Pyrrho
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2010 09:07 am
@Owen phil,
Owen;139513 wrote:
A theist is a person who does believe that 'God exists' is true.
An atheist is a person who does believe that 'God exists' is false.
A non-theist is a person who does not believe that 'God exists' is true.
A non-atheist is a person who does not believe that 'God exists' is false.

Atheists are included in non-theists, but not all non-theists are atheists.

For example: a new born baby is a non-theist (and a non-atheist), but a baby cannot be an atheist.. nor can a baby be a theist.


Not quite. Like most words in English, the word "atheist" has more than one meaning:

Quote:

atheist 
-noun

a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

Atheist | Define Atheist at Dictionary.com

In this instance, however, both meanings are placed together, but can be disentangled. A person who denies the existence of gods (i.e., "supreme beings") is one meaning, and the other is a person who disbelieves (i.e., does not believe) in the existence of gods.

The first of those is someone who regards the statement "God exists" as false. The second is not believing that "God exists" is true, which is from the word origin, as the prefix "a-" means not. So one of the meanings is simply "not a theist" (which you have been calling a "non-theist").

The first of these involves a belief, which is sometimes called "positive atheism" or "strong atheism", the belief that there is no god. The second is called "negative atheism" or "weak atheism", the absence of the belief that there is a god. Thus, positive atheists are weak atheists, but not vice versa.

See:

Weak and strong atheism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thus, newborn babies are atheists (in one sense of the word, or, in other words, babies are negative or weak atheists).

Many times, people get confused by the fact that words typically have more than one legitimate meaning, though one would think that most people have actually looked in a dictionary at some point in their lives, and would therefore have noticed that most words do have more than one meaning, so this should not really be a surprise to anyone.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Mar, 2010 10:17 am
@sometime sun,
It's somewhere between pitiful and comical how we get wrapped around the axle on terminology. This is me:

  • Is there a god? - Answer: I don't know
  • Do you believe there could be a god? - Answer: Sure, why not
  • Do you believe there isn't a god? - Answer: No, there could be.
  • Do you believe there is a god? - Answer: No, I personally don't have any reason to believe

Am I an atheist? (and yes, the "e" goes before the "i"). I call myself one, but depending on how inflammatory you find this term (coupled with how you feel about atheism or me personally), you might say "Yes, you are" or "No, you're a non-theist".

Now, we've covered this so many times and in so many threads and this merry-go-round has been traversed so many times I'm dizzy. To be "without knowledge" would call me an agnostic, which probably applies - but it doesn't tell the story of "belief" - which by most definitions, is what theism or atheism is about. I don't have a belief, but I wouldn't assert "there isn't nor can there be" - which is revoltingly narrow minded in my opinion. The reason for this is central: No one can say, on any firm ground of reason or proof that there isn't or can't be. So all we're talking about is the type and orientation of someone's belief.[INDENT]Do I have belief there is? Answer: no - no reason to.
Do I have belief there isn't? Answer: no - I don't have all the answers.
[/INDENT]I think much of what's going on in this thread is the same differentiation that Pyrro brought up. In the portion he quoted, it spoke about this being described as "strong" or "weak" - that's fine. Now we're trying to describe this as "non"-theist -vs- atheist.

I suppose there's no way to get around the emotionally loaded (either positive or negative) connotations to such terms. But probably the best way to converse on the issue is with straight-talk Q&A.

Cheers
0 Replies
 
pshingle
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2010 10:28 am
@sometime sun,
I have come to believe that newborn children are completely and totally devoid of any faith. If a child grew to adulthood without mention of any code or creed, would it ever adopt any religious philosophies? My thoughts and feelings tell me no. Religion is something that is taught by trusted adults and almost never something that is adopted by an individual.
Diogenes phil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Mar, 2010 06:16 pm
@sometime sun,
Religion is all about controlling beliefs. That is why I despise it. If I were to deny something, does that mean I am a denytheist? You get the point.

