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I don't know about the rest of you but I am of the mind that Atheism needs a new definition. I think we need to get away from the word "BELIEF" as much as humanly possible. Belief for us I think sends the wrong connotation and message because "RELIGION" is far too closely, attached to the word as well. "Belief, and Religion" are semantical cousins when it comes to how people interpret their matter how many times you try and use the standard cold definition of each word. I think we need a new way to define atheism in a very short concise sentence as much as possible.

The definition of Atheism as it currently stands is as follows; Atheism: "The BELIEF that there is no GOD; DENIAL of the existence of a supreme being.

Atheist: A person who BELIEVES there is no god.

You do see the inherent problems with the words contained in these definitions?

They suggest that WE as ATHEIST's are simply in denial that there is a GOD.

First, I do not think any of us DENY there is a GOD. We state there is NO GOD. PERIOD.

We simply have not been convinced there has been any empirical, logical, or physical evidence proving the existence of a supernatural deity that is the existential driving force behind existence of the universe and mankind.

So my new definition of ATHEISM goes as follows:

ATHEISM: the stated contention that there is no empirical, logical, or physical evidence proving the existence of any supernatural deity that is the existential driving force behind the existence of the universe and mankind.

In my definition lends far more credence to our hold that ATHEISM is more philosophy than religion. And like I said it eliminated the words commonly associated with religious minded persons. So that when you state your an ATHEIST and defend don't use the word BELIEF. Because this to me is where the battleground truly is in society. Because the idea itself, the concept simply while it is the most fundamental and just not how humans interpret and think about such matters. Different words true do not always convey different meaning because they are dependent on context...but different words convey different connotations different thoughts..different arguments..and may thusly lead people to new ways of thinking about religion/GOD. Which is what I think our point is...THINK. JUST THINK. That's all we want you to do, THINK. No more no less, you don't have to get up off the couch.

Tags: belief, re-defining atheism

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I see a lot of people mistaking humanistic, secularists, etc...type beliefs for being "atheist" beliefs. These beliefs are not atheist beliefs because atheism doesn't imply a belief, it implies a particular disbelief towards the existence of a god. These other beliefs (you stand for) come from another philosophy of life, but not from being an atheist.


Is an atheist one who, "'BELIEVES' there is no god."


one who, "lacks belief" in the existence of a god?
And as long as the words "belief" are in dis, and non- belief people are just not simply going to process that as they should.
If they can't process simple prefixes like they should, how can you expect them to be able to process a whole nother new definition like they should?

The definition of atheism is already simple. The more you add to it, the more they have to not process as they should.
It's true that the definition is simple, but well, the definition is not what influences people's attitudes and actions. You said that other beliefs come from another philosophy of life, not from atheism. Does that really matter if, at least implicitly, everyone associates some of those beliefs with atheism?

As an example, if we hold religion accountable for the actions of religious people in religion's name, that would be the same as associating the actions of atheists, in an atheistic context (such political action spurred by a group of atheists) with atheism itself, right? Even if those actions are claimed to be based on a political, economic, educational, or other agenda.

The distinction I'm getting at is that almost everyone behaves as if atheism is much much more than a lack of theism, or an explicit denial of theism.
If the definition isn't really"influencing people's attitudes and actions," then why the need to change the definition?

As you said, people are associating atheism with "much much more than" what it is. Why change the definition if people just discard the definition anyway and associate and redefine the word however they like? If we were to change the definition, that doesn't fix the problem of people reprocessing it into something other then what it is.
Absolutely. I'm advocating awareness of the problems of definition, not suggesting that changing the definition is a good idea. Sorry, I shoulda mentioned that. :)
I like that statement too, but I can see it already, creationists arguing over what constitutes as evidence. They are sure to claim that their so-called "personal experiences" are evidence that a god exist. No matter how you define it, they will manage to skew it somehow.
"Atheists adhere to logic and reason and what can be proven with empirical evidence."

Adhering to logic and reason isn't a necessary trait of being an atheist though. Theoretically, one can arrive at atheism without logic, reason, and evidence, just as one can arrive at a belief in god without evidence. Logic and reason comes from experience, education, some form of philosophy, etc... These things have the potential to lead to atheism. While most atheist seem to adhere to logic and reason, the source of their logic and reason came from something other then atheism.

I think we need to be careful to say that all atheists are logical and reasonable. It is a blanket statement that isn't necessarily accurate. Anything any atheist is "for," comes from another philosophy the individual does believe in. One can be a determinist and also happen to be an atheist. But that doesn't mean that all atheists are determinist.
I personally do not use the word belief in my definition of atheist. I say, with certainty, that there is no such thing as god (just as there are no tooth fairies, santa claus, zeus and the other several hundred dead gods from the past). It is up to the theist to prove that there is. Wasn't it Sagan who said extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof?
I do like Andre's definition, even though it isn't as simple as saying that one doesn't believe in God. I think what I will do is define it his way when I am around people who can at least grasp the meaning and aren't so wrapped up on proof, and and use the simpler definition with other people.
Andre M Smith Jr: "I don't know about the rest of you but I am of the mind that Atheism needs a new definition. I think we need to get away from the word "BELIEF" as much as humanly possible"

I side firmly with Sam Harris - I think that “atheist” is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don’t need a word for someone who rejects astrology. (The Problem with Atheism)

Personally, I only call myself an "atheist" to people who are stupid, usually believers of one kind or another. They require a pithy term that doesn't strain the intellect. Whether they knee-jerk and classify me as a Satanist, or merely a doomed soul, I don't care. Its not worth the effort to try and clarify. It tends to stop conversations and I'm happy with that.

With people that can conduct a civilised conversation, I call myself a "cynic". Unfortunately, "cynic" as a word has been bastardised over the ages, and is universally associated with negativity. Some dictionaries still have entries that are closer to the original essence -

2. (initial capital letter) one of a sect of Greek philosophers, 4th century b.c., who advocated the doctrines that virtue is the only good, that the essence of virtue is self-control, and that surrender to any external influence is beneath human dignity. External influence includes theism of any kind, or any other kind of hocus pocus / mumbo jumbo.

Wikepedia has a reasonable write up as well.

Philosopher Peter Sloterdijk goes as far as wanting to reclaim the word's roots under the alternate spelling of "kynic". I find "c/k/ynic" sits far more comfortably with me. My definition is loosely -

* be one part court jester, one part devil's advocate
* believe nothing, trust no-one, unless empirical evidence exists to the contrary
* assume everyone's an asshole until they prove different
* sacred cows are for slaughter, their carcasses for pleasure, their rotting remains for sleeping in
* no pride, no shame, no problem

With people I establish an intimate rapport with, I follow "the way of the Grouch". I won't go into details here, 'cos I'm not really, really drunk. Suffice it to say, it involves concepts such as doing positive things for others and for the immediate environment around you that you are capable of affecting, but never, ever getting caught.
I agree with you agreeing with Sam Harris on, "'atheist' is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don’t need a word for someone who rejects astrology."

I consider myself a cynic as well.


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