• Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    I’ve been having intense discussions in several forums (fora) about the “meaning” of the word “atheist”…and thought I would devote a thread to it here in the Philosophy Forum.

    First of all…its etymology. The word atheist came into the English language from the Greek through the French:

    Etymology of "atheism": Middle French athéisme, from athée atheist, from Greek atheos godless, from a- + theos god
    Merriam-Webster Online:

    Its etymology CLEARLY indicates it was meant to denote “being without a god” (not being without a “belief” in a god)…and that was the use of the word throughout history. (Until debating atheists got hold of it.)

    “Atheist”, it should be noted, was introduced to the English language BEFORE theist…so it could not have been derived the way some atheists want to insist, by “a” (without) + “theist” (a “belief” in a god) = without a “belief” in a god.)

    Yes…one characteristic that ALL atheists share in common…is A LACK OF “BELIEF” THAT ANY GODS EXIST. ALL atheists lack a “belief” (in) god…but not everyone lacking that “belief” is an atheist.

    It is a preposterous presumption to suppose that a new born baby is an atheist….just as it would be an absurdity to suppose a new born is a theist. Newborns are blank slates as far as “gods” are concerned…each a tabula rasa.

    Some babies, born into theistic families…are indoctrinated to become theists; some, born into atheistic families…are indoctrinated to become atheists. As maturity sets in…each individual makes change, or remains constant, as he/she chooses.

    This nonsense (insistence by some atheists) that anyone lacking a belief (in) god is an atheist…is an insult to reason and logic. To usurp the meaning of a word (as atheists have done with the word “atheist”) so as to include people who simply do not want to belong…is inappropriate.

    Two final comments:

    One: To the people who point to dictionaries on this issue, it should be noted that dictionaries do not truly define words. They tell us how they are most often used…at a particular period of time.

    Two: SOME dictionaries actually define atheism as “the belief that no gods exist”…so there is not unanimity of opinion on how it IS used.

    Any thoughts on this issue from the community?
  • DingoJones
    2k


    You havent demonstrated a very deep understanding of the word, certainly your use of “CLEARLY” Is erroneous here. If it was clear from the epistemology alone you wouldnt need to bring it up. You also fail to justify claims you make, such as that defining atheism as lacking belief in god is an insult to reason and logic. How? Even if you think thats the wrong definition, that doesnt mean its an insult to logic and reason. Anyway, I have some questions if your actually interested in a discussion.
    First, you didnt provide a definition of what you think atheism is, so lets hear that.
    Also, What is the difference, in your mind, between “being without a god” and “being without a belief in god?”. Im curious to know what being without god would even mean if not being about belief.
  • 3017amen
    2.6k
    SOME dictionaries actually define atheism as “the belief that no gods exist”…so there is not unanimity of opinion on how it IS used.Frank Apisa

    Hi Frank!

    I'm not exactly sure what you are asking, but thought that the quoted definition was intriguing. Having a belief that no Gods exist translates into a belief system much like Religion. So, if someone says: Atheism is just another Religion, would they be incorrect?

    Such an emotionally charged issue I know. However, the irony for the Atheist is that if emotive phenomena is metaphysical in nature, they need to reconcile the paradoxical nature of their own said emotional belief system from the lack thereof.
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    You havent demonstrated a very deep understanding of the word, certainly your use of “CLEARLY” Is erroneous here.DingoJones

    Interesting sentence! Interesting way to start a conversation..with what amounts to a gratuitous accusation.

    Its etymology does clearly show how it was meant to be understood. To be without a god. And one cannot be "without a god"...unless there are no gods. If there are (something we do not know)...you are with a god no matter what you "believe."


    If it was clear from the epistemology alone you wouldnt need to bring it up.

    If someone is screwing with the word in order to make it mean something it did not mean...then one would either have to concede the point...or "bring it up."

    I choose to bring it up. Don't necessarily "need" to...but I can, and do, choose to.


