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Eclipse - Atheism terms
Category: People and society > Atheism
Date & country: 11/11/2007, UK
Words: 30


Agnostic
This term was invented by Professor Thomas Huxley in the 1880's to describe his world view. He was the father of Aldous Huxley - the author of 'Brave New World' which is famous for publicising the idea of test-tube babies back in the 1930's.

Apathetic atheism, or apatheism
Apatheists don't care whether god exists and, as a result, act as though it doesn't. Very likely, many apatheists have rebelled against past restrictions imposed on them by religion.

Apostasy
Abandoning one's religious belief.

Atheism
Derived from the Greek a = not and theos = god: not-god. An atheist does not believe in god or postulate the existence of gods or spiritual beings. Christian religious teachers often give an incorrect derivation of atheism from the Greek anti = against and theos = god: against-god. Presumably this is done to suggest that atheists are evil.

Bible
From the Greek 'biblos', meaning book. 'Beware of the man of one book.' said Thomas Aquinas.

Compatibilism
A belief that there is no contradiction between the natural processes of the universe (as identified by science) and the creation of the universe by god.

Cult
A cult is a religion with no political power. Tom Wolfe

Deism
Rather a lot of people are deists without even knowing the word exists. Deists believe in an omnipotent god who created the universe, set up the natural laws that it operates by, and then left the universe to operate under those laws, without miraculous intervention. Deism provides a cosmological explanation for the existence of the universe rather than a personal god one should attempt to communi

Divine command theory
The idea that whatever god wills is good - so tomorrow god could will something that is bad today, but tomorrow it would be good. This highlights a major problem that religions have when they rely on a god for their ethics. 'God is good', you might say, and could never make something good tomorrow which is bad today - but then, of course, in that case he wouldn't be omnipotent - so he wouldn't be

Empiricism
An empiricist bases what he knows only on his observation and experience of the world around him regarding the information provided by his senses as valid.

Epistemology
From the Greek episteme = knowledge. The study of the nature of knowledge: how do we know what we know? are there things we cannot know for sure? So an epistemology is a way of knowing what the world is like.

Existentialism
Philosophical theory emphasising existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining his/her own development.

Freethinker
A freethinker rejects authority and dogma, especially in his religious thinking, preferring rational inquiry and speculation.

Frisbeetarianism
The belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.

Fundamentalism
Fundamentalism is an attitude of mind. A Fundamentalist is to religion what a Nazi is to politics. Fundamentalism is characterized by unquestioning submission to an absolute authority and intolerance of alternative view points. Fundamentalists are a faction within a larger, more tolerant, grouping. Although ostensibly directed against 'infidels' the real target of their intolerance is most often t

God in the gaps approach
The idea that what science doesn't know is the bit that is explained by the existence of god(s).

Heaven
Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. [Mark Twain]

Hell
This is the place most people will go to when they are dead (according to the Old Testament). Here god will torture you (or allow you to be tortured by the devil - same difference) for an infinite period of time. Here the behaviour of the 'god of love' towards you will be totally unforgiving and unloving - and without any humanity whatsoever, and with no tea-breaks.

Humanism
Humanists believe that human beings have the right and responsibility to give shape and meaning to their own lives. They aim to build a more humane society upon an ethics based on human and other natural values derived using reason and free inquiry. They do not believe in anything supernatural.

Noncoherentism
Noncoherentists think it is rationally impossible make meaningful statements about gods, including whether they exist, because so far there have been no sufficiently coherent definitions of 'god' advanced. Atheists are frequently (if not always) noncoherentists, and point out that the most common definition of a god is that the nature of god is beyond the ability of human beings to define.

Physicalism
A viewpoint proposing that the mind is solely a physical phenomenon i.e., it is the result of physical phenomena and has no nonphysical component (no 'spirit' or 'soul'). Consciousness arises from purely physical phenomena. Physicalists see the minds of animals and humans as fundamentally similar, differing only by degree and in the human use of language. By definition, most (if not all) atheists

Presuppositionalism
The idea that the correct and only way to view reality is through the lens of a Biblical world view. '...by what standard can man know anything truly? By the Bible, and only by the Bible' Gary North.

Rationalism
Theory that reason is the foundation of certainty in knowledge, the attitude of mind which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason. A rationalist is beyond dogma, and believes nothing is beyond questioning, as nothing is absolutely certain to be true. However, some things are more reasonably likely to be true than others, and it is personal, rational observation that serves as the basis for a

Reality
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. Philip K. Dick.

Reconstructionism
A Religious Right movement in the United States that seeks to replace democracy with a theocratic elite that would govern by imposing their interpretation of 'Biblical Law.' Reconstructionism would eliminate not only democracy but many of its manifestations, such as labor unions, civil rights laws, and state schools. Just to give some of the flavour of life under a Reconstructionist theocracy: dea

Secularism
Secularists believe in the separation of church and state. Nor should religious groups have privileged access to political power to influence the framing of laws or the executive governance of the state. The historical results of any such influence should be erased. No religious groups should be in receipt of state funds or subsidies (e.g., tax relief), nor benefit from methods of information diss

Skepticism
Skeptics believe that there is a lot of hocus-pocus about and set out to disprove it if they can - they seem to be very successful! They are not only concerned with debunking religious hokum but also occult, paranormal, supernatural and pseudoscientific ideas and practices in general. They love showing that magicians and faith-healers are cheats by exposing them.

Strong atheism
A strong atheist is someone who does not merely lack belief in god, but believes that god does not exist.

Theodicy
Theodicy is derived from the Greek words for 'god' and 'justice'. This term was first coined by Leibniz in 1710 when he examined the problem of evil : if god is good then why do so many cruel and 'unjust' things happen in the world? Also see here. Leibniz tried to show not only that the evil in the world does not conflict with the goodness of god, but that, notwithstanding its many evils, the worl

Theology
Theology involves the study of god as drawn from the sources of supernatural revelation. It is very concerned with proving the existence of god and discovering the nature of god. In some ways there are parallels with the attempts to prove the existence of UFO's and describe aliens.