Also, there's really no point in being an atheist if you have nothing to prove the existence of God. You can really only deny something if it were to have ever happened. Denying the existence of something no one knows for sure really ever existed or not, is plain stupidity.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Mar, 2010 11:48 pm
@pshingle,
pshingle;140291 wrote:
I have come to believe that newborn children are completely and totally devoid of any faith. If a child grew to adulthood without mention of any code or creed, would it ever adopt any religious philosophies? My thoughts and feelings tell me no. Religion is something that is taught by trusted adults and almost never something that is adopted by an individual.


As is language, music, cooking, manners, philosphy, aesthetics.....list goes on.....

Also, don't forget, religion is there because humans have a need for it. Many think the need has gone away. It hasn't.

---------- Post added 03-25-2010 at 04:54 PM ----------

This is interesting from the perspective of a practising Buddhist who was born Christian.

If someone asks me whether God exists, I will say 'it depends'. And what it depends on is, who is asking, what they mean by the question, what they think God is, or isn't. All of this is usually bandied about as if it is perfectly clear what is meant by 'God'. I don't think anybody has any idea - nobody has the remotest idea. What they have is a colection of memories, arguments, and attitudes, which they think corresponds to something that does or doesn't exist.

My attitude is that I don't believe that God exists, but I am not an atheist. I suppose that makes me an agnostic, and I guess I must be. There is a great deal that is unknown about the most basic things. In that great big space of the unknown, all kinds of things are possible. I rather like that feeling of not knowing. But I have also known holy people, people who have been touched by the divine. They are not making it up and they are neither delusional or mendacious in my view.

It's a big world, and we don't know half of what's in it, or beyond it, for that matter.
Humanity
 
  1  
Reply Thu 25 Mar, 2010 08:35 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;143408 wrote:
My attitude is that I don't believe that God exists, but I am not an atheist. I suppose that makes me an agnostic, and I guess I must be. There is a great deal that is unknown about the most basic things. In that great big space of the unknown, all kinds of things are possible. I rather like that feeling of not knowing. But I have also known holy people, people who have been touched by the divine. They are not making it up and they are neither delusional or mendacious in my view.

It's a big world, and we don't know half of what's in it, or beyond it, for that matter.
I don't believe God exist and i do not like the label 'athiest', even though by definition I am one.
Somehow the word 'atheist' carry some sort of negative psychological connotations and i think had been so since the word was first coined.
I would prefer the term 'non-theist'.

I normally view 'theism' within the framework of neuropsychology, neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology and the likes.
In psychology we have 'terror management theory' 'primal fear' and 'cognitive dissonance' to consider as a primary source of theism.

As a non-theist, I strive to be able to modulate the shackles and be free from bondage of the above and thus wean off from theism in that sense.
Pyrrho
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 08:19 am
@Humanity,
Humanity;143813 wrote:
I don't believe God exist and i do not like the label 'athiest', even though by definition I am one.
Somehow the word 'atheist' carry some sort of negative psychological connotations and i think had been so since the word was first coined.
I would prefer the term 'non-theist'.

I normally view 'theism' within the framework of neuropsychology, neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology and the likes.
In psychology we have 'terror management theory' 'primal fear' and 'cognitive dissonance' to consider as a primary source of theism.

As a non-theist, I strive to be able to modulate the shackles and be free from bondage of the above and thus wean off from theism in that sense.


The problem with your idea of using "non-theist" instead of "atheist" is that if it were adopted, it would come to have negative associations because religious people see it as a problem to not believe in a god. In other words, the issue is not the label, but the position itself, to which negative associations are attached by believers. "Atheist" is, in itself, as neutral a term as one can have. The prefix "a-" means "not", so literally "atheist" (etymologically as well as one of the current definitions) means "not a theist".