    You also fail to justify claims you make, such as that defining atheism as lacking belief in god is an insult to reason and logic. How?

    Since the distortion of what the word means results in someone like me (an agnostic without a "belief in any gods") being included because of the distorted meaning...it is an insult to reason and logic.

    If the word means "a belief that there are no gods"...I stay excluded from the group...which is what I want...TO BE EXCLUDED FROM THAT GROUP.

    And children and toddlers would also.

    And to what end is that not the case?

    The dichotomy, according to atheists, is "either one believes at least one god exists" or "one does not believe that at least one god exists." I suggest that (if there must be a dichotomy) it is: "either one believes at least one god exists" or "one believes no gods exist."

    Frankly, the issue does not resolve to a dichotomy.

    In my case for instance...

    ...I do not "believe" any gods exist...and...

    ...I also do not "believe" there are no gods.



    Even if you think thats the wrong definition, that doesnt mean its an insult to logic and reason. Anyway, I have some questions if your actually interested in a discussion.

    One, thank you for sharing that...

    ...and two, I am very interested in a discussion.


    First, you didnt provide a definition of what you think atheism is, so lets hear that.

    Most people I know who use the word "atheist" as a descriptor...lack a "belief" (in) God (lack a "belief that any gods exist.) Almost all of them ALSO "believe" (guess, think, suppose) that no gods exist...or that it is more likely that no gods exist than that at least one god exists.

    That is what the word "atheist" should be used to describe. Those of us who do not "believe" (guess or suppose) that any gods exist and also do not "believe" (guess or suppose) that at least one does...(which more accurately aligns with a lack of knowing on this scale)...can continue using agnostic as a descriptor without having the "then you are an atheist" nonsense thrown our way.

    Also, What is the difference, in your mind, between “being without a god” and “being without a belief in god?”. Im curious to know what being without god would even mean if not being about belief.

    Think about the difference between "no life on any planet circling the nearest 15 stars to our Sol"...and "a belief that there is no life on any planet circling the nearest 15 stars to our Sol"...and that should answer your question.
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    Hi Frank!

    I'm not exactly sure what you are asking, but thought that the quoted definition was intriguing. Having a belief that no Gods exist translates into a belief system much like Religion.
    3017amen

    You are correct. It would. Which is almost certainly the reason that debating atheist decided to change the definition of "atheist." They wanted to avoid that.


    So, if someone says: Atheism is just another Religion, would they be incorrect?

    No...at least, not in my opinion. Atheism is NOT a religion...but for the most part it IS a "belief system."

    Atheists seem to abhor that...so they pretend the only reason they use "atheist" as a descriptor is because the lexicographers demand that they do.

    Such an emotionally charged issue I know. However, the irony for the Atheist is that if emotive phenomena is metaphysical in nature, they need to reconcile the paradoxical nature of their own said emotional belief system from the lack thereof.

    BINGO!
  • 3017amen
    2.6k


    Yep, our work is done here!

    LOL
  • DingoJones
    2k


    I asked what YOU think atheism means, not anything about atheists you know and how they may or may not describe themselves...or about how you choose to describe them using theistic semantics
    I would like a clear, concise definition for atheism from you. Im asking you that because I want to know if I agree with your definition and to keep this from going into the weeds. Please, just give me a short, concise definition without reiterating your problem with some peoples use of the term.
    My second question may have been a bit clumsy, so lets just start with my first one. It will be easier to communicate if we keep things short and to the point, dealing with one thing at a time.
  • 180 Proof
    1.8k
    being without a god” ... lacking a belief (in) god ... “the belief that no gods exist”Frank Apisa
    :roll:

    "Atheist?" One who is committed to second-order (meta) falsifications of first-order (object) 'beliefs about g/G'.
  • Relativist
    1.5k

    Here's my thoughts.

