A discussion about definitions. Primarily a philosophic discussion on the meaning of Theism, Deism, Atheism, and other related terms. Also discussing the meaning of Skepticism and the root of me name “Sisyphean” Skeptic!
I wrote a short blog post about this topic before I started on YouTube. Find that post here:
hi welcome to a Sisyphean skeptic video and I want to talk a little bit about definitions today a lot of people probably already know these definitions some people might have different understandings about these words you know certainly definitions aren't written in stone sometimes we think of definitions as being this is what these words mean like somehow there's a right and wrong answer about this and in some ways there are right and wrong answers some words mean some things and other words mean other things but words change right depending on common use and definitions are mostly the kind of the documentation of common use and that's why I think etymology is so important because that's the history of those words right and so what words used to mean what they mean now I think are very relevant to a lot of these things so first off let's talk about theism right so theism is the belief in a god or gods and usually a creator or creator gods like that have created the universe they often you know exist within the universe or outside of the universe sustaining the universe and there's often a component where they are interacting with that universe often specifically us right people so that's a big part of it now of course there's monotheism which is the specifically one God and then there's the polytheism which is multiple gods and these would both be kinds of theism now probably the most important feature that makes something theists as opposed to deist which I'll discuss in a second is the eminence of God so that God is active in existence that's a key if he is he if V god or gods are not active in existence then then this is not really theism so this is a good comparison now to D ISM as I was mentioning deism is a God but this God often created existence but is not necessarily active in existence anymore so we're getting outside of organized religion at this point if someone is a deist they believe in that creator god but it's no longer necessarily relevant to how we live our life you know that praying to a deist god wouldn't do anything it wouldn't answer prayers there's no miracles that come from a deus God the most common example used to illustrate a deus God is the watchmaker or clock maker God right the universe would be like a clock or watch that has been wound up and created specifically and is now running out right it's now operating because it had been wound up and it doesn't require continual intervention by that Creator God to make it work much more the feasts God is considered to be constantly involved in some versions some theists feel like God has to continually intervene to just make physics happen I've heard I've heard people talk about it in that way certainly you're more moderate theists as the majority of America probably doesn't think about it in that way but there are some that are more extreme that do think about it that way so deism is really one step shy of an additional kind of flavor of belief in God which would be called pantheism so pantheism is more of God is this universe right it's kind of God is synonymous with the universe and existence itself there's some notable people who in history were pantheists or possibly pantheists and we'll get into all that history right now but um but you know you can see at least you can see something in that and and certainly from the Diaz perspective right it's like so there was a creator now the universe is going on and then one step shine that the universe is is that God I wonder what work any of that does right – to call the universe God is almost to try to give God a meaningful a meaningful description in something we know we like okay well the universe is the thing that is definitely here and if there has to be a God if the word God that we have has to have a meaning maybe it means the universe and everything that's in it right you could say some of those platitudes that are often used in theism to describe God being everywhere within all of us and and all of that then you go okay well the universe is everywhere and we're made of the universe and so it makes some of those things have kind of a meaning but it's kind of tricking those words I feel like I sometimes people kind of use it in that way and I think that's fine and poetic almost it makes some kind of sense when a when a more fundamentalist kind of theist is using those platitudes it feels like they're definitely not talking about it in that way one of the interesting things too I think compared at this point is a lot of the arguments that many apologists will use to prove a god or or or basically they try to prove their version of God they usually don't go that far they usually prove either a deist God or source um you know none specific God they talk about the need for a creator God which I which I definitely think is suspect I don't know that that is proven even by most of their arguments but they you they very rare go the distance to proving their specific God certainly we haven't found any you know evidence of prayer being successful right that would be a pretty good piece of evidence certainly for healing miracles we haven't seen you know the dramatic kind that we would that would be actually interesting right the the growing back of amputated limbs and things like that something we can't do with regular medical science would be something much closer to what a miracle is whereas you know hope praying and somebody getting healing healed while participating in medical science seems you know seems dubious to ascribe the efficacy of the miracle to that in contrast to all of these theists and theists related positions is of course atheism which is just a fee is the lack of theism so it is non-theism but it's funny that we've got to go through all these steps to to clarify exactly what atheism is because it's often misrepresented as a position of an active belief that there is no God and that is not so much the case it's it is literally the non belief in a God I do not believe in a God it's not that I believe there is no God right and these these fine linguistic points can be complicated and there certainly are those who take the position of actively believing that there is no God and that would also be atheism because if they don't believe in a God then believing there is no God