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Red Dog's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by Red Dog

Comment 3 by Eosimias :

I think one of the most important things we need to do is correct people when they misrepresent atheism.

For one, few people seem to even know the definition of the word. (Many dictionaries are even wrong about this!) "A" means "without." "Theism" means "belief in a deity." Therefore, atheism is simply a lack of belief in a deity -- rather than necessarily being the assertion that there is no God. I think most people who lack belief refer to themselves as agnostic, not knowing that you can be both atheist and agnostic. (There are also agnostic theists. Agnosticism isn't some kind of a middle ground between religion and nonreligion.)

I disagree. You can't define the meaning of a word simply by analyzing its component parts. The usage is all important and the meaning of words is changing constantly. Consider the word pedophile. If you break it down into its component parts it just means someone who loves children. Obviously the actual meaning is radically different.

The way atheism is used in the works of Dawkins, Harris, etc. and what most people on this site and elsewhere mean by it is not just a neutral lack of belief in any God but an affirmative belief that there is no God.

Mon, 22 Aug 2011 17:14:23 UTC | #863241