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  1. kaligurl76
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    #1

    Question about suffix & prefix

    I have a friend that is in a "word war" with me. Regardless of how you feel about the word, I'd like to have your opinion on how the definition should read. The word is atheist.
    I say the word is broken down like this -
    A - without
    theist - a belief in the existence of a god/gods
    Therefore, atheist would be without a belief in the existence of a god/gods.

    His arguments is -

    "The mistake you continue to make is that you're applying the meaning
    of the suffix -ism to the root BEFORE you apply the prefix a-. Why
    would you not apply the meaning of the PREfix first? If the prefix is
    applied first, as it must and should be, it changes the meaning of the
    net word and eliminates your argument:

    athe-ism = belief in, or doctrine of, no god"

    His argument just doesn't make sense to me - if he is correct, can you please explain it to me?

    Thanks!

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    #2

    Re: Question about suffix & prefix

    So, you're asking is the belief in no god different than no belief in the God? It is from the Greek atheos meaning without god therefore, it could mean either.

    Now try to figure out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

  2. Mister Micawber's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Question about suffix & prefix

    .
    I agree-- I don't think that affixes work that way. What you have is 'No - God - Doctrine' and nothing more.

    .

  3. kaligurl76
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    #4

    Re: Question about suffix & prefix

    Ok, I sorry, I should've clarified that more -

    The argument is whether it is a belief or not. I say it's without belief and he says there is a belief.

    Thanks for all the help!!

  4. Mister Micawber's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Question about suffix & prefix

    .
    Well OK, Kali-- I think I see what you're trying to get at, though you're not really going to get much further than Mykwyner got you. I cannot argue the philosophy, but the dictionary is clear:

    "atheism (fr. Gk atheos godless, fr. a- + theos god)

    2a: a disbelief in the existence of deity
    b: the doctrine that there is no deity"

    That seems to me to make you both right.

    .

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