To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

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Sherlock Holmes
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To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #1

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

To be clear the title of this thread is false.

There are currently several purported definitions of atheism, personally I always use the real one, the established one, the one used historically in books on theology, philosophy and so on, the one that's been around for hundreds of years.

But there are some who like to use a different definition one made up one afternoon by Antony Flew in the 1970s in a rather obscure book The Presumption of Atheism.

Nobody paid much attention to this until relatively recently where it became fashionable amongst militant atheists, some of whom even insist that Flew's definition is the true definition.

You can read more about this hand waving and other foot stamping here.

It's also worth noting that there are plenty of atheists who rely on the historic definition and do not agree with this attempt to redefine it, so any pretense that all atheists adopt the "lack of belief" view is false, many atheists do not share that definition at all.
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #11

Post by benchwarmer »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am The edification of myself and others, especially on areas where there's disagreement, we can perhaps each learn something new.
Great. So I guess you can learn this about this particular atheist. I lack belief in gods. According to you that would label me as what exactly?

Now, if one were to ask, I would also add more detail on particular god beliefs. I believe the god as fully described in the Bible does not exist. It is, to me, logically impossible and clearly the work of humans. A real god, IMHO, would be much more intelligent than the obviously war mongering god of the OT and the suddenly all loving god of the NT. So, ignoring disagreement with my position and how I got there, now what is my label?

If one were to ask further, I would add that it's conceivable, to me, that some entity exists that we have not discovered that may have some of the attributes that are commonly attributed to 'gods'. I don't outright claim these don't exist. How could I? So, what fancy label does that get me?
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am Well there are several definitions for "atheism", a real one and some made up ones, I think its worth pointing this out in a forum where atheism and atheists participate.
Are you not aware that language evolves? Or is the whole concept of any type of evolution anathema to you?

This reminds me of "What is a real Christian". Seems there's disagreement there too, but you don't see thread after thread in the span of a couple months trying to define what a Christian is. We have had a few on here for sure, but apparently most atheists don't feel the need to keep trying to sort it out. Some Christians may, but that's another story.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am I do challenge atheists sometimes, I think there's a tendency to portray atheism and atheists as a more rational position than say theism, but I have always disputed that. The atheists often attempt to gain the intellectual high ground, to discredit theists as somehow intellectually inepts, misled victims of "religion" and so on, much of atheism is mere rhetoric too (consider Dawkins or Hitchens).
Now you seem to be building a straw man. Do SOME atheists portray theists in a certain light? Sure, but that train runs both directions. What does that have to do with this topic though? It actually seems you are trying to paint atheists as not really holding whatever they position they are claiming to hold.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am Well clearly my OP states my position it is that the claim "Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods" is false.
Ok, claim made, people who identify at atheists telling you that you are wrong (at least in their case). Now what? Shall I tell you what you believe or disbelieve because you identify as Christian?
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am I should also add that I used to be an atheist, I was a very vocal and rather harsh atheist, often decimating "religious people" since I studied science and theoretical physics, so I am more than aware of the strengths and weakness of atheist arguments, I used to argue them myself!
Clearly you weren't arguing the same arguments that some of us are or you wouldn't be trying to redefine our beliefs for us. There are misguided arguments on all sides, but trying to tell others what they actually believe based on a label rather than just asking them is fruitless.

It seems this thread and others like it are trying to paint atheists in some sort of corner that levels the playing field between not having god beliefs and having god beliefs. It's not working. Those having whatever beliefs they have are welcome to them and can't really be challenged. Those who CLAIM something though, can and should be challenged.

Have you seen any atheists here CLAIM there is no god? If so, go after them one on one. Or open a thread looking for anyone who wants to make that claim. I have a feeling you will only hear crickets, but hey, maybe someone will step up.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #12

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

benchwarmer wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:20 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am The edification of myself and others, especially on areas where there's disagreement, we can perhaps each learn something new.
Great. So I guess you can learn this about this particular atheist. I lack belief in gods. According to you that would label me as what exactly?
Well this goes to the core of the issue I think, it certainly isn't what I'd call an atheist, an atheist - using the established defintion - is one who asserts "there is no God", they believe God is not there, they have reasons and justifications for their belief.

