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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/01/2009 :  03:30:44  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
An essay by Robert T. Caroll.
I don't believe any gods exist, but I'm not an atheist any more than I am an asantaclausist or an aeasterbunnyist. Not believing in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny doesn't commit me to an ideology or belief system shared with others who reject the notion that such creatures exist. My disbelief in leprechauns doesn't unite me with millions of other aleprechaunists. The label of 'atheist' is one that theists use to create the illusion that their belief in spirits has some substance. I don't mind that theists devote themselves to illusions and delusions as long as they don't do me any harm. But they fill their concept of the atheist with a number of lies and falsehoods that attempt to denigrate those of us who don't share their belief in the existence of spirits. Theists are particularly prone to parading forth non sequiturs in their attempt to vilify those of us who don't believe that an invisible spirit created us or the world we live in.

Caroll is the proprietor of the excellent Skeptic's Dictionary, a site that should be in everyone's bookmarks, skeptic or otherwise. It is an accurate reference for just about any sort of flim-flam, secular or sectarian, that you might come across. And it's a good read as well.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 10/01/2009 :  04:47:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah he's right, I say we call them all arationalists.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 10/01/2009 :  09:07:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It is, for sure a great site. Some good points. Harris made much the same argument. He said we don't have a name for people that don't believe in other stupid stuff. We do, it's called skeptic.

I see nothing wrong with using the term atheist. Bright sounds arrogant. Naturalist is better, but it sounds like we're nudists.

I think the term atheist allows us to stake out a position. I think staking out a position is important. It's like the people who say race is unimportant. It is, except to those who are excluded because of it, and many people have a big problem because of the race that they're slotted in by others.

Maybe we should take it like the pro-life people and just say that we're pro-reality. Or do we lean more towards anti-delusion? How about anti-delusionist?

I think it's important as a self-reflection issue, but sometimes we get too caught up in trying to coin new words.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Edited by - Gorgo on 10/01/2009 09:08:29
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astropin
SFN Regular

USA
970 Posts

Posted - 10/01/2009 :  09:23:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send astropin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
soooo...........he's an atheist.

I would rather face a cold reality than delude myself with comforting fantasies.

You are free to believe what you want to believe and I am free to ridicule you for it.

Atheism:
The result of an unbiased and rational search for the truth.

Infinitus est numerus stultorum
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/01/2009 :  11:56:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ah well. I'm comfortable with calling myself an agnostic/atheist, when discussing religion. At least "agnostic" was not a term thought up by theists or the media. Having said that, I think "atheist" is an accurate definition for those who hold no theistic belief. All in all, even though not all skeptics are "atheists" I think "skeptic" pretty much covers my position on the question of God or Gods. "New Atheist" (also a media invention) makes me laugh. It's like a cereal box promotion for "New and Improved." You would think that there is no history of "in your face" atheism, which would probably come as a surprise to the American Atheist organization and others who have been very vocal about their atheism over the years.

I could go on. Labels, labels, labels...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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The Rat
SFN Regular

Canada
1342 Posts

Posted - 10/01/2009 :  15:41:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit The Rat's Homepage Send The Rat a Private Message  Reply with Quote
For years I've held similar thoughts to Mr. Caroll. The word 'atheist' is a negative term, describing me by what I don't believe in rather than expressing my actual philosophy. I prefer 'naturalist' myself.

Bailey's second law; There is no relationship between the three virtues of intelligence, education, and wisdom.

You fiend! Never have I encountered such corrupt and foul-minded perversity! Have you ever considered a career in the Church? - The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Blackadder II

Baculum's page: http://www.bebo.com/Profile.jsp?MemberId=3947338590
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/01/2009 :  23:17:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm fine with being identified as an atheist. Yeah, it's negative, but so what? Belief in a God is something worth getting very negative about. I hate "Bright" as being obviously arrogant. "Naturalist" is fine, except, as Gorgo pointed out, it may confuse people with "naturist." Also, it seems one is making a claim to be some kind of biologist, which isn't always the case for atheists.

Being an atheist doesn't exclude being anything else, except a being a theist. I'm also a philosophical agnostic, as I know that (at present) I can't disprove the existence of god(s).

