What's an Atheist? Catch-All

CheezePavilion wrote:
Stengah wrote:

The reason for this is that atheism is not a religion or otherwise organized thing. A person who does not believe in god is an atheist as much as a person who believes that there is no god is an atheist. Re-read this very thread and it'll all be explained to you (again).

I disagree with that--check my response to Malor.

Your response doesn't explain why you don't agree with what I said.

Are we having the "Unsweetened" tea should just be called tea, argument?

Kraint wrote:

The problem isn't the term atheist, in my opinion, it is the view that atheists have anything in common other than lack of theism. If 'atheist' was treated in the same way that registering your political party as 'non-affiliated' was, it wouldn't be an issue.

Rezzy and Ruhk are at the right spot.

Well to be fair, there has been some organization lately (the last 10 years) of atheists in this 'new atheism' movement (Sam Harris, Dawkins, Dan Barker, and others are seen as "leaders'). I could see where theists would be confused by some of the statements we've made in this thread.

The organized atheist movement is not indicative of any kind of overall unity, or that atheists agree on everything or even most things. It's just a movement that, for the most part is acting as a watchdog for the separation of church & state, and also to stand up and inform people that we (atheists) are good people too, and not the devils we seem to be viewed to be.

There was a time when African-Americans were segregated, shoved to the back of the bus, and given separate water fountains, and separate seating in restaurants (if they were sat at all), and they were called names and labels by the *large majority*. They had to have been wondering why? Why the separation? Why the back of the bus? Why did you label me a *color*?

In no way do I equate the two movements, but I do see some similarities. The large majority has historically tried to suppress the minority and to label them and try to shove them to the back.

I guess this boils down to human nature, and our to need to classify, separate, and label things. And to try and stifle that which we don't understand, or that we see as a threat.

I think there's a mistaken assumption here. There's a label - theist - that is used to describe someone who believes in a god or gods, a supernatural force. Now, that defines a set of people who share the same type of belief. Whether gods exist, or whether someone *believes* they exist, it's a set. And that set does not encompass the entirety of humanity, therefore we need another term for people who are *outside* the set, who *don't* share that belief. Typically, we do that with a negation - you have the set A, and everything outside that set, which we call "not-A".

And that's what a-theist means. "Not-Theist". Just because it's the negation of theist does *not* mean that one must *believe* in gods or *accept* the existance of supernatural powers in order to use the word atheist. One simply has to acknowledge the existence of people who are theists. That's pretty irrefutable - those people *do* exist. There's absolutely *no* reason to assert that someone using the word "atheist" has accepted the existence of a god. They've simply accepted the existence of god-believers.

There's also an underlying assumption that atheists are "normal" somehow, and theists are not, in the arguments above. Malor made reference to people who were "well trained" enough to overcome their innate desire to believe in gods, and others have disparaged belief (including me, at times) but in actuality, the difference is simply in the levels of brain chemicals in certain areas of the brain. Skeptics are not more intelligent, or entirely created through learning; they lean towards skepticism because the part of their brain that detects patterns has a tighter pattern recognition filter than those who tend towards belief in the paranormal. They see fewer patterns than the believers, but they make fewer false positives and false negatives- they tend to be better at weeding out important (threatening or rewarding) patterns from unimportant ones, and they are less likely to find patterns in random data. Believers detect more patterns, but that includes things that are not there (false positives), and they are more likely to treat problems that actually exist as no more important that other problems - false negatives, the really bad mistakes ("Nah, that's not a tiger, it's just leaves in the wind..."). Skeptics are more likely to detect actual dangers and solve the problem at hand, but are relatively less creative and innovative in situations where no goal is apparent. Believers tend to make more mistakes, and perhaps more *dangerous* mistakes, but they also more easily find innovative patterns that yield new understandings. (And of course, the ones that have *really* wide open filters are described with another word - "mad" or "insane".)

There are values in each approach. For me, congruency with the real world is more important than patterns that can't be supported by observation. Obviously, I'm a skeptic. But the thing that is weird for me is that the same annoying tendency to believe in every crazy thing that comes along regardless of the evidence *also* has value in human society. And while I think people who are acting on the belief in unsubstantiated deities are misguided at best and downright dangerous at worst, I don't think that being wrong about the world is the only thing that needs to be considered in evaluating a person's contribution. Nobel prize winners have at times been stone cold crazy, and yet we still get the benefits of their wide-open filters in their stunningly creative insights into some other aspect of the real world which they *do* understand. Google John Nash (paranoid schizophrenic and brilliant mathematician) or Kerry Mullis (the inventor of the PCR method of DNA replication, and strong believer in "fringe" topics, like the glowing green alien raccoon holograph he once conversed with) if you are not convinced.

