Defining Atheism

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Defining Atheism

One thing that has particularly aggravated me about atheism and theism is the lack of specificity when one begins to discuss the existence or nonexistence of a god. When one says, "I'm an atheists" or "I'm a theist" I usually am like "okay, so is my pet orangutan...and....?" Of course I'm not serious about this, but it is a way to let one know that what they are saying needs to be clarified. While it is certainly true that a theist who claims that a particular deity exists bears the burden of proof for that particular deities existence, at the same time I do not think it is right for atheists to make categorical statements about being atheism without reason, because atheism seems to be more of a category of positions than any single position about god.

When categorically dealing with atheism then, atheists are typically divided into two groups: "strong" and "weak" atheism, which often correlates to "positive" and "negative" atheism respectively. Positive atheism is the assertion that, "I believe that no gods exist", while "weak" and "negative" atheism is the assertion, "the existence of gods cannot be known, therefore I do not believe in gods." These two categories are often called "explicit" atheism, while a third often touted category of atheism is "implicit" atheism.  The atheists in this category are those who have no beliefs about god. (I call this ignosticism.) The categories above define categories of atheism based on the strength of assertions, but when we begin to discuss atheism, there are really two areas that we talk about: "belief" and "god".  These two areas fall into two categories, namely epistemology and ontology respectively.

Epistemic assertions are assertions about the nature of beliefs and knowledge. The post "Am I an Atheist or Agnostic" seems to handle the epistemic side of atheism by asserting that agnosticism and ignosticism definitionally, are forms of atheism because those who hold such beliefs do not have beliefs in a deity. When we begin to discuss this however, the epistemic reasons, such as lack of evidence, lack of cogent evidence, the meaninglessness of god talk, among others need to be noted. Aside from this, I think it is also necessary to define what can be an atheist. The post "Am I an Atheist or Agnostic" asserts that everyone is born atheists. Insofar as this is concerned rocks and trees could also be atheists, but this of course absurd. The ability to believe, then, is perhaps a prerequisite for atheism.

The ontological category of atheism is when one talks the actual existence of a god. Because "god" is a broadly applied term, one needs to specify exactly what one is asserting when one talks about "god". Normally, when one begins to talk about god, classical theism is typically the topic of conversation, but not necessarily barring other forms of god. The problem with saying does not believe in a god or gods, is that that gods can be very real things. The ancient Egyptians, for example, believed that men were gods. Numerous other religions believe or have believed that things like plants, mountains, stars, moons, planets, and animals are gods. If one were to assert that one does not believe in gods categorically, then one would not believe in these things. Not so far from home are other ideas about what one calls "god". Albert Einstein said of "god" that "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings" and "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." Einstein's definition of "god" was more-or-less demystified pantheistic "god". This sort of "god" is not some mere tangible item, but nevertheless is described as a god of sort. These sorts of gods do not fit into classical theism, so one stands to reason that if some physical thing is a god, then those who believe physical things are real believe gods are real. For example:

1.) Some rocks are gods
2.) Person X believes in rocks
3.) Therefore Person X believes in some gods

But this of course is invalid as it is pure equivocation, which brings be to my point: there is nothing to prevent this line of reasoning from being invalid unless one defines what one is talking about concerning gods.

Also concerning the ontological category of atheism, one needs to be clear concerning the modality of atheism. It is one thing to say that "gods do not exist" and another to say "it is not possible for gods to exist", and yet another to say "gods have never existed" or some other tense form of a statement about the existence of gods. One could still be an atheist and believe in the possibility of gods without actually believing that gods exist. When one begins to talk about such things, one needs to be certainly clear when one begins to discuss the existence of god. Richard Dawkins concedes the possibility that gods could exist, but he himself does not believe that they exist. However the actual probability of something's existence is an epistemic discussion.

All this is to say that in order to have meaningful discussions about atheism, one need to be crystal clear as to what we are talking about. Often one of the touted problems of theism is meaninglessness of particular concepts of the divine. I suppose this is true of atheism if one merely asserts that one is an atheist and leaves it at that.
 

