Atheism - A clearer understanding
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06-11-2012, 03:24 PM
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
(06-11-2012 02:31 PM)Phaedrus Wrote:  Do you bitch about there being different words for different types of Theists? Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus. Ugh, so many extraneous words. And different sects! Sunni vs Shiite! Catholic vs Orthodox vs fifty types of Protestants! Ugh, so many words! And what about other things, like computers? Desktops, smart phones, laptops, tablets, servers, workstations -- these are all basically just computers right? So call them what they are, jeez!!! Too many extra words!

No, I don't.


Because those are things. We have words for things. When a thing is different from another thing, they each get their own word.

Atheism is not a thing. It is simply the lack of some other thing. We've all heard the old "Do we need a word for a-sasquatchists who don't believe in Bigfoot?" question. The answer is, no, we don't, because a-sasquatchist isn't a thing, it's the lack of a thing. We have people who believe in sasquatches (but we don't even have a word for them) and we have people who don't (also no word for them). Believing in sasquatch is a thing, it's a belief, and heck, I would say we should have a word for them (well, something better than the current word, "nutcase losers" - I guess that's two words). But while I might argue in favor of a word for sasquatch believers, and I have nothing against words for Christians, Muslims, desktops, laptops, etc., all of which are things, I still maintain that we don't really need words for non-things. Heck, we don't even have a word for "non-things" other than this one, a crappy hyphenated word.

I'm holding a pencil in my hand, but I don't feel any need to call it a non-computer or a non-Christian or a non-sasquatch-believer or an atheist (all of which seem to be applicable). I am perfectly content describing it as what it is, a pencil, wooden, yellow, #2, with a classic pink pearl eraser. Or just calling it a pencil. I don't have to also call it things that it isn't.

That's why we barely need one word for atheism (arguably we don't even need the one), and really really don't need a dozen variants.

I am a person. A man. A father. A software engineer. A skeptic. An American. A chess coach. An author. A geek. I can go on for a long time finding words that describe what I am. I am also a non-woman. A non-murderer. A non-truck-driver. A non-midget. A non-Viking. A non-fish. A non-alcoholic. A non-unicorn. Blah, blah, blah. If I put my mind to it, I bet I can list more things that I'm not than things that I am. I don't feel overly attached to words that tell me what I am not. One of those words would be "atheist".

Still just describing what I am not.

I don't really need them. I've moved past that.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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06-11-2012, 03:29 PM
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
(06-11-2012 11:23 AM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  I can already understand slightly the view on the second question. Replacing God with sasquach and you get the idea.
The problem with me is that God is a Theory much like the Higgs Boson. Granted, the Higgs Boson is something the has been recently more established and hold more ground in practicality. But the point here is that the Theory of God is a widely held theory that makes Theism a largely held position. Sasquachism is not a widely held theory or position.

The problem with your comparison is that the existence of God is not a theory. A scientific theory is an assortment of facts that explain how things work. The existence of God has absolutely no facts to back it up. With the Higgs Boson, however, we knew something had to give particles their mass. We hadn't really defined such an idea as the Higgs Boson any more extensively than that.

Argumentum ad populum is not acceptable anyway. Drinking Beverage

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06-11-2012, 03:34 PM
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
I will admit, I have not read this thread. I am just curious about one thing....

Is anyone's understanding of atheism clearer?

......I was smart. I stayed out of the Definition Game.

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06-11-2012, 03:44 PM
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
But I still don't really understand what's unclear about it.

Lack of belief in deities.

The term "atheist" is useful because many people do believe in deities, and nonbelievers are often the minority. That's why it's a necessary and relevant term, unlike "non-golfers," "non-chess players." People often use their religion as part of the way they define themselves, so people who are not religious need words for themselves, too. I don't see the problem with it. When the majority stops believing in deities they have no evidence for, then atheists will no longer need a word to describe the fact that they don't.
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