I don't know about the rest of you but I am of the mind that Atheism needs a new definition. I think we need to get away from the word "BELIEF" as much as humanly possible. Belief for us I think sends the wrong connotation and message because "RELIGION" is far too closely, attached to the word as well. "Belief, and Religion" are semantical cousins when it comes to how people interpret their meanings...no matter how many times you try and use the standard cold definition of each word. I think we need a new way to define atheism in a very short concise sentence as much as possible.

The definition of Atheism as it currently stands is as follows; Atheism: "The BELIEF that there is no GOD; DENIAL of the existence of a supreme being.

Atheist: A person who BELIEVES there is no god.

You do see the inherent problems with the words contained in these definitions?

They suggest that WE as ATHEIST's are simply in denial that there is a GOD.

First, I do not think any of us DENY there is a GOD. We state there is NO GOD. PERIOD.

We simply have not been convinced there has been any empirical, logical, or physical evidence proving the existence of a supernatural deity that is the existential driving force behind existence of the universe and mankind.

So my new definition of ATHEISM goes as follows:

ATHEISM: the stated contention that there is no empirical, logical, or physical evidence proving the existence of any supernatural deity that is the existential driving force behind the existence of the universe and mankind.

In my view...my definition lends far more credence to our hold that ATHEISM is more philosophy than religion. And like I said it eliminated the words commonly associated with religious minded persons. So that when you state your an ATHEIST and defend it...you don't use the word BELIEF. Because this to me is where the battleground truly is in society. Because the idea itself, the concept simply while it is the most fundamental and important..is just not how humans interpret and think about such matters. Different words true do not always convey different meaning because they are dependent on context...but different words convey different connotations different thoughts..different arguments..and may thusly lead people to new ways of thinking about religion/GOD. Which is what I think our point is...THINK. JUST THINK. That's all we want you to do, THINK. No more no less, you don't have to get up off the couch.

Tags: belief, re-defining atheism

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What is there to "not believe in" than?
We are simply not attributing existence in reality to the concept of cold fusion.

Cosmologists have hypothesized the existence of superstrings. They may or may not exist -- it will be difficult to prove. But simply because people can conceive of them does not confer on them any ontological status.
"for purposes of discussion, they do exist. They exist in our minds and in the believers' minds--but nowhere else. That's the point here. Imaginary beings exist as concepts. Therefore, the fact is this: there is something not to believe. Indeed"

Atheists are not denying they exist in our minds or in the believers minds, nor are they denying beings exist as concepts. What many atheist DO deny is that deities exist in reality, outside of concept, independent of our minds. And if deities really do not exist in reality as we don't believe they do, outside of concept, independent of our minds, then we are lacking our subject matter to disbelieve in. Because the the subject matter doesn't exist, there is no subject matter.

Same goes for Hamlet, the Cyclops, and Br'er Rabbit.

Now I do agree that we can deny their "claim," which we can do because their claim DOES exist, there is the "claim" to actually deny. I think the problem I have is semantic, a language challenge. I think we do agree, we just don't agree on how to best relay our position or lack of position on the issue.
TJ Morgan wrote on December 20 Atheists are not denying they exist in our minds or in the believers minds, nor are they denying beings exist as concepts. What many atheist DO deny is that deities exist in reality, outside of concept, independent of our minds. And if deities really do not exist in reality as we don't believe they do, outside of concept, independent of our minds, then we are lacking our subject matter to disbelieve in. Because the the subject matter doesn't exist, there is no subject matter.

You have a misconception about language. It is not necessary that the subject of a proposition exist in reality. It is not even necessary that it could possibly exist. “A square circle cannot be drawn” is perfectly good English.

In the same way, “I do not believe in any gods” does not require that gods exist in order to make sense.
I try to avoid the use of the the verb to believe, I tend toward three possibilities, to accept, to reject, or to be skeptical of, depending on what the particular idea is. I accept the natural, reject the supernatural and am skeptical of extraterrestrials. I accept the natural because there is realistic evidence of such, reject the supernatural because there is no realistic evidence of such, and am skeptical of extraterrestrials because what evidence of such is not totally realistic.
I believe I do not believe in god(s). :) sorry couldn't resist.

I can partially see TJ's point of view, however the posts and points provided by George and Don are logical,valid, and proven by fact of defining definitions.

Saying I don't believe Atlantis exists doesn't give any claim as to say I'm denying the lost city could exist, I'm denying the idea or notion that the fable city was anything more than literature.

Communication is a wonderful thing and progresses with man's understanding of the universe around him.
It's also a great source of confusion and frustration when others can't feel or know what you are trying to say or convey to them.

I know I didn't contribute much to this eternal debate, just wanted a brief reminder that we are powerful enough beings to have such communication available to us.
Don: Language is a human miracle. In the last 10,000 years, we have gained dominion (natural, not biblical) over earthly life by the power of our minds. And our mind's greatest tool is language, because it has been through linguistic communication that we have marshalled and asserted our collective power.

Writing is the highest form of language. Writing is thought made visible, made transmittable. The great British novelist (and freethinker), E.M. Forster, once wrote, "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?"


This is precisely why I detest 'net / IM / SMS shorthand, and have an especially venomous hatred of smilies. It's corrupting our language. People counter that with it being normal and healthy linguistic evolution. Bullshit, its devolving.

Loss of linguistic depth and breadth => loss of ability to understand complex concepts => loss of ability to think critically and analytically => loss of ability to think

We have just bred a generation of retards that can't even construct simple formal sentences. These people will eventually reach the age where they enter the political arena. This is scary.

It does have its upside - employers are far more eager to hire a mid 40's guy like me ahead of younger kids who's paper qualifications bury me (personally, I wouldn't wipe my arse with their degrees - there's nothing more dangerous than a high distinction hotshot in the real world, especially in IT)

20 years ago, once you hit 40 you were a has been. Not any more, thanks to this corruption of language.

T-shirt slogan: "Fuck the whales, save the language"
Men of knowledge are the first to admit they have much to learn. I view myself as a man of language. I have much to learn and can evolve my communications skills several fold, as I continue to try to accomplish.

Texting letters really agitate me as well. It's being lazy nothing else and only shows the irresponsibility of young humans. It doesn't help we have commercials support these acts of sloth. I even know someone who spoke like that because she texted so much. Tried to explain to her the obvious fact that a letter and a single syllable take the same amount of time to speak. So not only was she being lazy but ignorant as well.

Overall, however the masses of the world are more educated when it comes to communication. More people can speak and write than any generations in the past.
Yet with this mass understanding of communication there are people who still choose to "de-evolve" as Felch puts it.

Just as I try to see everyone's perspective, I agree there are groups of people taking modern communication for granite. But overall the evolution of communication is undeniable and hopefully it's continual evolution will lead to the extinction of miss-understanding with not believing in something.
This is a very interesting discussion. Here are my thoughts.

Atheism is a belief. We can never know anything with certainty.

Atheism is not merely a lack of belief. If it was, then inanimate objects would be atheists.

If you want to describe atheism without using the word belief, you could say that it is rejecting the idea that gods exist.

Atheism also includes a set of positive beliefs, which necessarily follow from rejecting the idea that gods exist.

These include the beliefs that we as natural beings are responsible for discovering the nature of reality, and for deciding how best to live together ethically.

And it usually also includes shared beliefs about the usefulness of rational thinking, science and secular society.

I don't think we should hide from the word atheist.

We should defend and promote it with integrity and pride.
Don, I understand where you are coming from with this.

Many atheists today choose to interpret the word "atheism" to mean simply a lack of belief. This interpretation has its uses in, for example, shifting the burden of proof in debates. But I believe that this is a mistake, both etymologically and practically.

THE LABEL

The idea that atheism is not a belief is based on breaking the word "atheism" into "a-" (meaning absence of) and "-theism" (meaning belief in a god).

But that is not how the word evolved. The word "theism" did not exist when the word "atheism" entered the English language.

The word "atheism" began as "atheos" (meaning godless, in ancient Greek). The "-ism" was later added onto it (or, technically, "-isme", in French, before being translated into English).

The correct breakdown is "athe-" (from godless) and "-ism" (meaning, broadly, a set of related beliefs about something).

Etymologically, atheism is a set of related beliefs about godlessness, or the absence of gods. It is the "-ism" of godlessness, not the "a-" of theism.

THE CONCEPT

More importantly, the concept of atheism (the idea that the label points to) is in practical terms a belief system.

Atheism exists within our minds, along with our other beliefs. The concept loses its usefulness, and arguably becomes meaningless, if we stretch it to apply to inanimate objects.

In practical terms, atheism and theism only become real issues when a thinking being becomes aware of the idea that gods may or may not exist, and forms one or more beliefs about whether or not the idea is true.

It is true that the atheist response involves an absence of believing that gods exist. But that does not mean that we have a complete absence of any beliefs about the idea of the existence of gods.

Atheists differ in how we define our atheism, and each of these self-definitions is a reflection of our many individual beliefs.

Even the assertion that "atheism is not a belief" is itself a belief. It is one of the many beliefs that fall within the category of related beliefs that together is "atheism".

USING THE WORD

I agree with you on this point, Don.

In the long term, the best way to remove those pejorative connotations is to gradually incorporate the word atheism into normal discourse. In doing this, we have to judge every circumstance on its own merits.
There is nothing wrong with the word believe. I believe Tokyo is in Japan. I believe that cats have tails. I believe that beliefs need to be the subject of justifying evidence. What exactly is wrong with any of the three previous sentences?
This thread has turned out to be far greater than I imangined.

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