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ubuntuAnyone wrote:One thing

ubuntuAnyone wrote:

One thing that has particularly aggravated me about atheism and theism is the lack of specificity when one begins to discuss the existence or nonexistence of a god. When one says, "I'm an atheists" or "I'm a theist" I usually am like "okay, so is my pet orangutan...and....?" Of course I'm not serious about this, but it is a way to let one know that what they are saying needs to be clarified. While it is certainly true that a theist who claims that a particular deity exists bears the burden of proof for that particular deities existence, at the same time I do not think it is right for atheists to make categorical statements about being atheism without reason, because atheism seems to be more of a category of positions than any single position about god.

When categorically dealing with atheism then, atheists are typically divided into two groups: "strong" and "weak" atheism, which often correlates to "positive" and "negative" atheism respectively. Positive atheism is the assertion that, "I believe that no gods exist", while "weak" and "negative" atheism is the assertion, "the existence of gods cannot be known, therefore I do not believe in gods." These two categories are often called "explicit" atheism, while a third often touted category of atheism is "implicit" atheism.  The atheists in this category are those who have no beliefs about god. (I call this ignosticism.) The categories above define categories of atheism based on the strength of assertions, but when we begin to discuss atheism, there are really two areas that we talk about: "belief" and "god".  These two areas fall into two categories, namely epistemology and ontology respectively.

Epistemic assertions are assertions about the nature of beliefs and knowledge. The post "Am I an Atheist or Agnostic" seems to handle the epistemic side of atheism by asserting that agnosticism and ignosticism definitionally, are forms of atheism because those who hold such beliefs do not have beliefs in a deity. When we begin to discuss this however, the epistemic reasons, such as lack of evidence, lack of cogent evidence, the meaninglessness of god talk, among others need to be noted. Aside from this, I think it is also necessary to define what can be an atheist. The post "Am I an Atheist or Agnostic" asserts that everyone is born atheists. Insofar as this is concerned rocks and trees could also be atheists, but this of course absurd. The ability to believe, then, is perhaps a prerequisite for atheism.

The ontological category of atheism is when one talks the actual existence of a god. Because "god" is a broadly applied term, one needs to specify exactly what one is asserting when one talks about "god". Normally, when one begins to talk about god, classical theism is typically the topic of conversation, but not necessarily barring other forms of god. The problem with saying does not believe in a god or gods, is that that gods can be very real things. The ancient Egyptians, for example, believed that men were gods. Numerous other religions believe or have believed that things like plants, mountains, stars, moons, planets, and animals are gods. If one were to assert that one does not believe in gods categorically, then one would not believe in these things. Not so far from home are other ideas about what one calls "god". Albert Einstein said of "god" that "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings" and "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." Einstein's definition of "god" was more-or-less demystified pantheistic "god". This sort of "god" is not some mere tangible item, but nevertheless is described as a god of sort. These sorts of gods do not fit into classical theism, so one stands to reason that if some physical thing is a god, then those who believe physical things are real believe gods are real. For example:

1.) Some rocks are gods
2.) Person X believes in rocks
3.) Therefore Person X believes in some gods

But this of course is invalid as it is pure equivocation, which brings be to my point: there is nothing to prevent this line of reasoning from being invalid unless one defines what one is talking about concerning gods.

Also concerning the ontological category of atheism, one needs to be clear concerning the modality of atheism. It is one thing to say that "gods do not exist" and another to say "it is not possible for gods to exist", and yet another to say "gods have never existed" or some other tense form of a statement about the existence of gods. One could still be an atheist and believe in the possibility of gods without actually believing that gods exist. When one begins to talk about such things, one needs to be certainly clear when one begins to discuss the existence of god. Richard Dawkins concedes the possibility that gods could exist, but he himself does not believe that they exist. However the actual probability of something's existence is an epistemic discussion.

All this is to say that in order to have meaningful discussions about atheism, one need to be crystal clear as to what we are talking about. Often one of the touted problems of theism is meaninglessness of particular concepts of the divine. I suppose this is true of atheism if one merely asserts that one is an atheist and leaves it at that.
 

You have largely examined an argument based solely around semantics.  What one calls a god, I call a rock, therefor I believe in a god. 

That's, of course, ridiculous, as you note.  I don't care for word games.  Clearly, when someone refers to a rock as god they're not talking about the empirical properties of the rock.  They're talking about some other properties that may or may not be falsifiable.  They may not even be able to coherently define those properties or what they mean when they say that the rock is god (this, as I'll expound on, is the most problematic part of calling anything 'god').