(Note that it's perfectly fine to define things that don't even exist, or that don't have actual believers, and the negation of those would not require belief in them either. A more semantics-oriented way to make the point.)

ruhk wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Right, but the same is true of theists--same deal, check my response to Malor.

...except that atheists don't have any sort of formalized system, mythology or dogma to bind them together as a group.The only thing most of us have in common is that we just don't believe in a god or gods. That's why some of us here are so bewildered by the insistence to label us, it's no different than insisting that we need a label for people who like the color blue.

And the only thing many theists have in common is that they believe in a god or gods. You said: "It should be noted that each atheist has come to their position for different reasons, and therefore will have different reasoning and motivations for their beliefs." Same with theists. Yes, you'll find a "formalized system, mythology or dogma" among some theists, but not *all* theists. And even among ones who share the same theology, they'll come to their position for different reasons too.

CheezePavilion wrote:
ruhk wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Right, but the same is true of theists--same deal, check my response to Malor.

...except that atheists don't have any sort of formalized system, mythology or dogma to bind them together as a group.The only thing most of us have in common is that we just don't believe in a god or gods. That's why some of us here are so bewildered by the insistence to label us, it's no different than insisting that we need a label for people who like the color blue.

And the only thing many theists have in common is that they believe in a god or gods. You said: "It should be noted that each atheist has come to their position for different reasons, and therefore will have different reasoning and motivations for their beliefs." Same with theists. Yes, you'll find a "formalized system, mythology or dogma" among some theists, but not *all* theists. And even among ones who share the same theology, they'll come to their position for different reasons too.

Remember this the next time you make your "and people say I argue about semantics" joke. Cause this is what people are talking about. Point me out some theists that don't have a system, mythology, or dogma.

Kraint wrote:

The problem isn't the term atheist, in my opinion, it is the view that atheists have anything in common other than lack of theism. If 'atheist' was treated in the same way that registering your political party as 'non-affiliated' was, it wouldn't be an issue.

Rezzy and Ruhk are at the right spot.

Stengah wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
Stengah wrote:

The reason for this is that atheism is not a religion or otherwise organized thing. A person who does not believe in god is an atheist as much as a person who believes that there is no god is an atheist. Re-read this very thread and it'll all be explained to you (again).

I disagree with that--check my response to Malor.

Your response doesn't explain why you don't agree with what I said.

It does in the part differentiating between someone who has considered the question "is there a god" and answered "no" and someone who has not considered the question in the first place. Sure the two have lack of theism in common, but they are not identical. What they don't have in common is that only one of them has considered the question.

And that's what some atheists have in common with theists: they've considered a particular question--"does god exist"--and they've both come up with an answer.

For a start with an example that might be easier for me to get across, let's remember a lot of atheists start out as believers: to put it in Matrix terms, you're not all born in Zion--a lot of you took the red pill and that's how you wound up atheists.

CheezePavilion wrote:

For a start with an example that might be easier for me to get across, let's remember a lot of atheists start out as believers: to put it in Matrix terms, you're not all born in Zion--a lot of you took the red pill and that's how you wound up atheists.

Religious indoctrination as a child isn't belief, it's brainwashing.

CheezePavilion wrote:

It does in the part differentiating between someone who has considered the question "is there a god" and answered "no" and someone who has not considered the question in the first place. Sure the two have lack of theism in common, but they are not identical. What they don't have in common is that only one of them has considered the question.

And that's what some atheists have in common with theists: they've considered a particular question--"does god exist"--and they've both come up with an answer.

No. A person who hasn't even considered the question is an atheist as well. Apatheist is a more precise term, but it falls under the category of atheist, a non-theist.

Stengah wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
ruhk wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Right, but the same is true of theists--same deal, check my response to Malor.

...except that atheists don't have any sort of formalized system, mythology or dogma to bind them together as a group.The only thing most of us have in common is that we just don't believe in a god or gods. That's why some of us here are so bewildered by the insistence to label us, it's no different than insisting that we need a label for people who like the color blue.

