Saturday, January 29, 2011

Deicide is Dead: Long Live “Faithicide”

Deicide –noun
1. a person who kills a
2.the act of killing a god.

I’ve occasionally pondered the word deicide. It’s a peculiar concept. Killing something that doesn’t exist isn’t a new idea, but from what I can tell it’s the only act of fictional character killing that has its own definition.

You never hear anyone accuse Dr. Abraham van Helsing, the protagonist of
Bram Stoker’s Dracula, of committing “Vampire-icide,” nor is the word in the dictionary. Besides, how powerful can a god be if it is can be killed by its own creations? There is nothing in scripture that indicates god is susceptible to kryptonite or the like..

No. The word makes zero sense. It should be dropped from the English lexicon, just like Webster’s did back in 1949 by deleting some words that were two-hundred years old and out of common usage. In its place I recommend “faithicide”- which connotes the erosion of theism by the advancement of science, reason, discovery, and intelligent discourse. It’s not a new word. It has been used informally for a few years. But it’s time has come for formal recognition and common usage.

We are all complicit in “faithicide.”
  • Every time Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennette, Price, Ray, Ehrman, et al publish one of their books, faith is being killed.

  • Every time a freethinking organization posts an atheist display next to a Christmas display; or each time a bus rolls by with an anti-religion / pro free thought message on it’s side, faith is being destroyed.
  • Each time a secular watchdog organization challenges religious intrusions into our lives, faith is executed.

  • Each time an atheist blog is posted, a debate initiated, or a religionist letter to the editor is rebutted by a freethinker, faith is assassinated.
  • With each new scientific discovery faith is extinguished.

The erosion of theism in the modern world isn't happening by itself. It was cajoled, convinced, pushed, shoved and forced kicking and screaming into its continuing insignificance in the industrialized (read: educated) world. Faith’s impotence as a means to an end, as a moral standard, as an explanation for the natural world has been exposed.

“Faithicide” deserves its place in our language and in our dictionaries. Definition: Killing Religion with Reason One Superstition at a Time.

Inevitably our practice of “faithicide” will succeed. There won’t be any final deathblow; faith’s ultimate demise will come slowly ... a death of a thousand cuts of reason. When that happens all that will remain to be done is to kick dirt over the unholy grave of religiosity and that will be when Webster can expunge “faithicide" from its pages.


NewEnglandBob said...

Unfortunately, the recent report on education in the US, having to do with evolution, shows that faith is winning some places and is growing, due to the non-education of school children.

Reverend RobDiesel said...

I think we're on our way there, by slowly seeing more and more atheists, or even people who just don't care and are ambivalent about religion.

I've also seen a fair amount of young people advocate atheism, or at least label themselves as such. While they might not entirely grasp the concept, it's a step in the right direction by not blindly following in their parent's or friend's footsteps.

Like you said, it's slow going, but I think it's happening. The fact that people like Sam Harris, Dan Dennett, Richard Hawkins and Christopher Hitchens are well-known, and then people like Ricky Gervais who openly advocates it... I think we're heading out of a second dark ages of sorts.

Analog Kid said...

"Every time a church closes, an Atheist gets his wings"

Just as mankind has shed itself of practices like human sacrifice to appease "gods", we will eventually eradicate the disease of religion as a whole once and for all. It may take hundreds of years, but it will be done...unless we blow ourselves up in the name of god first.

Sparta Doc said...

You wrote:
Inevitably our practice of “faithicide” will succeed. There won’t be any final deathblow; faith’s ultimate demise will come slowly ... a death of a thousand cuts of reason.

I wish. I used to believe this. It has been the song sung ever since the enlightenment. Soon religion would be dead! Alas we still have irrationality with us. And probably always will. It our human nature,... to so desperately long for certainty that an answer, any answer at all, no matter how reasonable or unreasonable, will be acceptable.

Den!s said...

I think it is possible to have the word 'Faithicide' installed in dictionaries (side note, the spell checker here doesn't recognize the word). Didn't Stephen Colbert manage to have the word 'truthiness' officially recognized?

Joyce said...

I don't think that it's any more possible to change one's faith or lack of with mere words. "The word is a mighty sword" blah blah blah -- but is it really that powerful? Methinks no.

Dromedary Hump said...

I concur to a point. Which is why i don't "proselytize" non-belief.

But each time a kid who hasn't been subjected to intense Jesus Camp like idoctrination; or a fence sitting religionists see's the science contradicting myth; recognizes the impotency of religious apologetics; comes to see reality, the here and now as the same for them as it is for every other plant and animal, then religion dies a little bit more.

This "evolution" of reason and secularism over the Stone age-Bronze age superstition will eventually win out, much like how Homo Sapiens won out over our predecessors. In short: religion is a dinosaur and knowledge is its asteroid.

longhorn believer said...

I am a walking, thinking case in point of faithicide. A combination of conversations with Hump, The God Delusion, and my own inward debate finally allowed me to put aside my faith a couple of years ago. My belief in the supernatural was not all that strong, but my fear of hell was as real as the Pope's pecker is hard.

But I agree with Sparta. Religion may cease to exist as we know it now, but most people need some way to cope with the unknown. There will probably always be something irrational to deal with death.

Joyce said...

I don't know of anyone who has turned to Christianity by seeing a "Keep Christ in Christmas" sign nor do I know of anyone who has turned to atheism because of reading a sign that says you're "Good without God". I think they reinforce our own seperate beliefs rather than to win others over to our team, so to speak. I don't see either as a type of proseclytizing nor as a way of strengthening or weakening either side. I think their purpose is to bring awareness and acceptance.

One positive that I do see is that these signs people are more aware that atheists are around us, serving as good and kind citizens of the world, aren't satan worshipping heathens, and are probably your neighbor. That's a good thing and very similar to the way that the homosexual community has worked to bring awareness and acceptance.

But will it win people over to see a different worldview? I think that's doubtful, just as I don't believe the "God" billboards change people's worldviews either.

Will it help "closet atheists" to come out? Probably. But will it win new people to its side? Doubtful.

But anything that promotes tolerance and acceptance is good in my book.

Anonymous said...

I disagree! Someone already mentioned the non-education of students, like Kansas for example, where faith grows in spite of crazy things like science.

The other thing is that people need it to cope. You won't get people to give up their myths and coping mechanisms without giving them an alternative. The new trend is for Christians to turn to Buddhism (at least in Gen-y) which is possible for most people; to go from one myth to another. But you can't go from one myth that gives them hope (even if it's false) to one that doesn't.

Most people simply don't have the mental or emotional strength for that.

Joyce said...

Let me rephrase something that I wrote: perhaps these types of signs will help us *see* other worldviews, but I don't think that they'll convince anyone to *live* them.

My eyes have been opened to how many atheists are living good and purposeful lives. Your eyes have also been opened to see that not all Christfollowers are fanatical, far right fundies. These are great strides from both of our sides and can only lead to more understanding and peaceful living with each other.

Shaw Kenawe said...

This chart surprised me.

Atheism is third in numbers of "adherents" after Christianity and Islam, and surpasses Hinduism.

Dromedary Hump said...

Here's the chart Shaw references: