The Meaning of Atheism
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12-09-2010, 02:44 PM
The Meaning of Atheism
Hey fellow atheists.......I think?

A bit about myself.
Up until I was in year 8 of high school, the thought of god had never entered my mind. I would have been about 12 or 13 when all the students in the school were divided up, placed into rooms with total strangers, who then started questioning us about god. When the question of "where we came from" was asked, I put my hand up and said "my parents had sex and my dads sperm entered my mums egg I came out a baby" Everybody laughed, including the Christians. The Christian said that is not what he meant. One then asked: where did the first man and woman come from. I had little knowledge of evolution also but at that time I thought we came from monkeys, so I said "we come from monkeys", everybody laughed louder. And so did the Christians.

They asked everybody to settle down and listen, because they had a story to tell us. And so the indoctrination began.

For me, after about 365 x 12 = 4380 days of having zero contemplation of god to suddenly have been ask to believe these stories was unbelievable. After the class, one of my friends asked me if I believed in god. I said no, and what the Christians said was the biggest load of B*LL SH*T I had ever heard in my life. My friend then told me I was an Atheist. I asked what an Atheist was and he explained it to me. He said an atheist is somebody who doesn't believe in god. I asked him if he believed in god. He said "yes". He then said "There is a god but you just don't believe in him". I found this insulting. I looked up the word Atheist in the dictionary and found that it came from Greek. 'A' meaning no. 'theist' meaning god. I agreed NO GOD. For me atheism has always meant 'NO GOD'. It had nothing to do with belief. It was a fact.

Recently while surfing the net, I found an atheist web site and thought I'd enter for a bit of fun to see what was happening. But I was shocked by the stance they took. Their position was not absolute. They had blended 'science' with atheism and said there is no credible evidence for the existence of god. They did not believe in god but they also did not deny gods existence. Suddenly I was thrust back to that day at school. And I fought them over the meaning of the word Atheist. They mockingly asked me if I knew what a dictionary was and they told me to look the word up. At first I didn't, but later I did. And yes, the dictionary mentioned the word "believe", much to my regret. I have since been banned from their web site.

Rather than cause any more disturbances on the internet I have decided not discuss the topic but rather ask a question:
What does atheism mean? I want to poll the question. for example:

What does atheism mean?
1.I don't believe in god because there is no credible evidence for his existence.
2.There is no god, there never has been, there never will be.
3.God? never heard of it, I'm of the the pub, bye, have a nice day.
4.....your suggestions?

I'm not looking for a right or wrong answer, I'm just wondering what does atheism mean to you. If you have any answers that are different from the above please tell me. But I want to limit the number of answers to about 3 to 5 maximum. But more if necessary. Also if you have a better way of framing the question please include that also.

If I can get over 1000 responses I'll post it on Wikipedia or you-tube.

Thanks for listening.


Posted for "leveni".

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12-09-2010, 03:10 PM
RE: The Meaning of Atheism
For me it's very simple: "Science works, bitches!" And science is atheist.

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12-09-2010, 03:11 PM
RE: The Meaning of Atheism
Hi Leveni

To me Atheist means - no belief in a god.

Agnostic means - not sure, but doesn't believe in a god.

I am an atheist. I have no belief in a god. In fact I feel the evidence supporting god (you can't prove that god doesn't exist) is almost as good as proof that a god doesn't exist. It may not be absolute proof, but then it is the next best thing considering that you can't prove a universal negative. Since proving a universal negative is the only step left to proving that god doesn't exist, and that step cannot be taken, then what else is there?

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12-09-2010, 04:02 PM
 
RE: The Meaning of Atheism
Whoa for a second I thought Stark Raving was asking these questions and I had traveled back in time multiple years....

Atheism means to me not being a member of any organization/religion that holds doctrines/beliefs confirming the existence of a deity. Furthermore, I also do not believe that God exists for the same reason I do not believe that the invisible flying purple ghetto unicorn exists- there has been no evidence presented that validates the notion of God. Evidence must be provided before something is accepted as true.

Next time your Christian friends tell you there is no evidence disproving the existence of God, tell them that is not how it works. Say for example I tell you that there is a teapot orbiting the star Pegasi-51 b. I say that until you disprove this notion, it must be true. Obviously, there is no fathomable way to disprove this idea since the teapot is so small and the star is so far away. Thus, until I provide evidence for the existence of the teapot, everyone else must assume it doesn't exist. That is how society works.

Sure, as an atheist you technically have to "believe" that there is no God. This lies upon the assumption that we cannot know for sure that there is no God. However, we cannot know anything for sure by that measure. We could all be living in the matrix for all we know. Agnosticism refers to being unsure as to whether or not something exists (usually God). So, technically, we all have to be agnostic about whether or not we are living in the matrix. However, there has been no evidence provided that validates this notion, and the chances of us living in the matrix are so remote (since it, like religion, is a man-made fantasy conjured up in the imagination- the chances of your thoughts being reflective of reality when they are not based upon observation are minute) that we can for practical purposes, rule out the possibility that we are living in the matrix. So, we can call ourselves atheists about the matrix.

