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Anlef
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011, 01:01 PM
(Notice: this discussion is not about the merits of any kind of atheism or theism, but simply intended to settle disputes over definitions.)


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The problem with the term atheism is that it’s so much of a mixed bag as to be virtually useless. It can be said that theists use the term indiscriminately, but on the other hand: atheists of all stripes often take advantage of the situation. It is, simply put, a smokescreen used by all sides.

There are the implicit atheists, who are simply people who haven’t put much thought yet on the matter of the divine. It is highly questionable whether there is any merit in labelling these people atheists, for when these people themselves are drawn into the discussion on (the existence of) any god, any implicitness instantly vanishes, as they will have no choice but to take position.

Then there are the explicit atheists, who are subdivided into: 1) strong atheists, a.k.a. positive atheists, who argue that no god exists, and 2) weak atheists, a.k.a. negative atheists, who do not argue that no god exists, but simply reject belief. The latter, it seems prudent, should rather be grouped under agnostics or should simply be labelled irreligious. Only the former, the explicit strong/positive atheists, are then actual atheists.

The use of the term atheism with regard to specific conceptions of God (e.g. “I’m a strong atheist regarding the Christian God.”) only serves to increase confusion, since strong atheism is usually already defined as the position that no god exists. It is akin to someone saying he is a vegetarian regarding pork, but open to eating beef. It defeats the purpose of having such a qualification in the first place. People who reject a specific conception of God but are open to other conceptions are simply not atheists.

Do (explicit strong/positive) atheists share a single worldview? That might be hard to say. They remain a mixed bag, as there are atheists who nevertheless believe in the supernatural, like of certain schools of Hinduism, and those who do not, who are committed naturalists or even materialists. Conversely, theists are a mixed bag, as there are monotheists and polytheists of different kinds. Of course, the term theism is often used specifically to refer to a certain kind of monotheism, but that is a matter of colloquial use. Strictly speaking, a theist is someone who believes in at least one god.

However, when we refer to atheists as a single socio-political force, we mean people with an atheist agenda; people who want to secularise society, as they feel religion should be placed under the authority of the state entirely, insisting there is not or should not be such a thing as divine rule. A subsection of these are the antitheists, who actively if not vehemently pursue the atheist agenda. Any agnostics, or theists for that matter, who sympathise with the atheist agenda, or even take part in its pursuit, simply show themselves to be practical atheists. For one who truly leaves open the possibility of the existence of any god will not organise society as if man is wholly autonomous. Conversely, any agnostics, or atheists for that matter, who sympathise with any theist agenda are practical theists of some sort.

Nebelwerfer
Friday, August 26th, 2011, 09:26 PM
An athiest is somebody who has considered the notion of a god and rejected it. I don't think it ever implies some political agenda.

Religion on the other hand is guilty as charged.

Lew Skannon
Friday, August 26th, 2011, 10:29 PM
An athiest is somebody who has considered the notion of a god and rejected it. I don't think it ever implies some political agenda.

Religion on the other hand is guilty as charged.

I disagree..
Atheism has its dogma and "priests" like for instance Dawkins. To be a non believer is a neutralterm, but being atheist or humanist has just as many properties as being a christian ot muslim.. Atheism in todays world is if possible even more politically loaded than being a radical christian.

On the other hand, a secular society is just a description of a society without any ethics or morals at all. Its like when liberal norwegians say that we have to separate between the political man and artist Knut Hamsun.. Utterly absurd!

Horagalles
Friday, August 26th, 2011, 10:34 PM
...Then there are the explicit atheists, who are subdivided into: 1) strong atheists, a.k.a. positive atheists, who argue that no god exists, and 2) weak atheists, a.k.a. negative atheists, who do not argue that no god exists, but simply reject belief. The latter, it seems prudent, should rather be grouped under agnostics or should simply be labelled irreligious. Only the former, the explicit strong/positive atheists, are then actual atheists....
It's actually quite easy:
1. Atheist: Someone who positively professes the believe that no god(s) exists.
2. Agnostic: Someone that isn't convinced of the existence of god or who believes that one can not know whether god exists or not.

Atheism is always a religious position, due to its dogmatic and sometimes even evangelical nature. Agnosticism on the other hand can be religious, but often is just disinterest in the subject.

