Are you a white, liberal, atheist man?

White, male, left of liberal and another “shrugnostic.”

And if I describe myself as a cannibal, because I eat food that comes in cans, and you take exception to this, you’re not saying that I am not really what I mean by “cannibal”—you are disputing my meaning of the word “cannibal.”

You seem to be interpreting the thread title to mean “Do you use the term ‘atheist’ to describe yourself?” But that’s not really the same question as “Are you an atheist?” If there were a commonly-accepted, mutually-agreed upon definition of “atheist” (which there isn’t), it would just be a matter of whether than definition applies to you.

I like this.

I think everyone should have the right to make up their own labels for something as complex as political or theological beliefs.

And I like the quote I’m about to mangle, heard in a sermon:
“A healthy agnosticism is the mark of a mentally healthy believer.”

Useless analogy is useless. We’re talking about internal belief systems here, not functional descriptions. Cannibalism is about what you do, atheism is about what you believe.

When I say I’m not an atheist, I’m not using a weirdly idiosyncratic definition of atheist like your “can-nibal”. I’m just disagreeing that it applies to me.

Yes, it is. There is no external examination for atheism, self-report is all we have to go on.

I don’t think it’s the same thing. If something is not defined in a coherent manner, you can’t say whether it exists or not. And that seems to be what non-cognitivism is.

That’s not what the originators of the term thought, nor is there any definition I’ve seen with any daylight between them. The originators just didn’t like the connotation of immorality that sometimes came with an accusation of atheist. Of course, they were wrong that changing the name would somehow avoid the problem. Many religious theists claim that you’re immoral unless you worship their particular god. Calling yourself a non-theist instead of an atheist isn’t going to take you out of their sights.

I never said anything about what you believe, only about the appropriate words to describe it. So far, it’s gone something like this:

MD: I’m an Eightist.
DS: Ah, so you’re an Evenist.
MD: No I’m not!
DS: Well, one implies the other…
MD: These Sixists call themselves Evenists, and I’m not one of them.
DS: So? You’re still an Evenist.
MD: Not so. At best, I’m a not-Oddist.
DS: That’s the same thing.
MD: I would never call myself an Evenist, and how dare you tell me otherwise.
DS: I never said you can’t label yourself whatever you want. Nevertheless, if you’re an Eightist, you’re also an Evenist.

If by "originators’ you include Martin, he does draw a distinction between his noncognitivism and his atheism. He doesn’t see them as incompatible (neither do I, I just don’t see the need to affirm atheism when noncognitivism is a complete stance in itself) but he doesn’t conflate them, either.

And, anyway, atheists really don’t have a leg to stand on with originalist arguments, when you examine what ἄθεος meant to the Greeks versus what atheist means today.

That is telling me what I believe. You are using a word that says I have a certain belief about “God” that I expressly don’t hold.

:roll_eyes: Using another dumb analogy isn’t going to work. Especially not when it contains such rubbish as this:

No. Atheism and nontheism are not the same thing.

Just accept that when I say I am not an atheist, I have actually thought quite a bit about it, and I definitely mean it, and move on.

I was referring there to the (lack of) difference between atheism and non-theism. Wikipedia gives an early usage with:

Mr. [Charles] Southwell has taken an objection to the term Atheism. We are glad he has. We have disused it a long time […]. We disuse it, because Atheist is a worn-out word. Both the ancients and the moderns have understood by it one without God, and also without morality . Thus the term connotes more than any well-informed and earnest person accepting it ever included in it; that is, the word carries with it associations of immorality, which have been repudiated by the Atheist as seriously as by the Christian. Non-theism is a term less open to the same misunderstanding, as it implies the simple non-acceptance of the Theist’s explanation of the origin and government of the world.

He acknowledges that, at least as far as the atheist is concerned, it means exactly the same thing. But he seems to think that changing the name will avoid the negative connotations.

Anyway, non-cognitivism is a stronger claim than atheism/non-theism. It gives a reason for the lack of belief: that a belief-sentence is meaningless. Other atheists have different reasons for their atheism, or none at all. But compatibility with atheism means it is a type of atheism.

You have a belief-structure in your head which I’m fairly sure I grasp (especially as I largely share it). It’s independent of any labels you or I apply to it. Me saying that a certain label applies to that belief-structure is not a claim about what you believe. You’re mistaking the map for the territory, as they say.

Utter rubbish. My anarchism is compatible with my pacifism, it doesn’t mean my anarchism is a kind of pacifism, it merely means the two beliefs aren’t mutually contradictory.