The conclusion you come to appears to me to be valid*: Without being specific about what I disbelieve in, I haven't actually said anything about what I disbelieve in.

This is true because in the most important sense no one who disbelieves in god(s) knows what she's actually disbelieving in.  *This is perfectly reasonable, of course, because the person espousing belief in god(s) doesn't know (or, importantly, can't know) what it is he's believing in.  To the point, the actual object of disbelief (as it must be) is the inane rambling of the person espousing belief.  It is not necessary to disbelieve in god(s) as though they were possible because there's no reason to take the literally incoherent story of the believer seriously enough to warrant even casual imagination of the possibility of the thing existing.  This is especially true because it's incoherent and because we can't even know what it is we're supposed to be believing in if we were to entertain their idea as something possible (which we obviously couldn't). 

In other words, god(s), it would seem, is(are) categorically different from disbelieving in almost anything else.  At least, for instance, a person can know what they're disbelieving in when confronted with stories about the existence of extraterrestrial aliens who have a propensity toward stealthily abducting humans for experimentation and returning them mostly unharmed.  That can't be said for any god(s).

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Often one of the touted problems of theism is meaninglessness of particular concepts of the divine. I suppose this is true of atheism if one merely asserts that one is an atheist and leaves it at that.

*So, when I say that I'm atheist, I mean that I don't believe in what's being told to me.  I'm saying that I don't believe the believer and that I can't believe in what they're telling me.  It doesn't seem important to be more specific than to say that I'm atheist.  It doesn't appear to me to be important for anyone to be more specific without requiring the believer to actually make sense.  The fault can't be on the disbeliever for the incoherence of the believer.  No one can specifically say what it is they don't believe in when asked about god(s) until some coherent concept is put forth, so I place the ball politely back at the believer's feet and await some sense of some kind, all the while telling them that I just don't believe.

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Thomathy wrote:It is not

Thomathy wrote:
It is not necessary to disbelieve in god(s)
as though they were possible

because there's no reason to take the literally incoherent story of the believer seriously enough to warrant even casual imagination of the possibility of the thing existing.  This is especially true
because it's incoherent and because we can't even know what it is we're supposed to be believing in if we were to entertain their idea as something possible (which we obviously couldn't).

In other words, god(s), it would seem, is(are) categorically different from disbelieving in almost anything else.  At least, for instance, a person can know what they're disbelieving in when confronted with stories about the existence of extraterrestrial aliens who have a propensity toward stealthily abducting humans for experimentation and returning them mostly unharmed.  That can't be said for any god(s).

.

.

.

*So, when I say that I'm atheist, I mean that I don't believe in what's being told to me.  I'm saying that I don't believe the believer and that I can't believe in what they're telling me.  It doesn't seem important to be more specific than to say that I'm atheist.  It doesn't appear to me to be important for anyone to be more specific without requiring the believer to actually make sense.  The fault can't be on the disbeliever for the incoherence of the believer.  No one can specifically say what it is they don't believe in when asked about god(s) until some coherent concept is put forth, so I place the ball politely back at the believer's feet and await some sense of some kind, all the while telling them that I just don't believe.



This seems to be an epistemic objection to such things because any knowledge about a god would be meaningless.

If such is the case, I do not think it precludes the possibilities of the existence of deities. Also, it is true that one cannot say what he or she is receiving because of the incoherence of the ideas being presented, but one can assert his or her epistemic reasons for not believing. (this is of course contingent upon the fact that the atheist thinks that god-talk is meaningless) But if one does not state this this, the theist does not know this, and that what seems to him or her be coherent in his mind, comes across as complete incoherence to the atheist holding this position. It in effect allows the incoherence to continue. This sort of conversation then in a complete breakdown of communication not just one side, but both sides. The atheist is no less guilty of meaninglessness than the theist then.

In other words, this would be an epistemic assertion about the nature of god-knowledge such as "assertions about "gods" are meaningless, therefore I know believe that what you are calling "god" exist," or something like that.

 

 

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:o

 The real problem here comes from lack of definition for the word god.

 

atheism is a(without)theism(god), so if god isn't defined well it only creates these kinds of problems.

 

I don't see a solid definition for a god happening anytime soon though, so until then it is just like saying "I don't believe in your vague notions of an invisible sentient force.

