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toddaa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-22-11 10:32 AM
Original message
The Intolerance of the word Atheism
These threads pop up on DU from time to time and they always devolve into heated arguments over which dictionary is the divine truth. I jokingly refer to these people as dictionarianists.

Ignoring the complexities of how atheists have come to claim that word for themselves and to argue that they are not really atheists, is no different from telling a Democrat that they are not a real Democrat because the don't agree with Obama. The No True Scotsman fallacy works both ways. What I find upsetting about these arguments over the definition of the word atheist, is that those insisting on using some antiquated definition they found in a dictionary often don't bother to listen to how the majority of atheists use the word. Atheists opinions don't matter and our voices are ignored.

If we cannot define who we are, then in what way can you claim that you are tolerant of atheists?

Signed,
a militant agnostic
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-22-11 10:37 AM
Response to Original message
1. It's the same thing, though, with the word "Christian."
There are lots of definitions of that word, as well. The bottom line is that if someone tells me he or she is a Christian, I take his or her word on it. The label doesn't really matter, since it is the behavior of the individual that determines my opinion of that individual.

It should be the same for the word "atheist." The same things apply. The declaration of atheism means that, in one way or another, one doesn't believe in deities. That's enough for me. Exactly how they define that disbelief is irrelevant in the end.

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AlecBGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-22-11 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Thats the tricky part MM
and this is why I think the NTS fallacy is not a fallacy at all.

"The bottom line is that if someone tells me he or she is a Christian, I take his or her word on it. The label doesn't really matter, since it is the behavior of the individual that determines my opinion of that individual."

To take an extreme example, if a person calls themself a Democrat but consistently votes for Republicans, opposes a womans right to choose, supports corporate personhood, opposes unions, favors the dismantling of SS and Medicare/Medicaid, supports the continued occupation of Iraq, etc etc, can we call them a Democrat? They say they are, but ARE they?

Likewise, there are some who call themselves Christians but I think they do not walk the walk. I believe Jesus foresaw this:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Matthew 7:21-23

So according to my interpretation of Scripture and my own understanding, there are some who call themselves Christians but who are 'unknown' to the Lord, that is, not part of the body of Christ. My job as a Christian is not to judge others and say they are NOT Christians; the role of judge is to Christ alone. My job then is to understand as best I can through reading & prayer, to act on what I believe, and to tell others what I believe and why. There is definitely room in Christianity to correct what we perceive to be wrongdoing among our brothers & sisters in Christ, but I should do so without judgement that they are a 'failed' Christian. Its a fine line; judge actions, not people.

As a teacher I am given opportunities to practice this. When a student behaves improperly, I am not to see them as a 'bad' kid but one who is in need of correction. I had a student this semester who fit everyone's definition of a 'bad' kid: he was rude, physically and verbally abusive, constantly lying, cheating, etc. I took this kid out into the hall on many occasions and said, "Look, I dont have a problem with YOU. I have a problem with your behavior. If you are going to be a member of this class, there are certain rules you must follow. If you break these rules, there will be consequences. Its not because I dont like you; I would do the same to my own kids." It worked! The child began to realize two things: 1) I like him and am trying to help him 2) I will not tolerate certain behavior in my class and crossing the line leads to consequences. He just kind of started to figure it out toward the end of the semester and now he is moving on so I wont get to follow his progress as closely. It was still a good feeling to see him change his behavior in response to rational dialogue and consistent enforcement of classroom rules.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-22-11 12:42 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Ah, but you see, it's not my job to figure out who is and who is
Edited on Sat Jan-22-11 12:45 PM by MineralMan
not a Christian. I don't really care. If they say they are, then I'll accept their declaration. If they prove to act in ways that are in opposition to Christian principles, I'll make note of that and avoid them. It's also not my job to teach self-styled Christians how to behave. I'm an atheist, so it's of no interest to me, unless it affects me or someone I care about.

I would quote some other Biblical references to you that make my point, but that's not my job, either. Lots of good advice in the Bible. Lots of bullshit, too. Same with every scripture, since all were written by human beings, who are, by definition, fallible.

I'll let the Christians discipline their own, unless the behavior is harmful to others. Then, I'll let the laws take over.

You will do as you wish, of course.
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AlecBGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-22-11 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. i agree
:hi:
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skepticscott Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-23-11 09:31 AM
Response to Reply #1
8. Well, if someone tells you
that they are a vegetarian, but that they eat meat every day, or that they are a teetotaler, but that they drink beer every day, what would you think of their self-identification?

Not that I necessarily care what people choose to call themselves, but some folks are a wee bit clueless about the labels they apply to themselves.
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AlecBGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-23-11 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. yes
"Not that I necessarily care what people choose to call themselves, but some folks are a wee bit clueless about the labels they apply to themselves."

Likewise, some people are clueless about the labels OTHERS apply to themselves. The whole brouhaha over 'What is an atheist?' is a prime example of that. It seems like a lot of the aggravation here in the R/T is that one person says an X is this, another person says X is that, and then we devolve into argumentative bickering and namecalling about whose definition is right or wrong. I think it is always helpful to qualify our statements (especially here). Example: "Assuming you consider THIS to be the definition of X, then I hold this to be true..." It makes discussion more cumbersome but I think ultimately it leads to more positive interactions.

What do you think SS?
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-22-11 10:41 AM
Response to Original message
2. so your point is, Scotsmen are Atheists?
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-22-11 12:46 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. Well, this Scotsman is. Can't speak for any of the others.
The McGregors all hate me, anyhow... :rofl:
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RandomThoughts Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-22-11 10:44 AM
Response to Original message
3. Many people are atheist as an opposition to something they heard from some religion.
If you are an atheists as an opposition to what someone of faith does, they still define your directions.


I think differently then many people of faith on many topics. There are lots of concepts of faith in many texts that make what the divine is to be seen as a spoiled arrogant brat. I don't believe those verses, since I don't think that is what God is.

For instance, the verse where Paul says that if the potter made someone for dishonor, that is his right. I say if something is God, they would not make something just to be dishonored or for that things own Glory. Although I think that was a moment of not best thoughts of Paul, since nobody is perfect.

Many people that are atheists are reacting to actions they have never seen, best to discuss the topics that don't make sense, and not the belief system, since an atheists can't know for sure either.

The point is, don't fight about weather there is God, discuss about what people think 'God' tells them to do. Because many of those things are wrong if you are a person or care about people, and that is a contradiction to the same teachings.

Some have the concept that people don't matter, only the corporate entity, or religious entity, or state entity, or family blood line matters. That is the concept were people only exist to reach some future better product and the individuals on the way don't matter, that creates much eugenics thoughts also.

The thing is, there are hidden spiritual forces behind many groups that use spiritual methods or structures like when a corporation uses cult techniques, or a leader wants a state to replace a religion. Machiavellianism really is a spiritual concept, it is just hidden from most that follow it, since hiding it is what that side needs to thrive. Also why deception and secrecy and being quiet is a big part of that side.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-23-11 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #3
9. That's just insulting
First, it puts religion as the main focal point of everything.
Second, it teeters on the edge of the crappy "god-shaped hole in your heart" crap that we hear all the time.
Third, it completely ignores the fact that most atheists are where they are because of a lot of thought. No, it can't possibly be that, you are just like that because of something from some religion.
Fourth, it, then, implicitly implies that but for exposure to a "better" religion, we would believe in god.

I'm quite sure you won't see any level of insult in your post and will respond with some, in my opinion incomprehensible, po-mo jibber-jabber.
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-24-11 09:14 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. huh. You put into words what I have felt for years
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