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Sep 15 2012

Offerings to the atheist dictionary

It seems to me that the rational and the irrational apply very different meanings to many of the same words.  Thus we talk past each other.  For the purpose of clarification, I submit my understanding and application of many of the words that are most relevant to our contrasted positions.

  • Legend: An unverified story handed down from earlier times, especially one popularly believed to be historical.
  • Parable: a story which is not based on fact, but narrated as if it were actually so, for the purpose of relating a desired point.
  • Fable/Fairy tale: a parable about extraordinary persons or incidents, which includes magical elements and fanciful characters like dragons, witches, giants, magic spells, and/or animals who speak and act like human beings.
  • Mythology: A collective body of legends associated with a particular character, culture, or religion.
  • Mythical:  Any of the above which is typically disputed or rejected as unbelievable.
  • Religion: A doctrine of ritual traditions, ceremonies, mythology, and associated dogma of a faith-based belief system which posits a posthumous promise, that some element of ‘self’ (be it a soul, consciousness, or memories, etc.) may, in some sense, continue beyond the death of the physical being.
  • God: (1) A magical anthropomorphic immortal, central to most religions, typically a primarily spiritual being who’s continued existence may be independent of whichever physical form(s) it may choose.  (2) The name by which the sole or dominant divinity is known by virtually major religions: Hindu, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikh, and even some Buddhists where applicable.
  • Theist: One who who posits specific religious beliefs which include one or more gods.
  • Atheist: One who is not convinced that any actual deities really exist.
  • Gnostic:  One who claims knowledge of the supernatural.
  • Agnostic: One who considers it impossible for mortals to have certain knowledge of the supernatural.
  • Supernatural: That which is assumed to be beyond nature and outside our reality, magical, miraculous, extraordinary, being independent of logic and inexplicable by science because it defies the laws of physics.
  • Magic / Miracle:  The evocation of supernatural powers or entities to control or forecast natural events.
  • Skeptic:  One who considers it foolish to accept extraordinary claims in  lieu of sufficient evidence.
  • Apistevist: one who eschews or rejects faith as a method for knowing things.
  • Knowledge: Justified belief as contrasted with speculation or conjecture; a demonstrable and measurably accurate understanding of -or familiarity with- a given subject, topic, or study.
  • Belief: Something one may hold to be true even if they cannot show it to be true –regardless of their level of conviction or experience.
  • Deism: The belief that a creator god of some sort exists, but that it has since removed itself from material reality, so that it rarely –if ever- responds to prayers, and generally does not interfere with the laws of nature or the affairs of men.
  • Pantheism: A worship of nature rather than a deity, a perspective which may or may not incorporate supernatural elements, and can rely solely on material aesthetics.
  • Avatar: A god in human form. A minimized manifestation of a superior being: A character in a limited realm that is representative of a player outside that realm, and a simultaneous extension of that player such that both share the others’ identity.  The character you play in a video game is ‘you’, in that it is an extension of you which can exist in that world.  At the same time, it is not you, in that your actual identity transcends the boundaries of the game.
  • Faith: A firm, stoic, and sacred conviction which is both adopted and maintained independent of physical evidence or logical proof.
  • Reason: [1] The use of logic and evidence as opposed to emotion. Being reasonable, able to be reasoned with, willing to correct one’s position if given good reason to do so. [2] An evident explanation, facts compelling rational consideration of specific conclusions over those that are neither indicated nor supported by evidence, or which are disputed by the evidence.
  • Rationalism: A secular perspective that belief should be restricted only to that which is directly- supportable by logic or evidence, that while many things may be considered possible, nothing should be believed to be true unless positively and empirically indicated.
