Smith objects to the freedom I claim for myself in defining words:

If one declared a belief in god, while stipulating that the term ‘god’ was used as a synonym for the continent of North America, one’s assertion would understandably be ignored or rejected as irrational. (32)

This is unfair for two reasons.

In Through the Looking Glass, there is the following conversation:

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

Generally then, I can define my words however I please. Who, after all, is to be master: me or the words?

More specifically, the concept of God is precisely at issue. What “deserves” to be called God, and why can’t it indeed be the continent of North America?” This is a non-trivial question, and it is abusive to dismiss the person who asks it as “irrational.”


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