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Do you really know the difference between agnostic and atheist?

  1. Cattleprod Media profile image86
    Cattleprod Mediaposted 6 years ago

    I find most people are clueless. They say they are atheist, but can't properly form an argument as to WHY, or they say they are agnostic, with zero clue as to WHAT that is.

    Ignorance, above all, is our weakness. Not religion. Although ignorance and religion are good bedfellows.

    1. psycheskinner profile image81
      psycheskinnerposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Silly me, I thought you migth actually provide the answer to the question you posed.  Do you know it?

      I think that so long as people know what they beleive, what the call it is not such a big deal.

      1. Dgerrimea profile image80
        Dgerrimeaposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        I agree, it's very frustrating when people don't realize that definitions are not absolute, and they can be different for different people. It's just a matter of consensus, and should be agreed upon before the discussion begins.

    2. profile image66
      paarsurreyposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Hi friends

      There is little difference in both; however one thing is common between Atheists and Agnostics, they both are confused, having no brilliant argument in their support.

      I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim

    3. Andrew0208 profile image60
      Andrew0208posted 6 years ago in reply to this

      The Difference: Trick and Pride respectively. smile

      1. Mark Knowles profile image60
        Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        Which is which Andrew? Am I just Tricked or Proud?

        1. Andrew0208 profile image60
          Andrew0208posted 6 years ago in reply to this

          lol

  2. Dgerrimea profile image80
    Dgerrimeaposted 6 years ago

    Bear in mind that each person may have their own particular definitions of those words. While it's true that many people haven't thought through or properly justified many of their beliefs, it is a mistake to call someone ignorant just because their definitions may be different from yours.
    I'm not accusing, just mentioning.

    1. Don W profile image81
      Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      lol. You are aware that the definition of 'definition' relates to something that's definite, i.e. clearly determined?

      So a term for which each person has their own definition is a contradiction in terms, because if each person has their own definition, then by definition, they don't have a definition.

      convoluted but true

      1. Dgerrimea profile image80
        Dgerrimeaposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        You seem to have made a leap from "a definition is clearly determined", to "everyone must have the same definitions for any of them to be valid".

        A definition is a form of consensus, and it doesn't have to be universal, and aspects of a definition can be unique to individuals. You could argue that 'definition' is a poor choice of word and that I should just say 'meaning of a word', but nobody has trouble understand my use of the word 'definition'.

        1. Don W profile image81
          Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          lol. Well didn't mean to open a can of worms.

          In response to your comments, I said no such thing. Didn't mention validity at all. Only that your use of the word 'definition' isn't correct. It's possibly just a language thing.

          But a definition can't be 'unique to individuals'. If it is, it's not a definition. If a word has multiple meanings or senses, they can be included in a definition, but they aren't different definitions, just different accepted meanings within the same definition.

          Atheist is defined as someone with a lack of belief, or disbelief in god. There are different types of atheism strong/weak, implicit/explicit etc, but these different types are not different 'definitions'. They fall within the same definition of atheist.

          Definitions change over time, as the meanings assigned to words in society changes. But if I use the word atheist instead of banana, my usage is not a 'unique definition', I'm just using the word incorrectly according to its definition, because banana is not currently one of the accepted meanings within the definition of atheist.

          1. profile image60
            tommyjposted 6 years ago in reply to this

            He's got a point.

          2. nlowman profile image60
            nlowmanposted 6 years ago in reply to this

            Thank you for more clearly stating what I was trying to say.

          3. Dgerrimea profile image80
            Dgerrimeaposted 6 years ago in reply to this

            Ok so it is just semantics, and your preferences are different from mine. What word would you rather I use in place of 'definition'?

            1. Dave Barnett profile image60
              Dave Barnettposted 6 years ago in reply to this

              already said this somewhere in this mess. Agnostic don't know what to believe, so are non-committal on religious matters. A-theism is like A-sexuality. A-sexuality is the complete lack of sex as in the natural world, therefore A-theism is a beleif in no god. a-sex=nosex A-theist=no god. It's in the dictionary.

              1. Dgerrimea profile image80
                Dgerrimeaposted 6 years ago in reply to this

                Not sure why you quoted me, my question wasn't for you.

                Your definitions are fine, but they're different from mine.
                I wouldn't say atheism is a belief at all, even "a belief in no god".

                I'm not sure it particularly matters what's in the dictionary. I wouldn't be wrong for disagreeing with it because when it comes to defining words there is no right or wrong, there is only consensus. I could waste my time by being contrary to popular usage, but I wouldn't be wrong.
                Whether dictionaries even define words at all is another debate.

                1. Pcunix profile image87
                  Pcunixposted 6 years ago in reply to this

                  And let's not forget that the odds are good that a theist wrote the definition :-)

              2. Beelzedad profile image60
                Beelzedadposted 6 years ago in reply to this

                Sorry, that is not what it says in my dictionary.

                Theism is the doctrine or belief in the existence of a god or gods.

                Atheism would be the lack of accepting the doctrine or belief in a god or gods, and NOT the lack of acceptance or disbelief in the god or gods themselves. smile

            2. profile image0
              jambo87posted 6 years ago in reply to this

              You guys are looking for the word 'connotation'.  We all have different connotations of words, while the denotation (definition) is literally what your dictionary says if you ever open it.

              I'm proud to be an atheist, as all theists should be proud of their believe in God.  For me, atheism allows me to construct my own view of the world.  And nobody has ever started a war to defend the nonexistence of God.

  3. nlowman profile image60
    nlowmanposted 6 years ago

    It's fine to mention that, but "agnostic" and "atheist" are clearly words that in fact have definitions. People should have a general idea of what they are saying before the start saying it.

    To answer the question, yes. Atheists deny the existence of god, while agnostics are believe it is impossible to know whether god exists.

    1. Pcunix profile image87
      Pcunixposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Wrong.  Splitting hairs, yes, but..

      We don't deny anything.  We simply do not have belief in  gods - not your god, not any gods.

      I was born without belief and never acquired any.  Perhaps those who once believed feel that they deny something, but I do not.  I am simply without.

      1. Mark Knowles profile image60
        Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        How can you deny something that does not exist?

      2. Don W profile image81
        Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        One type of atheist simply lacks belief. Another type of atheist lacks belief, and asserts that the proposition "at least one deity exists" is false. This assertion contradicts the assertion made by theism, i.e. that "at least one deity exists" is true and is therefore a denial of it. So although it may be true of you personally, the suggestion that all atheists don't deny anything is in fact wrong (assuming that by "we" you mean all atheists and not some subset).

      3. nlowman profile image60
        nlowmanposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        I don't recall saying that I had a god.

        And, like Don said above, I went on to clarify different types of Atheism. Some do, in fact, deny the existence of any god. Others are "simply without," as you put it Pcunix.

        1. Mark Knowles profile image60
          Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          All atheists are "simply without". And the only reason they ever need to say anything is in the face of an assertion that there is. Admittedly - some of us are more aggressive in making that statement. Our lack of belief remains the same. Atheists do not believe in a god. Any god. The difference seems to be merely how loud one feels the need to make the statement, if at all.

          1. nlowman profile image60
            nlowmanposted 6 years ago in reply to this

            Hence the "different types of Atheism." I only pointed that out again because Dgerrimea was making an issue about the difference between "denying the existence of" and "a lack of belief in" god.

            I agree with what you're saying, my posts are just littered throughout and not quite as cohesive as they should have been. Next time, I'll try to get all my ideas into one place, or at least be more thorough the first time around.

  4. Dgerrimea profile image80
    Dgerrimeaposted 6 years ago

    Those are your particular definitions but some people would disagree. I tend to use 'atheism' to describe not a denial of god's existence, but rather a lack of belief in god(s). It's not wrong, it's just different. By some peoples' definitions 'agnostic' has no meaning until it's coupled with either 'theist' or 'atheist', it's kind of like atheist to theist run on one axis, and agnostic to gnostic run on the other. Again, not wrong, just different definitions.

    1. nlowman profile image60
      nlowmanposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Agnostic always has a meaning. If you want to get really technical about it, with the theist portion, it can mean being doubtful or noncommittal. Either way, it is a noun or can be used as an adjective and has a meaning.

      Regarding atheist, I see your point that it is the opposite spectrum of theist. A theist is one who believes in god; therefore an atheist is one who does not believe in god. Not believing in something is the same as denying its existence. I don't believe in Santa Clause; therefore, I deny his existence.

      1. psycheskinner profile image81
        psycheskinnerposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        I disagree.  I don't believe in bg foot, but I don't find it impossible that it exists and would be willing to changing my mind if one was shown to me. Denail would require an absolute faith that just because I don't believe in something based on the current evidence it doesn't exist for everyone, everywhere and never will. I am more of a 'null hypothesis atheist'.

  5. akirchner profile image94
    akirchnerposted 6 years ago

    I agree that atheism is the belief that no god exists while agnostic to me means I don't know either way and I don't really give a crap! Just me!

  6. profile image0
    Twenty One Daysposted 6 years ago

    Agnostic implies a zealot; anti gnostic perhaps; as an atheist implies an anti theistic ideology. They are quite different in both approach and definition. What I believe your are witnessing in the "forumivity" is more antagonist v theist. An a-theist and theist are generally the same -two views of a mute point.

    There are no true atheists. Even the ones who claim to be still worship a god -even Dawkins himself worships her- yes, nature; evolution; etc. Mother Nature is perhaps the oldest worshiped ideology of mankind. (see Diana, Artemis, Terra, Uallak, Kali-ma, Shakti, Danu and more... )

    1. Dgerrimea profile image80
      Dgerrimeaposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I believe I'm a true atheist. Also, atheist doesn't necessarily imply any kind of ideology, and agnostic is generally seen as almost the opposite of a zealot.

      Could please elaborate on your points?

  7. Dgerrimea profile image80
    Dgerrimeaposted 6 years ago

    Actually there is a difference; if you lack a belief then you have no position in regards to something. If you deny its existence, suddenly you are making a truth claim about that thing.

    This is the difference between our definitions of 'atheist'. By my definition atheism is merely a lack of belief, but your definition goes a step further and has atheism as a denial of the existence of god(s).

    1. nlowman profile image60
      nlowmanposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      That makes no sense. A lack of believe is certainly a position.

      Your lack of belief viewpoint is "implicit" atheism and my "denial" wording is "explicit" atheism.

      1. Dgerrimea profile image80
        Dgerrimeaposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        I have a coin in one of my hands. You don't know which one.

        I ask you, do you believe it's in my right hand?

        If you are honest you will say 'no', because you cannot justify believing that it is in my right  hand. This doesn't mean you are denying that it's in my right hand, as from your point of view it could be in either.

        That's what I mean when I say that my atheism isn't making any claims, and yours is.

  8. profile image0
    Twenty One Daysposted 6 years ago

    I say there is no true atheist since -to my knowledge- no human being from child to great (x 10) grandparent can say they have never had or come in contact with the notion, idea, expression, opinion or positive-negative experiences regarding a deity. If there is such a person than yes, it is pure. But, if not, then there is no true/pure atheist. The word itself forms from a belief system -as a polar equal. The disbelief or the belief are synonymous. One cannot exist without the other in there respective positions. The equation needs the sensation and vice versa.

    An agnostic generally is one who strongly opposes the ideas of gnosticism -which is a very elaborate and rigid belief in the supreme universe -not as a singular entity but the everything from space to microbe -the all-in-all. The position of an agnostic is not to dispute the existence of Creator but to disprove those elements suggested by those zealots. Zealots do not adhere well to ritual belief systems of either side of "the Ism", giving them titles like heretic. An agnostic counters them with its idea in the need of some rituals in order to fully express the value of the individual and collective as well as its purpose for existing by 'something'.

    1. Dgerrimea profile image80
      Dgerrimeaposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      So you don't consider anyone an atheist who has come into contact with the idea of a deity?

      I disagree that one cannot exist without the other, because even if nobody claimed that god(s) exist(s), I still wouldn't believe.

      Your definitions of agnostic and gnostic are not ones I've come across before, and I'm not sure if they're particularly useful definitions hmm

    2. Pcunix profile image87
      Pcunixposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I was put in contact.  My parents took me to church.  I listened and assumed these stories were not different  from the Winnie the Pooh my mother read to me at home.  Later, when I realized these people were serious, I was horrified.  It seemed impossible to me that anyone could believe such things.

      Still seems that way to me today, but plainly they do.

      Whether you want to call that "pure" is semantics.  I'd call it natural atheism.

      1. ceciliabeltran profile image85
        ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        interesting...

  9. profile image0
    Twenty One Daysposted 6 years ago

    Oddly, I have been called an atheist for my refusal to accept the notion of "G/god". But by definition, I came to that conclusion based on historical records from several different theistic concepts -ranging from Babylonian Talmud to Mysticism.

    More so than not, I am shamelessly gnostic. A proud heretic (and to some here a lunatic). I have met many agnostic people in my lifetime and more antagonists here than anywhere.

    But yes, from a critical view or critique, to be a pure atheist, one would have to be free of all such concepts, else have drawn a conclusion against the idea and its parts. To take it further -an atheist is more a theist than most ritual beliefs are -either by science or religion- needing much affirmation to remain in their position. Hence, why most titled atheists -to me- are antagonists really. Not provoking ones, just in general. It is definitely hard work, which I respect. Jokingly, it takes more energy to disbelieve something than to believe.

    This is the parallel of "The Ism" -equation/logic vs sensation (classic/romantic; passive/aggressive; yin/yang. The danger I see recently is the united Ism perfectly titled: Quality. Quality of life, etc. As if after many years the the hunter and the weaver have reunited. The offspring is what concerns me...

  10. Dgerrimea profile image80
    Dgerrimeaposted 6 years ago

    You lost me with the bit about weaving, but I can't really relate to your definitions anyway.

    1. profile image0
      Twenty One Daysposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      hunter -the classic; the masculine; the yin; science.
      weaver -the romantic; the feminine; the yang; religion.

      It is difficult for me to come down the monkey bar sometimes. just how my brain works. Sorry.

    2. ceciliabeltran profile image85
      ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Oh so you've finally met James. smile

      What he says is true though. Gnosticism, was an early Christian sect that more closely resembled esoteric Judaism.

      The belief in Gnosis, light or knowledge coming from one source and fragmenting into the light within you and me. Light to them is reason and knowledge. Gnosis is the worship or the seeking of that knowledge of one-ness.

      An a-gnostic is someone who believes in the value of an unexamined life. It is neither a "god or no god" stance, but rather a "who cares" stance.

      "life is full of pain and therefore we must take the pleasures that we can"- Woody Allen--Vicky Cristina Barcelona

      While you have not come across that definition, the etymology explains the meaning and hence the appropriate application.

      While words have different values to the person as well as varying emotional associations, the reason for having words is to have a consensus in meaning in order for communication to take place. Otherwise, lets just all be monkeys and let let our bodies and eyes do the talking.

  11. profile image0
    Chasukposted 6 years ago

    Atheism and agnosticism describe a narrow spectrum of beliefs, and all of these beliefs concern the existence or non-existence of deities.

    The definition(s) of these words have morphed in my lifetime, shifting towards greater precision, or, as some might argue, greater complication.

    In the 1970s, when I became an atheist and then an agnostic, the definitions most commonly understood were provided by Bertrand Russell.

    The weak/strong, negative/positive, and implicit/explicit definitions are a relatively recent development, not being widely embraced until the mid-1990s. 

    I'm paraphrasing, but Russell defined atheism, theism, and agnosticism as follows:

    Atheism: The belief that it is possible to KNOW that God does NOT exist.

    Theism: The belief that it is possible to KNOW that God DOES exist.

    Agnosticism: The belief that it is impossible to know whether or not God exists.

    I use the word "God" instead of "deities" above because the questions which generate these definitions are nowadays primarily of interest to those with early exposure to Abrahamic religions, so it is usually disingenuous to use the words "deity" or "deities."

    As a final aside...

    Agnosticism has nothing to do with zealotry. Some definitions are wrong, not merely different. An agnostic will never be a kumquat, except perhaps in a Terry Pratchett novel.

  12. profile image0
    Twenty One Daysposted 6 years ago

    lol That is worth quoting! Brilliant sentence.

    I do disagree slightly with you, Chasuk, as having lived around quite a few of them. Their idea is that the framework of any belief system is improvable by the systems themselves and should be investigated and corrected. In some Vedic traditions agnostics were zealous to the point of altering the texts. This is also said to be true of the present religious canons of Babylonian Judaism and Tanakh as well as Christianity and even into modern Islam.

    Gnosticism regards it as useless and of no value, since One G/god can be replaced by another.

    1. ceciliabeltran profile image85
      ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Hi James! Is it too obvious that I'm your groupie? lol

      1. profile image0
        Twenty One Daysposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        I just saw this. lol I have groupies!!!

  13. Stimp profile image80
    Stimpposted 6 years ago

    iy, yiy, yiy roll

  14. Jerami profile image76
    Jeramiposted 6 years ago

    If you were the father of six childern?  Four of them sits in your lap and you tell them stories, give them coolies etc....

       One of the six says that they think that you "Might" be sitting in a chair waiting for them to come sit in your lap.
      The othe one don't believe that there is a Chair and does not believe that you are sitting in it waiting for them to come and hear a story and eat cookies.

       So there is no difference between the agnostic and atheist cause neither one of then is goina get to eat cookies.

    1. Mark Knowles profile image60
      Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      LOL

      But there is no father and there are no cookies, and you ain't sat in the chair, Daddy. One of the bastard sons need a father so bad he invents it. But - it ain't there no matter how hard it wants it to be.

      Another bastard is certain it ain't there, and another one thinks you can never know nothin'. The one who needs it to be there so bad kills the others for not beleebing wot it beleebs. But that is OK - Coz the 'maginery Daddy sed so. wink

      Sadly you can have cookies if you want - but you have you have to make do with the real ones that only last a lifetime - not the 'maginary ones you want so bad coz u am skeered.

      It puts the lotion in the basket. wink

      1. Jerami profile image76
        Jeramiposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        Hay M.K.   I hope the world is treating you good today.

           I got a bag of cookies.
           And every bastard child that comes by can have some.

           That is as lond as they are smart enough to not curse me out with their hand out for a cookie

        1. Mark Knowles profile image60
          Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          Awesome Jerami.

          I want 10 million cookies now Daddy. You are all powerful - why haven't they arrived yet? sad

          Dishonest argument Jerami. Y'aint got a cookie for every bastard that wants one - do ya?

          Defending the Faith is wot u doin.

          Sad really. sad

          Atheist me - I stand up and sez it - Your god does not exist. No matter how dishonest your arguments get. Not there.

          Life is good - hot - but good. big_smile You?

  15. dahoglund profile image81
    dahoglundposted 6 years ago

    an atheist denies the existence of any god;aan agnostic claims to be undecided.

    1. Dave Barnett profile image60
      Dave Barnettposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      For one, atheism is not a religion, it is the rejection of religion, and it seems, true spirituality. Agnostism is that strange creature who sits at a football game, not knowing who to root for.

      1. Don W profile image81
        Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        Atheism is lack of belief that a deity exists, and/or the belief a deity does not exist. It's true to say some atheists reject religion, however atheism is not a prerequisite for rejecting religion, nor does it preclude involvement in religion. There are atheistic religions. Buddhism for example does not require belief in a deity or deities. It's entirely consistent to be both an atheist and Buddhist. So although you as an individual may be an atheist and also reject religion, it's inaccurate to suggest that atheism is "the rejection of religion".

  16. profile image0
    AKA Winstonposted 6 years ago

    Actually, the key term no one seems willing to define is belief.

    If I make one simple assumption that theism is defined as belief in God but is reasoned to be acceptance of the actuality of a non-physical God then I have also by inference defined the word belief, as the actuality of God cannot be shown empirically. 

    Therefore belief must mean acceptance of the reality of that which cannot be shown to physically exist, where physical existence is defined as an object (that which has shape) plus a location (a specific place the universe.)

    The question then becomes what does atheism mean in that context?  The common definition as belief in no God seems poorly defined if there is acceptance of the above use of belief - it would be like saying that the rational observation that shows no object exists in the universe named God(lack of empirical evidence) is the equivalent of assuming that lack of empirical evidence does not obviate the reality of a non-object God.

    One side is based on observation.  The other is based on faith.  Accordingly, the antithesis of belief is doubt, not unbelief.  Unbelief is the negation of belief - and that is shown not to be the case of theism and atheism.

    By these definitions, these matters now seem unrelated.  Atheism is objective, whereas theism is subjective. 

    The problem that confuses many lies in the understanding that God can indeed be shown to be an object - a portrait or a 6-inch plastic figurine sitting on the dashboard of my car, and thus this portrain/figurine God physically exists as an object with shape and a position - but then to endow that portraint/figurine with magical transformative powers of omniscience and omnipotence is a rather daunting alteration of known and understood reality.

    Likewise, the theist claim that omniscience and omnipotence lies in the realm of the non-physical is to acknowledge that the realities of those claims exists only in the mind, as concepts, as thoughts, and not as the objective 6-inch figurine swaying back and forth on my dashboard. 

    The one who seems the most confused is the agnostic, who doesn't seem to even understand the questions, let alone the impact of either answer.

    1. Dave Barnett profile image60
      Dave Barnettposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      A-theist, as in A-sexual, There now, you made me say the S word.

      1. ceciliabeltran profile image85
        ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        I had the same argument with him . antithesis of belief is disbelief.  but I agree with him that the word belief needs to be cut up and examined.


        belief –noun
        # The mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another.

        The word itself is outside of empirical evidence. It is an acceptance despite lack of evidence that one such concept is true.

        so one who "doubts" is reserving opinion until empirical evidence is provided.

        One who is an unbeliever or a disbeliever is the opposite. He who does not believe also has accepted the concept as false despite being provided empirical evidence.

        Most atheists are unbelievers. While some, would actually seek evidence in the hopes of understanding the belief. They would not be true atheists, but doubters.

        I personally find that logically proving the existence of G-d is pointless. Because when you go to that part of your brain, the objective part, then the subjective benefit of having a god is lost.

