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Misconceptions of Atheism

SkepticalStardust
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1/24/2014 8:24:15 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I've heard people say things like "I don't believe in a god, but I'm not an atheist".

I understand that there is a stereotype of atheists being angry anti-theists and teenage rebels, but that doesn't change the definition of the word. It's like saying "I agree that abortion should be legal, but I'm not pro-choice".

Let me clear up the definition for any of you that don't understand:
The word "atheism" comes from the Greek prefix "a", meaning without, and "theist", meaning having a belief in a supernatural deity. Atheism, therefore, literally means "without theistic belief". Atheism does not positively assert anything; rather, it is a statement of withheld belief.

To put it even more simply, atheism does not say that there is no god, it just doesn't say that there is a god. The former can be inferred, but atheism is the lack of a claim and isn't a claim itself.

If a large enough portion of the world believed that feet were sentient, then we would need a word for those who didn't believe. Let us call the believers fotsentiens and those who don't believe afotsentiens(I know I'm mixing Greek, Latin, and Old English). Now imagine someone saying "I don't believe that feet are sentient, but I'm not an afotsentien". See? It's ridiculous.

Atheism only means not believing in a god. That's the one and only definition of the word. To have the definition describe your opinion on the matter exactly and say that it doesn't apply to you is absurd.

Anyway, my question is this:
Do you think these people are ignorant of the definition, dismiss the definition because "you can't label me, man", accept the label internally and choose to deny it in public, think they're witty in attempting to stay neutral in a binary choice, or are dishonest?(or any other option you might think of, of course)
That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." " Christopher Hitchens
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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1/24/2014 9:16:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I think people may want to avoid the stereotype and/or connotations associated with certain labels. Plus, definition can matter given certain contexts.

For example, I am pro-life, but I think abortions should be allowed.
If I were asked if I am prolife or prochoice, how should I respond?
If I say I am prolife, will they sick planned parenthood at me and call me a bible thumping misogynist.
If I say I am prochoice, will that convey the fact that I think abortion is murder, or will they assume that I have no problem with it?

Atheists leave a bad taste in some peoples' mouth, so stating their belief, but bucking the label is understandable. They could use better words, like saying they are not a militant atheist, though.
My work here is, finally, done.
SkepticalStardust
Posts: 117
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1/24/2014 9:45:42 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/24/2014 9:16:25 PM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
I think people may want to avoid the stereotype and/or connotations associated with certain labels. Plus, definition can matter given certain contexts.

For example, I am pro-life, but I think abortions should be allowed.
If I were asked if I am prolife or prochoice, how should I respond?
If I say I am prolife, will they sick planned parenthood at me and call me a bible thumping misogynist.
If I say I am prochoice, will that convey the fact that I think abortion is murder, or will they assume that I have no problem with it?

Atheists leave a bad taste in some peoples' mouth, so stating their belief, but bucking the label is understandable. They could use better words, like saying they are not a militant atheist, though.

I would say that you're pro-choice, but don't condone abortions. Instead of saying things that are untrue, like "I'm not an atheist", they should say something like "I'm an agnostic atheist". Added information can create the intended context. I, for example, don't believe in any god, but I accept that things like gods aren't falsifiable. The title of agnostic shows my recognition of my inability to know if there is or isn't a god and the title of atheist shows my position of not accepting the claim that there is one.

I'm of the opinion that intended context can always be given if the right words are used.
That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." " Christopher Hitchens
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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1/24/2014 9:52:42 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/24/2014 9:45:42 PM, SkepticalStardust wrote:
At 1/24/2014 9:16:25 PM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
I think people may want to avoid the stereotype and/or connotations associated with certain labels. Plus, definition can matter given certain contexts.

For example, I am pro-life, but I think abortions should be allowed.
If I were asked if I am prolife or prochoice, how should I respond?
If I say I am prolife, will they sick planned parenthood at me and call me a bible thumping misogynist.
If I say I am prochoice, will that convey the fact that I think abortion is murder, or will they assume that I have no problem with it?

Atheists leave a bad taste in some peoples' mouth, so stating their belief, but bucking the label is understandable. They could use better words, like saying they are not a militant atheist, though.

I would say that you're pro-choice, but don't condone abortions. Instead of saying things that are untrue, like "I'm not an atheist", they should say something like "I'm an agnostic atheist". Added information can create the intended context. I, for example, don't believe in any god, but I accept that things like gods aren't falsifiable. The title of agnostic shows my recognition of my inability to know if there is or isn't a god and the title of atheist shows my position of not accepting the claim that there is one.

I'm of the opinion that intended context can always be given if the right words are used.

