Now I'm starting to figure out why I've been finding myself disgruntled with you recently.
You should've mentioned it before, IMO, even if only by PM.
It's because of precisely this attitude - the idea that you, or anyone, has the right to decide what being an atheist means for everyone, as opposed to what the general concept of atheism means.
I don't see how that's what I'm doing. People can ascribe all the meaning they want to the term "atheist". Doesn't change the fact that the only thing all atheists have in common is lack of belief in deities, which I've explained here. We have religious atheists, agnostic atheists, gnostic atheists, "objective morality" atheists, "free will" atheists, "deterministic" atheists, "stochastic" atheists, nihilist atheists, "purposeful universe" atheists, "simulation" atheists, science-rejecting atheists, science-embracing atheists, rational atheists, irrational atheists, emotional atheists, psychopathic atheists, sociopathic atheists, altruist atheists, cynical atheists, and so on.
This comes across very clearly when you start acting as if you can define your way to victory in any discussion or debate; not just define your way to victory, but have already won because of a definition you hold to be true, so all that remains is going through the motions of getting other people to recognize that you were right all along.
I debated with Lukvance regarding the definition only after it was set. True, I declared victory prior to the debate, but that's because I had been reading his posts and knew he didn't disagree with my definition of "god"
. The only definitions we had to set were for "existence" and "real". Afterward, the debate was won. Even when he changed definitions mid-debate
, he still lost. What I asked for (with my definition of "god", which is the most common one, as far as I can tell) cannot be done
This is the most recent and only example I can think of where I argued using definitions alone in the last several months. Aside from this thread, of course. EDIT: I recalled another time I argued definitions (with Lukvance), but that's all there was to argue. His argument was that an omnipotent god chose not to intervene because of free will. Mine was that an omnipotent god could interfere without affecting free will, as per the definition of "omnipotence".
As such, to you, any discussion about atheism or atheists ultimately is a discussion about what the definition of the word should be, rather than about the people who make it more than just a word. You base the arguments you make on that point alone and generally don't even touch on anything else that might be involved. This wouldn't be so bad in and of itself, except that you don't do just that. You also go after people who even so much as hint that there might be something more to being an atheist than simply not believing in a god and attempt to argue them down based on what amounts to semantics - that atheist can only mean "does not believe in a god", and therefore any argument that suggests otherwise is completely wrong by default.
The people who make it more than just a word are so diverse that it's pointless to stereotype. I gave you several examples in the second section of this very post and a few others to penfold in another post.
The problem with this attitude is that there is no reason that atheist must only mean "lacks believe in a god or gods". That is to say, there is no reason to conclude atheists cannot come up with other meanings for being an atheist besides the one I already mentioned, such as philosophical ones.
So let me get this straight: you don't want me
telling people what atheism (as it's currently defined) is, but atheists can just toss that definition out the window and make several hundred
new ones, even if they will never fit with all (maybe not even most) atheists?
That is the actual point that penfold was trying to make - that the meaning of atheism extends beyond the lack of belief in entities called gods. It also connotes a lack of belief in anthropomorphism. Indeed, gods are very clearly a manifestation of the anthropomorphic tendency.
It only connotes something beyond lack of belief in deities if you're willing to project your own opinions onto other atheists. At best you could say "atheists tend to (...)".
What I am trying to get at is that atheism shouldn't just be about lacking belief in gods that are already believed in. It should also be about not anthropomorphizing things into gods (a necessary precondition for believing in those gods), which means not giving things human characteristics that they do not actually have.Why
should it? Because that's your opinion? Why do you
get to define what atheism means for all atheists, but not me
? You can't have it both ways.
Such as the idea of the universe having a 'purpose' that penfold referred to. That implies that the universe is "going somewhere", for a reason, when in all likelihood, things that happen in the universe just happen. If we treat the universe like it has a purpose, does that not presuppose that it has some way of knowing what that purpose is, and some way of making sure that its purpose is fulfilled? Isn't that essentially what a god is, if you disregard the anthropomorphic part?
doesn't need to be sentient in order to go somewhere. Evolution is about adaptation, right? Its "purpose" is to make populations better suited to live in their respective habitats. Yet it is not sentient. It's a semi-random process that just happens to go in that direction. I also want to note that the "for a reason" could be the simulation scenario I told penfold about, ridiculous as it may be.