But lacking a belief doesn't really need a label, any more than we have a term for a lack of belief in Dr. Who or Daleks, there are so many things that we must each lack belief in that it would be fruitless to invent names for them all including lack of belief in God.

So I wouldn't apply a label to you and I don't see how you can really attach one to yourself.
benchwarmer wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:20 pm Now, if one were to ask, I would also add more detail on particular god beliefs. I believe the god as fully described in the Bible does not exist. It is, to me, logically impossible and clearly the work of humans. A real god, IMHO, would be much more intelligent than the obviously war mongering god of the OT and the suddenly all loving god of the NT. So, ignoring disagreement with my position and how I got there, now what is my label?
Well that is what I'd call an atheist.
benchwarmer wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:20 pm If one were to ask further, I would add that it's conceivable, to me, that some entity exists that we have not discovered that may have some of the attributes that are commonly attributed to 'gods'. I don't outright claim these don't exist. How could I? So, what fancy label does that get me?
I'd call that "open minded".
benchwarmer wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:20 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am Well there are several definitions for "atheism", a real one and some made up ones, I think its worth pointing this out in a forum where atheism and atheists participate.
Are you not aware that language evolves? Or is the whole concept of any type of evolution anathema to you?
It is a key characteristic of human langauges that they change over time, that's not disputed, some changes are progressive while others are regressive. It seems that it would be much more sensible to just have invetnted a new term to represent what Flew was saying should (in his opinion) be the default position on God.

Using an existing term to represent something different to what it has meant for hundreds of years serves no purpose other than to enable people to call themselves atheist yet avoid having to defend the claim by declaring that atheism doesn't really mean what people said it meant.

It's a bit like me dclaring I'm a pilot and then when asked to see my license I say that I don't have one because my defintion doesn't need one.
benchwarmer wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:20 pm This reminds me of "What is a real Christian". Seems there's disagreement there too, but you don't see thread after thread in the span of a couple months trying to define what a Christian is. We have had a few on here for sure, but apparently most atheists don't feel the need to keep trying to sort it out. Some Christians may, but that's another story.
Well Christain is a label that tells us a person does hold some belief or other, whether they are the "right" beliefs is of course an ongoing discussion.
benchwarmer wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:20 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am I do challenge atheists sometimes, I think there's a tendency to portray atheism and atheists as a more rational position than say theism, but I have always disputed that. The atheists often attempt to gain the intellectual high ground, to discredit theists as somehow intellectually inepts, misled victims of "religion" and so on, much of atheism is mere rhetoric too (consider Dawkins or Hitchens).
Now you seem to be building a straw man. Do SOME atheists portray theists in a certain light? Sure, but that train runs both directions. What does that have to do with this topic though? It actually seems you are trying to paint atheists as not really holding whatever they position they are claiming to hold.
Perhaps, that's a fair retort I suppose.

But do ("modern") atheists actually have a position to even hold? I've asked plenty of them what it is they lack a belief in. To not hold a belief - IMHO - means one has never established the truth or falsity of some claim and that implies one has the ability to discern that truth or falsity.

For example many atheists say stuff like "I've just never seen convincing evidence for a God" to which I'd repsond "Very well, so how would you recognize evidence for God if you did encounter it?" and they either don't know or they dismiss the question altogether.

The "modern" defintion of atheims seems to me to be nothing more than a highbrow way of saying "I don't know" because they don't hold a belief that God exists nor do they hold a beleif that God does not exist.
benchwarmer wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:20 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am Well clearly my OP states my position it is that the claim "Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods" is false.
Ok, claim made, people who identify as atheists telling you that you are wrong (at least in their case). Now what? Shall I tell you what you believe or disbelieve because you identify as Christian?
If you wish, I don't see why you could not or should not do that if you choose to.
benchwarmer wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:20 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am I should also add that I used to be an atheist, I was a very vocal and rather harsh atheist, often decimating "religious people" since I studied science and theoretical physics, so I am more than aware of the strengths and weakness of atheist arguments, I used to argue them myself!
Clearly you weren't arguing the same arguments that some of us are or you wouldn't be trying to redefine our beliefs for us.
But wait, what do you mean? How can you accuse me of "trying to redefine our beliefs for us" when you don't hold a belief in the first place?
benchwarmer wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:20 pm There are misguided arguments on all sides, but trying to tell others what they actually believe based on a label rather than just asking them is fruitless.

