Total Posts:27|Showing Posts:1-27
Jump to topic:

Definition of Atheism

Dragonfang
Posts: 1,122
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/21/2013 12:06:10 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The general definition of atheism is the disbelief in God or dieties.
However, that implies that we believe in a/ God/Gods by default.

So what I would like to offer in this topic is two questions:
1- Is there a better definition for atheism?
2- What do you think is the reason people sought gods?
muzebreak
Posts: 2,781
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/21/2013 4:37:52 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/21/2013 12:06:10 PM, Dragonfang wrote:
The general definition of atheism is the disbelief in God or dieties.
However, that implies that we believe in a/ God/Gods by default.

So what I would like to offer in this topic is two questions:
1- Is there a better definition for atheism?
2- What do you think is the reason people sought gods?

I disagree that theism being the default position is implied by that definition of atheism.
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact." - Carl Sagan

This is the response of the defenders of Sparta to the Commander of the Roman Army: "If you are a god, you will not hurt those who have never injured you. If you are a man, advance - you will find men equal to yourself. And women.
the_croftmeister
Posts: 678
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/21/2013 5:57:04 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
On this website Atheism appears to often be defined as non-belief in a deity. Some people make the distinction between weak atheism (non-belief) and strong atheism (disbelief). Personally, I use atheism only to refer to the strong form and agnosticism to refer to the lack of knowledge of a deity, which includes weak atheism as a subtype.

As tBoonePickens has pointed out in other threads, weak atheism is not really a position on belief, but it is a legitimate position. Agnosticism is a position on knowledge (as opposed to belief). As to which should be the negation of theism, I don't think there is a clear answer, I think it would depend on your definition of negation.
DeFool
Posts: 626
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/21/2013 6:56:51 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/21/2013 12:06:10 PM, Dragonfang wrote:
The general definition of atheism is the disbelief in God or dieties.
However, that implies that we believe in a/ God/Gods by default.

So what I would like to offer in this topic is two questions:
1- Is there a better definition for atheism?
2- What do you think is the reason people sought gods?

I am the most militant of atheists, and work hard to maintain that standing. I will out-atheist all others.

I define "atheist" as a person who does not believe that the bible is literally true.

As for why we once sought gods and goddesses - I will admit to some apathy. Many gods and goddesses, such as Kim Jong Il, the divine ruler of North Korea, until he died, subjugated people for political reasons.

I expect that this is normal. Remember, we do not obey gods and goddesses, we obey priests.
DeFool
Posts: 626
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/21/2013 7:01:34 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I add that it is useless to include all the many, many gods and goddesses to the definition of "atheism."

Their priests hold so little authority that these religions can be safely filed away as "hobbies."
drafterman
Posts: 18,870
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/21/2013 8:27:25 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/21/2013 12:06:10 PM, Dragonfang wrote:
The general definition of atheism is the disbelief in God or dieties.
However, that implies that we believe in a/ God/Gods by default.

No it doesn't.


So what I would like to offer in this topic is two questions:
1- Is there a better definition for atheism?
2- What do you think is the reason people sought gods?

1. No.
2. People didn't "seek" gods. The idea of gods came naturally, as we are predisposed toward superstition and apophenia.
AlbinoBunny
Posts: 3,781
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/21/2013 9:38:15 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/21/2013 12:06:10 PM, Dragonfang wrote:
The general definition of atheism is the disbelief in God or dieties.
However, that implies that we believe in a/ God/Gods by default.

So what I would like to offer in this topic is two questions:
1- Is there a better definition for atheism?
2- What do you think is the reason people sought gods?

Not theism. An atheist is someone who isn't a theist. A theist is someone who believes in gods, so anyone who doesn't fit in that category is an atheist.

It answered questions we couldn't even start to answer, and we're really curious beings. It held us together socially quite well and gave some people power. It gave a set of rules which may have had some benefits at the time without having to teach people things that weren't even known. It gave people a sense of well-being, euphoria and an escape from death. Etc. etc.
bladerunner060 | bsh1 , 2014! Presidency campaign!

http://www.debate.org...
http://www.debate.org... - Running for president.
http://www.debate.org... - Running as his vice president.

May the best man win!
Wallstreetatheist
Posts: 7,132
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/21/2013 9:57:24 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/21/2013 6:56:51 PM, DeFool wrote:
At 7/21/2013 12:06:10 PM, Dragonfang wrote:
The general definition of atheism is the disbelief in God or dieties.
However, that implies that we believe in a/ God/Gods by default.

So what I would like to offer in this topic is two questions:
1- Is there a better definition for atheism?
2- What do you think is the reason people sought gods?

I am the most militant of atheists, and work hard to maintain that standing. I will out-atheist all others.

I define "atheist" as a person who does not believe that the bible is literally true.