And the only thing many theists have in common is that they believe in a god or gods. You said: "It should be noted that each atheist has come to their position for different reasons, and therefore will have different reasoning and motivations for their beliefs." Same with theists. Yes, you'll find a "formalized system, mythology or dogma" among some theists, but not *all* theists. And even among ones who share the same theology, they'll come to their position for different reasons too.

Remember this the next time you make your "and people say I argue about semantics" joke. Cause this is what people are talking about. Point me out some theists that don't have a system, mythology, or dogma.

Alcoholics Anonymous? Unitarian Universalists? Thomas Jefferson--I mean, the dude did go through the Bible and try to take out all the supernatural elements.

I don't think it's very hard to find people who still believe in some sort of higher power but don't have any formalized system, mythology or dogma. To be honest, that's most of the religious folk I know. Church--or Temple!--membership is more a matter of culture than of religious belief for many, many people.

OG_slinger wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

For a start with an example that might be easier for me to get across, let's remember a lot of atheists start out as believers: to put it in Matrix terms, you're not all born in Zion--a lot of you took the red pill and that's how you wound up atheists.

Religious indoctrination as a child isn't belief, it's brainwashing.

yeah, children aren't born Christian or Jewish or whatever, they are made that way through indoctrination. Disbelief is the default position.

Well, I'm not really sure what you're arguing, Cheeze. You seem to be annoyed because we have different definitions for what atheism is, but that's inevitable. It's not a religion. There's no Approved Method of Being Atheist. There's no seal of approval, or central authority. There's just people who don't believe a deity exists, and there's an infinite number of ways you could arrive at that conclusion.

If you look back in the thread, I suspect you'll probably find that different atheists tell you different things, but that each individual atheist is pretty consistent. And, as Jeff-66 says, if you ever want to see a twisty, squirrely definition, try pinning someone down on just what God is.... it'll be full of inconsistencies. Then try pinning someone else down, and it'll be full of even more inconsistencies, many of which will be different. Ask ten different Biblical scholars about contentious passages in the Bible, and you'll get ten different answers, but they'll all be absolutely certain their interpretation is correct. (this is why there are so many Christian splinter sects.)

Compared to the ocean of contradiction that non-believers have to try to swim through, you've stuck a toe in the kiddie pool.

Stengah wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

It does in the part differentiating between someone who has considered the question "is there a god" and answered "no" and someone who has not considered the question in the first place. Sure the two have lack of theism in common, but they are not identical. What they don't have in common is that only one of them has considered the question.

And that's what some atheists have in common with theists: they've considered a particular question--"does god exist"--and they've both come up with an answer.

No. A person who hasn't even considered the question is an atheist as well. Apatheist is a more precise term, but it falls under the category of atheist, a non-theist.

Okay--then I'm talking about Apatheist Atheists as opposed to non-Apatheist non-theists.

now can I make my semantics joke ; D

I'm an atheist like I'm a Minnesotan; there are no clear boundaries etched on the Earth that state where Minnesota begins and Iowa ends. "Minnesotan" is simply a term of convenience that allows me to be easily associated with a particular group of people, just like "tall guy", "beer geek", and "walking embodiment of pure suburbanite awesome". I'm an "atheist" because it is likewise a term of convenience that lumps me in with other people who don't believe in the usual God stuff. I may have many differences with other atheists about all sorts of other things, just like I'm different from other Minnesotans, but it doesn't mean "Minnesotan" doesn't mean anything.

Disbelief is the default position.

Well, disbelief in those specific gods, yes, but humans have a profound need to create invisible entities to explain why things happen. Things happen because someone or something wanted them to happen, therefore something must exist to do the wanting.

Kids have their invisible friends, and monsters in the closet, and scary stories around the campfire. Given no gods to imprint on, they'd make new ones.

Oh, edit to add (man there's a lot in this thread):

It does in the part differentiating between someone who has considered the question "is there a god" and answered "no" and someone who has not considered the question in the first place. Sure the two have lack of theism in common, but they are not identical. What they don't have in common is that only one of them has considered the question.

Well, they're still both atheists. I suspect the universe of people who have never considered supernatural explanations of any type must be amazingly near zero, but if we postulate such a person, what functional difference is there between that person and a 'learned' atheist? One has considered an argument and rejected it, the other is simply unaware of the argument at all, but the end result is the same.