It seems this thread and others like it are trying to paint atheists in some sort of corner that levels the playing field between not having god beliefs and having god beliefs. It's not working. Those having whatever beliefs they have are welcome to them and can't really be challenged. Those who CLAIM something though, can and should be challenged.

Have you seen any atheists here CLAIM there is no god? If so, go after them one on one. Or open a thread looking for anyone who wants to make that claim. I have a feeling you will only hear crickets, but hey, maybe someone will step up.
Then why call yourself an atheist if you don't want to attract critics of atheism?

Its like me claiming to be a "rapist" and then objecting to detractors on the basis of declaring "but rape doesn't mean that it means this..." and getting all bent out of shape and berating people for not understanding what "rape" really means.
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #13

Post by Miles »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 11:00 am To be clear the title of this thread is false.

There are currently several purported definitions of atheism, personally I always use the real one, the established one, the one used historically in books on theology, philosophy and so on, the one that's been around for hundreds of years.

But there are some who like to use a different definition one made up one afternoon by Antony Flew in the 1970s in a rather obscure book The Presumption of Atheism.

Nobody paid much attention to this until relatively recently where it became fashionable amongst militant atheists, some of whom even insist that Flew's definition is the true definition.

You can read more about this hand waving and other foot stamping here.

It's also worth noting that there are plenty of atheists who rely on the historic definition and do not agree with this attempt to redefine it, so any pretense that all atheists adopt the "lack of belief" view is false, many atheists do not share that definition at all.
Sorry that you're unaware that quite frequently words change in meaning. That what a word meant a hundred years ago and what it means today can be quite different, which is why dictionaries define words by the their current usage and not their original meanings.

"Silly" originally meant "Blessed with worthiness."
"Leech" original meant "a doctor or healer."
"Clue" originally meant "a ball of yarn."
"Awful" originally meant “worthy of awe.”

Not that dictionaries may not include old and outdated usages, which they often do, but that these old definitions are no longer expected to be used.

So there's no such thing as a "real" definition of "atheism," or any other word for that matter. :mrgreen:


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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #14

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

Miles wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 5:48 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 11:00 am To be clear the title of this thread is false.

There are currently several purported definitions of atheism, personally I always use the real one, the established one, the one used historically in books on theology, philosophy and so on, the one that's been around for hundreds of years.

But there are some who like to use a different definition one made up one afternoon by Antony Flew in the 1970s in a rather obscure book The Presumption of Atheism.

Nobody paid much attention to this until relatively recently where it became fashionable amongst militant atheists, some of whom even insist that Flew's definition is the true definition.

You can read more about this hand waving and other foot stamping here.

It's also worth noting that there are plenty of atheists who rely on the historic definition and do not agree with this attempt to redefine it, so any pretense that all atheists adopt the "lack of belief" view is false, many atheists do not share that definition at all.
Sorry that you're unaware that quite frequently words change in meaning. That what a word meant a hundred years ago and what it means today can be quite different, which is why dictionaries define words by the their current usage and not their original meanings.

"Silly" originally meant "Blessed with worthiness."
"Leech" original meant "a doctor or healer."
"Clue" originally meant "a ball of yarn."
"Awful" originally meant “worthy of awe.”

Not that dictionaries may not include old and outdated usages, which they often do, but that these old definitions are no longer expected to be used.

So there's no such thing as a "real" definition of "atheism," or any other word for that matter. :mrgreen:


.
I cannot comprehend or understand your post, please include your definition of the following terms:

"quite",
"meaning",
"meant",
"define",
"current".

Incidentally the current meaning of atheism has not changed from the original it means the same thing it meant 50 years ago, 75 years ago or 120 years ago.

Those who want to redefine it to mean "a lack of belief in God" have some work to do too, what is it they lack a belief in? and how do they know they do lack such a belief? at what point in their lives did the light bulb come on and say "Hey, wow, I just realized I lack a belief in God, I think I'll call myself an atheist!" and what was the trigger for that huge burst of insight? finally why do they believe that lacking a belief is actually a position?

This could have been the seed of a Monty Python's Flying Circus episode:

"So, professor, you're an atheist, yes?"

"Yes, that's right I'm an atheist".

"So tell us, what is it that you believe?"

"Well as an atheist I don't hold a belief in God".

"OK, so you believe there's no God."