Nebelwerfer
Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 01:13 AM
Despite popular culture, I think I'll stick to my dictionary definition of athiest as simply "somebody who doesn't believe in a god."

There may be athiests who like to rail against religions, but thats just their choice.

Hevneren
Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 02:18 AM
I disagree..
Atheism has its dogma and "priests" like for instance Dawkins. To be a non believer is a neutralterm, but being atheist or humanist has just as many properties as being a christian ot muslim.. Atheism in todays world is if possible even more politically loaded than being a radical christian.

On the other hand, a secular society is just a description of a society without any ethics or morals at all. Its like when liberal norwegians say that we have to separate between the political man and artist Knut Hamsun.. Utterly absurd!

You've bought into the definition of Atheism as given by Christian apologists. Of course, they will say that Atheism is "dogmatic" and "religious", to delegitimise it. However, to call Atheism a religion or dogma is just as absurd as to call "bald" a hair colour.

It's simply intellectually dishonest to redefine Atheism based on what the Theists believe it means, because they will have ulterior motives for distorting the meaning of the word. In addition, it's a slippery slope (especially for Theists) to redefine words based on what one or more misguided "devotees" believe. If Christians can define Atheism by pointing at a person who "rejects God" because he's angry, and has no logical reasons for being an Atheist, then we non-believers can redefine Christianity by pointing to the Crusades, the Inquisition, Harold Camping, the Flat Earthers, the Westboro Baptist Church or any other fringe groups and define "Christisanity" purely based on these groups.

Furthermore, the absurdity of calling disbelief religious and dogmatic, is a slippery slope argument in that we as non-believers can point at all the gods and religions that a Christian doesn't believe in, and call that disbelief a religion.

sGT25Oj-6rc

Hevneren
Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 02:36 AM
It's actually quite easy:
1. Atheist: Someone who positively professes the believe that no god(s) exists.
2. Agnostic: Someone that isn't convinced of the existence of god or who believes that one can not know whether god exists or not.

Atheism is always a religious position, due to its dogmatic and sometimes even evangelical nature. Agnosticism on the other hand can be religious, but often is just disinterest in the subject.


How on Earth can Atheism be a religious position? What tenants are there in Atheism? What scriptures are there? What Atheist churches are there? Again, a lack of a belief in something cannot be a belief in and of itself, and to redefine a word like Atheism to mean something else, doesn't change that fact.

There are of course those who call themselves Atheists but don't understand the meaning of the word. However, to base your interpretation of a word on those who fail to understand what it means to be an Atheist, is actually damaging those who hold such a position, because in that case anyone can define any word they like by anyone who chooses to interpret that word as they wish. If I want the word "table" to mean "chair", and I sit on a table as if it were a chair, it wouldn't turn tables into chairs. In the same sense, if people want "Atheism" to mean whatever they want, that's not how it works.

Schopenhauer
Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 03:05 AM
All you are talking about here are just different points of view. Some think life was created deliberately and with purpose by divine beings, while others think life is just a simple chemical process devoid of any meaning.

The thing with both of these points of view is that they are both human inventions.

Hevneren
Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 03:54 AM
All you are talking about here are just different points of view. Some think life was created deliberately and with purpose by divine beings, while others think life is just a simple chemical process devoid of any meaning.

The thing with both of these points of view is that they are both human inventions.

Well, there's a tendency to mix belief and lack of belief, with evidence. These are not one and the same.

For example, in order to be an intellectually honest Atheist, you should rely on evidence in order to counter beliefs like Creationism in an accurate and sound way. The simple lack of belief in a god is not evidence in and of itself, just as the simple belief in a god is not evidence of something like Creationism.

When we speak about evidence, I think few intellectually honest Atheists would claim to know the meaning of life or how exactly life was formed, since the former (meaning) is a philosophical argument and cannot be proven either way by science, and the latter (origins) has no scientific explanation as of yet.

However, an Atheist can point to evidence in favour of evolution, in order to debunk claims made by Creationists. Wherever there is actual evidence, we don't need belief.

Schopenhauer
Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 04:18 AM
Theism, like atheism, are just philosophical stances. No more or less valid than any other.