  • Secularism: The belief that activities and decisions of society should be based on rationalism as opposed to faith, and that freedom of religion isn’t possible without freedom from religion, especially when imposed by State.
  • Humanism: (1) A rationalist philosophy which considers morality and ethics to be naturally universal human qualities. (2) An irreligious pursuit of truth and political policy independent of faith, but which includes members of any faith, and yet is given legal treatment in the U.S. as a separate religion itself for the purpose of equality with regard to religious freedoms.
  • Science: An objective method of measurably or verifiably improving our understanding of physical nature in practical application or mathematics, through observation and experimentation with falsifiable hypotheses explaining a body of facts in a theoretical framework, to be subjected to a perpetual battery of critical analysis in peer review.
  • Fact: A point of data which is either not in dispute, or is indisputable in that it is objectively verifiable.
  • Evidence: Factual circumstances which are accounted for, or supported by, only one available explanation over any other.
  • Hypothesis: A potentially-falsifiable explanation one which includes predictions as to what different test results should imply about it.
  • Law [of nature]: A general statement in science which is always true under a given set of circumstances. Example: That “matter attracts matter” is a law of gravity.
  • Theory: (1) A body of knowledge including all known facts, hypotheses, and natural laws relevant to a particular field of study.  A proposed explanation of a set of related facts or a given phenomenon. Example: *How* “matter attracts matter” is the theory of gravity.
  • Proof: [legal sense, common vernacular] Something shown to be at least mostly true according to a preponderance of evidence.  [scientific sense] Inapplicable except in the negative: It is only possible to dis-prove a hypothesis or theory. It isn’t possible to prove them positively.
  • Spontaneous generation:  Proposed by Anaximander in the 6th century BCE, and disproved in a series of experiments from 1668 to 1861: The idea that fermentation and putrefaction activates a latent “vitalism” (life-force) in once-living matter; thus recycling organic refuse such as old meat, rotting vegetables, and feces into new forms of already complex, albeit vile, viruses and living organisms from bacteria all the way to animals such as flies and even rats.
  • Abiogenesis:  Proposed by Rudolph Virchow in 1855, and coined by Thomas Huxley in 1870; the current hypothesis replacing spontaneous generation as an explanation for the origin of life: The proposition that the formation of life requires a prior matrix, thus genetic and metabolic cells must have developed through an intricate sequence of increasingly complex chemical constructs, each having been naturally enhanced by particular environmental and constituent conditions.
  • Creationism: A dogmatic religious position asserting a magical origin for living things, if not the universe as well. It is the worship of allegedly sacred scriptures assumed as authority.  It is characterized by its rejection of evolution specifically, but is more broadly opposed to scientific principles in general, especially methodological naturalism. Creationists posit supernatural assertions regardless of evidence, based instead on assumed conclusions, subjective impressions, perceived commitment to community, arbitrary desires, emotional dependancy, and faith.
  • Evolution: Unless otherwise specified, the scientific context always refers to an explanation of biodiversity via population mechanics; summarily defined as ‘descent with inherent [genetic] modification’: Paraphrased for clarity, it is a process of varying allele frequencies among reproductive populations; leading to (usually subtle) changes in the morphological or physiological composition of descendant subsets.  When compiled over successive generations, these can expand biodiversity when continuing variation between genetically-isolated groups eventually lead to one or more descendant branches increasingly distinct from their ancestors or cousins.
  • Microevolution: “Small scale” evolution within a single species / interbreeding population.
  • Macroevolution: “Large scale” evolution between different species / populations: The emergence of new taxa at or above the species level.
  • Monkey:  Any member of the taxonomic infra-order, Simiiformes, also known as Anthropoidea.

