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.
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.
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
The Difference: Trick and Pride respectively.
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.
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
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'.
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.
Thank you for more clearly stating what I was trying to say.
Ok so it is just semantics, and your preferences are different from mine. What word would you rather I use in place of 'definition'?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How can you deny something that does not exist?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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!
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... )
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).
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.
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.
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'.
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
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.
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...
You lost me with the bit about weaving, but I can't really relate to your definitions anyway.
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.
Oh so you've finally met James.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
I want 10 million cookies now Daddy. You are all powerful - why haven't they arrived yet?
Dishonest argument Jerami. Y'aint got a cookie for every bastard that wants one - do ya?
Defending the Faith is wot u doin.
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. You?
an atheist denies the existence of any god;aan agnostic claims to be undecided.
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.
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".
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.
A-theist, as in A-sexual, There now, you made me say the S word.
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.
# 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.
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.
(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.
i think that is an overgeneralization of what atheists think.
but true, belief is not fact.
In that sense the word "atheist" is a gerneralization, is it not?
Besides, gerneralizations are a real time saver. :-))
while I agree with you that it is easier to automate judgment,
I think gernerilazation is entirely different in spelling from generalization.
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)
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."
It is a component of theism but not theism alone. There are those who believe in interfaith, that's theism too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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."
"I talk to the TREES but they never listen to me."
"My heart PINES for thee."
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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?
Because your original definition was wikipedia word for word.
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"?
Or perhaps wikipedia is all me word for word
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.collinslanguage.com/results. … ext=theism
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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:
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!
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?
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:
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?
1. Psychology is an academic and applied discipline that involves the scientific study of human or animal mental functions and behaviors.
2. Humanistic psychologists reject behaviorism.
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:
greco-roman polytheism, egyptian polytheism etc
deism, christian, islamic, judaic monotheism etc
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.
Thank you for making my point.
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?
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
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.
Oh dear. Remember what we said about definitions and usage? You're mixing one usage of theism with another, and the result is understandably messy. Doing so doesn't demonstrate the problem of a "meme", it demonstrates the problem of using a term inconsistently.
If we use the general meaning of "theism", "a belief in a god or gods", and the meaning of deism as "belief in an impersonal god", then it is logically impossible for deism to be a rejection of theism; Unless you suddenly switch to the narrow usage of theism as "belief in a personal god". However, for the sake of consistency use one meaning throughout your argument. Rather than start with one, then switch to the other. What happens if we do that?
You can argue that theism in its narrow meaning, as the default (top level category) makes assumptions about the type of belief. But straight away that argument is moot because theism can only be used as the top level category in its general usage. It's narrow usage is too narrow. For example it would be logically impossible for polytheism to be a type of theism, using the narrow meaning of theism.
What happens when we use the general meaning all the way through? By that meaning, asserting that deism is not a type of theism is literally a contradiction in terms. Also, as we're using the general meaning of theism (we have to in this case), no assumption is made about the type of belief. Indeed the fact that theism in its general usage, doesn't mention type of belief, is exactly what makes it general, as opposed to narrow.
It seems when a meaning of theism (either meaning) is applied consistently, the argument you're presenting fails. So I suggest your argument is a product of not using the term consistently. That maybe partly my fault for introducing you to a general meaning you were apparently unaware of, which may have confused the issue for you. Nevertheless, as I said before, this isn't about a "meme" or "insidious semantics". It's about semantics and a bit of logic. I'll add that it's also about using a term consistently throughout your argument.
On a different note, I'm not sure why you characterise it as "the meme you are clinging to". I must admit, when the most common criticism levelled at theists is that they are illogical, and those who make that criticism present arguments which literally defy logic, I do like to point out the irony. And that naturally makes me a theist in some people's eyes.
However it's probably best not to make assumptions about people based on the fact that they're suggesting your argument is incorrect. Pointing out that an argument is incorrect doesn't equate to support for the opposing argument. That in itself defies logic.
And if you want to discuss the intricacies of the gene/meme analogy you keep mentioning, and the various strengths and flaws of that argument, I'm happy to. Or, presuming you know the strengths already, how about telling me what the flaws are. If you've applied the critical thinking you suggest theists lack, you must have found some. Unless of course that analogy is perfect and has no flaws.
