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  1. #1 Words 
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    Are there words that are associated with religion, that have accepted use in atheism as well. Examples: Sacred. Spirit. Communion. (loads more. )

    atheists, what are your thoughts on words such as this? Personally, I am never comfortable using them because of their religious overtones, but by the same token they are rich words that do not necessarily equate to a theistic point of view.


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  3. #2  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    not to use words because they have religious overtones or origins is as silly as deciding not to use phrases coined by Shakespeare - you just make your language poorer for it


    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    What about americans going "Oh my god!" every chance they get, theist and atheist alike?
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  5. #4  
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    The American use of "oh my god" would seem to be an example of an expression becoming poorer, for overuse.

    What about the word 'blessed.' Since this one implies a blessor, ie God, it probably has less currency among atheists than a word such as 'spirit.'
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    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    I always think of "spiritual" as not necessarily connected to a god. Other words can be thought of as non-theistic as well. Blessed = lucky, spirit = strength, etc.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    What about the word 'blessed.'
    can you think of anything fonder to say about someone than "aah, bless him/her" ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  8. #7  
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    Bless your wee soul, Marnix. :-D
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    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    The use of spiritual ticks me off royally. Say you are standing on a mountainside enjoying an absolutely incredible view and feeling almost at one with the rocks and the yellow bellied marmots, and your companion sighs "This is a spiritual experience", well how does a good atheist respond? "Yes it is" implies there is a God lurking in the scenery, perhaps putting the finishing touches to that outcrop down in the valley. "No it bloody isn't" implies you are a cold, boorish, person unappreciative of nature's sheer poetry.

    Find a better word, please.

    I hate it with all my soul.

    :wink:
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  10. #9  
    Forum Masters Degree geezer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    The use of spiritual ticks me off royally. Say you are standing on a mountainside enjoying an absolutely incredible view and feeling almost at one with the rocks and the yellow bellied marmots, and your companion sighs "This is a spiritual experience", well how does a good atheist respond? "Yes it is" implies there is a God lurking in the scenery, perhaps putting the finishing touches to that outcrop down in the valley. "No it bloody isn't" implies you are a cold, boorish, person unappreciative of nature's sheer poetry.

    Find a better word, please.

    I hate it with all my soul.

    :wink:
    if a word offends you it is really a fault in you, rather than the speaker, just ignore it and reply "yes it is a very beautiful view" ( bringing there statement back to reality ), if they want to call it spiritual thats there perogative.

    it's the poor use of words I dislike,( and I'm not at all perfect myself, ) it has nothing to do with atheism, I dislike the fact that we now go to the extreme with our word usage IE instead of saying something was good, when it simply was good it now becomes amazing, instead of saying we are feeling a little aggravated/irritated, when we are a little aggravated/irritated, we now say stressed, and instead of saying i'm hungry, we'll say starving.
    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense - Buddha"
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    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    I'm going Bunburying here:

    Words like 'spiritual', whether or not directly related to religion, are hugely emotionally loaded to most people, and have connotations that the speaker cannot always control for. As an atheist and not just an atheist but a strict materialist; as a strict materialist and not just a strict materialist but a mechanist (in terms of theory of mind), I find the word spiritual not something that will enter my conversation, except as a quotation.

    Similarly, Bless you sounds alright and I'll use it a lot myself (or even the Brit "Ah bless..."), but I always find my gander rising when someone (usually an older person) says "God bless" or "God bless you" to me. Perhaps for them it's simply a conventional phrase but for me it comes with the word attached that is guaranteed to raise my hackles.

    Even as innocent-seeming a word as 'wise' is one that I avoid these days simply because I cannot think of how I would use it in a world inundated in "wise, spiritual souls" who re-energise themselves by aligning their crystals and chakras to the ley lines running through Stonehenge and the Cerne Abbas Giant.

    I suppose it's a balance for each individual - the context and connotations around you may be different from the way they are around me - after all even the word liberal has different connotations in the States and the UK - and it always confuses me when talking politics with my USian cousins.

    Hope this helps, or if not, at least puts another perspective into the kaleidoscope...
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    Forum Ph.D. Cat1981(England)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    The use of spiritual ticks me off royally. Say you are standing on a mountainside enjoying an absolutely incredible view and feeling almost at one with the rocks and the yellow bellied marmots, and your companion sighs "This is a spiritual experience", well how does a good atheist respond?
    You simply give them a gentle nudge down the mountainside and reply "Oh bloody hell, look what I've done now".
    Eat Dolphin, save the Tuna!!!!
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  13. #12  
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    Spirit is used in a number of ways - it is one of the trickier words in my view when it comes to nuanced meaning.

