I'm really curious about this idea that we should stop using words because others abuse or misuse our use of the term to mean something else that discredits our world view.

Discussion stimulated by these posts:

Comment by Marc Draco 6 hours ago

No Mike, we don't... we can separate "belief" in the demonstrable (2+2=4) from belief in the supernatural; theists, on the other hand, cannot!


Hence my use of quotes around "believe".


English is a very powerful way to express yourself - it has the 2nd highest redundancy of all popular languages - but when a word like belief is hijacked in two different meanings, then one side has to stop using it to avoid confusion.

Mike K.Comment by Mike K. 6 hours ago
Of course we believe in evolution. It's just that beyond something being scientific theory, belief is almost meaningless.
Marc DracoComment by Marc Draco 6 hours ago
Something else to be mindful of here too. We don't "believe" in evolution. We understand it, follow it... etc. but NEVER believe in it. Belief is a word that should be reserved for the intangible - and in science that is limited to very few theoretical objects at the extremes of physics.

Views: 484

Replies to This Discussion

A lot of words are fuzzy.  It's the nature of words.
How is it our fault that they aren't acquainted with a dictionary?  It isn't like we are misusing the word.

Not our fault, but if we want to affect them, it's something we just have to deal with.  We're the rational ones here, dealing with reality as it is, rather than imagining things as we want them to be.  This is one of those things we have to deal with as it is.


I mean, obviously their education isn't very good, or they wouldn't still be theists.  :-P

I suppose it depends what company you keep and what influence you want to have. Words can sway things one way or another. Conversation and human interaction is a subtle thing - and words can change outcomes - as well as intentions and emotions.
Sometimes the listener hears something other than what was said.  The grinding of axes makes it hard to hear clearly.
You're right, Atheists tend not to say they believe, but 'accept', understand and clarify with supporting evidence the basis of our reasoning.

Who takes evolution on "faith"?  No one I know.  Evolution happens.  The theory of evolution is the best explanation of how it happens.  I've read a dozen or so books on  it, and I think it's true because of the soundness of the arguments for it.  I do trust science, but that's because science has earned my trust by being right about so, so many things, by the transparency of the peer review process, and by its self-correcting nature.  A scientific idea that is wrong won't be around for long.  A religious idea that is wrong, unverifiable, untestable, unfalsifiable, will continue to be crammed down our throats.  No supreme being created the world in six days, yet this three-thousand-year-old idea is accepted by a majority of Americans on faith.  The entire controversy is the result of a PR campaign by the Christian right.  If someone accepts the T of E because it's in a science text book, that's the result of trust in the system that produces science texts.  People who believe in creationism accept on faith a three-thousand-year-old book (Genesis) written by people entirely ignorant of science and the way that book is attributed (to God) and interpreted by semi-educated, self-righteous morons who lack even a basic understanding of the theory of evolution and of scientific method.  I trust the scientific process because it works; I don't trust the Ted Haggards or John Hagees or Hal Lindseys of the world because there is no trustworthy evidence behind their opinions and because their logic is flawed.  Their word I would have to take on faith because all the science contradicts them.


Equivocation isn't all that complicated.  Words have different meanings depending on the context in which they are used, and they change meaning over time.  (There was a time, for example, when "gay" mostly meant "cheerful.")  In any meaningful discussion, we should all use the same words in the same sense, which means to get anywhere we have to define our terms for that particular discussion.  Scientists do that, religious believers do not.  They have often told me I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow, thereby equating their faith in the supernatural with my trust in evidence and logic.  The other night I recorded a TV film entitled "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist."  I haven't watched it yet, but from the title I would says it's more equivocation, trying to make a connection between their faith and my thinking.  Aargh.

That asinine line has been grabbed by dozens of apologists, though.  It could be some completely unrelated work with the same tagline.

People who believe in creationism accept on faith a three-thousand-year-old book (Genesis) written by people entirely ignorant of science and the way that book is attributed (to God) and interpreted by semi-educated, self-righteous morons who lack even a basic understanding of the theory of evolution and of scientific method.


Come on Craig, don't hold back.  Tell us what you really feel.  :-D

Perfect example.  I'm not feeling; I'm thinking.

I need to start here at Dictionary.com:


something believed;  an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat.
confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.
confidence; faith; trust: a child's belief in his parents.



verb, -lieved, -liev·ing.
–verb (used without object)
to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so: Only if one believes in something can one act purposefully.
–verb (used with object)
to have confidence or faith in the truth of (a positive assertion, story, etc.); give credence to.
to have confidence in the assertions of (a person).
to have a conviction that (a person or thing) is, has been, or will be engaged in a given action or involved in a given situation: The fugitive is believed to be headed for the Mexican border.

believe in,
to be persuaded of the truth or existence of: to believe in Zoroastrianism; to believe in ghosts.
to have faith in the reliability, honesty, benevolence, etc., of: I can help only if you believe in me.

Pulling out a dictionary doesn't help the matter.  There are all of the possible definitions of a word, and then there's the definition that people mean 80% of the time that they use a word.  And then there's the loaded definition that people with an agenda use.


You need to use words in a way that doesn't lend itself to distortion and abuse by the equivocating idiots.




Update Your Membership :



Nexus on Social Media:

© 2019   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: The Nexus Group.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service