Are Babies Atheists?

Brad
Posts: 2
Joined: 2007-07-17
User is offlineOffline
Are Babies Atheists?

I've heard Sapient and others in the chat room describe babies as being "atheist"...as in, "without belief".

While I understand and agree that the strict (and often broadly used) definition of "atheist" CAN apply to babies, I am going to argue that it shouldn't be and that we need to find a better term to describe babies, and others, who are completely innocent of the concept of gods.

Let me set up the scenario...

A baby has no (apparent) knowledge of gods, I think we can all agree on that. So, if you were to (or could) ask a baby if it is atheist or not (or something else), it will probably not know what you mean.

So when you tell the baby that "atheist" means "without belief" in god, it will likely ask you, "well, what is a god?" So then you (attempt) to tell the baby what a god is. This may take some time... you may want to bring in a "god expert" like a Christian, or not. Smiling

Then, if all things go well, you might get the baby to tell you whether it is an atheist regarding gods or not.

Anyway, you get the idea... the innocent baby does not inherently know what gods are and therefore has no position on whether they exist or not, or whether they, as babies, are atheist or not. You have to impart additional knowledge to the baby about what gods and beliefs in gods are before a baby can even hope to make a decision about being "atheist", or anything else.

Normally you do not encounter someone who claims to be an "atheist" who then turns to you and asks "Oh, by the way, what is a god?" The atheist ostensibly already knows what a god is and, by definition, has consciously decided not to believe in them.

If you are gonna claim that a baby is atheist, you would have to claim that a rock, or a bicycle, or any other inanimate object you can think of is also atheist.

The jury is still out on whether mammals, fish, plants, or insects know, think, or believe there is a god, so I won't include them Smiling

But doesn't it sound a bit "off" to claim a rock is atheist? Surely you would agree that despite the morphological, biochemical, and neurophysical differences, both a baby and a rock essentially have zero knowledge of any gods.

If you feel uncomfortable or think it is "irrational" to claim a rock is atheist, why claim that a baby is atheist?

To help understand my dilemma about calling babies atheist from a slightly different point of view, please consider this...

Eskimo: "If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?"
Priest: "No, not if you did not know."
Eskimo: "Then why did you tell me?"
- Annie Dillard

So from this example, you can imagine the Eskimo was a person without knowledge or belief in gods. But once the Priest explains what gods (and sin) are and what the implications are for not believing in them, the Eskimo is placed in a "difficult" position of having to decide whether to believe in gods or not (decide to be atheist or not).

Before the Priest came along, the Eskimo had no idea about gods. So would you consider him an atheist? For now, let's assume you do.

After the Priest describes what gods are (and the implications for belief and non-belief), the Eskimo makes a decision and decides that he is an "atheist" (ala, doesn't believe in gods and is willing to risk the "punishment").

Would you STILL consider the Eskimo's "atheism" BEFORE the encounter with the priest to be the SAME as the Eskimo's atheism AFTER the encounter with the priest??

I would argue that they are NOT the same atheist or atheism.... so much so that I realize a NEW term needs to be established for those babies, rocks, or Eskimos who are completely INNOCENT of the knowledge of gods.

Now, let's examine Sapient's (I'm assuming it's him since the author is annonymous) definition of atheist from this web page on the RRS site:
http://www.rationalresponders.com/am_i_agnostic_or_atheist

"Therefore, if you find yourself identifying yourself primarily as a doubter of the existence of a 'god', then you are an a-theist... someone who does not hold to a belief in a 'god', someone who does not accept the claims of theists. That's all the term means - a position of non acceptance, a position of non belief. It is the fallback position, the position one holds to when a claim is unsupported or unproven."

I don't know about you, but the way I read the above paragraph, an atheist is someone who purposely MAKES a DECISION about whether they believe in a god or gods or not. Since I think we would agree that babies have no knowledge of what gods are, or whether there is even a choice to believe they exist or not, the term "atheist", as Sapient has written above, also does not seem to apply to babies.

Sapient also claims that atheism is the "fallback position" for unsupported or unproven claims [of gods]. While I agree this CAN be the case for those of us who consciously decide to be atheists, I don't think it can equally apply to those who have no conscious knowledge of gods. I would argue that babies are not atheist because of an implied "fallback position" due to their non-exposure to gods.

If my own descriptions and rationale are not persuasive enough, I will now pull out "the big guns" and offer this recommendation from our friend, Dr. Richard Dawkins, regarding labeling children in religious (or even non-religious) terms...
http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2005/04/30/dawkins/index.html

"What I think may be abuse is labeling children with religious labels like Catholic child and Muslim child. I find it very odd that in our civilization we're quite happy to speak of a Catholic child that is 4 years old or a Muslim of child that is 4, when these children are much too young to know what they think about the cosmos, life and morality. We wouldn't dream of speaking of a Keynesian child or a Marxist child. And yet, for some reason we make a privileged exception of religion. And, by the way, I think it would also be abuse to talk about an atheist child." - Richard Dawkins

I think this quote speaks for itself and lends credence to my position.

Please understand that I do want to open up the topic for discussion to explore alternative viewpoints that could be used to ultimately improve our definitions of atheism and their proper application.

I would love to be shown why my observations and opinions are incorrect or incomplete. However, just saying it is wrong won't cut it.

I think we will be MUCH more respected by people outside the RRS when we take the lead in understanding and even helping to define all aspects of belief, dis-belief, non-belief, and now innocence of belief.

I welcome your thoughtful comments and suggestions.

Thank you.

P.S. If you're interested, another message board has extensively discussed this topic of atheist babies:

http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?s=0431d805808f74dbe05a33b8a910f397&t=86183


suttsteve
Posts: 82
Joined: 2006-07-25
User is offlineOffline
It's very simple. Babies,

It's very simple. Babies, especially newborns, have brains which aren't developed enough to even entertain the idea of beliefs. They have no concept of gods because their brains aren't capable of processing that information. Since this is the case, all babies are atheists, until their brains develop enough to understand language and process god concepts and until that information is actually given to them.


Nero
Rational VIP!
Nero's picture
Posts: 1142
Joined: 2007-05-22
User is offlineOffline
Not only are they atheists,

Not only are they atheists, but they are edible and easily caught.


Hambydammit
High Level DonorModeratorRRS Core Member
Hambydammit's picture
Posts: 8657
Joined: 2006-10-22
User is offlineOffline
The confusion here is

The confusion here is twofold:

1) The "popular" definition of atheist is incorrect, philosophically speaking.  The feeling that people get when they think of calling a baby an atheist is misplaced.  The baby is an atheist, but the person with the objection misunderstands what atheism is.

2) Adult atheists are a different kind of atheist than a baby, but they still are atheists, just as much as the baby.  Adults have been introduced to the concept, and don't believe in it.

