Have you ever been having a discussion about religion only to find that the definitions of certain key terms have shifted? Whether intentional or not, I think it’s a major reason many of these discussion find people just talking past one another.
Some of my favorites equivocated terms include:
Prayer: You might start discussing the power of prayer only to find that the definition has moved from a) communicating with a classical God in order obtain some grace, revelation or outcome, to b) self contained meditation or contemplation for comfort or relaxation or clarity, or c) a strong wish or hope for a particular outcome. This allows the term to remain valid whether talking about an appeal to a separate conscious deity or simply meditating on your own thoughts.
Faith: Sometimes you might be criticizing this concept of a) strong belief based on spiritual apprehension rather than, or even contrary to, evidence of any kind only to meet a defense of b) common trust or confidence. Confidence that is based on extensive evidence, i.e. I have “faith” in gravity, medicine and my car’s breaks. This equivocation blurs the lines between empirical evidence and pure intuition.
God: Many discussions around this term begin with a) a super human or anthropomorphic entity that is the conscious creator of the universe and exists apart from it (Yahweh). Then it gradually transitions to b) a first cause of ambiguous consciousness or c) a life force or ground of all being. Sometimes the term is stretched as far as to simply mean d) forces of nature such as gravity and electromagnetism or even e) the universe itself (pantheism). This transition allows the word “God” to remain in use whether your talking about a conscious agent or not.