It still doesn't alleviate the connotation attached to either of those terms, if that is what you were trying to avoid.

Welcome to DDO, by the way.
My work here is, finally, done.
SkepticalStardust
Posts: 117
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1/24/2014 10:22:13 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
It still doesn't alleviate the connotation attached to either of those terms, if that is what you were trying to avoid.

Welcome to DDO, by the way.

I can understand that, but I feel as though most people are just ignorant of the definition. Distancing yourself from a label out of fear of being grouped into surrounding unfitting labels is one thing, but doing the same thing out of ignorance borderlines on intellectual dishonesty.
I still feel as though one could remove themselves from surrounding unfitting labels by explaining their position in a little more depth. If someone is going to claim that they aren't part of a label or that they're part of a label, then they should know why. They should know well enough to explain it in a way that can be made clear to others. Maybe I'm just assuming people put more thought into their views than they really do.

Thanks for the welcome.
That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." " Christopher Hitchens
SkepticalStardust
Posts: 117
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1/24/2014 10:27:56 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/24/2014 9:16:25 PM, Khaos_Mage wrote:

While it's not what I would do, I can understand why you would pick agnostic as a description for your religion on your profile. I blame society's lack of understanding for that. What I'm referring to is when an explanation of religious beliefs is possible.
That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." " Christopher Hitchens
bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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1/24/2014 11:15:07 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/24/2014 10:22:13 PM, SkepticalStardust wrote:
It still doesn't alleviate the connotation attached to either of those terms, if that is what you were trying to avoid.

Welcome to DDO, by the way.

I can understand that, but I feel as though most people are just ignorant of the definition. Distancing yourself from a label out of fear of being grouped into surrounding unfitting labels is one thing, but doing the same thing out of ignorance borderlines on intellectual dishonesty.
I still feel as though one could remove themselves from surrounding unfitting labels by explaining their position in a little more depth. If someone is going to claim that they aren't part of a label or that they're part of a label, then they should know why. They should know well enough to explain it in a way that can be made clear to others. Maybe I'm just assuming people put more thought into their views than they really do.

Thanks for the welcome.

Most people are ignorant of etymology. And, to be fair, words CAN stray from their etymological origins. We COULD decide that agnostic was the proper term for those who neither believe, nor disbelieve. It's just that, etymologically and properly speaking, it wouldn't be right because theism and atheism should be mutually exclusive (Actually, I think it's another term that's escaping my cider-addled brain at the moment, but you get the point I'm making).

I think that a lot of people think that atheist is necessarily the positive negative assertion, what would "more properly" be called Positive, Hard, or Strong Atheism, i.e., the assertion that there is no god. They don't want to assert that, so they don't want to claim atheism.

Also, I'll echo Khaos's welcome!
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SkepticalStardust
Posts: 117
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1/25/2014 1:01:33 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Most people are ignorant of etymology. And, to be fair, words CAN stray from their etymological origins. We COULD decide that agnostic was the proper term for those who neither believe, nor disbelieve. It's just that, etymologically and properly speaking, it wouldn't be right because theism and atheism should be mutually exclusive (Actually, I think it's another term that's escaping my cider-addled brain at the moment, but you get the point I'm making).

I think that a lot of people think that atheist is necessarily the positive negative assertion, what would "more properly" be called Positive, Hard, or Strong Atheism, i.e., the assertion that there is no god. They don't want to assert that, so they don't want to claim atheism.

Also, I'll echo Khaos's welcome!

The general public's misunderstanding of what constitutes a positive claim really irks me, but I'm sure I'm ignorant of things that make others feel similarly.
Anyway, I agree with everything you've said. Thanks for the welcome.
That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." " Christopher Hitchens
Installgentoo
Posts: 1,420
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1/25/2014 1:22:51 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/24/2014 8:24:15 PM, SkepticalStardust wrote:

I understand that there is a stereotype of atheists being angry anti-theists and teenage rebels, but that doesn't change the definition of the word. It's like saying "I agree that abortion should be legal, but I'm not pro-choice".

Your username does nothing to counter that stereotype.

Let me clear up the definition for any of you that don't understand:
The word "atheism" comes from the Greek prefix "a", meaning without, and "theist", meaning having a belief in a supernatural deity. Atheism, therefore, literally means "without theistic belief". Atheism does not positively assert anything; rather, it is a statement of withheld belief.

Words aren't defined by etymology. Automobile means self-moving vehicle, for example. But it obviously isn't self moving. This is nothing more than special pleading for atheism to be defined in a way that more people can be included in the online angstheist club.

To put it even more simply, atheism does not say that there is no god, it just doesn't say that there is a god.

