Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Fweethawt

'Atheist' was 'A theist'?

Recommended Posts

In all my years of listening, countless hours of reading and even more hours of discussing the history of religion, I don’t recall ever hearing this one.

 

The term 'atheist' was originally used as a term to describe Christians during the transformation of civilizations from polytheism to monotheism. Instead of 'atheist', they would be referred to as, 'a Theist'.

 

Anybody ever hear of this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LMAO.

 

Sure, that play on words works in modern English, but I don't think they were speaking English at the outset of Christianity. Sounds like a load of poppycock.

 

The term atheism comes from the ancient Greek word "atheos," which means "without god(s)."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was once a theist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

     No, since "a" in Greek would mean "without" or "apart from" as opposed to an indefinite article like in English.

 

          mwc

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think ‘atheist’ has always meant ‘not a theist’.

I do believe that Christians were sometimes condemned as ‘atheists’ by pagan Romans, because they didn’t believe in enough gods.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Fweethawt said:

In all my years of listening, countless hours of reading and even more hours of discussing the history of religion, I don’t recall ever hearing this one.

 

The term 'atheist' was originally used as a term to describe Christians during the transformation of civilizations from polytheism to monotheism. Instead of 'atheist', they would be referred to as, 'a Theist'.

 

Anybody ever hear of this?

It could have originated like this.

 

Simon. Are you a theist?

 

David. What did you say? Atheist?

 

Simon. Yes, a theist.

 

David. No I'm not atheist.

 

Simon. Oh you're not a theist.

 

Simon later at church. "There's a godless heathen who lives among us!

 

 

 

 

  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had not heard of that.

 

Good to see you Fwee.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/6/2020 at 9:07 AM, Fweethawt said:

In all my years of listening, countless hours of reading and even more hours of discussing the history of religion, I don’t recall ever hearing this one.

 

The term 'atheist' was originally used as a term to describe Christians during the transformation of civilizations from polytheism to monotheism. Instead of 'atheist', they would be referred to as, 'a Theist'.

 

Anybody ever hear of this?

 

Well, I have read that ancient writers considered the early christians atheists because they didn't believe that the pagan gods existed. So they were without the gods, so to speak. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

     Here's a bit from Plato:



So do not deem that 1, men of Athens, should practice such things before you which I hold to be neither noble nor just nor pious, and certainly, by Zeus, above all not when I am being prosecuted d 18 for impiety by Meletus here. For plainly, if I should persuade and force you by begging, after you have sworn an oath, I would be teaching you not to hold that there are gods, and in making my defense speech I would simply be accusing myself of not believing in gods. But that is far from being so. For I believe, men of Athens, as none of my accusers does. And I turn it over to you and to the god to judge me in whatever way it is going to be best both for me and for you.

 

[The jury votes on Socrates’ innocence or guilt, and a majority finds him guilty as charged. Meletus then makes a speech proposing the death penalty, and Socrates must offer a counterproposal.]

     The whole thing is rather long so I'm just posted this very small section.  Anyhow, Socrates is accused of being atheist because for not "believing" in the local gods.  He argues he believes in a god and spiritual things (it's hard to describe in a couple of words).  Anyhow, as you can see here he sums up and is found guilty as an atheist.  It's not that he doesn't believe or have some sort of god(s) but that he doesn't have (all) the correct gods.

 

     This was the same problem for the Jews/xians.  They had a god.  That wasn't enough to avoid a charge or atheism.

 

          mwc

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

     To follow on to what I was writing above.  Here's Justin Martyr (Apology I):