Oh dear, Remember what we said about this being the one and only subject where an assumption is unstated but there and the only one where we choose to define things in a completely different order that everything else?
Remember when we pointed out that a deist does not make any statement other than "there is a god or gods"?
And the only reason you choose to define them as denying that this god is involved is because you are making the assumption?
And this makes "deism" the top level, least complex statement?
Oh well - I am pretty sure it will take you a while to adjust to the new meme - but adjust you will. Theism is a type of deism. See?
Sorry you cannot see this. Oh well. Logic? With the existence of the invisible super being? Um sure - if that is what you want to call it.
Hang on to that meme Don.
No, because that isn't the meaning of deism. Deism asserts a specific type of belief. Theism (in its general usage) does not.
lol I don't choose how to define anything. I didn't write all the reference material available on the subject. In that reference material deism is defined as asserting a specific type of god-belief. Occasionally it is expressed as being opposed to "theism", but only in the narrow usage of that term which also asserts a type of god-belief. As we've already established, the general usage of that term doesn't.
No because what you've said so far doesn't reflect the conversation we've had. Have we been having the same discussion?!
A poor attempt at side-stepping the issue. No dice. It's easy to demonstrate, that given the current recognised meanings of deism and theism in its general usage, its logically impossible for deism to be a type of theism. If you want to defy logic, of course you're free to do so. But in doing so you weaken your credibility and reduce your criticism of theists as being "illogical", to no more than a statement of hypocrisy.
Likewise, if you don't wish to take me up on the offer to run through the weaknesses of the meme/gene analogy, that's also your choice. But again, failing to demonstrate the application of critical thinking to arguments that support your agenda, weakens your own criticism that theism encourages blind faith rather than critical thought, and once again reduces your complaint to no more than hypocritical disdain.
As an anti-theist evangelist, you should practice what you preach. But of course there's no need, because as you already suggested, rather than you being incorrect, it must be my "interpretation" of the words in the dictionary that are incorrect. And the writers of those dictionaries must have all made the same incorrect "interpretation". Does that type of argument sound familiar to you? Of course not, such devices are only part of the theist meme. And the anti-theist meme? Of course, can't be any such thing. lol.
I appreciate you hanging on to that meme that sez there is a god and anyone who sez not need to be defined.
Remember when you said.
Well - you are in one of those transition periods. It must be very difficult for you. Too bad.
Side-stepping an argument with rhetoric does you no credit. I've told you that what you are suggesting is logically impossible and I've explained why that's the case. Either it is and you're incorrect, or it isn't and you can demonstrate that, which I look forward to. If on the other hand, sound logic is not a criteria you use when making an argument (as appears to be the case) then how is your criticism that theism is illogical justified? Assuming you do consider theism illogical.
And on the subject of the meme/gene analogy. Again my invitation to go through the weaknesses of that particular analogy is open. If it's not a perfect analogy, then what are some of the weaknesses? If you think it is a perfect analogy, that suggests a lack of critical thinking on your part. In which case how is your criticism that theism discourages critical thinking justified? Assuming you do think theism discourages critical thinking.
These are direct questions. Of course you are free not to answer any of them. But they are fair questions. And if you can't or wont justify your own views with reasoned argument, I'm not sure why you would expect anyone to give any serious consideration to them.
But I have made reasoned arguments - you have chosen to ignore all of them in favor of repeating yourself. Perhaps you did not understand them? I realise that this is the way you believers prefer to argue, but it will not work in this case.
The simple fact is that the term "deism" - defined by what they reject would not exist without your assumption of a personal god.
Deists do not reject a personal god. Atheists do not reject a god or gods.
Atheism is the default. Deism is the base level description of a believer in a god. Theism is a sub level that goes deeper into more detail.
We are changing the meanings and the assumption Don. Sorry - we now start from the assumption that there is not such thing as a god. This is how we do things in every other area where we feel the need to define people by what they think or do. Every other area. Every single one.
