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The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist

Tank

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Re: The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2012, 04:12:20 PM »
One of the beauties of language is its modularity. I see nothing useful in adding baggage to a word like atheism, it simply adds confusion and unnecessary complexity. Words should have the simplest possible meaning to produce relevance and clarity. A person could call themselves a rational secular humanist, they may also be an atheist, but not necessarily.

The simpler (more accurate) a word's meaning the more effective and efficient it is at conveying information during communication.

So atheist should mean nothing more than "A person who does not consider a god or gods to exist."

Note I don't use the word 'believe' but 'consider' as the latter implies a thoughtful evaluation rather than an emotional assertion.

How one comes to hold an atheistic world view is down to the individual.

This with due respect is wholly tendentious. An atheist is someone who does not believe in the existence of a god or Gods. Whether this is a considered view or not is irrelevant to the definition. There are plenty of atheists who have rejected the idea of gods for emotional or on wholly ill-considered grounds. There equally theists who have carefully considered their position.
I see your point. But I did say 'should'. I don't think a person who has not made a considered choice about view has the intellectual intergrity to claim a particular viewpoint. I'm sure there are atheist who haven't made a 'considered' choice and the same can be said for theists.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

En_Route

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Re: The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2012, 05:40:13 PM »
One of the beauties of language is its modularity. I see nothing useful in adding baggage to a word like atheism, it simply adds confusion and unnecessary complexity. Words should have the simplest possible meaning to produce relevance and clarity. A person could call themselves a rational secular humanist, they may also be an atheist, but not necessarily.

The simpler (more accurate) a word's meaning the more effective and efficient it is at conveying information during communication.

So atheist should mean nothing more than "A person who does not consider a god or gods to exist."

Note I don't use the word 'believe' but 'consider' as the latter implies a thoughtful evaluation rather than an emotional assertion.

How one comes to hold an atheistic world view is down to the individual.

This with due respect is wholly tendentious. An atheist is someone who does not believe in the existence of a god or Gods. Whether this is a considered view or not is irrelevant to the definition. There are plenty of atheists who have rejected the idea of gods for emotional or on wholly ill-considered grounds. There equally theists who have carefully considered their position.
I see your point. But I did say 'should'. I don't think a person who has not made a considered choice about view has the intellectual intergrity to claim a particular viewpoint. I'm sure there are atheist who haven't made a 'considered' choice and the same can be said for theists.

Fair point re "should". I would have thought that defining an atheist as someone who does not believe in gods as a result of a process of thoughtful evaluation both more complex and considerably more subjective than simply as one who does not believe in gods. It would also leaves us short of a word to cover  an atheist who hasn't arrived at his/her conclusions with sufficient judiciousness in to qualify under your definition.We could end up with a bitterly contested hieararchy of atheism.
Some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them (Orwell).

Tank

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Re: The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2012, 06:17:44 PM »
One of the beauties of language is its modularity. I see nothing useful in adding baggage to a word like atheism, it simply adds confusion and unnecessary complexity. Words should have the simplest possible meaning to produce relevance and clarity. A person could call themselves a rational secular humanist, they may also be an atheist, but not necessarily.

The simpler (more accurate) a word's meaning the more effective and efficient it is at conveying information during communication.

So atheist should mean nothing more than "A person who does not consider a god or gods to exist."

Note I don't use the word 'believe' but 'consider' as the latter implies a thoughtful evaluation rather than an emotional assertion.

How one comes to hold an atheistic world view is down to the individual.

This with due respect is wholly tendentious. An atheist is someone who does not believe in the existence of a god or Gods. Whether this is a considered view or not is irrelevant to the definition. There are plenty of atheists who have rejected the idea of gods for emotional or on wholly ill-considered grounds. There equally theists who have carefully considered their position.
I see your point. But I did say 'should'. I don't think a person who has not made a considered choice about view has the intellectual intergrity to claim a particular viewpoint. I'm sure there are atheist who haven't made a 'considered' choice and the same can be said for theists.

Fair point re "should". I would have thought that defining an atheist as someone who does not believe in gods as a result of a process of thoughtful evaluation both more complex and considerably more subjective than simply as one who does not believe in gods. It would also leaves us short of a word to cover  an atheist who hasn't arrived at his/her conclusions with sufficient judiciousness in to qualify under your definition.We could end up with a bitterly contested hieararchy of atheism.
I suppose I am being more than a little pedantic with 'consider'. However if a person said 'I'm an atheist' and couldn't explain why I would be quite unimpressed by their assertion. Part of this issue would be that the person would have to have chosen put a label on themselves 'atheist' but not taken the trouble to understand why.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Amicale

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Re: The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2012, 06:26:56 PM »

I suppose I am being more than a little pedantic with 'consider'. However if a person said 'I'm an atheist' and couldn't explain why I would be quite unimpressed by their assertion. Part of this issue would be that the person would have to have chosen put a label on themselves 'atheist' but not taken the trouble to understand why.

