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Debate Info

73
23
Yes, one can be both No, they are mutually exclusiv
Debate Score:96
Arguments:59
Total Votes:104
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 Yes, one can be both (38)
 
 No, they are mutually exclusiv (21)

Debate Creator

tom2wheatley(123) pic



Is it possible to be both an Atheist and an Agnostic?

Using the following definitions:

Atheist - someone who believes that God does not Exist.

Agnostic - someone who believes it is not currently possible to know whether or not God exists.

God - a self-aware supernatural being who created the universe.

Yes, one can be both

Side Score: 73
VS.

No, they are mutually exclusiv

Side Score: 23
6 points

Atheists don't necessarily have to believe that God doesn't exist. They just don't believe in a God for there is no evidence to support it.

An Agnostic does not believe in absolutes and leaves the question unanswered.

Philosophically I will always be an Agnostic, but in reality I can only either be a theist or an atheist, so I am an Atheist.

Side: Yes, one can be both
2 points

Atheism is a religious standpoint: "There is no God".

Agnosticism is a philosophical standpoint: "I find no evidence in support of the existence or non-existence of God"

The two are compatible.

Side: Yes, one can be both
1 point

Exactly, you hit it on the nail. You could also be an agnostic theist, but they are far fewer in number.

Side: Yes, one can be both
4 points

Agnosticism is simply the belief that one cannot know for certain whether or not a divine being exists, and that is actually a very limited view of the full scope of the term. An atheist is not inherently agnostic but many atheists do base their beliefs off of an agnostic point of view. That is, since the existence of a divine being cannot be proven or refuted they choose to believe that there is no such being. By the same account a theist can be agnostic in that they acknowledge that the divine being or beings they believe in cannot be proven to exist.

Side: Yes, one can be both
2 points

Since my other arguments don't seem to be clear I'm going to try and show the relationship between (a)gnosticism and (a)theism graphically. The rows show the spectrum of gnosticism and agnosticism respectively, while the columns show the spectrum of atheism, theism, and a neutral state showing that the person has no opinion as to the existence, or non-existence of god. This follows the general form as D&D;alignments so if you're familiar with those then this should appear familiar:

agnostic atheist | agnostic neutral | agnostic theist

gnostic atheist | gnostic neutral | gnostic theist

I've eliminated the pure neutral, neutral atheist, and neutral theist from this scheme for the simple reason that I view gnosticism and agnosticism as discrete states.

Side: Yes, one can be both

I don't think that the two are mutually exclusive. There is no reason that a person cannot believe a thing without professing absolute certainty of it. I believe that my car is parked outside, but I could be wrong, it may have been stolen.

And yes, I am aware of the "strong" vs. "weak" (or "hard" vs. "soft") atheist labels, but I don't much like them. I don't think there is anything "weak" or "soft" about admitting that as humans, we are fallible.

Side: Yes, one can be both
3 points

"Atheist - someone who believes that God does not Exist"

That is the common perception. However, it is not entirely correct. Look at the roots of the word "Atheist"

A- means "without"

theist references a belief in god(s).

So an Atheist can be someone who simple lives life without the aid of any god, without neccessarily taking a stand on whether gods exist or not.

That lack of either a positive affirmation or negitive assertion about god's existence is for me simply a matter of the question being entirely irrelevent to me.

Other people living their life as Atheists -- without god -- may be Agnostics.

Although my definition of Atheist may be uncommon, it is correct and permissible. It has the advantage also of circumventing the old tired arguments about whether god exists or not. That debate is pointless. I simply say, "the existance of god simply does not matter to me."

Side: god simply does not matter to me

Terminator, I’ll accept your definitions, they work just fine. What is unclear to me is why you think that those two positions are mutually exclusive. Are you arguing that a person cannot believe something without professing absolute certainty? Could a person not say, for example, “Based on the evidence that I have seen, I do not believe that there is life on other planets, but I remain open to the possibility if I am presented with further evidence”.

MKIce, I’ll accept your definition too, “a belief is something that you think is true”. Okay, but a person can “think” something is true, without “knowing” it to be true. You say that you believe that God exists. You admit that you have no proof, but still you profess certainty in your belief. I’ll take your word for it, you certainly know your mind better than I do.

But you take it one step further, you say that since that’s the way that you think it must be the way I think also. Sorry, no. Like you, I admit that I have no proof, but lack of proof is not lack of evidence. And unlike you, I do not profess certainty in my belief. To profess certainty would be to say, in effect, “There is no possible way that I can be wrong and there is no evidence that could change my mind”. That may be your position, but it is not mine. My belief is based on the evidence at hand. I remain open to examine further evidence and retain the right to change my mind if the evidence is strong enough.

But do not presume that the fact that I continuously rethink my beliefs is an indication that my beliefs are any less strong than yours.

Side: Yes, one can be both
2 points

An agnostic can be atheist in that an agnostic does not believe based on a lack of evidence, but an atheist cannot be an agnostic. An atheist has definitively decided with the preponderance of evidence it is conclusive that a god does not exist. Though an agnostic does not follow this ideology, an agnostic is atheist in that they do not believe.

I also would conclude that an agnostic, even though they are "on the fence" per se, having to mark a spot on a scale of probability in the face of evidence, would be more likely to place themselves on the doubtful side as opposed to likely side.

Conclusion: An agnostic is an atheist who needs more information. An atheist has all the information they need.

Side: Yes, one can be both
1 point

But a preponderance of evidence is not proof. I can be 99 percent sure that God does not exist and still acknowledge that it is impossible to know with certainty. Thus, I can believe that God does not exist and also believe that it is impossible to know with certainty.

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv
RevKristine(209) Disputed
1 point

Sorry, but an agnostic doesn't need more information, nor are they "on the fence". Agnosticism is a position in its own right.

Many are atheistic in a working sense (as in the assumption that there is no god), however not all. Within the agnostic community, I see many agnostics who think that the atheistic perspective is rubbish and cannot support its own weight.

These are links to the Apathetic Agnostic Church http://uctaa.com/

and for its web board http://www.uctaa.org/

for anyone wishing to know more about the agnostic community.

Side: Yes, one can be both
2 points

In a court case, evidence can serve as the deciding factor. Just because some things in the case do not make sense, the evidence could be enough do render a verdict. This takes your 99 percent scenario and pushes an individual more toward atheism than agnosticism. The fact remains an agnostic does not believe something exists. Which makes my argument 50 percent true. Agnosticism can overlap Atheism but not the other way around. Factor: Agnostics also do not believe nothing exists.

Side: Yes, one can be both

Yes. Regardless of common parlance. A/Gnosticism is an epistemological term(meaning having to do with the study of knowledge), while A/Theism is a dichotomy dealing with belief in a god.

I will take you one step further and argue that everyone is agnostic since there is no one with direct knowledge of a god or gods. Some Christians sects even call themselves Agnostic Theists.

Reposted from my answer across to clarify for everyone:

'I do not believe the claim that there is a god or gods, but can't know for certain' - Agnostic Atheist

'I make the claim there is no god or gods' - Gnostic Atheist

'I believe that there is a god, but can't know for certain.' -Agnostic Theist

'I make the claim a god exists.' - Gnostic Theist

Side: Yes, one can be both

I wouldn't go quite so far as to say everyone, but I do think that any reasonable person must in fact be an agnostic. Many religious people do claim to "know" things that they cannot possibly "know".

Side: Yes, one can be both
2 points

In order to be intellectually honest, and atheist must also be an agnostic. It is impossible to PROVE a negative in any system of logic. However, it is possible to evaluate the evidence for and against a proposition, and come to a reasoned conclusion about the probability of that proposition.

Agnosticism is a statement about knowledge: I know there is/is not a god (gnosticism), or I do not know if there is or is not a god (agnosticism).

Atheism is a statement of belief: I believe there is a god (theism) or I do not believe there is a god (atheism).

I would argue whether one is a theist or atheist, one MUST be an agnostic if you are working by logic. If there is a god that exists and is omnipotent, he can make you believe anything, so we cannot trust any of our senses or any evidence. If you do not believe a god exists, it is impossible to probe a negative and you must admit this to be intellectually honest.

Side: Yes, one can be both

Very nicely put .

Side: Yes, one can be both
1 point

Yes, it is not mutually exclusive. Most people don't really know what they believe in and some don't care to name it.

Agnosticism is more of a term for people who genuinely don't know.

Atheism is generally named in the name of 'seen to be decisive'

Side: Yes, one can be both

I think so. Both elements involve questioning, therefore, a person can be an agnostic and at the same time an atheist.

Side: Yes, one can be both
2 points

It all depends on how you define an atheist and an agnostic. You can't just say in the description "use these definitions," because we all have different definitions and that's why this would be a debate. By my personal definitions, I believe an atheist is one who has made up his or her mind that God does not exist. An agnostic is open to the possibility, but has not said yes or no. Therefore, one of them has made up his or her mind already, while the other one has not.

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv
pvtNobody(642) Disputed
3 points

Your definition, then, would be technically wrong. Agnosticism is defined as "an intellectual doctrine or attitude affirming the uncertainty of all claims to ultimate knowledge." That does not preclude a person from making a personal judgment one way or another. Simply that one acknowledges that one cannot be absolutely certain one way or another.

Side: Yes, one can be both
MKIced(2510) Disputed
1 point

They are uncertain. I don't see how someone can be an atheist and denounce the existence of God, but at the same time hold a sentiment that clearly states that they don't know. If an agnostic isn't sure, then he can't say that there is or isn't a God. This is unlike atheists and theists, who say that there isn't and is a God, respectively.

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv

That was a perfectly valid debate. But of course these guys won't leave you to it. Rather, they put words in your mouth.

You were my first ally, in a way I feel a sense of loyalty to you. Thus I must encourage you to continue arguing your point. These people, for some bizarre reason, want to be both.

My dictionary lists the word agnostic as:

somebody who believes that it is impossible to know whether or not God exists

Atheist, on the other hand, means this:

somebody who does not believe in God or deities

If anybody wants additional sources, I have about half a dozen more dictionaries. Not to mention countless books on linguistics.

