Will Atheism outgrow Islam?
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11-10-2012, 10:01 AM
RE: Will Atheism outgrow Islam?
(11-10-2012 08:57 AM)Impulse Wrote:  
(28-09-2012 11:54 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  No, you don't get to make up your own definitions. Sorry, your definition is mistaken - it's a common mistake, but still a mistake.

The prefix "a" means "not". Some examples:
biotic = living, abiotic = not living
morphous = having a shape, amorphous = not having a shape
septic = being diseased, aseptic = not being diseased
theist = having a religious belief, atheist = not having a religious belief

The definition you seem to prefer would require a different word with a different prefix. Possibly "Antitheist" or better yet, "Contratheist" to remain with Latin roots.
Sorry for the delayed reply. I lost track of this thread and didn't see this until now.

Here's a source that agrees with me:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

I think the term atheism, like many other terms, has taken on more than one meaning. If you look around the internet you will find the 3 variations that I mentioned and probably others as well. If there is an authoritative source for the definition of atheism, I am unaware of one. And, if there isn't, then the "real" meaning is whatever the general consensus of people agree that it is, which currently encompasses at least the several versions that I mentioned. The important thing is that people define which meaning they have in mind when discussing atheism.

Sure, and I could define a "car" as a four-legged milk-giving bovine. And maybe I could convince a few others that such a thing is a "car". Some of them might even create a website. And I could come here and tell you that MY definition of car is a four-legged milk-giving bovine and could then even cite a website that agrees with me. That would be the definition of car that I subscribe to.

But that doesn't make me right.

Just because people misuse and misunderstand a word doesn't make their misuse of it correct.

Instead of simply accepting that different people subscribe to different definitions of atheism (or car), maybe we should just help them to understand what both words really mean.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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11-10-2012, 10:21 AM
RE: Will Atheism outgrow Islam?
(11-10-2012 10:01 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  
(11-10-2012 08:57 AM)Impulse Wrote:  Sorry for the delayed reply. I lost track of this thread and didn't see this until now.

Here's a source that agrees with me:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

I think the term atheism, like many other terms, has taken on more than one meaning. If you look around the internet you will find the 3 variations that I mentioned and probably others as well. If there is an authoritative source for the definition of atheism, I am unaware of one. And, if there isn't, then the "real" meaning is whatever the general consensus of people agree that it is, which currently encompasses at least the several versions that I mentioned. The important thing is that people define which meaning they have in mind when discussing atheism.

Sure, and I could define a "car" as a four-legged milk-giving bovine. And maybe I could convince a few others that such a thing is a "car". Some of them might even create a website. And I could come here and tell you that MY definition of car is a four-legged milk-giving bovine and could then even cite a website that agrees with me. That would be the definition of car that I subscribe to.

But that doesn't make me right.

Just because people misuse and misunderstand a word doesn't make their misuse of it correct.

Instead of simply accepting that different people subscribe to different definitions of atheism (or car), maybe we should just help them to understand what both words really mean.

I'm perfectly willing to accept that I may be wrong, but of course I require evidence before I would so. Do you have an authoritative source to support your definition as the definition?

Silence is only golden when it's not synonymous with a failure to speak out against injustice.

"We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes." --Gene Roddenberry
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11-10-2012, 10:32 AM
RE: Will Atheism outgrow Islam?
(11-10-2012 10:21 AM)Impulse Wrote:  I'm perfectly willing to accept that I may be wrong, but of course I require evidence before I would so. Do you have an authoritative source to support your definition as the definition?

You mean, some other authoritative source besides the etymology? Besides knowing what "theism" means and knowing what the prefix "a" does when added to every word in existence?

Nope. I don't. That has always been enough for me.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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11-10-2012, 12:44 PM
RE: Will Atheism outgrow Islam?
(11-10-2012 10:32 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  
(11-10-2012 10:21 AM)Impulse Wrote:  I'm perfectly willing to accept that I may be wrong, but of course I require evidence before I would so. Do you have an authoritative source to support your definition as the definition?

You mean, some other authoritative source besides the etymology? Besides knowing what "theism" means and knowing what the prefix "a" does when added to every word in existence?

Nope. I don't. That has always been enough for me.

I see your point.

What's irritating then is even dictionaries don't seem to have it right:
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheist
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheist?s=t
http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition...?q=atheist
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/atheist

Silence is only golden when it's not synonymous with a failure to speak out against injustice.

"We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes." --Gene Roddenberry
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11-10-2012, 01:31 PM
RE: Will Atheism outgrow Islam?
Your Oxford definition has it right. It basically says "people who lack belief in god, including people who disbelieve in god". It could phrase it more clearly.

The others are just wrong. Whoever wrote those entries just went with his or her assumptions based on the common misuse of the word. I suppose if I dig around enough, I might find some that are correct, too. At least I hope, since I haven't actually tried it.