I like the way you used the word 'consider', as it implies some forethought before labeling one's self an atheist. I know plenty of people who call themselves atheists because they think "I don't care about that God stuff" and that's all the thought they put into it. One of my best friends from childhood is like this. We argue about it from time to time. I ask her if she's put any serious thought into her non-belief, and her answer is "hell no, I don't care about that God stuff, I just don't want to think about it, I'm happy the way I am." Essentially, she sees herself as an atheist the way some people see themselves as Christian -- their parents were that way, so while it really means nothing personally to them, they use the label because they don't want to bother using another.

I'm not saying atheism has to be some deep, meaningful experience you think about obsessively. It's just that you ought to know which position you hold, and why. There ought to be reasons for your position.


"Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb we are bound to others. By every crime and act of kindness we birth our future." - Cloud Atlas

"To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is to never die." -Carl Sagan

En_Route

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Re: The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2012, 06:27:53 PM »
I know what you mean. Maybe  though we should just take atheism as a default position and only put the onus on people who want to complicate matters by bringing gods into the equation to have actively thought about the matter.  
Some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them (Orwell).

Tank

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Re: The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2012, 06:56:06 PM »

I suppose I am being more than a little pedantic with 'consider'. However if a person said 'I'm an atheist' and couldn't explain why I would be quite unimpressed by their assertion. Part of this issue would be that the person would have to have chosen put a label on themselves 'atheist' but not taken the trouble to understand why.

I like the way you used the word 'consider', as it implies some forethought before labeling one's self an atheist. I know plenty of people who call themselves atheists because they think "I don't care about that God stuff" and that's all the thought they put into it. One of my best friends from childhood is like this. We argue about it from time to time. I ask her if she's put any serious thought into her non-belief, and her answer is "hell no, I don't care about that God stuff, I just don't want to think about it, I'm happy the way I am." Essentially, she sees herself as an atheist the way some people see themselves as Christian -- their parents were that way, so while it really means nothing personally to them, they use the label because they don't want to bother using another.

I'm not saying atheism has to be some deep, meaningful experience you think about obsessively. It's just that you ought to know which position you hold, and why. There ought to be reasons for your position.
Agreed.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Tank

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Re: The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist
« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2012, 06:58:26 PM »
I know what you mean. Maybe  though we should just take atheism as a default position and only put the onus on people who want to complicate matters by bringing gods into the equation to have actively thought about the matter.  
I would agree that atheism is the default position. But one shouldn't have to define a default position asthe negative of some other value should one?
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

En_Route

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Re: The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist
« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2012, 08:01:00 PM »
I know what you mean. Maybe  though we should just take atheism as a default position and only put the onus on people who want to complicate matters by bringing gods into the equation to have actively thought about the matter.  
I would agree that atheism is the default position. But one shouldn't have to define a default position asthe negative of some other value should one?

I think of it as an historical aberration, since theism of one kind or another commanded almost universal belief in the earliest days of mankind.
Some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them (Orwell).

Amicale

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Re: The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist
« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2012, 08:29:54 PM »
I know what you mean. Maybe  though we should just take atheism as a default position and only put the onus on people who want to complicate matters by bringing gods into the equation to have actively thought about the matter.  
I would agree that atheism is the default position. But one shouldn't have to define a default position asthe negative of some other value should one?

Actually, Tank, I'm not so sure atheism is the default position. While it's true a child isn't born with belief in anything, they also haven't chosen any other sort of position, either. If calling oneself an atheist ought to be a carefully considered position, then I'm not sure how it's the default one, either. Hmm.


"Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb we are bound to others. By every crime and act of kindness we birth our future." - Cloud Atlas

"To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is to never die." -Carl Sagan

Tank

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Re: The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist
« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2012, 08:39:12 PM »
I know what you mean. Maybe  though we should just take atheism as a default position and only put the onus on people who want to complicate matters by bringing gods into the equation to have actively thought about the matter.  
I would agree that atheism is the default position. But one shouldn't have to define a default position asthe negative of some other value should one?

Actually, Tank, I'm not so sure atheism is the default position. While it's true a child isn't born with belief in anything, they also haven't chosen any other sort of position, either. If calling oneself an atheist ought to be a carefully considered position, then I'm not sure how it's the default one, either. Hmm.
Good point, good point. Children are definitly born belief free. But I have always considered theism as a corruption of this basic innocence. So that's what I was getting at.
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

Amicale

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Re: The Self-Reliant Mind of the Atheist
« Reply #25 on: February 11, 2012, 09:24:57 PM »
I know what you mean. Maybe  though we should just take atheism as a default position and only put the onus on people who want to complicate matters by bringing gods into the equation to have actively thought about the matter.  
I would agree that atheism is the default position. But one shouldn't have to define a default position asthe negative of some other value should one?

Actually, Tank, I'm not so sure atheism is the default position. While it's true a child isn't born with belief in anything, they also haven't chosen any other sort of position, either. If calling oneself an atheist ought to be a carefully considered position, then I'm not sure how it's the default one, either. Hmm.
Good point, good point. Children are definitly born belief free. But I have always considered theism as a corruption of this basic innocence. So that's what I was getting at.

Yup, fully agree. Children are born innocent, free of any of our whacky ideas.  :D As they grow, they just have to pick the one that's the least whacky! ;)


"Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb we are bound to others. By every crime and act of kindness we birth our future." - Cloud Atlas

"To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is to never die." -Carl Sagan