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Friday, March 19th, 2010, 10:06 am

I am NOT an ‘atheist’

Experience has taught me the role of words — not just sentence structure and arguments — in playing with one’s built-in interpretations and connotations. It may vary across cultures, but different cultures usually have different languages/dialects, so there is something universal about connotations within any particular culture. Communication between commons leads to an equilibrium or an agreement on what’s acceptable and what’s not. These are usually incorporated into one’s mind at a young age using imagery, as opposed to strict definitions of words. The way we interpret text and speech (sequences of words) very much differs from the way a computer does that.

Language is a funny thing. By controlling the vocabulary people can control thought. What sounds worse? Open Source, Free software, non-Free software, proprietary software, non-proprietary software, freedom software, licensed code, rented code, or licence to rent binaries? Depending on how this debate is posed, people will judge differently, based on prejudices and assumptions.

What are people defined by? ‘What’ am I? Not an atheist, that’s for sure, as people do not get described through negation — that is, things they do not adhere to. Can one be called a “spaghetti monster denier”? Or “pink unicorns rejectionist”? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. So what word best describes a person who adheres to the real world (or by extension, the universe)? We probably don’t have such a word, at least not in common usage. George Orwell warned about this. Lacking words that we can use, certain modes of thinking can be marginalised as they cannot be communicated. So what word better describes realists? “Logicians” maybe? Basing one’s view of life on reality, based on facts and observations, rejecting the unfounded and accepting that which is proven through rigourous tests — what is it called? Evidence-based reality is a much simpler one, but maybe not as satisfying as fairy tales, fantasy, and destinies that are never to be known (because — by definition — they come ‘after’ life, however this may actually work).

Playing the game of words helps one daemonise one side and win a debate before it’s even started, all through presumptuous labeling. That’s why I don’t call myself an “atheist”, even though others might call me that.

One Response to “I am NOT an ‘atheist’”

  1. Scott Tobkes Says:

    someone said… “There’s no need for the word “atheist” as there’s no need for a word describing not believing in witchcraft.”

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