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 meanings...no 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 view...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 it...you 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 important..is 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

Views: 53

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I don't have any hard-copy dictionaries old enought, but I've seen them but a glance at a summary of online dictionary definitions (http://atheism.about.com/od/definitionofatheism/a/dict_online.htm) includes:

Yourdictionary.com – “wickedness”
Dictionary.com – “immorality”
M-W.com – “wickedness”
I have found that while dictionaries are valueble resource on meaning, they are often skewed by some peoples meanings. Often political words will get skewed such as the words anarchism, and socialism often don't have the same meaning to people who subscribe to those ideas as the people who don't.
The Board of Minnesota Atheists was asked by our newsletter editor recently to provide a definition of atheism that would appear in each issue. We debated it by e-mail for several days before our Board meeting, and decided on the minimalist definition “atheism is the lack of belief in gods.” Our representative on the Alliance board said that they appointed a committee that had come up with a nearly identical definition. He indicated that many of the member orgs had also undertaken the task of definition, and that most were adopting pretty much this definition.

Our discussion agreed with Andre’s dismissal of “the belief that there is no god,” because it is too narrow and does not describe all of our members. I don’t recall that anyone has pointed out that this is the definition only of ‘strong’ or ‘positive’ atheism, while “lacking belief” is the definition of ‘weak’ or ‘negative’ atheism. It is more inclusive because it is also valid for strong atheism. This distinction will be familiar to most of you, and is discussed in a variety of sources including Wikipedia(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_atheism.)

Since most atheists rely on the lack-of-evidence argument provided in Andre’s definition of atheism, they are also agnostics. That is, we recognize that the atheist conclusion could be proved wrong if any gods ever actually turned up. There is also a strong/weak division of agnosticism. Weak agnostics say that they have no knowledge of any gods, but maybe somebody does, or maybe I could meet one in the future. Strong agnostics say “I don’t know anything about any gods, and neither do you.”

I think that these distinctions will permit most atheists to define their position fairly well. I am a strong atheist but a weak agnostic. The absence of any verifiable supernatural phenomena justifies, I think, the conclusion that there are no gods. But if there are gods, what would keep them from revealing themselves, especially if they want to be worshipped?
I still think that "lack" can mean to simply be without.
I also don't think statements like, "I don't believe there is a god" are accurate enough. You end up having to affirm god just to immediately deny it. There is no evidence to suggest there is something there to affirm so why do it? It only works towards believers argument. I think the statement, "I don't believe there is a god or gods to believe in or do disbelieve in" is more suitable. The key point to that statement being there is nothing there to suggest there is anything of content for me to even disbelieve in.
But atheists are not saying the god "concept" doesn't exist, because as you said, the concept does exist. What atheist do not believe exist is the actual "deity." And if that is the case, and lets say they are correct, a deity doesn't exist, then the whole time there was nothing there to begin with except for the concept. But remember, atheists never said the concept didn't exist, so they must have affirmed that actually deity when they said, "I do not believe in god" just to say they don't believe in it.
If the believer willfully misunderstands the atheist, that's not the atheist's problem--and I don't think it should rankle him, either.

Yet you also said, I think we must strive to leave no room at all for pejorative interpretations or connotations. A definition must be as precise as it is possible for us to make it.

That is what I am trying to do.

If "god" doesn't exist (the deity), then what exactly are atheists referring to when they say "I don't believe "god" exist." ?

If god doesn't exist, then there is nothing there to not believe in.
I still don't see your point at all. Are you saying that if a person says "I don't believe in cold fusion" that he is saying that there is such a thing as cold fusion? That is simply not the case.
What is he referring to when he says "cold fusion" in the sentence "I don't believe in cold fusion." ?
I did suggest how to refine the atheist position, as I continued, "I think the statement, "I don't believe there is a god or gods to believe in or to disbelieve in, is more suitable."

Also, you keep sidestepping this point - If you really don't believe "deities" exist as the theists define them, and say as you suggest we should say "I don't believe a single one of 'them' exists or ever did exist." You are giving the theist more recognition of their "deities then they deserve. As George points out, "it" is "non-existent." and therefore there is nothing there to even disbelieve in.

So if you say "I don't believe a single one of 'them' exists or ever did exist." the theists will see you as at least recognizing their "them" (deities) and that you are just in denial. There "them" doesn't even deserve our disbelief because there is nothing there to not believe.
TJ Morgan wrote on December 20 I also don't think statements like, "I don't believe there is a god" are accurate enough. You end up having to affirm god just to immediately deny it.

This makes no sense to me. The ontological denial of the existence of supernatural gods is no different than the denying the existence of phlogiston or cold fusion. Does the lack of belief in alchemy affirm alchemy? I don’t see that at all, but however you want to define atheism it should parallel what you would say about anything else that doesn’t exist.

Also, don’t be confused by the two very different meanings of “believe.” There is both a religious meaning of affirmation by faith of the existence of things that cannot be seen as well as the everyday meaning of affirming the truth of a statement.
TJMorgan wrote on December 20 What is he referring to when he says "cold fusion" in the sentence "I don't believe in cold fusion?”

A non-existent phenomenon.

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

AJY

 

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service