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Terms and Definitions - The Strong Atheism Lexicon

by Francois Tremblay



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  • Agnosticism: a (meaning “without”) gnosis (“knowledge”). Agnosticism is the position where one claims they cannot know whether a God or Gods exists. This lack of knowledge may be viewed as temporary (weak agnosticism) or permanent (strong agnosticism).
  • Atheism: a (“without”) the (“deity”, or “god”). Atheism is a lack of belief in a god or gods.
  • Atheology: the study of the nature of the god-question and the god-concept from an atheistic perspective.
  • Axiom: A statement that identifies the base of knowledge and of any further statement pertaining to that knowledge. The identification of a primary fact of reality which cannot be analyzed, or reduced/broken into any further component parts, and is implicit in all facts and knowledge. A statement necessarily contained in all others, whether identified or not. An axiom is an undeniable and inescapable truth. This is to say that, in order to deny it or escape it, one must necessarily accept it, making any such attempts inherently self-contradictory, and thus false, at the outset.

     

  • Deism: the belief that a god created the world and then left it to run on its own. Popular during the Enlightenment period. The analogy often used to explain it is that of a clock maker who constructs the watch and then leaves it, allowing it to operate on its own.

     

  • Empiricism: The view that experience, especially of the senses, is the only source of knowledge.
  • Epistemology: the philosophical study of knowledge and the methods of how to acquire it.
  • Existentialism: A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one’s acts.

     

  • Faith: the category of epistemic methods based on introspection: i.e. attempting awareness of existence from inside our minds. There exists a number of faith methods, including emotionalism, authority, and denial. Generally employed within the boundaries of religious systems.
  • Fatalism: The doctrine that all events are predetermined by fate and are therefore unalterable.

     

  • Hedonism: the doctrine which holds the standard of the good and morality as whatever gives pleasure per se. This theory substitutes ethical purpose for ethical standard, stating (in essence) “the proper value is whatever you happen to value.” Objectivism rejects this formulation.

     

  • Logic: Broadly, the art of non-contradictory identification, using the laws of logic, which are the: 1) Law of Identity (A is A); 2) Law of Non-Contradiction (A cannot be ~A); and 3) Excluded Middle (B can be either A or not ~A).

     

  • Metaphysics: the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the universe as a whole.
  • Monotheism: the belief that one god exists.
  • Morality: the study of action (right and wrong).

     

  • Nihilism: commonly defined as “belief in nothing” or “denial of existence” (see also philosophical skepticism) or the view that value and meaning do not exist.
  • Noncognitivism: the position that propositions about god are meaningless.

     

  • Objectivism: a philosophical system founded by Ayn Rand, being one of several doctrines holding that all reality is objective and external to the mind and that knowledge is reliably based on observed objects and events. The five central concepts of Objectivism are objectivity, reason, rational self-interest, libertarianism and romantic realism.

     

  • Philosophical Skepticism: The doctrine that no fact or principle can be certainly known; the tenet that all knowledge is uncertain. Different from the common “skepticism”, a position that demands extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims.
  • Polytheism: the belief that more then one god exists.
  • Pragmatism: A movement consisting of varying but associated theories, originally developed by Charles S. Peirce and William James and distinguished by the doctrine that the meaning of an idea or a proposition lies in its observable practical consequences.

     

  • Reason: the category of epistemic methods based on extrospection – i.e. awareness of existence outside of our minds. There exists three main methods – which are logic, sense perception and concept-formation.
  • Reductionism: The position that higher structures of matter can be explained by the emergent properties of units acting on each other.

     

  • Solipsism: theory that the self is the only thing that can be known and verified, or that the self is the only reality.

     

  • Theism: the belief that a god or gods exist. (See monotheism and polytheism.)
  • Theology: The study of the nature of God and religious truth.

     

    Last updated: January 1, 2005