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"If there was no God, there would be no atheists." G.K. Chesterton


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Tektonics Apologetics Ministry
blogs4God
The Adarwinist reader
Bede's Library: the Alliance of Faith and Reason
A Christian Thinktank
Doxa:Christian theology and apologetics
He Lives
Mike Gene Teleologic
Errant Skeptics Research Institute
Stephen Jones' CreationEvolutionDesign
Touchstone: a journal of mere Christianity: mere comments
The Secularist Critique: Deconstructing secularism
Ex-atheist.com: I Wasn't Born Again Yesterday
imago veritatis by Alan Myatt
Solid Rock Ministries
The Internet Monk: a webjournal by Michael Spencer
The Sydney Line: the website of Keith Windschuttle
Miranda Devine's writings in the Sydney Morning Herald
David Horowitz frontpage magazine
Thoughts of a 21st century Christian Philosopher
one-eighty
Steven Lovell's philosophical themes from C.S.Lewis
Peter S. Williams Christian philosophy and apologetics
Shandon L. Guthrie
Clayton Cramer's Blog
Andrew Bolt columns
Ann Coulter columns




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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton


"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton


"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon


Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Correct Literal meaning of Atheism

 
"Etymology is the tracing of a word or other form back as far
as possible in its own language; the branch of linguistics that
deals with the origin and development of words"
(Webster's).


The Correct Literal Meaning

by Donn Day

The correct definition of the word "atheism" has been a source of contention with every atheist I have communicated with on the Internet...

As the quote at the top...states, etymology is the study of words, their origin and development. In ancient Greece, the word for "god" was "theos". Obviously, if "theos" meant god, then there would need to be a word that meant the opposite. By putting "a" in front of "theos" the word "atheos" was formed, which means "no god". In Greek "a" can also mean "without", although I think in this case "no" makes more sense. Taken this way a person that says, "no god(s)", is making a denial of the existence of god(s). Any confusion about whether it meant "without belief in god(s)", as modern atheists claim, would not have been a consideration at this point in time. It was simply a denial of god(s) existence.

These two words, "theos" and "atheos" are the root words from where we get "theism" and "atheism": "ism" means; "Greek -ismos; orig. suffix of action or of state, forming nouns from verbs." It's usage today is a "doctrine, theory, system, etc." (Webster's).

At the time "theos" came in to existence, there was no formal "doctrine of god" so "theism" developed sometime later, most likely during the (French) Enlightenment. This period of time is also when the modern form of "atheism" came into existence as well. This tracing of the development of a word is also part of etymology.

Once more formal doctrines came into being, then the word "theism" was created."Theos" god; "ism", belief or doctrine. Thus, the modern use of the word "theism", belief in God. We must remember, however, that the literal, Greek root for "theism" is "theos". "Atheos" then, in modern usage, means "no/without belief in god". But just like the word "theos" (god) is the root, literal meaning of "theism", so too, "atheos"(no god), is the root word for "atheism". That's why when you look in a dictionary, or encyclopedia under the word "atheism", they list the Greek, literal meaning as, "a denial of god(s)."

The following are the definitions offered by two dictionaries of Etymology. The word is followed by the accepted literal meaning from the Greek root word.

Atheism: a + theos, denying god,
Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology-1966.

Atheism: all are coined words from the Greek atheos, denying the gods, a word introduced into the Latin by Cicero in the form; atheos, a-, negative, prefix, and theos, a god,
Etymological Dictionary of English Language-1958.

As we shall see, current Dictionaries, Encyclopedias, and Philosophical Sources, follow the literal meaning when giving the standard usage of the word. Since many of the following definitions use the word "disbelief", we need to have a correct definition of that word as well.

Disbelief: The refusal to believe that something is true
Cambridge International Dictionary of English-1995.

Disbelief: Refusal or reluctance to believe
American Heritage Dictionary of English Language-1996.


cont...

10:46:00 pm