Ultimately what atheism and theism come down to is just one person wanting to impose his/her worldview on another.

EQ Fighter
Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 05:15 AM
However, when we refer to atheists as a single socio-political force, we mean people with an atheist agenda; people who want to secularise society, as they feel religion should be placed under the authority of the state entirely, insisting there is not or should not be such a thing as divine rule. A subsection of these are the antitheists, who actively if not vehemently pursue the atheist agenda.

Yeah that is pretty much Madeline Murray O'Hair.

Meaning the kind of Marxist most Americans would just love to see stood up and pumped full of lead.

Not because of their Belief or disbelieving in God but because of their rabid support of Cultural Marxism.

I personally do not care what you believe or disbelieve in, but if you attempt to use the F-ing STATE to advance it YOU NEED TO be STOPPED, by any-means necessary. Including but not limited to deadly FORCE.

Hevneren
Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 05:23 AM
Theism, like atheism, are just philosophical stances. No more or less valid than any other.

Ultimately what atheism and theism come down to is just one person wanting to impose his/her worldview on another.

I agree with the first sentence, but not with the second one. To simply believe or disbelieve in something, isn't the same as wanting to impose that belief or disbelief on someone else.

Horagalles
Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 09:10 AM
How on Earth can Atheism be a religious position?
How can one claim that it is anything else.
A belief statement is made on gods or the supernatural - that's enough.
Atheists often deny that theirs is a religion in order to gain a priviledged position in debate or politics.
In a debate they'll claim that theirs is a rational stance, while in politics they'd deny the religious nature of their views so that they can disseminate them in public schools etc..
They'd however change their stance, when it suits them like in the case of
Kaufman v. McCaughtry.
http://law-journals-books.vlex.com/vid/atheism-perspectives-constitutional-meaning-56727706 (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Flaw-journals-books.vlex.com%2Fvid%2Fatheism-perspectives-constitutional-meaning-56727706)


What tenants are there in Atheism?
That there is no god(s).


What scriptures are there?
There is a vast amount of literature published and believed by atheists. The tenant I mentioned is however the fundamental dogma and that does suffice. And presence of scripture isn't a requirement for being a religion.


What Atheist churches are there?
There are several atheist fellowships, clubs, societies etc. which are based on their members shared belief in atheism. Also see the link above on Kaufman I provided.
And presence of fellowship isn't a requirement for being a religion.


Again, a lack of a belief in something cannot be a belief in and of itself, and to redefine a word like Atheism to mean something else, doesn't change that fact.
Atheism is more then just "lack of belief".


There are of course those who call themselves Atheists but don't understand the meaning of the word.
You mean like you? You yourself named "Atheist" under religion on your user profile!


However, to base your interpretation of a word on those who fail to understand what it means to be an Atheist, is actually damaging those who hold such a position, because in that case anyone can define any word they like by anyone who chooses to interpret that word as they wish. If I want the word "table" to mean "chair", and I sit on a table as if it were a chair, it wouldn't turn tables into chairs. In the same sense, if people want "Atheism" to mean whatever they want, that's not how it works.
But there is something like semantics and Atheism has a clear definition and that's holding the belief that there is no God. That already is a stance on the supernatural, but quite usually atheists have views more elaborate then that and groups of them do share them.

Hamar Fox
Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 10:50 AM
How can one claim that it is anything else.
A belief statement is made on gods or the supernatural - that's enough.
Atheists often deny that theirs is a religion in order to gain a priviledged position in debate or politics.

Atheism isn't an inherently positive position. Religion is. In places like Britain where you can easily go years without meeting any kind of weirdo religious dogmatist, most atheists simply pay no mind to God or the concept of God. You can't argue that these are religious people. Their (tacitly held) philosophical position doesn't extert itself 24/7 on their everyday perspective, or even exert itself in keeping rival viewpoints at bay. It's simply dormant.


In a debate they'll claim that theirs is a rational stance, while in politics they'd deny the religious nature of their views so that they can disseminate them in public schools etc..

'Atheism' isn't taught in schools. Just rational and scientific facts about the world that by virtue of their rationality are more consistent with atheism than theism.


