Atheist vs. Intentional Atheist
I am presently in Boston. Whether I flew here, drove here, or have lived here all my life is of no consequence to the fact that I am in Boston. There is no difference between the way in which I am in Boston that arises from the different paths I may have taken to arrive here or whether or not I have ever been anywhere else. To say that I am in Boston via 747 or via birth is a distinction without a difference as it pertains to my being in Boston.
As you may have guessed by the title, this thread is to discuss the distinction that is sometimes made between the intentional atheist and the atheist 'au natural', if you will. Does the means at which one arrives at having no belief in any god or gods have any bearing on their state as an atheist?
Let's look at it this way:
Where would one be able to draw the distinction between one who has no god belief due to never seeing a reason to form a god belief and one who has no god belief due to looking at all possible god beliefs and rationally deciding that any god belief was unreasonable? Is there an actual difference between the two individuals lack of belief or is the difference only in the vehicle by which they arrived at lacking belief?
The reason I ask is because people often employ this intentional atheist category as a means of what I can only see as justification for atheistic apologetics. When one finds one's self desiring a criteria by which to distinguish one's self from an atheist who may have become a theist (educated or not) or may be an atheist for what one may consider less than intellectual reasons, and thus place one's self on a (self righteous?) higher plane of belief lacking, they often resort to this type of classification. Personally, I feel as if this type of distinction drawing is very similar if not identical to the type employed by theists when wanting to distance themselves from less than desirable ideological neighbors and consider the lack of any quantiative difference between the actuality of the two positions to make the distinction misleading if not dishonest.
“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins