A New Definition of Atheist

HisWillness
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A New Definition of Atheist

It's my considered (but personal) opinion that we need a new definition of "atheist". I present it here for consideration:

An atheist is someone who doesn't believe other people when they tell him or her that gods exist.

Sort of takes the pressure off, doesn't it? I think this is more fair to us, because it's more representative of what's actually happening.

Usually it's framed in terms of belief of a thing in itself, with the question begged right there in the definition: Atheists don't believe in God! How could they? We all know who that is, and church activities have something to do with that, and church activities are good! Ooooh, atheists are a bad bunch.

So help me out: am I so far off, here? I think we're just the people who don't buy it when other people say, "there are gods". It's them we don't believe, not whatever odd imaginary thing they have in mind.

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The Doomed Soul
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Eh, correct me if im wrong

Eh, correct me if im wrong (dont actually, i may hurt you) but isn't there a loop hole in your word play?

 

That allows any 2 bit believer to be an atheist if he doesnt listen to his pastor?

 

People will attempt such things >.>

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Hambydammit
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LOL.  Will, have you been

LOL.  Will, have you been reading all the poop floating around the blogosphere about fundamentalist atheists?  It seems to be all the rage... again.

After our last discussion about strong vs. weak atheism, I've hit some sort of zen with regard to atheism.  I never gave much thought before to whether I was a strong or weak atheist, but now I honestly don't give a damn.  I think we could split hairs and divide atheists into camps.  That guy over there is a Strong Positivist Atheist, and this girl is a weak testimony-denial agnostic atheist with a twist of lime.  The thing is, it doesn't really matter.  The truth is, there are a lot of really great reasons to be an atheist.  If you're an atheist because you don't believe what other people say, that implies (or necessitates?) that you have seen no evidence for a god.  After all, if you had seen evidence, you wouldn't need testimony, right?

So... if you're an atheist by this new definition, you're also a weak atheist in the traditional sense.  You have seen no evidence, so you don't believe.  Adding the clarification that you also don't believe other people who don't show you evidence is extraneous, isn't it?

I guess my point is that there really aren't hard divisions.  If you are a weak atheist with regard to "GOD," the nebulous concept which might be coherently presented to you at some time in the future, and I propose "GOD" as "A blue invisible man who has always existed, and whose existence can only exist while the Empire State Building also exists," you will immediately become a strong atheist with regard to at least one god.  If you have any sense, you'll also punch me in the mouth for having made you sit through my inanity.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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HisWillness
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Hambydammit wrote:LOL. 

Hambydammit wrote:
LOL.  Will, have you been reading all the poop floating around the blogosphere about fundamentalist atheists?  It seems to be all the rage... again.

Really? This one came to me after reading a couple of the posts in Atheist vs. Theist.

Hambydammit wrote:
I guess my point is that there really aren't hard divisions.

Well, exactly. I'm sick of being treated like we have some sort of fucking clubhouse, and sit around talking about how to derail the work of legitimate scientists because they said "god" this one time. There's just so much nonsense.

Hambydammit wrote:
and I propose "GOD" as "A blue invisible man who has always existed, and whose existence can only exist while the Empire State Building also exists," you will immediately become a strong atheist with regard to at least one god.  If you have any sense, you'll also punch me in the mouth for having made you sit through my inanity.

Exactly! That's my point! It's no longer possible to defend the position of not believing any ridiculous bullshit people can make up on the spot. That's our position, we just have an unfortunate label.

Apparently, a writer from the Encyclopedia Britannica feels similarly. Quoted here:

http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_4.htm#38269.toc

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Quote:There were few avowed

Quote:
There were few avowed atheists from classical times until the 19th cent., when popular belief in a conflict between religion and science brought forth preachers of the gospel of atheism, such as Robert G. Ingersoll.

Wow.  The Gospel of Atheism, eh? 

You know what I just thought of, Will?  I became an atheist before I ever read a book by an atheist.  How about that!  You remember a few months ago, some thread or another got onto whether or not a person who hadn't been indoctrinated into a religion could be expected to arrive at an already existing religion entirely on his own.  Of course, the odds are astronomically bad.  But people arrive at atheism entirely on their own all the time.

So... what, exactly, is the gospel of atheism?

Meh... it's just more of the same crap.  Apparently it is beyond the mind of most theists to imagine life without a guidebook.

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote:So...

Hambydammit wrote:

So... what, exactly, is the gospel of atheism?

What? I actually missed that part. The part I was talking about was under "Comprehensive Definition of Atheism".

I can't cut-and-paste, because I don't want to make the linked website's mistake of copyright infringement, while being a moderator. But that section, for about four paragraphs, is exactly what I was trying to say above. This should work:

http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_4.htm#38269.toc

I have no idea what the Atheist's Gospel is. That's just weird.

 

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HisWillness wrote:An atheist

HisWillness wrote:

An atheist is someone who doesn't believe other people when they tell him or her that gods exist.

Does this mean you don't believe that the theist is really a theist, they they don't really believe?

 

"... Now I'll give you something to believe. I'm just one hundred and one, five months and a day."

"I can't believe that!" said Alice.

