7 Words Theists Misuse Constantly

Me and my friend

On our way to the “bar”

I have this friend. She’s a good fifteen years younger than me, and we lived pretty close to each other when I was in vancouver. That was almost 4 years ago, so she was in her early twenties at the time. I remember one year, as her birthday approached, she kept bubbling on about wanting to go out to celebrate.

“Let’s go to a bar and get drunk!” She giggled. I could recall a time when I would have been that excited about the prospect of a long night full of jagerbombs and china white shooters. I no longer felt that way.

“Sure, it’s your birthday. Whatever you want.” I replied, supportively, concealing my inner grimace.

The problem became worse when the big day arrived and we pulled up to a club. Not a bar. Not a pub. A club. I stood, a short, white, middle-aged mom who has a bedtime, in the middle of the dance floor. Hundreds of – let’s call them kids, ’cause that’s what they were – kids gyrated around me to some Spanish ditty no one knew the words to except the one: Gasolina! The bass was pounding so loud, I am near positive it changed the rhythm of my heartbeat. Boom, boom, boom, “Gasolina!”. I could smell who hadn’t worn deodorant that evening, and I’m pretty sure I tasted a go-go dancer’s sweat. I’d just parted with $10 for a watered down Bud Light (which was the only beer they had on tap) and I must have had a scowl on my face, because my friend noticed my discomfort.

“Are you okay?” She mouthed at me… I think.

“This is not a bar.” I looked at her, stoic and blinking with the strobe light, my fingers in my ears.

“What?” She screamed, which I could only assume from the effort she put into mouthing the word.

This is not a bar!” I screamed back. She didn’t hear it. She dragged me to where our other friends were dancing and I mom-danced my way through the night, swearing to myself that this is the last time I go out with kids.

Words have meanings. A bar is a dimly lit sit-down joint that serves a multitude of beers on tap and has shitty nachos and mozzarella sticks on the menu. There are usually booths and some televisions showing the latest sporting match and you can often find a pool table or a dart board around somewhere. There’s the Keno corner where the local gambling addicts get drunk waiting to win it big and there’s an abundance of dark wood and brass. There are certainly no strobe lights, no one is grinding my ass and no one is pumping their fist in the air shouting, “Gasolina!”. At a bar, I do not have to sniff anyone’s armpits nor do I have to burn a single calorie save for the dunny breaks. A bar is clearly for civilized people, while a club is more suited to gorillas in heat. Rich gorillas in heat. Words… words have fucking meanings.

Words have meanings we all agree on so that we can understand what each other is talking about. If you change your definition of certain words, they lose meaning to everyone else. For instance, if your definition of “toddler” is “dog” and your definition of “clobber” is walk, you can understand where the confusion might come into play when you say you’re going to go clobber a toddler. You could see how your new definitions could potentially end up in a police situation, possibly with you in handcuffs and your getting to know the back of a police car intimately while your loved ones watch on in utter confusion.

We must share our definitions of words or we’re simply not discussing the same thing. So, today, I thought I would clear up some of the words religious apologists misuse the most. We’re going to have far clearer discussions on the topics of religion if we can all use the same definitions. Here are 7 words I’ve noticed many theists misuse constantly:

1. Theory

You knew this one was coming. As outspoken atheists, we hear the same old mantra every day:

Evolution is just a theory! This phrase is more played out than Donald Trump’s presidency. Here we see the theist using the colloquial version of “theory”, when the topic at hand demands the use of the scientific form of “theory”. To a theist, a theory is a guess and nothing more. However, when discussing theories in science, we’re not using that version of the word. Instead, theory means:

A scientific theory is an explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can, in accordance with the scientific method, be repeatedly tested, using a predefined protocol of observations and experiments. Established scientific theories have withstood rigorous scrutiny and are a comprehensive form of scientific knowledge. – Wikipedia

So, when you use the colloquial version of theory in place of the scientific definition of the word, you make quite clear that you’ve not got the slightest clue what evolution is and what evidence exists for it. Until you do, probs best not chat about it, lest you embarrass yourself further.

2. Perfect

Perfect, contrary to the Ass’s assertion here, has but one definition. There is no room here for subjective interpretations of the word. Sure, when we’re looking for the perfect mate or the perfect pair of shoes, the criteria required for those things to be deemed perfect is certainly subjective, but no one is claiming the shoes or the mate themselves are perfect objectively speaking. When someone asserts that the Bible is the perfect word of god, they are claiming that it is so objectively.

A piece of writing that is objectively perfect would not need revisions, nor could it be interpreted incorrectly. It wouldn’t have any contradictions or problems within the text itself. You would not be able to debate the meaning of its contents and the introduction of a newer installment would render the first imperfect.