The flaw is the the word "disbelief" vs. "having no belief". Disbelief actually means rejecting a belief. People mistakenly assume that atheism is a disbelief in god. It certainly can be that, and many atheists do disbelieve. Just like many people have brown hair. But you cannot define that all people have brown hair or that to be considered a person, you must have brown hair. Likewise, you cannot define that all atheists have disbelief or that to be an atheist you must have disbelief. It is enough to have a lack of belief. That's exactly what the word means. All else is assumption.

I cannot help but wonder how many people writing these definitions are theists themselves and therefore have little respect or interest in atheism and don't really care to understand the word or make sure they get their definitions correct. Or maybe just one person got it wrong in one dictionary and the rest are just lazy people copying that one without doing their own due diligence.

I still hope that there are more correct definitions out there. Oxford is accurate but could be more clear. I hope it's not the only one.

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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11-10-2012, 03:02 PM
RE: Will Atheism outgrow Islam?
When it comes to how you define a word it is entirely how it is used. In natural language the people make the definition of the word. I don't go around saying that astrology is a science even though in terms of etymology it is.

Anyways back to the topic.
According to wikipedia, Christians, Islam and Hinduism are all outpacing birth rates meanwhile Non-religion is increasing in numbers but decreasing in overall world percentage. In Europe I think it could be Atheism vs Christianity but I doubt it will come down to Atheism vs Muslim. Just open up wikipedia and look at how ethnically pure these countries are. I think Ukraine after several hundred years under foreign occupation is still at something like 98% Ukrainian.

I'm homophobic in the same way that I'm arachnophobic. I'm not scared of gay people but I'm going to scream if I find one in my bath.

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11-10-2012, 03:54 PM
RE: Will Atheism outgrow Islam?
(11-10-2012 01:31 PM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  Your Oxford definition has it right. It basically says "people who lack belief in god, including people who disbelieve in god". It could phrase it more clearly.

The others are just wrong. Whoever wrote those entries just went with his or her assumptions based on the common misuse of the word. I suppose if I dig around enough, I might find some that are correct, too. At least I hope, since I haven't actually tried it.

The flaw is the the word "disbelief" vs. "having no belief". Disbelief actually means rejecting a belief. People mistakenly assume that atheism is a disbelief in god. It certainly can be that, and many atheists do disbelieve. Just like many people have brown hair. But you cannot define that all people have brown hair or that to be considered a person, you must have brown hair. Likewise, you cannot define that all atheists have disbelief or that to be an atheist you must have disbelief. It is enough to have a lack of belief. That's exactly what the word means. All else is assumption.

I cannot help but wonder how many people writing these definitions are theists themselves and therefore have little respect or interest in atheism and don't really care to understand the word or make sure they get their definitions correct. Or maybe just one person got it wrong in one dictionary and the rest are just lazy people copying that one without doing their own due diligence.

I still hope that there are more correct definitions out there. Oxford is accurate but could be more clear. I hope it's not the only one.

Well said. That makes much more sense to me now that other definitions (e.g., disbelief in god) are not part of the true definition of atheism, but because they often apply to atheists, may be confused with the true definition.

Silence is only golden when it's not synonymous with a failure to speak out against injustice.

"We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes." --Gene Roddenberry
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11-10-2012, 05:09 PM
RE: Will Atheism outgrow Islam?
(11-10-2012 01:31 PM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  Your Oxford definition has it right. It basically says "people who lack belief in god, including people who disbelieve in god". It could phrase it more clearly.

The others are just wrong. Whoever wrote those entries just went with his or her assumptions based on the common misuse of the word. I suppose if I dig around enough, I might find some that are correct, too. At least I hope, since I haven't actually tried it.

The flaw is the the word "disbelief" vs. "having no belief". Disbelief actually means rejecting a belief. People mistakenly assume that atheism is a disbelief in god. It certainly can be that, and many atheists do disbelieve. Just like many people have brown hair. But you cannot define that all people have brown hair or that to be considered a person, you must have brown hair. Likewise, you cannot define that all atheists have disbelief or that to be an atheist you must have disbelief. It is enough to have a lack of belief. That's exactly what the word means. All else is assumption.

I cannot help but wonder how many people writing these definitions are theists themselves and therefore have little respect or interest in atheism and don't really care to understand the word or make sure they get their definitions correct. Or maybe just one person got it wrong in one dictionary and the rest are just lazy people copying that one without doing their own due diligence.

I still hope that there are more correct definitions out there. Oxford is accurate but could be more clear. I hope it's not the only one.

Gotta be careful when consulting dictionaries for definitions. There are 2 kinds: descriptive and prescriptive. Oxford, being the recognized authority on The Queen's English, tends to be understood to be prescriptive. When looking for the "proper" definition of a word, I prefer Oxford, not Merriam-Webster.

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12-10-2012, 06:57 PM
RE: Will Atheism outgrow Islam?
Hey, earmuffs.

I disagree in part. I agree wholeheartedly that Muslims are migrating is mass numbers; however, people are converting to Islam in force. White people too.

Hey, Cardinal.

That's an interesting position, but I disagree. In the francophonie, one regulatory organisation, L'Académie Française, is recognised as the prescriptive authority concerning the French language. No such organisation exists in the English speaking world; accepting that Oxford would like to self-aggrandise, nor would any such organisation be listened to in the English world. One of the strengths of the English language has been its versatility and malleability. Polysemy is not a problem of English, it is both a feature and a strength.

While there may be influential voices in the English speaking world, like Oxford for example, influence does not equal authority.

Speaking generally, I chuckle when people suggest that English words are being used properly or improperly because I simply ask them, "To which authority are you referring? Because none exists."

Hey, ppg.

For me, this is simply a question of memetics. Because it's a memetic issue, I see it through that lens.

Ideas don't die. There are still Zoroastrians and, I'd wager, believers in the Greek Pantheon, even believers of Marduk. There are certainly Animists in the world and that memeplex is tens of thousands of years old.

Pandora's box is in effect when it comes to Darwinism.

What we have instead is replicator pools; gene pools in genetics and meme pools in memetics. There are local ones, regional ones, continental ones, global ones... The sum total of genes on the planet form the biosphere. The sum total of memes on the planet form the ethnosphere.

Within replicator pools, individual replicators as well as replicator complexes have representation. That is to say, what percentage of the replicator pool is comprised of this replicator (or replicator complex)? What is the representation of blue eyes, tetrapodism, scales, gills, tails, wings, claws, probosci...? What is the representation of baseball hats, Ode to Joy, Happy Birthday, gendered dress codes, co-ed bathrooms, English, Farsi, Christmas, Islam, Atheism...?

Just for clarity, while Atheism makes no positive claims and is simply the lack of belief, that lack of belief is a part of a larger complex. What we can track is the spread or decline of that complex. As an analogy, if fifty species of mouse have horns and one does not, if it lacks horns, we can track that.

If we pull back and view things in longer time periods, we see long periods of equilibrium within the pools punctuated by brief periods of rapid change. This is called punctuated equilibrium.

One idea that always has to be pointed out, shot down and stomped into the ground is the notion that evolution is a process of amelioration. That is to say, that it is going somewhere or that, even worse, there is a finish line.

Representation in the replicator pool is fleeting. That is to say that what is dominant today can be on the verge of extinction tomorrow.

To top everything off, nothing exists in a vacuum. The rise and fall of representation is environmentally contingent. That is to say, we live in a system, not on an island. There are reasons, many of them, that are influencing the rise of both Islam and Atheism; multiple determinants if you will. They could change tomorrow, next week, next year, in a decade, fifty years, one hundred, two, five hundred, a thousand, two thousand...

The premise of your question is flawed. The question should not be "will it". The question needs to be less broad. Will Islam outstrip Atheism by 2030? That's much more manageable, but, thanks to chaos theory, almost as impossible to predict Cool

As for my prediction:

The economics of the world are such that the old divide of a few countries that represent the First World and a bunch of countries that represent the Third World, is becoming obsolete. In the coming decades these divisions will still be present but they will not be contingent on political borders. Our borders will be economic. Because of all of this, the neo-conservative globalisation movement, the power of nationalism is waning. This is simply because as more and more capital crosses political borders without restriction, so does the labour force. This is why nation states like Denmark, France, Germany... are all freaking out because workers from other countries are flooding their countries (which is simply an economic imperative for these negative birth rate countries) and bringing their cultures and values with them. This is what is called meme flow (analogous to gene flow). Nationalism is weakening in the face of contractualism; allegiance based on which company/industry you work for. But in all of this, people are set adrift as the old model collapses around them and floundering, they reach out for whatever they can find that helps bind them. Religion is very good at this. Religion ignores borders. If you're a Muslim from Pakistan and you move to London, you can find other Muslims to help you get on your feet and thrive. I'm not saying that religion is the only cultural glue that ignores borders, but that those binders are in high demand today. At the end of the day, the dominant cultural institution is most certainly the corporation and religion plays second fiddle to it and that trend will only continue for the foreseeable future. Secularism is popular because it allows one to be a citizen of the world as it were. In the final analysis, I think that secularism is more adaptive for people wishing to take part in the global economy. There are fewer restrictions placed on the individual (including moral concerns) which allows more individuals to tow the party line of the corporation. But don't count religion out just yet because the downtrodden will need to find solidarity with one another more and more as Marx's prescient prediction of concentrating capital plays out. As the middle class disappears along with any semblance of labour protection, the meek and marginalised will come together. And religion has sheltering the meek down pat.

All of that being said, when the effects of peak oil hit and the global economy goes tits up, it'll be a whole new ball game Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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