Same difference.
bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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1/25/2014 1:37:46 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/25/2014 1:22:51 AM, Installgentoo wrote:
At 1/24/2014 8:24:15 PM, SkepticalStardust wrote:

I understand that there is a stereotype of atheists being angry anti-theists and teenage rebels, but that doesn't change the definition of the word. It's like saying "I agree that abortion should be legal, but I'm not pro-choice".

Your username does nothing to counter that stereotype.

Wait, what? What about the uname "SkepticalStardust" implies that the user's an "angry anti-theists and teenage rebel"?

Let me clear up the definition for any of you that don't understand:
The word "atheism" comes from the Greek prefix "a", meaning without, and "theist", meaning having a belief in a supernatural deity. Atheism, therefore, literally means "without theistic belief". Atheism does not positively assert anything; rather, it is a statement of withheld belief.

Words aren't defined by etymology. Automobile means self-moving vehicle, for example. But it obviously isn't self moving. This is nothing more than special pleading for atheism to be defined in a way that more people can be included in the online angstheist club.

They are, however, defined by what they mean. Atheist simply means to lack the positive belief in a god.

There are two general main ways of looking at it, either where Theist and Atheist are mutually exclusive, or where Theist, Atheist, and Agnostic are mutually exclusive. I find the latter uncompelling, because there are people who have a belief, yet acknowledge a lack of knowledge.

I find it more compelling, and useful, to see theism and atheism as 2 ends of a spectrum, and agnostic/gnostic at 2 ends of a perpendicular spectrum. Thus, they're describing 2 things: whether one believes in a god, and whether one believes they know the answer.

The rational null hypothesis is the one which doesn't violate the principle of parsimony, however, that doesn't preclude a person from being an agnostic theist.

(There is a broader history lesson here I could provide on usage over time).

To put it even more simply, atheism does not say that there is no god, it just doesn't say that there is a god.

Same difference.

No, it isn't--and your lack of understanding of that should probably be unsurprising.

In the absence of the God proposition, we wouldn't need these terms at all. Yet there is a god proposition. The people who believe it to be true are theists. Those who lack that affirmative belief would, for simple and practical purposes, be A-theists. That doesn't mean they assert there is no god...it means they reject the justification for saying there IS one.
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Installgentoo
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1/25/2014 1:45:07 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/25/2014 1:37:46 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 1/25/2014 1:22:51 AM, Installgentoo wrote:
At 1/24/2014 8:24:15 PM, SkepticalStardust wrote:

I understand that there is a stereotype of atheists being angry anti-theists and teenage rebels, but that doesn't change the definition of the word. It's like saying "I agree that abortion should be legal, but I'm not pro-choice".

Your username does nothing to counter that stereotype.

Wait, what? What about the uname "SkepticalStardust" implies that the user's an "angry anti-theists and teenage rebel"?

r/atheism users always talk about how we're all stardust as if that makes us special, despite EVERYTHING being made of stardust because it's just carbon. Most r/atheism users are edgy teens. "Skeptical" implies there is skepticism in atheism, rather than it not just being a pop culture fad which people follow without having any reasons for their denial of God because they want to appear clever
bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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1/25/2014 1:55:07 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/25/2014 1:45:07 AM, Installgentoo wrote:
At 1/25/2014 1:37:46 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 1/25/2014 1:22:51 AM, Installgentoo wrote:
At 1/24/2014 8:24:15 PM, SkepticalStardust wrote:

I understand that there is a stereotype of atheists being angry anti-theists and teenage rebels, but that doesn't change the definition of the word. It's like saying "I agree that abortion should be legal, but I'm not pro-choice".

Your username does nothing to counter that stereotype.

Wait, what? What about the uname "SkepticalStardust" implies that the user's an "angry anti-theists and teenage rebel"?

r/atheism users always talk about how we're all stardust as if that makes us special, despite EVERYTHING being made of stardust because it's just carbon. Most r/atheism users are edgy teens. "Skeptical" implies there is skepticism in atheism, rather than it not just being a pop culture fad which people follow without having any reasons for their denial of God because they want to appear clever

So...because you're a bigot who holds other peoples actions against a person, therefore the user ID is stereotypical?

That's...not how that works.

The "Stardust" part doesn't necessarily have anything to do with r/atheism (and, for the record, you're missing the whole point of that, btw). Further, the rest of your bigoted lunacy is just, well, stupid. I still haven't decided if you're really an idiot, or just a troll, but first, it doesn't imply that there's skepticism in atheism, because the Uname says nothing about atheism specifically. Second, calling atheism a "pop culture fad which people follow without having any reasons for their denial of God because they want to appear clever" is stupid bigotry, because people ALWAYS have reasons, and presuming it's because they want to appear clever...well, I may as well say you're a believer because you hope to molest little boys. While some believers do that, and undoubtedly some atheists do just want to appear clever, such charges are stupid.