There are no apsychologists, amechanics, aconservatives or awriters. We simply do not define things by what they are not in any other case, because there is not an assumption to refute. We do not decide that everyone is a conservative unless otherwise stated. Why would we do that? It is illogical. Like all theism. So - now it is time we do the same with irrational belief systems.
Atheists say nothing about a god and the term does not actually need to exist.
Deists claim there is one/several gods - but that is all.
Theists claim they know who the god is and it speaks to them into their head.
New meanings for the words Don. By losing your assumption. Please feel free to go back and read the arguments you have chosen to ignore. I reject your dictionary definitions because they were written by theists making an assumption that I do not make. They are "dishonest." And I have reasoned my way to more "honest" meanings.
In your own words:
We are changing the meanings Don. Do you understand now? The "meme" or "assumption" is being changed to a more "honest" way of defining things.
And of course theism discourages critical thinking Don. You have to take something on faith. With no evidence. And the only possible available argument is "I cannot imagine this came to be without the input of a god."
You are a theist Don. Admit it.
So you're refusing to recognise the meaning of the terms on the grounds that you don't like them, lol. Well I'm sure changing meanings of words is very exciting, but in this case it's pointless. The change in words you describe will not bring about the cultural shift you desire. Because these words are just short-hand expressions of logical relationships. You won't change the logical relationships by changing the labels that denote them.
An assertion can always be related to the opposing assertion, or lack of assertion. That logical relationship will always exist and is independent of the label used to denote it. Theism is opposed to anti-theism or a-theism and vice versa. If you then change the label to deism. Then the opposing belief will simply become anti-deism or a-deism. So you're just replacing one label with another.
So changing the label is not actually what you want to do. You want to reverse the meanings, which will in turn reverse the connotations (implied value judgements). You want lack of belief to be assigned the label, and belief to be assigned the a/anti prefix which denotes opposition. So the meaning of theism (or deism if you prefer) would therefore need to be changed to: lack of belief in a god or gods. The opposing belief (belief in a god or gods) would then become a-theism/anti-theism. The connotation would then shift accordingly.
Your suggestion of replacing "theism" with "deism" will not change the connotations, only the labels that denote the logical relationships will change. That change would be entirely superficial.
As for your suggestion that "This is how we do things in every other area . . . Every other area. Every single one" It clearly isn't. To begin with; Psychology, mechanic and writer are not beliefs and have no relevance to the discussion. Conservatism is a political belief. And we use exactly the same terms in that context. We describe people as political and a-political. A-political denotes someone who has no political convictions, or is anti-politics.
Someone who has no moral beliefs or is anti-moralism is described as being a-moral. Likewise the word apathetic denotes someone without feeling. As opposed to pathetic which denotes something that arouses feeling, especially sympathy. Likewise, the word a-synchronous denotes the opposite of synchronous, which means occurring at the same time.
See the pattern? In each case, the assertion is given a label and the opposite/lack of assertion is given the a/-anti prefix? So the suggestion "Every other area. Every single one", is clearly false. Unless you've also changed the definition of the word "every" to mean "some".
The fact is that this is part of the English language and its Latin/Greek roots. You can certainly argue that the lack of assertion is the default and the assertion should be labelled as "anti-the default". But that's an argument relating to the English language and its roots, not theism.
Arguing against theism is fair enough if that's your position. But some things, like the English language, have developed in a certain way due to other historical factors. Not just your god meme. Believe it or not, the world does not revolve entirely around theism/non-theism.
Trying to subvert everything related to theism, including language, is a silly approach to undoing hundreds of years of theistic cultural assimilation. Replacing the word theism with deism achieves nothing. It just makes conversations more difficult because people are assigning different meanings to recognised terms. And it will only result in being called an anti-deist, rather than an anti-theist anyway. It doesn't take a genius to work that out, just a little thought.
If that's the endeavour you choose to pursue, fair enough. Good luck. But again if you think about it, blindly going along with the the anti-theist cohorts is no different to the theist blindly going along with his theist cohorts. Do you not expect more from yourself?
