In my last post I suggested that God be used strictly in the theistic sense, for very the simple reason that this is how most common people, even most theologians, thus far in history have used the term God in this sense.
Many of you objected to this narrow usage of the word God and some mentioned that atheism is a problematic term as well. This is very true. The “New” atheists are trying to use the term in what I consider to be a more accurate, at least etymologically, to mean a lack of belief in a conscious, intervening God. However, this is not how the term was used historically. When Spinoza or Paine spoke of atheists, they had something else completely in mind.
Words are a tricky thing… Gay no longer means happy, it means homosexual. Dennet is trying to do a similar word high-jack with the term Bright. The new atheists are trying to change the historical understanding of atheism. Some Pantheists want to use God, though theists would consider their view heretical and horribly wrong.
So what’s the solution? I suppose for the sake of this blog, I’ll use the philosophers technique and simply clarify what I mean when using a word that may be confusing. What’s an effective solution for honesty and clarity, without cumbersome explanations, in daily conversations? Perhaps you just have to play it by ear. Any suggestions?