"Can't you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast..."

- Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass

 

Theist: One that has trained themselves to believe what the know is impossible.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


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EXC wrote:HisWillness

EXC wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

An atheist is someone who doesn't believe other people when they tell him or her that gods exist.

Does this mean you don't believe that the theist is really a theist, they they don't really believe?

No, they probably really believe what they believe, I just don't believe them.

...

The odd thing is that all supernatural creatures require a different kind of belief than anything else. That's sort of the problem. They require a different kind of being, a different kind of reality, and a different kind of belief than anything else.

"I have a rocket launcher."

"That's difficult to believe."

vs.

"God has a rocket launcher."

"I bet God has the biggest rocket launcher."

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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I think that the most common

I think that the most common definition, that is the colliquial definition that most people out there use is as follows:

There's a position "God exists"
A theist has an opinion in favour of holding this position.
An atheist has an opinion against holding this position.
An agnostic has no strong opinion either way.

I've left out the word "belief" intentionally.
This is because I think that a lot of "theists" out there "believe in belief" rather than actually believe.
I know this might go against many formal definitions and what you find in dictionaries, but when I observe how people generally use the word, this seems to be the best fit.


Edit: After I posted this topic and read the OP again, I noticed that HW's definition of atheism is actually pretty close to mine.
This wasn't intentional - I originally posted this as a kind of rebuttal.
My only conclusion (other than that I need to read topics more carefully before replying...) is that great minds think alike! thumbs up


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Strafio wrote:I think that

Strafio wrote:

I think that the most common definition, that is the colliquial definition that most people out there use is as follows:

There's a position "God exists"
A theist has an opinion in favour of holding this position.
An atheist has an opinion against holding this position.
An agnostic has no strong opinion either way.

I'd have to agree, regardless of any technical arguments surrounding the definition. Especially with regards to "agnostic", which strikes me as a position of social expediency before anything. And "opinion" does seem more accurate.

Strafio wrote:
This is because I think that a lot of "theists" out there "believe in belief" rather than actually believe.

Exactly. Well said.

Strafio wrote:
This wasn't intentional - I originally posted this as a kind of rebuttal.

Really, all we're doing is pointing out the social aspect, so I don't think it's much of a leap. But naturally, I agree about the great minds part.

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The common useage of

The common useage of "atheist" in rejecting claims of gods, falls way short for me. I think it should be expanded to define someone who treats a naked assertion as such untill demonstrated otherwise.

I think it is wrong to call oneself an atheist, yet read horriscopes, or claim that the universe is a giant conciousness.

A better definition to me would be the rejection of gap answers of any kind, including gods/deities/ supernatural, magic and superstition.

 

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Brian37 wrote:The common

Brian37 wrote:

The common useage of "atheist" in rejecting claims of gods, falls way short for me. I think it should be expanded to define someone who treats a naked assertion as such untill demonstrated otherwise.

I think it is wrong to call oneself an atheist, yet read horriscopes, or claim that the universe is a giant conciousness.

A better definition to me would be the rejection of gap answers of any kind, including gods/deities/ supernatural, magic and superstition.

That's definitely my personal bias, too. So "naturalist" fits, I suppose, instead of atheist. True, why focus on just the one piece of nonsense?

 

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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Brian37 wrote:The common

Brian37 wrote:
The common useage of "atheist" in rejecting claims of gods, falls way short for me. I think it should be expanded to define someone who treats a naked assertion as such untill demonstrated otherwise.

I figured we had the word 'skeptic' for that.

Brian37 wrote:
A better definition to me would be the rejection of gap answers of any kind, including gods/deities/ supernatural, magic and superstition.

I like this one though.
It seems to fit the image/stereotype of the modern atheist quite nicely.

HisWillness wrote:
naturally, I agree about the great minds part.

thumbs up


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Hambydammit wrote:LOL. 

Hambydammit wrote:

LOL.  Will, have you been reading all the poop floating around the blogosphere about fundamentalist atheists?  It seems to be all the rage... again.

After our last discussion about strong vs. weak atheism, I've hit some sort of zen with regard to atheism.  I never gave much thought before to whether I was a strong or weak atheist, but now I honestly don't give a damn.  I think we could split hairs and divide atheists into camps.  That guy over there is a Strong Positivist Atheist, and this girl is a weak testimony-denial agnostic atheist with a twist of lime.  The thing is, it doesn't really matter.  The truth is, there are a lot of really great reasons to be an atheist.  If you're an atheist because you don't believe what other people say, that implies (or necessitates?) that you have seen no evidence for a god.  After all, if you had seen evidence, you wouldn't need testimony, right?

So... if you're an atheist by this new definition, you're also a weak atheist in the traditional sense.  You have seen no evidence, so you don't believe.  Adding the clarification that you also don't believe other people who don't show you evidence is extraneous, isn't it?

I guess my point is that there really aren't hard divisions.  If you are a weak atheist with regard to "GOD," the nebulous concept which might be coherently presented to you at some time in the future, and I propose "GOD" as "A blue invisible man who has always existed, and whose existence can only exist while the Empire State Building also exists," you will immediately become a strong atheist with regard to at least one god.  If you have any sense, you'll also punch me in the mouth for having made you sit through my inanity.

