Semantics and words with baggage (Religion, God, Spirit, Soul, Athiest, Agnostic)

All of these words... it seems like many people like to adjust their meanings to adapt to their needs. Often they use a word and choose an obscure meaning from the dictionary and make that their own.

Personally I like to use the dictionary meaning as a base but ultimately consider the most important to be what MOST people consider a word to mean. For example "Spiritual" to me Spiritual means "of the spirit" and to me "spirit" means of or pertaining to the soul.It seems obvious to me that when people use this word they are referring to "the soul" and then there are other people who say "i'm spiritual" but don't even believe in souls? What definition should we going by here...

With Spiritual as an example....Here is the entry...:


[spir-i-choo-uhl] Show IPA


1.of, pertaining to, or consisting of spirit;  incorporeal.
2.of or pertaining to the spirit  or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature: a spiritual approach to life.
3.closely akin in interests, attitude, outlook, etc.: the professor's spiritual heir in linguistics.
4.of or pertaining to spirits  or to spiritualists;  supernatural or spiritualistic.
5.characterized by or suggesting predominance of the spirit; ethereal or delicately refined: She is more of a spiritual type than her rowdy brother.

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Here are a couple meanings:


1. Belief in the spirit, soul, often as it relates to religious, sacred, or otherwise noncorporeal matters. A little metaphysics and philosophy are peripherally related as well, as its purpose is to give us perspective on life and what to do with it.

2.The application of any sort of philosophy, however defined, regardless of whether the person in question has any spiritual beliefs or not. This use of the word is so vague that it can be redefined to mean anything, even something that is completely materialistic.


Adj: What people on dating sites describe themselves as because they are afraid that nobody wants to marry an atheist.

2. An energy having the nature of spirit; not material.

I define spirituality as a comfortable emotional place - a deep thinking place - void of all of the religious ingredients of supernatural fear, guilt and shame. Religion has hijacked the word beyond salvation.

I prefer my spirit be at least 80 proof.

For me, etymology is very important; the origin of a word should always be considered in a definition.  I struggle with this distinction when discussing what 'atheism' and 'agnosticism,' as most people think that they can't be used together.  I point out that 'atheism' simply means 'without belief in god(s)' (as opposed to those that say it means that god(s) don't exist) and 'agnosticism' isn't simply a position of fence-sitting on commiting to a belief.  I define myself as an apathetic agnostic atheist, I don't know and I don't care if there is a god (or gods) or not, I do not believe.

Of course, semantics can also work in other ways to ones benefit.  If I know I am going to be in a discussion where terms and words matter, I make sure the other party defines what they mean by them, and then I can show them where their fault lies.


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