Hindus are not atheists, my friend. Your definition is whack.
DRUG HARM: http://imgur.com...
Primal Diet. Lifting. Reading. Psychedelics. Cold-Approach Pickup. Music.
wiploc
Posts: 1,485
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/22/2013 12:16:26 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/21/2013 5:57:04 PM, the_croftmeister wrote:
Some people make the distinction between weak atheism (non-belief) and strong atheism (disbelief).

"Disbelief" isn't really a useful word in this context, because it defines both ways. It can mean either not believing that X is true, or believing that X is not true.

Personally, I use atheism only to refer to the strong form and agnosticism to refer to the lack of knowledge of a deity, which includes weak atheism as a subtype.

That's the most popular nomenclature, among non-atheists.
wiploc
Posts: 1,485
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/22/2013 12:18:05 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/21/2013 6:56:51 PM, DeFool wrote:
I define "atheist" as a person who does not believe that the bible is literally true.

That's just wrong. Lot's of Christians believe the bible isn't literally true.
DakotaKrafick
Posts: 1,517
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/22/2013 12:26:44 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/21/2013 7:01:34 PM, DeFool wrote:
I add that it is useless to include all the many, many gods and goddesses to the definition of "atheism."

How is that useless? If I believe Zeus exists, I shouldn't be classified as an atheist.
DakotaKrafick
Posts: 1,517
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/22/2013 12:33:44 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/21/2013 12:06:10 PM, Dragonfang wrote:
The general definition of atheism is the disbelief in God or dieties.
However, that implies that we believe in a/ God/Gods by default.

Not if by "disbelief" you mean "unbelief".

So what I would like to offer in this topic is two questions:
1- Is there a better definition for atheism?

Not that I can think of, except to clarify that "disbelief" does, in fact, mean "unbelief".

2- What do you think is the reason people sought gods?

I think "magic" is an easy-to-understand-and-even-easier-apply answer to things which don't make sense to us; and in our species' infancy, there were a lot of things that didn't make sense to us.
the_croftmeister
Posts: 678
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/22/2013 2:33:08 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/22/2013 12:16:26 AM, wiploc wrote:
At 7/21/2013 5:57:04 PM, the_croftmeister wrote:
Some people make the distinction between weak atheism (non-belief) and strong atheism (disbelief).

"Disbelief" isn't really a useful word in this context, because it defines both ways. It can mean either not believing that X is true, or believing that X is not true.
Anti-belief then. I'm pretty sure it was clear from context.


Personally, I use atheism only to refer to the strong form and agnosticism to refer to the lack of knowledge of a deity, which includes weak atheism as a subtype.

That's the most popular nomenclature, among non-atheists.
Why is it different for atheists? I consider myself a strong agnostic, would you consider me a non-atheist?
wiploc
Posts: 1,485
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/22/2013 8:15:29 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/22/2013 2:33:08 AM, the_croftmeister wrote:
At 7/22/2013 12:16:26 AM, wiploc wrote:
At 7/21/2013 5:57:04 PM, the_croftmeister wrote:
Personally, I use atheism only to refer to the strong form and agnosticism to refer to the lack of knowledge of a deity, which includes weak atheism as a subtype.

That's the most popular nomenclature, among non-atheists.
Why is it different for atheists?

First, it's clearer. It's nice to have theism/atheism be about belief, and gnosticism/agnosticism be about knowledge. It's not not to have the ambiguity created by giving "agnosticism" conflicting meanings. The new system is just better.

Second, and I'm just guessing here, but it's nice to include all non-theists under the umbrella of the word "atheist" because weak atheists are among the good guys. They just aren't the ones trying to use government as the enforcement arm of the church.

Third, it could just be a matter of localized linguistic drift. Some social leaders among atheists started using the new system, and others followed. When I first heard the new usage, it was from Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

I consider myself a strong agnostic,

Strong agnostic: "I don't know and you don't know either."

would you consider me a non-atheist?

No, I think in the new system, so an agnostic is one without knowledge rather than one without belief. You may be a strong agnostic theist, a strong agnostic strong atheist, or a strong agnostic weak atheist. There's no way for me to know.

Even in the old system, when you add the word "strong" to "agnostic," it's pretty clear that you're talking about knowledge rather than belief.
Graincruncher
Posts: 2,799
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/22/2013 8:29:35 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/21/2013 7:01:34 PM, DeFool wrote:
I add that it is useless to include all the many, many gods and goddesses to the definition of "atheism."

There are more people who are religious but do not believe the bible to be literally true than there are who do. Your definition is not only completely wrong, but also completely useless.
DeFool
Posts: 626
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/22/2013 9:34:20 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
"Atheism cannot refer to the act of not taking the bible as being literally true, because some religions do not accept the bible, and some Christians do not take it literally."