So, there is a valid point to be made:  A baby's atheism is different than an adult's atheism.  Nevertheless, both are atheists.

 As a side note, the fact that children need to be taught about god is still more evidence that god is not, as many theists claim, self evident in the universe.

If you admit that untaught children are atheists, the damage to that particular theist position is almost irreparable.

(Of course, like all theist positions, the admission, or lack thereof, doesn't change the reality of the situation.  Untaught children are atheists, as are babies.)

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism


Hambydammit
High Level DonorModeratorRRS Core Member
Hambydammit's picture
Posts: 8657
Joined: 2006-10-22
User is offlineOffline
Quote: Not only are they

Quote:
Not only are they atheists, but they are edible and easily caught.

I think you've hit on something here.  It's been so long since dead baby jokes were all the rage.  Maybe we can start "atheist baby" jokes.

What's the best thing about Herod's "Murder of the Innocents?"

At least all the babies went to heaven.  If they'd lived past Jesus, they'd be rotting in hell.  Good Herod.

...

Ok.. that wasn't a joke...

hmmm...

How's a dead atheist baby better than a live Down's Syndrome Baby?

It's dead.

...

Or, perhaps:

How's a dead atheist baby better than a live Down's Syndrome Baby?

The atheist baby's mother was smart enough to abort.

...

I'm sure I'll get hate mail for this.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism


Randalllord
Rational VIP!
Randalllord's picture
Posts: 690
Joined: 2006-04-12
User is offlineOffline
All babies are natural

All babies are natural atheists. They are born without a belief in God(s).  They have no knwlodge of God(s) therefore, they are also Agnostic. I was born an atheist, was influnced by my parents to become a theist but I figured it out and reclaimed my former natural state. I am a born again atheist. Praise Reason!

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. - Seneca


silentseba
silentseba's picture
Posts: 131
Joined: 2007-07-19
User is offlineOffline
Babies are atheists. You

Babies are atheists. You can do this experiment:

1) Have sex and create a baby

2) Never teach him about god

3) Wait until he is no longer a baby

4) Ask him if  he believes in god

Theism is not something you are born with. Threfore, you are born atheist.  Non-theist, atheist... all the same.


The Patrician
The Patrician's picture
Posts: 474
Joined: 2007-05-09
User is offlineOffline
It depends what you mean by

It depends what you mean by 'atheist'.  If you mean someone who has taken a rational decision to choose not to believe in God or gods then, no, quite clearly they're not.  If you mean that they are atheist because they have no beliefs at all then, yes: they are.

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.


lucidfox13
lucidfox13's picture
Posts: 165
Joined: 2007-03-15
User is offlineOffline
The way I understand it is

The way I understand it is thus:

 Agnosticism:  The belief that there is not, and cannot ever be, sufficient knowledge or data to determine whether or not God does or does not exist.

Atheism:  The belief that there is no God, or a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

 

Now then, this is why I think babies can not be agnostic.  First off, you have to be introduced to god to know about it.  If you never learn about a god, you'll never know.  To be agnostic, you have to have heard of a god.  Otherwise, how would you learn to rationalize whether it exists or not.  Babies could not know what a god is, thus they couldn't know whether or not they believe or not, and so they are atheists.  Does that make sense? 

 

JESUS SAVES!!! .... and takes only half damage!


BGH
BGH's picture
Posts: 2772
Joined: 2006-09-28
User is offlineOffline
Why should a baby wear a

Why should a baby wear a label? Why not let the child be a child until old enough to decide?

No atheist babies, no christian babies, no hindu babies.... etc.

Just Babies!

 

Like Nero said, edible and easy to catch (especially good with hot sauce).


Nero
Rational VIP!
Nero's picture
Posts: 1142
Joined: 2007-05-22
User is offlineOffline
BGH wrote: Why should a

BGH wrote:

Why should a baby wear a label? Why not let the child be a child until old enough to decide?

No atheist babies, no christian babies, no hindu babies.... etc.

Just Babies!

 

Like Nero said, edible and easy to catch (especially good with hot sauce).

Of course they must wear labels. They have info stamped on them like: USDA Grade A and $5.95/lb.

"Tis better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven." -Lucifer


Voided
Posts: 1195
Joined: 2006-02-20
User is offlineOffline
I'd wonder when it would be

I'd wonder when it would be needed to label them.

Honeslty I'd want label them agnostic simply because they don't know about it. However atheist in lack of belief still holds true. 


lucidfox13
lucidfox13's picture
Posts: 165
Joined: 2007-03-15
User is offlineOffline
I don't think the "atheist"

I don't think the "atheist" is technically a label, but more of a definition as I see it.  Like I said, babies don't have beliefs in gods, so that would classifiy them as an atheist.  However, like Dawkins says, I would never call my baby or kid an "atheist child."  More like "child of an atheist."

JESUS SAVES!!! .... and takes only half damage!


dead_again
Special AgentWebsite Admin
dead_again's picture
Posts: 321
Joined: 2007-05-13
User is offlineOffline
As Brad stated earlier, use

As Brad stated earlier, use of a better word might help clear up this confusion on what to label babies. I vote theignorant (ignorant about theism)

Your god's silence speaks loud and clear


todangst
atheistRational VIP!
todangst's picture
Posts: 2811
Joined: 2006-03-10
User is offlineOffline
Infants are implicit

Infants are implicit atheists, proven by the fact that infants  must be taught religion, and the fact infants without either this teaching, or without healthy upbringing do not utter theistic beliefs on their own.

 

But implicit atheism is merely a lack of awareness of a claim. We are all  implicit atheist concerning god claims we've never heard.... 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.


daddydoesit
Posts: 12
Joined: 2007-06-16
User is offlineOffline
What?

I am not sure which I find more offensive. The fact this question was asked, when the answer is so obvious, or people responded? I am under the opinion trite drivel always need be ignored but:

Common sense establishes atheism is a person without a belief in god. Other posters have clearly demonstrated arguing for Brad’s position is a poor use of time….

Not only are babies atheists but toddlers are too. I'd say repeating what mommy/daddy or a person in positions of authority says does not "qualify" you as a theist. I feel someone who wishes to be viewed as intelligent and wishes their thoughts or actions be perceived by other as coming from “dis or dat” school of thought must actually have an idea what they are talking about. If I am correct this means toddlers are atheists too. I think this logic would be true when considering children 5-9? I am not sure where to draw the line – late teens? Early adulthood? 18-24(college bound).

I will not address posts directed towards me that suggest babies are anything but atheists. However, I will discuss my position that toddlers are atheists and quite possibly children too. They are simply repeating words that have been pounded into their heads not grasping concepts.