    Team spirit, or any other kind of spirit, a spirited horse, for example, is supposed to be a good thing. The spirits at the pub are a very good thing indeed.


    If there is a non-theistic christmas spirit, then why can't an occasion be non-theistically spiritual? Though, I tend to agree, spiritual is more grating than spirit.


    Cat: Excellent response to the fellow hiker. I wonder if responding "Yes, it is a ghostual experience" would make the person think.

    Returning to 'bless' we had occasion to work with a woman who ended all of her conversations with 'have a blessed day.' This reeked of chritianity, but what on Earth could we say in reply? I believe we went with 'thank you' and she lost a few points in our book. We don't work with her anymore.
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  14. #13  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrio
    the ley lines running through Stonehenge and the Cerne Abbas Giant.
    Ah, so it's supposed to be a pointer then. They could have used a finger you know.

    The trouble with "spiritual" is that you don't always know the sense in which the speaker is using it. Depending on your response you might get dragged into yet another fruitless discussion of faith versus reason, and I've sort of given up on those.
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    "God bless you" man that is an aweful cold you have.
    "God d@m-!t"
    "Holy $h!t"
    "Jesus Christ!"
    I love having "Christmas" off
    Black "Sabath" the rock group.
    I'm sure there's a lot more. That's just off the top of my head
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  16. #15  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    ***** ******* ****** {Self censorship to avoid offending ******}.
    Spiritual relates to the innate capacity of humans to experience a sense of wonder at any and all aspects of the Universe. It may be connected with a faith in a God, but that is not a prerequisite. The great works of art, and a tidy number of the scientific discoveries and many of the human achievements, arise out of a sense of the spiritual. If you discard the word and the concept, you establish a degree of barreness that is destructive and wholly unecessary. I continue to be astounded by the ability of atheists to throw the baby out with the bath water.
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  17. #16  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Spiritual relates to the innate capacity of humans to experience a sense of wonder at any and all aspects of the Universe. It may be connected with a faith in a God, but that is not a prerequisite.
    True, it’s often just general woowoo, not God specifically.

    By my count six or possibly seven of nine usages reported by dictionary.com are related to irrational beliefs.

    1. of, pertaining to, or consisting of spirit; incorporeal.
    2. of or pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature: a spiritual approach to life.
    3. closely akin in interests, attitude, outlook, etc.: the professor's spiritual heir in linguistics.
    4. of or pertaining to spirits or to spiritualists; supernatural or spiritualistic.
    5. characterized by or suggesting predominance of the spirit; ethereal or delicately refined: She is more of a spiritual type than her rowdy brother.
    6. of or pertaining to the spirit as the seat of the moral or religious nature.
    7. of or pertaining to sacred things or matters; religious; devotional; sacred.
    8. of or belonging to the church; ecclesiastical: lords spiritual and temporal.
    9. of or relating to the mind or intellect.


    If you discard the word and the concept, you establish a degree of barreness that is destructive and wholly unecessary.
    Nonsense. It's just a word. Objecting to its inappropriate use does not diminish my appreciation of art, nature and the wonders of the Universe by one iota.
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  18. #17  
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    Is there a single word that can be used in its place? 'Transcendant' seems less problematic and still connotes the same ideas.
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  19. #18  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Over the cubicle wall today:

    American guy: "Do Brits say Bless You when someone sneezes?"

    Liverpudlian guy: "No we say 'Who's gonna wipe that up then?'"
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  20. #19  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by free radical
    Is there a single word that can be used in its place? 'Transcendant' seems less problematic and still connotes the same ideas.
    It's a stronger word than spiritual, and implies to me a chemical change in the brain, like a runner's high (something I've only read about), total undivided focus on a pleasurable activity (e.g. painting), or lack of oxygen.
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  21. #20  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    Nonsense. It's just a word. Objecting to its inappropriate use does not diminish my appreciation of art, nature and the wonders of the Universe by one iota.
    That's because you are a spiritual being.
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  22. #21  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    Nonsense. It's just a word. Objecting to its inappropriate use does not diminish my appreciation of art, nature and the wonders of the Universe by one iota.
    That's because you are a spiritual being.
    I always thought of myself as a human being.
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