Perfection means as good as is possible. If it’s the word of an omniscient, omnipotent god, what is possible has no limit. By definition, an omnipotent god has the ability to create a text that is clear, understood by all and undebatable. He has the power to record his word in such a way that there is only one possible interpretation, no matter who is reading it. An omniscient god would foresee all the updates/revisions necessary for the rest of time, and of course write the first installment of the text with all the unfolding of time in mind. If something in God’s word were to become obsolete with the passage of time, his word is imperfect.

The Bible, we know beyond any doubt, is not perfect. It does not objectively meet the definition of perfect. Theists need to stop referring to it as such.

3. Proof

No, your wet dream about the virgin Mary is not proof of god. The image of Jesus appearing on your burnt toast is not proof of god. Hearing voices, perceiving answered prayers or statues crying tears of blood are not proof of god. Proof is evidence that is enough to prove something is true. Empirical evidence is required to prove something is true – that means it can undergo repetition. It must be demonstrable, falsifiable an objective. Predictions must come true no matter who is investigating. Proof is not something you feel or believe it. Proof is objective, outside of yourself and apparent to anyone with an inquisitive enough mind.

4. Free will

Imagine you’re heading out to the newest restaurant in town tonight. It’s getting rave reviews and everyone is going on and on about how different it is. “It’s unlike any dining experience you’ve ever had before!” they say. You’re finally going to experience it yourself but as you walk in, you’re taken aback… above every seat is a bucket of pig shit.

“What’s with the unusual decor?” You ask your server, nervously glancing at the dangling refuse above you.

“Here.” He hands you your menu. It’s several pages long and you thumb through it as the server continues. “Have your choice of anything on the menu, but please note that if you order anything other than the prairie oysters, your bucket of pig shit will overturn dumping porcine dung all over you and everyone around you.”

Another patron at the table next to you leans in, points to the menu and says, “Isn’t this great? There are so many choices!”.

This is precisely what is meant by free will when a theist says it. No, you don’t have to order prairie oysters to avoid wearing bacon turds, but you do have to worship god to avoid eternal torture. The thing about Chez Porky is that you can go home and shower and live the rest of your life without piggy poop in your hair. It’s impermanent; it’ll pass; it ends. If you choose not to worship god, your torture in a lake of fire goes on for all eternity. There is no escaping it, ever. This is not a choice anymore than prairie oysters at the shit barn is.

5. Moral

God has rules on how to own and treat your slaves. He has rules outlined pretty clearly about how to pay your way out of punishment for raping. He has slaughtered the entire population of earth: men, women and babies for the bad behaviour of a few. He watches every rape, every murder, every terminally ill child on earth and does nothing. Asserting that god is the ultimate source of morality is like saying Kraft Dinner is the height of culinary artistry. Unless moral means “more completely depraved than Hitler himself”, theists are using the word wrong.

6. Faith

Faith is belief without evidence. Atheism is the answer “no” to “do you believe in god?”. I need no faith in the fact that I do not believe in god. I am the primary source of this information, which counts as good evidence. I know I don’t believe in god. No faith required.


7. Atheist

There is a huge spectrum, almost all-encompassing, of what a theist might mean when they say “atheist”. To theists, “atheist” can mean someone who asserts there is no god. It can mean someone who knows and believes in a god but is too angry at him to worship him. It could also be someone who believes in a god but doesn’t like his rules and so chooses to live outside of them. “Atheist” could be someone with faith in that which cannot be proven; it can mean science worshipper, nihilist or satanist. “Atheist”, to the theist, might mean evil, lacking a moral backbone or communist. Very rarely does a theist mean “someone who lacks a belief in a god” when they say “atheist”. It’s strange, to say the least, that to a theist “atheist” can mean pretty much anything under the sun, except for the one definition atheists use. It’s almost as if they have to make up new meanings for the word in order to be able to pick apart our position. It’s almost as if they can’t argue with “I don’t believe you, please prove it.”

But alas, “atheist” as us atheists tend to use it ourselves, is simply lacking a belief in a god. It makes no claims, has no morality, no specific worldview. But what the fuck do we know, right? We don’t have the almighty, all-knowing creator of the universe whispering us to sleep each night, right? We’re obviously in the wrong, and we’re all Hitler-worshipping, goat-sacrificing baby-eaters who’ve waged war with Jeebus.

Theists and atheists use different meanings for so many of the most common words that come up in conversation between us. It’s no wonder civil conversation is a rarity when discussing religious beliefs and lack thereof. We’re pretty much speaking entirely different languages. Hopefully this little list will be a good starting point for better understanding each other, though. Perhaps now the theist will understand what we mean when we use these words.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just remembered I’m owed a trip to the bar.

