Atheism: A precise definition.

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ThePragmatic's picture
@ Algebe

@ Algebe

Ah, as in 'Semper Fi'. I didn't know that, thanks.

As for theists, they often use it as a claim of knowledge: "I have faith that god loves me".
And Boghossian translates it to: "I'm pretending to know that god loves me"

AlphaLogica157's picture
I prefer the definition of

I prefer the definition of Faith put forth by Pual in Hebrews: The substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN.

Most use faith as synonymous with Trust, but trust has a real world basis. You do not have faith that a college degree will land you a career, you trust it will because many people who came before you who earned that degree went on to land a career. Faith is not the same as trust.

ThePragmatic's picture
Yes, good point. I forgot how

Yes, good point. I forgot how some use the word faith to mean 'trust'.

But, I definitively don't like the definition by Paul.
"The substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN."
(Isn't that a deepity?)

I can't decipher that sentence.
It's not what someone hopes for, it's the "substance" of what someone hopes for. What does that mean?
It's "the evidence" of things "not seen" - Where is the manual for interpretation of this?

It just leaves waaay too much wiggle room for the theists in a discussion.

AlphaLogica157's picture
I think it makes perfect

I think it makes perfect sense, by saying "the substance of things hoped for", he means that faith is the bridge between reason, and desire. Really with that definition alone Paul lets the cat out of the bag. It is an admission that when a Christian cites Faith as justification for accepting the 'truth' of the bible, what they are saying is that the bible is only as true as you hope it to be.

"The evidence of things not seen", by this he means that one must first accept the 'truth' of the bible without any evidence, in order for the bible to be 'true'. Case in point, this is the difference between belief and knowledge, No one knows that Jesus is the son of God, they cannot know, so belief is required. Once you make this leap of faith, then and only then can you accept that the bible is the word of God.

Really to me it is the strongest argument against the validity of Faith. As faith in the truth of the bible is first required before you can accept that the bible is true, on no evidence at all.

ThePragmatic's picture
I agree that the

I agree that the interpretation you just gave is a good one. But a theist could twist those words around forever.

I'll stick with keeping things as simple as possible, to avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary wiggle room.

AlphaLogica157's picture
I believe that they will

I believe that they will wiggle no matter how clear an argument you make. They WANT the bible to be true far more than they KNOW its true, so they ask that you do all the work first by blindly accepting it, then they will shove platitudes down your throat until you are drunk with illogical B.S, to the point that reason itself seems unreasonable.

ThePragmatic's picture
@ AlphaLogica

@ AlphaLogica

Of course. I just feel that 'keep it simple' works.

chimp3's picture
Why are we bound to

Why are we bound to definitions created by ancient theists to describe nonbelievers. We are also not bound to the definitions of atheist/agnostic used by nonbelievers in the 18th and 19th centuries. At this point in time the use of the word atheist as in the "New Atheist Movement" is simply one who rejects the concept of all deities. Religious ideas have been demoted to just that - ideas. The internet has spread the concept of atheism. I am sticking with this definition of atheism : The idea that no deity exists.

AlphaLogica157's picture
You are not bound by it, but

You are not bound by it, but you should be. I think this choose your own definition practice is what has lead to Theists claiming that Atheism is a belief in itself. Or even a religion in itself. Yet religion requires Dogma, this is what separates philosophy from religion. Dogmatic adhearance to some set creed or doctrine. Atheism has no doctrine or creed or tenent. It is simply a position of non belief in so far as a theistic god is concerned. The reason for this is because there is no argument againat a deistic god, as a deistic God has no characteristics for us to examine and therefore refute. The three omni's do not apply to the God of deism.

Dave Matson's picture


"But that is absurd, if I told you that I am not writing to you on a computer but a banana, no matter how much I personally identify a computer as a banana, it does not change the definition or meaning of either of these words.

Yet according to the argument you put forth words mean whatever any one person chooses them to mean." -AlphaLogica

I think we are really on the same page but are looking through different ends of the telescope. If you defined the word "computer" as "banana," you are not making a statement about hitherto unknown properties of a fruit! You are simply saying that when you use the word "banana" you mean, in my usage, "computer." With AlphaLogica and Greensnake dictionaries in hand, we could have a very rational discussion on just about anything. Since this definition is a declaration of your usage for the word "banana," I am in no position to say that it is not the correct meaning. I can say that this definition is an obstacle to good communication since everybody else has this yellow-skinned (typically) fruit in mind when they see the word "banana." It also means that you would have to find another word for that fruit! (Maybe "computer"!)

I certainly agree with you that with a good background in Greek and Latin, we have a great window as to how words are probably used by a large segment of the population, and we even get an insight into the meaning taxonomic names used in the scientific literature. I agree that most words have a range of meanings that are commonly understood within a group, and that to throw in goofy definitions would be a hindrance to good communication and, hence, would be rejected by reasonable people. Call this the common sense approach which you seem to adopt.

My approach is to point out that disagreements over the "correct" meaning of a word cannot logically be resolved. Many a silly argument has raged for unseemly lengths of time, with great heat, over the "correct" definition for a word. Arguments about the true meaning of a word (rather than about how popular or useful a definition is) are meaningless unless some group is trying to define a word for their group use.

AlphaLogica157's picture
Ok, I see where you are going

Ok, I see where you are going with this, maybe it would have been better to title my OP as Atheism; a literal translation. I think that would have avoided some confusion. But insofar as words that can be defined precisely, like God for example, there is no precise definition, but that is a problem exclusive to "God" itself as it is hard to define in general, some mean a monotheistic god who tallies the fall of every sparrow, others mean love. But I do not believe that the word atheism itself has this same hinderence.

Let's look at the variations on Theism,

Monotheism= 1 personal God
Polytheism= many personal Gods
Pantheism = God is the collective laws of the universe. (here we see something that is actually an issue for my argument as I am not sure if it is understood that this 'god' has agency, or could be labeled as 'personal', if anything this sounds more like loose Deism than anything)

My point being that with these terms, we see a common meaning, or definition when it comes to theism itself.


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