is certainly atheism – right so I think there is definitely confusion there another important topic is agnosticism which is not it doesn't come from the same route that atheism comes from but it's more about the question of knowing than the question of belief right it's a position that tried to go half way between a theist and an atheist position when it was understood at least by the person who coined it that atheism was more that stronger position so it tried to be more of what atheism actually is but including the fact that we don't know but the thing about regular atheism is they don't pretend you know I don't pretend to know there is no God I just don't believe in one so you know usually any of your run-of-the-mill atheist and you know do hesitate to try to paint with a broad brush here are usually going to be agnostic too and if you're agnostic in kind of the most atypical typical way saying that you don't know and you're suspending judgment then if you do not actively believe then you're probably an atheist too even though you'd like to use the word agnostic that's not my place to force these labels on to somebody right you can choose to label yourself or not label yourself any of these things and that's and that's fine but right I feel like if we're honest most of us are agnostic and then we take an actual position on belief additional to that I feel like you know an honest theism theist would say that they're agnostic too though most of them you know most of the their belief they use to kind of see that they know which they don't know in more of that justified true belief kind of knowing way they just are confident thank that's a different kind of way to talk about knowing whereas the atheist you know suspends that judgment doesn't believe most of us and most of the community on atheist means on YouTube that I team would admit that if we had what is sufficient evidence for a theist god we would believe that I struggle to even think of what kind of evidence I would need to believe it feels like most evidence could be descriptive or indicative of some other position before God in most cases I'm open to the concept that there could be some kind of evidence out there but I have very little faith that anybody could find it or if I even know what it is and I guess it would be hard to to pretend that I'd be very easily convinced if I don't even know what would convince me but you know it's just honest one thing that I like to to say to help illustrate that agnostic versus atheist position and it's I mean it's not necessarily included within these words but it's the way that I like to talk about it is that agnosticism is a question of epistemology so it's a question of knowledge whereas theism and atheism or more metaphysical claims it's cold it's about claiming what we believe exists or doesn't exist or you know the lack of belief in something thereof whereas the epistemological claim is about that knowledge that we were mentioning do we know do we not know so that's an entirely separate question from what we believe or don't believe finally I just want to mention skepticism right so skepticism is about using you know our critical faculties to to explore the veracity and the validity of any particular you know any particular claim right you want to be skeptic when consuming you know the news you know you don't just take whatever is said to you you got you look into it further if something sounds you know perhaps not as strong as it is being presented we gotta look into it a little bit more there's certainly a community on YouTube that calls himself yep dig but kind of they almost go too far and that's kind of that conspiracy theory realm certainly they're being skeptical kind of they're also often not being very critical or skeptical of their own positions and some of those those own things right if you're if you're always questioning what the man is telling you what the governments and the media and all that but you're then going to totally you know buy that information you got off of some random website where one guy tells you this story they heard then that's not being very skeptical of that information that seems much more dubious than the additional research that had been done it's often is presented by those other outlets so you know I'm not saying that it's it's correct for us to believe all of that you know highly produced information that sent to us all the time but we need to be equally critical to address my name of the Sisyphean skeptic Sisyphus is a Greek myth and it was co-opted by Albert Camus philosopher in existentialism to talk about the struggle of of human life Frank is that Sisyphus was was cursed to roll a boulder uphill for eternity every time that he would get to the end of the day or whatever the boulder would fall back down and the next day he would he would have to continue to roll it up again so it's kind of an endless task that's what the word Sisyphean means it means an endless insurmountable task and as the philosopher Camus discussed our lifes are like that you know everyday life is a struggle to to do more or less the same thing day in and day out get up eat work children family life right and just because it's endless doesn't mean it's not not a good life and so that seemed apt for the kind of journey that I would probably take here on YouTube right in the end it's the same journey that many people have embarked on on YouTube to do this endless task of discussing religion skepticism philosophy things like that there's no end in sight if we're talking about specifically counter apologists and things like that we don't seem to be making a ton of progress on that front but that doesn't mean we should stop right and even though a lot of progress maybe on the biggest names and the biggest well known apologists hasn't been made there's been lots of little progress we've seen many different stories of people who who contact other more prominent youtubers about the change and impact they've had on their lives so it may be an endless task but it's not it's not fruitless it's not you know it's not a pointless task endless tasks can still be worth embarking on thank you for joining me and feel free to like and subscribe comment below let me know about what you think about my definitions here right as I mentioned earlier these definitions are not written in stone if you've got a different idea about some of these words let me know I'd be more than interested in talking about that do you feel like this is an endless task is it worth embarking on you know joining the conversation thank you