To my experience, each of these definitions are defensibly accurate, and should not be significantly different than what you would find by comparing a consensus of definitive sources.  It’s just that common dictionaries are rarely adequate individually, and are almost never phrased well enough.  I have always been working from essentially these definitions, although every time I look at this list, I see room for improvement.  I’m sure others will too.  I think having these terms defined with this level of specific clarity would be helpful to anyone debating or considering the issues between creation v evolution, or theism v atheism, or faith v reason -submitted for your consideration.

 

Here is an example of why this matters for me personally.  I used to have a much deeper definition of ‘truth’, but it turned out to be wasted on my opponents who were never that lofty.  After my discussions with presuppositionalists, I realized I had to keep it really very simple.

  • Truth:  Any statement which has been or can readily be shown to actually be true.  Personal testimony, conviction, conjecture, or speculation can turn out to be true, and may even be accepted as true whenever objection seems unwarranted, but no statement should be classed as ‘truth’ until examined and vindicated.
  • Lie:  Misinformation or information misrepresented with a deliberate intent to mislead or deceive.

Now, if one asserts as fact that which is not evidently true, (even if they actually believe it), or if they pretend to “know” their god exists, or if they allege that I ‘know‘ that too; if they deny their relation to monkeys, or if I describe the Bible is a compilation of fairy-tales, would any of these claims belong in either of these two categories?  Why?  Or why not?

48 comments

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  1. 1
    augustpamplona

    Proof: [legal sense, common vernacular] Something shown to be at least mostly true according to a preponderance of evidence. [mathematic/scientific sense] Inapplicable except in the negative: It is only possible to dis-prove a hypothesis or theory. It isn’t possible to prove them positively.

    You need to split apart the mathematic sense from the scientific sense here. I’ll leave it to others to discuss whether you can prove a positive or not in the scientific sense but in the mathematic sense you definitely can prove a positive and it is done routinely.

    1. 1.1
      aronra

      That’s two corrections so far.

      I eliminated the mathematic sense from my definition of ‘proof’.

      I separated fables from parables and combined fables with fairy tales.

      1. TwoPiDeltaIJ

        It might be useful to include the mathematical sense of the word proof as a separate sub-category simply because so many people confuse it for the scientific sense as you have described it. I would suggest something like ‘any claim about a given mathematical system which can be shown to follow directly (and rigorously) from the founding axioms and assumptions of the given mathematical system but which makes a claim distinct from said axioms and assumptions.’

  2. 2
    redpanda

    I think you’re the only person I’ve met who insists on a phylogenetically consistent definition of the word ‘monkey.’

    Everyone else I know seems perfectly happy with the “all simiiformes except apes” definition. A fair amount of work seems to have been invested in establishing apes as an exception to the rule on the wikipedia page for monkey.

    1. 2.1
      augustpamplona

      I used to make the distinction. Now I also call everything simiiformes a monkey.

    2. 2.2
      wholething

      All apes are monkeys but not all monkeys are apes.
      All monkeys are vertebrates but not all vertebrates are monkeys.
      All mammals are fish but not all fish are mammals, where mammals are fish that are evolved to be specialized to live on land (or in water) and breathe air.
      All cladistics is fun but not all fun is cladistics.

      1. Guitcad1

        “Fish” has no consistent biological meaning. We’re not fish, we’re “chordates.”

  3. 3
    Paul Durrant

    You seem to have a couple of definitions serious wrong.

    Microevolution: A term invented by creationists to help them pretend that evolution doesn’t happen
    Macroevolution: A term invented by creationists to help them pretend that evolution doesn’t happen.

    1. 3.1
      Paul Durrant

      “seriously” of course. I must remember to preview before submitting.

    2. 3.2
      Ant (@antallan)

      @ Paul

      Except that the terms weren’t invented by Creationists. (Although Creationists certainly use them in that way.) Russian entomologist Юрий Филипченко (Yuri Filipchenko) coined them.

      @ Aron Ra

      I think it’d be preferable to craft definitions that make it clear that, in the Modern Synthesis (“neo-Darwinism”), macroevolution is thought of as the compounded effects of microevolution — i.e., there’s no systematic difference between them.

      Something like:

      Microevolution: Gradual change across (typically, relatively few) successive generations of organisms without the emergence of new taxa at or above the species level.
      Macroevolution: Gradual change across (typically, relatively many) successive generations of organisms leading to the emergence of new taxa at or above the species level.

      /@

  4. 4
    Emu Sam

    You should possibly include Gnostic: [2] A follower of Gnosticism, an early Christian sect.

    As seen on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnostic

    I have met those who consider themselves Gnostic in this sense, probably as part of a glorification of concepts ancient.

  5. 5
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    One little point: in the definition of ‘God’, use “whose”.

    [British punctuation or "techie quotes" with punctuation marks outside if they are not part of the phrase makes more sense to me.]

  6. 6
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Materialism: a belief that supernatural forces do not operate to change reality.

  7. 7
    nurnord

    Hello Aron, I’m a big fan and fully endorse your creationist videos on YT, they are great.

    As a PhD zoologist, the following tiny hiccough just grates me a bit !