No, it isn’t. Beliefs aren’t abstract concepts that exist in some Platonic space They’re systems of thought that interact with other such systems, including labelling systems.

Yes, it is. Of course it is, how can it not be?

No, I’m not. The act of labelling is the act of planting a flag in the territory itself. Labelling me as atheist is making a claim on my allegiance, one I am emphatically refusing. I am not an atheist, and it is wrong to count me as one. Especially against my repeated direct requests not to do so.

  • Over 98% of my known or presumed ancestry comes from various parts of Europe
  • Ever since I’ve started voting, I’ve consistently favored the Democrats over the Republicans, and often think they don’t go far enough.
  • I have hair on my face and chest, a penis, and testicles, and have no problem with any of those facts.


  • I’m a lifelong Catholic, devout and believing.

We’re talking about belief systems that cover exactly the same ground. Anarchism and pacifism are totally orthogonal concepts. The various *-theisms we’re talking about are not; they’re making claims that are either the same or contradictory. A belief set that is “larger” than another, but compatible, implies that other.

I didn’t say they were. They’re structures that exist inside your head. They’re a configuration of matter.

Most of my thoughts aren’t expressed in language at all, and I really have to work to translate them into words. So the idea that a label applied to my ideas can somehow affect them is ludicrous. Again, map vs. territory.

Oh shit, I guess I won’t hack the board and change your vote against your will next time. Sorry!

No, they don’t. My noncognitivism doesn’t “cover” theism at all. It’s not a statement or opinion about the existence of deity, it’s a statement about the discussion.

Noncognitivism isn’t a larger belief set, it’s a meta-set.

It doesn’t affect the private idea, it affects the public perception of the idea. Which is all claims of belief are. So yes, you are making “a claim about what I believe”.

If this was just a poll absent any commentary thread, your bullshit evasion would fly. But you, and others like @BigT, choose to comment about what my stated beliefs supposedly actually are, against my repeatedly stated objections. That may not be “changing the vote”, but it certainly isn’t letting me define my beliefs for myself.

It’s bullying, basically. It would be one thing if it was in a dedicated GD thread, but it’s you (pl) coming into an opinion thread and telling me my opinion is wrong. Threadshitting, basically.

Hold on here. All I did was disagree with you. I did not say that you were not allowed to define your beliefs the way you did, just that I did not agree with your definition.

If someone came up and said that they were an atheist but they believed that Jesus Christ is God, would you say it was wrong to bring that up? Would it be wrong to point out that most people would not count them as an atheist?

I will also note that @mikecurtis actually convinced me I was wrong. I had read the Wikipedia article and misunderstood what you meant by “non-cognitivism.” I thought it meant that you believed that the concept of a god made no sense, not that it meant you thought it didn’t matter.

Assuming he is correct, then I now understand why you are not an atheist. My ignorance has been fought.

A distinction without a difference. I very clearly classed myself as non-atheist, and you immediately turned around and went “I’ma count you as an atheist, mmmm’kay?”.

Such a belief would be internally contradictory. There is no internal contradiction in being a noncognitivist and not an atheist. I’d mention the contradiction once, and then shut up about it. I certainly wouldn’t repeatedly tell that person they were wrong in an IMHO poll thread when they objected to that behaviour. I might in a GD debate thread about that specific topic, because that’s a different forum.

No, you had it right the first time, I believe the concept of God (not “a god”) is incoherent.

That does not make me an atheist.

I cannot at all understand how you could see those as equivalent. Your version is clearly said in a smarmy manner, deliberately designed to piss the other person off. It is intentionally belittling. It’s like saying that “I agree with you.” And “Look at you, such a genius!” are the same thing, because they both describe agreement.

I take issue with you saying I was bullying you or that I was threadshitting. I merely disagreed with you. You mention “repeatedly” bringing it up. I didn’t. I said nothing else until you accused me of bullying.

If you wish to bring this up in GD, feel free to ping me so I can participate. My issue is merely that I object to being accused of bullying when I did not do so.

Remove the intentional aspect, and your original version is the same to me, and all the other descriptive words you just used fit, including “smarmy” and “belittling”.

You are not the only poster responding. “Repeatedly” addresses all of you.

I don’t. I was happy saying my piece and just adding to the poll. You (pl) are the ones who see to think my beliefs are up for debate.

Modnote: Drop the bickering in this thread. It is a hijack. Take it to the Pit if you wish to continue.

This is just a guidance, not a warning. Nothing on your permanent record.

Modnote: Commenting, that this is what seemed to get the hijack started. No need for this. Drop it.

This is just a guidance, not a warning. Nothing on your permanent record.