Personally I tend not to blindly go along with anything. I tend to evaluate arguments on their own merits, not on the basis of who is making the argument, or whether it fits my own particular agenda. Consequently I'm labelled an atheist, a deist and a theist depending on who I'm arguing with. Today it seems I'm a theist. So be it. I'll be an atheist or a deist again tomorrow. The fact is it shouldn't matter. Someone's beliefs are irrelevant to the validity and truthfulness of their argument. Suggesting otherwise is a logical fallacy known as an ad-hominem (against the person) and is therefore essentially meaningless.
Not in the slightest. I am in the process (along with others) of changing the meaning to reflect a changing attitude and the cultural shift that is actually underway - despite your denials. This is how words evolve.
"There is a god or gods," is not a statement a theist would make on its own. Ever. Whilst semantically correct - it is misleading. It is dishonest and comes from an assumption. It is not logical to define a theist with this statement. It is - cultural and illogical. This is "deism."
I notice you prefer not to address this other than to dismiss it is "because I don't like them."
As I said earlier - meanings of words change with society and the meanings of these terms will change accordingly.
It also appears that you do not fully appreciate how deeply ingrained this religious approach is in our society, language and culture. Many aspects of these do indeed revolve around theism.
As for telling me that my approach is silly, and that I should expect more of myself - I would prefer it if you kept your condescending opinion of me to yourself in future, because I have not really seen anything from you that I might aspire to.
As I said, changing the labels won't change the logical relationships and the implied value judgements, which are what you appear to be interested in. You could change the label to anything you want, a completely new made-up word if you like, but the opposing belief will still be anti-whatever it is, or a-whatever it is and the implied value judgement will remain.
In linguistic terms, you're changing the signifier (the label), when you need to change the signified (the meaning). In this case you'd need to reverse the meanings of theism and deism to denote lack of belief rather than belief. Then belief would be denoted as anit-theism/anti-deism. In other words, a label would be assigned to the lack of assertion and the "anti"/"a" prefix assigned to the assertion. That will reverse the implied value judgements of those words.
That is not simply part of the process of words changing over time as you suggest. That's a fundamental change to the English language, which affects all such terms, not just terms specific to theism.
That's rich. A-political? A-moral? Asynchronous? Apathetic? All terms which denote exactly the same logical relationship, i.e. lack of assertion or an opposing one. Yet you previously said this pattern of language is only used in relation to theism. Care to address that?
Yes but many is not all. You seem unable to resist making the leap of logic from one to the other. That's another logical fallacy which you are familiar with, the non-sequitur. Although many cultural aspects may revolve around theism, it doesn't follow that this is one of them. Indeed, there's plenty to suggest it isn't.
Silly is the best word to describe your approach and I have no qualms in saying so. In the same way you have no qualms expressing your opinion of theism and theists. That doesn't mean I'm calling you silly. As for my opinion being condescending. Is your expressed opinion of theists condescending? If it is, then your criticism is hypocritical. If it isn't, then my opinion isn't either and your criticism is unjustified.
And still you choose not to address my point that '"There is a god or gods," is not a statement a theist would make on its own. Ever. Whilst semantically correct - it is misleading. It is dishonest and comes from an assumption. It is not logical to define a theist with this statement. It is - cultural and illogical.'
It is not just a question of changing a label - it is changing the fundamental assumption that you are choosing to pretend is not there. It is also choosing to define things in a logical fashion.
Apolitical - lack of political beliefs.
Aconservative - lack of a specific set political beliefs.
Deism - political belief
Theism - specific political beliefs
We do not define people as aconservative.
And what does my expressed opinion of theists have to do with your condescending value judgment of me? It is acceptable to be condescending towards me because I am condescending to people who believe in an invisible super being and tell me what I should be doing because the super being tells them into their heads?
Perhaps you would listen to what I am saying if I tell you a god sed it into my head? Or are you going to tell me you are just trying to provoke me?
But we've been through this. It isn't "misleading" or "dishonest". The word simply has a general and a narrow meaning, as do others. If you need to be more specific in describing a belief, then be more specific. There are plenty of ways to describe specific types of god-belief. Like (your favourite) deism, pantheism, polytheism, monotheism etc. Then there are terms which describe sub-types e.g. Hindusim, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Budhism, Sikhism etc. So there's no sensible reason to describe the meanings of theism as "misleading" or "dishonest". People manage perfectly well with other words that have several different meanings.
Here's an example for you. The word sceptic has a general meaning: a person who generally questions things which are supposed to be fact, and also a narrow meaning: someone who specifically doubts religious teachings. If I call someone a sceptic, intending to mean they specifically doubt religious teachings, but you assume I'm using the general meaning is that because the definition is "dishonest" and "misleading"? Or was I just not specific enough? Now I could organise a campaign to have the meaning of the word sceptic changed and all the reference books updated, and all the text books that ever use the word re-printed with the new-improved meaning. Or I could just be more specific. Which approach do you think is more sensible?
I don't accept that deism is to theism, what political belief is to conservatism. You know that. Theism has a general meaning as simply god-belief, deism is a specific type of god-belief and has no general meaning. But that's old ground, and there's no agreement there between us. But that's not the only issue with your argument, which amounts to:
We don't use the "a" prefix on every single word to denote the opposing meaning, e.g. aconservatism.
Therefore we shouldn't use it on theism to denote its opposing meaning, e.g. atheism.
Well let me help you expand that. You could also say we don't describe people who lack belief in democracy as a-democratic, or people who lack belief in communism as a-communist, or people who lack belief in racial equality as a-racial equality. Indeed we can go further, we don't describe people who can't read as a-literate, or people who lack logic as a-logical. So why should people who lack belief in god be described as a-theist?
Good rhetoric, but unfortunately as an argument it's rubbish. The "a" prefix is used elsewhere in English to refer to a lack of, along with the prefix "anti" to denote opposition. So where else is it used? As I've said before, if you lack belief in moralism you are a-moral, if you lack feeling, you are a-pathetic, if you lack sexual orientation, you are a-sexual, if something lacks the ability to occur at the same time as something else it is a-synchronous, if you lack political belief you are a-political, if something lacks symmetry, it's a-symmetric, if someone lacks sufficient red blood cells they are a-nemic, and amazingly if you lack god-belief you are a-theistic.
Likewise if you are against war, you're anti-war, if you're against drugs, you're anti-drugs. If you're against balloons and spoons, you're anti-balloons and anti-spoons! And yes, amazingly if you are against theism then you are anti-theist. So please explain how these prefixes are used in some special way that only applies to god-belief. That just isn't the case.
We don't use the numerous prefixes in the English language (un-, non-, anti-, a-, pseudo-, inter-, co-, re- etc) on every word to denote the same logical relationships. But it doesn't follow that these prefixes should therefore not be used on any words.
But don't get me wrong, of course theism is deeply woven into the fabric of society, Christianity especially in western countries. And I think it's right to question the validity of certain assumptions we make as individuals and within our social institutions, and yes even within language. But in their eagerness to identify that cultural influence anti-theists are painting everything with the same brush. They (and you) need to be a more discerning. People can see when something is little more than rhetoric, and I know atheists who have distanced themselves from certain 'initiatives' from the whole anti-theist circus, which speaks volumes.
And as for the suggestion that you are trying to change assumptions. What you're doing is no different to someone who is against abortion describing themselves as a "pro-lifer" instead of anti-abortionist. No matter how much you try to dress it up, it's propaganda, or in modern parlance "spin". I'd have more respect for your argument if you came straight out and said that. Instead you even try to spin that into "combating a meme". LOL Now that's dishonest.
As this is not related specifically to the discussion at hand, I've separated it.
So people holding a belief you disagree with warrants your condescension, but the illogical arguments you've expressed in this discussion don't? Why? Perhaps because you don't consider your arguments to be illogical. Perhaps because you see nothing wrong with your views. Perhaps because you are convinced what you're saying is true. And because of that the condescension feels unjust, unjustified and insulting. It always does because the person on the receiving end rarely shares your opinion of their views.
