Tag Archives: definition

I don’t reject your god.

I simply don’t think your god exists.

This is a subtle but very important difference, which a lot of theists either don’t understand or refuse to understand.

There is a third option why some theists insist that atheists are “rejecting god” it is that they can not comprehend that not everyone believes in their god. They think that everyone believes there is a god but are just lying to themselves when they say they don’t. The reason for this I surmise is that the theist is worried that the atheist might be right (which we are by the way 🙂 ) and therefore their whole belief system, and for some their whole way of life, is a fabrication and a lie (which it is by the way 🙂 ).

So why discuss this topic, again?

Well I came across this site yesterday and posted a reply to the post Is Atheism a Crutch? , in which I thought I had clearly spelt out the definition of an atheist and thus the reason why the whole concept of their post was wrong (my comment is near the end). The author of the post stated this:

Perhaps atheists are rejecting God because they’ve had a bad relationship with their father.

Which is a Straw Man of the highest order. Atheists don’t reject god they just don’t think god(s) exists (hard to reject something that doesn’t exist), secondly the author’s reason for the rejection is just wrong on so many levels.

Well it seemed that my simple explanation for disagreeing (my comment starts “What utter tosh…”) with the author’s post, and particularly with the authors definition of atheism, wasn’t simple or logical enough.

A person by the name of MrSprinkleFingers replied to my comment with, well this:

@OzAtheist

One red chip. One green chip. One blue chip. None of which have an inscribed value. The poker players in Game A decide to assign $1 to the red, $2 to the green, and $5 to the blue. The poker players in Game B decide to assign $10 to the red, $20 to the green, and $50 to the blue. Which group of poker players has assigned the correct value to the poker chips? The question is non-sensical because it assumes a “correct” value exists when none, in fact, does. What matters is that when the poker players of Game A and Game B decide play together that they come to a common agreement on what the value of each color chip will be. Likewise with the word “atheist.”

There exists no innate or “correct” meaning to the token “atheist.” There only exists the meanings which groups of people have assigned to the word. Hence, it makes no sense to speak of atheist as having a “correct” or “incorrect” meaning.

To go a step further, because Koukl’s definition of atheist as being one who rejects god(s) is indeed the common usage, it stands to reason that the popular definition of atheism being propagated by atheists on the Internet stands outside the norm. Thus, for practical reasons, it makes more sense to employ the common definition rather than some convenient definition created and defended with a horrendous etymological argument to avoid the responsibility assigned to all participants of a conversation via the Cooperative Principle.

I tried posting the following reply but the site wouldn’t take my comment, I suspect it may be too long? So I decide to post my reply here.


Lot’s of nice big words there @MrSprinkleFingers but I will still have to disagree with you.

For a start Greg Koukl, who I’d never heard of until I read you comment, is a Christian apologist, therefore HIS definition of atheist does NOT constitute the common use of the term. As is often the case with religious apologetics they create there own definitions for words in order to either demonise others, or to try and rationalise their own beliefs. This does not make their definition correct or the one that is in common use, unless you are talking about in common use amongst religious apologetics who are attempting to win arguments by changing the definitions of words?

I would believe a dictionary or wikipedia before I would believe any religious apologetic when it comes to defining a word.

a·the·ism [ey-thee-iz-uhm]
-noun
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheism

see, nothing about “rejecting” in those definitions. This is by far the more common usage for the term atheism, particularly amongst atheists.

The Atheist Foundation of Australia, of which not surprisingly I’m a member, uses this to define atheism:

“ATHEISM

is the acceptance that there is no credible scientific or factually reliable evidence for the existence of a god, gods or the supernatural.”

The problem with religious apologetics using the definition of the word atheism as meaning “one who rejects god(s)” is that it implies that atheists actually believe god(s) exist, which is not the case.

Oh, and your whole first paragraph is irrelevant nonsense. There is a vast difference between assigning values to something (poker chips) and defining a word. A poker chip is still a poker chip, no matter what dollar value you assign to it everyone will still know what a poker chip is. Equally with any other word, it has a standard definition which is commonly accepted. In the case of the term ‘atheism’ it is generally held to mean “the absence of belief that any deities exist” (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism ), or similar as shown above, NOT “rejecting god(s)”.

It should be noted that the word “reject” is used on the wikipedia page, however unlike Koukl’s totally incorrect definition “one who rejects god(s)”, the term is used as follows: “the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.” Note the difference, which is subtle (perhaps too subtle for some) but important, Koukl’s definition is implying that god(s) exist (and that atheists know this), whereas wikipedia’s definition does not.

Like a lot of words, their meaning and definitions can change slightly over the years, dictionaries will regularly update accordingly, currently atheism is defined around the concept that atheists consider that there are no gods.

Oh, and don’t start on the term belief it doesn’t mean what you probably think it means when used in the contexts above.

MrSprinkleFingers your “logic” (using the term very loosely) is rather bad. You state that “it makes no sense to speak of atheist as having a “correct” or “incorrect” meaning.” but then state “Koukl’s definition … is indeed the common usage” on who’s authority is Koukl’s definition the correct one? Certainly not any atheist’s that I know of. Then you state the following “it stands to reason that the popular definition of atheism being propagated by atheists on the Internet stands outside the norm.” erm how? If a popular definition of a word is being propagated by it’s adherents (and backed up by dictionary definitions!) wouldn’t that make it the norm rather than some obscure religious apologetic’s definition? Your logic MrSprinkleFingers fails again. Your last sentence is utter semantic nonsense, lots of big words but all you are trying to say is “use my definition not yours” – despite Koukl’s definition being wrong and not in common use like you (alone) assert.

If you want to cooperate try using the correct definition of the terms atheist and atheism (ie. acceptance that there are no gods) NOT your incorrect demonising definition that implies atheists know that god exists but are ‘rejecting’ him because of whatever reason (we hate him, or he did something bad to us, or whatever ridiculous argument you come up with to try and rationalise in your head that ‘atheists reject god’, because you can’t accept that, unlike yourself, not all of us are deluded into the belief that god exists).

All these words and I just realised that’s basically what I wrote in my first post! MrSprinkleFingers I think you will find that this comment only further backs up my original assertion: “If an atheist has confidence [and I do] that god(s) do not exists, or confidence that the likelihood of god(s) existing is so remote as to make them non-existent, then how is it possible for an atheist to be worried about “the frightening implications of God’s existence”?”

So, can you answer my original question?

One last thing, please stop propagating your incorrect definition of the term atheism.

I think you will find that the correct term for atheism is something along the lines of number 2 of the online dictionary “disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings”, and yes it does make sense to use the term “correct” as that is the definition in various dictionaries and internet reference sites which adheres to what atheists actually think and which is most commonly used (except for some religious apologetics who are using an incorrect definition for their own nefarious reasons).


I attempted to post a link to this page on the ‘Stand to Reason‘ blog, but that wasn’t accepted either,  perhaps there is a fault on that blog at the moment. I got the following in an error dialogue box:

We’re sorry, we cannot accept this data

Please let me know if you think I have incorrectly defined the terms atheist and atheism, or if any of my logic is wrong. But be prepared to back up your claims with evidence.

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