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Advantages of becoming an Atheist


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(IMO) Perhaps none of us is actually quite at one extreme or the other. Those that believe in God can't prove His existence and those that don't believe can't prove He doesn't exist. Perhaps there is need of a scale and words to say where we fit on it?

There is a scale and I'm a 6.

Edited by doG
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A- and an- are simply 'not' modifiers. Atheist literally means not-theist. Theist is the root word. Without it there would be nothing to add a 'not' prefix to.

 

Sorry doG - but you keep on saying that atheist was formed as negation via a privative alpha to the pre-existing word theist - and that is thus (both in modern meaning and derivation) merely the absence of a positive choice. This is not a simple case - and whilst I understand the motives for making the argument that atheist is a default position (with theist as an active position) - the historical derivation of the word, and those who initially used it of themselves tends in the other direction.

 

There are two ways you can look at the derivation and formation of atheist - one is from the ancient usage meaning impious, which by the 4-5th century BCE had already become a derogatory term denoting those who actively denied the power and/or existence of the speaker's gods. The term remained in use as a rhetorical term of abuse and it was not until 16th Century France that a second usage of the word appeared. It was then that people started to call themselves Atheists (obviously drawing on the ancient example) - but with a new twist in that they refused to believe in the existence of god. And in 16th century europe this was a positive, active and very dangerous choice - belief in god was the norm, and it was a strictly policed norm. It was so taken for granted that theist just wasn't a word for a hundred years after this use of atheist became active - it was a back-formation.

 

The discursive and rhetorical benefits of defining atheism as the natural state as distinguished from the chosen active position of theist are clear - and the majority of modern atheists will recognize and use that definition. However; historically, etymologically, lexicographically, and through common usage atheist and atheism entail more than the absence of an active choice to believe in god/gods.

 

edit - por speling

 

I am also a 6 - with the added extra fraction; that my gut instinct with no basis in fact, which in a pinch I would act upon, says there is certainly no god.

Edited by imatfaal
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Ok, let's put it this way.

 

If an atheist is a person who believes that no gods exist and a theist is a person who believes that at least one god exists:

I don't believe that any gods exist, but I don't believe that no gods exist. What am I? (if you say "agnostic", I will reach through your computer screen and slap you)

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Ok, let's put it this way.

 

If an atheist is a person who believes that no gods exist and a theist is a person who believes that at least one god exists:

I don't believe that any gods exist, but I don't believe that no gods exist. What am I? (if you say "agnostic", I will reach through your computer screen and slap you)

 

An intellectually honest person?

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Ok, let's put it this way.

 

If an atheist is a person who believes that no gods exist and a theist is a person who believes that at least one god exists:

I don't believe that any gods exist, but I don't believe that no gods exist. What am I? (if you say "agnostic", I will reach through your computer screen and slap you)

 

It's almost worth it just for the weirdness - you're an agn.... Nope, just cannot do it.

 

My argument is not that it is cut and dry, nor that simple definitions exist, nor that definitions are fixed throughout history - it is merely that atheist has contextually different meanings and that to be reductionist on the usage/definition is slightly disingenuous. I would call you an atheist - I call myself an atheist - but that does not mean than my nuanced use of atheist is universally accepted. I will be in the archive/library of the Rationalist Association in a few weeks time and I will see how many alternative definitions I can dig out - and possibly show how they have changed over the last few hundred years

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OK - I have just noticed the contextual advert that I get displayed on this thread by adchoices

 

 

And people ask what are the benefits of being an atheist...

Edited by imatfaal
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Sorry doG - but you keep on saying that atheist was formed as negation via a privative alpha to the pre-existing word theist - and that is thus (both in modern meaning and derivation) merely the absence of a positive choice. This is not a simple case - and whilst I understand the motives for making the argument that atheist is a default position (with theist as an active position) - the historical derivation of the word, and those who initially used it of themselves tends in the other direction.

I haven't said atheist is the default position. I did in fact say the word atheist was meaningless without the root word theist. As to the derivation see the etymology of atheist. It is derived from Greek a-, without, and Greek theos, a god.

 

I don't believe that any gods exist....

Atheist

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I haven't said atheist is the default position. I did in fact say the word atheist was meaningless without the root word theist. As to the derivation see the etymology of atheist. It is derived from Greek a-, without, and Greek theos, a god.

 

Atheist

And you are wrong - the word theist came as a back-formation from the word atheist in the particular modern sense of atheist as someone denying the existence of god. The word atheist come from a privative alpha and theos, as you say - not from privative alpha and theist. It is simple; atheist was used for many years before the word theist was coined.

 

"I haven't said atheist is the default position." not in so many words - but even your sig is testimony to your argument that it is theism that is the choice and that atheism is simply the absence of making that choice. Setting the form of engagement and defining the terms used in discourse is a wise move - but it open to challenge.

 

Edit - sorry was misremembering your signature - please ignore that phrase should have been more along the lines of ...the tenor of your arguments over many posts....

Edited by imatfaal
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There can be only three truths i.e Gnostic theism, Gnostic Atheism and Agnosticism. Since we don't know what the truth is and since its inevitable that we have to choose a side before taking part in a discussion in a religious forum we just sway from one axis to the other which means we all are intellectually dishonest when discussing about religious issues.

 

To the OP- whether you're a theist or an atheist its not going change your life in any way unless you're a gnostic theist or a gnostic atheist.

 

 

 

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