 

Completely agree.

I can understand all these sub-categories of atheism and agnosticism but really it comes down to just two options: theist or nontheist.

I've intentionally use nontheist here rather than atheist since it includes all 'brands' nontheism (atheism, agnosticism, secular humanism, etc) whilst largely avoiding the stigma and controversy of atheism (I say largely since I realise that simply not being a theist can be controversial for some). I'm certainly not one to shy away from the atheist label for fear of stigma and I'm certainly not in favour propping up a misleading definition (e.g. atheism as certain denial), however surely the issue of religion within the world is just too damn important to get bogged down with semantics (other than, of course, correcting blatant errors/strawmen). If we had the category of theism-nontheism as the primary labels then we will instantly grow in size as it would automatically include all brands of nontheism, as opposed to filtering us down (and thereby reducing our impact) with sub-categories.

On a related note, I wonder what is more important... theism vs. nontheism or those nontheists that are in favour of criticising religion vs. those nontheists that are not in favour of criticising religion?

 

 

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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Hambydammit wrote:LOL. 

Hambydammit wrote:

LOL.  Will, have you been reading all the poop floating around the blogosphere about fundamentalist atheists?  It seems to be all the rage... again.

After our last discussion about strong vs. weak atheism, I've hit some sort of zen with regard to atheism.  I never gave much thought before to whether I was a strong or weak atheist, but now I honestly don't give a damn.  I think we could split hairs and divide atheists into camps.  That guy over there is a Strong Positivist Atheist, and this girl is a weak testimony-denial agnostic atheist with a twist of lime.  The thing is, it doesn't really matter.  The truth is, there are a lot of really great reasons to be an atheist.  If you're an atheist because you don't believe what other people say, that implies (or necessitates?) that you have seen no evidence for a god.  After all, if you had seen evidence, you wouldn't need testimony, right?

So... if you're an atheist by this new definition, you're also a weak atheist in the traditional sense.  You have seen no evidence, so you don't believe.  Adding the clarification that you also don't believe other people who don't show you evidence is extraneous, isn't it?

I guess my point is that there really aren't hard divisions.  If you are a weak atheist with regard to "GOD," the nebulous concept which might be coherently presented to you at some time in the future, and I propose "GOD" as "A blue invisible man who has always existed, and whose existence can only exist while the Empire State Building also exists," you will immediately become a strong atheist with regard to at least one god.  If you have any sense, you'll also punch me in the mouth for having made you sit through my inanity.

 

 

The problem with the "I dont give a damn" attitude is that god belief is either on or off.  Just like absolute zero(middle ground, or neutral) can only be approached, to varying degrees, but not reached.

I think what both atheists and theists miss is that time is in motion and beliefs are not static and can change.

There is the past, present and future. Both the atheist and theist, if honest, can at best be agnostic about the future.

I am a strong atheist about current and past claims. I am a weak atheist as far as the future, although I cannot fathom anything down the pike that would convince me that the current claims of myth or past claims of myth have any credibility and are safely in the file 13 of my mind.

I agree that an atheist is one who doesn't believe in a god or gods, so in that all atheists have that in common. But, we do have variants that are important, not to our core commonality, but to how we think about the past, present and future.

I think it is possible to be a weak atheist about past and present claims and still be an atheist. I think it is possible to be a strong atheist about past and present claims and be comfortable with saying, "I could be wrong, but it the compass sure doesn't seem to be pointing in that direction".

 

 

 

 

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Brian37 wrote:I think it is

Brian37 wrote:

I think it is possible to be a weak atheist about past and present claims and still be an atheist. I think it is possible to be a strong atheist about past and present claims and be comfortable with saying, "I could be wrong, but it the compass sure doesn't seem to be pointing in that direction"

Naturally, in keeping with my normal position on things, I would hold that past and present claims are just as incoherent as future claims. That is, I agree that past claims have been ridiculous in their conception, but future claims cannot be constructed in such a way as to consider them possibilities.

Haven't you had enough of the "God can do anything logically possible" bit? It's amazing that people even use that argument, considering its conclusion. Gods can't exist like we do, or like a table does, so gods only exist if gods can exist in a special way.

You don't need to soften your stance when it comes to future gods. Our understanding of existence isn't as lame as all that.

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Quote:On a related note, I

Quote:
On a related note, I wonder what is more important... theism vs. nontheism or those nontheists that are in favour of criticising religion vs. those nontheists that are not in favour of criticising religion?

A very worthy question.  I tend to think the latter is more important.  To be honest, I hardly ever engage in a discussion of the former.  Why bother?  We (nontheists) have won.  It's over.  Why beat a dead horse?

The only hurdle now is to get other nontheists to embrace victory and insist on an end to the acceptability of theist nonsense in any meaningful discussion.

I really like your approach to nontheism, and the more I think about it, the more I think I might begin adopting the same approach.  I already call myself a non-theist when asked in person.  Perhaps I should adopt the same label in my internet world.  It's certainly a more inclusive term than atheist, and doesn't inspire the same degree of hatred.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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