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The Meaning of the Word 'Atheism'

Welfare-Worker
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5/24/2015 11:24:14 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Words are arbitrary symbols, generally written or spoken, that carry meaning for sender and receiver. If there is not a meeting of the minds on the meaning, there will be confusion and disagreement.

The symbols are arbitrary in that they have no absolute meaning. Their meaning is that which is understood, nothing more. One word may have many meanings, depending on context.
Context would not only includes contemporary usage, but across time as well.

Someone who says the historical definition of a word has always been wrong, does not understand language. That is virtually impossible.
A word means what people say it means.
If the whole of a society understands that "sun" means "god", then that is what it means - to them.

The word "Atheism" is like all words, it means what society understands it to mean.
There is no "right" or "wrong", as used by society, only right or wrong as used by individuals or small groups. If society understands it to mean one thing, and a person or group says it means something else, they are trying to change the meaning, by using it incorrectly. If they are successful, the word has a new meaning. The meaning may be changed for everyone, or it may have two accepted meanings.

"Atheism" has had, and continues to have, several meanings.

A common meaning is "non-belief in the popular gods, believing they do not exist".
Early Christians were labeled as Atheists by the Romans. According to the meaning of the word in society, they were exactly that.
In 1776 the meaning of the word was less clear. Men like Washington, Jefferson, Franklin were products of the Enlightenment, and rejected traditional Christianity, so were often labeled as "Atheists", as were Muslims. This was not so much by society as a whole, but by Orthodox Christians, and even then only some.

The thinking was basically "There is one god, we worship him, you do not, so you are an Atheist."
For the Romans, who were more understanding, the thinking was "We offer you all of these choices in god, and you accept none of them, so you are Atheists."

Another meaning is "The belief that there is no-god."

For most of recorded history one of these two meanings have been the standard for the meaning of Atheism [the other being "non-belief in the popular gods, believing they do not exist"].

As recently as 1879 Charles Bradlaugh said Atheism does not assert there is no god, it is merely a lack of belief in (the existence of) god.
This was a turn of events, and put a new meaning to the term "Atheism".
It was not particularly well received, and did not dominate common usage.
With the advent of the internet it has seen a resurgence, for two apparent reasons.
It is not to return to the original meaning, as 1879 can hardly be considered "original".

It is believed that Bradlaugh introduced his meaning to shift the BoP to Theists, to show that there was a god. He never announced this, but the idea does seem to have considerable merit.

Secondarily, it does inflate the number of Atheists.
Which in itself is a curious thing.

Atheists are fond of claiming that it is they who should be the ones to define Atheism, and not the Theists. The 15%, not the 85%. Well, there may be some merit to that, but, fairness would seem to be in order.
They define it in such a way that no beliefs, no mind, is necessary, so babies, dogs, trees, and toilet paper have Atheistic characteristics.
They then claim that Agnostics, Pantheists, and other "Theists" are actually Atheists, even if they deny it.

The freedom they demand for themselves, they deny to others. As I said, a curious thing, lacking fairness.

Here is how Atheists.org defines Atheism:
Atheism is a lack of belief in gods.
The only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods and supernatural beings. Some of the best debates we have ever had have been with fellow atheists. This is because atheists do not have a common belief system, sacred scripture or atheist Pope. This means atheists often disagree on many issues and ideas. Atheists come in a variety of shapes, colors, beliefs, convictions, and backgrounds. We are as unique as our fingerprints.
http://atheists.org...

In their claims to include Agnostics in their numbers, they imply that Agnosticism is a recent event, from about 1888. [Though there are a couple of references in The Oxford English Dictionary to earlier occurrences of the word "agnostic", it seems (perhaps independently) to have been introduced by T. H. Huxley at a party in London to found the Metaphysical Society [1888], which flourished for over a decade and to which belonged notable thinkers and leaders of opinion.]

The first notable Agnostic was Protagoras [490-420BC], who wrote in Greek, not English.
["Concerning the gods I am not able to know either that they exist or that they do not exist or what their nature is; for there are many things which prevent one from knowing,"], so Agnosticism is actually about 2500 years old.
Like Atheism, it was an unpopular position to hold, and the term fell out of use, becoming popularized about the same time as this new definition of Atheism.

~ ~
So, if we are to allow Atheists to define the meaning, it is simply a lack of belief in (the existence of) god.

An Atheist is a person who has this one characteristic of Atheism, with the caveat that "god" may not include some concepts held by self-proclaimed Theists. They may think they are Theists, but they are Atheists.

Atheistic is an adjective, describing a person, place, or thing with the characteristic of Atheism.
~ ~
If we are to allow society to define the term, Atheism is the firm belief there is no god, of any sort.

An Atheist is such a person.

Atheistic is the description of a person, or group of people, since only persons can have beliefs about god.
Envisage
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5/24/2015 12:39:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
This post pretty much mirrors my own views. And as such, I am gradually refusing to label my beliefs, or self, since I find the process rather useless. You can call me an atheist if you want, I only care about the concept you try to convey with that label.
1harderthanyouthink
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5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.
"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here,
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear - that I'm not here."

-Syd Barrett

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Welfare-Worker
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5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.
1harderthanyouthink
Posts: 13,103
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5/24/2015 1:51:40 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.

"Without a god" would be a "lack of god"
"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here,
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear - that I'm not here."

-Syd Barrett

DDO Risk King
1harderthanyouthink
Posts: 13,103
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5/24/2015 1:53:55 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 1:51:40 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.

"Without a god" would be a "lack of god"

Without - in the absence of.
"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here,
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear - that I'm not here."

-Syd Barrett

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Welfare-Worker
Posts: 1,206
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5/24/2015 2:00:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 1:53:55 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:51:40 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.

"Without a god" would be a "lack of god"

Without - in the absence of.

Denying - making the claim there is none.
Without a god - saying there is none.

Your usage works if you disregard half of the etymology, mine works with both.
1harderthanyouthink
Posts: 13,103
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5/24/2015 2:02:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 2:00:52 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:53:55 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:51:40 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.

"Without a god" would be a "lack of god"

Without - in the absence of.

Denying - making the claim there is none.
Without a god - saying there is none.

Your usage works if you disregard half of the etymology, mine works with both.

If you say you are "without a god," you are saying that you do not follow any god. Simply saying "without" does not imply "deny."
"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here,
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear - that I'm not here."

-Syd Barrett

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Welfare-Worker
Posts: 1,206
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5/24/2015 2:07:28 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 2:02:44 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:00:52 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:53:55 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:51:40 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.

"Without a god" would be a "lack of god"

Without - in the absence of.

Denying - making the claim there is none.
Without a god - saying there is none.

Your usage works if you disregard half of the etymology, mine works with both.

If you say you are "without a god," you are saying that you do not follow any god. Simply saying "without" does not imply "deny."

