Theist Denies That
God Doesn't Exist
Hi there Cliff!
I came across something interesting the other day when I surfed into the site www.skepdic.com which I find highly entertaining.
Robert Carroll had a definition of theist that I haven't ever seen before and I figured it was kinda' neat. His definition is:
"A theist is someone who denies that God doesn't exist."
The first test I did of this definition was to turn it around and see if it yielded an appropriate atheist definition:
"An atheist is someone who denies that God exists."
This is the standard (flawed) dictionary definition but can't help but wondering if there's any way of saving the theist definition because I like it's simplicity. I guess, in a way, you and I become theists with this definition since we do deny the statement "god doesn't exist" but still -- Is my English perhaps not good enough to make sense of it?
What's your definition?
Added: May 16, 2001
This is supposed to be funny, and I think it is: To me, the joke is on the flawed definition, and turning it around like this shows the absurdity of the flawed dictionary definition. To invert the fair definition:
"An atheist is someone who lacks a god belief."
does not give you the same punch; it does not show any absurdity because, unlike the flawed dictionary definition, there is no absurdity to begin with:
"A theist is someone who has a god belief."
or, at best:
"A theist is someone who lacks the lack of a god belief."
but this doesn't really make sense.
The Skeptics Dictionary is pointing out the unfairness of defining atheist as "someone who denies that there is a God." This definition presupposes the existence of God, and says that the atheist denies this "fact." Worse, the atheist in the dictionary is also patently dishonest knows that God "exists" but denies -- that is, lies about what he knows!
While I cannot be sure what was going on in the mind of the writer who penned this joke, this is what the punch line means to me.
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