    Over the years, I've seen many pointless debates about the meaning of the term "atheist". For example, I've encountered Christians who insist that to be an "atheist", one must hold the belief:no god(s) exist, and argue that "lack of belief in god" doesn't mean much (they counter: "I'm a theist because I lack belief in God's non-existence"). Their motivation seems to be a desire to argue against a strawman.

    I therefore think the the term should be only be used to convey a general, vague sense of a person's position. One should make no specific assumptions about what any self-labelled atheist means. It's fair to assume he probably doesn't think there is a God, in the traditional sense of the term. If you want to know more specifically what he believes, set the label aside and ask.

    BTW, as a point of trivia, the Roman empire labelled Christians as "atheist", because they didn't believe in the Roman gods.
  • jorndoe
    1.1k
    Having a belief that no Gods exist translates into a belief system much like Religion3017amen
    Atheism is NOT a religion...but for the most part it IS a "belief system."Frank Apisa

    Like disbelief that Santa is real is a belief system?
    Like a clean bill of health is a disease?

    • absence of theism: newborns, the Pirahã people, some pygmies, ...
    • doubt/disbelief in theisms: some pagans, some panpsychists, Hitchens, Russell, ...
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    ↪Frank Apisa

    I asked what YOU think atheism means, not anything about atheists you know and how they may or may not describe themselves...or about how you choose to describe them using theistic semantics
    I would like a clear, concise definition for atheism from you. Im asking you that because I want to know if I agree with your definition and to keep this from going into the weeds. Please, just give me a short, concise definition without reiterating your problem with some peoples use of the term.
    My second question may have been a bit clumsy, so lets just start with my first one. It will be easier to communicate if we keep things short and to the point, dealing with one thing at a time.
    DingoJones

    An "atheist" is a person who either "believes" there are no gods...or who "believes it is more likely that there are no gods than that there is at least one."

    Atheism is a belief...not a lack of "belief."

    My personal agnosticism is a true lack of belief:

    I do not know if gods exist or not;
    I see no reason to suspect gods CANNOT EXIST...that the existence of gods is impossible;
    I see no reason to suspect that gods MUST EXIST...that gods are needed to explain existence;
    I do not see enough unambiguous evidence upon which to base a meaningful guess in either direction...

    ...so I don't.
  • 3017amen
    2.6k


    Hi JD!

    I'm not real clear on the question, other than any proposition or judgment represents some form of belief/system. And in this specific case, the Atheist should be able to parse the existential meaning of:

    1. All events must have a cause.

    For example, is that a Metaphysical or Phenomelogical statement? And why should the Atheist care?
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    ↪Frank Apisa
    Here's my thoughts.

    Over the years, I've seen many pointless debates about the meaning of the term "atheist". For example, I've encountered Christians who insist that to be an "atheist", one must hold the belief:no god(s) exist, and argue that "lack of belief in god" doesn't mean much (they counter: "I'm a theist because I lack belief in God's non-existence"). Their motivation seems to be a desire to argue against a strawman.

    I therefore think the the term should be only be used to convey a general, vague sense of a person's position. One should make no specific assumptions about what any self-labelled atheist means. It's fair to assume he probably doesn't think there is a God, in the traditional sense of the term. If you want to know more specifically what he believes, set the label aside and ask.

    BTW, as a point of trivia, the Roman empire labelled Christians as "atheist", because they didn't believe in the Roman gods.
    Relativist

    I agree...hence my feelings that the words "atheist" and "atheism" are useless as descriptors.
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    Having a belief that no Gods exist translates into a belief system much like Religion
    — 3017amen
    Atheism is NOT a religion...but for the most part it IS a "belief system."
    — Frank Apisa

    Like disbelief that Santa is real is a belief system?
    Like a clean bill of health is a disease?