PS

 

God is incomprehensible …. Anything above nature is. I suppose if you disagree with that you disagree with me…

 

What is the purpose of tolerating theism


Sapient
High Level DonorRRS CO-FOUNDERRRS Core MemberWebsite Admin
Sapient's picture
Posts: 7530
Joined: 2006-04-18
User is offlineOffline
daddydoesit wrote: I am

daddydoesit wrote:

I am not sure which I find more offensive. The fact this question was asked, when the answer is so obvious, or people responded? I am under the opinion trite drivel always need be ignored but:

Common sense establishes atheism is a person without a belief in god. Other posters have clearly demonstrated arguing for Brad’s position is a poor use of time….

Not only are babies atheists but toddlers are too.

Ditto. 

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.


The Patrician
The Patrician's picture
Posts: 474
Joined: 2007-05-09
User is offlineOffline
daddydoesit wrote: I am

daddydoesit wrote:

I am not sure which I find more offensive. The fact this question was asked, when the answer is so obvious, or people responded? I am under the opinion trite drivel always need be ignored but

Y halo thar Captain Intolerant!

Of course you did completely miss the point that we all agree babies are implicitly atheist however they aren't making a concious choice to be atheist, it's just that as they have no ability to make rational decisions on abstract matters.

In other words, they're atheist by default, not by choice.

Just so you know.

Freedom of religious belief is an inalienable right. Stuffing that belief down other people's throats is not.


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Are babies atheist?

No, they are not, and they are not theists, either.


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Are babies atheists?

Yes, I agree. I wonder if daddydoesit notes the irony in the certainty of his comments, when juxtaposed with your final point?

 

It's not alright to shove religious belief down other people's throats but I can shove my belief down new-born babies' throats for all I am worth.

cliffyboy


Ktulu
atheist
Posts: 1830
Joined: 2010-12-21
User is offlineOffline
cliffyboy wrote:Yes, I

cliffyboy wrote:

Yes, I agree. I wonder if daddydoesit notes the irony in the certainty of his comments, when juxtaposed with your final point?

 

It's not alright to shove religious belief down other people's throats but I can shove my belief down new-born babies' throats for all I am worth.

I'm not sure how this relates to the OP but I have to say that my 3 children which are now toddlers are atheists ( 4 year old and 2 year old twins).  I have never made an effort to teach them religion and if they ask me about ghosts I will tell them they don't exist.  If they ask me about Zeus I will tell them he's just a myth;if they ask me about Allah I will tell them he's just a myth; if they ask me about Jesus I will tell them he's a myth also.  The difference between myself and a religious person is that I stop there.  I will not teach them to hate religion, or to hate people that hold different views.  

My children were born atheists (a-theists= not theists, or not believing in any gods), and while their mindset may be different from the atheist mindset I'm experiencing is irrelevant.  The original question is "Are babies atheists?", the question being debated is "Are babies a different type of atheists then adult atheists?".  

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
Ktulu wrote:My children were

Ktulu wrote:

My children were born atheists (a-theists= not theists, or not believing in any gods), and while their mindset may be different from the atheist mindset I'm experiencing is irrelevant.  The original question is "Are babies atheists?", the question being debated is "Are babies a different type of atheists then adult atheists?".  

I look at that like todangst was mentioning about implicit/explicit.

An implicit atheist is someone that never was taught or knew anything about religion.

An explicit atheist was someone like me that was taught religion and rejected it later on in life.

 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


Sapient
High Level DonorRRS CO-FOUNDERRRS Core MemberWebsite Admin
Sapient's picture
Posts: 7530
Joined: 2006-04-18
User is offlineOffline
cliffyboy wrote:It's not

cliffyboy wrote:

It's not alright to shove religious belief down other people's throats but I can shove my belief down new-born babies' throats for all I am worth.

It's not a belief you shove down a babies throat, it's the absence of belief in god that the baby is born with that makes him/her an atheist.  

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.


ubuntuAnyone
Theist
ubuntuAnyone's picture
Posts: 862
Joined: 2009-08-06
User is offlineOffline
harleysportster wrote:An

harleysportster wrote:

An implicit atheist is someone that never was taught or knew anything about religion.

An explicit atheist was someone like me that was taught religion and rejected it later on in life.

Right on...

I just don't think we should be crystal clear with what we're talking about. If we categorically place anything that does not have belief in a god in the atheist category, then rocks are atheist too...

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

harleysportster wrote:

An implicit atheist is someone that never was taught or knew anything about religion.

An explicit atheist was someone like me that was taught religion and rejected it later on in life.

Right on...

I just don't think we should be crystal clear with what we're talking about. If we categorically place anything that does not have belief in a god in the atheist category, then rocks are atheist too...

True enough. Good point.

I have encountered theists that wish to use the so called "innocent wonder" in a baby's eyes as proof that they have some sort of "god consciousness" (the theist's terms for it not mine, hehe).

To me, whether we are natural atheists from birth or not is actually rather irrelevant.

We still end up picking up information/beliefs/conceptions from our parents and societies around us. Doesn't mean that what we are taught or what are brains discern as information from our surroundings is the correct information. Religion and the way that we believe in god seems to be largely a cultural thing.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


Ktulu
atheist
Posts: 1830
Joined: 2010-12-21
User is offlineOffline
ubuntuAnyone

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

harleysportster wrote:

An implicit atheist is someone that never was taught or knew anything about religion.

An explicit atheist was someone like me that was taught religion and rejected it later on in life.

Right on...

I just don't think we should be crystal clear with what we're talking about. If we categorically place anything that does not have belief in a god in the atheist category, then rocks are atheist too...

I'm quite sure that rocks are creationists simply because their IQ is equated.  I'm sure that labels such as atheist, theist, humanist have no meaning outside of human beings.  Is a rock a vegetarian then because it eats no meat?

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Are babies atheist?

Thanks for your reply, Ktulu. Although my three sons are all now well into adulthood, I would have mirrored your experiences when they were very young in terms of religion and all talk of gods, deities, spirits, etc., but I would certainly never have discouraged them from freedom of thought. My comment regarding babies, only applies to new-born babies, not to toddlers who have started using language, for example. I much prefer the term, non-theist, as it also, while acknowledging the innocence of new-born babies, also hints at the insanity of religion.

cliffyboy


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Are babies atheist?

When I say that, Sapient, I am referring to the adults' view that new-born babies are atheists before they have either heard or uttered a word of the language they have been born into. I see that as me making a decision for them. It's like I'm assuming without their input. I don't accept that being an atheist is a pasive thing so therefore, in order for it to be valid, there has to be some sort of active voice present. The term 'non-theist' is much more accurate, in my view.

cliffyboy


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Are babies atheist?

But in effect, by making that judgement about a baby who has just left the mother's womb, you are shoving your beliefs or views down their throats. Since they haven't a clue about anything, let alone any language awarenss, how can a person assert they are anything but innocent of everything?