        The concept exists for psychological relief. It is an aid to release the burden or consequence of having awareness, of knowing what will happen next. Prometheus complex.

    2. Don W profile image81
      Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Theism is the assertion that the proposition "at least one deity exists" is true. It doesn't follow that because a particular belief is defined as acceptance of a particular proposition, then belief per se must therefore be defined as acceptance of that proposition. That's a non-sequitur. It would be accurate to define "belief in god/theism/theistic belief" as that, but not "belief". And by coming at it from this angle, you're in danger of getting stuck in a quagmire of semantics relating to belief/disbelief/unbelief/doubt/faith/god/deity etc.

      To avoid that, we could just ask, what does atheism mean if theism is the assertion that the proposition "at least one deity exists" is true? The answer, as you hint at yourself, is multiple things. It's non-acceptance of the above assertion; It's the non acceptance and the assertion that the above proposition is false; And it's the non acceptance of both those propositions. These positions are sometimes referred to as weak atheism, strong atheism and agnosticism respectively, all of which fall within the definition of atheism.

      1. profile image0
        AKA Winstonposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        (Theism is the assertion that the proposition "at least one deity exists" is true.)

        I have to quibble.  An atheist in a debate class may be required to argue the theist side and thus assert this proposition as true.  Lawyers do this kind of thing all the time when they argue opposing sides of similar cases for different clients.

        To qualify as a theist, one must believe the assertion to be fact.  The atheist simply understands that belief cannot create fact.

        1. ceciliabeltran profile image85
          ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          i think that is an overgeneralization of what atheists think.

          but true, belief is not fact.

          1. profile image0
            AKA Winstonposted 6 years ago in reply to this

            In that sense the word "atheist" is a gerneralization, is it not?


            Besides, gerneralizations are a real time saver.  :-))

            1. profile image0
              AKA Winstonposted 6 years ago in reply to this

              Gerneralizations?

            2. ceciliabeltran profile image85
              ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

              while I agree with you that it is easier to automate judgment,

              I think gernerilazation is entirely different in spelling from generalization.

            3. ceciliabeltran profile image85
              ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

              hence the world OVER generalization.

        2. Don W profile image81
          Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          Some types of atheist assert that the proposition "at least one deity exists" is false, and hold that assertion to be true, i.e. they believe it. That fact suggests that, contrary to your assertion, some atheists do not understand that belief cannot create fact.

          (as for lawyers and debaters. I've always considered lawyers a bunch of mass debaters)

          1. ceciliabeltran profile image85
            ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

            True. I agree.

      2. Mark Knowles profile image60
        Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        This is an inaccurate way of presenting theism. A more honest way would be to say, it is the assertion that "at least one deity exists, and I know which deity, plus I have some instructions for you from said deity." wink

        1. ceciliabeltran profile image85
          ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          It is a component of theism but not theism alone. There are those who believe in interfaith, that's theism too.

          1. Mark Knowles profile image60
            Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

            I think you are mistaken Woowoo. Sorry. I must admit I had to look that up and this is what Wikipedia says.

            "The terms interfaith or interfaith dialogue refer to cooperative and positive interaction between people of different religious  traditions (i.e., "faiths") and spiritual  or humanistic beliefs, at both the individual and institutional level with the aim of deriving a common ground in belief through a concentration on similarities between faiths, understanding of values, and commitment to the world."

            They still seem to hold their own position - i.e. that they know which invisible super being is the right one. They just agree to stop murdering the other ones and talk about it. wink

            1. ceciliabeltran profile image85
              ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

              Nope they believe that all religions are valid and practice whatever they please. I have met many people who are interfaith, they proliferate in the life coaching industry.

              One definition does not encapsulate the meaning of the word.

        2. profile image0
          AKA Winstonposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          ROFLMAO!

          I think you missed one aspect, Mark.  It should be "I have some written orders for you.  See."  Thump, thump.  "Right there."  Thump, thump.  "Black and white."  Thump, thump.

        3. Don W profile image81
          Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          The Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) fall into this category. But other forms of theism don't. Deists for example don't accept the idea of a deity who intervenes in human affairs, and do not claim to have any "instructions" to follow, yet (obviously) do hold that "at least one deity exists" is true. So theism describes the set of beliefs which have the above proposition in common, whereas what you've described simply defines a subset of those beliefs. Therefore your description is not so much a "more honest" way to describe theism, as it is a less accurate one.

          1. Mark Knowles profile image60
            Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

            I see - so we are prepared to ignore the fact that these three monotheistic religions are in fact much more numerous and far more representative of theism than deism is?

            My description is indeed much more honest and far more representative of the term "theism" - especially in regards to this discussion, because most atheists do not feel the need to be outspokenly "a-theistic" until the more apt description (bulk of theists) is used.

            You do not find many a-deists. lol lol

            In fact - I have never had an argument with one - and have generally found deists to be deistic up to a point, and that point seems to be where they feel that any strongly held points of view they hold must come from this higher power. wink

            1. ceciliabeltran profile image85
              ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

              actually classic theism is the belief in a single diety although theism also includes the belief in many gods that interfere with the affairs of men.

              there are also other terms such as diesm, which is grounded on the belief that G-d created the universe but did not really reveal "himself" to humans (hence did not give instructions). Just an intelligent entity that set the universe in motion and everything else is mechanized after that.

              There are also pantheists who believes that G-d is the universe.

              You will find that certain sects of judaism and hinduism would be theistic or pantheistic, in a way Buddhism is also pantheistic.

              So to generalize theists as those who believe in god or gods is like really displaying simplistic knowledge of such a rich topic.

              I don't know but the belief in G-d cannot be encaptulated in sweeping statements.

              1. profile image0
                Twenty One Daysposted 6 years ago in reply to this

                I would agree, with the addition that merely a breathe from Creator is the entire universe and things in it.

            2. ceciliabeltran profile image85
              ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago in reply to this

              actually classic theism is the belief in a single diety although theism also includes the belief in many gods that interfere with the affairs of men.

              diesm  is grounded on the belief that G-d created the universe but did not really reveal "himself" to humans (hence did not give instructions). Just an intelligent entity that set the universe in motion and everything else is mechanized after that.

              There are also pantheists who believes that G-d is the universe.

              You will find that certain sects of judaism and hinduism would be more pantheistic. in a way Buddhism is also pantheistic.

              Then there is theosophy by Blavatsky, which interprets the nature of man through the "wisdom of religion".

              the belief in G-d cannot be encaptulated in sweeping statements. It obviously has many dimensions.

              Some agnostics are actually pantheists, like Richard Dawkins and some atheists would actually fall into deism. ism ism...

              there are many dimensions to the story and yet we dispense judgment on such terms like they're red, white or blue.

            3. Don W profile image81
              Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

              Suggesting the way you describe theism is more "honest" implies describing it another way is dishonest. I think it's reasonable to suggest people in general are aware that belief in god comes in different forms and theism is a term which encompasses those forms. Trying to categorise theism as Christianity, Islam and Judaism would itself not only be dishonest, but also inaccurate and "western/middle east centric" as it excludes East and South East Asian religions such as Hinduism and Shinto.

              Whichever way you look at it, theism does not simply mean Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The theist/atheist debate has focused around those particular religions for various cultural reasons, but that doesn't mean we should ascribe a perfectly good, well established term with a parochial meaning. Especially when there is already a term that describes these three specific religions - Abrahamic religions.

              Besides, people tend to refer to a religion by its name anyway. So if someone talks about Islam or Judaism, they tend to just say "Islam" or "Judaism". People tend not to say "theism" when they specifically mean Islam, so I think it's a moot point in one sense. And the fact that the OP is about the terms "agnostic" and "atheist", makes it a moot point in another sense as well. Either way, the meaning of theism remains the same.

              1. Mark Knowles profile image60
                Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

                Interesting that you so aggressively argue the point that there are different meanings and "types" of atheism, yet defend the premise that there is only one meaning of the term "theism".

                So, yes - "dishonest" comes to mind, Don.

                Shinto does not recognize a deity, Don. And Hinduism recognizes divinity, but not necessarily a deity. It is more a philosophy, Don. I would certainly hesitate before claiming them to be "theistic."

                Either way - A-theism is the lack of "theism." And if there are various types of atheism, it is because there are various types of theism. wink

                1. Don W profile image81
                  Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

                  Actually I'm arguing the opposite. That there are different forms of theism, not just the the forms you describe, which are the Abrahmic religions.

                  I don't think many people would characterise my preceding comments as being particularly "aggressive". Attempting to be rigorously accurate? Yes. Aggressive? Not really. And besides I don't see it being a particular boon for theism or atheism if theism is defined in the way you describe, so I'm not sure why you think there's anything "dishonest" about it. I only see your description as inaccurate, nothing more, nothing less.

                  As for Shinto and Hinduism. In Japanese Shinto mythology, Izanagi is a deity who begat the forefathers of Japan, so Shinto certainly does recognise at least one deity. Likewise in Hindu mythology, the devas are characterised as deities (the word Deva is the Sanskrit word for god). So that religion also recognises at least one deity. Both those religions are different to Abrahamic religions in terms of belief and practices, but that doesn't mean they are not forms of theism which, by definition, they are.

                  And as I said, that's my whole point. There are different forms of theism of which the Abrahamic religions are some. I'm not sure what particular significance you assign to that or why you think such an obvious state of affairs is debatable. But if you want to use the word "theism" to refer to the "Abrahamic religions", of course you're free to. Don't think anyone will loose sleep over it. Personally I'd just refer to the Abrahamic religions as "the Abrahamic religions" as it's more accurate, but that's just me.

  17. diabetesreporter profile image77
    diabetesreporterposted 6 years ago

    Just ran across this thread. Coincidentally, I just finished a hub on the topic of Atheism. Would appreciate any feedback. It's at http://hubpages.com/hub/What-Is-Atheism .

  18. mdlawyer profile image60
    mdlawyerposted 6 years ago

    An atheist is one who is against the belief in God.  That is, s/he does not believe in God and opposes and questions the concept of God. An agnostic is neither a believer nor a non-believer. S/he is neutral in the concept of God, neither supports nor opposes it.

  19. SaMcNutt profile image60
    SaMcNuttposted 6 years ago

    I don't believe in trees. People mention them, hug them (so they say), but I don't believe them. How we ever even came up with that word in the first place is crazy to me.

    Not cats on the other hand, well I am not sure. There is a possibility, but how can I ever know. It is nearly impossible to grasp the idea of cat some people talk about.

    Cheers.

    1. profile image0
      AKA Winstonposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      SaMcNutt: (I don't believe in trees.)

      You will most definately burn!  I have the PROOF right here.

      Book of Yada, Chapter Ya, VerseDi:
      "I think that I shall never see a thing as lovely as a TREE."

      Book of Yada, Chapter Ya, Verse Da:
      "Under the spreading chessnut TREE the village smithy stands."

      95th Yadi:
      "I talk to the TREES but they never listen to me."

      101st Yadi:
      "My heart PINES for thee."

  20. SaMcNutt profile image60
    SaMcNuttposted 6 years ago

    Still not convinced. It is jibberish. Tree is the shortened form of three, which is a number that people have transformed into this mythical invention to give shade to their overly sunny lives, because they can not face the reality that the sun is hot.

    Keep trying!

    1. profile image0
      AKA Winstonposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      SaMcnutt,
      (Still not convinced. It is jibberish.)

      I don't know what else I can do except ignore a period and one capitol letter to convince you it is jibberish.

      The fact that three woodpecker-infested trees argue for the reality of a Holey Trinity should in no way be construed as syllogistic validation that peckers and woodys exclude respect in the mid-morning.

      And we can deduce from your proposition P that the sun is not the only thing that is hot.

  21. thisisoli profile image57
    thisisoliposted 6 years ago

    Atheist and agnostic are actually gray areas, if only because they are defined slightly differently by different fields.

    I am however an Atheist, not because I cannot disprove religion, but because there is no way to prove it, in fact if you look at the facts there is actually very little that even suggests a deity other than human stories and their inability to grasp real life processes.

    1. Quietus profile image60
      Quietusposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Your definition would make you agnostic, sir.

  22. SaMcNutt profile image60
    SaMcNuttposted 6 years ago

    A revelation: I looked out my window and what did I see, but the very vision of a tree.

    However, woodpeckers? I think someone is inventing words now.

    1. profile image0
      AKA Winstonposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Wood is to tree as pecker is to Woody.

  23. ceciliabeltran profile image85
    ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago
  24. ceciliabeltran profile image85
    ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago
  25. ceciliabeltran profile image85
    ceciliabeltranposted 6 years ago

    an article about science and religion from the Judaic side:

    http://www.chabad.org/library/article_c … -Torah.htm

    and it claims that Torah is the basis for the scientific method:

    "Torah presents and rigorously develops the chazakah: An event must occur repeatedly under identical conditions to be considered the most likely outcome in the future (such as the case of the consistently goring ox). This is the basis of the scientific method."

    atheism and theism and agnosticism are bedfellows and feed upon each other. Lots of blurry lines. so really...

    1. profile image0
      Twenty One Daysposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      It is not surprising you posted this, Ceci, because from the roots of science -in Judaic and non-Judaic pre 19th century, that exact definition was the method of science. Science is no greater, with or without the veil of atheism. Science pre 19th century was naturalism and hokus pokus. The use of nature to bend the elements and fashion man the desired things. Most noted is in Enoch, who some say, claims the aliens/malak taught man to fashion the elements.

      True, a division of classic-romantic occurred and is slowly fading, leaving "atheism" holding its hat, so to speak. A point is coming when science will have to return to those dialogues in order to maintain itself and balance the ism itself. Else abandon all their notions entirely for purity of critique.

  26. Mark Knowles profile image60
    Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago

    No - while you may be "according to Wikipedia" correct, your meaning of the term "theism":

    "Theism is the assertion that the proposition 'at least one deity exists" is true'" is not complete. This is actually the definition of "deism" if this is the total statement made.

    A theist will then go on to claim some knowledge of which deity does exist and furthermore, invariably have some rules for you to follow. Perhaps my choice of the word aggressive was too strong.

    1. Don W profile image81
      Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      lol, I don’t see the relevance of Wikipedia to the discussion. The dictionary on my shelf, arguably more reliable than Wikipedia, defines theism as having these exact distinct meanings: 1‘belief in a personal god that intervenes in human affairs’, 2‘belief in the existence of a god or gods’. Which means the definition of theism includes the Abrahamic religions, but (with regard to the second meaning) does not exclusively describe such belief. That's exactly what I've been saying since you raised the point, and that's exactley what's in the definition of the word theism. So I still don't know what you're contesting.

      If you're suggesting the first meaning is often used, I agree, it is. But that doesn't make it the only meaning of the term. A single definition can (and often does) include multiple meanings and senses, as in this case. In my opinion, the second meaning is more accurate, because it encompasses the whole set of beliefs relating to deities, including the Abrahamic religions. So my use of that meaning does not reflect an intention to be less "honest". It reflects an intention to be accurate, and I resent your suggestion to the contrary.

      I must say I find the suggestion that someone would be dishonest about the definition of the word "theism" slightly bizarre, especially as the discussion is taking place on the web, and it's a trivial matter for anyone to look up the word for themselves. I know we shouldn't be naive, but do we really need to be that paranoid and cynical?

      1. Mark Knowles profile image60
        Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        Because your original definition was wikipedia word for word. wink

        And the interpretation of your dictionary definition is in-correct.

        A theist holds both these to be true.
        Take away no 1, and you have a deist do you not?

        Because "belief in the existence of a god or gods" alone also covers, Panetheism (new one on me), Pantheism, Various Paganisms, Duotheism and Deism.

        Don't like "dishonest" - fair enough - probably too strong a term - how about "incomplete"?

        1. Don W profile image81
          Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          Or perhaps wikipedia is all me word for word smile

          As for my "interpretation" being in-correct. I've heard that before somewhere. Anyone ever said that to you? lol But I promise you I'm not making this up.

          The reason there are two meanings listed is because they are distinct meanings/senses/uses assigned to the same term. That's the whole point of indicating different meanings. There isn't an AND relationship between them, but an OR relationship. In other words (as you rightly suggest) the first meaning, makes the second superfluous unless the second meaning is distinct from the first. No dictionary (worthy of the name) would suggest that theism is belief in a personal god, AND a belief in god, because the second meaning would be redundant in that case. Can you see that? And yes, 'belief in the existence of a god or gods' alone does encompass deism, pantheism etc. That's exactly the point I'm making.

          According to that meaning/sense/usage of the word, those beliefs are different types of theism. And belief in a single god is another type of theism (monotheism). So according to that usage of the word, theism is the set and all the other "isms" are subsets.

          You're entirely right to point out the other usage of the word, as a reference to belief in a personal god, even to suggest that is a common usage. But that doesn't alter the fact that this other meaning exists. That different usage is reflected in the fact that the definition of theism includes both distinct meanings. In my opinion, this usage is more accurate than the usage you described.   

          Presumably you've seen reference material that contains the usage you're describing, so just to show I'm not randomly making stuff up, here's a list of as many references I could be bothered to find that contain both descriptions presented as distinct meanings of the term. The length of the list reflects my laziness rather than the number of references available.

          http://www.thefreedictionary.com/theism
          http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/theism
          http://www.yourdictionary.com/theism
          http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/theism
          http://www.collinslanguage.com/results. … ext=theism

  27. kephrira profile image61
    kephriraposted 6 years ago

    The difference between agnostic and atheist is the difference between philosophy and science.

    I don't think that atheists neccessarily have a 'belief' that god doesn't exist; they could simply find the question irrelvant.

    Agnosticism seems to me to imply that you are willing to consider arguments from either side, which might not be the case if you have already dismissed the whole question.

  28. Mark Knowles profile image60
    Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago

    Well - maybe you wrote the wikipedia entry - in which case I suggest you change it because I put it to you that "theism" is a subset of "deism" and not the other way around.

    Deism is a broader description.

    That is to say, all theists, mono or otherwise, are deists, but not all deists are theists. wink

    Theism:

    Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.

    the  belief  in  one  god as  the  creator  and  ruler  of  the  universe,  without  rejection  of  revelation  (distinguished  from  deism).
    belief in the existence of a god or gods ( opposed to atheism)? What?

    1. Don W profile image81
      Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      You can put it to me if you like, but you'd be wrong. Theism (both meanings of the term) does not fall within the definition of deism. Deism however does fall within the definition of theism, specifically the second meaning of that term.

      All theists are not deists. The definition of deism describes the exact kind of theistic belief, i.e. a non-personal god. There is no other meaning within the definition of deism. Unlike theism which has two distinct meanings. One usage is as a prescriptive term describing a particular kind of theistic belief. The other a general term describing belief in a god or gods. Deism is therefore a form of theism, according to the general usage of the word, as is pantheism, monotheism, polytheism etc.

      And atheism is "opposed" to theism, i.e. its opposite to theism. So if atheism is the lack of assertion that a god or god exists, and the assertion that no gods exist, then the opposite is the assertion that a god or gods exists, which is exactly what general usage of the word theism is. If not, then we have to redefine atheism as the lack of assertion that a personal god exists etc. in which case all the reference material is incorrect.

      So either the reference material is all wrong and I and the authors of that material have all somehow managed to arrive at the same wrong conclusions or, shock horror, you're incorrect and theism does indeed have a general usage as belief in a god or gods. Either way, to make things as you suggest you need to either change the definition of theism, change the definition of atheism or change the definition of definition.

      1. Mark Knowles profile image60
        Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        No. Sorry - you are wrong. All deists make the assertion that there is a god/s and it/they created everything. That is all.

        Theists then go on to assert something that deists do not. i.e. this god/s has some ongoing input.

        Monotheists then go on to claim they know a specific single god and it tells them into their head what to do.

        And your dictionary definition agreed with me.

        Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.

        You are doing what all the religionists do - which I must admit colors our thinking after years of creating this meme - you are now claiming that not accepting something as true is making a positive statement. And this is the only subject in which we choose to take this approach. We even have laws against taking this approach - in fact - all our laws are against taking this approach. A man is not guilty until proven innocent for very good reasons.

        Just because you do not accept that a man can fly by jumping off a building and flapping his arms - does that make you something that needs to be defined? No - it is this assumption that there is a god and anyone who does not agree needs to be defined that is at the root of the current arguments. There is no assumption that a man can fly by jumping off a building and flapping his arms.  And this meme took centuries to create.

        Deists believe there is a god that created the universe. The End. It doesn't matter what ridiculous notions they do not accept after this. Why would we define things by what they are not unless there is an assumption made that there is in the first place? wink

        They are not making a statement. In fact - you could argue that deists are atheists. Or you could argue that atheists are actually adeists, and it is the strong ones that speak positively against the idea of a personal god that are the real atheists.

        1. Don W profile image81
          Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          lol. Okay, this is how definitions work. They list all the different recognised meanings and usage of a word, one after the other in sequential order. That doesn't mean all the meanings listed are used whenever the word is spoken. It just indicates that they are recognised meanings. For example the word "person" has around five or so recognised meanings. Someone can use any of the indicated meanings, without fear of misusing the term. But if they assign meaning that is not recognised, then they are misusing the term. With me? Good. So: 

          Noun
          theism (plural theisms)
          1 [i.e. this is one recognised meaning of this word]  belief in the existence of one or more deities.
          2 [i.e. this is another recognised meaning of this word] belief in the existence of a personal creator God, especially by or through revelation (i.e, with no evidence other than faith or introspection).
          (my emphasis obviously)

          So just as "person" can mean a human being in general, OR a specific human being's body", e.g. "he was attacked about his person", "theism" can refer to meaning 1, OR to meaning 2. It does not mean that "theism" means a combination of both listed meanings. It depends entirely on the usage as to which meaning applies. Indeed some words have completely unrelated meanings, so this is not even possible in some cases.

          That's how it works. If we started saying one usage is "wrong" according to another usage, then we'd all fall into a very deep subjectivist hole and languish there in semantic torment. The most people can do is agree upon a particular usage for the sake of a discussion, or agree that common terms could not be found AKA agreeing to disagree.

