Without a doubt everyone would agree that words have meanings, however, people sometimes wish to change word meanings in order to advance their cause or reach their own end. This is clearly displayed of late by atheists who wish to re-define terms, and make agnostics and atheists one big happy family.
However, if one was to take the time to study Etymology one would soon discover that these two different words have two different meanings, and apply to two different groups of people.
Atheist has its root in the Greek, and if one takes the time to look at the source you would soon find some rather interesting facts. Let's break down the word and see what the true meaning is…
a = no theos = god
Putting them both together we have: atheos, which translated means "godless", and "someone who denies the existence of god". Even the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy agrees with this definition, as it states 'atheism' as "the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God".
Like 'atheist', 'agnostic' also has its root in the Greek language. As before, we will once again break down the Greek root word, and examine its meaning.
a = no gnosis = knowledge
Now, let us put them both together, and in the Greek we have the word: agnosia, which when translated means "ignorance" and "One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism."
One soon sees that if we look at the meaning of the word, and atheist cannot by definition be an agnostic, and vice versa. An atheist is one who makes an absolute statement claiming that "there is no god", whereas, and agnostic says that the "don't know if there is a god".
The atheist position is one that is in defendable as to make an absolute statement along the lines of "there is no god" requires absolute knowledge. Since no one has 'all knowledge' we cannot make absolute claims along the line of 'there is no god', as in the knowledge one is yet to come across there could be ample evidence for the existence of God.
Therefore the one claiming 'atheism' cannot logically speaking be an 'atheist' as they are yet to posses all knowledge. Rather, they are an agnostic. As they 'don't know if God exists'.
-  Wesley J. Peschabacher, ‘The New Analytical Greek Lexicon’, Hendrickson Publishers (2006): 8
-  "Atheist." WordNet® 3.0. Princeton University. 22 Jun. 2008. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Atheist.
-  "Atheism." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 28 Jun. 2008. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheism-agnosticism/.
-  Wesley J. Peschabacher, ‘The New Analytical Greek Lexicon’, Hendrickson Publishers (2006): 4
-  "Agnostic." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 22 Jun. 2008. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Agnostic.