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.


Dan +†+ said...

MW claims Atheism as

1 archaic : ungodliness, wickedness

2 a: a disbelief in the existence of deity 

b: the doctrine that there is no deity

So Atheism is ungodly wickedness that follows a doctrine of "no god" with a disbelief of God's existence.

That sounds accurate to me

Dan +†+ said...

If you want the end all definition of atheism just look at Mariano's (Atheism is dead) exhaustive essay on it.