Obviously, you think this differentiation is somehow important, but I'm not really grasping why it would be. Neither believes in a deity and either could change their mind, given sufficient evidence. One is aware that other people believe in gods, but why would that awareness matter?

"walking embodiment of pure suburbanite awesome"

Damn, dude, you get in all the good clubs.

Malor wrote:

Well, I'm not really sure what you're arguing, Cheeze. You seem to be annoyed because we have different definitions for what atheism is, but that's inevitable. It's not a religion. There's no Approved Method of Being Atheist. There's no seal of approval, or central authority. There's just people who don't believe a deity exists, and there's an infinite number of ways you could arrive at that conclusion.

What I'm arguing is that there's a difference between people who don't believe a deity exists, and people who also believe something about the evidence for/against a deity and have concluded there is no deity.

If you look back in the thread, I suspect you'll probably find that different atheists tell you different things, but that each individual atheist is pretty consistent. And, as Jeff-66 says, if you ever want to see a twisty, squirrely definition, try pinning someone down on just what God is.... it'll be full of inconsistencies. Then try pinning someone else down, and it'll be full of even more inconsistencies, many of which will be different. Ask ten different Biblical scholars about contentious passages in the Bible, and you'll get ten different answers, but they'll all be absolutely certain their interpretation is correct. (this is why there are so many Christian splinter sects.)

Compared to the ocean of contradiction that non-believers have to try to swim through, you've stuck a toe in the kiddie pool. :)

Malor, way ahead of you on that man ; ) Even ask people what the Bible is and you'll get different answers between even major denominations of Christianity. Don't worry: I'm not about to claim I'm Michael Phelps here, but I've taken a dive or two into the issue of what religions think the status of other religions are and why.

ruhk wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

For a start with an example that might be easier for me to get across, let's remember a lot of atheists start out as believers: to put it in Matrix terms, you're not all born in Zion--a lot of you took the red pill and that's how you wound up atheists.

Religious indoctrination as a child isn't belief, it's brainwashing.

yeah, children aren't born Christian or Jewish or whatever, they are made that way through indoctrination. Disbelief is the default position.

Non-belief is the default position. There's a difference.

In any case, we all know people who are today atheists who came to their current beliefs as adults who were previously religious as adults.

Malor wrote:
It does in the part differentiating between someone who has considered the question "is there a god" and answered "no" and someone who has not considered the question in the first place. Sure the two have lack of theism in common, but they are not identical. What they don't have in common is that only one of them has considered the question.

Well, they're still both atheists. I suspect the universe of people who have never considered supernatural explanations of any type must be amazingly near zero, but if we postulate such a person, what functional difference is there between that person and a 'learned' atheist? One has considered an argument and rejected it, the other is simply unaware of the argument at all, but the end result is the same.

Obviously, you think this differentiation is somehow important, but I'm not really grasping why it would be. Neither believes in a deity and either could change their mind, given sufficient evidence. One is aware that other people believe in gods, but why would that awareness matter?

It makes a difference anytime someone tries to argue something on the basis of atheism being a default or a lack of belief.

What I'm arguing is that there's a difference between people who don't believe a deity exists, and people who also believe something about the evidence for/against a deity and have concluded there is no deity.

Um, okay, so if we stipulate that such a difference exists, what does it mean?

We're crossposting, so I'll add this here:

It makes a difference anytime someone tries to argue something on the basis of atheism being a default or a lack of belief.

I'm still not getting why this would be important. I think I agree with you that atheism can be either thing (either lack of knowledge or considered rejection), but I'm having trouble seeing what arguments would be dependent on the differentiation in any important way. I don't think the fact that not all atheists are the same will give you a blazing sword to cut through arguments with.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

I'm an atheist like I'm a Minnesotan; there are no clear boundaries etched on the Earth that state where Minnesota begins and Iowa ends. "Minnesotan" is simply a term of convenience that allows me to be easily associated with a particular group of people, just like "tall guy", "beer geek", and "walking embodiment of pure suburbanite awesome". I'm an "atheist" because it is likewise a term of convenience that lumps me in with other people who don't believe in the usual God stuff. I may have many differences with other atheists about all sorts of other things, just like I'm different from other Minnesotans, but it doesn't mean "Minnesotan" doesn't mean anything.

This is interesting because where do you lump a person who doesn't believe in the usual God stuff, but does believe in God?

Malor wrote:
What I'm arguing is that there's a difference between people who don't believe a deity exists, and people who also believe something about the evidence for/against a deity and have concluded there is no deity.

Um, okay, so if we stipulate that such a difference exists, what does it mean?

We're crossposting, so I'll add this here:

It makes a difference anytime someone tries to argue something on the basis of atheism being a default or a lack of belief.

I'm still not getting why this would be important. I think I agree with you that atheism can be either thing (either lack of knowledge or considered rejection), but I'm having trouble seeing what arguments would be dependent on the differentiation in any important way. I don't think the fact that not all atheists are the same will give you a blazing sword to cut through arguments with.

To try and boil it down: it means atheism and theism would have something in common. The arguments to support the idea that atheism is not a religion--a position I 100% agree with--go too far in making that case, to the point where they make it look like atheism is also not a position on a question of religious importance.

CheezePavilion wrote:
Stengah wrote:

Point me out some theists that don't have a system, mythology, or dogma.

Alcoholics Anonymous? Unitarian Universalists? Thomas Jefferson--I mean, the dude did go through the Bible and try to take out all the supernatural elements.

I don't think it's very hard to find people who still believe in some sort of higher power but don't have any formalized system, mythology or dogma. To be honest, that's most of the religious folk I know. Church--or Temple!--membership is more a matter of culture than of religious belief for many, many people.

Thomas Jefferson was a deist, which has it's own dogma (God created the universe, then left it alone). That's about the only difference between deism and atheism/agnosticism.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a non-religious organization that was started by Christians. While there is no theism requirement to participate, the language they use is very religious and they very heavily encourage members to find a "higher power" to help them stay sober. Their twelve steps are very dogmatic.
Unitarian Universalists are certainly harder to counter, mainly because they're an amalgam of the best parts of many different religions and so accepting of everyone. They were started by Christians like A.A., but they are far more tolerant of non-religious people than A.A. is. They border more on a community organization that started out as a religion. Since theism is the belief that at least one deity exists, I have a hard time calling them a theist organization, since they explicitly state that one need not adhere to any religious belief or creed to be a member.

CheezePavilion wrote:
MilkmanDanimal wrote:

I'm an atheist like I'm a Minnesotan; there are no clear boundaries etched on the Earth that state where Minnesota begins and Iowa ends. "Minnesotan" is simply a term of convenience that allows me to be easily associated with a particular group of people, just like "tall guy", "beer geek", and "walking embodiment of pure suburbanite awesome". I'm an "atheist" because it is likewise a term of convenience that lumps me in with other people who don't believe in the usual God stuff. I may have many differences with other atheists about all sorts of other things, just like I'm different from other Minnesotans, but it doesn't mean "Minnesotan" doesn't mean anything.

This is interesting because where do you lump a person who doesn't believe in the usual God stuff, but does believe in God?

If a person believes in at least one god/deity, they're a theist.

Stengah wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
Stengah wrote:

Point me out some theists that don't have a system, mythology, or dogma.

Alcoholics Anonymous? Unitarian Universalists? Thomas Jefferson--I mean, the dude did go through the Bible and try to take out all the supernatural elements.

I don't think it's very hard to find people who still believe in some sort of higher power but don't have any formalized system, mythology or dogma. To be honest, that's most of the religious folk I know. Church--or Temple!--membership is more a matter of culture than of religious belief for many, many people.

Thomas Jefferson was a deist, which has it's own dogma (God created the universe, then left it alone). That's about the only difference between deism and atheism/agnosticism.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a non-religious organization that was started by Christians. While there is no theism requirement to participate, the language they use is very religious and they very heavily encourage members to find a "higher power" to help them stay sober. Their twelve steps are very dogmatic.
Unitarian Universalists are certainly harder to counter, mainly because they're an amalgam of the best parts of many different religions and so accepting of everyone. They were started by Christians like A.A., but they are far more tolerant of non-religious people than A.A. is. They border more on a community organization that started out as a religion. Since theism is the belief that at least one deity exists, I have a hard time calling them a theist organization, since they explicitly state that one need not adhere to any religious belief or creed to be a member.

You're using that word "dogma" in a very unique way.

CheezePavilion wrote:

You're using that word "dogma" in a very unique way.

I'm going by the Wikipedia and Merriam-Webster definitions.

Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers. Although it generally refers to religious beliefs that are accepted without reason or evidence, they can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, or issued decisions of political authorities

and

Definition of DOGMA
1
a : something held as an established opinion; especially : a definite authoritative tenet
b : a code of such tenets
c : a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds
2
: a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church

respectively.

Deism's idea that god created the universe is an authoritative statement without adequate grounds.
A.A.'s belief that one needs to submit to a higher power to overcome alcoholism is an authoritative statement without adequate grounds (in fact their 12-step program has been shown to be no more effective than other, non-spiritual programs).

Stengah wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

You're using that word "dogma" in a very unique way.

I'm going by the Wikipedia and Merriam-Webster definitions.

Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers. Although it generally refers to religious beliefs that are accepted without reason or evidence, they can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, or issued decisions of political authorities

and

Definition of DOGMA
1
a : something held as an established opinion; especially : a definite authoritative tenet
b : a code of such tenets
c : a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds
2
: a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church

respectively.

Deism's idea that god created the universe is an authoritative statement without adequate grounds.
A.A.'s belief that one needs to submit to a higher power to overcome alcoholism is an authoritative statement without adequate grounds (in fact their 12-step program has been shown to be no more effective than other, non-spiritual programs).

Was deism Jefferson's religion, or is it just a description of his beliefs? And do you think all those members of AA are so...dogmatic? You asked me to point me out some theists that don't have a system, mythology, or dogma, and I think you'll find plenty of people in UU that fit that description. It's hard for me to point people out because, well, we don't know a lot of people in common. So I've got to go with either very famous dudes or places where you're likely to find such people.

I bet you'd find a lot of people on these forums that fit that description.

CheezePavilion wrote:

Was deism Jefferson's religion, or is it just a description of his beliefs? And do you think all those members of AA are so...dogmatic? You asked me to point me out some theists that don't have a system, mythology, or dogma, and I think you'll find plenty of people in UU that fit that description. It's hard for me to point people out because, well, we don't know a lot of people in common. So I've got to go with either very famous dudes or places where you're likely to find such people.

I'm not aware that Jefferson ever explicitly said he was a deist, but he has said he bases his beliefs on a known deist and his own description of his beliefs are what you would find in the definition of deism.
It doesn't matter if some members of AA aren't as dogmatic as others, the organization as a whole is. Not all AA members or people in UU are theists either. You can't take individual members of the organization and claim that they represent the whole. You have to look at the official statements of the organization. AA is very dogmatic, several steps of their program require theism. The majority of UU's members are theist, but the organization doesn't require theism from their members, so it's hard to claim them as an example of theists without a system/mythology/dogma. Individual members can still be believers/practitioners of different religions, which would mean that they have the system/mythology/dogma from those religions. The UU might not have an official system/mythology/dogma of it's own, but members who come to them from other faiths are still allowed to practice/believe in the system/mythology/dogma of the religion they came from.

Stengah wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Was deism Jefferson's religion, or is it just a description of his beliefs? And do you think all those members of AA are so...dogmatic? You asked me to point me out some theists that don't have a system, mythology, or dogma, and I think you'll find plenty of people in UU that fit that description. It's hard for me to point people out because, well, we don't know a lot of people in common. So I've got to go with either very famous dudes or places where you're likely to find such people.

I'm not aware that Jefferson ever explicitly said he was a deist, but he has said he bases his beliefs on a known deist and his own description of his beliefs are what you would find in the definition of deism.

Did he say that belief was "not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from"? That's why I said you were using that word in a unique way, as it seems you're not including that part of the definition, the 'authoritative'ness that those dictionary entries are focusing on.

It doesn't matter if some members of AA aren't as dogmatic as others, the organization as a whole is. Not all AA members or people in UU are theists either. You can't take individual members of the organization and claim that they represent the whole.

I don't need to claim they represent the whole to answer your question. You may be forgetting you asked me: "Point me out some theists that don't have a system, mythology, or dogma." Individual members of those organizations qualify as theists, and that's what you asked. This isn't a "no true member of the Church of Scotland" situation which I would guess is what you're thinking of. I'm not arguing those individuals are the true members, just that those organizations are likely to contain individuals like that.

It's interesting you say someone who believes in a "higher power" is not a theist--I would call anyone that believes a deity exists to be a theist. Maybe we're misunderstanding each other?

Jefferson was on a colonial message board fighting over whether he was a deist. Eventually he just gave in and accepted the label. Little known fact.