This post is based on The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on "Atheism". To better understand my rant, I suggest that you head over to this web page and read up in their entry. If you are a Freethinker, I guarantee it will not take you long into the article before you start shaking your head in disgust, or flat out laughing loudly while you read it. Here is the link:
(a privative, and theos, God, i.e. without God).
The first line I have have issues with right from the start. The headlining topic is "atheism", yet they start the article of with a definition of "atheist". This is a major mistake right off the bat, which should NOT happen in any well written encyclopedia. Why does this matter? Lets say I am writing an article on Christianity, and decide to use the term "Christian" as its definition. First off there is a BIG difference between Christianity and a Christian when it comes to definition purposes, just the same as there is a big difference defintion wise between atheist and atheism when used in certain contexts. Second goes right to where my last concern left off; CONTEXT. In this context I feel that the original author of this article chose to use atheist, instead of atheism, in order to show the text "without god" in sole respects to the Christian God - ignoring the fact that any Christian is obviously "a-theos" in respect to other religions gods or goddesses. From a view of the atheists perception, the atheist himself is 100% atheist, while religious people are merely 99% atheist. In other words, from the atheists point of view, all other religious believers are almost as atheistic as he/she in that the religious believer "denies" the existence of just as many gods and goddesses and he/she does. My third problem that by leaving out the word "theism" and instead using the word "theos", they have avoided a great debate of philosophical proportions. Theism thus being defined by wikipedia (because the Catholic Encyclopedia has no specific article for theism, though they use the term often across a great many articles)
THEISM - in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists. In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe."
I have issues with this as well, seeing that they claim theism to be the same as monotheism, yet polytheism is a theism just as much as monotheism, yet polytheism can claim 2 or more deities, up to and including and INIFINITE amount of gods and goddesses. Welcome to my view of the religious debate, where there is a sad lack of decent definitions. Where most people sling out words that are fuzzy, mystical, ultimately having different definitions from person to person. If a theist is, in wikipedias view, the belief that at least one god exists, then why do deists claim deism? Is there such a thing as a polydeist, or an adeist? When will the time come when humans all get together and admit this is just crap that we all made up? It is absurd. Almost as absurd as someone saying; "I am not religious. I dont believe in religion, but I love the Bible and Jesus." To me, atheism is "without god belief", which can be EASILY translated as "not religious". So yes, the popular thing for chirtsians to say is that they are atheistic theists. the word "atheist" and "atheism" itself is just as much absurd as the religious definitions. I would have no reason to even mention the words "atheist" if not for the world being populated by mystical magical fuzzy thinking supertitious types. I cant even tell people I am "not religious", as they will quote that assinine statement of not being religious, but living their lives according to the Bible and their imaginary friend Jesus...and assume I think the same as they.
Atheism is that system of thought which is formally opposed to theism.
Excuse me? Since when was I "formally" told that atheism "formally opposes" theism. Not just three words ago you mentioned a-theos (WITHOUT theism). How do you equate "Without theism" with "formally opposed to theism"? I know plenty of atheists who are not "formally opposed to theism". Hell, some actually still love many of the concepts of the religion they left (noticed I didnt mention Christianity as the sole religion here and Catholic encyclopedia authors should take note) Many atheists, including myself, have no problem with people believing in their fake gods and goddesses. Hey, I like Spiderman. But why should someone oppose my belief of Spiderman if I am not using it to hamper peoples freedoms or force it to be taught as historical and scientific fact in public schools? I have many friends who are theists. I do not oppose them unless they become assholes about their beliefs, and even then I try to stay civil and pleasant. How about your history Catholic church? What did you do to those you opposed?
Though atheism, historically considered, has meant no more in the past than a critical or sceptical denial of the theology of those who have employed the term as one of reproach
Right, because there was no such thing as someone who realized gods and goddesses were nothing more than made up fictional characters until recently. I mean, anyone who is anyone has to believe in some kind of god?! Yes, that is my sarcasm. Catholic encyclopedia, your feigned naivety disgusts me.
and has consquently no one strict philisophical meaning; and though there is no one consistent system in the exposition of which it has a definite place
Yet not less than ten sentences ago you mentioned that atheism FORMALLY is opposed to religion. what lack of car or respect for words when you claim atheism is structured, regulated, and in accepted form (thus the word "formally"), but then COMPLETELY contradict yourself by saying it is inconsistant. But fear not! Those who are reading this Catholic Encyclopedia will not dare to question you, as they will accept ANY words that make atheism look bad and Catholicism look good.
yet, if we consider it in its broad meaning as merely the opposite of theism, we will be able to frame such divisions as will make possible a grouping of definite systems under this head.
You mean that meaning that you werent very clear on to begin with? And who is this "we" you are talking about?
And in so doing so we shall at once be adopting both the historical and the philosophical view.
