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

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Deborah, I am a weak agnostic because, even though I have no knowledge of gods, I think it is possible that someone could, or that someday we all will. If there are indeed gods, they should be able to prove their existence.

Like you, however, I am a strong atheist. I believe that there are no gods, just as I believe that there is no phlogiston or cold fusion. I have no problem justifying that belief, although I realize that there is a small possibility that I could be wrong.
Don said,
"Atheism in its purest and most basic form is the absence of belief"

George Kane says,
"I am a strong atheist. I believe that there are no gods, just as I believe that there is no phlogiston or cold fusion. I have no problem justifying that belief"

Don says atheism is an absence of belief, George says it is a belief. Doh! Darn "word games!"
Wrong again! Doh! So the term atheism "carries several connotations"
but especially the ones offered by you and George, but not by other people. Other peoples definitions are "weak, " "wrong" and "word games" according to George.

I have looked it up in more than one dictionary, and it goes so far as to say that atheism is "a LACK of belief in the existence of God or gods" LACK, a word you detest in this definition so much that you substitute the word "lack" with "absence." But only you are allowed to define the term how you like, other peoples attempts are as George says, "weak" and playing "wordgames." But because you two agree despite the contradictions I quoted directly, only other people are playing these wordgames, not you.
So first you ask me to reference the dictionary for the different connotations of the word atheism so you could include defining it with Georges "'belief' that gods do not exist" but then go and say that the dictionaries definition may not be accurate or acceptable because believers wrote it. Yet you say I am "wrong" and then back that statement up with what you yourself suggest is an unreliable source, so much that you want to redefine terms in it like "lack" to "absence" because you want to avoid believers thinking that this is something your desire. But as I have demonstrated earlier in the discussion "lack" can simply mean "to be without," an "absence" of something, but this is not good enough for you because you too are playing the believers game that you claim I am playing by suggesting that my statement, "I don't believe a god exist to believe in or to disbelieve in" is playing the believers word-game because I don't think saying "I don't believe a god exist" isn't an accurate enough statement.

We are both striving for accuracy. And I do agree that "an absence of belief" is clearer in this case than "a lack of belief" since lack can be interpreted as "also desiring that thing you lack" though it may not always be implied. Dictionary sources back this up. I have read some that say it can mean just an absence of something, and others say it can also imply an understood desire for that thing. Different meanings, same word. So yes, I think absence is clearer, but I also think that saying "I don't believe a god exist to believe in or to disbelieve in" is more accurate and has less room to incorrectly interpret then the statement, "I don't believe in god."

And my attempts to better define this is no more playing word games with believers then your attempts to better define it are.

I can just as easily say as you have that because you choose to accept the believer's absurd point that when you say you "LACK belief in god," that you must be implying that you also "desire" god. You're playing the believer's word game which only betrays his intellectual blindness and inflexibility. And, what's more, he wins.
George, I thought that I should maybe characterize myself as a strong agnostic because I don't think that the concept of "god", as I am used to hearing of it (i.e. an all-powerful god), makes sense - because then you can ask the question - Can an all-powerful god do something that would limit his power?
And also I find that the idea of a god is almost as implausible as Santa Claus.
Surely you would say that you are a strong agnostic with regard to Santa Claus?
I understand your position. You feel justified arguing that the nonexistence of god is a justified, true belief. By taking the weak agnostic position, I am emphasizing that it would take empirical evidence to prove that I am wrong, and make me change my mind. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.
Yeah, sorry. I jumped straight in without looking.
I've got an excuse though. It was my first day here and I was a bit excited.
I'll check out the procedures a bit more closely and come back when I've got myself organised.
Love it!!!!!
George Kane wrote on February 16 I like to think that the way that I use the terms strong atheist and weak agnostic will be useful to others, but it is fine if they select other terms. TJ, you have selected a weak definition of atheist because you have had problems with a particular argument some Christians offer. It is interesting to hear your solution, but other self-descriptions work, too.

TJMorgan replied I have selected a weak definition of atheist? Tell me, what is my definition of atheist?

You said that you don’t believe in gods, while I believe that there are no gods. That is the distinction between weak and strong atheism.

TJMorgan replied I like to think the way I define and try to clarify the term will be useful to others too! LOL. It is interesting to hear your solution, but I am not as bold as you to label other peoples attempts at clarifing the term as "weak."

As I wrote in the section you quoted, I think that your solution is interesting. I think that using other sets of definitions works better, but your mileage may vary. I don’t have any need for your “don’t believe in a god to believe or disbelieve in” for reasons I gave earlier today, so it is not a solution I find useful.
Atheism is the absence of god-belief. All else is embellishment. Our position is neither a belief, nor a philosophy nor a religion. It is the lack of belief in a deity.

It's certainly true that one who states flatly "there is no god" is an atheist. But that is not a position all atheists are willing to declare. At least, not without some disclaimers attached. Most of us speak in terms of probabilities. And there are atheists who make no such declarations at all but have no god-belief, no gods to believe in, none of that. Are they not also atheists?

Now, let me add for the record that I have no problem stating that I do think no gods exist. I take that position because I have encountered no convincing evidence that supports the proposition "a god exists" and can find no compelling argument why one should.

But I don't think we need either redefinition of the word or any sort of atheist orthodoxy. Atheism is, after all, simply a beginning, a starting point. In many ways, the most important question we must ask ourselves once our atheism is established is "Now what?"

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