I defend my taunt:

Hindus are not atheists, conceded.

Some Christians do not literally believe the bible to be true, and are therefore not atheists: The belief in the reality of Gospel is a necessary component of Christian doctrine. Remove this requirement, and the person cannot qualify as a Christian.

I update my definition: An Atheist is anyone on earth who does not believe in the literal truth of the bible, according to Christendom. The rest are atheists and heathens.
Drayson
Posts: 288
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/22/2013 9:42:36 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
"Atheism", in a purely etymological sense, is the lack of belief in God or Gods (or by extension, the supernatural generally), not the belief in a lack of same.

The "A" at the beginning of a word indicates the negation of the root word, not the opposite
"I'm not saying I don't trust you...and I'm not saying I do. But I don't"

-Topper Harley
the_croftmeister
Posts: 678
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/22/2013 10:01:34 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/22/2013 9:42:36 PM, Drayson wrote:
"Atheism", in a purely etymological sense, is the lack of belief in God or Gods (or by extension, the supernatural generally), not the belief in a lack of same.

The "A" at the beginning of a word indicates the negation of the root word, not the opposite

You are correct, as the comparison between amoral and immoral shows. But then, studying the morphology of the word (which I think is what you meant rather than etymology) is only one guide to meaning. Under a descriptive view of linguistics I would be tempted to say that the view of atheism as anti-theism as opposed to non-theism is more acceptable. Of course this is all really not important, you should just define your terms up front or whenever you notice a discrepancy in use.
DeFool
Posts: 626
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/22/2013 10:05:48 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/22/2013 9:42:36 PM, Drayson wrote:
"Atheism", in a purely etymological sense, is the lack of belief in God or Gods (or by extension, the supernatural generally), not the belief in a lack of same.

The "A" at the beginning of a word indicates the negation of the root word, not the opposite

I will add to this:

The belief that sacred texts are not literally true.
That priests are not inspired by gods and goddesses.
That no gods or goddesses literally exist.

Some quibbles:

"Supernatural." How can anything exist that is outside of nature?

The opposite of theism is not necessarily atheism, or even 'anti'theism, but pantheism.
Justification: Denying that gods and goddesses are real beings only denies that they are beings. Pantheism more or less explodes the concept into incoherence in this regard, making an absurdist case that the pantheistic concept represents any sort of definable, singular entity cannot work - since any such entity would be instantly swallowed up by other aspects of the 'god.'
muzebreak
Posts: 2,781
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/23/2013 2:21:51 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/22/2013 9:34:20 PM, DeFool wrote:
"Atheism cannot refer to the act of not taking the bible as being literally true, because some religions do not accept the bible, and some Christians do not take it literally."

I defend my taunt:

Hindus are not atheists, conceded.

Some Christians do not literally believe the bible to be true, and are therefore not atheists: The belief in the reality of Gospel is a necessary component of Christian doctrine. Remove this requirement, and the person cannot qualify as a Christian.

I update my definition: An Atheist is anyone on earth who does not believe in the literal truth of the bible, according to Christendom. The rest are atheists and heathens.

Implying that all Christian doctrines necessitate a literal interpretation.

A large portion of Christians do not take, for instance, the genesis story or Noahs Ark, to be anything but parables.
"Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact." - Carl Sagan

This is the response of the defenders of Sparta to the Commander of the Roman Army: "If you are a god, you will not hurt those who have never injured you. If you are a man, advance - you will find men equal to yourself. And women.
DetectableNinja
Posts: 6,043
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/23/2013 2:23:36 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/21/2013 6:56:51 PM, DeFool wrote:
At 7/21/2013 12:06:10 PM, Dragonfang wrote:
The general definition of atheism is the disbelief in God or dieties.
However, that implies that we believe in a/ God/Gods by default.

So what I would like to offer in this topic is two questions:
1- Is there a better definition for atheism?
2- What do you think is the reason people sought gods?

I am the most militant of atheists, and work hard to maintain that standing. I will out-atheist all others.

I define "atheist" as a person who does not believe that the bible is literally true.

As for why we once sought gods and goddesses - I will admit to some apathy. Many gods and goddesses, such as Kim Jong Il, the divine ruler of North Korea, until he died, subjugated people for political reasons.

I expect that this is normal. Remember, we do not obey gods and goddesses, we obey priests.

This is almost the worst definition of atheism I've ever encountered.
Think'st thou heaven is such a glorious thing?
I tell thee, 'tis not half so fair as thou
Or any man that breathes on earth.

- Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
Quan
Posts: 97
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/23/2013 2:45:40 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
The definition of atheism is dependent on the definition of theism. It literally means "not theism," as in anything that does not fit the definition of theism is atheism. It would be incredibly difficult to refine the definition any further without creating a false dichotomy. Trying to do so is what led to the widespread misuse of the term "agnostic."