          My usage of "theism" relates to the first meaning above. If you don't like that. That's perfectly okay, you don't have to. But using a recognised meaning that differs from another recognised meaning isn't "wrong". It's just using a different recognised meaning. What's wrong is trying to do that in the first place.

          When you say "theism is belief in a personal god", you are actually saying "according to the second meaning of the above definition, theism is belief in a personal god". And I'm actually saying "according to the first meaning of the above definition, theism is belief in a god or gods". Indeed that's what all of us are doing whenever we use words with more than one meaning. We just leave out the first part for convenience.

          So, even though we might like it not to be the case, the meaning of a word is subjective (within the limits of its definition). I can use "theism" to mean belief in a personal god in this sentence. Then use "theism" to mean belief in a god or gods in this sentence. And be right both times.

          Aren't words fun!

          1. Mark Knowles profile image60
            Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

            They are fun. Myself - I prefer to use the most accurate meaning in order to clearly state what I mean, and I feel that this description is "dishonest".

            It is dishonest because - while it is semantically accurate - it is incomplete, with the intention of misleading the person you are speaking to.

            The real question you need to ask is - how on earth did this dishonest usage of the word get into all those dictionaries? wink

            Now - I am not suggesting that you are being dishonest - you are merely using the term as described in the dictionaries you pointed at - but this insidious use of semantics in order to mislead stems from religion.

            Off hand I cannot think of a single other subject where this is so prevalent (except politics perhaps, and seeing as monotheistic religions are actually political parties.....)

            You are quite happy to use a word in this fashion - knowing full well it is not a full description. Why is that? What a powerful meme.

            "Yeah - us theists - we just believe there is a god (no threat)........
            By the way - you are doing something that god sez is wrong!"(threat)

            In almost no other area would you start with a complex, multi level description as the default. And what you have, according to your usage is:

            Default:
            1. Theists believe in the existence of a god or gods.

            Subset of theists:
            2. Deists are theists that reject the idea that god controls everything.

            This is why it is "dishonest," - because it is making an unstated assumption that the god referred tp is all powerful, all controlling, all seeing etc.

            And this is not a "mistake" or "accident" - I have heard this dishonest argument from many theists.

            "You cannot prove there are no gods, therefore my god is real."

            Theism is a sub set of Deism. But - thanks to 2000 years of meme creation - we have it turned around. What other area would you use this approach in?

            Default:
            1. Psychology is an academic and applied discipline that involves the scientific study of human or animal mental functions and behaviors.

            Subset:
            2. Humanistic psychologists reject behaviorism.

            ? wink

            1. Don W profile image81
              Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

              This isn't about religion, it's about the philosophy of religion. The difficulties you're referring to are the difficulties of engaging in philosophical thought, language and discussion. The philosophy of religion is fraught with all the subjectivity, double meanings, contrary assertions, valid/invalid arguments, true/false propositions and semantic somersaults as any other branch of philosophy you care to mention (including the philosophy of science). That's just the nature of philosophy. Nothing to do with religion.

              Your description of an "insidious use of semantics" suggest you might not be a natural fan of philosophy. Although I think describing it as "insidious" sounds slightly paranoid. Semantics can be an important aspect in philosophical discussion. Indeed the philosophy of religion involves the philosophy of language, as does many other branches of philosophy, which is understandable considering that's how we commonly express thought.

              Using the word "theism" in one way or the other isn't some kind of ploy. People use theism to mean belief in a personal god, or they use it as short-hand to mean anyone who believes in a god or gods. Whichever meaning is applicable depends on the usage. Either way, there are reasons for both uses of the word. We do need a word that means "belief in a god or gods". No reason it shouldn't be theism. We could use the word godism or make up a completely unrelated sounding word if you like (felavalism? Belavalism? Belabism? Bism?) But would that actually make any difference? We could of course just stick to using the word theism, cope with the fact it has more than one meaning and  understand that's just how language works. Not religion, language.

              As for your "In almost no other area would you start with a complex, multi level description as the default." No other are? How about the whole of philosophy. That's exactly how I'd summarise philosophy. Start with set of complex multi-level descriptions, then talk about them until the cows come home.

              But to answer your point, this use of theism assumes nothing about the form of belief. Only that there is a belief in a god or gods, which is why it sits at the top. In contrast deism describes a specific type of belief. So deism is not theism without the belief in a personal god. It's simply theism, specifically belief in an impersonal god. Likewise polytheism is theism, specifically belief in multiple gods.

              Deism can't be the default because it is a type of monotheism. Having it as default would make polytheism a type of deism which is a contradiction in terms. On the other hand both deism and polytheism can be types of theism without contradiction. So it's:
                     
              theism
                polytheism
                    greco-roman polytheism, egyptian polytheism etc
                monotheism
                    deism, christian, islamic, judaic monotheism etc                         
                pantheism
                    dualist pantheism, monist pantheism etc

              So this isn't about memes and it isn't really even about religion. I know that might be hard to swallow, because it seems for you everything is about religion. But this is about language and philosophy and the way we look at "complex multi-level" things. It just so happens that in this case that complex, multi-level thing happens to be related to religion. That's all. Many philosophical discussions have the same difficulties with language we've had. Doesn't mean it's insidious . It's just the nature of philosophy.

              1. Mark Knowles profile image60
                Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

                Thank you for making my point.

                Theism.
                Deism is a subset that denies certain aspects of theism.

                How does that work exactly if theism is merely the statement that "a god or god exists"?

                Odd that you cannot see how this has been inserted into your meme.

                Odd that you do not understand who writes the meanings either.Powerful JuJu

                Deism can be the default because it merely recongizes a god or gods as creator.

                Still - as you like to say - just because there is no evidence for or against it - this is a great reason to accept it as true - right? wink

                1. Don W profile image81
                  Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

                  Deism is not a "rejection" of theism. It's just more specific. It's the fact that it's more specific that differentiates it from theism, not the nature of those specifics. Theism (in this usage) has a broad meaning, deism has a narrow meaning. Narrow fits into broad. Broad does not fit into narrow.

                  You can see theism is broader because deism and polytheism both fit into it. However deism, which is specifically a belief in a single impersonal god-creator cannot accommodate polytheism which is belief in multiple gods. No definition I've read defines deism as belief in multiple gods.

                  So it's a bit of semantics. Think of the word "container" compared to the word "box". You can fit jug, bag, bowl into "container". You can't fit jug, bag or bowl into "box". It really is that simple.

                  In a nutshell Deism, polytheism, monotheism are to theism, what jug, bag, bowl are to container. No sinister conspiracy needed. Just some semantics and a bit of logic.

                  Note: no memes were harmed in the production of this post

                  1. Mark Knowles profile image60
                    Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

                    OK - I randomly picked one of the dictionaries you used before and this is their description of Deism:

                    1. (philosophy) The belief in the existence of a god, by or through reason.
                    2. The belief in a god or gods who set the universe in motion, then ceased to interact with it.
                    3. (uncountable) The religious philosophy and movement that became prominent in England, France, and the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries that rejects supernatural events (prophecy, miracles) and divine revelation prominent in organized religion, along with holy books and revealed religions that assert the existence of such things.

                    So - since when do we start defining things by what they reject?

                    One more broken part of the meme you are clinging to.

  29. Quietus profile image60
    Quietusposted 6 years ago

    A Believer/Theist says there is PROOF that there is a god or gods and that aforementioned entities have revealed themselves and told said believes how to think, act, and live.

    An Atheist says there is PROOF that there are no gods, that "God" does not exist.

    An Agnostic says there is NO PROOF that god/s do or do not exist.