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv
hmicciche(660) Disputed
2 points

You offer the common definitions, but not others that can also be true.

Agnostic is somebody who believes that it is impossible to know whether or not God exists.

An Atheist can simply not care whether or not God exists.

A (without) theism (belief in god(s)) does not, in all cases, equal Anti-theism.

Side: god simply does not matter to me
RevKristine(209) Disputed
1 point

Agnostic is not what you think it is. Agnostic is a philosophical position which states that no proof is possible in regards to the existence or non-existence of deities. It is not a fence-sitting position.

With kind regards,

Your local minister for The Universal Church Trumphant for the Apathetic Agnostic.

;)

Side: Yes, one can be both

Etymology of agnostic - Of no knowledge Greek gnostikos meaning 'know'

Etymology of atheist - godless Greek atheos meaning 'no god'

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv
1 point

The term "atheist" and "agnostic" are clearly mutually exclusive.

All atheists take the position that god does not exist. If they take any other position, they wouldn't be atheistic.

Agnostics just aren't sure either way and prefer to leave the question about god's existence open.

How can one be both?

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv
1 point

One can be both because "believing" and "knowing" are two different things. There is no reason at all that a person cannot believe something despite the fact that he or she cannot know it with certainty. I can believe that my favorite team will win their game next week. In fact I can believe it very strongly, since I know that their rivals are not very good and are not given much chance. But I can also believe that it is impossible to know with absolute certainty, since anything can happen in a sporting event. Believing that it is impossible to "know" a thing does not preclude a person from having a belief about that thing.

Side: Yes, one can be both
cyrus(5) Disputed
1 point

To believe that your favorite team will win a game next week is very different from believing that god does not exist.

Theoretically, one can never prove that god does not exist. Just as one can never prove that fairies or leprechauns do not exist.

Does this theoretical position force us to say that we can never know that fairies or leprechauns do not exist?

This is a significant epistemological claim to make for then, what we are really saying is that such knowledge is impossible.

Practically, we do go about our life KNOWING, although we can never prove for certain, that fairies and leprechauns do not exist.

To deny this is to deny the possibility of knowledge in the real, practical sense of the word.

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv
1 point

of course not let me put it in very simple terms they are both separate words who have separate followers and have different definitions. and I'm not sure atheism even is a religion.

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv
0 points

That is like calling somebody both a Jew and a Muslim, or a Hindu and a Christian.

An Agnostic is somebody who is uncertain about their beliefs - i.e. they do not know if God exists.

An Atheist, on the other hand, is somebody who has made a conscious decision that there is no God. You cannot both be of the opinion that there is no god and that you are unsure if there is a god.

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv
5 points

Of course you can. We're talking about two different words here; "believe" and "know". It is absolutely possible to believe something about which you are not absolutely certain.

An Agnostic is not someone who is uncertain about what she believes, she knows perfectly well what she believes, she's just intellectually honest enough to admit that she may be wrong.

And I've never seen a definition of anywhere that says an Atheist is someone who "knows" there is no God, only that she "believes" that there is no God.

Side: Yes, one can be both
TERMINATOR(6778) Disputed
0 points

I never said that they know that there is no god. I said that they believe that there is no god, whereas an agnostic is unsure.

EXAMPLE

Level 1 - 'I believe that there is no god.' - Atheist

Level 2 - 'I am unsure if there is a god.' - Agnostic

Level 3 - 'I believe that there is a god.' - Religious

Level 3 is religious belief. The other two are meant as varying levels of disbelief or unsurety.

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv
hmicciche(660) Disputed
2 points

No, an agnostic can be certain of their beliefs -- specifically the belief that the existence or non-existence of god(s) is unknowable.

Also, an atheist can not take a position about the existence or non-existence of god (s) and simply live their life without god (A = without. Theist=belief in god)

So, one can be without a belief about the existence or non-existence of god (atheist) except that the existence or non-existence of god(s) is unknowable (agnostic).

While your definitions are common, the ones I offer are uncommon but correct.

Side: god simply does not matter to me

Atheism is someone who resists the existence of deities. It rejects the belief in God depending on implicit or explicit whereas agnostic is someone who is uncertain and beliefs some of the truth about the existence of deities. Plus, there is a variety of beliefs in agnostic. Strong, weak, apathetic, agnostic atheist, agnostic theist, ignosticism. Therefore, similar characteristics but not the same.

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv
2 points

Certainly most people's beliefs are more nuanced than what can fit in any label. But a person who who does not believe that God exists is, by definition, an Atheist. What I'm saying is that it is possible (indeed, it happens all the time) for that same person to acknowledge that his or her belief is not certain knowledge, i.e., that he or she does not know, or cannot know, with absolute certainty that God does not exist.

Side: Yes, one can be both
johnnyboy46(211) Disputed
1 point

If you do not know whether or not one exists, then you cannot believe that one exists.

Side: Yes, one can be both
TERMINATOR(6778) Disputed
2 points

I can negate your argument with this: People believe things that they do not know. They believe in Santa Claus, in Allah, in God, in Judaism. They don't know is it exists, but they believe it.

Side: No, they are mutually exclusiv