Welcome once again to Feedback Fridays where in I take actual viewer mail and reply to it with my own special blend of herbs and spices! This comment, presented in it’s entirety from THIS post, was the beginning of an enlightening exchange about the definition of the word “Atheist” (or “Atheism”) which continued on following posts:
Meh, …Interesting that you simply announce the definition of atheist, as if it were up to you to declare the meaning of the word. As long as we are throwing the word ‘stupid’ around, that’s in there.
And yes, not only is this his entire comment, but he chose to begin with “Meh.” Also, I’m not sure what he meant by “As long as we are throwing the word ‘stupid’ around, that’s in there.” Stupid is in Atheism? I don’t think that was his point, but maybe it should have been mine? But I digress. I replied:
Thanks for your comment, Dan,
I hope you can at least appreciate that I define clearly what I mean when I use the word. I know there is some dispute about it, but if you mean something different when you use it, at least you know what I mean when I use it.
And frankly, I think anyone can and ought to declare the meaning of words. That’s how we come to understand each other. Step one, define your terms. I find a lot of arguments stem from people either misusing words, or believing they are using words the same when they are not.
To my surprise he had more to say:
Equivocation is not a virtue.
But not MUCH to say. This was his ENTIRE reply. And I said:
Thank you for your comment.
Equivocation is a big word. I’ll bet some kid won a spelling bee with that one.
Bravely, he chose to educate me further:
Alternatively, my criticism was clearly aimed at your assumption of authority to declare what the term means in general. You in turn talk about declaring definitions so that we can understand each other. Your decision to shift the meaning of the term is equivocation. Feel free to pretend otherwise.
So I said: Thanks again for your comment, Danny,
I understood what you mean, but I am saying we carry the same authority. Case in point: What authority do you have or claim which trumps my authority to define what I mean by the usage of a word? Especially since I can find MANY others who make the same use I do across history and modern usage.
In truth, your criticism is hypocritical since you are claiming the authority to condemn my usage of a word by saying I lack the authority to define it. What gives you the authority to tell me MY definition is wrong? The sword cuts both ways.
Feel free to pretend otherwise.
And what is with that? “Feel free to pretend otherwise?” Is that a thing? Are the kids saying that these days? Sounds kinda childish. What ever happened to reasoned discourse based on logical analysis of agreed upon distinctions and observational data, or, in other circumstances, “Neener Neener,” or even, “I know you are but what I am”?
Come on- that’s funny right there. I don’t care who you are…
Danny, doing his best impersonation of a High School honors English Lit Teacher replied:
Alternatively, when someone makes a claim about their own beliefs, the question of what that word means is explicitly a question about what they themselves mean by it. Your attempt to deny that through prescriptivist approaches to vocabulary is the moment someone claims authority in the argument. Now you project that onto me and make lectures about reasoned discourse. Reasoned discourse? Have a look at your video. Simply read the title. Or for that matter, look at the pathetic efforts you’ve made in this conversation. I am reasoning child. You are not.
Thanks again for your comments, Danny,
But nothing? I thought my closing comments were at least worth a “Ha ha” or a “You think you’re funny,” or SOME acknowledgement that I tried to make a funny reply.
Man. Tough crowd.
Anyhoo, if you watch my “Atheists Angry that I define Atheism to mean Atheism” series, you will see why I find it not only wrong but intellectually dishonest to try and shift the definition of Atheism to mean a mere lack of faith. In short, it removes a useful word which HAD a clear meaning, it removes from atheists the title of their stance, and it is only a childish attempt to void the burden of proof, which fails anyway.
Go watch those videos. They are funny.
As for my videos, if all you have done is read the title, or, as many have, watch the first eight seconds and then decide you know all I have to say, you need to try a little harder. And I’ve projected nothing. You started this dialogue about my definition of the word. You said, “Interesting that you simply announce the definition of atheist, as if it were up to you to declare the meaning of the word.” In one quippy reply you imply condemnation for me defining a word so that I can be understood, and you reject my definition as if it was one I invented. You don’t have the right to do so, and you don’t have the dictionary behind you now or in the past. If you are going to start calling names because I am pointing out your logical fallacies, perhaps you had better find a different Christian apologist to “take to task” as it were. I have an irritating habit of replying to what is said and reading prior comments before replying.
You have described this as “pathetic” and now I demand you defend this description with reason. I believe I have responded well and in response to what you have said.
But at the end of the day, I’m glad you are Reasoning Child. Secretly I am Philosophy Man. Perhaps we should team up and fight crime together?
See, because you said “I am reasoning child. You are not.” Get it? I took that to mean…
oh, never mind.
Is this an audience or an oil painting?
And he offered a GREAT closing argument to the discussion:
You demand? No, you are not a philosophy man. You are a child playing a game, no more and no less.
To which I said:
You’re very kind, Danny, but I’m actually dangerously near to 40 years old.
Oh, wait, you were making a witty come back at my last comment. My bad.
I guess you are an oil painting.
These are the jokes, Danny. You get what you pay for.