"Erm, no, no, I didn't say that, I said I don't hold a belief in God not that I do hold a belief in not God".

"Oh, OK thanks for clarifying. So do you also have a lack of belief in God not existing?"

"Yes, I lack belief in God existing and in God not existing".

"OK, thanks for clarifying there Professor! OK, so what then, what exactly is your position?"

"Well, I think its very clear that as an atheist I do not have a position".

"Well, well, I see, so your position is that you don't have a position?"

"Yes, that's correct, that's my position".

"So how did you decide to position yourself as an atheist then?"

"Ooh, look, is that the time? I had no idea, I must be off to another interview now, thank you, good evening".
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #15

Post by Miles »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 6:05 pm
Miles wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 5:48 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 11:00 am To be clear the title of this thread is false.

There are currently several purported definitions of atheism, personally I always use the real one, the established one, the one used historically in books on theology, philosophy and so on, the one that's been around for hundreds of years.

But there are some who like to use a different definition one made up one afternoon by Antony Flew in the 1970s in a rather obscure book The Presumption of Atheism.

Nobody paid much attention to this until relatively recently where it became fashionable amongst militant atheists, some of whom even insist that Flew's definition is the true definition.

You can read more about this hand waving and other foot stamping here.

It's also worth noting that there are plenty of atheists who rely on the historic definition and do not agree with this attempt to redefine it, so any pretense that all atheists adopt the "lack of belief" view is false, many atheists do not share that definition at all.
Sorry that you're unaware that quite frequently words change in meaning. That what a word meant a hundred years ago and what it means today can be quite different, which is why dictionaries define words by the their current usage and not their original meanings.

"Silly" originally meant "Blessed with worthiness."
"Leech" original meant "a doctor or healer."
"Clue" originally meant "a ball of yarn."
"Awful" originally meant “worthy of awe.”

Not that dictionaries may not include old and outdated usages, which they often do, but that these old definitions are no longer expected to be used.

So there's no such thing as a "real" definition of "atheism," or any other word for that matter. :mrgreen:


.
I cannot comprehend or understand your post, please include your definition of the following terms:

"quite",
"meaning",
"meant",
"define",
"current".
No. I'm not here to bring you up to speed on the use of the English language and its words. We have schools for such things.


.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #16

Post by JoeyKnothead »

Edit to fix quotationalities...
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 11:00 am To be clear the title of this thread is false.
Let's see if you can't put you any truth to that...
There are currently several purported definitions of atheism, personally I always use the real one, the established one, the one used historically in books on theology, philosophy and so on, the one that's been around for hundreds of years.
Ya got ya an argument from old timey days there.

Word usage is in a constant, if winter molasses speed, state of flux.
But there are some who like to use a different definition one made up one afternoon by Antony Flew in the 1970s in a rather obscure book The Presumption of Atheism.
Never read it.

I take my definition from the putting an 'a' in front of something, well that means it ain't it that something. So where 'theism' is a belief in a god or gods, well there we go.
Nobody paid much attention to this until relatively recently where it became fashionable amongst militant atheists, some of whom even insist that Flew's definition is the true definition.
"Militant atheists" reminds me of all the militant Christians who wage war, murder folks, and plant bombs - sometimes in churches.

It's nothing but an ad hom attack.

Ya'd think a Sherlock Holmes'd know that.
You can read more about this hand waving and other foot stamping...
You gonna post some more, are ya?
here.
By what authority does Stanford have to declare we all gotta use their definitions?
It's also worth noting that there are plenty of atheists who rely on the historic definition
The fact we're here us afussing about it indicates there's some atheists who don't respect arguments from history just cause they are.
and do not agree with this attempt to redefine it, so any pretense that all atheists adopt the "lack of belief" view is false, many atheists do not share that definition at all.
Do you accept the definition of "cool" has come to also mean how much of it your protestations ain't?

"Many" ain't "all".

Your argument fails on that point alone.

But you're certainly free to be upset we don't all just accept your imposing on us a definition that brings you comfort.
Discovery is finding things that exist.
Invention is using things discovered.

