason to respect what isn't known. Christians often say that "God works in mysterious ways". Is that not recognizing and respecting the unknown? Science looks to the future, seeks to understand what isn't yet understood. If scientists decided that there was nothing left to explore, then would there even be a point to science? Agnosticism isn't arbitrary. It is based on our limits as humans - something that history, art, science, and other fields have always valued.

I again thank my opponent and look forward to his response. =)
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this debate challenge, and I also wanna take my hat off to s0m31john for reminding me: yes, agnostics are atheists without balls :D. Anyway, onto the debate.

>>>It is not a third way - it is congenial with atheism and theism.<<<

I intend to argue against those who individualize themselves against atheism and theism.

=====Counterarguments=====

>>>Recognizing the absence of absolute knowledge is recognizing humanity's flaws and the depth of the universe.<<<

Of course, but this isn't the point I was making. Agnosticism say that the claim "God exists" can't be fully known. They state that no one has absolute knowledge on the existence of God, and yes I agree. But this is pointless to say because EVERYTHING that is known empirically can't be known 100% by virtue of skeptical hypothesis (brain in a vat, etc.). We can't be 100% is fairies exist, because while most people say they don't, they could exist in some far off planet on the edge of the universe. God is no different, so having a distinct position called agnosticism is redundant and pointless.

>>>Agnosticism is not heralded as a separate position.<<<

Yes, I am aware that agnosticism isn't always held as a peartrees position. However, there ARE those who distinguish themselves from atheists/theists by saying they are agnostics. Effectively, there are people who view agnosticism as the "third path".

>>>Also, you would be technically correct in stating that you can be agnostic about many things, but this is irrelevant.<<<

Untrue. Pointing out that every empirical claim can't be known 100% shows that it's pointless to have a position that says "entity X can't be known 100%". Of course it can't. But practically every "entity X" can't be known 100%, so to make a distinct position is ridiculous.

=====Conclusion=====

My opponent praises agnosticism for helping one embrace the limits of human knowledge, but so does atheism. So does so many religions and ideologies. My main point is that agnosticism makes a redundant claim on the existence of God because all empirical claims are subject to never being 100% correct.
sydnerella

Con

sydnerella forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Pro

Unfortunately my opponent has forfeited her round. You know who to vote for.
sydnerella

Con

Sorry about the last round. I actually haven't been able to get on for a while. I took on this debate intending to finish, but I've been in the middle of a family crisis as of two days ago. Therefore, I forfeit this round as well.

Sorry about this - I really just don't have the time right now to debate this.

Hope you aren't too upset, Skeptic. =P

--Sydnerella--
Debate Round No. 3
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoryStott 6 years ago
RoryStott
I guess according to these definitions this makes me an 'agnostic existential nihilist' - in that whilst I accept that god could exist, I see no strong evidence in favour of it and therefore choose not to believe in god. Nihilism I see as the logical extension of this atheism.

What interests me in this debate (as someone who is still struggling to come to terms with nihilism) is just how utterly crippling genuine, undiluted agnosticism could be. With nihilism, life could ultimately go on (because living as normal has just as much point as not living). With complete agnosticism, one could go on wondering what their purpose in life is, whilst knowing that they will never reach a true answer - and more importantly, being too afraid to take any course of action in case their actions are wrong. The fact that I'm a nihilist, for the first time, fills me with a little hope.
Posted by Sitruk39 6 years ago
Sitruk39
Too often people see agnosticism as sitting on the fence between atheism and theism but that is not true, I (an agnostic) believe that no one can prove there is or isn't a god it is unknowable.
Posted by Tidin 6 years ago
Tidin
This debate is stemming from a misunderstanding of what atheistm really is. To start with the obvious, the proper definition for atheism is simply that we don't believe in God(s). That's not the same as claiming to know that there is no God(s). I don't know whether a God exists or not because I can't prove that he doesn't, so I can't rule out the possibility that he does exists. In my mind, the probability of his existence given the evidence we have is exactly the same as any other thing there is no evidence for. Which, can be argued, is diminishingly small. It's upon the theist to show that there is evidence to support the belief in God.

Also, to be agnostic means that you believe it's faulty for someone to claim to be sure about something when they can't provide evidence to back it up (free interpretation, but look it up. Philosophic definition rather than dictionary definition please, the term is used differently in every day speak now as we've all seen). Therefore, both stating that "there is a God" and "there is no God" is wrong to an agnostic. Agnostic in the frames of a religious discussion just means that the agnostic doesn't know whether God exists or not, because there is no evidence for either side. However, there is still room for belief/non-belief in God.