The way I see it, this implies atheism is the default position, as those who do not assert anything at all are atheist (though they will be labeled "agnostic.")
the_croftmeister
Posts: 678
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/23/2013 3:36:55 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/23/2013 2:45:40 PM, Quan wrote:
The definition of atheism is dependent on the definition of theism. It literally means "not theism," as in anything that does not fit the definition of theism is atheism. It would be incredibly difficult to refine the definition any further without creating a false dichotomy. Trying to do so is what led to the widespread misuse of the term "agnostic."

The way I see it, this implies atheism is the default position, as those who do not assert anything at all are atheist (though they will be labeled "agnostic.")

On what grounds do you suppose that the term agnostic (someone without knowledge) is misused in this case? I'll agree that the choice of agnostic or atheist to refer to someone without an opinion is largely a matter of taste, though the strong atheist could not be properly referred to as an agnostic. Is it not natural then to use atheist only for the strong form and agnostic for the weak? Otherwise we wouldn't have a word for the strong form on its own and a double up on the weak. Again, it really doesn't matter, as long as you define your terms properly in each discussion.
DeFool
Posts: 626
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/24/2013 9:44:49 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/23/2013 2:23:36 PM, DetectableNinja wrote:
At 7/21/2013 6:56:51 PM, DeFool wrote:
At 7/21/2013 12:06:10 PM, Dragonfang wrote:
The general definition of atheism is the disbelief in God or dieties.
However, that implies that we believe in a/ God/Gods by default.

So what I would like to offer in this topic is two questions:
1- Is there a better definition for atheism?
2- What do you think is the reason people sought gods?

I am the most militant of atheists, and work hard to maintain that standing. I will out-atheist all others.

I define "atheist" as a person who does not believe that the bible is literally true.

As for why we once sought gods and goddesses - I will admit to some apathy. Many gods and goddesses, such as Kim Jong Il, the divine ruler of North Korea, until he died, subjugated people for political reasons.

I expect that this is normal. Remember, we do not obey gods and goddesses, we obey priests.

This is almost the worst definition of atheism I've ever encountered.

Repeatedly, I encounter atheists who think that they are Christians, or Jews, or whatever. They honestly seem to think that they are able to deny the more fanciful portions of the sacred texts of their religions, without destabilizing their faiths.

This cannot be accepted. If there were some other evidence for the veracity of the bible, then we could have the discussion. For example, we could argue that, while the bible is clearly fiction, the truth of (X) is not disputed. Yet, nowhere does such evidence exist.

This leaves us with only the bible. Once we all agree that its tales represent mythical nonsense (I gleefully would use the word 'allegorical'), then there is nothing at all left to recommend it as a source of "truth."

You say 'allegorical,' I say 'fictional.' Potato Potato. We all agree that the events that it describes did not happen. We all agree that the laws it hands down must not be followed (killing disobedient children, killing those who follow other gods and goddesses, killing those who work weekends, etc.) We all agree that the biblical authors 'didn't mean it' when they described Jesus as a murderous tyrant, slaughtering all of the world in the final days.

But, we cannot toss the whole thing and keep claiming that it is divine, and the font of all wisdom. In fact, we can't throw any of it out and claim that any portion of it is divinely inspired - without seriously redefining what it means to be "divinely inspired."
DeFool
Posts: 626
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/24/2013 9:53:03 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
As I have lightheartedly made very clear, there are many kinds of atheist. There are the debating intellectual atheists, the ritual atheists who love Christmas, but do not pretend to cannibalize Jesus. There are the "angry atheists," and the anti-theists and the non-theists, and worst of all the agnostics who pretend that there is any question in the matter.

In fact, the rationalist community has... denominations.

Our dictionaries need to be updated to reflect this.
Quan
Posts: 97
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
7/24/2013 10:04:44 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 7/23/2013 3:36:55 PM, the_croftmeister wrote:
On what grounds do you suppose that the term agnostic (someone without knowledge) is misused in this case? I'll agree that the choice of agnostic or atheist to refer to someone without an opinion is largely a matter of taste, though the strong atheist could not be properly referred to as an agnostic. Is it not natural then to use atheist only for the strong form and agnostic for the weak? Otherwise we wouldn't have a word for the strong form on its own and a double up on the weak. Again, it really doesn't matter, as long as you define your terms properly in each discussion.

On the grounds that the union of theism and atheism is the universal set. You are correct in saying that atheism is not always an adequate term, and it is valid to use agnostic in addition to theism/atheism to more accurately describe someone (i.e. one can be an agnostic theist or agnostic atheist.) It is not, however, a third possibility distinct from theism and atheism.