shadowcass wrote:"I don't want a dictionary definition" is that a fair statement after specifically asking me what I think the word means? The meaning of the word is IN the "dictionary definition" as far as interpersonal communication is concerned. If you don't LIKE the dictionary definition you either need to explain what you mean BY the word (the subjective meaning you assign to it based on your feelings and assumptions) or find a different word that will avoid confusion.
No two dictionaries will give the exact same definition, and each will give multiple variations, as we have seen, although, as I said already, definition number 2 was pretty close.
I am not giving a subjective interpretation of the word "atheism", I am breaking it down and telling you what each part means. "A" means "without", and "theism" means "god belief", so the purest definition of the word is "without God belief".
What's so complicated about that?
That's all atheism is, in a nutshell. Some atheists will take it further than that, and declare confident belief bordering on proof of the non-existence of any God, and for that stance the term "strong atheist" is usually used.
The problem with the dictionaries is that these definitions are often not coming from atheists themselves, they are distorted and misinterpreted. If you want to know what atheism really is, you should ask an atheist, not a dictionary. Same with Christianity. I am sure many Christians will be unsatisfied with the simplistic dictionary definition of their belief system.
shadowcass wrote:When I was in school (which is, admittedly, a LONG time ago). Atheism was the ACTIVE denial of the existence of God as exemplified by Madalyn Murray O'Hare---whom I remember WELL---and agnosticism was the LACK of belief in God which you NOW want to file under atheism. But then there are those who think you can use "infer" and "imply" interchangeably, so who am I to quibble with you?
If you want to get technical, atheism is lack of God belief, and agnosticism is the belief that knowledge of God is impossible. Don't believe everything you hear in school.
shadowcass wrote:The language is going to hell and soon no one will understand ANYONE anymore.
That may be the case, but I believe it is you and others who have distorted the true meaning of the word.
shadowcass wrote:As for your other statements here. Look, just being able to counterfeit an experience in a laboratory using a drug does not invalidate the claims of those who have experienced the contact WITHOUT chemical stimulus. Not to mention the fact that one could hardly call it a "natural" brain state if it required the ingestion of an alien substance.
What happens in the lab is perfectly capable of happening in the real world. These are not alien substances. Lots of natural circumstances can bring about mystical like experiences, for instance, the ingestion of natural plants, magnetic fields, exposure to high altitude, oxygen deprivation, centrifugal force, and so on, and so on.
The point is not that these experiences disprove mystical experiences as being supernatural, they simply make it perfectly reasonable to assume they are not.
shadowcass wrote:The really interesting thing about these experiences is that they can come "out of nowhere".
So can hallucinations, and seizures, and strokes.
I have not heard of many cases where they literally "came out of nowhere" though, usually the story goes something like "I was in a really beautiful natural place and then", or "I was contemplating the Bible and wondering about whether God really existed and then", or "I was in great danger and then", or "I was in a deep state of meditation, and then", etc, etc.
shadowcass wrote:You don't need to engage in any particular religious discipline or yogic practice or take any drug. Sometimes they just come "of themselves" and change that person's life forever.
Sometimes atheists have them during meditation, and they continue to be atheists, what's your point?
shadowcass wrote:Now this "experience"--this "contact" happens to people from all cultures and all walks of life. It pays no attention to any particular theology except in the sense that those who experience it experience it in the symbols they are used to.
I don't find this impressive, or surprising. We are all closely related, biologically, and our brains work in the same way.
shadowcass wrote:Naturally those who haven't experienced it are likely to expend a lot of time and energy in trying to explain it away---the way scientists and skeptics deal with Alien Abductions and Cryptozoological Sightings and Paranormal Encounters.
Most of the time the explanation is fairly simple, actually. There is no proof that any of the above is supernatural in any way.
Ever wonder why the neighbours don't get photographs of an alien abduction in progress? Here's a hint, it happens solely in the mind of the experiencer. You know what we call events that happen solely in the mind of the experiencer and have no impact on the outside world? Imaginary - ie, not real
shadowcass wrote:But here is a vast gulf between skepticism and a closed mind. If I may quote C. G. Jung here: "I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud."
I haven't mentioned the word "fraud" once. There is no need, in the majority of cases.
shadowcass wrote:Now I'll tell you: I have experienced contact with a Being I can only call God---you say it was an hallucination...I say it wasn't...so where do we go from here?
We don't go anywhere. You carry on believing, and I continue to await convincing evidence.
"All of our behavior can be traced to biological events about which we have no conscious knowledge: this has always suggested that free will is an illusion."
- Sam Harris