Sunday, May 24, 2009

This is a comment I made in respone to Nathaniel on "Atheist Central."


     "'Atheist' is a term to describe someone who does not believe in gods. It is also used to describe someone who disbelieves in gods." [Emphasis in original]
     It is rather misleading to list the more common definition last. The way you have worded it, someone unfamiliar with usage might think that your preferred definition is more common. It is not.
     "This is not something just made up by atheists themselves."
     That is in dispute. Perhaps you would like to try evidence. You could quote several people (none of them atheists) talking about atheists in a manner that makes clear that they are using your definition. (I'm not holding my breath.) I don't think you can find any.
     "Seriously, give it up. You're starting to sound like Ray and his Crocoduck argument."
     Perhaps you should give it up. You already sound like Ray. And, as I have pointed out above, you have directly contradicted yourself. Furthermore, my definition is the one in more common use. Yours appears to be used only by people with an agenda. I suspect that you are frustrated because the facts are against you. So you tell me to go away.
     It might be interesting for you to try to find any instances of your preferred definition being used in a manner that clearly does not pursue an agenda. That would be seeking a counterexample to my claim. A dictionary listing does not fit the criterion will list all claimed uses. The writers are not using the definitions themselves; but are noting its usage elsewhere. In the case of your definition, that usage is invariably by people trying to impede the more common definition of the term.

******END OF MY COMMENT ON THE POST *************

     The dispute is fairly straightforward. He doesn't like that people use the word "atheist" in the common meaning of believing there are no gods. I regard the definition of "anyone who doesn't specificly believe in a god" (which would include infants -- indeed, most times I see that definition used is to say "really, even newborns?" in response to some generalization (warranted or unwarranted) someone has made about atheists) as contrived and deliberately disruptive of communication.
     "What I meant by the sentence you quoted what that I found your comments to be very hostile towards atheism, your definition of it, not mine."
     "I wrote, clearly, that you seemed hostile towards 'atheism' [quotes corrected] as a definition, not hostile against some of the people who could be described as atheists in particular."
     This is the self-contradiction to which I referred. I have no problem with atheism. It's individuals that want to include everything but the kitchen sink in the term (deliberate exaggeration here; I'm making a point) that upset me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Salt of the earth

     It amazes me that any people would want to think of themselves as "salt of the earth." Consider. Salting the earth was a highly destructive practice that it impossible to grow crops on the salted land for years. Even if we take it as spiritual symbolism, such a person must be spiritually destructive. It seems to me that certain religions carry direct warnings that they are harmful.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

On ridiculing ideas:

     I have seen some people quote Thomas Jefferson as saying, "Ridicule is he only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them." I don't know whether he actually said that. Either way, I disagree with the proposition. A proposition must be intelligible before one can ridicule it. An "unintelligible proposition" would be one that one could not determine any meaning behind. And there would be no point to ridicule.
     In actual usage, ridicule is used by people who don't want an idea considered, but are incapable of arguing against the idea. In essence, they find the idea challenges their indoctrination and they want it suppressed. For my part, I find those who use ridicule in place of argument to be useless to discussions. They contribute nothing.

UPDATE: Here is a site that brings my position into high relief. Interestingly, though it is not their intent, the people who use ridicule against christian ideas may as well be writing "Great post, Ray" to all of Ray Comfort's evolution posts. They are doing the same thing, even if they are not on the same side.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


     This is, of course, a response to the old lie SI VIS PACEM PARA BELLVM. I seem to remember hearing Einstein quoted as saying it is impossible simultaneously to prevent and prepare for war.