Theism is why we can't have nice things.


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Assertions about any Gods

Assertions about any Gods considered to possess anything approaching the standard  set of 'omni' attributes can not warrant any certainty whatever, since such an entity is almost literally infinitely beyond our comprehension, and could change virtually every aspect of what we perceive as 'reality' at a whim.

And whose motives towards us would also never be knowable to us with any confidence, since it would be capable of persuading us of literally anything.

So to seriously entertain such an idea is to abandon any confidence that we could ever understand with confidence anything about deeper reality.

 

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Did you read my entire

Did you read my entire post?  I don't mean to be flippant, but I was very clear about my disbelief.

Thomathy wrote:
So, when I say that I'm atheist, I mean that I don't believe in what's being told to me.  I'm saying that I don't believe the believer and that I can't believe in what they're telling me.

The simple fact is that the god-talk is meaningless.  Have you ever confronted a coherent god-concept?  I certainly haven't.  That would be a marvel.  We would know what a god was, what to look for and how to go about looking for it.  It would be falsifiable.

I'll maintain that the incoherence is the believers fault.  I'll add that meaninglessness is not the same as not expounding on an entire idea (such as what I mean when I say that I'm atheist).  The believer is not meaningless because they aren't telling their whole idea, they're meaningless because the whole of their idea is meaningless and there's nothing forthcoming that will change it.  I don't agree with you that the atheist is guilty of meaninglessness.  If anything, the atheist is guilty (if one can be) of being unable to convince the believer that what they're talking about is nonsense.

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Sotto Voce

 

Thomathy wrote:

If anything, the atheist is guilty (if one can be) of being unable to convince the believer that what they're talking about is nonsense.

 

I've wondered about this issue and also when struggling to get a christian to think the way I do I've considered whether conviction is a form of alternative reality operating in the believer's brain.

I'm sure every non believer has battled with the sensation that believers are off somewhere on some trip of their own. Bear with me on this a little.

Having been raised in a religious environment I have an intimate awareness of christian 'feelings'. The feelings of one-ness and closeness to god you get in these meetings and when communing with god in prayer. Even now I

sometimes have moments where this former intimacy with christianity allows me to flip those christian feelings on and off inside myself like the holograms we played with as kids.

Now I feel like Jesus loves me and exists in the world, now I don't. Now I feel god has a plan for my life, now he doesn't. Now I feel there's a heavenly father, now it's a sad joke.

This sounds a bit schizophrenic but  it does mean that when I argue with a christian I don't just know what they are saying - I can usually inhabit the place they're in when they saying it. And the place is a 'feeling'.

Christians might argue with me on this but the de-converted out there should know exactly what I am talking about.

Perhaps it's a trudging observation but is it possible that christian belief/feelings simply are not a place where disbelief can ever go? 

Think of people like Badway - her whole mindset is 'other' and if it ensures she stays in her happy place, pretty much anything goes. Then there's Fonzie who can cheerfully come out with a line like this one:

"Believe in Jesus or die - that's the eternal truth..."

Most honest fundies would have no great problem with this line of thinking whereas to me it shows the biblical god is a man-made monster.

I know that christians can argue from what they see as a logical standpoint about their beliefs but I wonder if they can do so at the same time they are deep in their christian places and without actually resurfacing.

All christians struggle to feel connected to god all the time and maybe it's not satan leading them into backsliding after all but the simple fact that maintaining your typical serotonin-driven relationship is hard work for a brain to

do. After a while this system runs dry and needs replenishing. So christians drift away from the holy ghost and just exist in reality for a while. A few hymns and some hand-holding with friends and they're away again...

This is no different from the way we all need time away from our friends and loved ones. The intensity of our feelings of connection rises and falls - between people that's considered quite normal.

Anyway, the sprawling point is this. Could any christian define the intensely personal and constantly evolving landscape of their god feelings?

And if not, what hope would atheists ever have of coming to grips with them and the god they contain?

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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ClockCat wrote: The real

ClockCat wrote:

 The real problem here comes from lack of definition for the word god.

atheism is a(without)theism(god), so if god isn't defined well it only creates these kinds of problems.

I don't see a solid definition for a god happening anytime soon though, so until then it is just like saying "I don't believe in your vague notions of an invisible sentient force.

