It's probably true to say that words like 'theist' and 'theism' were invented by, and first used by, theists; and that words equivalent to 'god' must have been invented by story-tellers faraway in ancient times. 
   The Oxford English Dictionary defines 'God' in its pre-christian senses as "A superhuman person (regarded as masculine} who is worshipped as having power over nature and the fortunes of mankind; 
and in the christian and monotheistic sense as "The one object of supreme adoration; the Creator and Ruler of the Universe". 
   For  'theism' we find the explanation "Belief in one God as creator and supreme ruler of the universe, without denial of revelation", while a 'theist' is "One who holds the doctrine of theism."
   An atheist (1571 is its oldest known use in English) is "One who denies or disbelieves the existence of a God", or "One who denies God morally". 
   The OED authors seem to presuppose that 'God' exists and that atheists deny this.
Otherwise, the word 'god' could be much better defined as "The supposed deity that christians purport to be the creator and ruler of the universe." 
   I have wondered for some time what changes in definition might result if atheists were allowed to redefine some key words in the major American-English and English dictionaries (and French, Italian, Spanish, etc).
   Words like 'non-theist' and 'atheist', as used by theists, are often taken to imply a position of being against what believers assume to be the reality of a supreme god who is creator and ruler of the universe. 
.
   But surely no: atheists are, instead, pro-rationality, pro-reason, and pro-logic first of all---and it is because of that, plus the ultimate recourse in applying deeply-honest common sense, that we aspire to intellectual reality instead of submitting to the unscientific faiths initiated by illiterate Bronze Age goat herders and desert camel drivers, beliefs still propounded by unquestioning believers today. 
.
   Let's see what other dictionaries have to say, and suggest how such key-word definitions can be improved. 

 

Tags: Atheism, atheist, non-theist, theism, theist

Views: 264

Replies to This Discussion

  • For  'theism' we find the explanation "Belief in one God as creator and supreme ruler of the universe, without denial of revelation", while a 'theist' is "One who holds the doctrine of theism."

They left out the 'mono-' prefix.

  • An atheist (1571 is its oldest known use in English) is "One who denies or disbelieves the existence of a God", or "One who denies God morally".
I have no problem with the second verb of the first statement.  I also have no problem, personally, with the second statement.  God is an immoral monster, and I deny a good number of his moral commandments.
  • The OED authors seem to presuppose that 'God' exists and that atheists deny this.
I dunno, you could be reading a bit into that.  I have an issue with the word deny.  I haven't seen that in most of the dictionaries in which I've looked it up.  I prefer the Collins English Dictionary version:
atheist  (ˈeɪθɪˌɪst) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]
 
n
1. a person who does not believe in God or gods
 
adj
2. of or relating to atheists or atheism
  • But surely no: atheists are, instead, pro-rationality, pro-reason, and pro-logic first of all ...
Should be, should be.  I know exceptions.

I agree wholeheartedly! The Collins dictionary is spot on and to generalize and say all atheists are, "pro-rationality, pro-reason, and pro-logic..." is not right, as I too know plenty that are not. At least not in my opinion (^_-). And as atheism becomes more popular/mainstream, it's inevitable that a much wider cross section of the public will be joining the ranks. 

That's why I prefer to be known as a "6" or "Sixth" - that gets them every time and has a riot in L6 atheist as discussed elsewhere on the site.

riot? Ooops - that would have been "roots" if the spelling checker hadn't got a bit out of hand.

Well, Terence, my contention is that the atheist movement is almost a counter-culture movement.  Basically we're having to poll against a bizarre inhumanity and moralist regress which has long permeated our culture and society, but now finds itself at a bit of a snare, as it is outmoded, yet refuses to grow beyond its original confines and flourish.  I had always thought that Darwin would have agreed with me when I said "it's adaptation or death", but as a shadowy fellow I once read remarked, God is on life support!

 

If you really stop to consider it, if there was no erroneous attestations as to there being a mythical beared fatass in the clouds listening to harp music and raining burning sulphur down on us whenever he got bored, there would be reason for an antithesis.  Hence, atheism is just a movement, albeit a valuable one.

 

Christianity has/had its purpose... to quell the masses and blanket the fire of ingress.  However, now it's a cancerous growth that must be cut away so new ideas and ways of being may propagate themselves.  Christianity was always used to bolster the herd in lieu of what were, in the end, political movements.  Atheism, on the other hand, offers no such discrepancies... only that people think for themselves in want of the empirical collection of data we need to understand the reforming landscape of our world, which we call 'science'.

 

So, in closing, the atheist movement will come to an end in its own time, I believe, after mankind has a more rational understanding of life, the universe, and morality.  Hence, the fact that Christians have created these terms is fitting, because they will be their undoing.

Well, I don't know why the dictionary would capitalize the word god, because there is no "God" in any religion. The Christian god's name is YHWH, which is pronounced Yahweh.

Here is how Wikitionary defines Atheist:

  1. One who lacks belief in the existence of any god.
    • 1772, Paul Henry Thiry baron d'Holbach, Good Sense without God, or, Freethoughts Opposed to Supernatural Ideas, chapter 30:
      All children are born Atheists; they have no idea of God.
    • 1930, Bhagat Singh, Why I am an atheist?,
      That very day certain police officials began to persuade me to offer my prayers to God regularly both the times. Now I was an atheist. I wanted to settle for myself whether it was in the days of peace and enjoyment alone that I could boast of being an atheist or whether during such hard times as well I could stick to those principles of mine. After great consideration I decided that I could not lead myself to believe in and pray to God. No, I never did. That was the real test and I came, out successful.
    • 2006, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, page 51:
      Atheists do not have faith; and reason alone could not propel one to total conviction that anything definitely does not exist.
  2. Especially, one who lacks any religious belief; an irreligious person.
  3. One who believes that no deities exist.

The word Atheist come from the Greek word ἄθεος (atheos) which means "without god," so it make sense that the dictionary would define an Atheist as "One who denies or disbelieves the existence of a God" but they should remove denies. It makes us sound mean.

But we are mean.  We put up Satanic billboards at Christmas.

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