Category: Conflated and Misunderstood Terms

Hitchens on Antitheism

It’s come to my attention in the last year or so, that many are conflating the classical/philosophical definition of atheism with antitheism (sometimes spelt anti-theism). Regardless of your preferred use of atheism and atheist, over the centuries and still today atheism is the belief/proposition/claim there are no gods, with the atheist accepting (believing) this is true. There are other definitions, of course, Flew famously tried changing the definition in 72 to ignore the agnostic label for a “positive atheist” –…


Knowledge and Information

We’ve covered a number of different articles about how ‘Words are funny things!‘ and can have multiple meanings. The word, know, is no different in this regard. As a word by itself or in a phrase can be used to describe a number of things. Knowledge Information Awareness Certainty/Uncertainty Therefore, it can be said that you know something but at the same time do not hold knowledge. This can indeed be confusing. What is Knowledge? There are many theories of…


Normatively Atheist

I’ve said language is descriptive and people are free to identify how they like a number of times, but when discussing definitions I speak of the normative or most logical. This can be met with some hostility, with people often telling me I am the one being illogical or that I don’t understand what normative means, with some rejecting how normative is used in philosophy with a preference to a colloquial use. Some go so far as to say I…


Agnostic Atheism – CMT – Vol: 13

It is very common to hear folks use the term agnostic atheist to describe themselves, and others. Let me say that you are free to identify how you like, though I would suggest you don’t be prescriptive with your identification on to others. If you wonder why; consider if you are the sort to tell others what their gender is. Yes, gender is a more sensitive topic, but we are speaking about identity here. That said, I think it is…


You won’t believe this… (Logic and Belief)

I’ve been trying to think of another way to explain beliefs as I still hear folks saying they are ‘absent of belief in regards to x’ or ‘have no beliefs’. Whilst I am sure they believe what they are saying, it makes me feel I have failed in my explanations. Rather than spray out the propositional logic or all the different definitions of a belief, I started thinking about how something like this might be represented in a database, perhaps…


Belief: Don’t Believe, Lack of Belief, Absent of Belief – CMT Vol: 11

Language can be confusing. Words mean particular things and then because they have similar meanings to other words they take on those meanings and then words become so interchangeable it can be hard to know what people mean when they use these words/phrases. One of the common words that gets stretched so thin is belief. What is a Belief? A belief is a positive attitude towards a proposition, something accepted as true, something perceived as most likely etc. I discuss…


Beliefs and Rationality – CMT Vol: 10

I so often see my fellow atheists saying things like ‘I don’t believe x I accept the evidence for x’ and I can’t help but facedesk. I tried to address the problem in articles like I Don’t Believe, Dirty Words: Belief, Faith and Evidence, Beliefs and Logic but so far have not got anywhere. Perhaps the approach I took was providing too much information in one go, and instead I should have kept it simple and to the point, allowing…


Sin-onyms; The sinful use of synonyms – CMT: Volume 9

A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language. What we should note from this is the word NEARLY. Nearly does not mean the same, but close to. This can cause problems when people conflate normative uses of words with various other definitions which in turn can lead to a domino effect of words being synonymously defined in an almost exponential array of errors. Belief Beliefs…


Is nonbelief a belief? (hint: you might be surprised) – Conflated and Misunderstood Terms: Vol 8

“Nonbelief is a belief? Who knew…” – an often said sarcastic comment by many fellow atheists as a retort to theists calling atheism a religion or belief system. Whilst I agree atheism is not a religion, and that it is a polysemous word which has moved from the classical disbelief in the existence of gods to include a nonbelief/unbelief (aka lack belief) in gods existence, and many atheists use this definition, I do wonder how many know what this nonbelief…


Do we Atheists have a Burden of Proof? – Conflated and Misunderstood Terms: Vol 7

“The burden is on the claimant!”, “I only lack belief so I have no burden”, “I don’t hold a belief as that is a claim” and other phrases are touted by many fellow atheists on the internet. Is this correct, or are we missing some of the picture? This article hopes to discuss What is the burden of proof? (aka BoP) To whom does the burden of proof apply? What do we mean by claim? Before we start, I feel…