Chapter 4. Christians unjustly condemned for their mere name

By the mere application of a name, nothing is decided, either good or evil, apart from the actions implied in the name; and indeed, so far at least as one may judge from the name we are accused of, we are most excellent people. But as we do not think it just to beg to be acquitted on account of the name, if we be convicted as evil-doers, so, on the other hand, if we be found to have committed no offense, either in the matter of thus naming ourselves, or of our conduct as citizens, it is your part very earnestly to guard against incurring just punishment, by unjustly punishing those who are not convicted. For from a name neither praise nor punishment could reasonably spring, unless something excellent or base in action be proved. And those among yourselves who are accused you do not punish before they are convicted; but in our case you receive the name as proof against us, and this although, so far as the name goes, you ought rather to punish our accusers. For we are accused of being Christians, and to hate what is excellent (Chrestian) is unjust. Again, if any of the accused deny the name, and say that he is not a Christian, you acquit him, as having no evidence against him as a wrong-doer; but if any one acknowledge that he is a Christian, you punish him on account of this acknowledgment. Justice requires that you inquire into the life both of him who confesses and of him who denies, that by his deeds it may be apparent what kind of man each is. For as some who have been taught by the Master, Christ, not to deny Him, give encouragement to others when they are put to the question, so in all probability do those who lead wicked lives give occasion to those who, without consideration, take upon them to accuse all the Christians of impiety and wickedness. And this also is not right. For of philosophy, too, some assume the name and the garb who do nothing worthy of their profession; and you are well aware, that those of the ancients whose opinions and teachings were quite diverse, are yet all called by the one name of philosophers. And of these some taught atheism; and the poets who have flourished among you raise a laugh out of the uncleanness of Jupiter with his own children. And those who now adopt such instruction are not restrained by you; but, on the contrary, you bestow prizes and honours upon those who euphoniously insult the gods.

Chapter 5. Christians charged with atheism

Why, then, should this be? In our case, who pledge ourselves to do no wickedness, nor to hold these atheistic opinions, you do not examine the charges made against us; but, yielding to unreasoning passion, and to the instigation of evil demons, you punish us without consideration or judgment. For the truth shall be spoken; since of old these evil demons, effecting apparitions of themselves, both defiled women and corrupted boys, and showed such fearful sights to men, that those who did not use their reason in judging of the actions that were done, were struck with terror; and being carried away by fear, and not knowing that these were demons, they called them gods, and gave to each the name which each of the demons chose for himself. And when Socrates endeavoured, by true reason and examination, to bring these things to light, and deliver men from the demons, then the demons themselves, by means of men who rejoiced in iniquity, compassed his death, as an atheist and a profane person, on the charge that he was introducing new divinities; and in our case they display a similar activity. For not only among the Greeks did reason (Logos) prevail to condemn these things through Socrates, but also among the Barbarians were they condemned by Reason (or the Word, the Logos) Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ; and in obedience to Him, we not only deny that they who did such things as these are gods, but assert that they are wicked and impious demons, whose actions will not bear comparison with those even of men desirous of virtue.

Chapter 6. Charge of atheism refuted

Hence are we called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity. But both Him, and the Son (who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him), and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth, and declaring without grudging to every one who wishes to learn, as we have been taught.

          mwc

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, mwc said:

     Here's a bit from Plato:

 

 

     The whole thing is rather long so I'm just posted this very small section.  Anyhow, Socrates is accused of being atheist because for not "believing" in the local gods.  He argues he believes in a god and spiritual things (it's hard to describe in a couple of words).  Anyhow, as you can see here he sums up and is found guilty as an atheist.  It's not that he doesn't believe or have some sort of god(s) but that he doesn't have (all) the correct gods.

 

     This was the same problem for the Jews/xians.  They had a god.  That wasn't enough to avoid a charge or atheism.

 

          mwc

 

 

Indeed, I've heard about that. Just for clarification, my prior post was only addressing the OP reference to a claim that the term "atheist" was derived from "a theist," which simply is not true.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Citsonga said:

 

Indeed, I've heard about that. Just for clarification, my prior post was only addressing the OP reference to a claim that the term "atheist" was derived from "a theist," which simply is not true.

     I hope it didn't look like I was trying to undermine your post or anything since you're were absolutely correct in your answer.

 

          mwc

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, mwc said:

     I hope it didn't look like I was trying to undermine your post or anything since you're were absolutely correct in your answer.

 

          mwc

 

 

I didn't think so, but I was clarifying just in case there was confusion. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And now the christians try and treat us the same way that polytheists were treating them - with contempt. Simply because we took it one, logical step further. And concluded that none of the gods are real and dropped the whole thing. If they could persecute us for it, they probably would. 

 

That's why I've suggested in the past that it was a logical evolution to go from believing in gods, to refining it to belief in just one god, to finally seeing people drop the one god belief for no god belief. In this way, monotheists represent a stage on the road to refining and then dropping god belief altogether. Even with respect to refining down to monotheism for mainly political reasons, it was a logical transition. One, transcendent overall god. The rest, make believe. But wait, if the rest are make believe, then why couldn't the one over all god be make believe as well? 

 

Hello atheism, the logical conclusion!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.