there are many words like that which we use without any fuss. 

The word 'game' is a famous example where different games possess a myriad of 
properties which are shared by some and not others. In fact there doesn't seem 
to be a set of properties sufficient to capture the nature of all games. 
Nevertheless, we use the word without any fuss.

And in a way the fact 'God' means different things to different people isn't a 
problem. If I say someone is an atheist, you can say that this person has some 
conception of God, whatever it is, and doesn't believe that thing exists. You 
can say that much at the very least. In the unlikely event that you are really 
confused about what he means by God you can ask for clarification.

What I think has happened here is that a bunch of folk like Harris, unfamiliar 
with the philosophical territory, have stumbled over the fact that words don't 
quite get defined in as strict a manner as they thought. They think they have 
stumbled upon something of import but in reality the 'problem', such that there 
is one, generalizes easily to much of language and yet language remains as 
useful as it always was.

From: jasonre...@gmail.com
To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
Subject: Re: Hitch
Date: Tue, 9 Jul 2013 19:33:43 -0500



On Jul 9, 2013, at 5:56 PM, chris peck <chris_peck...@hotmail.com> wrote:


If some one says "look, cat" I don't know what kind of cat they are refering 
to. I nevertheless can be confident that they have seen something feline.



True, but cats are things people can see, and this the variety of possible 
meanings for the word cat is greatly constrained.
When someone says god do they mean something that is (check any or all of the 
following):- immanent- transcendant- uncreated- eternal- intelligent- 
benevolent- creator- infinite- answerer of prayers- judge- designer- truth- 
love- universal mind- everything
?
Because there are many types of possible and very different meanings for the 
word "god", using the word atheist to describe someone who does not believe in 
some particular conception of god is much like using the word "acatist" to 
describe someone who does not believe in 6-legged bright-pink saber tooth 
tigers, but nonetheless believes in lions and house cats. 
Even if you reject the particular god of some particular religious sect, I am 
confident there are particular selections of the above words that you would 
admit to believing in.
Jason 





--- Original Message ---



From: "Jason Resch" <jasonre...@gmail.com>

Sent: 10 July 2013 8:35 AM

To: "Everything List" <everything-list@googlegroups.com>

Subject: Re: Hitch











On Tue, Jul 9, 2013 at 5:33 PM, chris peck 
<chris_peck...@hotmail.com> wrote:



Why does that make the word less usefull? I think its a very useful word. If 
someone tells me they are an atheist I then know that they do not belive in God.










But you don't know what God the atheist doesn't believe in.




Jason







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