I agree, but 'denying' does mean deny - 'denying the gods'.
If you want to pick and choose, yours works.
1harderthanyouthink
Posts: 13,103
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5/24/2015 2:07:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 2:00:52 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:53:55 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:51:40 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.

"Without a god" would be a "lack of god"

Without - in the absence of.

Denying - making the claim there is none.
Without a god - saying there is none.

Your usage works if you disregard half of the etymology, mine works with both.

To argue your etymology point, I'll put forth the origin of "without"

It comes from the Old English word "withutan," which means "on the outside"

So "withutan" + "theos" comes to "on the outside of a god."
"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here,
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear - that I'm not here."

-Syd Barrett

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Welfare-Worker
Posts: 1,206
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5/24/2015 2:12:27 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 2:07:58 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:00:52 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:53:55 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:51:40 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.

"Without a god" would be a "lack of god"

Without - in the absence of.

Denying - making the claim there is none.
Without a god - saying there is none.

Your usage works if you disregard half of the etymology, mine works with both.

To argue your etymology point, I'll put forth the origin of "without"

It comes from the Old English word "withutan," which means "on the outside"

So "withutan" + "theos" comes to "on the outside of a god."

I quite obviously say, etymology does not matter. Usage matters.
In discussing the meaning of words, it is usage that matters.
You bring up 'looking at the word itself' - which to me is etymology, so I offered a rebuttal.
Your reply is, you only like part of the origin of the work itself.
1harderthanyouthink
Posts: 13,103
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5/24/2015 2:16:44 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 2:12:27 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:07:58 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:00:52 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:53:55 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:51:40 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.

"Without a god" would be a "lack of god"

Without - in the absence of.

Denying - making the claim there is none.
Without a god - saying there is none.

Your usage works if you disregard half of the etymology, mine works with both.

To argue your etymology point, I'll put forth the origin of "without"

It comes from the Old English word "withutan," which means "on the outside"

So "withutan" + "theos" comes to "on the outside of a god."

I quite obviously say, etymology does not matter. Usage matters.
In discussing the meaning of words, it is usage that matters.
You bring up 'looking at the word itself' - which to me is etymology, so I offered a rebuttal.
Your reply is, you only like part of the origin of the work itself.

It doesn't matter what the usage is if it is not true to the meaning of the word. And you say that I deny half the etymology - I deny most of what you put forth because "deny" does not fit within the meaning of the prefix "a-", rendering your given etymology incorrect.
"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here,
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear - that I'm not here."

-Syd Barrett

DDO Risk King
Welfare-Worker
Posts: 1,206
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5/24/2015 2:26:07 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 2:16:44 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:12:27 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:07:58 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:00:52 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:53:55 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:51:40 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.

"Without a god" would be a "lack of god"

Without - in the absence of.

Denying - making the claim there is none.
Without a god - saying there is none.

Your usage works if you disregard half of the etymology, mine works with both.

To argue your etymology point, I'll put forth the origin of "without"

It comes from the Old English word "withutan," which means "on the outside"

So "withutan" + "theos" comes to "on the outside of a god."

I quite obviously say, etymology does not matter. Usage matters.
In discussing the meaning of words, it is usage that matters.
You bring up 'looking at the word itself' - which to me is etymology, so I offered a rebuttal.
Your reply is, you only like part of the origin of the work itself.

It doesn't matter what the usage is if it is not true to the meaning of the word. And you say that I deny half the etymology - I deny most of what you put forth because "deny" does not fit within the meaning of the prefix "a-", rendering your given etymology incorrect.

So you do not understand the difference between 'origin' and 'meaning'.
You think words have some absolute meaning, like they came from god or something.
'My" etymology is not acceptable, because it disagrees with yours.

I see this often. Atheists who feel free to make up their own rules, their own meaning for words.
And, they think this is rational.
1harderthanyouthink
Posts: 13,103
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5/24/2015 2:35:17 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 2:26:07 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:16:44 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:12:27 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:07:58 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:00:52 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:53:55 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:51:40 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.

"Without a god" would be a "lack of god"

Without - in the absence of.

Denying - making the claim there is none.
Without a god - saying there is none.

Your usage works if you disregard half of the etymology, mine works with both.

To argue your etymology point, I'll put forth the origin of "without"

It comes from the Old English word "withutan," which means "on the outside"

So "withutan" + "theos" comes to "on the outside of a god."

I quite obviously say, etymology does not matter. Usage matters.
In discussing the meaning of words, it is usage that matters.
You bring up 'looking at the word itself' - which to me is etymology, so I offered a rebuttal.
Your reply is, you only like part of the origin of the work itself.

It doesn't matter what the usage is if it is not true to the meaning of the word. And you say that I deny half the etymology - I deny most of what you put forth because "deny" does not fit within the meaning of the prefix "a-", rendering your given etymology incorrect.

So you do not understand the difference between 'origin' and 'meaning'.
You think words have some absolute meaning, like they came from god or something.
'My" etymology is not acceptable, because it disagrees with yours.

I see this often. Atheists who feel free to make up their own rules, their own meaning for words.
And, they think this is rational.

You're making an incorrect assumption that I am atheist.

You make another incorrect assumption that I deny your given etymology solely because it disagrees with mine - when I argued against your etymology using the clear definitions of the prefixes, the words, and the origins of those words. In breaking down the word, I come to the conclusion that your etymology is incorrect.

And usage is not a way you should define a term. If you go by usage, you conform to a society's natural biases, and then, your definition is corrupted - the integrity of it is lost. That is why a single definition - a correct one - must be used.
"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here,
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear - that I'm not here."

-Syd Barrett

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5/24/2015 3:06:34 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 2:35:17 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:26:07 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:16:44 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:12:27 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:07:58 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:00:52 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:53:55 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:51:40 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:42:58 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 1:13:18 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
Ignoring what people have to say and looking at the word itself, the prefix "a-" and the word "theism" goes to "without theism."

So in terms of language, atheists have the more correct definition, and is thus the one I use.

The etymology for 'atheist' is:
atheist (n.) 1570s, from French ath"iste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see theo-).
http://www.etymonline.com...

So looking at the word itself, and not its actual meaning as used by people, it means "without god, denying god(s)" -not a lack of theism.
If you deny god exists, that works.
If you do not deny god exists, it does not work.

As I say, we can not choose what words mean.
Society puts meaning to words, not individuals.
Others disagree, and say they will use whatever meaning they choose.

"Without a god" would be a "lack of god"

Without - in the absence of.

Denying - making the claim there is none.
Without a god - saying there is none.

Your usage works if you disregard half of the etymology, mine works with both.

To argue your etymology point, I'll put forth the origin of "without"

It comes from the Old English word "withutan," which means "on the outside"

So "withutan" + "theos" comes to "on the outside of a god."