Create that path and engineer a metamorphosis.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #17

Post by benchwarmer »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 5:11 pm Well this goes to the core of the issue I think, it certainly isn't what I'd call an atheist, an atheist
Not to sound harsh, but we (atheists) don't really care what YOU might define an atheist as. Only atheists should be (potentially) quibbling about what their label means to them. Much like non Christians can't really redefine 'Christian' for Christians. Yes, we all have a general idea what these common words mean. However, if there is a disagreement on what a given person believes or disbelieves, instead of arguing about what a word means, just ask them what they think.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am - using the established defintion - is one who asserts "there is no God"
Well, technically I would call that a gnostic atheist. i.e. one who claims to KNOW there is no god. There are two prongs: Knowing(gnostic/agnostic) and believing (theist/atheist - for gods).
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am
But lacking a belief doesn't really need a label, any more than we have a term for a lack of belief in Dr. Who or Daleks
Sure it needs a label if we want to establish some common words for communication in an area such as religion. It helps us relate our ideas. When things get confusing though, we just ask. We certainly ask when the person you decide to label objects to the meaning you have decided upon.

The trouble is, people deciding to burden others with extra baggage (beliefs) based on basic labelling. At it's core, atheist is NOT a theist. What unites all theists? Well, a belief in some theology which usually involves a god concept of some sort. However, I would never burden a particular theist or even all theists with any particular theology. i.e. all theists believe in a god may not necessarily be correct . Perhaps some believe in more than one god. Perhaps some believe in something not commonly defined as a god - like a 'mind'. I would personally ask rather than just try to brush all theists with the same color just so my particular arguments can hold water.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am , there are so many things that we must each lack belief in that it would be fruitless to invent names for them all including lack of belief in God.

So I wouldn't apply a label to you and I don't see how you can really attach one to yourself.
Happy to hear no labelling from you, but I do attach one to myself. Atheist. Technically an agnostic atheist.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am
benchwarmer wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:20 pm Now, if one were to ask, I would also add more detail on particular god beliefs. I believe the god as fully described in the Bible does not exist. It is, to me, logically impossible and clearly the work of humans. A real god, IMHO, would be much more intelligent than the obviously war mongering god of the OT and the suddenly all loving god of the NT. So, ignoring disagreement with my position and how I got there, now what is my label?
Well that is what I'd call an atheist.
Why? Now you are tying 'atheist' to a particular belief about a particular theology (Christianity). That's odd. 'Atheist' is a generic term, why would my belief about the character in a given collection of writings paint me as an atheist? Do you believe the gods of Hinduism exist? If not, that means you would label yourself an atheist using your logic. What a twist! :)
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am It is a key characteristic of human langauges that they change over time, that's not disputed, some changes are progressive while others are regressive. It seems that it would be much more sensible to just have invetnted a new term to represent what Flew was saying should (in his opinion) be the default position on God.
Why invent a new word when we can simplify and/or refine existing words? Happens all the time.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am Using an existing term to represent something different to what it has meant for hundreds of years serves no purpose other than to enable people to call themselves atheist yet avoid having to defend the claim by declaring that atheism doesn't really mean what people said it meant.
Calling oneself an atheist makes no claims that need to be defended. Same as calling oneself a theist.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am It's a bit like me dclaring I'm a pilot and then when asked to see my license I say that I don't have one because my defintion doesn't need one.
I am actually a pilot, but I can only fly certain types of aircraft under certain conditions (that being none at the moment without a valid medical certificate). You can call yourself a pilot all you like, it's only when you show up to rent an aircraft or you get ramp checked after trying to fly something that the rubber will meet the tarmac so to speak.