    “anthropoidea”
    - All taxa names other than specific and subspecific names should be capitalised – “Anthropoidea” (suborder in this case).
    - As stated, the only names written in lower case (and italics actually, but I can’t reproduce that here) are specific and subspecific names. These are the second and third names of a species and subspecies respectively. See these examples for what I mean…
    Species name – Ursus arctos – Ursus is the genus and is capitalised, arctos is the specific name and is in lower case.
    Subspecies name – Ursus arctos middendorffi – as above plus middendorffi is the subspecific name and is in lower case as well.
    - These are rules laid down by the governing body, the ICZN (International Code of Zoological Nomenclature).

    I reckon you already know all this, I wrote it all out in case it may benefit anyone else reading.

    Take care, and clean Ray’s clock on monday !

    1. 7.1
      augustpamplona

      Benefits me, so thanks!

      1. nurnord

        Happy to have helped. BTW, Ursus arctos is the brown bear & Ursus arctos middendorffi is the kodiak, one of the brown bear subspecies (the largest, in fact).

    2. 7.2
      Ant (@antallan)

      You should be able to write these correctly here; e.g., Ursus arctos.

      HTML tags are your friends! Type: <i>Ursus arctos</i>

      /@

      1. nurnord

        Ok, this is a test to see if it works – Ursus arctos

        1. Ant (@antallan)

          Well, of course it does! But I admire your scepticism… 

          /@

          PS. Note the Allowed Tags above the comment box.

          So, you can do other fun stuff too, FTW.

          blockquote, strike, acronym.

          And code.

      2. nurnord

        Excellent ! thank you. So it is written – Ursus arctos & Ursus arctos middendorffi

  8. 8
    noelplum99

    I think that your definition of faith needs expanding.

    the word is used in two ways. The first is to point to (typically) religious convictions along the lines of your definition.
    The other usage is where someone professes faith in something, such as their religion (‘I have faith in God’ etc). This is the usage that is often erroneously parodied as ‘faith is belief in the absence of evidence’.

    I propose something along the lines of:
    ‘The acceptance of a proposition at a level of certitude that exceeds the perceived level of the evidence.’

    I expanded on this in a video on how the word is used a month or so ago http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9T2Q0kNjnA

  9. 9
    shripathikamath

    FUCK! There is one FTB author railing against dictionary atheism, and another enriching the dictionary.

    Look, atheism is lack of belief, or disbelief in gods. Why not just move past this already?

    1. 9.1
      Tony! The Queer Shoop

      Many people have.
      They’ve added this nifty little ‘+’ onto atheism, to show that they associate social justice with atheism.
      Presto, Change-O: A+.
      It has the nifty side effect of allowing those atheists who don’t want to join A+ to continue rolling on being dictionary atheists (and there is nothing wrong with that).

      1. Johnnis

        What is a non-dictionary atheist?

  10. 10
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    aronra:

    Faith: A firm, stoic, and sacred conviction which is both adopted and maintained independent of physical evidence or logical proof.

    I’m glad you did this dictionary. One thing I’ve noticed in a few religious arguments or discussions is that people mix differing definitions of the same word. I had a talk about faith one time and the two friends I was talking with spoke of faith in the religious sense, as well as the trust/confidence sense, but they treated both the same way. So when I mentioned that I lack faith in a higher power, they would assert that I had to have faith in something. They also mixed up multiple definitions of belief, such that I was told that I couldn’t lack belief, because I believed in things, such as the fact that the sun would rise the next day. It took a few years to learn how to counter that arguing style and recognize when people mix definitions.

  11. 11
    weskos

    I suggest the addition of the terms, “real”, “reality”, and “exist”. These are key terms for which theists tend to have differing or hazy definitions, but on which a large portion of argumentation seems to hinge.

  12. 12
    mikmik

    These I dispute:
    reason = [2] An evident explanation, facts compelling rational consideration of specific conclusions over those that are neither indicated nor supported by evidence, or which are disputed by the evidence.

    This is not comprehensive. I believe in God ‘because of miracles” is a reason. You cannot dispute that self proclaimed fact, and the evidence is that they claim it. It can be further bolstered by empirical observation.
    It may not be a good reason in your thinking, or mine, but is a perfectly valid example of a reason.
    – - -

    There are others here, AaronRa, and although I completely wish that these definitions were the correct definitions, come of them are not internally consistent.

    1 Faith: A firm, stoic, and sacred conviction which is both adopted and maintained independent of physical evidence or logical proof.
    You can have faith in a belief, although that is redundent. To say, “I have faith that the sun will rise at ‘x’ time” is a valid statement.

    Personally, I always say that “that is not faith, that is belief based upon experience,” but it is nevertheless true that no matter how irrational the reasoning might be, it can still be the reason behind a belief that leads to faith.

    I guess that I am saying that I really like your definitions, and they ARE clearer, for the most part, I don’t think the examples I used are commonly understood the atheist way by many people in common usage.

    Changing the commonly held definition of a word to one that invalidates one point of view only can be easily seen as supporting an agenda. Like the word theory. The religious and the woo-meisters are trying to redefine the meaning of the word ‘theory.

  13. 13
    Inferno

    Nice list there, Aron.

    Disregarding the spelling mistakes and repetitions, I’d change the following:

    Skeptic: One who considers it foolish to accept extraordinary claims in lieu of sufficient evidence.

    “In lieu” means “instead”. But it’s not instead, is it? I think it should be:

    Skeptic: One who considers it foolish to accept extraordinary claims in the absence of sufficient evidence.

    ———————————–
    Also, the definition that is least likely to get accepted by believers is that of “faith”. I think you’re correct btw, but you should know that believers (especially Christians) define it as “faith based on evidence”, using the Greek “pistis” as a basis for “faith”.

    You remember that debate I took over from you, the TruthIsLife7/dotoree guy on LoR? After about 150k words and maybe 100 comments, I still could not get him to admit that even if I were to grant his definition, he’d still have to show the evidence.
    Ah, good times, good times.

  14. 14
    Radi

    Haven’t had the time to read all the comments, so advance apologies if this has already come up in discussion.

    Aron, I have to respectfully take issue with your definition of “Reason” – you have defined it in opposition to emotion. However, it is perfectly possible to be emotional while still being logical and factual. You appear to have bought into the trope of “Spock as opposed to McCoy”, but that is not necessarily true at all times (or indeed, at any time).

    Why the assumption that emotion is the opposite of reason? THAT attitude/assumption is precisely what hurts women and minorities who argue in defense of their rights – by this definition of reason, you are automatically excluding their voices from the debate. Is there any good reason to, if they are presenting logical and evidence-based arguments? Remember that in those cases, people are fighting to be seen as fully human in the eyes of the majority, as fully worthy of ALL human rights, without exception – and whatever the issue is that they are passionate about, it affects them intimately and immediately, while it might be only a hypothetical to you.

    You have spoken so eloquently about and against the threats of violence and harassment against women, just for speaking out. With this one definition, you are undercutting your own position – and that would be a real pity.

    Let me take an example. When you argue for incorporating strong science and critical thinking and reasoning skills in the regular school curriculum, you argue very clearly – and passionately. What is passion, if not emotion? Are we then to conclude that you are arguing without reason, just because you are arguing passionately, emotionally?

    I think your definition would be best amended to:

    Reason: [1] The use of logic and evidence as opposed to emotion. Being reasonable, able to be reasoned with, willing to correct one’s position if given good reason to do so. [2] An evident explanation, facts compelling rational consideration of specific conclusions over those that are neither indicated nor supported by evidence, or which are disputed by the evidence.

  15. 15
    Johnnis

    Thanks. Good job.

    Suggestion to correction/addition.

    Secularism

    When something is secular it is neutral to everything concerning religion. This includes all opinions on religion, including the opinion that there is no god and any actions based on such claims.

    Secularism is more about neutrality than pro rationality.

    I understand that the word secular is sometimes tied to religion, like secular muslims etc, this use is simply wrong.

    1. 15.1
      augustpamplona

      I understand that the word secular is sometimes tied to religion, like secular muslims etc, this use is simply wrong.

      I disagree. That sort of expression is useful and informative. It refers to a religious person who advocates governance using policies which are not drawn from religious thought.

  16. 16
    innocentinfidell

    Thanks Aronra.

    I listened to that excruciating exchange between you, DPR and Eric Hovind and Sye Ten Buggencate a while back. I had to drink almost a whole bottle of Johnny Walker Black (in honour of Hitch) in order to get through the ordeal. At the end of it, my face was so sore from all the palming!

    But it did indeed confirm that which I had long suspected, both men are disingenuous liars of the highest order or both are completely entrenched in the delusion that they both hold. It’s a fine line between believing and a blatant lie, one might note that the word ‘lie’ is also in the word believing. I guess its like the criminal who keeps telling the same lie over and over, eventually he REALLY does believe his own story and hence can even better a lie detector test because of his personal belief in his testimony. All we can do as rational thinkers is hold up the evidence against their claims and let people make their judgements based on the FACTS. Something Eric and Sye seem to have great trouble with. “I know its true beacuse it’s true & it’s true because this book tells me it really is true!”….that sort of reasoning just would not hold water in a Court of any kind testing the evidence.

    I truly personally think that those particular two individuals are liars. As we know there are many, many liars for Jesus and most of them are living a very nice wealthy lifestyle thank you very much. Doesn’t that actually go against some of the major teachings of the guy they worship?..didn’t he say something about getting rid of all your possessions and money etc to truly be a follower of his? hmmm mabne they didn’t get that memo? Hovind is aliar for jesus because he makes a lot of money from it and the other (Sye) because he enjoys being towed along in the celebrity status Hovind pours on him and his ridiculous presuppositionalism. He is having his 15 minutes.

    Both are excruciatingly annoying when you listen to the circular round about bullshit they spread to try and justify the nonsense they believe. I can not wait for the day when all this superstitous claptrap fades into our history.

  17. 17
    Johnnis

    I consider myself a skeptic. For me skepticism is an attitude I need in my everyday life.

    For me it is more important to apply skepticism to politics and advertising.

    I see how the above definition is more relevant when it comes to atheism, but for the real everyday life, I believe that skepticism does not limit itself to the extraordinary.

    The way I understand skepticism, and I might be wrong, it’s about asking; How do you know? Is this true? What exactly are you saying? What exactly do you mean with the words you use… For me the subject is irrelevant, for me it is the approach it self individual of the subject matter.

    Important note: Skepticism is sometimes confused with denialism.

  18. 18
    =8)-DX

    [nitpick]
    Deism [..] and generally does not interfere with the laws of nature or the [human] affairs of men.
    [/nitpick]

  19. 19
    johnhodges

    I know that “Deism” is often defined the way that you have it. It is a longstanding peeve of mine, because if you read their writings, their central point is the rejection of alleged “revelation” as evidence of anything, much less reliable knowledge. Historically, Deists also go on to accept the existence of some sort of creator-god, based upon philosophical arguments such as the Argument from Design. The influence of Deism peaked in the late 1700′s, before the work of David Hume became widely known. (Hume destroyed the philosophical arguments for the existence of “God” that were generally known at the time.)

  20. 20
    gr33nman

    Mythical – This also pertains to traditional stories, like Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. These are known to be tall tales told for the tradition and fun around campfires. The best story-telling depends on the ‘mythical’.

    Theists – Theism – Like atheism, there is only one position: unfounded belief that one or more gods exist. Any other specific beliefs, religious or otherwise, are irrelevant and not pertinent to the definition ‘Theists’ because theists don’t have to have any beliefs other than the one position.

    Religion – A doctrine of soul/reincarnation/heaven/whatever is not always required, as you suggest. Historically, Saducees did not believe in a hereafter/heaven. Today, Unitarians are not required to believe in souls, reincarnation or a hereafter. (Many profess themselves atheist.) There are probably other examples.

    You propose no definitions for the following words, and though at first it may seem they have no place in an atheist dictionary, religion and theism to do not wholly define their essence.

    Spirituality/Spiritual – before the hippie/new-age scene, spirituality referred either to a religious congregation or its elders – and that’s all. Spirituality has since acquired a number of connotations that could be expanded upon. Not all of them involve religion, gods or untestable beliefs. Non-religious connotations of spirituality might include a deepening self-awareness in the context of placement in the universe, mathematics, music, etc., or a deepening sense of connection to community, nation, family, etc.

    Supernatural – occuring outside or ‘above’ the laws of nature. This one is curious. If ‘nature’ is anything natural where n > 0 and ‘space time’ is 3 spatial dimensions (3D) and one time dimension t, then anything in hyper-n-spacetime ((3+n)Dt) is technically ‘supernatural’, yet also definable in a multiuniverse, at least mathematically if not visible in nature. It’s just not testable. Yet.

    Metaphysics – the ‘attempt to clarify the fundamental notions by which people understand the world’. You could also include definitions for its daughter studies: ontology, cosmology and epistemology. Metaphysics is another interesting word that can have multidimensional implications as well.

    This dictionary seems to be more about preparing atheists (or in your case anti-theists) to defend their atheism more properly, in which case you might include additional definitions for words like ‘Soul’ and ‘Homeopathy’, etc.

    Great post.

    C.

  21. 21
    ingsve

    What is your opinion on the people who say that we shouldn’t apply rigorous cladistical definitions onto common colloquial words like ape and monkey? They would say that the clades in question already have names, so why not let simiiformes be simiiformes and hominoidea be hominoidea without confusing things by mixing in colloquial words like ape and monkey?

    1. 21.1
      Inferno

      I think Aron clearly speaks out against that. If you listened to his exchange with Ray Comfort, Aron tried to use “rigorous cladistical definitions” but, and that’s why it won’t work any time soon, Ray Comfort didn’t understand what Aron said. (Or pretended to not know…)

      So yes, rigorous definitions should be used, but the (lack of) education of the masses makes that virtually impossible.

      1. ingsve

        In fact the Ray Comfort exchange is a point in favour of not using a cladistical definition for words like ape and monkey since those words already have a fairly clear colloquial definition in most peoples mind. The only reason for using a cladistical definition for those words is to try and score a point in debates with evolution deniers and I don’t think that’s worth while.

  22. 22
    Zevaeros

    For “faith”, may I suggest Dr. Peter Boghossian’s definition: “Pretending to know things you don’t know.”

    He explains it here: http://youtu.be/qp4WUFXvCFQ

    1. 22.1
      Ant (@antallan)

      +1

  23. 23
    Peter B

    My thoughts . . .

    Religion: A doctrine of ritual traditions, ceremonies, mythology, and associated dogma of a faith-based [redundant] belief system which [add the word] generally posits a posthumous promise, that some element of ‘self’ (be it a soul, consciousness, or memories, etc.) may, in some sense, continue beyond the death of the physical being.

    Humanism: (1) A rationalist philosophy which considers morality and ethics to be naturally universal human qualities. (2) An irreligious [redundant] pursuit of truth and political policy independent of faith, but which includes members of any faith, and yet is given legal treatment in the U.S. as a separate religion itself for the purpose of equality with regard to religious freedoms.

    Evidence: Factual circumstances which are accounted for, or supported by, only one available explanation over any other.

    Much to strict. Try:

    “Factual circumstances useful in determining the falsehood of a hypothesis. Evidence may agree with a hypothesis but may never prove one.”

    Creationism:
    add the words “ancient literature” in the last sentence someplace after “based instead on…”

  24. 24
    acne treatment

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  25. 25
    volcano ecigs review

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  26. 26
    BionicDance

    Apistevist, noun: one who eschews or rejects faith as a method for knowing things.

  27. 27
    JimmiBoi

    You will not be able to communicate with anyone until you (a) stop making up your own definitions for words, and (b) agree to accept the dictionary definition of worlds, whether you like it or not. Since the only purpose of words is to communicate, it is far more important that you have an AGREED meaning than (what you consider to be) an accurate one. Pity you folks have learned nothing from Nelson Mandela.

    1. 27.1
      aronra

      You misunderstood the post. I explained therein that I haven’t changed any of these definitions. At best I have clarified a few of them, and I have explained how and why common dictionaries for the laity get some scientific terms wrong. Look up ‘animal’ for example. All the common dictionaries have that wrong. You’ll only find the right definition in a scientific listing specific to biological applications.

  28. 28
    Ant (@antallan)

    Pity you don’t know how dictionaries work.

    /@

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    Dictionary religious | Ashtangabrasil

    [...] Offerings to the atheist dictionary | Ace of Clades [...]

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    Responding to CognitiveFaith » Ace of Clades

    [...] there would be no point in my citing where I have presented concise specific definitions from the Atheist Dictionary,even though I can prove that all those definitions are correct. Nor would it do any good for me to [...]

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