Terms and Definitions
- A priori - Knowledge, judgments, and principles which are true without verification or testing. It is universally true.
- Agnosticism - The belief that the existence of God is not knowable. The word is derived from the negative 'a' combined with the Greek word 'gnosis,' which means knowledge. Hence, agnosticism is the belief that God cannot be known.
- Argumentum ad hominem - An irrelevant attack upon a person to deflect the argument from the facts and reasons.
- Argumentum ad judicium - An argument where appeal is made to common sense and the judgment of people as validating a point.
- Argumentum ad populum - An argument where appeal is made to emotions: loyalties, patriotism, prejudices, etc.
- Argumentum ad verecundiam - An argument using respect for great men, customs, institutions, and authority in an attempt to strengthen one's argument and provide an illusion of proof.
- Atheism - The lack of belief in a god, and/or the belief that there is no god. The position held by a person or persons that 'lack belief' in god(s) and/or deny that god(s) exist.
- Autonomy - Freedom from all external constraints. Independence consisting of self-determination.
- Causality - The relationship between cause and effect. The principle that all events have sufficient causes.
- Chance - Being undetermined. Events without apparent cause. An accidental happening.
- Choice - Action based on one's volition, will, desire.
- Christian - A person who believes in the biblical person of Jesus who claimed to be God in flesh, died, and rose again from the grave, and who lives according to the principles of Christ's teaching.
- Cosmological argument - An attempt to prove that God exists by appealing to the principle that all things have causes. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes; therefore, there must be an uncaused cause: God.
- Cosmology - Study of the origin and structure of the universe.
- Deduction - A system of logic, inference, and conclusion drawn from examination of facts. Conclusions drawn from the general down to the specific.
- Deism - The belief that there is a God, but that God is not involved in the world. Deism denies any revelatory work of God in the world, whether it be by miracles or by scripture.
- Deontology - The study of moral obligation.
- Determinism - The teaching that every event in the universe is caused and controlled by natural law.
- Dialectic - The practice of examining ideas and beliefs using reason and logic. It is often accomplished by question and answer.
- Didactic - The branch of education dealing with teaching.
- Dogma - A generally held set of formulated beliefs.
- Empiricism - The proposition that the only source of true knowledge is experience. Search for knowledge through experiment and observation. Denial that knowledge can be obtained a priori.
- Epistemology - The branch of philosophy that deals with knowing and the methods of obtaining knowledge.
- Ethics - Study of right and wrong, good and bad, moral judgment, etc.
- Evolution - Change from simple to complex. That system of study authored by Charles Darwin that seeks to explain the development of life.
- Fact - An indisputable truth.
- Faith - Acceptance of ideals, beliefs, etc., which are not necessarily demonstrable through experimentation or reason.
- Free will - Freedom of self-determination and action independent of external causes.
- Freethinker - A person who forms his opinions about religion and God without regard to revelation, scripture, tradition, or experience.
- God - Deity, infinite being of power, influence, knowledge, and immortality.
- Hedonism - That pleasure is the principle good and proper goal of all action. Self-indulgence.
- Humanism - The system of philosophy based upon human reason, actions, and motives without concern of deity or supernatural phenomena.
- In facto - Something that exists and is complete.
- In fieri - Beginning to be, but not yet complete.
- Induction - A system of logic where specific facts are used to draw a general conclusion.
- Infidel - A person who does not believe in any particular religious system.
- Karma - In Hinduism, the total compilation of all a person's past lives and actions that result in the present condition of that person.
- Metaphysics - The study of the nature and being of reality, and its origin and structure.
- Monism - The view that there is only one basic and fundamental reality, that all existence is this one reality.
- Monolatry - The belief that there are many gods, but only one of them is served and worshipped.
- Monotheism - The belief that there is only one God in the universe.
- Morals - Ethics, the codes, values, principles, and customs of a person or society.
- Myth - Something not true, fiction, or falsehood. A truth disguised and distorted.
- Ontological argument - An attempt at proving the existence of God by stating that God exists because our conception of Him exists and nothing greater than God can be conceived of.
- Ontology - The study of the nature of being, reality, and substance.
- Panentheism - The belief that God is in the universe. It differs with pantheism which states that God is the universe and all that it comprises.
- Pantheism - The belief that God is the universe and all that comprises it: laws, motion, matter, energy, consciousness, life, etc. It denies that God is a person and is self-aware.
- Philosophy - The study of seeking knowledge and wisdom in understanding the nature of the universe, man, ethics, art, love, purpose, etc.
- Polytheism - The belief that there are many gods in existence in the universe.
- Pragmatism - A method in philosophy where value is determined by practical results.
- Rationalism - A branch of philosophy where truth is determined by reason.
- Relativism - The view that truth is relative and not absolute. It varies from people to people, time to time.
- Religion - Generally a belief in a deity and practice of worship, action, and/or thought related to that deity. Loosely, any specific system of code of ethics, values, and belief.
- Science - The process of learning by which theories are offered, tests developed, and experiments are conducted in order to verify and/or modify the theory.
- Teleological argument - An attempted proof of God's existence based upon the premise that the universe is designed, and therefore needs a designer: God.
- Teleology - The study of final causes, results. Having a definite purpose, goal, or design.
- Theism - The belief that there is a God and that He is knowable and involved in the world.
- Theodicy - The study of the problem of evil in the world in relation to the proposition that there is an all-powerful good God.
- Theology - The study of things pertaining to God, and/or the relation of God to the world.
- Transcendent - That which is beyond our senses and experience. Existing apart from matter.
- Trinity - The Christian doctrine that there is only one God in existence, and that He consists of three separate and ontologically divine persons.
- Yin and Yang - A dualistic philosophy of passive and active, good and bad, light and dark, positive and negative, male and female, etc., and that they are in opposition, each is part of the whole and works together.1
- 1. Harrison, Everett F., ed., Baker's Dictionary of Theology, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960; Geisler, Norman, Christian Apologetics, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976; Runes, Dagobert D., Dictionary of Philosophy, New York: Philosophical Library, 1942. Guralnik, David B., ed., Webster's New World Dictionary, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986.
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Part of a series on
- What is atheism?
- The failure of atheism to account for existence
- The failure of atheism to account for morality
- The failure of atheism to account for rationality
- Is atheism viable?
- "I lack belief in a god"
- Answers to positions held by atheists
- Concerning atheist attacks on theism
- There is no proof that God exists.
- Why do you believe in Jesus but not Santa Claus?
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