As I've already said, I do not see that being an atheist is a passive state. Surely it is a position one adopts, takes or has?

 

 

 

cliffyboy


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
cliffyboy wrote:As I've

cliffyboy wrote:

As I've already said, I do not see that being an atheist is a passive state. Surely it is a position one adopts, takes or has?

 

In the category of an explicit Atheist like myself, the answer would be yes. It is a position that one has adopted via the rejection of a belief in a deity.

In the category of an implicit Atheist, it is one that has never been taught of the belief of a god and therefore lacks a belief in god because they have never been exposed to it.

If you have to assign any title to infants, I would agree that the term non-theistic would probably be better.

However, why do we necessarily need to assign any title to any newborn infant anyway ?

We do not classify infants as non-Republican or non-Democrat because they have not understood those terms yet. At least, I do not know of anyone that does that.

One of the things that always irked me about growing up within the Catholic faith. Mention what school you attend and someone was likely to say "That is where all of the Catholic children go," mention another school and "That is where all of the Jewish children go". 

Do we call children, Democrat kids ? Republican kids ? Socialist kids ? Libertarian kids ? Do we often ask parents if they will give their children the option to choose other political paths ? Usually not that I am aware of .

I don't really see religion and god belief as too much different than any other aspect of culture.

I wouldn't think that a baby with musician parents should be referred to as a non-musician.

BUT, in regards to the original post, I think that all babies are indeed Atheists. The factors of where they are born and the types of parents that they have might indicate what their life choices will be but little else.

Look at me, my entire family is deeply religious and the neighborhood that I grew up in was predominantly Catholic. But, here I am, a hardcore positive Atheist about the god of the Abrahamic religions and any other likened deity.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Are babies atheist?

But it is also an inaccurate and invalid use of the word 'implicit' anyway.

This word does not suggest or mean 'lack of awareness' or 'inability to communicate' or 'insensate' or 'doesn't and can't use language, yet'. If a person has an implicit awareness of something, it suggests an awareness on very deep levels indeed. Just because it is not direct in the consciousness, doesn't mean it is outside of that person's id. If I have an implicit awareness of something, it has to mean that if I have to, I can make it explicit. Some people would even argue that having an implicit awareness of something indicates a deeper or more profound understanding than just having an explicit awareness.

Furthermore, apart from this peculiar usage, is this word ever used with a common noun like this?

Like I've never heard of a person being called an implicit anything, apart from this fabrication. Surely implicit is used to qualify or describe some sort of abstract noun?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cliffyboy


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Are babies atheist?

Is there, though, any other state, condition. person or situation where the word 'explicit' can be applied but where the word 'implicit' really does not apply in any way, shape or form? 

cliffyboy


butterbattle
ModeratorSuperfan
butterbattle's picture
Posts: 3730
Joined: 2008-09-12
User is offlineOffline
Imo, the problem is not in

Imo, the problem is not in the definition, but rather our not entirely conscious attitude towards the word "atheist" based on social stigma and the somewhat disconcerting feeling we get from attaching such a label to a baby. If we define an atheist as someone that doesn't believe in God, then babies are atheists. Babies don't believe in God. Ergo, they are atheists. Similarly, if we came up with terms that described people whom didn't believe in ghosts, unicorns, the planet Venus or dodo birds, it would not be incorrect to apply those terms to be a baby as well. It would merely be banal because, well, why would you want to describe a baby as lacking some random belief?

We should recall that the term atheist is only used because theism is so popular.

cliffboy wrote:
I much prefer the term, non-theist, as it also, while acknowledging the innocence of new-born babies, also hints at the insanity of religion.

Under our definition, an atheist is a non-theist. An atheist is someone that doesn't believe in God. Ergo, an atheist is someone that is not a theist.

Your response here implies a strawman of our definition or some definition that no one here holds and thus, has no bearing on the discussion. Atheism does not imply that the babies are not innocent nor does non-theist "hint" at the "insanity of religion."

cliffboy wrote:
As I've already said, I do not see that being an atheist is a passive state. Surely it is a position one adopts, takes or has?

"Atheist" is a word. It means what humans decide it means.

cliffyboy wrote:
But it is also an inaccurate and invalid use of the word 'implicit' anyway.

If that's the case, then we can just use some other words to describe the distinction. Adults like us actively do not believe in God. Babies are merely ignorant. That's what we mean regardless of the labels.

 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Are babies atheist?

Butterbattle says that the word 'atheist is only used because theism is so popoular.'

 

Em, first I've heard of it. Sounds to me like God's come to visit planet Earth.

 

Atheist and non-theist are synonyms but that neither means they are the same nor exactly inter-changeable terms. They exist to express differences and nuances and subtleties of meaning, as do all synonyms.

 

My response does nothing of the sort, thank you very much, and I wasn't aware that you had elected yourself in charge of setting down the goalposts. In my opinion, calling a baby at birth an atheist does imply that they are not innocent - any chance of letting me know how they came about their awareness of language in the womb - and calling babies 'non-theist' does hint at the insanity of religion.

 

What makes you think your assertions do more than express an opinion? Have trouble finding a hat to fit that ego, do you?

 

Your saying 'Atheist is a word. It means what humans decide it means', reminds me of Basil Fawlty's comment about Sybil and Mastermind: 'Special Subject: The Bleeding Obvious.' And since you finish with another banality, what words do you suggest instead of 'implicit'?

 

'Babies are merely ignorant. That's what we mean regardless of the labels.' Speak for yourself.

cliffyboy


Ktulu
atheist
Posts: 1830
Joined: 2010-12-21
User is offlineOffline
cliffyboy wrote: Atheist

cliffyboy wrote:
 

Atheist and non-theist are synonyms but that neither means they are the same nor exactly inter-changeable terms. They exist to express differences and nuances and subtleties of meaning, as do all synonyms.

 

My response does nothing of the sort, thank you very much, and I wasn't aware that you had elected yourself in charge of setting down the goalposts. In my opinion, calling a baby at birth an atheist does imply that they are not innocent - any chance of letting me know how they came about their awareness of language in the womb - and calling babies 'non-theist' does hint at the insanity of religion.

 

What makes you think your assertions do more than express an opinion? Have trouble finding a hat to fit that ego, do you?

 

Your saying 'Atheist is a word. It means what humans decide it means', reminds me of Basil Fawlty's comment about Sybil and Mastermind: 'Special Subject: The Bleeding Obvious.' And since you finish with another banality, what words do you suggest instead of 'implicit'?

 

'Babies are merely ignorant. That's what we mean regardless of the labels.' Speak for yourself.

