This term first came to my attention some 4 years ago. Thought to be coined by one annoying youtuber back in 2010, it turned out to actually originate with another not so annoying youtuber sometime before that (a fellow by the name of Aron RA). I have my issues with him, but unlike the vast majority of other ideological atheist types in the online realm, he actually puts his platform to good use. Highlighting causes of importance, and helping to further scientific literacy VIA a series of premade video lessons made for teachers that have the desire to educate but not the knowledge.
In truth, this term may well have even predated these 2. Secular conversation (and interacting secular cohorts) predated social media. However, the term may not have gone much further out than the university campus (or otherwise, the limiters of interactivity which are no longer applicable).
Either way, Apistevist has been around for at least a good 7 years. Though interest in the term seems to come in waves (as judged by search engine traffic coming into past entries on the subject), it’s relatively constant.
I have explored the term no less than twice. Once out of curiosity, then a second time due to a need for clarification to my argument. A 3ed exploration came during my aviation fascination phase after I realized that air travel is the perfect vehicle in which to argue my case. And yet a 4th came after a fellow wrote a refutation to all of the above, oh which I decided to explore. Because, what the hell.
I have no qualms about challenging my conclusions. As long as it’s something actually original.
Like many other areas of debate, what I constitute as original may not be apparent. To clear that up for this (and any other topic I cover), all I generally look for is evidence that one grasps a topic outside of ideological dogma. In the case of apistevist (much like atheist, its cousin), I look for evidence that one has pondered the term beyond its definition.
Though I used to respond to all comments as a rule, not so much anymore. Call it wisdom or arrogance, I have adopted a new rule of worthiness.
A good way to get ignored is to argue against me based on the contents of my first post alone. I made mistakes there and made the corrections easily available.
The other obvious one is outlined above. Ideological dogmatism. Or to put it another way, if you think that it is a simple concept and are astounded that I just don’t GET it . . . I don’t have much time for you.
Either way, you get the point. Now on with it. Why this term, label, flair (to quote a Reddit user) should go away once and for all.
When I dispell this concept, it is less about mechanics and assumptions than it is about real-world implications. For example, it is less about whether or not there is tuna in the can or water will come out of the tap than it is about the quality of the aforementioned commodities. Is the tuna safe to eat or the water safe to drink.
Or to use the aviation example, whether the many, MANY links in the chain that lead to your flight are all as strong as they should be. And not just your current flight crew either. I am talking everything from security personnel at present to mechanical personnel in the distant past. Hundreds have died in past incidents due to old botched repairs later disabling (or in 1 case, literally ripping apart) aircraft.
Both incidents were the unfortunate end result of a typically non-serious form of damage known as a tailstrike. If the nose of the aircraft is tilted too much on landing or takeoff, the tail can hit the ground. The most serious case of this phenomenon is probably KLM 4805, though that aircraft had a much bigger problem facing it at the time.
When it comes to my deconstruction of the term Apistevist, some may question the methodology. The more philosophically minded in particular may question the approach. While I acknowledge the criticism, I have to give one of my own. That being, if even I have some trouble wrapping my head around exactly what you are saying, then it won’t be of much help in educating anyone else. Such concepts may work in academia or in academic circles, but this realm is far from it.
Thus, I look for ways to make these concepts applicable to anyone and everyone willing to step outside the box. Simplistic as it may seem, a screwdriver is hardly the right tool to use for hammering a nail.
And now, the final word. To put it bluntly, I consider the term apistevist to be ridiculous and frankly, debunked. If you feel this to be a cop-out, I urge to review my previous works on the subject (available in the Apistevist category on your right).
While I could have left it there, I find the continued usage (and growth) of this term interesting.
There is a philosophical component to this (or lack thereof, as the case seems to be). The same uncritical mindsets that turn ambiguously defined terms such as Atheism into rigid ideological dogmas also serve to keep this term relevant.
