Re: Debunk All Religiosity Equally (D.A.R.E.)

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Wed Jul 11 2001 - 13:30:01 MDT

From: "Olga Bourlin" <>
> It seems to me no more a belief than the word "asymptomatic," which means
> "without symptoms." Borrowing Thomas Edison's quote, if I say "I don't
> believe in Mother Goose" (and therefore call myself an amothergoosist) -
> it's an informal use of the phrase "I don't believe..." used colloquially,
> not meant to imply a "belief system."

The part of the term "atheism" that connotes belief is the suffix, i.e.,
"ism." If you want to indicate absence of god _and_ belief, then the
hyphenated frontend affixture "non-" seems appropriate to me because it
negates both theology and belief.

> I call myself an atheist sometimes
> and a nontheist sometimes - for the life of me I can't detect much
> difference (only in other people's reactions, when I've been asked to repeat
> the word "nontheist" a few times as they'd never heard the word before).

Right. Consistency is the hobgoblin of inconsistent people.
Using the tern "non-theist" provides (at least) the opportunity to explain
yourself further. The word "atheist" pushes the wrong button, eliciting yet
anothr automatic robotic reaction.

> I
> must say I've been tending to use the term nontheist more and more lately,
> only because some people think atheism means "against..." (not
> "without..."). But in any case, I don't see how it's a belief.

As stated, the word atheism denotes belief because of the "ism" suffix. Of
course people use the same words to mean different things. Just as "theism"
means an affirmation of god, so "atheism" means a denial of god. If you
neither affirm nor deny, if for example, you hold that the word god is
indefinable and therefore of no real use, then "non-theist" I think provides a
certain amount of connotation in that direction.

Anyway, suit yourself. At least you're not a theist. (Hooray!)

Stay hungry,

--J. R.

Useless hypotheses, etc.:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, CYC, and ELIZA

We won't move into a better future until we debunk religiosity, the most
regressive force now operating in society.

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