Semantics, semantics, semantics Smiling

Actually a-theist and theist come from Greek, and we took both the word and it's negation from Greek.  Theos and a-theos the a in Greek being the equivalent of 'non' or 'un' in English.  So technically non-theist and a-theist are the same word.  If you're arguing that they don't inspire the same feelings in your average uneducated theist I have to agree.  But for the sake of this forum, I'm guessing (hoping) that everyone that labels themselves Atheist did at least some minor research on it.

I think you're overthinking the term atheist.  You take all the baggage that the Christian meme has attached to it.  I don't find the description innocent atheist to be an oxymoron simply because I see the term atheist as a baggage-less label, and I understand it as a literal translation of 'non-theist'.

Also the ad hominem comments are unnecessary, I don't think butter was trying to be condescending, he's just an arrogant asshole like the rest of us Smiling

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


butterbattle
ModeratorSuperfan
butterbattle's picture
Posts: 3730
Joined: 2008-09-12
User is offlineOffline
cliffyboy wrote:Butterbattle

cliffyboy wrote:
Butterbattle says that the word 'atheist is only used because theism is so popoular.'

Em, first I've heard of it. Sounds to me like God's come to visit planet Earth.

I'm not sure what you mean by that last sentence.

In the first place, to actively believe or not believe in an entity, one must first have a concept of the entity. Then, for there to be a term describing that belief or non-belief in our language, it must have some importance i.e. be discussed to some extent in societies with that language. It would be quite impractical to popularize a term for labeling every possible belief or the lack thereof. So, specific entities of little interest do not have terms describing our belief in them; for example, there are no leprechaunists or aleprechaunists because philosophers don't seriously debate with each other over the existence of leprechauns.

God is one of only a few, if not the only supernatural thing, that is so prevalent that it is considered the default position and non-belief is what is generally unorthodox. That is why we are given a label.

cliffyboy wrote:
Atheist and non-theist are synonyms but that neither means they are the same nor exactly inter-changeable terms.

I do think atheist and non-theist are exactly interchangeable terms. That is how I define them. The prefix "a" in atheist denotes "not" or "without." Theism is belief in God. Ergo, atheism is "not God" or "without God." Also, 

Ktulu: Theos and a-theos the a in Greek being the equivalent of 'non' or 'un' in English."  

cliffyboy wrote:
They exist to express differences and nuances and subtleties of meaning, as do all synonyms.

That suggests that all synonyms are words that have nearly the same meaning, which is not correct. Synonyms are words that have the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/synonyms

Arguably, the distinction you've made between atheist and non-theist hardly makes them synonyms anyways.

cliffyboy wrote:
My response does nothing of the sort, thank you very much, and I wasn't aware that you had elected yourself in charge of setting down the goalposts. In my opinion, calling a baby at birth an atheist does imply that they are not innocent - any chance of letting me know how they came about their awareness of language in the womb - and calling babies 'non-theist' does hint at the insanity of religion.

What makes you think your assertions do more than express an opinion? Have trouble finding a hat to fit that ego, do you?

Your saying 'Atheist is a word. It means what humans decide it means', reminds me of Basil Fawlty's comment about Sybil and Mastermind: 'Special Subject: The Bleeding Obvious.'

I did not elect myself in charge of setting down the goalposts. The second sentence of my previous response began, "If we define an atheist as someone that doesn't believe in God..." I did not assert that there was an objectively correct way of defining the word; this is merely how I define it. If it seems like I implied that somewhere, it was not intended. Once again, I define an atheist as a person that doesn't believe in God - nothing more, nothing less.

This discussion is entirely semantics. I define these words in one way; you define them a different way. The only point of confusion is where you continually commit basic question begging by smuggling your definitions onto the word, such that you eventually imply that they are somehow inherent to the word itself, then attempt to use that as an actual argument against the use of the word. I uttered the "bleeding obvious" because, from what you wrote in your previous posts, the "bleeding obvious" did not seem obvious to you at all. Calling a baby at birth an atheist only implies that they are not innocent if that is what is meant by the person who called the baby an atheist. Calling a baby a non-theist only hints at the insanity of religion if you have already defined the term in such a way that it hints at the insanity of religion. Words don't have meaning by themselves. For you to object to a person calling a baby an atheist because you've defined the term atheist in such a way that it does not accurately describe babies is ludicrous; once you realize this is what you're doing, this discussion will be over, as there will be nothing left to argue about.

What do you mean by, "- any chance of letting me know how they came about their awareness of language in the womb -."? If you're implying that atheism requires awareness of language, then you are again projecting your own definition onto me as a strawman.

cliffyboy wrote:
And since you finish with another banality, what words do you suggest instead of 'implicit'?

I don't know. You can call them non-theists if you want. Negative atheists. Weak atheists. Agnostics.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Ktulu wrote: Also the ad

Ktulu wrote:

 

Also the ad hominem comments are unnecessary, I don't think butter was trying to be condescending, he's just an arrogant asshole like the rest of us Smiling

 

Good one.

cliffyboy


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Are babies atheist?

butterbattle wrote:
I'm not sure what you mean by that last sentence.

Oh, well, can't win them all.

butterbattle wrote:
In the first place, to actively believe or not believe in an entity, one must first have a concept of the entity.

Is that right? So we assign qualities and characteristics to a something before establishing whether it actually exists or not? Sounds like insanity to me.

butterbattle wrote:
for example, there are no leprechaunists or aleprechaunists because philosophers don't seriously debate with each other over the existence of leprechauns.

Why not? How is the postulation of a leprechaun any different inheretly from postulating God?

butterbattle wrote:
God is one of only a few, if not the only supernatural thing, that is so prevalent that it is considered the default position and non-belief is what is generally unorthodox. That is why we are given a label.

But that doesn't make it any more valid than postulating anything else. Its prevalence is irrelevant and its being labelled so generally can just as well prove how even crazier it is.

butterbattle wrote:
I do think atheist and non-theist are exactly interchangeable terms.

Course they are, at times, though without the 'exactly', but that still doesn't mean they mean the same.

butterbattle wrote:
That suggests that all synonyms are words that have nearly the same meaning, which is not correct. Synonyms are words that have the same or nearly the same meaning in some or all senses.

Sorry, but there is no way that any synonym means exactly the same, never. It wouldn't exist, if it did. Context governs their use and need. And what's Webster got to do with it?

butterbattle wrote:
I did not elect myself in charge of setting down the goalposts. The second sentence of my previous response began, "If we define an atheist as someone that doesn't believe in God..." I did not assert that there was an objectively correct way of defining the word; this is merely how I define it. If it seems like I implied that somewhere, it was not intended. Once again, I define an atheist as a person that doesn't believe in God - nothing more, nothing less.

So if you didn't set down the goalposts, why the use of the pronoun 'we' ? I agree completely with your final sentence above and that is also why it can't be applied to a new-born baby. You've said it yourself.

butterbattle wrote:
This discussion is entirely semantics.

