Category: Language & Linguistics

Is The ‘lack of belief’ Definition of Atheism The Most Common One Used?

There are some people that like to claim the lack of belief, or absence of belief, definition of atheism is the most common one. I contest that, whilst it is common on social media due to political parties like the American Atheists and American YouTube shows like The Atheist Experience, it isn’t that common outside of the internet and certain circles in America. Ways to Discuss Atheism Atheism is polysemous. That means there are many definitions. With the way language…


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” –…


Etymology vs Use/Definition: Atheism

Etymology is the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history. The etymology of a word is not exactly the same as the use or definition. Consider how a direct translation of a phrase from French to English might not always make sense, but we would translate it into a form of English that did make sense. The same can be said for the etymology of a word. They quite often…


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…


Ontology and the things we lack… (lacktheism or rocktheism?)

I often ask people, ‘What things are defined just by what they lack?’ – interestingly there are very few answers to this, but feel free to shoot some over and I’ll add them to the article. The reason I ask this is largely because of commonly heard, ‘atheism is only a lack of belief in gods, therefore, anything that lacks belief is an atheist’ aka conflating all forms of non-theist with atheist. This analysis may differ in various languages, and…


So what is this ‘Normative’ thing all about anyway?

Language is descriptive. It is defined through use. People might describe their use of words in slightly different ways, be that through regional differences, common usages, or indeed there might be contextually correct usages of words. So what is this Normative thing all about then? When we speak about ‘Normative’ usage of words we largely mean they have gone through a process of normalisation. For example, the word ‘Hello’ has gone through this process and is generally regarded as a…


Is That Really a Fallacy?

On a recent podcast, I made a comment that most things that could be considered a fallacy could also not be fallacious. There are some that argue these things are always fallacious. This post hopes to explore a number of common fallacies and see if they are always fallacies, and also when folks might erroneously shout fallacy. Remember, a fallacy is essentially just an error in reasoning, it does not make the conclusion wrong, but the process to get to…


Bad Atheist Arguments – Vol:4 – Contradictory Claims and Statements

Continuing our miniseries of Bad Atheist Arguments on our quest for self-improvement I bring you a number of contradictory claims and statements I have seen many of my fellow atheists making, and indeed have possibly made myself in the past. Contents Words are Defined by Usage and ContextFaith, Atheism, Belief ONLY mean… Morality Is SubjectiveExcept I am going to hold you to a standard above your opinion Evidence will change my opinionExcept I reject any evidence not backed by an…