If "god" is a meaningless word, I suppose one stands to reason that atheism is no different that "apoozembi" as "poozembi" is a meaningless word. So all atheists are apoozembists too. But I think this is not the case, because the notion of "god" seems to have at least some sort of meaning even if it is a vague notion like an "invisible sentient force".  This is more certain than poozembi.

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Thomathy wrote:I'll maintain

Thomathy wrote:

I'll maintain that the incoherence is the believers fault.  I'll add that meaninglessness is not the same as not expounding on an entire idea (such as what I mean when I say that I'm atheist).  The believer is not meaningless because they aren't telling their whole idea, they're meaningless because the whole of their idea is meaningless and there's nothing forthcoming that will change it.  I don't agree with you that the atheist is guilty of meaninglessness.  If anything, the atheist is guilty (if one can be) of being unable to convince the believer that what they're talking about is nonsense.

All I was saying that unless you state your position, then your position may as well be meaningless too, because "atheism" left to itself is rather vague, which is what the OP was getting at.

Second not all atheists are atheist because they think ideas of god are meaningless. You did state your position, I was not contesting that.

I do think there are some coherent forms of gods such as rocks, pharaohs, or Einstein's "god". This does not necessarily mean that I think such things are gods though.

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My definition of atheism

My definition of atheism requires theism to exist, as without belief in gods there is nothing to contrast it with. It's like trying to explain light when there is only darkness (literally).

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Atheistextremist wrote:Now I

Atheistextremist wrote:

Now I feel like Jesus loves me and exists in the world, now I don't. Now I feel god has a plan for my life, now he doesn't. Now I feel there's a heavenly father, now it's a sad joke.

Wow. That's cool. From my perspective, having never believed, it seems like some super power, like being able to walk through walls, or teleport to another world. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing people who can turn it on and off like that are pretty rare, even among the de-converted. I hear many de-converted say things like, "I don't even know anymore how I could have believed what I believed. It's like I was a different person."

Very insightful post, Atheistextremist. Honestly, I kind of envy your ability there. It would at least be nice to know what theists get out of theism.

I also think you should get in touch with someone like Sam Harris, who is investigating the neuroscience of states of belief vs. disbelief. If they could scan your brain and spot the changes when you flip the belief switch on and off, I think they could learn a lot about what religious belief is doing in the brain. As far as I know, he only studies believers vs. non-believers. But being able to study people who can be both, depending on a choice, would be like gold, I would imagine.

Quote:
All christians struggle to feel connected to god all the time and maybe it's not satan leading them into backsliding after all but the simple fact that maintaining your typical serotonin-driven relationship is hard work for a brain to

do. After a while this system runs dry and needs replenishing. So christians drift away from the holy ghost and just exist in reality for a while. A few hymns and some hand-holding with friends and they're away again...

This is no different from the way we all need time away from our friends and loved ones. The intensity of our feelings of connection rises and falls - between people that's considered quite normal.

This makes sense to me. I guess it's similar to my ability to turn on the 'wonder at the universe' switch. Sometimes it's easy. Just imagine the vastness of space and our tiny Pale Blue Dot we live on. Or the enormously complex tree of evolution, branching back to its roots 3.5 billion years ago.

But sometimes, I'm just caught up in everyday life and worrying about shit that I can't seem to flip that switch. Also, the feeling can wear off, even when you manage it. There's only so long you can bliss out on these ideas.

Quote:
Anyway, the sprawling point is this. Could any christian define the intensely personal and constantly evolving landscape of their god feelings?

And if not, what hope would atheists ever have of coming to grips with them and the god they contain?

That's just it, though. They don't actually contain a god.

I definitely agree with you that it's a hopeless scenario to wait for Christians to figure out their definition for such a 'god'. They are so hopelessly confusing themselves that, until they break out of theism, as you did, they won't be able to frame their experiences against reality, as you just did here in your comment.

This is why I've stopped waiting for people to define their gods and I've decided to simply define god for them. In *every* single god-concept I've ever heard, they all share one common thing: The Unknown.

'God' is a word, a label, which people use to attach to 'the unknown', without admitting to themselves that this is what they're doing. It is a way of pretending to know what you don't really know. Of course, very very few theists would ever admit this is what they are doing, but it is, in fact, what they *are* doing.