Anyway any discussion can't be or isn't?

butterbattle wrote:
  The only point of confusion is where you continually commit basic question begging by smuggling your definitions onto the word, such that you eventually imply that they are somehow inherent to the word itself, then attempt to use that as an actual argument against the use of the word. I uttered the "bleeding obvious" because, from what you wrote in your previous posts, the "bleeding obvious" did not seem obvious to you at all. Calling a baby at birth an atheist only implies that they are not innocent if that is what is meant by the person who called the baby an atheist. Calling a baby a non-theist only hints at the insanity of religion if you have already defined the term in such a way that it hints at the insanity of religion. Words don't have meaning by themselves. For you to object to a person calling a baby an atheist because you've defined the term atheist in such a way that it does not accurately describe babies is ludicrous; once you realize this is what you're doing, this discussion will be over, as there will be nothing left to argue about.

I'm not sure what that farrago is all about. I'd argue definitions of words are inherent to the word itself, wouldn't you? Can they exist independently of each other? And as for your comments about babies and atheism, it is the title of this thread I'm responding to, I didn't pluck it out of the air. You even imply this with your final sentence. On that basis, each post in reply to this thread should either have been 'Yes' or 'No', which nicely shows the utter banality of either/or.

butterbattle wrote:
What do you mean by, "- any chance of letting me know how they came about their awareness of language in the womb -."? If you're implying that atheism requires awareness of language, then you are again projecting your own definition onto me as a strawman.

Have you read your last sentence here? You raise the strawman argument, straw being the operative word, but it rests, according to you, on my 'implying' something. How absurd is that? You're not only putting words into my mouth, you're shovelling ideas into it as well. And what does 'atheism requires awareness of language' actually mean?

butterbattle wrote:
You can call them non-theists if you want. Negative atheists. Weak atheists. Agnostics.

Butterbattle, my calling them 'non-theists' is only as a direct response to this thread, and the term 'atheist' being applied to babies was first suggested a couple of centuries ago, or so.

A new born baby is not an implicit atheist, and nor a 'Negative atheist' and/or 'weak atheist', whatever those terms are supposed to mean. And nor are babies agnostic.

As an atheist, the last thing we need to do is make ourselves sound like first-class dorks by predicating onto newly born babies our beliefs. The irony is that it's one of atheists' greatest criticisms of religious indoctrination and upbringing.

cliffyboy


Gauche
atheist
Gauche's picture
Posts: 1565
Joined: 2007-01-18
User is offlineOffline
cliffyboy wrote:But it is

cliffyboy wrote:

But it is also an inaccurate and invalid use of the word 'implicit' anyway.

This word does not suggest or mean 'lack of awareness' or 'inability to communicate' or 'insensate' or 'doesn't and can't use language, yet'. If a person has an implicit awareness of something, it suggests an awareness on very deep levels indeed. Just because it is not direct in the consciousness, doesn't mean it is outside of that person's id. If I have an implicit awareness of something, it has to mean that if I have to, I can make it explicit. Some people would even argue that having an implicit awareness of something indicates a deeper or more profound understanding than just having an explicit awareness.

Furthermore, apart from this peculiar usage, is this word ever used with a common noun like this?

Like I've never heard of a person being called an implicit anything, apart from this fabrication. Surely implicit is used to qualify or describe some sort of abstract noun?

What about an implicit contract?

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


Ktulu
atheist
Posts: 1830
Joined: 2010-12-21
User is offlineOffline
 can a mod fix clifyboy's

 can a mod fix clifyboy's post, it's difficult to read.


butterbattle
ModeratorSuperfan
butterbattle's picture
Posts: 3730
Joined: 2008-09-12
User is offlineOffline
In the rich text editor,

In the rich text editor, note that the codes need to be enclosed with square brackets like "[" instead of "(".

cliffyboy wrote:
Is that right? So we assign qualities and characteristics to a something before establishing whether it actually exists or not? Sounds like insanity to me.

That's right. For, how can I know if something exists if I don't know what it is? If the entity has no definition, then I simply don't know, trivially. Hypothetically, suppose that I propose the existence of the furger argorock. Does it exist? Clearly, you can't possess knowledge of whether the furger argorock exists. Now, suppose that I defined a furger argorock, 'It's like a big flying shark, except it has no teeth. It's got fur like a camel, and you can ride on it. It's only about 13 feet long. It doesn't eat food, and it doesn't sleep.' Now, with these characteristics, you can conclude that the furger argorock does not exist beyond a reasonable doubt.

Of course, the qualities and characteristics don't have to be arbitrary because I can refer to reality. I can observe an animal, and then, I will know that this particular animal exists. Then, I can give it a name; I'll call it a rabbit. In this case, I simply assign the characteristics of this animal that I've observed to the term "rabbit;" ergo, I know that rabbits exist. So, perhaps a better way to illustrate what I mean is that an entity must have a definition before it can be evaluated, and to show that it exists, that definition must be correlated to something in reality.

butterbattle wrote:
for example, there are no leprechaunists or aleprechaunists because philosophers don't seriously debate with each other over the existence of leprechauns.

cliffyboy wrote:
Why not? How is the postulation of a leprechaun any different inheretly from postulating God?

Well, because philosophers don't care as much about the existence of leprechauns as they do God, and not as many people believe in leprechauns as they do God. Thus, naturally, there is more terminology and vocabulary concerning God than leprechauns. There is nothing inherently different about it; the distinction is a matter of people, societies, and memes.

cliffyboy wrote:
But that doesn't make it any more valid than postulating anything else. Its prevalence is irrelevant and its being labelled so generally can just as well prove how even crazier it is.

Correct.

cliffyboy wrote:
Course they are, at times, though without the 'exactly', but that still doesn't mean they mean the same.

I've defined them to be interchangeable all the time, with 'exactly', and that they mean the same thing.

cliffyboy wrote:
Sorry, but there is no way that any synonym means exactly the same, never. It wouldn't exist, if it did.

Naked assertions are still naked assertions regardless of how strongly you assert them.

cliffyboy wrote:
Context governs their use and need. And what's Webster got to do with it?

Webster is a dictionary, and dictionaries tell us what the popular definitions of words are. The Webster definition of 'synonym' does not seem to agree with your definition.

cliffyboy wrote:
So if you didn't set down the goalposts, why the use of the pronoun 'we' ?

I said, "If we define..." What's wrong with saying "we?" I've already qualified it with "if," meaning "if" defined someone defined it that way, then, etc. If you don't like, I'll use "I" from now on.

Even if it is a misstep in language, I have already made it clear that it is not what I meant. You are now picking at insignificant pronouns just to try to disagree with me.

Stay on topic. When I call a baby an atheist, I just mean that they don't believe in God. This is not very difficult to understand. Do you have an argument here other than that I shouldn't call babies atheists because you don't define it the way I do?

cliffyboy wrote:
I agree completely with your final sentence above and that is also why it can't be applied to a new-born baby. You've said it yourself.

Oh? Atheist, defined as someone that doesn't believe in God, can't be applied to babies?

How so? Do babies believe in God?

cliffyboy wrote:
I'm not sure what that farrago is all about. I'd argue definitions of words are inherent to the word itself, wouldn't you?

NO.

The "meaning" of the word is our message when we communicate. The word itself is the vehicle by which that message is delivered. Have you ever read the book, "Frindle," when you were younger? The main point of the book is to think outside of the box, that words exist independent of their meaning, hence why the object that is known as a pen can eventually be popularly known as a frindle instead, which incidentally, means the "exact" same thing as pen.

Definitions are certainly not inherent to the word. Humans attribute meanings to their words. If humans gave a word another meaning, that would be the meaning of that word. They are all abstractions. There would be nothing objectively wrong with calling atheists theists and theists atheists if that were the world we lived in.    

cliffyboy wrote:
Can they exist independently of each other?

They do exist independent of each other, as abstractions.

cliffyboy wrote:
Have you read your last sentence here? You raise the strawman argument, straw being the operative word, but it rests, according to you, on my 'implying' something. How absurd is that? You're not only putting words into my mouth, you're shovelling ideas into it as well.

Okay, so answer my question then.

butterbattle: What do you mean by, "- any chance of letting me know how they came about their awareness of language in the womb -."?

Btw, do you know what a strawman argument is?

cliffyboy wrote:
And what does 'atheism requires awareness of language' actually mean?

It means that a person must be aware of language in order to be an atheist.

That is not what I believe. That is what I thought you meant by, "- any chance of letting me know how they came about their awareness of language in the womb -."

cliffyboy wrote:
A new born baby is not an implicit atheist, and nor a 'Negative atheist' and/or 'weak atheist', whatever those terms are supposed to mean. And nor are babies agnostic.

A new born baby is whatever we call it as long as whatever we call it is defined such that the term fits. Asserting that the terms do not fit "whatever they are supposed to mean" is completely incoherent. Just because you have an emotional aversion to attaching those terms do babies does not mean that they do not accurately describe babies. The definition of the word and the entity being described determines whether or not the word accurately describes the entity; your personal feelings have no weight.

All of those terms fit babies under at least one of their popular definitions.

cliffyboy wrote:
As an atheist, the last thing we need to do is make ourselves sound like first-class dorks by predicating onto newly born babies our beliefs.

See? You did it again.

I do not define atheism as a belief. You are projecting your definition of atheism onto me.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


mellestad
Moderator
Posts: 2927
Joined: 2009-08-19
User is offlineOffline
I'm working on a machine

I'm working on a machine that harnesses the wasted energy in threads like this, and turns it into a death ray.

 

Two more posts about this and my battle station will be fully armed and operational.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


mellestad
Moderator
Posts: 2927
Joined: 2009-08-19
User is offlineOffline
Oh, and Butter's right.  If

Oh, and Butter is right.  If you want to re-define "atheist" as "strong, positive atheist" go ahead I guess, but you're going to go through life seeing lots of confused people when you use the word that way.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Are babies atheist?

Can you give chapter and verse on this one?

I would qualify my assertion with the word 'usually' but would still like details of an 'implicit contract.'

cliffyboy


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
Are babies atheist?

Good point - I'm a bit of a computer duffer.


Ktulu
atheist
Posts: 1830
Joined: 2010-12-21
User is offlineOffline
mellestad wrote:I'm working

mellestad wrote:

I'm working on a machine that harnesses the wasted energy in threads like this, and turns it into a death ray.

 

Two more posts about this and my battle station will be fully armed and operational.

 

lol, I was going to go with the proverbial jesus horse, being beaten to death, being beaten while dead and then resurrected and beaten some more Smiling

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


cliffyboy
Posts: 14
Joined: 2011-01-21
User is offlineOffline
butterbattle wrote:In the

butterbattle wrote:
That's right. For, how can I know if something exists if I don't know what it is? If the entity has no definition, then I simply don't know, trivially. Hypothetically, suppose that I propose the existence of the furger argorock. Does it exist? Clearly, you can't possess knowledge of whether the furger argorock exists. Now, suppose that I defined a furger argorock, 'It's like a big flying shark, except it has no teeth. It's got fur like a camel, and you can ride on it. It's only about 13 feet long. It doesn't eat food, and it doesn't sleep.' Now, with these characteristics, you can conclude that the furger argorock does not exist beyond a reasonable doubt.

Of course, the qualities and characteristics don't have to be arbitrary because I can refer to reality. I can observe an animal, and then, I will know that this particular animal exists. Then, I can give it a name; I'll call it a rabbit. In this case, I simply assign the characteristics of this animal that I've observed to the term "rabbit;" ergo, I know that rabbits exist. So, perhaps a better way to illustrate what I mean is that an entity must have a definition before it can be evaluated, and to show that it exists, that definition must be correlated to something in reality.

Yeah, but anyone can do that with hpotheticals like a 'furger argorock' or a giggledeboo, for example, but do you have any actual 'real' examples? And, of course, with your words 'I can observe an animal', isn't the observation of that thing what comes first? We did not need langauge to show or tell us that things existed.

butterbattle wrote:
Well, because philosophers don't care as much about the existence of leprechauns as they do God, and not as many people believe in leprechauns as they do God. Thus, naturally, there is more terminology and vocabulary concerning God than leprechauns. There is nothing inherently different about it; the distinction is a matter of people, societies, and memes.

But you surely know that ad populum provides zero intelelctual support or validity?

butterbattle wrote:
I've defined them to be interchangeable all the time, with 'exactly', and that they mean the same thing.

Can you provide clear and unambiguous examples of synonyms that are:

1. Interchangeable, and

2. Mean exactly the same,

in all contexts and uses, including connotations and associations?

butterbattle wrote:
Naked assertions are still naked assertions regardless of how strongly you assert them.

Well, then, let's see if you are up to the task outlined under 1 and 2, above, so that we can see the emperor's new clothes.

butterbattle wrote:
Webster is a dictionary, and dictionaries tell us what the popular definitions of words are. The Webster definition of 'synonym' does not seem to agree with your definition.

I'm aware that Webster is a dictionary but I disagree with your assertion about the definitions and also find irony in your appeal to authority.

butterbattle wrote:
I said, "If we define..." What's wrong with saying "we?" I've already qualified it with "if," meaning "if" defined someone defined it that way, then, etc. If you don't like, I'll use "I" from now on.