I quite obviously say, etymology does not matter. Usage matters.
In discussing the meaning of words, it is usage that matters.
You bring up 'looking at the word itself' - which to me is etymology, so I offered a rebuttal.
Your reply is, you only like part of the origin of the work itself.

It doesn't matter what the usage is if it is not true to the meaning of the word. And you say that I deny half the etymology - I deny most of what you put forth because "deny" does not fit within the meaning of the prefix "a-", rendering your given etymology incorrect.

So you do not understand the difference between 'origin' and 'meaning'.
You think words have some absolute meaning, like they came from god or something.
'My" etymology is not acceptable, because it disagrees with yours.

I see this often. Atheists who feel free to make up their own rules, their own meaning for words.
And, they think this is rational.

You're making an incorrect assumption that I am atheist.

Well, I did not say you were an Atheist.
What I said is true regardless - I see this from Atheists.
I considered that you might not be an Atheist - probably were, but might not be.
I am careful in my wording.
Do you see otherwise, that you can demonstrate?
No accusations, no implications. Only your incorrect assumptions about my own assumptions..

You make another incorrect assumption that I deny your given etymology solely because it disagrees with mine - when I argued against your etymology using the clear definitions of the prefixes, the words, and the origins of those words. In breaking down the word, I come to the conclusion that your etymology is incorrect.

Well, 'my etymology' is of course not 'mine'. I sourced it.
And your source - there is none, so I shall I take it that it is 'yours'. Not fabricated, but not endorsed by etymologists either.

And usage is not a way you should define a term. If you go by usage, you conform to a society's natural biases, and then, your definition is corrupted - the integrity of it is lost. That is why a single definition - a correct one - must be used.

Well, this is an interesting philosophy.
People who hold such views try to change usage, to fit what they consider more appropriate.
If they are successful, then their usage can be ignored, by others, who do not like the new norms they have established.
So I take it you claim this word - Atheism - has an absolute meaning - not dependent on usage.
By extension I would think you believe all words - or most words - have absolute meanings.
If this were true, then for such words where the absolute meaning is being used, should we expect no change, over the next millennium or so? Probably not. Meanings do change, for all words.
I would expect you would argue that time will cause the need to change the meaning of words, which of course is back to the point where the meaning of words is not absolute.
If not, what would you argue? Is the goal the 'correct', 'absolute' meaning, that never changes, to the end of time?

So from what I see, as far as your position on the meaning of words, I can not get there from here.
1harderthanyouthink
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5/24/2015 3:24:17 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 3:06:34 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:35:17 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:26:07 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:16:44 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:12:27 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
I quite obviously say, etymology does not matter. Usage matters.
In discussing the meaning of words, it is usage that matters.
You bring up 'looking at the word itself' - which to me is etymology, so I offered a rebuttal.
Your reply is, you only like part of the origin of the work itself.

It doesn't matter what the usage is if it is not true to the meaning of the word. And you say that I deny half the etymology - I deny most of what you put forth because "deny" does not fit within the meaning of the prefix "a-", rendering your given etymology incorrect.

So you do not understand the difference between 'origin' and 'meaning'.
You think words have some absolute meaning, like they came from god or something.
'My" etymology is not acceptable, because it disagrees with yours.

I see this often. Atheists who feel free to make up their own rules, their own meaning for words.
And, they think this is rational.

You're making an incorrect assumption that I am atheist.

Well, I did not say you were an Atheist.
What I said is true regardless - I see this from Atheists.
I considered that you might not be an Atheist - probably were, but might not be.
I am careful in my wording.
Do you see otherwise, that you can demonstrate?
No accusations, no implications. Only your incorrect assumptions about my own assumptions..

Your language came across to me as an underhanded dismissal.

You make another incorrect assumption that I deny your given etymology solely because it disagrees with mine - when I argued against your etymology using the clear definitions of the prefixes, the words, and the origins of those words. In breaking down the word, I come to the conclusion that your etymology is incorrect.

Well, 'my etymology' is of course not 'mine'. I sourced it.
And your source - there is none, so I shall I take it that it is 'yours'. Not fabricated, but not endorsed by etymologists either.

http://www.etymonline.com...

My language slightly differed from theirs.

And usage is not a way you should define a term. If you go by usage, you conform to a society's natural biases, and then, your definition is corrupted - the integrity of it is lost. That is why a single definition - a correct one - must be used.

Well, this is an interesting philosophy.
People who hold such views try to change usage, to fit what they consider more appropriate.
If they are successful, then their usage can be ignored, by others, who do not like the new norms they have established.
So I take it you claim this word - Atheism - has an absolute meaning - not dependent on usage.
By extension I would think you believe all words - or most words - have absolute meanings.
If this were true, then for such words where the absolute meaning is being used, should we expect no change, over the next millennium or so? Probably not. Meanings do change, for all words.
I would expect you would argue that time will cause the need to change the meaning of words, which of course is back to the point where the meaning of words is not absolute.
If not, what would you argue? Is the goal the 'correct', 'absolute' meaning, that never changes, to the end of time?

So from what I see, as far as your position on the meaning of words, I can not get there from here.

The goal is to have an absolute meaning so society cannot change it. If society cannot change the usage and, therefore, definition of a word, language will remain unbiased. If you allow people to change meanings, it will become what they want it to be - even if against the word's true, original meaning.
"It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here,
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear - that I'm not here."

-Syd Barrett

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Welfare-Worker
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5/24/2015 3:30:45 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 3:24:17 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 3:06:34 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:35:17 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:26:07 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:16:44 PM, 1harderthanyouthink wrote:
At 5/24/2015 2:12:27 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
I quite obviously say, etymology does not matter. Usage matters.
In discussing the meaning of words, it is usage that matters.
You bring up 'looking at the word itself' - which to me is etymology, so I offered a rebuttal.
Your reply is, you only like part of the origin of the work itself.

It doesn't matter what the usage is if it is not true to the meaning of the word. And you say that I deny half the etymology - I deny most of what you put forth because "deny" does not fit within the meaning of the prefix "a-", rendering your given etymology incorrect.

So you do not understand the difference between 'origin' and 'meaning'.
You think words have some absolute meaning, like they came from god or something.
'My" etymology is not acceptable, because it disagrees with yours.

I see this often. Atheists who feel free to make up their own rules, their own meaning for words.
And, they think this is rational.

You're making an incorrect assumption that I am atheist.

Well, I did not say you were an Atheist.
What I said is true regardless - I see this from Atheists.
I considered that you might not be an Atheist - probably were, but might not be.
I am careful in my wording.
Do you see otherwise, that you can demonstrate?
No accusations, no implications. Only your incorrect assumptions about my own assumptions..

Your language came across to me as an underhanded dismissal.

You make another incorrect assumption that I deny your given etymology solely because it disagrees with mine - when I argued against your etymology using the clear definitions of the prefixes, the words, and the origins of those words. In breaking down the word, I come to the conclusion that your etymology is incorrect.

Well, 'my etymology' is of course not 'mine'. I sourced it.
And your source - there is none, so I shall I take it that it is 'yours'. Not fabricated, but not endorsed by etymologists either.

http://www.etymonline.com...

My language slightly differed from theirs.

And usage is not a way you should define a term. If you go by usage, you conform to a society's natural biases, and then, your definition is corrupted - the integrity of it is lost. That is why a single definition - a correct one - must be used.

Well, this is an interesting philosophy.
People who hold such views try to change usage, to fit what they consider more appropriate.
If they are successful, then their usage can be ignored, by others, who do not like the new norms they have established.
So I take it you claim this word - Atheism - has an absolute meaning - not dependent on usage.
By extension I would think you believe all words - or most words - have absolute meanings.
If this were true, then for such words where the absolute meaning is being used, should we expect no change, over the next millennium or so? Probably not. Meanings do change, for all words.
I would expect you would argue that time will cause the need to change the meaning of words, which of course is back to the point where the meaning of words is not absolute.
If not, what would you argue? Is the goal the 'correct', 'absolute' meaning, that never changes, to the end of time?

So from what I see, as far as your position on the meaning of words, I can not get there from here.

The goal is to have an absolute meaning so society cannot change it. If society cannot change the usage and, therefore, definition of a word, language will remain unbiased. If you allow people to change meanings, it will become what they want it to be - even if against the word's true, original meaning.

The times they are a changin'.
For every season there is a time.
All things are transient.
There is no 'true' meaning.
What is needed now, will not be needed in the future.

This too shall pass.
Lots of clich"s, still can't get there from here.
Kyle_the_Heretic
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5/24/2015 4:38:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 11:24:14 AM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
Words are arbitrary symbols, generally written or spoken, that carry meaning for sender and receiver. If there is not a meeting of the minds on the meaning, there will be confusion and disagreement.

The symbols are arbitrary in that they have no absolute meaning. Their meaning is that which is understood, nothing more. One word may have many meanings, depending on context.
Context would not only includes contemporary usage, but across time as well.

Someone who says the historical definition of a word has always been wrong, does not understand language. That is virtually impossible.
A word means what people say it means.
If the whole of a society understands that "sun" means "god", then that is what it means - to them.

The word "Atheism" is like all words, it means what society understands it to mean.
There is no "right" or "wrong", as used by society, only right or wrong as used by individuals or small groups. If society understands it to mean one thing, and a person or group says it means something else, they are trying to change the meaning, by using it incorrectly. If they are successful, the word has a new meaning. The meaning may be changed for everyone, or it may have two accepted meanings.

"Atheism" has had, and continues to have, several meanings.

A common meaning is "non-belief in the popular gods, believing they do not exist".
Early Christians were labeled as Atheists by the Romans. According to the meaning of the word in society, they were exactly that.
In 1776 the meaning of the word was less clear. Men like Washington, Jefferson, Franklin were products of the Enlightenment, and rejected traditional Christianity, so were often labeled as "Atheists", as were Muslims. This was not so much by society as a whole, but by Orthodox Christians, and even then only some.

The thinking was basically "There is one god, we worship him, you do not, so you are an Atheist."
For the Romans, who were more understanding, the thinking was "We offer you all of these choices in god, and you accept none of them, so you are Atheists."

Another meaning is "The belief that there is no-god."

For most of recorded history one of these two meanings have been the standard for the meaning of Atheism [the other being "non-belief in the popular gods, believing they do not exist"].

As recently as 1879 Charles Bradlaugh said Atheism does not assert there is no god, it is merely a lack of belief in (the existence of) god.
This was a turn of events, and put a new meaning to the term "Atheism".
It was not particularly well received, and did not dominate common usage.
With the advent of the internet it has seen a resurgence, for two apparent reasons.
It is not to return to the original meaning, as 1879 can hardly be considered "original".

It is believed that Bradlaugh introduced his meaning to shift the BoP to Theists, to show that there was a god. He never announced this, but the idea does seem to have considerable merit.

Secondarily, it does inflate the number of Atheists.
Which in itself is a curious thing.

Atheists are fond of claiming that it is they who should be the ones to define Atheism, and not the Theists. The 15%, not the 85%. Well, there may be some merit to that, but, fairness would seem to be in order.
They define it in such a way that no beliefs, no mind, is necessary, so babies, dogs, trees, and toilet paper have Atheistic characteristics.
They then claim that Agnostics, Pantheists, and other "Theists" are actually Atheists, even if they deny it.

The freedom they demand for themselves, they deny to others. As I said, a curious thing, lacking fairness.

Here is how Atheists.org defines Atheism:
Atheism is a lack of belief in gods.
The only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods and supernatural beings. Some of the best debates we have ever had have been with fellow atheists. This is because atheists do not have a common belief system, sacred scripture or atheist Pope. This means atheists often disagree on many issues and ideas. Atheists come in a variety of shapes, colors, beliefs, convictions, and backgrounds. We are as unique as our fingerprints.
http://atheists.org...

In their claims to include Agnostics in their numbers, they imply that Agnosticism is a recent event, from about 1888. [Though there are a couple of references in The Oxford English Dictionary to earlier occurrences of the word "agnostic", it seems (perhaps independently) to have been introduced by T. H. Huxley at a party in London to found the Metaphysical Society [1888], which flourished for over a decade and to which belonged notable thinkers and leaders of opinion.]

The first notable Agnostic was Protagoras [490-420BC], who wrote in Greek, not English.
["Concerning the gods I am not able to know either that they exist or that they do not exist or what their nature is; for there are many things which prevent one from knowing,"], so Agnosticism is actually about 2500 years old.
Like Atheism, it was an unpopular position to hold, and the term fell out of use, becoming popularized about the same time as this new definition of Atheism.

~ ~
So, if we are to allow Atheists to define the meaning, it is simply a lack of belief in (the existence of) god.

An Atheist is a person who has this one characteristic of Atheism, with the caveat that "god" may not include some concepts held by self-proclaimed Theists. They may think they are Theists, but they are Atheists.

Atheistic is an adjective, describing a person, place, or thing with the characteristic of Atheism.
~ ~
If we are to allow society to define the term, Atheism is the firm belief there is no god, of any sort.

An Atheist is such a person.

Atheistic is the description of a person, or group of people, since only persons can have beliefs about god.

A short time ago, I began a topic where, applying early definitions and lexical semantics, I accused everyone who denied one god or another of being atheist. In other words, everyone. Because anyone not denying one god or another is self-contradictory.

As I predicted, my topic was not well received. Apparently, lexical semantics are based on opinion, and cultural variance has no regard for etymology. Modern definitions are based on general acceptance, even if bias interferes with that definition.

Once upon a time, awful meant very much the same thing thing as awesome. The suffix of each means "the quality of". Today, the words are nearly polar opposites. Because "awe" also meant to "inspire fear", awful became related to that which is negative. The word awesome did not meat the same fate, because it came later than awful, which already filled the negative niche.

Change happens, and general acceptance can solidify that change. Perhaps some strongly influential person will use awful as it was originally intended, and sway general acceptance once again.

However, regardless of change, I believe that origins should be given due respect when applying definitions. If a former definition has not been eradicated, then it's use is just as valid as a generally accepted modern use.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
Welfare-Worker
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5/24/2015 6:05:45 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 4:38:16 PM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
At 5/24/2015 11:24:14 AM, Welfare-Worker wrote:


A short time ago, I began a topic where, applying early definitions and lexical semantics, I accused everyone who denied one god or another of being atheist. In other words, everyone. Because anyone not denying one god or another is self-contradictory.

As I predicted, my topic was not well received. Apparently, lexical semantics are based on opinion, and cultural variance has no regard for etymology. Modern definitions are based on general acceptance, even if bias interferes with that definition.

Once upon a time, awful meant very much the same thing thing as awesome. The suffix of each means "the quality of". Today, the words are nearly polar opposites. Because "awe" also meant to "inspire fear", awful became related to that which is negative. The word awesome did not meat the same fate, because it came later than awful, which already filled the negative niche.

There is another one like that, I can not recall - where a pat on the back became a slap in the face. It may come to me.

Change happens, and general acceptance can solidify that change. Perhaps some strongly influential person will use awful as it was originally intended, and sway general acceptance once again.

However, regardless of change, I believe that origins should be given due respect when applying definitions. If a former definition has not been eradicated, then it's use is just as valid as a generally accepted modern use.

Yes, well, much I agree with.
Some I do not.

Long ago the water lines (pipes) in town were wooden.
When there was a fire, the firemen would dig down, chop a hole in the pipe, draw water. When they were done, they would plug the hole, and mark the spot, so if there was another fire nearby they could use the first hole - the marker was called a fire plug.
When I was young, there were these metal pipes stuck out of the ground every so often, and they were connected to the metal water lines underground. The adults called them fire plugs. I did too as I recall. Mostly today they are called 'Fire Hydrants', or maybe 'Water Hydrants".
But, the original name was 'Fire Plug', used for many years I am sure, before it was changed.
Even when metal, above ground, still a 'Fire Plug'.
I have dozens of such etymology stories floating around in my head.
Any argument from you to retain 'Fire Plug' for these new fangled metal things?

You say:
Logically, it is correct to say that most believe in a false god, and since they reject all other versions, they technically believe in no god at all, because to believe in a false god is to believe in no god. As such, the vast majority of theists are technically atheists. Since no one can prove that their version of "God" is the correct version, then, until evidence is provided to the contrary, every theist can be, categorically, called an atheist.


In Science there are many disagreements, about the details.
Food and nutrition is in the news, again, always.
Global warming, again, always.
The value of space exploration compared to ocean exploration, often.
Theoretical physics - well, a never ending story there.
All this disagreement - can they all be following the same Science?
The Scientific method - THE primary tool of Science, and yet, so many disagreements about how it is applied, what is acceptable experimentation - computer generated models, yes or no?
Is peer review on major overload, and neglected so much as to be ineffective.
Is the volumes of data that is generated, able to be reviewed, on a timely basis? People dead and in the ground as a result of false conclusions in medical studies that are not sufficiently reviewed.
The Scientific method indicates Rogue waves are scientifically impossible with a frequency greater than once in 10,000 years, yet we now know they occur multiple times in every decade.
So much conflict in Scientific Truth - is it really all one body of "knowledge" - or are there whole segments that are clueless?

I am no big fan of religions, but really, there is as much consistency from religion to religion as there is within Science.
I agree wholeheartedly that surely most of them, possible all of them, have the details wrong. Still, I see much common ground.

Science gets no prizes for uniformity.
In my short lifetime I have seen two very major changes in the Scientific Method. No end in sight on that front.
Since the Protestant Reformation (as an arbitrary point in time with no particular significance), Science has gone through more changes than Christianity, and that is saying something.

Three children all believe their father, to be a great man, a strong provider, a good husband to their mother. In 30 years what they remember about him may be so different as to seem like three different people to outsiders.
So, did he not exist?
I have heard two siblings talk about their formative years, and it really seems like different homes.
I have talked to old school mates, and wonder where I was when all those good times were happening, I wasn't there, I knew that.

I am not convinced that a difference in understanding means non-existence.
I understand your point, and can see how you might, but it is not so obviously true.
Kyle_the_Heretic
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5/24/2015 10:00:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/24/2015 6:05:45 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:

Yes, well, much I agree with.
Some I do not.

Long ago the water lines (pipes) in town were wooden.
When there was a fire, the firemen would dig down, chop a hole in the pipe, draw water. When they were done, they would plug the hole, and mark the spot, so if there was another fire nearby they could use the first hole - the marker was called a fire plug.
When I was young, there were these metal pipes stuck out of the ground every so often, and they were connected to the metal water lines underground. The adults called them fire plugs. I did too as I recall. Mostly today they are called 'Fire Hydrants', or maybe 'Water Hydrants".
But, the original name was 'Fire Plug', used for many years I am sure, before it was changed.
Even when metal, above ground, still a 'Fire Plug'.
I have dozens of such etymology stories floating around in my head.
Any argument from you to retain 'Fire Plug' for these new fangled metal things?

You say:
Logically, it is correct to say that most believe in a false god, and since they reject all other versions, they technically believe in no god at all, because to believe in a false god is to believe in no god. As such, the vast majority of theists are technically atheists. Since no one can prove that their version of "God" is the correct version, then, until evidence is provided to the contrary, every theist can be, categorically, called an atheist.


In Science there are many disagreements, about the details.
Food and nutrition is in the news, again, always.
Global warming, again, always.
The value of space exploration compared to ocean exploration, often.
Theoretical physics - well, a never ending story there.
All this disagreement - can they all be following the same Science?
The Scientific method - THE primary tool of Science, and yet, so many disagreements about how it is applied, what is acceptable experimentation - computer generated models, yes or no?
Is peer review on major overload, and neglected so much as to be ineffective.
Is the volumes of data that is generated, able to be reviewed, on a timely basis? People dead and in the ground as a result of false conclusions in medical studies that are not sufficiently reviewed.
The Scientific method indicates Rogue waves are scientifically impossible with a frequency greater than once in 10,000 years, yet we now know they occur multiple times in every decade.
So much conflict in Scientific Truth - is it really all one body of "knowledge" - or are there whole segments that are clueless?

I am no big fan of religions, but really, there is as much consistency from religion to religion as there is within Science.
I agree wholeheartedly that surely most of them, possible all of them, have the details wrong. Still, I see much common ground.

Science gets no prizes for uniformity.
In my short lifetime I have seen two very major changes in the Scientific Method. No end in sight on that front.
Since the Protestant Reformation (as an arbitrary point in time with no particular significance), Science has gone through more changes than Christianity, and that is saying something.

Three children all believe their father, to be a great man, a strong provider, a good husband to their mother. In 30 years what they remember about him may be so different as to seem like three different people to outsiders.
So, did he not exist?
I have heard two siblings talk about their formative years, and it really seems like different homes.
I have talked to old school mates, and wonder where I was when all those good times were happening, I wasn't there, I knew that.

I am not convinced that a difference in understanding means non-existence.
I understand your point, and can see how you might, but it is not so obviously true.

I would call them "fireplugs", because that was the name used by the adults in my neighborhood when I was a kid, and I like to wax nostalgic.

No argument; believing in essentially the same God in different ways can generally be construed as the same belief, and be sufficient to determine a blanket definition of "biblical theist". I was simply playing on the old Roman definition, which makes everyone who rejects your god or gods an atheist. I used semantics, to separate the different versions of the Biblical God into different gods. In my defense, some of the versions differ so greatly from each other, that they can categorically be recognized as different gods.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
Death23
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5/25/2015 1:07:32 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
What evidence is there that society interprets "atheism" to mean exclusively strong atheism? I usually look at dictionaries for this type of issue, and every dictionary definition for "atheism" that I've seen encompasses both weak atheism and strong atheism. In my view, the consensus among the dictionaries is evidence that your claim is likely false unless I see some other evidence to the contrary.
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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5/25/2015 1:17:30 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
The religious are renowned for manipulating language to support theology, and then defending it as normative.

For example, they'll often say 'God' (a theological person) when they mean 'god' (a class of metaphysical entity) because they want to privilege the notion that there's really only one and its theirs.

Some of this linguistic privileging is considered (e.g. the use of 'God' instead of 'god'), but some of it is unacknowledged or willful ignorance.

The religious (here, I mainly mean Christians) chose to talk about people who rejected religious belief but had no faith of their own, mainly because they wanted to vilify and persecute them. So they needed a noun to capture this heresy, and used the compound root 'atheos' to capture this idea, but then defined it incorrectly. Often atheism wasn't even defined as 'disbelief in gods', but 'disbelief in God'. (Because there's only one god, you see, and it's mine.) [And as a brief digression, it's ironic that Christians themselves used to be convicted of atheos in Roman times, because they rejected pagan gods.]

In the same confused fashion, religion (here I still really mean Christianity) mislabelled Islam as a pagan, idolatrous faith. They simply didn't do due diligence on the stuff they wanted to vilify, and having vilified it, stood on social privilege to keep their prejudices intact against the actual facts.

But the idea of rejecting religious authority while having no faith of one's own has deep and diverse philosophical roots, and any insightful study of the rejection of religion cannot be made from a place of theological privilege and philosophical ignorance.

We can find atheistic thought in the Samkhya school of Hinduism for example, dating from perhaps the 6th to 3rd century BCE. In Europe we can find it in the thought of Diagnoras in the 5th century BCE, and the 3rd century philosophers Theodorus Cyrenaicus, and Strato of Lampascus, and in the writings of Euhmerus, and Epicurus, plus many Enlightenment philosophers.

The thought that leads to rejection of religious belief varies, and therefore so does the nature of the rejection. This has been true throughout history, and no amount of ignorant linguistic bluster will alter that.

Today, there are people who believe there are no gods, but they're a small subset of those who reject religious belief. The notion of 'practical atheism', for example -- apatheism -- can be found in the writings of the 18th century philosopher Denis Diderot who, when accused of being an atheist replied that he simply didn't care about the proposition -- not that it was unknowable or unknown, but that he had no motivation to consider it. This is clearly not agnosticism, and is a vastly different form of rejection to considering faith and disbelieving it, yet remains identical to theoretical forms of atheism in every other regard.

The continued religious fight for control of the term is hardly an exercise in scholarly insight or linguistic purism. At stake is the theological tradition of vilifying anything that doesn't believe as the religion does. Many faithful would prefer all atheists to consider and reject (their) god, because that makes all atheists willful and recalcitrant, it makes their religious thought seem normative by default (rather than merely popular), and imposes a burden of proof that many atheists do not recognise because they don't uphold that particular form of rejection.

Finally, I have agreed on more than one occasion that rocks and trees aren't atheists. Atheism is a rejection, and a rejection is an exercise of opinion. But where theology often gets it wrong is which opinion is being exercised, since there's more than one that can result in the rejection of faith.

And by way of testing the motive for this question at all, consider: there are many religious who don't greatly care why atheists reject their faith; there are some who care, but accept the rejection. But the ones whom this rejection incenses are typically also the ones most likely to care about the definition. Try and find a theist who'll argue over the definition yet not criticise atheists in some other way thereafter.

They might exist, but I don't believe I've ever met one.

In short, the narrowing of the meaning is the confection of evidence to support intent, and it's unacceptable because it's both philosophically inaccurate and intellectually disingenuous.

I hope this may be useful.
Welfare-Worker
Posts: 1,206
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5/25/2015 6:42:17 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/25/2015 1:07:32 AM, Death23 wrote:
What evidence is there that society interprets "atheism" to mean exclusively strong atheism? I usually look at dictionaries for this type of issue, and every dictionary definition for "atheism" that I've seen encompasses both weak atheism and strong atheism. In my view, the consensus among the dictionaries is evidence that your claim is likely false unless I see some other evidence to the contrary.

Dictionary Atheists. Boy, I really do hate these guys. You"ve got a discussion going, talking about why you"re an atheist, or what atheism should mean to the community, or some such topic that is dealing with our ideas and society, and some smug wanker comes along and announces that "Atheism means you lack a belief in gods. Nothing more. Quit trying to add meaning to the term." As if atheism can only be some platonic ideal floating in virtual space with no connections to anything else; as if atheists are people who have attained a zen-like ideal, their minds a void, containing nothing but atheism, which itself is nothing. Dumbasses.
In that Montreal talk, I explained that there is more to my atheism than simple denial of one claim; it"s actually based on a scientific attitude that values evidence and reason, that rejects claims resting solely on authority, and that encourages deeper exploration of the world.
My atheism is not solely a negative claim about gods, but is based on a whole set of positive values that I will emphasize when talking about atheism. That denial of god thing? It"s a consequence, not a cause.

My point is that nobody becomes an atheist because of an absence of values, and no one becomes an atheist because the dictionary tells them they are. I think we also do a disservice to the movement when we pretend it"s solely a mob of individuals who lack a belief, rather than an organization with positive goals and values.
http://scienceblogs.com...

Atheist
a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.
http://dictionary.reference.com...

Atheism noun
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.

Atheism
a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
b : the doctrine that there is no deity
http://dictionary.reference.com...

Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

someone who believes that God does not exist
http://dictionary.cambridge.org...

a person who believes that God does not exist
http://www.learnersdictionary.com...

An atheist believes there is no such thing as god, or any other deity.
http://www.vocabulary.com...

the belief that God does not exist
http://www.ldoceonline.com...

the belief that there is no God
http://www.wordcentral.com...

the belief or theory that God does not exist
http://www.macmillandictionary.com...

rejection of belief in God or gods
http://www.collinsdictionary.com...

the belief that there is no God, or denial that God or gods exist
http://www.yourdictionary.com...

(noun) the doctrine or belief that there is no God
http://mnemonicdictionary.com...

the doctrine or belief that there is no God
http://www.webster-dictionary.org...

a person who believes that God does not exist
http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com...

the doctrine or belief that there is no God
http://www.wordreference.com...

rejection of belief in God or gods
http://dictionary.reverso.net...

~ ~
I've encountered many atheists who claim that atheism is not a belief system while others say it is. Since there is no official atheist organization, nailing down which description of atheism to use can be difficult. Nevertheless, the following are some definitions offered by atheists. Whichever definition you accept, atheism denies God.

."An atheist is someone who believes and/or knows there is no god."
"An atheist lacks belief in a god."
"An atheist disbelieves or denies that any God or gods exist."
"An atheist exercises no faith in the concept of god at all."
"An atheist is someone who is free from religious oppression and bigotry."
"An atheist is someone who is a free-thinker--free from religion and its ideas."

~ ~ ~
Dictionary atheists are a movement who insist that no one should think of any positive connotations for the word "atheist".

"I'm saying that just claiming you're an atheist because you meet that minimalist definition is not sufficient to explain who you are, and that everyone who says they are an atheist actually has other issues beneath that claim that are more important in establishing their position."
http://pharyngula.wikia.com...

~~ ~
So I get despairing letters from people who once saw atheism as a shining promise, and now see it as a refuge for the same old haters, the same old deniers, the same old reactionaries trying to use their received wisdom as a too to silence new voices and new ideas. And sometimes I feel a little despair, too.

But I haven"t given up. I still think atheism is the best path to comprehending our world and making it better " better in all ways, not just scientific and technological, but also socially. The atheist movement is not in the hands of dictionary atheists, and it"s not growing by recruiting more narrow-minded deniers; it"s growing by helping people realize that it"s something more and something beautiful.

Read more: http://freethoughtblogs.com...
~ ~ ~ ~

More recently, and by contrast, a lot of folks who consider themselves "atheists" have taken to using a different definition. They say that "atheism" means "a lack of belief in a deity." This is a much wider range of meaning than the former definition.

Now, are they correct? According to Merriam-Webster"s and other authorities, they aren"t. It"s true that some dictionaries offer this second, wider meaning as an alternative, however, not all do (the three I listed, for example, do not). The only definition that all the authoritative English dictionaries have in common, is one along the lines of "an affirmative belief that there is no deity."

Nevertheless, definition-revising atheists beg to differ, and say that a wider definition is required in order to accommodate the difference between belief and knowledge as well as other factors. One of the complaints they have, is that these traditional dictionaries were written by theists, and therefore the definitions those theists have come up with, are unacceptable. An example of this is:

One reason why a misleading definition of atheism exists in popular traditional publications can be traced back to the religious roots of those in the dictionary publishing business.

This objection, while it seems emotionally compelling, is actually pretty silly. Given that the English-speaking world has long been, and still is, majority-theist, all definitions in all dictionaries can be assumed to have been devised by theists. Are we to dispense with all definitions of all words and redefine the entire English language for ourselves? If we do, how sensible would this be? Who would understand it?
http://www.apatheticagnostic.com...

[Apathetic Agnostic -I love that]
~ ~

Argumentum ad dictionarium is the act of pulling out a dictionary to support your assertions.
It forms an informal fallacy
Kyle_the_Heretic
Posts: 748
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5/25/2015 11:53:46 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/25/2015 1:17:30 AM, RuvDraba wrote:
The religious are renowned for manipulating language to support theology, and then defending it as normative.

For example, they'll often say 'God' (a theological person) when they mean 'god' (a class of metaphysical entity) because they want to privilege the notion that there's really only one and its theirs.

Some of this linguistic privileging is considered (e.g. the use of 'God' instead of 'god'), but some of it is unacknowledged or willful ignorance.

The religious (here, I mainly mean Christians) chose to talk about people who rejected religious belief but had no faith of their own, mainly because they wanted to vilify and persecute them. So they needed a noun to capture this heresy, and used the compound root 'atheos' to capture this idea, but then defined it incorrectly. Often atheism wasn't even defined as 'disbelief in gods', but 'disbelief in God'. (Because there's only one god, you see, and it's mine.) [And as a brief digression, it's ironic that Christians themselves used to be convicted of atheos in Roman times, because they rejected pagan gods.]

In the same confused fashion, religion (here I still really mean Christianity) mislabelled Islam as a pagan, idolatrous faith. They simply didn't do due diligence on the stuff they wanted to vilify, and having vilified it, stood on social privilege to keep their prejudices intact against the actual facts.

But the idea of rejecting religious authority while having no faith of one's own has deep and diverse philosophical roots, and any insightful study of the rejection of religion cannot be made from a place of theological privilege and philosophical ignorance.

We can find atheistic thought in the Samkhya school of Hinduism for example, dating from perhaps the 6th to 3rd century BCE. In Europe we can find it in the thought of Diagnoras in the 5th century BCE, and the 3rd century philosophers Theodorus Cyrenaicus, and Strato of Lampascus, and in the writings of Euhmerus, and Epicurus, plus many Enlightenment philosophers.

The thought that leads to rejection of religious belief varies, and therefore so does the nature of the rejection. This has been true throughout history, and no amount of ignorant linguistic bluster will alter that.

Today, there are people who believe there are no gods, but they're a small subset of those who reject religious belief. The notion of 'practical atheism', for example -- apatheism -- can be found in the writings of the 18th century philosopher Denis Diderot who, when accused of being an atheist replied that he simply didn't care about the proposition -- not that it was unknowable or unknown, but that he had no motivation to consider it. This is clearly not agnosticism, and is a vastly different form of rejection to considering faith and disbelieving it, yet remains identical to theoretical forms of atheism in every other regard.

The continued religious fight for control of the term is hardly an exercise in scholarly insight or linguistic purism. At stake is the theological tradition of vilifying anything that doesn't believe as the religion does. Many faithful would prefer all atheists to consider and reject (their) god, because that makes all atheists willful and recalcitrant, it makes their religious thought seem normative by default (rather than merely popular), and imposes a burden of proof that many atheists do not recognise because they don't uphold that particular form of rejection.

Finally, I have agreed on more than one occasion that rocks and trees aren't atheists. Atheism is a rejection, and a rejection is an exercise of opinion. But where theology often gets it wrong is which opinion is being exercised, since there's more than one that can result in the rejection of faith.

And by way of testing the motive for this question at all, consider: there are many religious who don't greatly care why atheists reject their faith; there are some who care, but accept the rejection. But the ones whom this rejection incenses are typically also the ones most likely to care about the definition. Try and find a theist who'll argue over the definition yet not criticise atheists in some other way thereafter.

They might exist, but I don't believe I've ever met one.

In short, the narrowing of the meaning is the confection of evidence to support intent, and it's unacceptable because it's both philosophically inaccurate and intellectually disingenuous.

I hope this may be useful.

The majority of my friends, (mostly through my brother) are atheist. On the rare occasions when I am with them, I am usually the only theist in the group. Inevitably, we have our disagreements, but usually in a teasing and fun way, rarely is anyone offended. I brought some of that fun to this forum, but the humor was not recognized.

I agree with some of what you have posted, with the stipulation that philosophy is esoteric opinion motivated by personal or accepted logic.

Christianity is saturated with ignorance and intolerance, but not all Christianity (Christians). I believe to make such a claim is itself ignorant.

"For example, they'll often say 'God' (a theological person) when they mean 'god' (a class of metaphysical entity) because they want to privilege the notion that there's really only one and its theirs."

Seen another way: They'll often say 'Sun' (an influential orb) when they mean 'sun' (a class of stars) because they want to privilege the notion that there's really only one [important one], and it's theirs.

I am one Christian, (though most Christians will disagree, and insist that I am not) who condemns no one. That's not my place. Let them believe as they will, as long as it does not subjugate or harm anyone else.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
Welfare-Worker
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5/25/2015 1:22:01 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/25/2015 1:00:32 PM, Death23 wrote:
Evidence is convincing. You're short on it.

Well, I did out pace you by more than ten fold, so there is something to be said for that small effort.
RuvDraba
Posts: 6,033
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5/25/2015 2:56:04 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/25/2015 11:53:46 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Christianity is saturated with ignorance and intolerance, but not all Christianity (Christians). I believe to make such a claim is itself ignorant.

Kyle, thank you for your comments.

By way of context, I live in a country that's about 70% Christian. So most of my school-friends, workmates, bosses, clients, employees and extended family are of that faith. About 16% of my country is irreligious.

For clarity, I didn't make the claim that all Christians are ignorant or intolerant of atheists. I draw your attention to this comment:
there are many religious who don't greatly care why atheists reject their faith; there are some who care, but accept the rejection. But the ones whom this rejection incenses are typically also the ones most likely to care about the definition. Try and find a theist who'll argue over the definition yet not criticise atheists in some other way thereafter.

More broadly, there are some stats on religious cordiality between beliefs in a 2014 report from the Pew Centre, which may interest you.

These stats apply to the US, where the US public in general likes Jews, Catholics and Evangelicals the most, and Muslims and atheists the least, with not much separating the latter two. [http://www.pewforum.org...]

However the sentiment isn't distributed evenly.

On a scale of 0-100, with anything over 65 being warm, and anything under 35 being chilly. most Americans of faith are neutral toward atheists, however white evangelicals and black protestants are quite glacial toward atheists at 25 and 30 respectively. Atheists for their part are neutral or better toward everyone of faith except Evangelical Christians, to whom they respond in kind with a frosty 28. [http://www.pewforum.org...]

Which makes me wonder whether in the US at least, the evangelicals are doing a merry line in atheist vilification from their pulpits, and the atheists have noticed and stopped sending greeting cards. (There might be other explanations, but that one is simple, and fits the data. :D)

I realise this brief discursion into religious relations better fits the Religion or Society forums, but hope that may be of use.
Death23
Posts: 784
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5/25/2015 3:25:12 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/25/2015 1:22:01 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
At 5/25/2015 1:00:32 PM, Death23 wrote:
Evidence is convincing. You're short on it.

Well, I did out pace you by more than ten fold, so there is something to be said for that small effort.

Well you assert that the best method for discerning the appropriate definition for a word is to let society at large decide. I agree with your method, but it looks like you got a hung jury. In this case there are indications that society at large is not using the words consistently and specifically. What is to be done when society doesn't make up its mind? I'd just say qualify the words atheist and atheism with strong or weak to avoid any ambiguity.
Kyle_the_Heretic
Posts: 748
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5/25/2015 3:42:43 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/25/2015 2:56:04 PM, RuvDraba wrote:
At 5/25/2015 11:53:46 AM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
Christianity is saturated with ignorance and intolerance, but not all Christianity (Christians). I believe to make such a claim is itself ignorant.

Kyle, thank you for your comments.

By way of context, I live in a country that's about 70% Christian. So most of my school-friends, workmates, bosses, clients, employees and extended family are of that faith. About 16% of my country is irreligious.

For clarity, I didn't make the claim that all Christians are ignorant or intolerant of atheists. I draw your attention to this comment:
there are many religious who don't greatly care why atheists reject their faith; there are some who care, but accept the rejection. But the ones whom this rejection incenses are typically also the ones most likely to care about the definition. Try and find a theist who'll argue over the definition yet not criticise atheists in some other way thereafter.

More broadly, there are some stats on religious cordiality between beliefs in a 2014 report from the Pew Centre, which may interest you.

These stats apply to the US, where the US public in general likes Jews, Catholics and Evangelicals the most, and Muslims and atheists the least, with not much separating the latter two. [http://www.pewforum.org...]

However the sentiment isn't distributed evenly.

On a scale of 0-100, with anything over 65 being warm, and anything under 35 being chilly. most Americans of faith are neutral toward atheists, however white evangelicals and black protestants are quite glacial toward atheists at 25 and 30 respectively. Atheists for their part are neutral or better toward everyone of faith except Evangelical Christians, to whom they respond in kind with a frosty 28. [http://www.pewforum.org...]

Which makes me wonder whether in the US at least, the evangelicals are doing a merry line in atheist vilification from their pulpits, and the atheists have noticed and stopped sending greeting cards. (There might be other explanations, but that one is simple, and fits the data. :D)

I realise this brief discursion into religious relations better fits the Religion or Society forums, but hope that may be of use.

I stand corrected, and apologize.

While my atheist friends amiably badger me, my fundamentalist Christian friends, (the few that haven't ostracized me) will tell me they love me and that I'm going to hell in the same sentence, so "chilly" to me is an understatement.

While we stand on separate islands, we seem to be fishing in the same area of water.
Thinking is extremely taxing on the gullible, and it takes hours to clear the smoke.
RuvDraba
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5/25/2015 3:44:51 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/25/2015 3:42:43 PM, Kyle_the_Heretic wrote:
While we stand on separate islands, we seem to be fishing in the same area of water.

As a secular humanist, Kyle, I've never met a compassionate human of good will -- of whatever faith -- whom I didn't like. :)