left biblioblography: AND THE QUIBBLING CONTINUES…

Sunday, October 08, 2006

AND THE QUIBBLING CONTINUES…

As always, people are getting mired in the miasma of semantic sophistry.

Witness this egregious nonsense:

“In this case another "bait and switch" method is being employed but in a more obvious contradictory setting. On the one hand we are to concur that "'a' means 'without' or 'not' and 'theos' means 'god.'" On the other hand we are supposed to conclude from this that "without a belief in God" is what the term means. This is perhaps to the hope that the reader will not see the imported word "believe" from one sentence to the next. I do agree with Martin that the term is certainly a negative view in that it negates something. But, as Martin unwittingly admits or intentionally distorts, it is the negation of God himself not a negation of a belief in God given Martin's comment that "'a' means 'without' or 'not' and 'theos' means 'god.'" Wouldn't this suggest that atheism is to be etymologically understood as without/no - god?”

I ‘believe’ the whole discussion is ludicrous to begin with. Either prove there’s some sort of deity, piss or get off the pot (pardon my crudity).

Belief, from the Encyclopedia:” Belief, in philosophy, commitment to something, involving intellectual assent. Philosophers have disagreed as to whether belief is active or passive; René Descartes held that it is a matter of will, while David Hume thought that it was an emotional commitment, and C. S. Peirce considered it a habit of action. Compared to faith and probability, the concept of belief has received little attention from philosophers.”

This is just a moronic effort to again dictate the terms of the debate, and score a cheap point (‘See, we got some of ‘em to admit/change their designated label! Victory!’).

These skirmishes are best ignored. It’s a clever effort for about five whole minutes, and after that, blehhh.

Let’s put paid to this pusillanimous pedantry once and for all: Dictionary, from the Encyclopedia:

“Dictionary, published list, in alphabetical order, of the words of a language. In monolingual dictionaries the words are explained and defined in the same language; in bilingual dictionaries they are translated into another language. Modern dictionaries usually also provide phonetic transcriptions, hyphenation, synonyms, derived forms, and etymology. However, a dictionary of a living language can never be complete; old words fall into disuse, new words are constantly created, and those surviving frequently change their meanings. The modern dictionary is often prescriptive rather than descriptive, for it attempts to establish certain forms as preferable. The most remarkable case of this sort is the dictionary of the French Academy, which is both widely admired and ignored. The popular American attitude of the 19th century toward dictionaries gave them a nearly sacred authority, but in the 20th centtury the dictionary makers themselves began to replace notions of purity (especially based on etymology) by criteria of use, somewhat ahead of analogous developments in grammar. Because of the unprecedented scientific advances of the 20th cent., many scientific terms have come into popular use and consequently have increased the size of general dictionaries.”

Or, as Ambrose Bierce said, in his Devil’s Dictionary:
“A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.”

And here is a powerful reminder, to those of you who may fall for this ‘bait and switch’ theist tactic:

“The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words. Philip K. Dick

So, the short version – don’t fall for this. I’m an atheist. I deny the existence of all gods great and small (demons, angels, etc). Whether you chalk this up to ‘belief’, or the distinct lack of evidence, that’s your problem. Not mine. Either put up or shut up, as the saying goes. Just don’t dictate to me what I am, using an argument from popularity.

It is of no use to describe the color blue to someone who is color blind.

Till the next post, then.

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10 comments:

beepbeepitsme said...

If theists are people who believe in a god or gods, atheists are people who don't.

I don't think this is the same as "someone who denies the existence of god", as this implies that the existence of god is obvious or evident.

Only hard-core fundies try and argue that there is definitive evidence for the existence of their god. The more rational and honest ones acknowledge that they BELIEVE their god exists and that their religion is based upon BELIEF.

So, in order to repeat myself; if theists BELIEVE in the existence of a god or gods, atheists don't believe in the existence of a god or gods.

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM:
If theists are people who believe in a god or gods, atheists are people who don't.
Exactly.
I see these efforts as a trap. 1st, it's an attempt to poison the well. 'See, the dictionary says such-and-such'. Accusations of dishonesty. Followed closely by 'time for youse guys to share the burden of proof'.
I don't think this is the same as "someone who denies the existence of god", as this implies that the existence of god is obvious or evident.
I can hear it now:
"Absence of belief doesn't mean belief is absent."
BEAJ quite rightly points out, that definitions are subjective.
& dictionaries really are a majority agreement on specific definitions for a specific language.
It's all an underhanded effort to control how we speak, IMHO.

remy said...

I keep coming up against this argument and, as with a great many others I am increasingly impatient.

The dictionary is very useful but as I have argued elswhere, meaning follows usage. I wish this weren't the case since having absolute definitions MIGHT make communication clearer. BUT what makes English so wonderful is its nuance.

Krystalline Apostate said...

remy:
I keep coming up against this argument and, as with a great many others I am increasingly impatient.
Maybe we should just use a well-timed 'whatever'? They tend to declare 'victory' when often there is none.
I wish this weren't the case since having absolute definitions MIGHT make communication clearer.
THe theist tends to think in absolutes, which makes it ever the more irksome.

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

If you ever want a to screw a theist up (and get the silent treatment), ask him what is the definition of morality, and ask him where he stands on moral issues like the death penalty, abortion, premarital sex, divorce, fidelity. And then ask him if every Christian agrees with him exactly on those issues.

Krystalline Apostate said...

BEAJ:
If you ever want a to screw a theist up (and get the silent treatment), ask him what is the definition of morality, and ask him where he stands on moral issues like the death penalty, abortion, premarital sex, divorce, fidelity.
Really? My experience has been the complete opposite: in my case, the theist ends up like that 1 clown at the end of a party at 3 AM, who wants to keep playing party games while everyone else is falling asleep. You pretty much have to hustle the cat out the door, while his jaw's still working OT.

Bacon Eating Atheist Jew said...

Not with me. I try not to give the greased pigs wiggle room.
Nobody answered the questions from my second last post.
Fundies avoid me as if I'm the devil or something......they know I know.

Krystalline Apostate said...

BEAJ:
Not with me. I try not to give the greased pigs wiggle room.
I like to give 'em enough rope to hang themselves. Seen a lot of (metaphorical) purple faces.
Nobody answered the questions from my second last post.
I've fought that fight before.
Again, no being rational w/the irrational.
Fundies avoid me as if I'm the devil or something......they know I know.
Or a dybbuk? ;)

say no to christ said...

Ka said:", piss or get off the pot (pardon my crudity)."

Well, thats less crude than what I usually say...Shit or get off the pot.lol

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