What happens when people start using euphemisms or new words for things that are considered bad is that the euphemisms and new words come to have the same negative associations as the old terms. The problem, in this case, is that so many people think it is bad to not believe in a god. No name change is going to affect that.
0 Replies
 
Night Ripper
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 09:43 am
@Humanity,
Humanity;143813 wrote:
I don't believe God exist and i do not like the label 'athiest', even though by definition I am one.
Somehow the word 'atheist' carry some sort of negative psychological connotations and i think had been so since the word was first coined.


That's all the more reason to call yourself an atheist. Some people might recoil at first but once they get to know you and see that you are a thoughtful, caring and honest person, they will change their minds. They might even rethink their entire attitude about atheists in general. If the only atheists that allow themselves to be labeled are shrill intellectual porcupines then it's no wonder we get a bad rep.
0 Replies
 
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 09:54 am
@sometime sun,
People assume atheist means anti-theist, that's the problem.
Night Ripper
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 10:00 am
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;144031 wrote:
People assume atheist means anti-theist, that's the problem.


I think that's because most atheists are atheists because they have rejected some form of religion rather than simply being ignorant (like a baby). Most atheists are at least anti-theism. I don't know about anti-theist. If people want to waste their time that's their business.
0 Replies
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 10:02 am
@sometime sun,
0 Replies
 
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 11:49 am
@sometime sun,
I think we often confuse the terms atheist and agnostic. The atheist simply does not believe in god, while the agnostic fails to make a decision at all. There are few true atheists in the world,relatively speaking. The agnostic temperament is far more common. The reasons for agnosticism are greatly varied, but quite often it stems from a missunderstanding of the primacy of religion. Religion is not primary to a belief in god, it is secondary only.
Of great personal importance ,is the understanding of the term under which we fall. If we fail to understand this about ourselves, huge problems often develop.
The atheist does not seem to develop these problems, he has made his decision and lives his life accordingly. Likewise for the believer, the decision having been made.
It is the undiagnosed agnostic who seems to develop so many problems, this may not always be true, yet the tendency is there.
0 Replies
 
Minimal
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 03:22 am
@Owen phil,
Owen;139513 wrote:

For example: a new born baby is a non-theist (and a non-atheist), but a baby cannot be an atheist.. nor can a baby be a theist.


Agnostic babies... How intriguing ;-)

- Minimal.
Owen phil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 09:55 am
@Minimal,
Minimal;144450 wrote:
Agnostic babies... How intriguing ;-)

- Minimal.


Agnostics believe that 'God exists' cannot be shown true or false.

Do you believe that new born babies understand this claim? I don't.
Pepijn Sweep
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 10:10 am
@Minimal,
Minimal;144450 wrote:
Agnostic babies... How intriguing ;-)

- Minimal.


---------- Post added 03-27-2010 at 09:24 AM ----------

Owen;144611 wrote:
Agnostics believe that 'God exists' cannot be shown true or false.

Do you believe that new born babies understand this claim? I don't.
north
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 09:17 pm
@Pepijn Sweep,
athiest

someone who doesn't believe in a god , AT ALL

I am one
Minimal
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Mar, 2010 09:35 pm
@Owen phil,
Owen;144611 wrote:
Agnostics believe that 'God exists' cannot be shown true or false.

Do you believe that new born babies understand this claim? I don't.


You do realise I was being facetious, right?

- Minimal
0 Replies
 
Pepijn Sweep
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Mar, 2010 01:28 am
@north,
north;144959 wrote:
athiest

someone who doesn't believe in a god , AT ALL

I am one


[CENTER] [/CENTER]
0 Replies
 
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Mar, 2010 08:09 am
@Owen phil,
Owen;144611 wrote:
Agnostics believe that 'God exists' cannot be shown true or false.

Do you believe that new born babies understand this claim? I don't.


I think that is one type of agnostic, yes, but the base definition might be ,has not made a decision yet. A baby would then be agnostic by default. I am able to be agnostic about many things.
Alan McDougall
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Mar, 2010 05:45 pm
@sometime sun,
Atheism is belief that there is a No god behind the creation of the universe. They want us to bend over backward and believe that, everything came from nothing to create everything, (The Universe) in what is now called the big bang
 

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