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The Atheon

God for atheists
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Albert Einstein, whom I understand either to be atheist or agnostic, though maybe he was pantheist, once said "God does not play dice with the Universe", and if I remember correctly Stephen Hawking, whom I assume to be atheist, said something about knowing the mind of God. Similarly, if you talk sloppily in biological terms in particular you find yourself adopting the intentional stance and referring to things as if they had purposes rather than functions, and in fact even the idea of function might be a bit dodgy. When people talk this way and refer to God poetically or metaphorically, they frequently confuse people and then their quote gets used to shore up theism, since theists can then say "look, this great iconic genius scientist believes in God, so who are you to say God doesn't exist?". This is particularly likely to happen when someone is not particularly well-informed or au fait with science, or apparently even literature as they can't recognise a metaphor. This also happens elsewhere, for instance in rolling your eyes in exasperation or referring to an Act Of God.

Fictional ideas are sometimes inserted into lazy understandings of science in a sloppy kind of way, such as the ideas of centrifugal force or levity, i.e. something which makes the likes of helium rise. The intentional stance itself is possibly an example of this, and of course corresponds to the literary device of the pathetic fallacy.

In order to obviate this confusion, I therefore suggest that we invent a fictional being and call it the Atheon. This being is the "God" referred to in such phrases as "Act Of God" and the being whom gets eyes rolled at, designs organisms, doesn't play dice with the Universe and so on. Also, this being does not exist. Insurance companies should talk about "Acts Of The Atheon", Einstein should be quoted as saying "The Atheon does not play dice with the Universe" and so on. The Atheon is not the same as the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Inivisible Pink Unicorn because it's active in the world in the same way as God is seen as being. In fact, probably even theists should use the concept because they may in fact feel their God is being maligned by being seen as causing floods, earthquakes and fires, for example, but never nicer things like puppies, kittens and babies. Also, it would then be possible to talk about living systems being designed and having purposes, in the same spirit as the idea that something is pulling a helium balloon upwards rather than pushing it - it just makes it easier to talk about without getting bogged down in pedantry, which is fun but annoys people and wastes time.

I chose the name "Atheon" because it's the God of the atheists, and is clearly non-existent and therefore neither female nor male, so it has a neuter ending.

One drawback I can see is that it would back up the vapid fundie claim that atheism is a religion, because if people can't grasp the idea that Einstein was speaking metaphorically, maybe they can't grasp that this is a metaphor either.

nineteenthly, Sep 03 2015

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       Surely much the same could be achieved by referring to "gods", lowercase plural, as in "gods only know when this bus will arrive"?
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 03 2015
  

       I find that phrasing awkward although I have some sympathy for it. It violates Ockham's Razor though, surely? Assume there are zero or one deities until you have evidence there is more than one, I'd've thought.
nineteenthly, Sep 03 2015
  

       Ah, but by assuming that there are many, you imply that there are none.   

       Also, it will be an uphill struggle to educate the wider public to the point where you can say "for Atheon's sake, turn it down!", and not simply receive quizzical looks (or a kick in the bollocks, depending on location*).   

       (*Your location, that is, not the location of your bollocks, although the two often coincide.)
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 03 2015
  

       Well obviously I'm aiming for my bollocks to be in a hospital incinerator but in the meantime kicking me in them is unlikely to yield much of a result or even be physically possible.   

       Could you maybe posit that there are so many of them that they become atomised and form a sort of goo or gas, or perhaps a powder? In which case, I suppose atheon is a noble gas - made of single particles smaller than even diatomic molecules and not interacting with ordinary matter much.
nineteenthly, Sep 03 2015
  

       //Could you maybe posit that there are so many of them that they become atomised and form a sort of goo or gas, or perhaps a powder?//   

       The bollocks? I think the normal number is two per male. As far as I know this is a general phenomenon.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 03 2015
  

       The mean is less than two, but no, and you make me think of gaseous semen now, which is a bit interesting but not what I meant.
nineteenthly, Sep 03 2015
  

       // it will be an uphill struggle to educate the wider public //   

       It always is.
8th of 7, Sep 03 2015
  

       Where language is concerned, the path of least resistance is to transpose into a similar sounding word rather than trying to go all highbrow. I therefore offer a counter-proposal that 'God' should be replace with 'Bob' in all of these scenarios. I would take great comfort in knowing that all the world's ills are ascribed to Acts of Bob. I think it's a winner (& also more likely to be true).
DrBob, Sep 03 2015
  

       In addition to the intentional stance one could use this in the imperative stance, as in "get your Atheon that chair right now!".
bungston, Sep 03 2015
  

       So not a new Intel processor.   

       From the atheist perspective - if the Atheon does not exist, how does it differ from the theist God? One may as well continue using one term as another.   

       I like the "Bob" idea quite a bit, I can imagine much satisfaction in yelling "Bob damn it!"
tatterdemalion, Sep 03 2015
  

       If it’s something nice like money, beer, achievement, I blame myself: ‘Thank me’. If it’s something horrible like earthquakes, babies, the depressing dark cloudy rainy summer, I blame reality ‘Thank reality’. It amounts to the same thing, as only I exist, it’s all about me, and to thank other would thwart my agency. There’s nothing worse in life than having ones agency thwarted, especially by reality.
Ian Tindale, Sep 04 2015
  

       // So not a new Intel processor // - only if we're in the Matrix.   

       I can see the argument for 'Bob', but it's not fancy enough for me and it doesn't sound particularly Greek or otherwise foreign. There are lots of deities with Greek names, especially but not exclusively Greek ones, but not many with English names unless you count Godfrey I suppose. I wouldn't want some poor guy named Robert to develop a persecution complex but as far as I know nobody is called Atheon, which of course is the point in a way.   

       From the atheist perspective, [tatterdemalion], it differs from the theist God in that it's less likely to lead to obtuse theists thinking people are theists. It would, however, be a bit of a concession in that anti-theist atheists would be doing something to counter theists rather than just ignoring them.   

       Incidentally, I also think there should be a being responsible for bad-taste clothing called the Polyesteron, but that's another story.
nineteenthly, Sep 04 2015
  

       //a being responsible for bad-taste clothing called the Polyesteron// That'd be the devil.
FlyingToaster, Sep 04 2015
  

       I sacrifice my initials for the atheist. "bm" dammit. Or shit please.
blissmiss, Sep 04 2015
  

       // it's less likely to lead to obtuse theists thinking people are theists   

       Why do we care what they think? We already put up with their silly thoughts on god-things so let's not worry about their other silly thoughts.   

       Perhaps it's better to follow Einstein and Hawking's lead and co-opt the god concept for our own purposes, devaluing it in the process.
tatterdemalion, Sep 04 2015
  

       //co-opt the god concept//   

       Which reminds me of my solution (as yet un-revealed to the world; you lot will have to do instead) to the problem of Islamic State.   

       The solution, of course, is for _everybody_ to join ISIS, and for everyone to declare themselves muslim. Once MacDonalds, Budweiser and Danepak sign up and proudly display the ISIS flag on their corporate web pages, the entire ISIS brand will be eroded irretrievably. A few ads along the lines of "Trotter's - The Pork Rinds Allah Would Choose" ought to pretty much take the wind out of their kalashnikovs.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 04 2015
  

       So Atheists can still believe in life after death right? just there can't be any deities. Atheon could be a place.
wjt, Sep 05 2015
  

       How does this idea differ from the next one in the category ?
FlyingToaster, Sep 05 2015
  

       People ask me if I don’t believe there’s anything after we die, then what do I do think happens? I reply “well, what do you think happened to you before you were conceived and born?”
Ian Tindale, Sep 05 2015
  

       [Ian Tindale] Under my thinking, it is easier to use the energy slope than to go against the grain.Put it another way, I don't think we will be a point ever again.
wjt, Sep 06 2015
  

       [bigsleep] Was that the Craggy Island schism?
wjt, Sep 06 2015
  

       I do care about what certain theists do and think because they influence public policy and the like.   

       It's not the same as evoking the Great Non-Deity because it has a snappier name and is mainly to be used as a useful fiction for the purposes of brevity and language style.
nineteenthly, Sep 07 2015
  

       //people can't grasp the idea that Einstein was speaking metaphorically//   

       Of course, according to Nietzsche, everyone is speaking metaphorically. Consequently, Einstein was not speaking any *more* metaphorically than the vapid fundies themselves.   

       Incidentally, not all fund managers are idiots; it's just the micro-economic incentives that make them look that way. Oh, wait, you didn't mean them...
pertinax, Sep 07 2015
  

       // Of course, according to Nietzsche, everyone is speaking metaphorically   

       Yes , but Nietzsche was speaking metaphorically.
tatterdemalion, Sep 07 2015
  

       //Well obviously I'm aiming for my bollocks to be in a hospital incinerator but in the meantime...//   

       One thing puzzles me, [nineteenthly]. Why are you so patient in waiting for the NHS to remove these things which you seem so anxious to be rid of? If I had a bodypart which I didn't feel belonged with me, I think I'd give the NHS about 48 hours to get rid of it. Otherwise, I'd sort it out myself and leave the NHS to staunch the bleeding, which they generally _do_ do within 48 hours - sometimes less.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 07 2015
  
      
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