God is the Unknown. The word itself, g-o-d, is like a wrapper, that they use, like wrapping a gift, to surround and obscure what is lying beneath, namely the Unknown. They use the god wrapper to paint pretty pictures on it, and write little stories and poems on it. It makes things seem friendly and comfortable. They mistake the wrapper for what is being wrapped. Strip away that wrapper, and all you have left is the Unknown.

What is the Unknown? It is simply that. Anything and all things that are unknown, lumped together under the umbrella concept of the Unknown. This is the ultimate Gap, if we consider the God of the Gaps fallacy. In fact, it is that fallacy which brought me to the idea that God is the Unknown.

The Unknown is a *powerful* concept. It is the source of awe, which can include both wonder and terror. Humans are naturally pre-disposed to fear the Unknown. It takes courage and effort to overcome fear of the Unknown. Many people simply give up and try to cope with the fear as best they can. This is the urge to wrap the Unknown in a nice, friendly wrapper, namely 'god'. It is an unbearable fear of not knowing. The process goes like this: "I don't know", "I can't bear not knowing", "I must overcome this cognitive dissonance", "I will pretend that I know", "I will substitute a pretend-known for this unknown", "God is this catch-all pretend-known concept I've got lying around in my brain", "I convince myself that this unknown is really 'God'", "I must forget (or keep unconscious) that I've essentially deceived myself", "Therefore, I must make make every effort to support my 'belief in God'". (It doesn't work if you can't fool yourself into believing it, because then you are still confronted by the Unknown, and the fear persists. It is essential for you to trick yourself into believing you know what you don't really know, in order for this to work.)

Why is life so complex? Unknown. Fear! Argh! Help! It must be God! Ahhhh, known. The fear is gone.

Am I alone? Unknown. Fear! Argh! Help! God is a person, and he loves me! Ahhhh, known. The fear is gone.

Why do bad things happen? Unknown. Fear! Argh! Help! God must be angry! Ahhhh, known. The fear is gone. (Fear of the Unknown is stronger than fear of an angry deity. This is summed up by the phrase, "Better the devil you know, than the devil you don't." God is such a 'devil' in these circumstances.)

Even the more mushy concepts of god fall into this pattern. At the heart of it is always a fear of the Unknown, which must be transformed into a pretend-known, i.e. God.

This is why people say things like "God is love". Why not just call it 'love' then? Because simply acknowledging love is *not enough* for them. It *must* be a magical, divine love. Why? Because they don't really know what love is, and they fear that it might be 'just a chemical reaction', and this lack of understanding, this unknown, stirs fear in them, and they must quench the fear, and so they call it 'God', and then they claim that they *know* that God is love.

In all my 'travelings' as an atheist, I have *never* found a concept of 'god' that did not fit this pattern. God *is* the Unknown. There. I've defined it for you. It's concrete. It's practical. It works. In any situation where the label g-o-d is used, you can make a very confident prediction that what is being labeled, what is underneath the wrapper, is a big fat Unknown, hidden from sight. Hidden, indeed, from the believer himself.

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BobSpence
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Rejection of confused or

Rejection of confused or meaningless 'beliefs' is not a meaningless position in itself. The lack of coherent meaning of a particular set of professed beliefs is part of our justification for rejecting them , it is not in any way a problem for the athiest, or for the definition of atheism. It is the rejection or refusal to accept professed beliefs incorporating certain elements. There are going to be cases where people are going to disagree about what should count as a God belief, so the definition is inevitably going to have fuzzy edges, but there are also going to be cases which are clearly in the category we reject.

Its really quite simple - we are confronted by a range of claims, of professed beliefs, and we reject or accept them as worthy or not of taking seriously or worthy of deeper investigation based on various criteria which we develop thru life. 

There is little or nothing to be gained by trying to further unpick this in some philosophical/metaphysical sense, IMHO. If anything, it could the subject of psychological studies, I think.

If a theist insists on wanting to argue his/her position and beliefs, then they must first clarify what their particular position is

 

EDIT: So yes Atheism has a somewhat fuzzy definition at the edges, but that does not mean it is not useful. If every term we use had to be precisely defined, then no discourse would be possible.

Serious discourse endeavours to find and use terms with progressively tighter definitions, but discussion of 'real world' issues if never going to have the precision of axiom-based deductive disciplines such as logic and math.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology