This is just a minor email topic that came up, and probably familiar territory to most viewers. Even so, it’s been a while since we posted anything that wasn’t an announcement or an open thread, so here’s a topic to chatter about.
This exchange was actually kind of long and tedious, because the person kept asking vague questions where he wouldn’t really explain what he was talking about. I had to ask a whole lot of clarifying questions, which I won’t repost, in order to make him get to a point. I’ll speed you through it.
…should atheist people believe they can educate people when the very definition of the word educate goes against what atheists people believe?
An atheist is a person who does not believe in any gods. Atheists (at least most atheists, I assume) believe that humans are capable of creating social systems, such as education, on their own. There is no conflict between those things that I’m aware of.
…When you say the word God I get 1000 pictures that the probability of me guessing what picture or groups of pictures you mean is unfair to you. What do you mean when you say the word God?
That is actually a good question, which is difficult to answer properly. The English language is a very fluid thing, and the word “God” in particular means thousands of different things to different people.
I think that the various concepts of “God” are pretty much all human inventions. So although I say “I don’t believe in any gods,” I don’t mean a specific version. I can only discuss the meaning of “God” that any particular theist has in their head while talking about it.
Of course, if you want to get literal minded about it, anything could be called a “God.” So you could say “I believe this snorkel is God. Don’t you believe in that?” I’d say “Yeah, obviously I believe that snorkel exists. I think it’s kind of meaningless to CALL IT a God. But if you want to do that, knock yourself out. I guess I’m not an atheist about that God.”
Most commonly though, in modern society, when people say “God” they usually mean some kind of intelligent supernatural force that has enough power and intent to create the natural universe entirely, and possibly (though not always) interferes with the day to day lives of people on Earth. I can say with confidence that I don’t believe in THAT kind of God, or any close variations of it.