3rd April 2013

“If it had not been for religion, there would be no need for anything specifically called atheism.”

Andy Armitage

2 Responses to “3rd April 2013”

  1. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    From dictionary.com

    a·the·ism
    1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
    2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

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

    These word aren’t applied correctly”
    Doctrine?
    Belief?
    Disbelief?
    Denies?
    Disbelieves?

    doctrine
    1.A belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.
    2.A stated principle of government policy, mainly in foreign or military affairs: “the Monroe Doctrine”.

    belief
    1.An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
    2.Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.

    disbelief
    1.Inability or refusal to accept that something is true or real.
    2.Lack of faith in something.

    denies 3rd person singular present of de·ny (Verb)
    1.Refuse to admit the truth or existence of (something).
    2.Refuse to give (something requested or desired) to (someone).

    disbelieves 3rd person singular present of dis·be·lieve (Verb)
    1.Be unable to believe (someone or something).
    2.Have no faith in God, spiritual beings, or a religious system.

    How about:
    atheism
    1. absent belief in God for lack of presence in the natural world
    2. absent belief in the supernatural for their being no supernatural elements in the natural world

    atheist
    a person lacking belief in things not present in the natural world.

    The dictionary.com definitions presents false equivalencies suggesting both theists and atheists actively believe in something where athests aren’t actually expressing belief in anyting but conversely are simply expressing thay don’t have the beliefs that theists have. It isn’t that they believe that god doesn’t exist but they don’t have the belief that he does.

    Semantics? Well no, you wouldn’t say a person that lacked belief in Sasquatch was believing something, or that some absent of belief in the Loch Ness monster was actively believing in something. Believing in anything presumes a responsibility to justify such belief. A belief in gravity is easily demonstrated by dropping something. To not believe in gravity requires some explanation for why dropping something repeatedly proves it does. An atheist isn’t in a position to explain why the obvious isn’t so, god isn’t odvious. The theist and atheist are in entirely different places.

    This kind of false equivalency is a common tactic of the faithful to create an either/or, them/us scenario. Define god as great, say you believe in greatness, and then define those that don’t share your belief in greatness as them that are opposed to greatness. Characterize people that don’t believe in greatness as crazy or insane or evil.

    Atheism and atheists only exist because they don’t subscribe to the god is great line.

    If no one was making the claim that god or other supernatuiral dieties existed and need to be believed in there would be no atheists.

    They do this with evolution and creation too, false equivalency. Where they claim both are theories when one is and the other is merely a hypothesis.

  2. D Says:

    First, +1 for Sinjin’s plea for the justice of clarity.

    The quote seems to imply a causal relationship, i.e., that a need for atheism is caused by the presence of religion. The key term in the quote is “a need for”.

    If theism is the belief in a divine and supernatural being or beings, then religion can be defined as theism PLUS the worship and praise of the supernatural being(s) of the belief and the required submission and obedience to the values and commands taken to come from them.

    In his book, “The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism”, A.C. Grayling advances the implied premise of religion as a superstition with the idea that, “All religious people are superstitious, but not all superstitious people are religious.”

    With this understanding it can be said that religion requires theism, but religion does not necessarily follow from theistic beliefs (e.g., Epicureanism, Deism, etc.)

    Atheism is simply defined as the “lack” of theistic beliefs.

    Therefore, the “existence” of atheism does not depend on religion but on the lack of theistic beliefs. In this sense, the need for atheism is one of nomenclature and precision. In the sense of a social movement however, the “need” for atheism is based on something else.

    Atheism has grown to indicate much more than the simple and pejorative dictionary definition of its humbled and forcibly passive history. These days, atheism is often identified as a politically charged enthymematic rallying point of a philosophy of reason that is seen by many as necessary to oppose and combat religious ideologies and check the harms caused by them; in much same way as Thomas Paine intended to combat religious harms by appealing to Deism in his “Age of Reason”.

    As a point of reason the need for atheism will always be present despite the existence or non-existence of religion but it is not a static one. In addition to this baseline need for atheism, the need for its representation and expression should be directly proportional to the need to curb the unreasonable social and political effects of the theistic beliefs.