    • absence of theism: newborns, the Pirahã people, some pygmies, ...
    • doubt/disbelief in theisms: some pagans, some panpsychists, Hitchens, Russell, ...
    jorndoe

    Are you saying that there are no gods?
  • DingoJones
    2k


    Ya, thats just theistic semantics, calling a lack of belief a belief to draw a false equivalence so they can shift the burden of proof. You aren’t doing that, but you are making the same error.
    What I think you have a problem with is people who are atheists for bad reasons, and/or who are anti-theists and atheists but fail to make the correct distinction between the two. Those people are just one kind of atheist, and there are all kinds of different atheists...what they have in common is a lack of belief in god/gods, thats it. Thats what defines atheism. You want to change the definition because you do not want to be in the same category as people I imagine you find obnoxious about thier atheism.
    Anyway, if I lack a belief in god then the answer to the question “do you believe in god?” Is “no”, correct?
  • jorndoe
    1.1k
    Where B is the operator for belief, you can be without or with beliefs for proposition p:

    1. someone does not believe p: ¬Bp
    2. someone believes not p: B[¬p]
    3. someone does not believe not p: ¬B[¬p]
    4. someone believes p: Bp

    Those are the possibilities in doxastic logic.

    2 and 4 contradict (with). 1 and 3 do not contradict (without). 1 and 4, 2 and 3, contradict (with and without). 2 entails 1, and 4 entails 3 (with belief entails without belief in the contrary, and the converse does not hold). Each can be exemplified, they're jointly exhaustive of belief and the proposition, and no two are identical.

    Differentiating a couple categories:

    • the elaborate religions with scriptures and stories of supernaturals, rituals, commands, fate designations, fulltime professional advertisers, often apologists earning a living from writing thereof, mutual inconsistencies, etc
    • unassuming deism, non-descript panpsychism, some varieties of Buddhism, entertaining some sort of (unknown) superbeing(s), etc

    The latter is typically of less concern, and epistemically more on par with The Matrix, Bostrom's hypothesis, Zhuangzi's butterfly, Māyā of Indian fame, deus deceptor, dream thought experiments, Kafkaesque silent hidden superbeings, perhaps even solipsism, you name it. (Maybe Spinozism?)

    "Whereof one cannot speak ..." and all that?

    Seems the term atheism is commonly used about someone technically agnostic towards the latter, and with doubt/disbelief in the former.

    Are you saying that there are no gods?Frank Apisa

    I was suggesting that absence of theism and doubt/disbelief therein does not comprise a belief system (any more than disbelief that Santa is real does).
  • 3017amen
    2.6k
    What I think you have a problem with is people who are atheists for bad reasonsDingoJones



    I might be able to speak to some of Frank's concerns there. Much like Einstein taught us, there are many atheists who have a systemic axe to grind, and it shows in their emotive activism. An example of that would be President Reagan's son. He's got "I'm angry" written all over his face.

    LOL
  • jorndoe
    1.1k
    I'm not real clear on the question, other than any proposition or judgment represents some form of belief/system3017amen

    Check the comment above (doxastic logic).
    You may believe (even know) that exactly one of p or its negation holds, B[p ∨ ¬p], and yet not believe either one of them, ¬Bp ∧ ¬B[¬p].
    Oddly enough perhaps, believers, by implication, also lack beliefs (like agnostics), as they cannot (coherently) harbor belief in the contrary.

    Anyway, I guess there's lots more to be said on that stuff, e.g. beliefs are not mere matters of "free choice".
  • Sir2u
    2.3k
    Its etymology CLEARLY indicates it was meant to denote “being without a god” (not being without a “belief” in a god)…and that was the use of the word throughout history. (Until debating atheists got hold of it.)Frank Apisa

    Some etymology sites give slightly different ways of looking at it. And disagree with you.

    https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=Atheist
    atheist (n.)

    1570s, "godless person, one who denies the existence of a supreme, intelligent being to whom moral obligation is due," from French athéiste (16c.), from Greek atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" (see a- (3)) + theos "a god" (from PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts).

