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Semantics, Shemantics

by Reverend Phil (Pilgrim)
on May 01, 2003 at 17:51 UTC ( #254743=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: Re: Religion in the Monastery.
in thread Religion in the Monastery.

I think we're playing the semantic game here folks. I am only an egg, but IMHO, we're confusing the word 'religion' with the word 'faith' (or dogma, as AssFace mentioned. What I mean to say is, the similarity between atheism and religion is that they imply a faith - a belief without proof.

Religions tend to place their faith in some un(scientifically)knowable deity and/or a specially inspired doctrine. One can probably not seem like too much of an idiot making the generalisation (generalisations being idiot-making mechanisims) that an atheist has instead placed faith in themselves, or perhaps the expanded concept of humanity as a whole - such as science being grounded in certain principles and procedures which, when applied, tend to give scientists comfort in the accuracy of their observations.

Atheism, just like Christianity, is a faith. But it is not a religion.

woops, s/Sym/Sem in the title, pardon my French, and danke diotalevi

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Re: Symantics, Shemantics
by halley (Prior) on May 01, 2003 at 18:17 UTC

    I usually sum up my own definitions with three levels.

    Polite form:

  • faith is a belief in any unprovable truth
  • religion is a codification of specific faiths
  • church is an organization sharing a religion
  • I am very accepting of other peoples' faiths and even their religions. I've informally studied quite a few religions, treating them as mythologies, just because every Genesis-like story and every Leviticus-like rulebook has some interesting comparative value. However, I'm deeply distrustful of any church, thanks to the introduction of mob psychology to an otherwise straightforward subject.

    Hardline cynic's form:

  • faith is the personal rationalization of dogma
  • religion is a codification of mythological law
  • church is the courtroom to judge the outsider
  • I express these solely to extend a fertile ongoing conversation here. I don't put bumper stickers on my car, as that just gives someone else a reason to hate me. I rarely describe my faith or religion or church to people, because most people don't want their faith to be challenged. I find proselytization to be obnoxious, and the dogmatic indoctrination of children to be horrid.

    "Orthodoxy means not having to think." --Orwell

    [ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]

      Sorry, I only noticed your post when reviewing this thread again just now. I'd like to present a somewhat different, quite opinionated and definitely rather non-standard set of definitions :)

      • faith is what I have experienced and know to be true about Life, the Universe and Everything (that includes God). It obviously needs to transcend my own life and strength to be useful.
      • religion is a codified set of expected moral behaviour and beliefs, usually strongly influenced by society and personal history.
      • church is the set of people sharing a common faith in God, and sharing loving relationships with each other as outlined by the bible (e.g. mutual accountability, ministering to each other). Church is always defined by the centre (Christ), rather than at the fringe. Note the lack of buildings or institutions in this definition.

      From these definitions it follows that I consider religion to be harmful: It gives you a standard to reach, yet fails to explain that you can't reach that standard.


      People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy. It was sanity: and to be sane is more dramatic than to be mad. -- Gilbert K. Chesterton

      There is nothing more ugly than an orthodoxy without understanding or without compassion. -- Francis A. Schaeffer

      I don't put bumper stickers on my car, as that just gives someone else a reason to hate me.

      That is wrong on so many levels.

Re: Semantics, Shemantics
by Abigail-II (Bishop) on Nov 25, 2003 at 10:49 UTC
    Atheism, just like Christianity, is a faith.
    No, it's not. The hypotheses there exist no god, is quite scientific. It's scientific because it can be falsified: there exists a way of showing the hypotheses is false, namely showing there is a god (just point out one).

    The reverse, there is a god, is not scientific, as it cannot be falsified (you can't prove no gods exist). It is therefore a faith.


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