Atheism By Definition
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
02-12-2012, 09:05 AM
RE: Atheism By Definition
Quote: There is no word for someone who believes there is no God. Some have suggested that Anti-Theist is that word, but it's use is not at all widespread.
Just because people don't use the word anti-theist, doesn't mean that the word doesn't exist. The word anti-theist means somebody who asserts that there is no God. Anti-theist is the word that you claim doesn't exist in the first sentence of what I quoted.

The word is meant to catalogue. It doesn't matter wether or not people associate with it or not.

That's like saying if homosexuals don't use the word Homosexuals they are not homosexuals. They are. Just like atheists who claim that there is no god are anti-theists, they just don't claim it themselves.

[Image: 0013382F-E507-48AE-906B-53008666631C-757...cc3639.jpg]
Credit goes to UndercoverAtheist.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-12-2012, 09:10 AM
RE: Atheism By Definition
Well, the "lack of belief" definition sux. Is a hamburger made out of ham? Is a slip knot made out of slips? "Atheist," historically, has not been a form of self-entitlement, it has been an insult given to you by others. If you're gonna make a big deal out of strict definition and ignore the historical context, ya ain't doing it. If you call yourself an atheist, you are making a positive claim, besides, it is best to be clear on identifiers. You gonna make a list of all the shit you lack belief in, or are you gonna step up and go, "your god concept sux?"

[Image: klingon_zps7e68578a.jpg]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes houseofcantor's post
02-12-2012, 09:20 AM
RE: Atheism By Definition
I thought anti-theist was the descriptor for someone who was against theists i.e. against-people-who-believe-in-gods.

Is not 'adeist' the term for someone who believes there is no god?

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-12-2012, 09:40 AM
RE: Atheism By Definition
(02-12-2012 09:20 AM)DLJ Wrote:  I thought anti-theist was the descriptor for someone who was against theists i.e. against-people-who-believe-in-gods.

Is not 'adeist' the term for someone who believes there is no god?
That's not even a word. Tongue

[Image: klingon_zps7e68578a.jpg]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes houseofcantor's post
02-12-2012, 09:49 AM
RE: Atheism By Definition
(02-12-2012 09:40 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(02-12-2012 09:20 AM)DLJ Wrote:  I thought anti-theist was the descriptor for someone who was against theists i.e. against-people-who-believe-in-gods.

Is not 'adeist' the term for someone who believes there is no god?
That's not even a word. Tongue

It bloody well is now.

Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like DLJ's post
02-12-2012, 09:57 AM
RE: Atheism By Definition
Hey, AtotheT.

You're entirely correct. Anti-Theist is a perfectly cromulent word. But what's that worth? What's being discussed isn't academic, it's real world. In the real world, there is a linguistic mess. There are perfectly reasonable strategies for how it SHOULD work, but should has no place in cultural evolution. If the solution cannot be applied to the real world, then its worth is zero.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-12-2012, 10:07 AM (This post was last modified: 02-12-2012 10:13 AM by Reltzik.)
RE: Atheism By Definition
Someone mentioned that dictionary definitions in English are observations rather than axioms, or something to that effect. This is very true. It's describing how people use the word, not some moral statement about how it "should" be used.

Most of us on the board regard atheism as an absence of belief in the existence of a deity, and often specifically the Judeo-Christian-Islamic deity, because that's the one most-often worshiped in English-speaking regions. This definition includes people who both outright believe the opposite case -- firmly stating that such a deity does not exist -- as well as those who hold neither position as confirmed truth or even likely truth. This corresponds to the OP's definition A. In this definition, everyone is either a theist or an atheist; they are mutually exclusive sets that cover the entire range of possibilities. (Note, however, that this depends on having a commonly-accepted definition for what does or doesn't constitute a deity.) In definition A, agnostic/gnostic is a modifier term to atheist/theist, describing the confidence of a person in their own belief or nonbelief.

Another common definition in usage out there is the sliding scale, which corresponds to the OP's definition B. In this one, an atheist firmly and confidently holds that deities do not exist, rather than simply not accepting their existence as fact. This corresponds to a gnostic atheist under definition A. At the other end of the scale is the theist, corresponding to the gnostic theist under definition A. And in the middle "gray" area between these two extremes is agnosticism, being uncertain. For definition B, atheism, theism, and agnosticism form a trichotomy. You fall in one of THREE mutually exclusive categories, rather than the dichotomy of definition A. Though I encounter this definition of atheism a lot less on the internet, I encounter it much more IRL. And again, note the dependency upon knowing what the words "God" or "deity" mean.

(Much more archaic is a third definition. An atheist may well believe, with full confidence, that one or more deities exist, but disassociate from them. No worship, no supplication, nada. In essence, there are gods out there, but an atheist has nothing to do with them and is thus "without" them. This is more applicable for polytheisms and pantheons than monotheisms, and is not in much use today.)

Personally, I prefer the trichotomy, because "agnostic atheist" is a mouthful. But the important thing to remember is that neither of these is the "right" or "wrong" definition, because English as a language is not authoritarian. We don't have anything like the French or Spanish Academies handing out specific, official definitions and rules. English is simply a tool for communication (and maybe poetry) and the "correct" usage is the one that best furthers communication. This means being absolutely clear on which definition you are using, and which one the people you're talking to are using, and maybe being sure they match, which is why on the board I tend towards definition A (because that's the one that seems dominant here). Assume nothing about what definition other people use, and remember the emphasis is on communicating ideas, not arguing over the words used for that communication. That way lies hair-pulling, teeth-gnashing, and very little productivity.

Above all, don't let the dictionary tell you what you believe. Don't say, "I'm an atheist, hey, the dictionary says I have to do this, guess I have to do this." AT BEST, it tells you the word used to describe what you believe, and maybe if that doesn't match you change your descriptor. But it sounds like you match definition A, so you're golden. So long as you fit a single definition in the dictionary, you're kosher even by the dictionary's less-than-perfect authority. Remember, you can go for your morning run without destroying a pair of stockings, and you can be an atheist without meeting ALL the definitions of atheism.

(There is another school of thought that the choice of definition has tactical implications in the culture wars, and that definition A is more favorable to atheists. Because it's more inclusive, it lets atheists swell their count, appear as a larger minority, and avoids the divide-and-conquer pitfalls inherent in B. Personally, I think this is a load of self-aggrandizing crock. We WANT terms to distinguish between different stances within the broad category, because frankly we want terms to distinguish ANYWHERE we can draw a distinction. Any such tactical needs could be met by simply choosing a different term, like skeptic or free-thinker.)

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Reltzik's post
02-12-2012, 10:21 AM
RE: Atheism By Definition
I laugh when I ask if agnostics are atheists, and they tell me they are agnostic. My question was whether or not they believe in a deity. If not, they are an atheist. People are very uneducated about labels, which I view as a danger, since people need to know how to properly describe what they believe in a concise manner.

[Image: Untitled-2.png?_subject_uid=322943157&am...Y7Dzq4lJog]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-12-2012, 10:40 AM
RE: Atheism By Definition
Historically, dictionaries were prescriptive. Today, most are descriptive but there are those that state they are prescriptive.

I interpret the Oxford English Dictionary as prescriptive.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
02-12-2012, 12:57 PM
RE: Atheism By Definition
Just baffle them by chucking out your own words. For example I am an Agnostic/atheist/antitheismist/tomophobic.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: