Skeptic - it's the new atheist and it's already a dirty word. A better word to describe me might be thinker. Skeptic seems to imply a person who questions without thought; it's the antithesis of believer and really just as bad.

Anyone else agree?

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It does get muddy when you think that climate change deniers are called skeptics.

Indeed... thanks for that Susan! This is precisely the sort of thing I mean.

You beat me to that one Susan. STANKO!!!

I agree with you there Marc. It doesn't sound like a word an atheist would come up with to describe themselves, because it basically uses being religious as the default. So someone who believes in deities is a believer, and someone who doesn't is a skeptic/un-believer? It's absurd. A (believer) friend of mine asked me if I was a skeptic once when I told him I didn't believe in a god. I was thrown a little off - what does that mean, that I am just being too hesitant to believe something that should be believed? I said that there were skeptics of many different sorts, that someone could be skeptical of really any claim whatsoever so to say that I was a skeptic was far too vague. In philosophy a skeptic usually (I think) refers to a specific set of epistemological beliefs only, such that they do not believe that knowledge of any sort is possible, whereas those of us who happen to think that knowledge is possible (most of us, me included) were NOT skeptics. On that particular question, I am a foundationalist (someone who thinks that knowledge is based on a causal chain which begins with experiences), not a skeptic.

 

The term atheist is itself a pretty awkward word to use to describe our beliefs (http://www.atheistnexus.org/forum/topics/atheism-is-an-unfortunate-...).

 

What "our beliefs" come down to is this: we reject the notion that faith-based beliefs can in any way shape or form be included under the umbrella of reason-based beliefs. We therefore reject all faith-based claims out of hand. Calling ourselves "rationalists" doesn't help, because everyone thinks they are being reasonable. "Humanists" only applies to ethical concerns, and not all atheists consider themselves humanists. Naturalist is ok. Realist sounds as bad as rationalist. We do not have really terrific options it seems. Atheist works just fine for me.

non belief, atheist as a description has no real meaning...its an umbrella statement that I include myself in most certainlty but rather to friends and to be honest if I really was in close confidence would say a non believer. I dont want to be a part of something that espouses a creed... rather a group of rationalists who everyday has a smart of eluquent thought experiment...without the idea of god, race exploitation, divine explanation, but just and right ways.

No, it's not. Questioning is probably the best method of determining truth. Frankly, you're not wrong on this, you're not even wrong.  Now, that said, skepticism is a specific kind of questioning.  It's all about asking the right questions and not believing anyone until they provide sufficient empirical evidence.  Just because some people abuse the word skepticism doesn't make skepticism a bad word.

Skeptic, like atheist, is a perfectly acceptable word when used correctly. It is foolish to blame the word for what the ignorant take it to mean. Skeptic means only that one withholds judgment until there is sufficient evidence to decide. It is simple. There is no other word in English that suffices. Atheist simply means that a person has answered "no" to the question "Are there gods?" There is no more to it than that. How believers define these words comes from ignorance, nothing more.

Hi Marc,

Nice topic, it caught my eye immediately. 

For me it depends on the sceptic. But in general I have a negative opinion of sceptics. As I love dichotomies I'll group them into two groups. 

 

Sceptics who know a lot about a particular subject and call Bullsh*t when they hear something they think doesn't make sense. 

Sceptics who know nothing about a particular subject and call Bullsh*t when they hear something they think doesn't make sense. 

 

Personally, if I hear something that doesn't make sense, I'll Google it and look it up on Wikipedia. Then I'll ask them to clarify their position. If I disagree with their clarification I'll explain why I disagree and give an explanation as to why I disagree. But I find a lot of sceptics will give no reason what so ever as to why they disagree with something, other than 'the onus is on you'.

Another problem with most sceptics I've seen, is they don't stop at 'the onus is on you', they feel a need to continue and to ridicule. I think they do this because of Thomas Jefferson's quote "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions" Personally I think this type of behaviour will only make the situation worse. It forces people into opposing dichotomies. Us vs them. 

Skeptic seems to imply a person who questions without thought

I'd say this is pretty much how I see sceptics. 


Skeptic to me means one who acknowledges a core belief (in religion or another matter) but is starting to question or questions that belief.  If one is skeptical about religion they would be an atheist in training or in the formative years. I would resent being called a skeptic as I've struggled long and hard to finally arrive as an atheist.  

Skepticism is about the methodology that you apply to a subject before forming conclusions about it. If you question the arguments and critically examine them, or at least if you attempt to do so, you are a skeptic. 

Skepticism however (unfortunately) is not about the end result of your though process, it only describes the methodology of the thought process itself. There are people that are religious that consider themselves to be skeptical, as well as that there are new-age spiritualists and alien abduction believers that see themselves as skeptic. 

A skeptic is in my opinion a person that attempts to validate a truth claim as critically as possible to determine with the highest amount of certainty possible whether a statement is true or false. I don't think that being a skeptic is to question without thought, I think that the questions are to direct your thoughts.

A NEW WORD IS NEEDED TO EMPHASISE OUR WORLD VIEW

It would be helpful to find a new word to use alongside 'atheist' and 'atheism'.

It was believers with their fictional God who devised the word theist (thereby setting it up as the supposedly 'correct' default position) and they subsequently invented their hate words 'atheist' and 'atheism'.

By contrast, we follow the proven, scientific understanding of the universe and the evolution of life.

These fundamental and universal facts should be repeatedly declared as the basis of the true default situation, because what we all support is the scientific world view.

We are pro-science and we are proud of it. The religious superstitionists---the supernaturalists, the supernats---take an anti-scientific stance within their limited ring-fenced world view. That is to say, their world view is ascientific.

So let's search for, or invent, a new word that plainly exposes their indefensible ascientism. 

For example, if we are naturalists, then religionists are anaturalist and non-naturalist in their anaturalism and non-naturalism. Let's now improve on these initial suggestions please. 

Hey Terence,

ascientific

Constantly referring to them as ascientific would be a good start. It would force them into a indefensible position. It annuls their theism by not making any reference to it, and forces them to scientifically prove their beliefs if they criticize the word ascientific when used in reference to them.

 

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