The same argument applies to God. We cannot know for sure. We cannot 100 % outlaw the possibility of God, just as we cannot 100% outlaw the possibility of us living in the matrix. However, for all practical purposes, we can rule out the existence of God as a logical possibility, especially since we can already explain the universe without the need for a deity.

I am also an evangelist atheist (the irony). I attempt to actively persuade people that religion is stupid and illogical. It is an uphill battle, and rarely successful. To do this, it is necessary that you be pretty literate in the sciences so you can back up your arguments.

Then there is being anti-theist (AKA anti-clerical). This goes beyond simply rejecting the notion of God. As an anti-theist, one must actively be opposed to the existence of religion, instead of simply rejecting what they have to offer. I think I can consider myself anti-theist to the extent that I wish to completely eliminate religion and religious influence from the public sphere. This means government, education, and anything that goes beyond keeping your religion to yourself.
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12-09-2010, 04:10 PM
RE: The Meaning of Atheism
(12-09-2010 04:02 PM)TruthAddict Wrote:  I think I can consider myself anti-theist to the extent that I wish to completely eliminate religion and religious influence from the public sphere. This means government, education, and anything that goes beyond keeping your religion to yourself.

Right on. I agree totally.
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12-09-2010, 05:33 PM
RE: The Meaning of Atheism
ditto on that
I am very glad that I grew up in a household that was not religious. My Mom has belief, but we just never discussed religion in the house. Much to my Lutheran grandmother's chagrin! (thank goodness she lived 1500 miles away)
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13-09-2010, 02:51 AM
 
RE: The Meaning of Atheism
Not believing in a deity is not equivalent logically to believing there is no deity ... precisely because of the logical impossibility of proving a universal negative. In the teapot example posited by TruthAddict, it's at least logically possible we could someday travel to that star and verify such a claim. But proving in a logical sense the non-existence of god is simply impossible. Atheism means literally "without a deity" - it's a negative. Logically, I assert that the burden of proof is on the theists, not the atheists - for the same reason that TruthAddict does - the default logical position is to deny any hypothesis (referred to as the 'null hypothesis'), and it's the responsibility of theists to providence evidence to refute the null hypothesis.

Science does not work by logical syllogism .. that's the realm of mathematics, and any relationship between mathematics and reality is via symbolic connection only. That mathematics is a powerful tool that can be used in support of science is beyond dispute, but science is not mathematics!

Science uses evidence to invalidate ideas, not 'prove' them. In the end, scientific explanations are provisional interpretations of the evidence, always subject to re-examination and revision if new evidence comes to light. Thus, if the available evidence is consistent with the non-existence of a deity (which I think it is), science can support a hypothesis that a god doesn't exist, but doesn't permit an absolute 'proof'. Thus, scientists are always agnostics, and may encompass individuals who believe the evidence supports some hypothesis and other individuals who maintain the evidence refutes that hypothesis.

To me, atheism is a denial of belief in any deity. No more, no less. I believe the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the non-existence of a deity, but my scientific training requires me to accept that I can never prove that non-existence in a logical sense.
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13-09-2010, 06:10 AM
RE: The Meaning of Atheism
Quote:To me, atheism is a denial of belief in any deity. No more, no less. I believe the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the non-existence of a deity, but my scientific training requires me to accept that I can never prove that non-existence in a logical sense.

But, is that necessary. Are scientists agnostic on the tooth fairy? Or on the Flying Spaghetti Monster? I agree that science disproves more than proves, but at some point if there is no evidence to support something we can take a firm position that it doesn't exist.

When my son makes up a story about a monster in the closet hiding behind a secret panel, do I have to hold out some possibility that there is in fact a secret panel with a monster behind it? Or, at some point (i.e. instantly) can I just safely take the position that it's not true, there is no monster and no secret panel. The fact that I can't 100% disprove it does not preclude me from saying, with absolute certainty, that it's not true.

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13-09-2010, 07:06 AM
RE: The Meaning of Atheism
I think we can indeed take a firm position that something does not exist. I think what 2Buck is saying is that we can hold that firm position, but can never cast it in stone. The whole point is that someone who thinks scientifically can change what they believe to be true based on presentation of new evidence.
When we talk about certainty with regard to belief (what a very human word), I think it's a bad idea to use the word "absolute". I am certain there is no flying spaghetti monster. IF I am presented with evidence that shows otherwise, my belief will change. By accepting that I can change what I believe, I don't think it's fair for me to speak in "absolutes". This is exactly what bothers me about theists. They are absolutely certain there is a god, and refuse to change that belief even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

So, I guess to me, atheism means not believing in theism of any kind. Nothing more. It's an argument thats been had here MANY times, but at the end of the day, I still think the real meaning (ie atheist = not theist) holds true regardless of how some decides to interpret it. When I telll you I'm an atheist, the only new information you know about me is that I am not a theist. Thats it, thats all.

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13-09-2010, 09:53 AM
RE: The Meaning of Atheism
(12-09-2010 02:44 PM)Stark Raving Wrote:  What does atheism mean?

Not believing in a god. Nothing more, nothing less.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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