Definition of Atheism
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01-11-2012, 02:40 PM (This post was last modified: 02-11-2012 02:24 PM by Atothetheist.)
RE: Definition of Atheism
(31-10-2012 01:41 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Buckle up Cool

The problem is simple. The fix is not.

Theism means belief in theos.

Atheism is the lack of belief in theos.

That's as straightforward as it gets and it's all downhill from there.

Many people say that there is no God. That's not a lack of belief, that's a positive statement about the nature of the universe.

So what do we call these people? We sure as shit can't call them Theists. To make matters worse, they self identify as Atheists.

Hence the confusion.

Someone who believes there is no God is an Atheist in the strictest sense of the word because they lack a belief in theos. But many of these people, like Dawkins, Marr, formerly Hitchens, campaign; they promote this idea and they self identify as Atheists.

So it makes sense that people call people like that Atheists when they're saying, "I'm an Atheist and I believe there is no God."

The same term is being used to describe both those that lack belief and those that believe there is no God (and try to convince others that there is no God as well). It's a terrible system.

Regardless of whether the term SHOULD be used that way, it IS being used that way. And that's the problem. People are either not willing to admit that it's being used that way or they think that the second connotted meaning applies to all Atheists. Both positions are incorrect and counterproductive.

Some people have tried to fix this by adding weak and strong before Atheist (which while I think is clunky, it does the job), but this hasn't caught on and there seems to be some resistance to the convention. Even on this site, I've never seen anyone self-identify as a weak or strong Atheist unless we're specifically discussing the Dawkins Scale and even then not that often. So right now it's like Esperanto; a lofty attempt at a solution that no one learns.

So when someone says, "Atheists believe there is no God," it's accurate because there are Atheists that believe that and cite Atheism as the source of that belief, but in terms of a universal definition of Atheists, it's incorrect.

But when someone says that and someone else responds, "No, Atheism just means lack of belief," they are not taking into account that a large group of Atheists do in fact believe there is no God. It causes an instant argument when someone is referring to someone who claims there is no God, calls them an Atheist, then someone informs them that that person doesn't exist when everyone knows they do.

I see two options. Promote the weak/strong Atheist distinction or come up with another word for "person who claims there is no God". I'd prefer to come up with a different term because those people aren't "A" anything. They very much have a belief.

This confusion is also where Agnostic lives as far as I'm concerned. "Person who claims there is no God" has become the connotted meaning of Atheist. I am not a Theist. But neither am I someone who claims there is no God. So I shy away from being called an Atheist because I don't want to be lumped in with those that claim there is no God because my belief is that I cannot make that claim. So not only is it inaccurate to associate me with those particular people, the association with that connotative meaning negates the core of my belief.

It gets even worse when someone calls themselves an Agnostic Atheist. They're either saying "I lack belief but I don't KNOW that I lack belief" which is absurd and meaningless, or they're saying, "I believe there is no God but I don't know if I'm right," which makes more sense, but it just reinforces the split definition of Atheist.

In the end, I think we need at least four terms:

Theist - Person that believes in Theos

Atheist - Person that lacks belief in Theos

Agnostic - Person currently reserving judgement about Theos (and all things not yet proven)

??????? - Person that claims there is no God

Unfortunately Atheist has a lot of traction. Even if we come up with a fourth term, it will be difficult for it to catch on.

PS: Patriotism has nothing to do with tribalism. Tribes were egalitarian societies that used kin selection as their primary method of group cohesion; a strategy made possible by keeping their population below the Dunbar number. Hierarchical civilisations have populations many orders of magnitude beyond the Dunbar limit and many use the fiction of nationalism as their primary method of group cohesion. Patriotism is a byproduct of nationalism. That being said, Vera, I absolutely agree that nationalism/patriotism is every but the source/justification of atrocity that religion is.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

The people that say there is no god/God are identified as Antitheists or Anti-theists.

They are taditionalist Anti-theists though...

The new Anti-theists are along the lines of Christopher Hitchens in the "I am AGAINST RELIGION!" not "I believe there is no God."

I am antitheistic towards the opposition to religion, but I am not a traditionalist antitheist

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01-11-2012, 02:55 PM
Re: Definition of Atheism
I'm an asmoker

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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01-11-2012, 03:27 PM
RE: Definition of Atheism
If I made be a contrarian (and perhaps add something to the debate), atheism does need a term for, if nothing else, legal status. Atheists are protected by the freedom of religion, too, even if it isn't a religion (for the purpose of anti-discrimination).

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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02-11-2012, 09:08 AM
RE: Definition of Atheism
Hey, AtotheT.

Interesting. I've never heard Antitheist used in that way before. Is that a "thing" or is that just how you see it?

More importantly, and this is to everyone, do those Atheists on this site who believe there is no God feel comfortable self-identifying as an Antitheist INSTEAD of an Atheist?

Hey, Starcrash.

Good point.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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02-11-2012, 09:34 AM (This post was last modified: 02-11-2012 09:38 AM by Vosur.)
RE: Definition of Atheism
(02-11-2012 09:08 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, AtotheT.

Interesting. I've never heard Antitheist used in that way before. Is that a "thing" or is that just how you see it?
According to this source, using anti-theism that way appears to be a viable alternative.

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02-11-2012, 09:37 AM
RE: Definition of Atheism
(01-11-2012 02:40 PM)Atothetheist Wrote:  The people that say there is no god/God are identified as Antitheists or Anti-theists.

They are taditionalist Anti-theists though...

The new Anti-theists are along the lines of Christopher Hitchens in the "I am AGAINST RELIGION!" not "I believe there is no God."
"Anti-Theist" sounds to me more like "Anti-God" rather than "Anti-Religion"

if your faith can move mountains it should be able to withstand criticism
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02-11-2012, 02:04 PM
RE: Definition of Atheism
I am anti-delusion.

Member of the Cult of Reason

The atheist is a man who destroys the imaginary things which afflict the human race, and so leads men back to nature, to experience and to reason.
-Baron d'Holbach-
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02-11-2012, 02:11 PM
RE: Definition of Atheism
(02-11-2012 09:34 AM)Vosur Wrote:  
(02-11-2012 09:08 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, AtotheT.

Interesting. I've never heard Antitheist used in that way before. Is that a "thing" or is that just how you see it?
According to this source, using anti-theism that way appears to be a viable alternative.
I am anti-theist just as I am anti-delusional, and anti-stupid, and anti-ignorant, and anti-fairiest.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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04-11-2012, 04:14 PM
RE: Definition of Atheism
So is that a no then?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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04-11-2012, 05:32 PM
RE: Definition of Atheism
(02-11-2012 09:37 AM)SomeOne Wrote:  
(01-11-2012 02:40 PM)Atothetheist Wrote:  The people that say there is no god/God are identified as Antitheists or Anti-theists.

They are taditionalist Anti-theists though...

The new Anti-theists are along the lines of Christopher Hitchens in the "I am AGAINST RELIGION!" not "I believe there is no God."
"Anti-Theist" sounds to me more like "Anti-God" rather than "Anti-Religion"
Anti-theism. Against theism. I am against theism.

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