    PROOF is the keyword in all three definitions, as I know them. I hope I never have the arrogance to call myself an atheist or a believer... again.

  30. TruthDebater profile image60
    TruthDebaterposted 6 years ago

    I think an agnostic is smarter than a believer or an atheist. It takes more honesty and courage to admit you don't know something than it does to make prideful assumptions and claim having all truth.

  31. Mark Knowles profile image60
    Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago

    Dear me.

    And once again you cast aspersions. Now you accuse me of being dishonest. Personally. Oh well. sad

    Well - as the meme is so ingrained in you - clearly I am not going to get you to understand what I am saying, but - as a last ditch effort to help you see reason, I will ask you a question.

    It is in two parts.

    If you were to ask me to define "Nazism" and I were to reply that "a Nazi is a person who holds a political belief," would you find that an acceptable definition? Honest even?

    While it may be semantically correct - it is meaningless in fact.

    And - why is it that I cannot find this definition in any of the dictionaries I looked at? None of them describe Nazis as holding  a political belief.

    And I cannot find this type of definition for any type of belief - except this one area where our culture has been adversely influenced by religion in order to make an unstated assumption.

    Just as a matter of interest - and I suggest that this is not worth discussing any further, what is the word you would use to describe some one who just believes there is a god - and makes no further assertions?

    1. TruthDebater profile image60
      TruthDebaterposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Thanks. Is this for me or someone else?

      1. Mark Knowles profile image60
        Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        Some one else.

    2. Don W profile image81
      Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      That analogy doesn't work. The word "Nazism" doesn't have a general meaning and a narrow meaning. That's why you can't find a definition of Nazism anywhere as "holding a political belief". It only has a narrow meaning. So it's not equivalent to theism. Nice attempt at propaganda there by trying to equate the two. Not exactly subtle though. 

      Now if I asked someone for the definition of scepticism (which does have a general and narrow meaning) and they said "a sceptic is someone who doubts things", what would I say?

      I'd say I asked for a definition of "scepticism" not "sceptic". I can infer what a sceptic is from the definition of scepticism, then I'd repeat my request for a definition of scepticism. The only reply I'd consider acceptable is one that starts with "scepticism is defined as . . ."

      What word would I use to describe someone who just believes there is a god - and makes no further assertions? Theism in its general usage is exactly that. The only reason you don't think so is because you seem to believe people don't have the intelligence to understand this meaning is distinct from it's narrow meaning. Theism, from Greek theos meaning God seems like a perfect choice for a word meaning belief in a god or gods.

      If anything, I'd use the narrow meaning less to try and phase it out. If people want to refer to beliefs of this type, they can refer to them by name, e.g. Judaism, Christianity etc. Perhaps a new term could be coined that refers to such beliefs collectively to replace the narrow meaning of theism. The word would have to denote belief in a personal god, i.e. a single god involved in human affairs. Hmm, some comic potential there I think.

      1. Mark Knowles profile image60
        Mark Knowlesposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        Nazism is a political belief. The reason we do not use the general meaning is cultural, and we feel a need to distinguish the term "Nazism" from "holding a political belief."

        We do not do this with beliefs in a god for exactly the reasons I have described. You are quite happy to use the term "theism" to cover a general meaning, when - for exactly the same reasons as we do not describe nazism as a political belief system, we should be using the term theism in a narrow way.

        Whilst a theist believes in a god or gods - this is not the complete answer.
        A Nazi holds a political belief - this is not the complete answer.

        And - lets face it - your arguments against me all revolve around the fact that it is written in a dictionary, therefore you are right. Sound familiar? Powerful Juju. wink

        I am not trying to use propaganda Don - apparently you need to look up the meaning of that word. I will concede to the current dictionary definition of that term.

        I am merely presenting a case in as honest a fashion as possible. I genuinely do not see the difference between "political belief" and "theistic belief".

        This is why I think a more honest way of using the words is as I described earlier.

        1. Don W profile image81
          Don Wposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          It's not just cultural, it's historical too. As you know European religious discourse in the 15th and 16th centuries was Euro-centric. Because of the dominance of Christianity in European culture "theism" (literally meaning god-belief and nothing more) was nearly always associated with Christianity (as opposed to other heathen beliefs). So theism has historically been connected with Christianity, and by association the type of god-belief Christianity represents.

          Counter to that historical association, is the literal meaning of theism as simply god-belief, which is used in the philosophy of religion (as distinct from religion). Here a distinction is made between the narrow meaning of theism (often called classical theism) and the general (literal) meaning of theism.

          So I don't think the problem lies with theism as a general term. The problem lies with the historical and cultural associations of theism which constitute the narrow meaning. But there is already an effort in philosophical discourse to distinguish the historical associations of theism with the literal meaning of theism. 

          In answer to your point about political belief, this does actual happen with other words, not only those related to god-belief. The system of government in Russia from around 1927 onwards was Stalinism, a particular practice of Marxist-Leninism implemented by Joseph Stalin.  Yet the general term Communism is still used to refer to the government of this era. The reason is because the term "Communism" has simply become historically associated with Russia, so even though we know today that Communism refers to a wider political ideology, we still use the same term to describe a narrow practice of communism implemented by Stalin. So we say Communism, when sometimes what we mean is Stalinism.

          It also happens the other way round. Narrow terms are often used synonymously with general terms. No doubt you've heard someone refer to a vacuum cleaner as a "Hoover" which is actually just a brand of vacuum cleaner. I think this shows it's a feature of our culture and how we use language, rather than a feature of a specific god-meme. That's not to say that god-belief has not influenced and shaped the fabric of our society. It certainly has. It's to say I don't think this is an example of it. This is just about language and how it is influenced by culture in general, not the influence of god-belief. It just so happens that this particular example of it, "theism", is related to god-belief.

          Anyway perhaps this may help as the best way to see theism. Theism is to theist what philosophy is to philosopher. Both terms describe the general category of belief. Neither (cultural and historical associations notwithstanding) describes the form of belief. Then classical theism is to theism what philosophy of science is to philosophy. Both describe specific branches within the general category.

  32. Paradise7 profile image85
    Paradise7posted 6 years ago

    At last!  An atheist (sort of) thread! 

    big_smilebig_smilebig_smile

    I've always thought (though I could be entirely wrong) that an agnostic didn't believe in organized religion, or had no religion per se, and an agnostic didn't believe in God.

    An agnostic may, however, believe in God.  That person may NOT believe in God.  The term "agnostic" doesn't specify.  The term "atheist", does.

    Please do correct me if I'm wrong, Mark, or any other folks.  Thanks!

  33. cresandsuzanne profile image61
    cresandsuzanneposted 6 years ago

    WHAT DIFFERENCE?  they are just two words to describe a "form" of non-christian beliefs.  one means you have no faith and one means you have a little faith but no where to put it. either way-they are both simply "politically correct" ways to define ones reason for lack of religious interest

  34. profile image0
    Leenie723posted 6 years ago

    I would just like to say that it is obnoxious when people do not know about ones belief, and then claim that, the other person is wrong.  I came from a family with a Catholic father and a Jewish mother....By Catholicism, I am Catholic, and by Judaism I am Jewish. As I got older, I didn't really identify with either since I wasn't raised any particular way. I say that I am Agnostic, because maybe there is a higher being somewhere, but I do not know where, I do not deny there being one in the first place.  So I do not think Agnostics are confused, we know that we do not know if something exists or not. And as for Atheists, they choose to believe that there isn't anything. They have that right. Everyone has the right to believe in or not believe in what they want.

 
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