    “Atheist”, it should be noted, was introduced to the English language BEFORE theist…so it could not have been derived the way some atheists want to insist, by “a” (without) + “theist” (a “belief” in a god) = without a “belief” in a god.)Frank Apisa

    https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=theist
    theist (n.)
    1660s, from Greek theos "god" (from PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts) + -ist. The original senses was that later reserved to deist: "one who believes in a transcendent god but denies revelation." Later in 18c. theist was contrasted with deist, as believing in a personal God and allowing the possibility of revelation.

    As they both have the same root there is no need for one to be derived from the other. They were just words created for different purposes.
  • tim wood
    5.3k
    Its etymology CLEARLY indicates it was meant to denote “being without a god”Frank Apisa

    The α is certainly privative. But the word you need to attend to is the ό θεός. Of course even if atheist were only just an English word, you'd still have to account for the meaning of its parts - if you're serious. But like everyone, you take the understanding of the meaning of the word "God" for granted, and that means that you can make all the noise you like, but based on your beginning, you're not saying anything.
  • Relativist
    1.5k
    0 P
    An "atheist" is a person who either "believes" there are no gods...or who "believes it is more likely that there are no gods than that there is at least one."Frank Apisa
    What would you call someone who believes it extremely unlikely that a God of religion exists? A "God of religion" is a being who intervenes in the world, reveals himself to some, and provides for a life after death. (I'm referring to myself, btw).

    My point is that "God" is a fuzzy term.
  • StreetlightX
    6.1k
    Babies are very much the perfect atheists. For them, the question of God(s) - like every other question of course - is simply unintelligible. As it should be. The tragedy of it is that most are brought up to believe that the very question makes sense at all. Shame.
  • ZhouBoTong
    837
    Its etymology CLEARLY indicates it was meant to denote “being without a god” (not being without a “belief” in a god)…and that was the use of the word throughout history. (Until debating atheists got hold of it.)Frank Apisa

    Of course it was always about belief. Wait, unless there are KNOWN god(s) I haven't been told about?

    Just because people in the past KNEW there was a god(s), doesn't mean we can't KNOW that their knowledge was actually just belief.

    This nonsense (insistence by some atheists) that anyone lacking a belief (in) god is an atheist…is an insult to reason and logic.Frank Apisa

    Wait, so someone who lacks belief is a theist? Whatever else we add to "atheist", "not a theist" seems accurate, no?

    I guess then we are just arguing whether all non-theists are atheists...so, then we are just arguing whether there is room for a third option (and once we admit a third we should probably admit an infinite spectrum of possibilities). And this will just boil down to semantics and our interpretations of words.

    Atheists would leave the agnostics alone if they didn't often sound like theists who are just unsure of which god(s) to believe in :razz:
  • 180 Proof
    1.8k
    Like many others, Frank A, you confuse yourself about "atheism" by conflating its meta-statements (re: theism) with theism's object-statements (re: g/G). :point:

    An "atheist" is a person who either "believes" there are no gods...or who "believes it is more likely that there are no gods than that there is at least one."Frank Apisa
    I'm an atheist insofar as I claim that 'theism is not true'.

    And if this claim is warranted (which, at minimum both conceptually & physically, it is), then every theistic g/G is necessarily an empty name - cannot refer (like e.g. five-sided triangles, a fish ice-skating on the sun, the Great Cthulhu, etc).