So is the fact I think it's justified good enough? You said you'd prefer I keep my condescension to myself. So clearly you don't like it. Even if I do think some of the arguments you've presented are nonsensical and vacuous and little more than rhetoric (which I do, as you know) you still prefer that I'm not condescending towards you because of it. In other words you want me to respect your preference not to be condescended to regardless of what I think of your views. Now all you need to do is explain exactly why I should.
I think not Don. I do not need to do anything. You have attacked me once again in your last statement. The reason I asked you to stop doing so is not because I do not like it, but because it prevents us from having a reasonable discussion, and I had - obviously mistakenly - thought that was your goal, and a goal we shared. My misunderstanding.
As it now appears your goal is to insult and belittle me, I can only assume you are not interested in having a reasonable discussion.
You should not do anything you are not comfortable with. I asked - you refused, what more is there to say?
Edit - and please do not conddescendingly make a claim that you are just trying to show me the error of my ways. You already did that once.
Be honest Don. I love honesty and clear communication instead of this. You don't like me and want to attack me - just do it. Don't be like a theist and hide it behind something else.
lol. look at you being all sensitive. First time was deliberate, trying to prove a point. This time wasn't deliberate, just me pointing out the shortcomings of your views and your approach as I see them. But the fact you didn't like it does show something.
You ask me not to be condescending to you, despite my opinion of your views. And you do say it's in the name of 'reasonable discussion'. But what if I don't consider your arguments reasonable? Does that mean you accept the condescension as justified? What if I don't believe I can have a reasonable conversation with you because of your views? Does that make the condescension okay with you?
The fact is you asked me not be condescending because you don't like it. Plain and simple. Whether I do or don't comply is of course my choice. But you hope the fact you've asked me not to, will be reason enough for me not to. What you're asking for in essence is some respect. Not for your views which you know I disagree with, not for your character because I don't know enough about you to respect you personally, but simply for you as another human being, with thoughts and feelings.
No one likes being condescended to, ridiculed, belittled. That's not about showing you the "error of your ways". You're a grown man. You make your own choices. It's about realising that the real reason you don't want those things inflicted on you (it's unpleasant) is the same reason not to inflict it on others.
If you think it's my intention to insult you, you're wrong. I'm human and can be condescending without realising it like anyone else. The difference is I don't go out of my way to be, unless I'm trying to prove a point, which in this case I wasn't. You on the other hand go out of your way to ridicule, belittle and condescend as you've told me. I won't join you in that and will continue to temper my comments despite what I think of some of your views, of that you can be sure. But If anyone was deliberately condescending to you, although I'd be against it, let's face it you'd wouldn't have much grounds for complaint, given your current approach.
Preaching at me as to how I should be behaving.
Being condescending without realizing you are being condescending.
Taking the moral high ground whilst behaving in exactly the same way as I do.
Telling what I am thinking instead of taking me at my word.
No Don. No meme here. Your approach is in no way theistic.
Exactly what are you trying to prove? That you do not agree with my methods - you already made that point and completely failed to offer an workable alternative.
As I mentioned - I never really see you in conversation with the theists, and you seem perfectly happy to ignore the fact that I am not condescending and belittling to all theists - only a certain type of theist. I mean - do you think it is possible to have a reasonable conversation with som eone who tells you their god is going to punish you for not believing in it and you had better get with the program?
Your answer presumably is to leave that unchecked. I prefer to take an active role in dispelling that myth. I have spend many years attempting to have a reasonable conversation with these people - and failed miserably. My personal opinion is that this is evil, and as a thought process, holds us back as a species.
You think it is perfectly acceptable and do not feel the need to do anything about it - except when it comes from the anti-theistic side of the fence. Look at you not talking top any believers.
And LOLO Look at you pretending to be tolerant and reasonable when you are in fact laughing at me. How very Christian that is.
As I said Don - your "theistic" approach to a discussion is dishonest. This stems from ingrained memes and assumptions that you are apparently incapable of understanding the root of.
As an aside, I think its important to say this is not personal and if it goes that way, we shouldn't let it. I can't make any judgement about you as a person, I don't know you. All I can do is tell you what I think of your approach and why I think it, which I have. You're free to agree or disagree, and tell me so, which you have. I hope you agree that anything above and beyond that is really beyond the scope of what either of us can meaningfully say to each other, about each other. So I'll address some of your points with that in mind.