There are several atheist fellowships, clubs, societies etc. which are based on their members shared belief in atheism. Also see the link above on Kaufman I provided.
And presence of fellowship isn't a requirement for being a religion.
Atheism is more then just "lack of belief".

This is largely an American phenomenon. Nobody in Britain feels the need to belong to an atheist club or any such silly thing. I imagine some losers have noticed the US trend and jumped on the bandwagon, as we sadly do with all things American. But, to be honest, I can sort of understand the plight of American atheists. I certainly get annoyed when I read the stupidities of the religious online. I can only imagine the torment of living in a nation (like the US) absolutely swamped in the dung of religious thinking. I mean, I can just turn off my computer and have a nap, but they have to deal with it in real life, probably every single day.


But there is something like semantics and Atheism has a clear definition and that's holding the belief that there is no God. That already is a stance on the supernatural, but quite usually atheists have views more elaborate then that and groups of them do share them.

It's fairly easy to disprove the existence of God as defined by any orthodox religious group. I argue against supernaturalism quite often because illogic irritates me. But this isn't inherent to atheism. It's my choice. Something to kill time doing when bored. You don't hear from the atheists who couldn't care less what other people think (and I don't care that much either, but it is a good way to pass the time).

Hevneren
Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 11:29 AM
How can one claim that it is anything else.
A belief statement is made on gods or the supernatural - that's enough.
Atheists often deny that theirs is a religion in order to gain a priviledged position in debate or politics.
In a debate they'll claim that theirs is a rational stance, while in politics they'd deny the religious nature of their views so that they can disseminate them in public schools etc..
They'd however change their stance, when it suits them like in the case of
Kaufman v. McCaughtry.
http://law-journals-books.vlex.com/vid/atheism-perspectives-constitutional-meaning-56727706 (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Flaw-journals-books.vlex.com%2Fvid%2Fatheism-perspectives-constitutional-meaning-56727706)

A lack of a belief in something isn't the same as a positive belief. You need a positive belief in order to have anything resembling a religion. You can't build a religion on Atheism anymore than you could build a religion around the lack of a belief in unicorns.


That there is no god(s).

No, there's no intellectually honest Atheist who says he or she knows with absolute certainty that there is no god, and even if that were the case, it could hardly be described as a religious tenant.


There is a vast amount of literature published and believed by atheists. The tenant I mentioned is however the fundamental dogma and that does suffice. And presence of scripture isn't a requirement for being a religion.

Correct, there are books written for and by Atheists, but simply because Atheists write books on their disbelief or on religion, it doesn't make these books dogmatic religious texts. Not only is it nonsensical to state that all books that cater to people with a belief or lack of belief is inherently religious, but it's also presumptuous to label such books as dogmatic in nature.

The great thing about (most) Atheists is that rather than encourage dogmatic and blind faith over reason, they tend to encourage skepticism and the pursuit of evidence. It boggles the mind why you think that books written by people like Dawkins, are equal to books like the Bible, Torah, Quran etc.


There are several atheist fellowships, clubs, societies etc. which are based on their members shared belief in atheism. Also see the link above on Kaufman I provided.
And presence of fellowship isn't a requirement for being a religion.

So, because people meet in groups, it's automatically a church or religious meeting? Do thy meet in these "Atheist churches" to discuss their "dogmatic tenant" of a lack of a belief in a god or gods? :D


Atheism is more then just "lack of belief".

Actually, no it isn't. The most honest definition of Atheism is the lack of a belief in a god or gods. The only reason that the word even exists, is because of the existence of religion, hence we refer to ourselves as Atheists to distance ourselves from religious viewpoints.


You mean like you? You yourself named "Atheist" under religion on your user profile!

A little early for the ad hominems, don't you think? I've been perfectly reasonable with you, and already now you're accusing me of not being intellectually dishonest! Putting in "Atheism" under religion is pretty much like writing "None", and earlier I'd written "Non-religious".


But there is something like semantics and Atheism has a clear definition and that's holding the belief that there is no God. That already is a stance on the supernatural, but quite usually atheists have views more elaborate then that and groups of them do share them.

Atheists don't hold a belief that there are no gods, they lack a belief in a god or gods. And yes, a lack of a belief in the supernatural can be considered a stance, but it's not right to label a lack of a belief as a belief.