    In other words, I neither "believe" that there exists nor "believe" that there does not exist a g/G; but rather assert that the theistic claims about, or predicates ascribed to, g/G, according to scripture, creed, or dogmatic theology, are easily - like shooting fish in a barrel - falsified. Thus, "YHWH", "Ahura Mazda", "Shakti", "Zeus", "Quetzalcoatl", "Aten", "Vishnu", "Mithras", "Wotan", "Allāh", etc are merely (ritualized) fictions. For atheists like me, theistic-talk is nothing but (occasionally placebo effect-inducing) babytalk, or fetishistic gibberish (e.g. WOO-of-the-gaps); and, in this sense, I follow the via negationis of the apophatic tradition.
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    Frank Apisa

    Ya, thats just theistic semantics, calling a lack of belief a belief to draw a false equivalence so they can shift the burden of proof. You aren’t doing that, but you are making the same error.
    What I think you have a problem with is people who are atheists for bad reasons, and/or who are anti-theists and atheists but fail to make the correct distinction between the two. Those people are just one kind of atheist, and there are all kinds of different atheists...what they have in common is a lack of belief in god/gods, thats it. Thats what defines atheism. You want to change the definition because you do not want to be in the same category as people I imagine you find obnoxious about thier atheism.
    Anyway, if I lack a belief in god then the answer to the question “do you believe in god?” Is “no”, correct?
    DingoJones

    First of all, thank you for continuing the conversation, Dingo. Gonna just deal with two things you mentioned here:

    One...I do not want to be defined as "an atheist" simply because of a self-serving definition. I AM NOT AN ATHEIST. In other fora I am often called a Democrat because many of my positions comport with the positions espoused by Democrats. BUT I AM NOT A DEMOCRAT. I am a registered Independent.

    That is the reason I do not want those descriptors (unnecessarily) assigned to me.

    Two...if you lack a belief (in) (any) god(s)...YES, the answer to the question "do you believe in god" is NO.

    What is your point with that?
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    Where B is the operator for belief, you can be without or with beliefs for proposition p:

    1. someone does not believe p: ¬Bp
    2. someone believes not p: B[¬p]
    3. someone does not believe not p: ¬B[¬p]
    4. someone believes p: Bp

    Those are the possibilities in doxastic logic.

    2 and 4 contradict (with). 1 and 3 do not contradict (without). 1 and 4, 2 and 3, contradict (with and without). 2 entails 1, and 4 entails 3 (with belief entails without belief in the contrary, and the converse does not hold). Each can be exemplified, they're jointly exhaustive of belief and the proposition, and no two are identical.

    Differentiating a couple categories:

    the elaborate religions with scriptures and stories of supernaturals, rituals, commands, fate designations, fulltime professional advertisers, often apologists earning a living from writing thereof, mutual inconsistencies, etc
    unassuming deism, non-descript panpsychism, some varieties of Buddhism, entertaining some sort of (unknown) superbeing(s), etc

    The latter is typically of less concern, and epistemically more on par with The Matrix, Bostrom's hypothesis, Zhuangzi's butterfly, Māyā of Indian fame, deus deceptor, dream thought experiments, Kafkaesque silent hidden superbeings, perhaps even solipsism, you name it. (Maybe Spinozism?)

    "Whereof one cannot speak ..." and all that?
    jorndoe

    Sorry, but I have no idea of what you are talking about here. Assume I am stupid...and dumb it down if it is important for me to understand your position.

    Seems the term atheism is commonly used about someone technically agnostic towards the latter, and with doubt/disbelief in the former.

    As I see it...everyone is "agnostic" about the unknown. That is a tautology of sorts. It seems agnostics come in two varieties...those who acknowledge they do not know the unknown...and those who sorta acknowledge it, but go with their guesses.

    Are you saying that there are no gods?
    — Frank Apisa

    I was suggesting that absence of theism and doubt/disbelief therein does not comprise a belief system (any more than disbelief that Santa is real does).

    Okay...the absence of "belief" DOES NOT comprise a "belief" system. I agree totally.

    I have the absence of "belief" on this question. I do not guess either way...which really is all a "belief" is.

    The people who use the descriptor "atheist" however, seem to make a guess. (Perhaps not all of them, but the vast majority of them.) Those who have not made the guess (have the "belief") avoid using that descriptor.