Much like 'atheist' is a general term, so is pilot. Clarification is likely required before burdening anyone that labels themselves a such with any extra beliefs or knowledge.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am Well Christain is a label that tells us a person does hold some belief or other, whether they are the "right" beliefs is of course an ongoing discussion.
You make my point. It's a broad label (as evidenced by the thousands of different Christian denominations). I would be foolish to attempt to hang any particular belief on any given Christian without asking for more details.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am But do ("modern") atheists actually have a position to even hold?
Sure we do. We lack belief in gods. Some may hold further beliefs as I already presented about myself.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am I've asked plenty of them what it is they lack a belief in. To not hold a belief - IMHO - means one has never established the truth or falsity of some claim and that implies one has the ability to discern that truth or falsity.
That's just wrong. If a claim is not falsifiable, then there's no way to discern it's truth or falsity. Do you believe in the invisible unicorn in my hedge? How would you actually determine anything about it since no one can see it or any sign of it? Sure, given no evidence it's simple to dismiss any claims about it, but have you really arrived at the truth?
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am For example many atheists say stuff like "I've just never seen convincing evidence for a God" to which I'd repsond "Very well, so how would you recognize evidence for God if you did encounter it?" and they either don't know or they dismiss the question altogether.
Not sure what atheists you've been talking to. I would recognize evidence for God if God himself sat in front of me and proceeded to do everything He is described as being capable of doing. It would be strong evidence for sure (though to be fair it could just be an advanced alien playing on our cultural myths).
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am The "modern" defintion of atheims seems to me to be nothing more than a highbrow way of saying "I don't know" because they don't hold a belief that God exists nor do they hold a beleif that God does not exist.
Well, you will have to ask each atheist you encounter if you are confused or curious. Most of us (at least on this board) are more than willing to explain our position. I just did.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am If you wish, I don't see why you could not or should not do that if you choose to.
Because I see the mistake of burdening others with things they don't actually hold as beliefs. Maybe you believe in the trinity or maybe you don't. Maybe you believe asking Mary to pray for you is useful or not. Maybe you believe the host in a Catholic church is really Jesus or maybe you think it's just a wafer. The list goes on.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am But wait, what do you mean? How can you accuse me of "trying to redefine our beliefs for us" when you don't hold a belief in the first place?
I think maybe you missed some details here. I DO have beliefs, so that statement makes no sense. I clearly outlined one of my beliefs. However, the label atheist, as I use it, is simply a lack of belief IN GODS. Not a lack of beliefs in general.
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am Then why call yourself an atheist if you don't want to attract critics of atheism?
Why would criticism scare me away? I would be in the wrong place if that were the case.

The real question is, why are you trying to tell atheists what they believe or don't believe by arguing about what 'atheist' means?

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

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Post by brunumb »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:49 am I should also add that I used to be an atheist, I was a very vocal and rather harsh atheist, often decimating "religious people" since I studied science and theoretical physics, so I am more than aware of the strengths and weakness of atheist arguments, I used to argue them myself!
Could you please clarify for us, under what definition were you previously an atheist?
Christianty: 2000 years of making it up as you go along.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

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Post by Purple Knight »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 11:00 amIt's also worth noting that there are plenty of atheists who rely on the historic definition and do not agree with this attempt to redefine it, so any pretense that all atheists adopt the "lack of belief" view is false, many atheists do not share that definition at all.
I actually think it's a little unfair. What's unfair about it, is lumping the neutral position in with atheism, when there is already a word for it, which is agnostic.

Why it's unfair is that lumping the neutral position in with either side makes that side appear more reasonable than it is.

I don't know why atheism should need this help. I don't think Q from Star Trek, the God of the Bible, Peter Pan, or Willy Wonka actually exist. I could be wrong but I really don't think so. I don't need to bake, "but I could be wrong," into everything I think to make all my positions into tautological truths so my opponents will look foolish. I don't think Willy Wonka exists. What I think is what I think. Of course I could be wrong.

I think your definition is more useful and fair.

But of course everyone is more than allowed to define their own beliefs and label them as they wish.

Still, I get a bit upset that we don't have this umbrage and definitional chicanery over unicorns. Firstly, if someone asks me if I believe in unicorns, and I say no, then that's the end of it, nobody's going to try to weasel me into being wrong because I said unicorns definitely did not exist and for all I know, they might. Secondly, we don't have or need large groups of people claiming that their answer is that they lack belief in unicorns, which honestly sounds like avoiding the question. You either do, or you don't, it's that simple.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

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benchwarmer wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:20 pm
It seems this thread and others like it are trying to paint atheists in some sort of corner that levels the playing field between not having god beliefs and having god beliefs.
I don't think so. I think this thread and others like it are simply pointing out some incoherence in how some people describe atheism.

Consider, for example, the definition of atheism cited above from American Atheists:
American Atheists wrote:
Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.”
Notice that the two bolded sections directly contradict each other. To "disbelieve" is by definition "to withhold or reject belief," so to reject belief in gods is to disbelieve in gods, yet American Atheists affirms the former while denying the latter.

It seems to me that some atheists on this forum evince a similar confusion precisely on this point when they describe atheism.

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