I'm an agnostic atheist in the fullest meaning of both words. I can't say that I know with a certainty that God doesn't exist because I have no evidence to back me up (agnostic), but I still fully believe he doesn't exist because of previously mentioned reasons (atheist).
Posted by Rodriguez47 6 years ago
Rodriguez47
Agnostic is core atheism. Think it's called atheistic agnosticism.

Agnostic theism: in which you believe at least one deity is correct, you just don't know which.

Agnostic atheism: don't say they don't believe in one nor deny it.

Basically if your agnostic your an atheist for not claiming one specific deity. Whether it's Christianity or one of it's deviations. Or any other religion such as Buddha so on and so forth.

Being atheist myself I've encountered other atheist who're full of s*** and cannot back up their claims.
I've also met with theist that start yelling saying that spoken words are demonic. I've seen my share both are annoying. Half are delusional.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
"If you are going to assume the Christian framework exists (in order to disprove it) you must necessarily assume the reasons for the existence of evil as posited within the Christian framework."

Yes, but I can critique the reasons for the existence of evil to be inadequate - even in the Christian framework. By comparing Christian moral values and the reasons for the existence of evil, I (in my opinion) can see a contradiction in terms of values. The Christian framework purports to see no contradiction (as does any system of values), but that does not necessarily mean it is so.

Take for example the common atheistic argument that because God is omniscient, humans have no free will. In the Christian framework, it obviously states that humans DO have free will (unless your a Calvinist of sorts). This is a common way of saying "your religion is contradictory in of itself". And as a side note, I don't find the free will - omniscient argument effective anyway.

Wow, talk about late reply.
Posted by DiablosChaosBroker 7 years ago
DiablosChaosBroker
I want to take this debate, TheSkeptic. Challenge me if you have time.
Posted by InquireTruth 7 years ago
InquireTruth
I know the method you are intending to use, I am simply saying it is invalid. If you are going to assume the Christian framework exists (in order to disprove it) you must necessarily assume the reasons for the existence of evil as posited within the Christian framework. Since a contradiction could only exist WITHIN the Christian framework and the Christian framework sees no such contradiction, there cannot be a contradiction.

All attributes ascribed to God in the Bible are anthropomorphic and analogical - so any such derived contradictions would only effect the measly human ascriptions to a virtually indescribable God. Moreover, since according to the Christian framework, everything that God does is just and good, it is absolutely impossible to prove that there is a problem of evil without necessarily posting a different objective standard for moral values.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
The attributes of God are derived from teachings and passages in the Bible - no doubt about this. Assuming the Christian framework is actual reality, then God's attributes (or effect thereof) and his desires for man need to be necessarily true, otherwise the Christian framework is not actual reality. If it can be found in reality that God's attributes (or effect thereof) and his desires for man are NONexistent/not there, then the Christian framework is NOT actual reality.

For example, let's say that your interpretation of the Bible states that evolution can't happen, because God has created man (which I'm pretty sure you believe). And let's say your interpretation is correct in the face of others (Theistic- Evolution, etc.). So if it can be conclusively found that evolution is true, then the Bible is false (remember, we assume you're interpretation is true). That being said, one can say the Bible's divinity is disproven (unless someone says parts of the Bible are written by man thus in error, God didn't inspire the Bible,etc.).

Aren't you familiar with presupposing a claim's truth, going on to invalidate the consequences of it's truths, thus showing why the presupposed claim is wrong?
Posted by InquireTruth 8 years ago
InquireTruth
You certainly can contend that the Christian framework is not actual reality. But you cannot say that the Christian God contradicts Christian morality. You cannot presume that a part of God (morality) can prove the whole of God to not exist - the argument used to defeat God presupposes the existence of God; this is a contradiction.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
"But what comes with accepting the Christian "framework of reality," is the Christian understanding of God and morality and the existence of evil. Since, under the Christian framework there is no contradiction, then there is no contradiction in the assumed reality."

Which I obviously contend, since I argue that there IS a contradiction between the Christian-version of God and morality and the assumption that the Christian framework is how reality is.
25 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by fire_wings 7 months ago
fire_wings
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit
Vote Placed by RedDebater 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's concluding statement essentially states it all for me. Humans aren't the smartest beings in the universe. We are limited in our knowledge and will never know the extent of the universe's holdings. To make large-scale claims as atheists do doesn't hold up to common sense.
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Reasons for voting decision: Con forfeited a majority of the rounds. I'm shocked that this was a tie for so long.
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