Re: The pool we're trying to paddle in

From: J Corbally (
Date: Sun Apr 15 2001 - 07:06:22 MDT

>Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2001 11:30:39 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Brian D Williams <>
>Subject: Re: The pool we're trying to paddle in
> >From: J Corbally <>
> >Not so. Most atheists I've met would not say "god doesn't exist",
> >they would say they don't believe it exists. They're well aware
> >of the problem of making such sweeping claims. By default,
> >atheism is merely a lack of god belief. It can also be a form of
> >"assertion of nonexistence", but this in my experience is much
> >less common, and atheism tends to be described that way in order
> >to strawman it.
>Atheism is not merely a lack of God belief, it is a belief that God
>does not exist.
>Webster's Universal College Dictionary:
>Atheism: The doctrine or belief that there is no God.
>Atheist: A person who denies or disbelieves in the existance of a
>supreme being or beings.
>The version most "atheists" you know believe is closer to what I
>thought agnostic meant. I guess we have a golden opportunity to
>define a new term.

Theism - Belief in a god
Atheism - *Lacking*, or without, or having no, belief in a god or gods
Agnostic - One who claims the nature of god is unknown and probably
unknowable ie. Lacking knowledge.

Just because a dictionary lists it as "belief in no gods" doesn't make it
the general usage or the word, or the correct one. Many have listed
atheism in this incorrect form and gone further, linking it to words such
as "wickedness" (inaccurate, even in a historical sense). Perhaps we might
ask if it is an atheist who writes this definition? Perhaps you'd like to
justify these "definitions" based on them being in a dictionary, and
therefore must be correct?

The 1966 edition of Webster's on my lap also lists "freethinker",
"unbeliever" and "infidel" under the entry for atheism. Its' entry for
unbeliever more accurately describes atheism - "unbeliever is a more
negative term, simply designating, without further qualification, one who
does not accept and religious belief." It seems Webster's has made little
progress with this definition in the intervening years.

Most non-believers I know are atheists, not agnostics. They make no claims
as to the "knowability" of gods. They simply lack belief in them.

No need to define a new term Brian, its' usage is known and used by those
who are most qualified to use it; atheists.

>We appear to believe the same thing, but neither the textbook
>definitions for agnostic nor atheist seem to cover it.

Right you are, they don't really cover it, and are often wrong...or insulting.

> >Seems to me like the death penalty is more a case of legalized
> >communal revenge than anything to do with justice. The idea that
> >a Govt. can actually kill someone is disturbing.
>The idea is to keep individuals from acting on their own, speaking
>of that, check this out:
> From the May issue of REASON.
>Barbara Graham was a speaker at last year's million mom march and
>a member of the group that co-sponsored that rally for gun control.
>Now a District of Columbia court has convicted her of shooting the
>man she thought killed her son. Her victim, who police say was not
>the murderer, is now paralyzed.
>Contrary to some peoples opinion I think the death penalty will
>have a negative reinforcing effect (or deterrent) when it is
>applied at the same level at which the crime occurs.
>There are something like two murders a day in Chicago, but we do
>not execute anything like that number. Everything we've learned
>from psychology to cybernetics has told us we can't expect any
>change at this low level of reinforcement.

Not sure what's being said here, but it seems to me something like
"tit-for-tat" under the justification of "deterrent". Sounds just like
what terrorists in NI used to justify their "executions" and "punishments".

I'm not interested in negative reinforcing effects; I'm concerned with
Human rights. And I don't think any Government has the privilege of
killing its' citizens on the basis of some "deterrent" value, valid or


"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and
crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures
to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid."
-Q, Star Trek:TNG episode 'Q Who'

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