Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Tue Nov 24 22:40:35 UTC 2009

But whether you like it or not, "skeptic" is the non-religious term most
commonly used within the community of "non-believers" for those who demand
evidence for statements of belief. Skepticism goes beyond religion, to
include such diverse topics as opposition to the anti-vaccine movement,
homeopathy, chiropractic, holocaust denial, creationism, and all sorts of
new-agey faith-based philosophies to name a few. Basically, skeptics are
anti-woo. ("Woo" is a great term that hasn't gotten its due by dictionaries
either.)  I haven't seen any dictionaries catch up to this sense of
"skeptic" yet, but it is by far the most commonly used term in the so-called
"skeptical community." (It's impossible to avoid self-referential terms when
discussing this.)

And no one doubts that religion is not a force within society. The
skepticism is over the validity of religions' doctrinal beliefs, not the
existence and social power of those beliefs. If they weren't powerful ideas,
no one would care.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Alison Murie
Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 1:03 PM
Subject: Re: amonokerism

On Nov 24, 2009, at 2:46 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
> Subject:      Re: amonokerism
> Skeptic is another term I considered, but "I'm a skeptic" sounds to
> me as though I'm skeptical about everything. Also, about "skeptic,"
> my Mac dictionary says,
> a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions.
> a person who doubts the truth of Christianity and other religions;
> an atheist or agnostic.
> I am not inclined to question or doubt the truth of religions. To
> me, they seem so outrageously improbable, they aren't worth
> considering. (They may be interesting to investigate as complexes of
> thought or orientations of society, etc., but not plausible.)
> BB
I also have trouble accepting any of these terms for myself, but while
I do not believe in the objective, supernatural existence of a god, I
certainly believe in the force of the idea of god in society.  In that
sense religions merit some attention.  Religious beliefs animate some
of the best as well as some of the very worst activities of mankind.
The pernicious effects of some of these we can hardly deny the
existence of.

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