Wait, you just said a few sentences ago that the history of atheism is nothing more than being critical scepticism (meaning they could still believe in god, just not certain dogmas), yet atheists are those "without god", but now you are going to discuss their history even though you say there is no consistency in atheism itself historically and philosophically? You have blown my mind with how well you spin your yarns of bullshit! How you can tear atheism down and rebuild it into a strawman in just 3 sentences is outstanding mental gymnastics
Moreover, the breadth of comprehension in such a use of the term admits of divisions and cross-divisions being framed under it; and at the same time limits the number of systems of thought to which, with any propriety, it might otherwise be extended. Also, if the term is thus taken, in strict contradistinction to theism, and a plan of its possible modes of acceptance made, these systems of thought will naturally appear in clearer proportion and relationship.
What? This is the kind of terminology I would expect as the fine print on the bottom of a contract of a carpet bagger, forgiving himself of all errors, yet holding you accountable to whatever he says is in the contract. "Oh, thats just a cross division of the popriety of the counterdistinction of the extension in question, and has no bearing on this contract" he says as he sells you and your family into slavery.
The most trenchant form which atheism could take would be the positive and dogmatic denial existence of any spiritual and extra-mundane First Cause. This is sometimes known as dogmatic, or positive theoretic, atheism; though it may be doubted whether such a system has ever been, or could ever possibly be seriously maintained.
First you claim no one has historically been an atheist except only in minor confrontations within and between religious denominations, now you drop down to this "first clause" crap that has been debunked so many times that it leads me to question your education. You claim denying some idiotic "first cause" clause (which is yet another bull crap notion that people just made up i.e. "fictional") is "dogmatic" and "positively theoretic". Now atheism has, according to this encyclopedia, within 3 paragraphs, evolved from "vaguely employed" to "dogmatic". And then to top it off, even though you claim it is "dogmatic", you then claim in THE NEXT SENTENCE that it is doubtful if it could be seriously maintained? How seriously maintained? As Seriously maintained that all Christians world wide are Catholics? Yikes, methinks I hit a sensitive spot.
Certainly Bacon and Dr. Arnold voice the common judgment of thinking men when they express a doubt as to the existence of an atheist belonging to such a school.
He is referencing Francis Bacon (http://freethoughtalmanac.com/?p=1068). Go check out that hyperlink to see what Bacon REALLY thought about atheism, which goes in the OPPOSITE direction that this articles author cherry picks from him. I also like that "common judgement of thinking men". Because thinking men only choose Catholicism and the Catholic Bible.
Still, there are certain advanced phases of materialistic philosophy that, perhaps, should rightly be included under this head. Materialism, which professes to find in matter its own cause and explanation, may go farther, and positively exclude the existence of any spiritual cause. That such a dogmatic assertion is both unreasonable and illogical needs no demonstration, for it is an inference not warranted by the facts nor justified by the laws of thought.
Laws of thought being, naturally, the laws that the Catholic church decrees how one must think. Materialism is the cornerstone of modern scientific methods. "Spiritual causes" cannot be tested, re-tested, or evaluated from the scientific method other than being the particular opinion of individuals. I also laugh at your anger of materialism "That such a dogmatic assertion is both unreasonable and illogical needs no demonstration" yet this article author would GLADLY ignore the spiritual claims of, say, the native Americans. Or Pagans. Or claims that Thor and Woden exist. No. these claims are unreasonable because they conflict with HIS laws of thought, which deem only Catholic Christianity as "spiritual". I may be cussing him and making fun of him, but his wordings cut to the bone of MANY people and traditions. What an ass.
But the fact that certain individuals have left the sphere of exact scientific observation for speculation, and have thus dogmatized negatively, calls for their inclusion in this specific type. Materialism is the one dogmatic explanation of the universe which could in any sense justify an atheistic position. But even materialism, however its advocated might dogmatize, could do no more than provide an inadequate theoretic basis for a negative form of atheism. Pantheism, which must not be confused with materialism, in some of its forms can be placed also in this division, as categorically denying the existence of a spiritual First Cause above or outside the world.
Like I have said before. Materialism IS Science. Materialism goes hand in hand with Naturalism (which is the prefered terminology of Biologists, which means the same thing as Materialism). Also, when the author says "as categorically denying the existence of a spiritual First Cause above or outside the world", what the Hell does that mean? He is just making up more crap. Is he talking about outer space? Or is he meaning beyond the universe? How does he know there is such a thing as "beyond the universe"? He doesnt. He is just making this shit up people! Now the author is putting pantheism into the same definition as materialism and atheism. Look everyone! The word salad is coming together nicely!
There are two systems of practical or moral atheism which call for attention. They are based upon the theoretic systems just expounded. One system of positive moral atheism, in which human actions would neither be right nor wrong, good nor evil, with reference to God, would naturally follow from the profession of positive theoretic atheism; and it is significant of those to whom such a form of theoretic atheism is sometimes attributed, that for the sanctions of moral actions they introduce such abstract ideas as those of duty, the social instinct, or humanity. There seems to be no particular reason why they should have recourse to such sanctions, since the morality of an action can hardly be derived from its performance as a duty, which in turn can be called and known as a "duty" only because it refers to an action that is morally good. Indeed an analysis of the idea of duty leads to a refutation of the principle in whose support it is invoked, and points to the necessity of a theistic interpretation of nature for its own justification.
