TED Conversations

Frank Segro

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Abolishing the use of the term Atheism.

We all know that the term "atheist" means without god. However, as an atheist I often find it annoying when people talk about it as a belief system. Lack of belief does not constitute belief in anything else. No one would call me an a-paleontologist simply because I'm not one. Simultaneous to being an atheist I may be a rational empiricist or follow some other set of beliefs. I believe that we should stop using convenient designators such as atheism when we "classify" ourselves to others or are classified by them, because there is simply nothing behind it.


Thoughts?

+5
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Nov 8 2011: @frank How exactly is atheism "lack of a belief system"? Most atheists are pretty confident in their belief that there are no gods. "Atheism" isn't simply the lack of theology, but as a word brands itself as the antithesis to theology. And this is only in name, for it's still a world view relating to matters of theology. Overall it asserts something about the nature of the universe, ironically on faith.

    A simple lack of believing anything would be agnosticism. "He who does not know" or "he who does not claim to know". Disbelief is still a belief in the antithesis.

    Semantic arguements aside, popularly atheism often incorporates philosophies such as rationalism and naturalism. Thus we have a belief system commonly referenced when one brings up the concept of atheism, regardless if these philosophies are implied by the name.
    • thumb
      Nov 8 2011: Thats exactly the problem. Quote : "belief that there are no gods". Atheism is not a belief. It is a lack of belief. I am not actively believing that their are no gods right now. I simply don't believe something else that someone else does.

      There are no beliefs associated with atheism. Not believing in a positive statement like there is a god doesn't count as a belief. Call it disbelief if you will. But it only brands itself as the antithesis to theology because people misunderstand what the word actually means.

      As I mentioned earlier, atheism does not at all imply any belief in anything. It simply states that you do not believe in this. Although I do not believe in God, that does not assert anything that I do believe in. Because I don't believe in fairies doesn't necessitate that I believe in something else. To me that space need not be filled and I think the same is true of atheism.
      • thumb
        Nov 8 2011: No, Agnostics have a lack of belief. These are not semantically equivalent.

        If you simply had a lack of belief, there wouldn't be this compulsion to convert others.

        I was staying out of this like a good agnostic, but that was a step too far.
        • Nov 10 2011: Agnostic what? I hate to argue semantics, but there are Agnostic Theists and there are Agnostic Atheists. Agnostic theists are those that believe there's some sort of supernatural force, but aren't sure what it is. Agnostic Atheists are those that believe in nothing they can't prove, but if one were to prove the supernatural, they would believe it.

          As for the "conversion" comment, that's not true. To be an "atheist' is to lack belief, that is all. This compulsion to convert as you put it is merely human nature.

          If somebody tells you 2+2=22, and you know (or think you know) that 2+2=4, you're going to feel compelled to "convert" them into accepting the "truth" that 2+2=4. It's just how most people are. Note the "most", not all Atheists have that compulsion. Just like not all people would bother to get you to understand that 2+2=4.
      • thumb
        Nov 8 2011: I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here. If atheism is synonymous with agnosticism, then what do we call a person who believes there are no gods?

        There's an underlying tone of self righteousness to your arguements. It's similar to a Christian saying that Christianity "isn't a religion, but a relationship." Atheism is professed by a large following of people who firmly believe there are no gods. If you feel this paradigm doesn't represent your views then why care what they choose to call themselves?

        And if it does represent your views, then I have to call bullshit on the way you're rationalizing all this. "There is no God" is a positive statement.
        • thumb
          Nov 11 2011: Nobody said that atheism is synonymous with agnosticism, but that atheism is not antagonist with agnosticism. You should read more carefully. Let me quote it for you from above:

          "there are Agnostic Theists and there are Agnostic Atheists"

          Got it now? Most atheists claim not to believe in gods, not that they know that there is no gods. Agnosticism is about whether you know, not about whether you reject or accept something. A gnostic atheist would be one claiming to know that there is no gods. But I know just a couple of them.

          I am convinced that there is no gods whatsoever. However, I can't claim to **know** that there is no gods whatsoever. Thus, I would be an agnostic atheist. What's wrong with that? How is that a "religion"?

          You seem inclined to the possibility that there is some god(s), thus you might be an "agnostic theist." I have no idea. I would however never claim that you follow the "religion of agnostic theism." That would be plainly stupid.

          Now, I don't want to create strict boxes. Let us say you don't feel comfortable with either theism nor atheism, but you are fine with "agnostic." Fine by me. I would still not be justified to say that you follow the religion of "agnosticism." Just like above, that would be plainly stupid.

          (I don't understand why people give you "thumbs up" for failing in reading comprehension.)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.