I see two problems with theism that make my philosophical agnosticism almost a moot point: First, the burden of proof is on the theists to prove the existence of god(s). For several thousand years, they have provided absolutely none. I think I can safely assume they won't suddenly do so during my lifetime. Second, even if they finally somehow proved such existence, they must show why such a creature is the particular bearded god that they advocate. That seems almost as vanishingly unlikely as finding proof that any god exists in the first place.

And then, I'm a skeptic first and foremost. That's the well from which my atheism springs. Someday, I suspect, theism will be about as rare as belief in the Flat Earth. (In enlightened parts of Europe, it's getting near to that already.) At that time, skeptics will have gone on to more important issues, and will probably no longer bother to call themselves atheists.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 10/01/2009 23:18:50
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Hawks
SFN Regular

Canada
1383 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2009 :  07:57:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Hawks's Homepage Send Hawks a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't see anything wrong with the label atheist either. Carrol finds the terms "aleprechaunist" and "asantaclausist" absurd (and I agree that they are), but if more people actually believed in such entities, their respective terms would become meaningful.

METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL
It's a small, off-duty czechoslovakian traffic warden!
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/02/2009 :  08:17:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Just another dumb label, really. Our species is all but psychotic about applying them and most mean only what the applier thinks it means. At one time or another, I've been called most of it and that's ok. You can call me anything you want except late for dinner.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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On fire for Christ
SFN Regular

Saudi Arabia
1266 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2009 :  12:07:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send On fire for Christ a Private Message  Reply with Quote
typical, another atheist who doesn't have the balls to come out and just call himself an atheist.

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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2009 :  14:22:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Typical, another christian who doesn't have the balls to face reality and admit they are delusional for believing bullshit with no evidence to back it up.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2009 :  14:33:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dude

Typical, another christian who doesn't have the balls to face reality and admit they are delusional for believing bullshit with no evidence to back it up.


Touché!

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2009 :  15:37:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by On fire for Christ

typical, another atheist who doesn't have the balls to come out and just call himself an atheist.

But that's exactly what Caroll did; he just took a lot of words to do it. Even so, I thought it a good read.

Me, I'm a non-believing apatheist. That means that while I am indeed an atheist, I don't care enough to fight about it. At least not very often. If more theists took the same attitude and became believing apatheists, the world would be a much better place.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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River Otter
Skeptic Friend

USA
67 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2009 :  18:24:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send River Otter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't attach just one label. I call myself first a freethinker, then skeptic, naturalist, and atheist. I am all of these.

It's true about naturalists getting confused with nudists. I have had that happen to me before.

Thanks for the link to Skeptic's Dictionary Fithy. I have a co-worker that is all into Zacharia Sitchin and can't stop talking about it. I found him immediately and will bring the information I found about him to her in the morning.

I am not ashamed to confess that I am ignorant of what I do not know. -Cicero

Brother, You say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the book. -Sagoyewatha,(Red Jacket) - Chief and great orator of the six nations.
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Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 10/09/2009 :  21:43:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't really understand Carroll's complaint. It sounds more like he's dropping the label based on the mistaken connotations other people have of it rather than what it really means.

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2009 :  01:45:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Machi4velli

I don't really understand Carroll's complaint. It sounds more like he's dropping the label based on the mistaken connotations other people have of it rather than what it really means.
Actually, he says rather explicitly that he's dropping the label so long as the incorrect, negative baggage exists:
If by atheist one means someone who believes that rationality and science are better than irrationality and faith when it comes to improving life and understanding the world, then count me in. Unfortunately, the theists rule the world and they control the language.
It also makes his later question senseless:
Wouldn't you rather be called a bright than an atheist, especially when you know that those who call you an atheist do so knowing they can attach all kinds of negative baggage to the term no matter how untrue?
If the theists control the language, then they're free to attach all kinds of negative baggage to "bright" (or any other self-chosen label), no matter how untrue.

As for "what it really means," it seems as though the word "atheist" (and the older, non-English words it came from) has, until the 20th century, always been used pejoratively. That is, after all, why Huxley coined the term "agnostic" as a synonym free from negative baggage.

The meanings of both words have changed over the years within popular culture, so that today, "agnostic" means "wishy-washy fence-sitter," and "atheist" means "one who hates God." The battle to get the public to agree that what either word "really means" is much more benign - for example, that "atheist" means nothing more than "a person without any theistic beliefs" - is going to be long and difficult.

It may be much easier to try to start over with a new term that people would have to ask about (unlike "bright"), such as anuminist.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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