What words have you noticed the religiou misusing? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Charlie Chingas

    First time responding. This so much! Do you think apologetics could be
    the reason behind why America Christians see the words that way?

    • I think so. I think some people are deliberately dishonest about these words to better their position.

  • Jay Mumford

    Nice list, GM! But I would suggest the absolute most important word that is misused by Theists over and over again is the word “know.” This group constantly uses the word Know when they should say believe or think. I know Jesus is my redeemer. No, you believe that. I know that there is life after death. No, you believe that. I know that the Bible is the word of God. No, you think that. I know that there is a heaven and hell. No, you believe that. The entire worldview is based on a nearly universal abuse of that most basic term, to know.

    • Excellent addition to the list! Absolutely agree.

  • ShibumiMC

    You forgot belief, and believe. They really can’t deal with the various meanings of these terms.

  • Jeremy Kester

    Great post. I enjoyed it. Couldn’t agree more on those points. Explaining what theory truly means has been one of my favorite activities. It’s like saying, “hey, you know those two bombs we dropped on Japan? They were made using just a theory.” They accept a theory as fact only as it suits them.
    More time is spent trying to discredit us atheists and use words against us rather than putting effort into conforming to the ideas they feel are what their faiths are. Although then again, you can be a christian and still do some pretty terrible things if the bible is to be believed.

  • Choose_Freewill

    You have been blinded, obviously… you’ve joined the ranks of those doomed forever to not know the wonders of the Kraft macaroni and cheese… I will pray for you…


    When theists try to turn the world theory into an indictment, they reveal their science illiteracy. I’ve reminded people that the concept of electron flow is also a theory, but I wouldn’t recommend peeing into a wall socket.

  • Triggerman1976

    Words that atheists misuse CONSTANTLY:
    1. Theory, which is a supposed explanation for something
    2. Perfect, refers to the nature or extent of something
    3. Proof, applies only to logic or mathematics
    4. Free will doesn’t mean freedom from consequence
    5. Moral, requires justification
    6. Faith, means “trust”, synonymous with “belief”, and is dependent upon evidence, not the lack of it.
    7. Atheist, the opposite of “theist”, and is a knowledge claim.

    • Tracy Robinson

      Ooo, a troll! Nope, a theory is exactly how she described it. We are open to your testable hypothesis that god exists to show our current model of nonexistance incorrect. Perfect refers to completeness without error, as she said. A mathematical proof is not the same thing as proof that something is true or not – very different meanings. See her post above. Free will is not consequence and her point stands: its not free will if you have only the option of obedience, consequences aside. Morals matter but they do not come from religion, they come from culture. In my book it’s not okay to harm and kill people for having a different opinion as it is in religious texts – so yeah, morals are objective but not biblical. No, ffs no- faith is literally something you believe really strongly about without evidence… it takes a lot of faith to believe in something you’ve never seen, tasted, touched, smelled or heard. Atheism is much a knowledge claim as not playing chess is a skill. Thanks for visiting!

  • sobin tulll

    Evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

    The key word in my opinion being, indicating. In order to indicate something, you have to be able to point to something, to show something to another person. You can’t show someone your personal feelings. You can tell someone about them, but you can’t allow someone else to experience them. This holds true for anecdotal stories about personal experiences. You can talk about them, but you can’t let someone else experience them.

    I can show someone a knife, I can show them DNA evidence taking from it, I can show them a fingerprint taking from it. This is evidence, because people can see it for themselves. Witness testimony is not, strictly speaking, evidence. So clearly neither is witness testimony written in some old book.

  • Sean Mills

    I have to agree with Choose_Freewill: Kraft Dinners *are* the height of culinary artistry.

  • Michael Morris

    Let’s check in with Ambrose Bierce’s definitions for these fine words, shall we? (From the esteemed work “The Devil’s Dictionary”)

    THEORY – no entry.

    PERFECTION, n. An imaginary state of quality distinguished from the actual by an element known as excellence; an attribute of the critic.

    PROOF, n. Evidence having a shade more of plausibility than of unlikelihood. The testimony of two credible witnesses as opposed to that of only one.

    FREEDOM, n. Exemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly half dozen of restraint’s infinite multitude of methods. A political condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in virtual monopoly. Liberty. The distinction between freedom and liberty is not accurately known; naturalists have never been able to find a living specimen of either.

    MORAL, adj. Conforming to a local and mutable standard of right. Having the quality of general expediency.

    FAITH, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.

    Atheist – no entry, but “cynic” is pretty close:

    CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic’s eyes to improve his vision.

    Then there are these gems:

    CHRISTIAN, n. One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.

    EVANGELIST, n. A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors.

    RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.

    PIETY, n. Reverence for the Supreme Being, based upon His supposed resemblance to man.

    PRAY, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.