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  1. #1
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    The Theistic Definition Thread

    While skimming Wikipedia, I came upon a wealth of terms relating to beliefs and views of deities and thought that we could use these definitions to standardize our debating vocabulary. That way, one person's agnostic won't be another's weak atheist.

    To start off, let's define the object of belief: the deity:
    A deity or a god, is a postulated preternatural being, usually, but not always, of significant power, worshipped, thought holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, or respected by human beings. They assume a variety of forms, but are frequently depicted as having human or animal form. Sometimes it is considered blasphemous to imagine the deity as having any concrete form. They are usually immortal. They are commonly assumed to have personalities and to possess consciousness, intellects, desires, and emotions much like humans. Such natural phenomena as lightning, floods, storms, other "acts of God”, and miracles are attributed to them, and they may be thought to be the authorities or controllers of every aspect of human life (such as birth or the afterlife). Some deities are asserted to be the directors of time and fate itself, to be the givers of human law and morality, to be the ultimate judges of human worth and behavior, and to be the designers and creators of the Earth or the universe. Some of these "gods" have no power at all-they are simply worshipped.

    To start off, let's define theism:
    Theism is the belief in one or more gods or goddesses. More specifically, it may also mean the belief in God, a god, or gods, who is/are actively involved in maintaining the Universe.

    Theism can be divided into many categories. One such category is monotheism:
    Monotheism is the belief in a single, universal, all-encompassing deity.
    Of course, this encompasses religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and a few others. It also includes Deism:
    Historical and modern Deism is defined by the view that reason, rather than revelation or tradition, should be the basis of belief in God. Deists reject organized religion and promote reason as the essential element in making moral decisions. This "rational" basis was usually founded upon the cosmological argument (first cause argument), the teleological argument (argument from design) , and other aspects of what was called natural religion. Deism has become identified with the classical belief that God created but does not intervene in the world, though this is not a necessary component of deism.
    Pantheism would also fall under monotheism:
    Pantheism (Greek: pan = all and Theos = God) literally means "God is All" and "All is God". It is the view that everything is of an all-encompassing immanent God; or that the universe, or nature, and God are equivalent. More detailed definitions tend to emphasize the idea that natural law, existence and/or the universe (the sum total of all that is was and shall be) is represented or personified in the theological principle of 'God'.
    Polytheism is belief in, or worship of, multiple gods or divinities.
    Atheism, in its broadest sense, is characterized by an absence of belief in the existence of gods, thus contrasting with theism. This definition includes both those who assert that there are no gods and those who have no belief at all regarding the existence of gods. However, narrower definitions often only qualify the former as atheism, the latter falling under the more general term nontheism.
    There are some variations in atheism, including strong atheism:

    Strong atheism, sometimes called positive atheism, hard atheism or gnostic atheism, is the philosophical position that deities do not exist. It is a form of explicit atheism, meaning that it consciously rejects theism. It is contrasted with weak atheism, which is the lack or absence of belief in deities, without the additional claim that deities do not exist. The strong atheist positively asserts, at the very least, that no deities exist, and may go further and claim that the existence of some or all gods is logically impossible.
    Weak atheism:
    Weak atheism also called negative atheism or implicit atheism is the lack of belief in any god or gods, without a positive denial of the existence of any god or gods. Weak atheism contrasts with strong or explicit atheism, which asserts that no gods exist, and theism, which asserts that there is at least one god. The weak atheist generally gives a broad definition of atheism as "lack or absence of belief in a god or gods", which defines atheism as a range of positions that entail non-belief, disbelief, doubt, or denial of theism. A narrower definition of atheism as "denial of the existence of gods" (synonymous with strong atheism) is also in common use. Those who favor this definition prefer to use other terms, such as agnosticism, for skepticism, though this is semantical and theist can also be agnostics and/or skeptics. It should be noted that a strong atheist also fits the definition of a weak atheist, but that the reverse is not necessarily true: a strong atheist lacks god beliefs, but a weak atheist does not necessarily deny the existence of god(s).
    A word that is sometimes used instead of weak atheism is nontheism:
    Nontheism (or non-theism), broadly conceived, is the absence of belief in both the existence and non-existence of a deity (or deities, or other numinous phenomena). The word is often employed as a blanket term for all belief systems that are not theistic, including atheism (both strong and weak) and agnosticism, as well as certain Eastern religions like Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism. This usage is somewhat misleading, however.
    Agnosticism is the philosophical view that the truth values of certain claims—particularly theological claims regarding the existence of God, gods, or deities—are unknown, inherently unknowable, or incoherent, and therefore, (some agnostics may go as far to say) irrelevant to life. The term and the related agnostic were coined by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1869, and are also used to describe those who are unconvinced or noncommittal about the existence of deities as well as other matters of religion. The word agnostic comes from the Greek a (without) and gnosis (knowledge). Agnosticism is not to be confused with a view specifically opposing the doctrine of gnosis and Gnosticism—these are religious concepts that are not generally related to agnosticism.
    Strong agnosticism:
    Strong agnosticism or positive agnosticism is the belief that it is impossible for humans to know whether or not any God or gods exist.
    Weak agnosticism:
    Weak agnosticism, or empirical agnosticism (also negative agnosticism), is the belief that the existence or nonexistence of deities is currently unknown, but is not necessarily unknowable.
    It should be noted that agnotistics are not necessarily atheists. Agnostic theists do exist:
    Agnostic theism is the philosophy that encompasses both theism and agnosticism. An agnostic theist is one who disavows knowledge of God's existence but chooses to believe in God in spite of this.
    Beyond atheism and agnosicism, there are other related terms, such as Apatheism:
    Apatheism is the position that God, is of no real import to one's daily life. An Apatheist holds that human beings need not concern themselves with the issue of divinity. While apatheism is related to agnosticism, to an apatheist the question of God which God (a moot point considering an Apatheist's definition of God), if any, is correct—simply isn't worth asking. Apatheism is not synonymous to atheism or agnosticism, and is contrapositive to all forms of theism.

    The defining question for an apatheist is: How would you behave if it were proved beyond a doubt that there is—or is not—a God? The answer would be, "I would have no reason to act any differently."
    A philosophy that combines Apatheism with agnosticism is apathetic agnosicism, which has the following beliefs:
    1. The existence of a Supreme Being is unknown and unknowable.To believe in the existence of a god is an act of faith. To believe in the nonexistence of a god is likewise an act of faith. There is no evidence that there is a Supreme Being nor is there evidence there is not a Supreme Being. Faith is not knowledge. We can only state with assurance that we do not know.

    2. If there is a Supreme Being, then that being appears to act as if apathetic to events in our universe.

    All events in our Universe, including its creation, can be explained with or without the existence of a Supreme Being. Thus, if there is indeed a God, then that god has had no more impact than no god at all. To all appearances, any purported Supreme Being is indifferent to our Universe and to its inhabitants.

    3. We are apathetic to the existence or nonexistence of a Supreme Being.

    If there is a God, and that God does not appear to care, then there is no reason to concern ourselves with whether or not a Supreme Being exists, nor should we have any interest in satisfying the purported needs of that Supreme Being. However, our apathy to the question of God's existence does not necessarily mean we are apathetic about promoting agnosticism.
    Ignosticism (often confused with apathetic agnosticism or apatheism) is the view that the question of the existence of God is scientifically meaningless because it has no verifiable (or testable) consequences and should therefore be ignored. The term was coined by Rabbi Sherwin Wine, founder of the Society for Humanistic Judaism.
    Formerly Neverending (for all you old-timers)

  2. #2
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    Re: The Theistic Definition Thread

    I want to be a pantheist - but what symbol could we use here at ODN to signify religious affiliation. How about a big circle with nothing in it?

    I also liked Agnostic theism - a symbol for this might be a straight jacket.
    While laughing at others stupidity, you may want to contemplate your own comedic talents. (link)
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  3. #3
    ODN Administrator

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    Re: The Theistic Definition Thread

    Of course I realize this is REALLLLLLLY after the fact but...

    Neverending, I hadn't really read the definitions of some of these words before. Thanks...

    BTW, I was pantheist before I was atheist, and monotheist before that...
    "And that, my lord, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped." ~ Monty Python

  4. #4
    Owner / Senior Admin

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    Re: The Theistic Definition Thread

    The Glossary feature is Live! Feel free to add these terms to the glossary.
    Senior Administrator

    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. - Thomas Jefferson

  5. #5
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    Re: The Theistic Definition Thread

    All of which fit into the main categories of theism or atheism.

  6. #6
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    Re: The Theistic Definition Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning View Post
    All of which fit into the main categories of theism or atheism.
    There is a third category: undecided.
    While laughing at others stupidity, you may want to contemplate your own comedic talents. (link)
    Disclaimer: This information is being provided for informational, educational, and entertainment purposes only.



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