However, I suspect that there is more to it. In particular, I suspect it is yet another manifestation of the Nones (for lack of a better adjective coming to mind) being so eager to withdraw from all things theism that they end up throwing away some perfectly reasonable conclusions based merely on the word they are associated with.
One of the most obvious examples of this that I have come across involves atheists absolute disdain with association with the term religion. I have seen some atheists go as far as leaving out part of the definition of the word in order to avoid this association. In particular, a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance. Something that amused me, considering the sacred (yet altered) modern definition of Atheism (lack of belief in). As contrasted to the former common usage (denial of the existence of). Definitions are important . . . unless they are inconvenient?
Now that I have opened that can of worms, on to a new one.
In the same way that I suspect that many non-believers are repulsed by typically theism centric religion, I also see this phenomenon at play when it comes to the concept of faith (or possibly blind faith).
Like all of the various flavors of Nones out there, I do not disagree with criticism of the concept of faith in the context of religions or deities. I have been there since I was a teenager, and thus we are on the same page.
What I disagree with is the notion that this conclusion can be expanded beyond the context of religiosity and deity. That people can live life without any interaction with faith whatsoever.
The common alternative to my argument is to say that I am talking less about faith than I am about trust. I do not have faith in the safety of tap water, Tuna, or the chain of events applicable to (and preceding) my flight on a given aircraft. I trust in the safety and competency of all involved.
To be perfectly honest, the first thing that comes to mind is “What is the difference?!”. What is being said is basically the same thing, just using different words.
“I have faith that this unopened drink will not poison me”
“There is a high amount of probability that this drink will not poison me”
Here is where many will say that I am being incoherent, or deliberately dense. In a nutshell, one conclusion is based on past evidence, and the other is not. However, even taking that into consideration, this is still relatively easy to dismiss.
Keeping with the food safety example, it is all about knowing the origins of this food and where this trail ends at any given time. I had previously applied this to individual packages, but the trust aspect can be lengthened right to the batch. If one can of tuna from a batch is good, then one can argue that this likely applies to the whole batch. In fact, I suspect food safety testing is based on this principle (being that its impossible to test literally EVERY ounce of food or drink entering a given market).
While the Apistevist can indeed use the above argument to back up their usage of the term, the fact remains that there will always be a cutoff somewhere. Every batch ends and is followed by a new one. Thus, you are back to square one.
This is not entirely correct, because of the aforementioned quality assurance testing. Organizations and governments are always testing product quality, therefore it is not a leap of faith to trust any given package of anything.
To which I would respond . . . yes, it is indeed still a leap of faith. One can argue that testing and assurances make a product more trustworthy and less of a gamble, but that just means that your faith is now in the tests. That the procedures are up to snuff and are in no way compromised. Which is a pretty much impossible guarantee to make because even if malicious intent or incompetence are not an issue, risks change.
The human experiment (particularly in the scientifically driven modern age) is littered with cases of “Whoops! We dun fucked that up!”. From DDT to Asbestos to bisphenol A, what was harmless even in my youth is constantly changing.
Who would think that commonly used reusable plastic water bottles that I saw around high school in 2003 would now be viewed as hazardous waste? My peers (and millions of others!) had faith and/or trust in the safety of the bottles. Whoops!
What I am building up to may well be an impossible standard. If you look at everything in this way, then it becomes literally impossible to guarantee the safety of pretty much anything. Therein making participation not just in a consumer society, but really LIFE, impossible.
Thus making the culmination of following the apistevist philosophy . . . insanity?
If there is any rhyme or reason to this series, it is to illustrate how unnecessary the term (and otherwise illustrating ones total and complete lack of faith) is.
Before I brought it up here, few readers probably considered the safety and or quality assurances on food, tap water, aviation or any other aspect of their lives. But that is not a bad thing.
For one, having that on your plate is not good for one’s mental health. And for another, the fact that we can live life without thinking about these things is a testament to how far we have come.
I argue against apistevism due to its incoherence. But I also take issue with the secular community in general for placing far to much weight on labels. A healthier future can only result from being less tied to these barriers and more open to uniting for the good of the commons.