Theists will find any way they can to discredit atheism and malign atheists. And they are using the same creative word tricks employed to regularly defend the indefensible: redefining of words and ideas and using constant repetition of such redefinitions. They know very well the effectiveness of re-education through brute force. To this effort, they have decided to redefine the word “atheism” to make it appear as a competing belief system. They have convinced themselves, contrary to having never found an actual atheistic doctrine, that atheists somehow follow an “atheist creed” of sorts. Being as no such doctrine exists, they themselves have set out on the task of creating one. This imaginary atheistic creed is said by theists as having within it’s “laws of atheism” the impetus for:
- Immoral behavior
- “Belief” there is no God
- Rejection / hatred of their God
- “Belief” in evolution
- And in worse cases, genocide and mass murder
The war on atheism and the word atheism isn’t new. The war started very long ago in 16th century France with the word “Athéisme.” The name started in ancient Greece with the word “atheos.” Theists will often cite very early attempts by other theists to malign atheism as proof that atheism is a belief system. For example, I had an argument in a FB group with a fundamentalist who could only refute the definition of atheism by referring to the historical maligning of the atheists. In other words, he used ancient false definitions to support his present false definitions, never giving thought to the fact that the definition of atheism is intrinsic to the actual word itself. Theists see atheism not as meaning the absence of religious faith but rather the presence of another kind of faith which counters theirs. They make uninformed claims such as “it requires more faith NOT to believe in God” or “it requires faith to believe in evolution.” When they make these childish assertions, it only illuminates the level of ignorance theists have concerning what atheism is and what the word actually means. And there is plenty of irony here in that it was the ancient Romans who first classified Christians as atheists for not acknowledging the Pagan gods.
But why go through all the trouble to try and make atheism appear as a religion? Well, as it turns out there is a very big reason for this. Huge in fact. And only after hours and hours of debate with several fundamentalists did I find the common thread. Theists are afraid for atheists to be in a position to define infants as atheists. They wish to own the image of babies as being innocent creatures yearning for God. It’s extremely difficult to defame a group of people when infants are a part of that group. Also, it’s difficult to think of atheists as being “innocent.” But are infants atheists? Well maybe we should take a closer look at the word atheist.
The word atheist has a very simple meaning and is a very unique type of word which uses something known as the “privative alpha”:
“In Ancient Greek grammar, privative a (also known as privative alpha; in Latin, α prīvātīvum) is the prefix a- that expresses negation or absence (e.g., a-theos, a-typical). It is derived from a Proto-Indo-European syllabic nasal *n̥-, the zero ablaut grade of the negation *ne, i.e. /n/ used as a vowel.” – Wikipedia
“Atheist” is a word derived from Greek meanings and construction and has at its root the word “theist.”
Theist = Greek for “one who believes in a deity or deities”
The privative a is prefixed to the word theist to denote the contrary of the root. It implies a DIS belief in a deity or deities. Or more literally atheist means NOT theist or absent theism. Theists will try and assert that atheism means “a BELIEF that God doesn’t exist.” And use this word trick, including the word BELIEF, to exclude infants from atheism by positing that infants must first be introduced to theism and then can only be atheists if they form a belief that God doesn’t exist. Hmmm… That’s rather strange. No positive assertion can be tied to the word “atheist” for it is the CONTRARY to a positive assertion. Atheism is the counter to theism. It is a negative assertion. It is the state of being before theism is introduced and the state of being after theism is introduced and rejected. Before anyone learns of theism, they are atheist by default. And after anyone learns of theism and rejects it, they are still atheists by default. Therefore, infants are atheists.
Let’s try another word. How about “asymptomatic”? This is another example of the privative alpha meaning “without symptoms.” So let’s ask ourselves this: is a person required to first have a symptom and then lose the symptom to be considered asymptomatic? The answer is no. A person may be asymptomatic without ever having had a symptom of any kind.
Think of it like this:
If I pull into an auto paint shop with a silver car and the salesman tries to sell me a red paint job and I refuse it, my car remains silver. Nothing has changed other than my new-found knowledge of 20 or so reasons why people want red cars. Reasons which are not compelling enough for me to join suit. That’s it. I keep my car silver and I go on with life content with my decision. This is the same way it is for atheists. We didn’t buy the red paint job. And we require no belief system for our cars to remain silver. We require no NEW silver paint job. The car is already as we we want it to be. No change, no beliefs concerning no change, and no faith is required to know that the car remains as it was – silver. This is exactly the case for a child who rejects theism and remains an atheist as he or she was born.
Try as they may, theists will never succeed in changing the definition of a word firmly rooted in Greek meaning and construct. Although they may succeed in misinforming many other people who don’t know any better. And so it is our job to set the record straight and defend the meaning of the word which most accurately describes our views concerning theism, using the “privative a” which denotes our wholesale rejection of it.
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