I know you suggest "Your approach is in no way theistic" sarcastically, but it actually isn't a theistic approach. It's just a human one. I don't think there is a theistic approach or an anti-theist approach, just human approaches. Your own experiences may differ, but I can honestly say, in my experience of talking to theists and non theists over the years, I've found no qualitative difference between those two groups. Take yourself, an anti-theist. Some of your arguments make sense, others are illogical or lack consistency. You can be evangelical in your approach. You use devices like "your interpretation [of the dictionary] is wrong", you've declined invitations to apply critical thinking to something that supports your view (the mem/gene analogy), and you try to influence what people believe using negative reinforcement. BUT before you respond to all that as a criticism...
I'd like to point out that the intention is not just to criticise. Because I think the above describes every human on the planet and doesn't, in my opinion, stem from what people believe or don't believe as in your case. And I think the reason for that is because we all share the same nature, just wrapped in different packages.
Everyone you talk to, whoever they are, whatever the subject of discussion, will do one, some, or all of the above things at some point, or they have done. I can point to several moments where I've done each of these things myself at some point or other, even in this very discussion. So for me it's not about "taking the moral high ground" or any of the other things you mentioned.
For me it's obvious that I do the same as you. I wouldn't be human if I didn't. Some faults are exactly the same, others slightly different. But I've come to the conclusion that the faults we think of as "theist" faults, or "anti-theist" faults are nothing of the kind. In my opinion they are just human failings. And not even "failings" as such. Just "humanness".
So I'm not laughing vindictively at you, which is the way I think you mean when you say that. Because that's my point. In my honest opinion laughing at someone because of their "humanness", whatever form it takes, is no different to laughing at a mirror. Because you're laughing at your own nature staring straight back at you.
I think that's why I can have a reasonable conversation with someone who tells me their god is going to punish me for not believing in it. Because I empathise. I ask myself: if I genuinely believed that something catastrophic was going to happen to someone and it could be prevented by me influencing the way that person thinks or how they live, what would I do? How would I behave? And I try to see past the "humanness" of how someone else responds to that question.
Someone expression of that genuinely held belief may be frightening, or hypocritical, or judgemental or condescending, but I think those expressions stem from the person's nature, their humanness. We know when we express things to others we can be those things too. So I tend to see past what I call the interference. And I find when I filter out that interference (the faults, failings, weaknesses in expression) I'm able to hear what the person is actually trying to say.
In terms of whether the person is reasonable to believe those things in the first place. Through understanding in the branch of philosophy known as epistemology, which is about beliefs and knowledge (what it is and how we come by it), I'm able to recognise that even apparently solid beliefs are actually no more than a house of cards. And that it's actually very difficult to describe many of our every day beliefs as reasonable. So I've moved on from asking if a theist is reasonable to believe what he believes? To what is reasonable? What does it mean, and how does it apply to everything else we believe? The answers to those questions are quite startling, but that's another subject.
In my opinion I can have a reasonable conversation with anyone. It just depends on how willing I am to suspend my disbelief. How willing I am, depends on how important I think it is to have a conversation with someone. I think it's very important to have conversations with theists, because of the huge impact on humanity, good and bad, theism has and continues to have.
Incidentally that's also the same way I'm able to have a reasonable conversation with you. Because (most of the time) I'm able to filter out the interference from both of us, so I can hear what you're actually trying to say. I think we all have to do that to some degree. But what you may understandably see as "taking the moral high ground" is me trying to point out the interference. I'm doing that because I think you might recognise the value of it. I could have no doubt expressed it more eloquently. The fact I haven't is because of my own humanness creating interference, which I hope you're able to filter out yourself. I honestly think that's the only way we, or anyone else can even begin to actually hear each other.
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.
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.
And once again you cast aspersions. Now you accuse me of being dishonest. Personally. Oh well.
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?
Thanks. Is this for me or someone else?
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.
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.
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.
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.
At last! An atheist (sort of) thread!
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!
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
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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