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Why should the word "atheist" even exist? After all, there are no special terms for people who don't believe in Santa Clause, or Bigfoot, or the Tooth Fairy.

Flyingsaucesir 7 June 21
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17 comments

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1

If you have no need for the word, don’t use it.

1

I have a lack of belief in god, that makes me an atheist. We don't know is there is any supernatural.

I parse it this way: lack of belief is sort of a neutral state, not the same as believing that He, Her, It, God, or whatever, does NOT exist. In other words, I call myself an agnostic because, while I do not believe God exists, I cannot say for sure that He, She, It, whatever, does not exist. (By the way, I think the probability of God's existence is vanishingly small...like one chance in a hundred thousand, or maybe even less than that... like one in a million.... depends on my mood.) To be a full-blown atheist, I think one has to be 100% sure of God's non-existence. In other words, they believe He, She, It, whatever, does not exist. The atheist has no doubt. The agnostic does have doubt. Now that just how I parse it for myself. I realize that not everyone sees it my way.

@Flyingsaucesir
Atheism is just lack of belief and always was.
The English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley coined the word agnostic in 1869, and said "It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe."
So it's the difference between knowing and believing, which is splitting hairs.
Huxley needed a softer word for atheist because most of the world was theist and theist are dicks that can kill you, professionally and socially and honestly literally if it gets out of hand.
I doubt atheist of the "I KNOW there's no God" variety have ever existed.
I think ALL atheist and agnostics are "atheist" and that they are also ALL "agnostic."
Frankly it's a tiresome argument that keeps going only because of fundamental lack of understanding of fucking language and (or) history.

@Willow_Wisp
I did not know Huxley coined the term...thanks for that interesting tidbit! πŸ‘

4

It is a very badly used word in many cases, since most, so called, atheists, are actually what you could call asupernaturalists or anti-suprernaturalists, since they do not believe in any thing supernatural, nor any, none theist religions, like Buddhism, Spiritualism or Animism either. So that it could well be that we a conceding to theist imperialism, since they are trying to pretend that only theist religion, (god belief ) matters.

You are on to something there. Believers hurl the word "atheist" at a non-believer like a rioter hurls a brick at a store window. They think the term "atheist" is a pejorative. They assume that most people think as they do, and that non-belief is abnormal (and morally deficient). In other words, believers who use the term "atheist" as a pejorative are asserting their moral superiority. It is pure chauvinism.

2

I too prefer to be recognized for something I am instead for something I am not. I embrace the term "heathen" for just that reason.

1

Antonyms are often formed by adding a prefix to a noun.

4

When religion dies out in the world, so will the word atheist.

I like your optimism: not if, but when.

Then we all go back to just being fellow humans.

0

I answered in the other twin post.

There's a twin post? Oh shit.

9

I prefer the term nonbeliever .I do not care for labels .Labels cause more problems .I have seen constant bickering on this site over the years between atheists and agnostics which is pathetic.

Words have meaning
Meaning has power to shape reality, and define truth

Label is synonym for noun
A noun has more meaning than any other type of word
Therefore a label has a lot of power and truth and is therefore vitally important

A person who finds truth and reality "pathetic" has opted out from their duty to contribute to actuality, a stance I find truly pathetic

@richiegtt So true

@LenHazell53 You seem to be one of the pathetic ones

@LenHazell53 No words do not have meaning, words only have usages. Words are human cultural constructs, used in an attempt to model reality, which we generally inherit and which were made by former generations who often had very different models of reality to ours. Believing that words have meaning is merely to make a god out of inherited human culture, which is why they so often fail.

Words are at best, poor second hand tools, ill suited to the purpose to which they are used, using them to model reality being like, trying to build a butterfly out of house bricks. And the myth that they have wisdom and meaning, built into them, is no better than the belief that there is wisdom and meaning imparted to us by a literal god though holy books. The biggest mistake you can make, having thrown out a belief in god, is to set up human culture as an alternative god instead.

Like this may use it elsewhere.

@tiredofthis1 OH the school of Nah Nah Nah, what a mature rhetorical tool

@Fernapple No words do not have meaning, words only have usages. Words are human cultural constructs, used in an attempt to model reality, which we generally inherit and which were made by former generations who often had very different models of reality to ours. Believing that words have meaning is merely to make a god out of inherited human culture, which is why they so often fail.

So, in short you mean "Words have meanings" semantic, semiotic, etymological, lexicographical and lexicographical
Come on you're better than simple equivocations

Words are at best, poor second hand tools, ill suited to the purpose to which they are used, using them to model reality being like, trying to build a butterfly out of house bricks.

Yes I have read and can paraphrase the science of discworld too

And the myth that they have wisdom and meaning, built into them, is no better than the belief that there is wisdom and meaning imparted to us by a literal god though holy books.

I never said that and you know it, meaning and wisdom are expressed by words, when they are used as tools to model reality, they are the common frame of reference that allow the sharing of wisdom and meaning. Therefore using the incorrect words or using words incorrectly is a way to royally screw things up.
As I said you are better than this

@LenHazell53 Yes , of course, you say.
"Therefore using the incorrect words or using words incorrectly is a way to royally screw things up. "

Quite. And what I am saying is, that it is impossible NOT to use words incorrectly. And that any usage of words is amost, (not quite always, I do not believe in absolutes, ) bound to skrew things up to a degree.

I made a post giving this as an example.

Atheist for example. (Only for example.) Is a very badly used word in many cases, since most, so called, atheists, are actually what you could call 'asupernaturalists' or 'anti-suprernaturalists', since they do not believe in anything supernatural, nor any, none theist religions, like Buddhism, Spiritualism or Animism either. So that it could well be that when we call ourselves atheist, we a conceding to theist imperialism, trying to pretend that only theist religion, (god belief ) matters and is somehow higher than other religions.

To make good and worthwhile use of sceptical thinking, it is not enough merely to abandon literal belief in the sky fairy. Which is only a tiny part of the worlds culturally recieved folly, and probably far from being the worst or most dangerous part. It is needful to apply a sceptical view to all of human culture, including, art, tradition, litrature and yes language, plus any other of the numerous psuedo-gods that human culture sets up.

It is usualy thought that, in about the fifth century BCE, the classical world first produced philosophy. Why ? Was not the recieved cultural knowledge of the classical world enough, did not Zeus and the oracle at Delphi have good enough answers ? Of course you know the answer. Which is that, it was obvious by then, that unregulated and inherited human culture was not a good source of knowledge and wisdom, it was needful at the very least to invent philosophy to bring the rules of logic found in mathematics to bare on the problems. And when once that did not prove alone to be enough, the enlightenment invented Natural Philosphy, now called science, to add extra measures and safeguards, such as the experimental method. None of that would have been needed had it not been plainly seen that recieved cultural information, was failing to give good answers or provide a good model of the world. And what was one of the first errors to be recognized, by philosophy, it was that of linguistic sophistry.

@LenHazell53 PS I would really like to know and understand the reference you make to Discworld, since I have not read it, so your comment is lost on me.

2

Because there are no special terms for people who DO believe in Santa Clause, or Bigfoot, or the Tooth Fairy.
However Theists made a special naming exception for themselves, and since for all "that is" there must be the possibility of there being "that which is Not" for which the antonym naturally comes in to being.

1

While gods are imaginary, people have no shortage of them. They exist in their minds. It is an ephemeral existence, and wholly different from what the believers believe. Even zero is a number.

4

Yes it's profoundly stupid, it's like having a word for being a non-coin collector.
It's like having a name for a color that doesn't exist.
It's like considering bald a hair style, even if that one is a bit weak.
What's the special name for someone with "good mental health" amid all the "bi-polar", "paranoid", "schizophrenics", and "boarder line personality" types out there?
Just so religion is a communicable social mental illness that can be inoculated against by simply having a bit of healthy skepticism.

Well said! You get it! πŸ™‚

5

It’s about self identity of who you are and what you stand for.

Exactly.

2

Cause we like it!

3

Actually there is a word for non-belief in Santa, Bigfoot, Tooth Fairy. It is Intelligent Skeptic.

Santa, Bigfoot, Tooth Fairy may not exist, but the Great Pumpkin does!

@creative51 I rest my case!

4

When communicating. Words come in handy, this is one of those.

4

The word was first used in the 16th century to describe people who questioned Christian beliefs.
It was actually in use before the word theist

4

It's due to you having a belief in god and not having a belief in god.

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