Posted: Dec 18, 2011 6:02 am
by purplerat
andrewk wrote:I think the point jlowder is making is that there's rarely any point in debating definitions, but there is a way to get around a disagreement over a definition and into a meaningful discussion of the concepts of interest. One such way is to accept your opponent's definitions - insisting only that they must be made absolutely coherent and unambiguous, but not worrying about whether it is a definition you would personally give to the word in question. Then you state your position in terms of word meanings your opponent accepts. In this case, the atheist (as defined by the dictionary) says to the theist "I'm not an atheist [as you, the theist, understand the term], but I am an agnostic [as you, the theist, understand the term]". By so doing, communication is achieved, and further the burden of proof remains with the theist.

This is no different to learning a new language, or even a local dialect, and then using it rather than your own native dialect, to aid communication between yourself and a speaker of that dialect.

But how does arguing for a more appropriate or useful defenition of a term equate to apologetics? Or should we just accept it is apologetics because thats how jlowder defines apologetics and we should just accept that as if its a new language. If thats the case whats the point of ever debating or arguing anything because everybody can adjust the meaning of anything you or they say such that they or always right.