    Thanks for your interest in the discussion, Jorndoe.
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    Its etymology CLEARLY indicates it was meant to denote “being without a god”
    — Frank Apisa

    The α is certainly privative. But the word you need to attend to is the ό θεός. Of course even if atheist were only just an English word, you'd still have to account for the meaning of its parts - if you're serious. But like everyone, you take the understanding of the meaning of the word "God" for granted, and that means that you can make all the noise you like, but based on your beginning, you're not saying anything.
    tim wood

    Sorry you feel that way, Tim, but thank you for sharing it.
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    0 P
    An "atheist" is a person who either "believes" there are no gods...or who "believes it is more likely that there are no gods than that there is at least one."
    — Frank Apisa
    What would you call someone who believes it extremely unlikely that a God of religion exists?
    Relativist

    I would call him/her..."a person who 'believes' it extremely unlikely that a God of religion exists."

    I would not assign a descriptor...unless there is a descriptor that is particular to that. (I can think of none that is.)


    A "God of religion" is a being who intervenes in the world, reveals himself to some, and provides for a life after death. (I'm referring to myself, btw).

    Okay.

    Since you have specified it to yourself...I would suggest that you use what I said in the preceding paragraph....with the understanding that the descriptor "agnostic" might be appropriate for the greater question of, "Has everything always existed on its own, or was there a initiating force that could reasonably be call "god(s)?"

    My point is that "God" is a fuzzy term.

    It is, indeed.

    And while I maintain that there is not enough unambiguous evidence upon which to base a meaningful guess about "that great unknown"...there certainly seems to be enough evidence upon which to base meaningful guesses about the gods of Olympus, Valhalla, and Abraham.
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    Babies are very much the perfect atheists. For them, the question of God(s) - like every other question of course - is simply unintelligible. As it should be. The tragedy of it is that most are brought up to believe that the very question makes sense at all. Shame.StreetlightX

    I respectfully disagree.

    Babies are very much the perfect agnostics. Not only do they not know...they don't even know they don't know.

    As for how they are brought up...

    ...almost all of the atheists I have known (ALMOST ALL, not all) have been raised to be theists. We learn...and I tend to suppose that those of us who cease being theists are the better for it having been a choice of maturity.
  • Frank Apisa
    2.1k
    Its etymology CLEARLY indicates it was meant to denote “being without a god” (not being without a “belief” in a god)…and that was the use of the word throughout history. (Until debating atheists got hold of it.)
    — Frank Apisa

    Of course it was always about belief. Wait, unless there are KNOWN god(s) I haven't been told about?

    Just because people in the past KNEW there was a god(s), doesn't mean we can't KNOW that their knowledge was actually just belief.
    ZhouBoTong

    Sounds like part of this was satire. Not sure how much, so I'll just leave it be.

    This nonsense (insistence by some atheists) that anyone lacking a belief (in) god is an atheist…is an insult to reason and logic.
    — Frank Apisa

    Wait, so someone who lacks belief is a theist? Whatever else we add to "atheist", "not a theist" seems accurate, no?

    You seem to think their is a dichotomy that breaks down to "either theist or atheist."

    That is not the case.

    IF THERE MUST BE A DICHOTOMY (I do not think there has to be)...it could just as easily be:

    a) Those who make a guess (have a 'belief') in one direction or the other...

    b) Those who do not.

    I guess then we are just arguing whether all non-theists are atheists...so, then we are just arguing whether there is room for a third option (and once we admit a third we should probably admit an infinite spectrum of possibilities). And this will just boil down to semantics and our interpretations of words.

    Not necessarily.

    The totally unnecessary insistence that if one lacks a "belief" in any god...one is an atheist...can be discarded. (It actually makes no sense and should be discarded.)

    Atheists would leave the agnostics alone if they didn't often sound like theists who are just unsure of which god(s) to believe in :razz:

    That is because some atheists are assholes.

    I am an agnostic who has clearly stated my agnostic position...and anyone supposing I am a closet theists is just being an asshole.
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