The definition of atheism
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07-12-2013, 01:12 PM
The definition of atheism
Apologies if this sort of thing has been discussed to death, but I was curious.

A Google search defines atheism as "disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods."

But Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster, and FreeDictionary.com describe atheism as the doctrine (or belief) that there is no God/are not deities.

Every atheist I've known (and many on this site and other sites) (and I myself don't like to call atheism a "belief," since really all it is is a disbelief) is adamant about atheism not being a belief, but being nothing but a disbelief in something.

Which definition is correct, and what reasoning is there for one of them to be the correct one?
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07-12-2013, 01:23 PM
RE: The definition of atheism
(07-12-2013 01:12 PM)Fat Mac Wrote:  Apologies if this sort of thing has been discussed to death, but I was curious.


Which definition is correct, and what reasoning is there for one of them to be the correct one?
The term atheist is not well promoted. Most people think you are either a theist, an agnostic or an atheist.

Fact of the matter is that you are either a theist or an atheist, there is no middle ground.

An atheist can have a belief that there are no gods but this isn't a requirement of atheism.
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07-12-2013, 01:45 PM (This post was last modified: 07-12-2013 01:49 PM by grizzlysnake.)
RE: The definition of atheism
What I can gather is that when they say doctrine they are referring to monotheists who are taught that their are no other gods.
I don't know why people get so hopped up on "believe" anyway. If I don't believe in magical rhinos does that mean I am taught, hold a doctrine or denying the existence of them? Have I built this saying I have refused to accept magical rhinos? What the fuck does that even mean? What if I heard from someone who heard from a friend and so on that they saw a magical rhino and they wrote a book about it and then a movie. Should I ultimately believe on second, third, infinite accounts? Of course not.
Now if I saw and it isn't a hallucination or a misapprehension and have a hair sample of said magical rhino then it won't make sense to deny one that exists.
Magical Rhinos are not obvious, and I'm sticking to that unless someone gives me some extraordinary proof. Ain't my job to prove these things.
The thing is, there are multiple meanings for words and people LOVE to use meanings that the speaker is not even remotely considering. They are in essence building strawmen from words. Whatever that helps their case they will use, and will refuse to think anything else.

"I don't have to have faith, I have experience." Joseph Campbell
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07-12-2013, 02:12 PM
RE: The definition of atheism
Fat Mac,
I subscribe to the latter definition. After evaluating the proofs for and against deities, I believe there are no such things.

The former definition implies that even though there may be a deity, I choose not to believe in it.

The situation is analogous to belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Children may choose to believe in these creatures or not but (most) adults know that there ain't no such thing.

Doc
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07-12-2013, 02:30 PM
RE: The definition of atheism
(07-12-2013 01:12 PM)Fat Mac Wrote:  Which definition is correct, and what reasoning is there for one of them to be the correct one?
I'm not going to say it doesn't matter, but it doesn't matter to me. If I'm having a discussion with someone and they seriously want to disregard the ideas we're discussing in favor of semantics, I let them. I don't care whether they believe atheist is the correct term to attribute my position, as long as they acknowledge the position I'm claiming, which is just the lack of belief in any given god claim.

"Everyone is alone. Everyone is empty. People no longer have need of others. You can always find a spare for any talent. Any relationship can be replaced. I had gotten bored of a world like that."
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07-12-2013, 02:44 PM
RE: The definition of atheism
(07-12-2013 01:12 PM)Fat Mac Wrote:  Apologies if this sort of thing has been discussed to death, but I was curious.
Which definition is correct, and what reasoning is there for one of them to be the correct one?

-From my desk dictionary-
atheism
|ˈāθēˌizəm|
noun
the theory or belief that God does not exist.
***

Theory and belief are not absolute and as such, may be subject to change if adequate evidence were to be provided.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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07-12-2013, 04:27 PM
RE: The definition of atheism
(07-12-2013 01:12 PM)Fat Mac Wrote:  But Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster, and FreeDictionary.com describe atheism as the doctrine (or belief) that there is no God/are not deities.
You left out the alternative definitions from those very dictionaries. Dodgy

Dictionary
• disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings

Merriam Webster
• a disbelief in the existence of deity

Free Dictionary
• disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods
• rejection of belief in God or gods

I use Oxford Dictionaries myself.

atheism
Syllabification: (a·the·ism)
Pronunciation: /ˈāTHēˌizəm/
noun
disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods

[Image: 7oDSbD4.gif]
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07-12-2013, 04:39 PM
RE: The definition of atheism
I have always thought of atheism as a lack of belief. If it were a belief, then like religion, it would be claiming something for which there is no proof of. I know, I know - the automatic response from creationists is you can't disprove the existence of a god. However, I also can't disprove the existence of fairies, or the god/gods of any other faith. You can't take something for which there is no proof and then put it up on the same shelf as scientific evidence for something and claim that it has the same credibility.

Are Buddhists atheists? I don't know of any Buddhists that believe in a god, so I would say so. If they follow the sect of the Dalai Lama, then I would certainly say so, because everything that I have read by the Dalai Lama has been about personal happiness and compassion for others, and he even said that if science proves something in Buddhism to be wrong, then Buddhists need to abandon that belief.

As the atheist saying goes: Saying that atheism is a religion is like saying that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

“Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.” - Mark Twain
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07-12-2013, 04:50 PM
RE: The definition of atheism
(07-12-2013 04:27 PM)Vosur Wrote:  
(07-12-2013 01:12 PM)Fat Mac Wrote:  But Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster, and FreeDictionary.com describe atheism as the doctrine (or belief) that there is no God/are not deities.
You left out the alternative definitions from those very dictionaries. Dodgy

Dictionary
• disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings

Merriam Webster
• a disbelief in the existence of deity

Free Dictionary
• disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods
• rejection of belief in God or gods

I use Oxford Dictionaries myself.

atheism
Syllabification: (a·the·ism)
Pronunciation: /ˈāTHēˌizəm/
noun
disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods

a-the-ism.
Duh. It's a religion devoted to not using (the) definite article.
What ?

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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07-12-2013, 05:51 PM
RE: The definition of atheism
[/quote]


Fact of the matter is that you are either a theist or an atheist, there is no middle ground.

[/quote]

So, I'm guessing Agnosticism is a myth? Consider

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