For the record, I'm an atheist, and I both am confident that I know more about religion than I can conclude from your posts, and am fairly positive that I have better reasons than you. The second may be subjective, I suppose, but the first has pretty solid evidence (I replied to another thread you were posting in...and you did not, when I pointed out something that went against your position that, if you actually had known about it, you would have addressed).

The inferences you draw are flatly unreasonable based on what you've provided.
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SkepticalStardust
Posts: 117
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1/25/2014 4:01:28 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/25/2014 1:22:51 AM, Installgentoo wrote:

Your username does nothing to counter that stereotype.

Skepticism isn't anti-religion. Granted, most skeptics aren't religious, but skepticism isn't exclusive to the nonreligious. I used "Skeptic" in my username because I try to be skeptical in all matters pertaining to knowledge. The "Stardust" in my username is a play on everything essentially being comprised of stardust, which also isn't exclusive to the nonreligious.

Words aren't defined by etymology. Automobile means self-moving vehicle, for example. But it obviously isn't self moving. This is nothing more than special pleading for atheism to be defined in a way that more people can be included in the online angstheist club.

Yes, automobile does basically mean self moving(It's designed as a vehicle, but that's not part of the etymology). I'm assuming that it's a reference to an automobiles ability to move via engines. They move without a need for an outside force to move them. It requires a driver, but that's not the conventional concept of one moving an object.

I've digressed a little. I don't have any intention of including more people in the atheist population. My argument was solely an etymological one.

Same difference.

The difference is that it's the rejection of a positive claim and not a positive claim itself. I'm assuming that there are plenty of assertions you don't accept as true.

Let's say you have a friend who believes in reptilian shapeshifters(Yes, some people believe in that) and you, I'm hoping, don't believe in them. Should the burden of proof fall on you to disprove them? No, your hypothetical friend is the one asserting something. The burden of proof rests on the shoulders of the individual making a positive claim. You don't believe there are no reptilian shapeshifters(because you can't for sure know that there aren't), you just don't believe there are any. Lack of belief is the default position. A cat is an atheist because a cat doesn't believe in deities. It doesn't get any more default than that.

Even if one absolutely refuses to accept this definition of the word, another can still explain this in depth as their worldview. Rejecting this definition for the word "atheist" doesn't eliminate the concept. It's just much simpler to accept this definition of the word.
That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." " Christopher Hitchens
AlbinoBunny
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1/25/2014 4:10:08 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/25/2014 1:45:07 AM, Installgentoo wrote:
At 1/25/2014 1:37:46 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 1/25/2014 1:22:51 AM, Installgentoo wrote:
At 1/24/2014 8:24:15 PM, SkepticalStardust wrote:

I understand that there is a stereotype of atheists being angry anti-theists and teenage rebels, but that doesn't change the definition of the word. It's like saying "I agree that abortion should be legal, but I'm not pro-choice".

Your username does nothing to counter that stereotype.

Wait, what? What about the uname "SkepticalStardust" implies that the user's an "angry anti-theists and teenage rebel"?

r/atheism users always talk about how we're all stardust as if that makes us special, despite EVERYTHING being made of stardust because it's just carbon.

Stardust is just carbon? Not everything is made of carbon, in fact, most things aren't.
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bladerunner060
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1/25/2014 11:54:35 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/25/2014 4:10:08 AM, AlbinoBunny wrote:
At 1/25/2014 1:45:07 AM, Installgentoo wrote:
At 1/25/2014 1:37:46 AM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 1/25/2014 1:22:51 AM, Installgentoo wrote:
At 1/24/2014 8:24:15 PM, SkepticalStardust wrote:

I understand that there is a stereotype of atheists being angry anti-theists and teenage rebels, but that doesn't change the definition of the word. It's like saying "I agree that abortion should be legal, but I'm not pro-choice".

Your username does nothing to counter that stereotype.

Wait, what? What about the uname "SkepticalStardust" implies that the user's an "angry anti-theists and teenage rebel"?

r/atheism users always talk about how we're all stardust as if that makes us special, despite EVERYTHING being made of stardust because it's just carbon.

Stardust is just carbon? Not everything is made of carbon, in fact, most things aren't.

Yeah, there was a lot of issues with his reply, and I dropped that one.

For the benefit of folks who don't know:

http://en.wikipedia.org...
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