I didn't say there was anything wrong with it, I merely quoted it because it suggested you were setting down the goalposts.

butterbattle wrote:
Stay on topic. When I call a baby an atheist, I just mean that they don't believe in God. This is not very difficult to understand. Do you have an argument here other than that I shouldn't call babies atheists because you don't define it the way I do?

Yes, what do you mean by using the word 'they' in your assertion about babies not belieivng in God?

The thread asks 'are babies atheist' and I respond 'No', so how is that not staying on topic? And if others disagree with me, as do you, discussions on it have to be 'on topic', don't they?

butterbattle wrote:
Oh? Atheist, defined as someone that doesn't believe in God, can't be applied to babies?

How so? Do babies believe in God?

Only if a person lives in a mindless either/or, black and white world.

If you could think or step outside that straitjacket way of thinking, you'd realise that the issue is most certainly and definitely not in the label being applied, i.e. atheist, but in the labelling of.

butterbattle wrote:
NO.

The "meaning" of the word is our message when we communicate. The word itself is the vehicle by which that message is delivered. Have you ever read the book, "Frindle," when you were younger? The main point of the book is to think outside of the box, that words exist independent of their meaning, hence why the object that is known as a pen can eventually be popularly known as a frindle instead, which incidentally, means the "exact" same thing as pen.

Definitions are certainly not inherent to the word. Humans attribute meanings to their words. If humans gave a word another meaning, that would be the meaning of that word. They are all abstractions. There would be nothing objectively wrong with calling atheists theists and theists atheists if that were the world we lived in.

butterbattle wrote:
They do exist independent of each other, as abstractions.

But all of that rests on a knowledge of language and linguistics that has been built up over years. That's just the wisdom of hindsight - the meanings of words, including their definitions, connotations, associations and contexts and uses, are buried deep in our subconscious, and there is no way of measuring what you are asserting here. How would you or anyone on God's earth know?

butterbattle wrote:
Okay, so answer my question then.

butterbattle: What do you mean by, "- any chance of letting me know how they came about their awareness of language in the womb -."?

Btw, do you know what a strawman argument is?

A rhetorical question, given my comments above?

butterbattle wrote:
It means that a person must be aware of language in order to be an atheist.

So you now agree that new born babies can't be atheists, then?

butterbattle wrote:
That is not what I believe. That is what I thought you meant by, "- any chance of letting me know how they came about their awareness of language in the womb -."

butterbattle wrote:
A new born baby is whatever we call it as long as whatever we call it is defined such that the term fits. Asserting that the terms do not fit "whatever they are supposed to mean" is completely incoherent. Just because you have an emotional aversion to attaching those terms do babies does not mean that they do not accurately describe babies. The definition of the word and the entity being described determines whether or not the word accurately describes the entity; your personal feelings have no weight.

It is not the terms and their definitions that are the issue and question so that calling babies, for example, 'non-theistic', is almost as aburd as calling them 'atheistic'.

In this quote of yours, you say: 'A new born baby is whatever we call it', and that doesn't sound that far removed, to me, from that Jesuit idea that give them the child from birth to seven and they'll give you the man. Don't you think that comes across as rather arrogant? It is not the term per se, it is the predicating it onto new-born babies that is the issue so far as I'm concerned. There's a massive difference between the two issues.

butterbattle wrote:
All of those terms fit babies under at least one of their popular definitions.

You mean we know best for them?

butterbattle wrote:
See? You did it again.

But if they are not our beliefs, where have they come from, the babies?

butterbattle wrote:
I do not define atheism as a belief.

Once again, cling to that straw as much as you like, it is not the label, it is the labelling.

cliffyboy


Atheistextremist
atheistSilver Member
Atheistextremist's picture
Posts: 5102
Joined: 2009-09-17
User is offlineOffline
It would be instructive

 

To maroon a whole stack of babies on an island and surround them with cameras (within reason) and see what happens.

Would they develop a theology or just do their own thing? I think over time they'd probably anthropomorphise their environment, reify the sun, big pelagics, the fertility of women, springtime and whatever else there was that lay beyond simple explanation.

Personally, I think what could be called 'religion' is the mind's first port of call during its development. Think of the essentialism children show to all things. Teddy Bears, toy cars, cartoon trains, dolls. They are all sentient 'human' beings to children.

I think you could say that human thought ensures we inevitably bring everything that can be perceived by our primary sense data down to our own level. Anthropomorphism is a truism of all human thought. When this natural anthro tendency is applied to non human things as our sense of awe develops then reification of inanimate objects and concepts is virtually inevitable.

To escape this flawed thinking we need to do away with cognitive generalisations and insist on limiting (yes, I know it's impossible) faith-based belief systems, of which we all have many. I think atheism is a higher state of being than theism. You move through theism to disbelief (Yes, I'm projecting my own experience here).

In defense of this point, I think it's true that monotheism involves holding hands with a powerful, engaged anthro god, while atheism means standing alone. And clearly, not everyone can handle living with the incomprehensible.

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


butterbattle
ModeratorSuperfan
butterbattle's picture
Posts: 3730
Joined: 2008-09-12
User is offlineOffline
Sigh...this is clearly going

Sigh...this is clearly going nowhere fast. Let's start simple.

P1: I define an atheist as someone that doesn't believe in God.

P2: Babies don't believe in God.

Conclusion: Ergo, under my definition, babies are atheists. 

What part of this syllogism do you not agree with?

Edit: See here: Quote Function

Edit: Also, your post was really confusingly messed up, so I even edited out some of the older quotes to make the overall structure more logical. If I accidentally changed the meaning of anything, I apologize.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


Ktulu
atheist
Posts: 1830
Joined: 2010-12-21
User is offlineOffline
butterbattle

butterbattle wrote:

Sigh...this is clearly going nowhere fast. Let's start simple.

P1: I define an atheist as someone that doesn't believe in God.

P2: Babies don't believe in God.

Conclusion: Ergo, under my definition, babies are atheists. 

What part of this syllogism do you not agree with?

 

When you say P1 do you mean person 1, peon 1? because if you imply the term peon, it has a definite derogatory connotation.  I will argue that two peons having this conversation will conclude that the baby is not an atheist.

Though you probably mean premise.... I'm just going to let this go and never open this thread again... maybe.  

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
Ktulu wrote:When you say P1

Ktulu wrote:

When you say P1 do you mean person 1, peon 1? because if you imply the term peon, it has a definite derogatory connotation.  I will argue that two peons having this conversation will conclude that the baby is not an atheist.

Though you probably mean premise.... I'm just going to let this go and never open this thread again... maybe.  

LOL.

Besides, we have to set the goalposts to peons. If your setting the goalpost to peons, your in effect forcing the peons to become peons when the peons clearly have no choice in being peed upon.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno