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

it is better 2 call babies who are just becoming aware, as agnostic than atheist

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/3/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 935 times Debate No: 58530
Debate Rounds (3)
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it is better to call babies who are just becoming aware, as agnostic than atheist

(to be sure you could call them both depending on definitions, but this is focusing on having to choose which is better)

the commonly accepted approach to atheism and agnosticism, is to say the first is no belief either way, and atheism as a proactive disbelief in God.

the oxford disctionary defines agnostic as "a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God."

webster's dictionary defines atheist as "the doctine that there are no deities" as its first definition. its otehr definitinos are pretty much a different way of saying that same thing. even wikipedia defines it as ""Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.[1][2] In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities"

to be sure, there are different definitions, and parts of definitions one could pick and choose on this subject.

but those other definitions have problems. even prominent atheist richard dawkins, and others, draw issue with most ideas of 'soft atheism' or these limited definitions of atheists and such. "Under this positive/negative classification, some agnostics would qualify as negative atheists. The validity of this categorization is disputed, however, and a few prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins avoid it. In The God Delusion, Dawkins describes people for whom the probability of the existence of God is between "very high" and "very low" as "agnostic" and reserves the term "strong atheist" for those who claim to know there is no God. He categorizes himself as a "de facto atheist" but not a "strong atheist" on this scale."

you can find some definitions of atheist as 'lack of faith'. or there are commonly called 'soft atheists' with similar definitions. taking those definitional approaches to atheism, though, blurs the line with agnostic though, because those definitions fit agnostic better.

and, to be sure, if one used those limited definitions of atheist, they might even decide to say babies are better called as atheist. especially if they pick and choose parts of defintiions or strange definitions of agnostic, such as 'proactive rejection of belief and disbelief in God". the problem with this approach, is that it is just arbitrary because it's so picking and choosing in what definitions are used. but, moreso, it ignores the commonly understood definitions mentioned above.

if con wanted to approach it an alternative way than calling them agnostic, he'd have to not pick and choose parts of definitions, and which definitions, but to say babies are both agnostic and atheist. that doesn't do justisce to them being distinct ideas, though, and doesn't do justice to the commonly accepted notions of the words (no belief v active disbelief), but it's the only alternative way to approach it than calling them agnostics.

these all square with other commonly thought of ideas. unicorns, leprichans, etc. usually people are soft to light to limited definitional atheist about this stuff, they 'lack belief' in it, or moreso they might have a degree of tending to reject the ideas, given small people like leprichans are counter to our undersatnding of people. same idea with unicorns.
some might prefer to say they are agnostic to the ideas, given they just don't have enough information to make a decision. but most are some limited form of atheist.


Really, I'll be quick, simply because i think it's a pretty simple thing.

First of all, though, I'm not entirely clear if you're against calling babies atheists, or that they be called agnostic.

With that said, I'll be brief.

I think that to address their theological views, in the first place, would be somewhat foolish as...well...they don't have such views. And, with that, I say that if you were to call them anything, you should classify them as atheists. Simply because they neither understand the concept of "God" nor are they even aware that there is such a concept. They do not consider it because in their minds there is nothing to consider. They cannot consider the possibility of there being a "God", as an Agnostic or Agnostic Atheist might, because they do not know of that possibility or impossibility. So, I conclude, I think that they should be called Atheists because they strictly do not believe in "God". Lest one were to force them, that is
Debate Round No. 1


how do you fit that argument into a definitional framework?

according to the definitions i cited, which seems to be more along the lines of what prominent atheist richard dawkins supports, as cited earlier..... agnostic means no belief and no disbelief in God. there must be some sort of proactive disbelief in God to be considered an atheist. that means, they would by default be called agnostic.

that comports to common understanding of the terms as well.

trying to get into the slippery slope edge of limited athesits has too many problems to jump into it. that's why, like dawkins, we don't get into it.

Con' do I put it? I disagree with your definitions of the terms. I view an Agnostic as somebody who is aware of the existence of a God and is undecided on whether or not one such being exists. IE: Thinks that "God" may or may not exist. Whilst an Atheist is anyone and everyone(and thing) which does not believe in(or disbelieves) "God", be it because they lack the knowledge of the existence of the concept, or because they are aware of the concept, but view it as unlikely/impossible/illogical etc.

Under the terms you define's kind of a set up, really. One would have to agree that they should be called Agnostic simply because choosing the alternative, in this case, would be wrong(it'd be assuming that babes, ignorant of everything, posses the knowledge of the concept of "God" and the capability to believe or disbelieve the concept).

One cannot propose an argument upon a set of definitions that are, in the end, incorrect or rigged.

Therefor, I conclude that they should be called atheist on the matter, as they do, in fact, not believe in God.

PS: It's my first debate on this site, so I'm still trying to grasp the format.
Debate Round No. 2


i'm trying to find some sort of objective information on what public perception would define those terms. if it were better established that public perception is that agnosticism includes some sort of awareness that rejects belief and active disbelief, i would consider conceding.

it is clear, to me, the way i perceive public perception. of course, i also have definitions that fit for me from dictionaries, but i know those can vary. i do have notable support by the prominent atheist, richard dawkins.

do you have any objective information about public perception?

it is very hard to find, and i hope it doesn't just come down to that. i'm pretty sure it's clear that i'm right, but i always admit to the possibility of being wrong.


Well, public perception can be a tricky matter, as it is not always entirely precise. Especially when regarding subjects like this.

For the definitions, in regards to Atheism:

Merriam-Webster(as I think you already quoted):
a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
b : the doctrine that there is no deity

Drawing attention to "a", in particular.

American Atheists define it as "a lack of belief in supernatural beings" therein not necessitating knowledge of those beings.

Oxford Dictionaries defines it as "Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods." Again, not necessitating knowledge of those gods.

Urban Dictionary:

1.) A person who lacks belief in a god or gods. People who use this definition categorize atheists as either negative (or implicit or weak) atheists or positive (or explicit or strong) atheists. Negative atheists, while they don't believe in a god, do not positively assert that no gods exist. Positive atheists, however, do.

2.) A person who believes that no god or gods exist.

Those who consider themselves atheists (who are usually positive atheists) tend to define 'atheist' using the former definition, and those who believe in a god or gods tend to define 'atheist' using the latter. In both cases, this seems to be a demagogic practice intended to classify either as many or as few people as atheists as possible. Negative atheists are usually referred to as agnostics.

None of these necessitate that an Atheist must reject the notion of there being a God(as that requires knowledge of the concept)

As for Agnosticism.

The Wiki states it as "...the view that the truth values of certain claims"especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, as well as other religious and metaphysical claims"are unknown or unknowable"

Merriam-Webster states:

: a person who does not have a definite belief about whether God exists or not

: a person who does not believe or is unsure of something

And finally,

[ag-nos-tik] Show IPA
a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. Synonyms: disbeliever, nonbeliever, unbeliever; doubter, skeptic, secularist, empiricist; heathen, heretic, infidel, pagan.
a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.
a person who holds neither of two opposing positions on a topic: Socrates was an agnostic on the subject of immortality.
of or pertaining to agnostics or their doctrines, attitudes, or beliefs.
asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.
holding neither of two opposing positions: If you take an agnostic view of technology, then it becomes clear that your decisions to implement one solution or another should be driven by need.

I believe, from what I am aware of, that Agnosticism requires that one is aware of either argument. For one to decide that something is unknowable, one must be aware of the concept of that "unknowable" thing. For one to reject either side of an argument, one must be aware of said argument.

A babe is not privy to the information of the argument surrounding the existence or inexistence of "God", as it is unaware of the concept of "God". Therefor, it does not believe in a god, therefor it is an atheist.

And that is my argument. I hate it when an argument hinges on the the questioned definition of a word.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Sagey 7 years ago
neutral has been doing a lot of vote bombing, most likely neutral is a Troll.
Posted by Sagey 7 years ago
Con should report the Vote bomb neutral gave Pro. They are illegal on DDO.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Sagey 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: The definitions did it for me, and Pro stated Richard Dawkins is an Atheist, if you actually ask Richard Dawkins what he is, as I have seen him asked this in interviews, according to Richard Dawkins, he is an Agnostic.
Vote Placed by neutral 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Con simply attempted to change definitions as if atheism is not active ejection of God but id agnosticism. If the intent is convince other people, Con fails.

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