Posted: Dec 18, 2011 5:15 am
by purplerat
jlowder wrote:

Imagine the following conversation:

Moonwatcher: I'm an atheist.
Theist: Oh, so you believe that God does not exist. What's your evidence for the nonexistence of God?
Moonwatcher: No, I lack the belief that God exists. The lack of belief that God exists does not require any justification unless we first are given some reason to hold that belief.
Theist: No, you're re-defining words. Atheism is the belief God does not exist.

Rather than continue beating a dead horse, you then try this approach:

Moonwatcher: We're using the same words in different ways. Based on how YOU define the word atheist, then I'm not an atheist; I'm an agnostic. Based on how *I* define the word atheist, however, I am an atheist. If we're going to have real dialogue rather than just the illusion of communication, we're going to have to agree on a set of terminology for the discussion.
Theist: [at this point the theist will either insist on his terminology or be willing to adopt yours; either way, the difference in terminology will be explicitly acknowledged by both sides and real communication will be possible.]

Based on how the theist in your conversation is defining atheist, anybody who doesn't believe in the specific, singular God they believe in would be an atheist. i.e. if Theist is a Christian then any non-Christian would be an atheist; what an utterly fucking useless re-definition. IMO, anybody who completely mangles definitions like that to fit their world view is probably not somebody worth even debating with. Either they are just plain too dumb to understand the terms they are mangling or are intentionally changing terminology to make sure they can't lose an argument. Either way trying to debate with such a person is useless. It's certainly not "atheist apologetics" to realize this or point it out.