First, he just outright claims that all morals held by atheists are "abstract". That social instinct is an "abstract duty" invented by atheists He falsely claims that any intention of atheists to form morals are ultimately a waste of time. Why? Because any morals outside of the Christian god would have "no particular reason" why they should be followed, and therefore leads to the refutation of non-theistic morals. Lets forget that theistic morals are VERY MUCH man made. Lets forget that love is still love, regardless of wether it comes from an atheist or a theist. No. this author is so shallow as to suggest that there is no reason to act social or peaceful or even moral unless one does so in the name of a god..HIS god to be precise. Because we all know it is a well known fact that when Christians become atheist, they kill their families and everyone they come across, and that Christians would NEVER start wars or steal or lie or kill someone. This word salad doesnt look to good anymore...too much bullshit dressing.
The second system of negative practical or moral atheism may be referred to the second type of theoretic atheism. It is like the first in not relating human actions to an extra-mundane, spiritual, and personal lawgiver; but that, not because such a lawgiver does not exist, but because the human intelligence is incapable of so relating them. It must not be forgotten, however, that either negative theoretic atheism or negative practical atheism is, as a system, strictly speaking compatible with belief in a God; and much confusion is often caused by the inaccurate use of the terms, belief, knowledge, opinion, etc.
Oh, I get it. NOW definitions mean something to you. It doesnt matter that you sliced and diced words like "dogmatic", "definite", "formally", and ultimately "atheism". Not to mention you spend an entire paragraph absolving yourself of any and all fuzzy terminiology that you use in this article. Not to mention you use already debunked arguments of authority, arguments from ignorance, strawmen, and flat out lies in your article. No. this is not enough for you! You have to go one step further and claim that atheists (read as "the strawman you have set up as an atheist") are the ones who are confussed and use inaccurate definitions of terms. We atheists can not even get the terminology for "opinion" or even "knowledge" correct. This author is a flat out ass!
There are so many shades and gradations of thought by which one form of a philosophy merges into another, so much that is opinionative and personal woven into the various individual expositions of systems, that, to be impartially fair, each individual must be classed by himself as atheist or theist. Indeed, more upon his own assertion or direct teaching than by reason of any supposed implication in the system he advocated must this classification be made. And if it is correct to consider the subject from this point of view, it is surprising to find to what an exceedingly small number the supposed atheistic ranks dwindle. In company with Socrates, nearly all the reputed Greek atheists strenuously repudiated the charge of teaching that there were no gods.
Atheism only seems shade and graded because you have made it LOOK shady and graded b throwing a strawman up in front of it to appease your ego and fear of death. Atheism is not dwindling. atheism has swelled in its ranks over the last few centuries. Also note that it is words like this, and authors of articles like this, that keep the fear of social stigma on atheists to prevent them from coming out and admiting they dont believe. Do I need proof for that statement? Notice that right after the author mentioned the "dwindling ranks of atheists" he mentions Socrates. Someone who was put to death for the charge of public atheism. He makes no mention of HOW the greek atheist were strenuously repudiated. I will tell you. Because it was a CAPITOL OFFENSE to claim public atheism. the author also forgot to mention that it was the PAGANS who repudiated Socrates, but this is not the point he wishes to make. Anything that makes more people look like Catholics and less like Atheists is fine with him. The author then rambles on and on claiming that all of the popular historic atheists were either stupid, misrepresented, or just plain out not atheist. I suppose one is expected to assume they were Catholic instead. This is yet another popular fallacy of believers against atheists, that there is no such thing as a true atheist. It is the fallacy he started his article on, then built up a strawman of to tear down, only to come back near the end to argue for another 3 straight paragraphs that there is no such thing as a true atheist. One wonders why he even bothered to repute atheists if he honestly thinks there is no such thing as atheists? and finally, as his grand ending, he devotes an entire paragraph to the biggest insult to atheists and atheism I have ever read:
Among the unscientific and unphilosophical there have from time to time been found dogmatic atheists of the first type. Here again, however, many of those popularly styled atheists are more correctly described by some other title. There is a somewhat rare tract, "Atheism Refuted in a Discourse to prove the Existence of God by T.P." — British Museum Catalogue, "Tom Paine", who was at one time popularly called an atheist. And perhaps, of the few who have upheld an indubitable form of positive theoretic atheism, none has been taken seriously enough to have exerted any influence upon the trend of philosophic or scientific thought. Robert Ingersoll might be instanced, but though popular speakers and writers of this type may create a certain amount of unlearned disturbance, they are not treated seriously by thinking men, and it is extremely doubtful whether they deserve a place in any historical or philosophical exposition of atheism.
How do you like that? The author has widdled down every single atheist in existence, except of course, for you. You are the only atheist in existence. You are alone, stupid, confussed, and ignorant. Besides, if you were paying attention to the article, then you would know that you really deep down believe that Jesus exists and the pope is right. You are an unlearned disturbance that should not be treated seriously by thinking men, and if you knew better, you would stop being so childish and become a Roman Catholic RIGHT NOW!
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Montaigne was a Deist, but refrained from candor about his beliefs due to the mutual slaughter between Catholics and French Huguenots of the time. "It is setting a high value upon our opinions," he wrote, "to roast men and women alive on account of them."