Please answer just this one question (I need hard data.)
A. the disbelief of gods
B. the belief that there are no gods
C. Other (explain.)
Please pass this on to other atheists and give them my email. I'd like to be as thorough as possible here.
B. The belief that there are no gods.
Comment: A is of course more passive and goes toward the agnostic. However, some qualifier is always essential even with the more definitive answer. I am certain that the gods invented by the human race are impossible self contradictory notions. In other words they do not pass any proof test and for the most part are provable absurdities. I do believe that a more powerful and intelligent life form likely does exist. However this is not a supernatural conceptions but merely a reasonable hypothesis based on the extent and variability of the universe. Some might call such a life form "god". I would not.
I believe in that which is supported by the greatest amount of valid, reliable, scientific evidence at any given time. When an avalanche of accurate data supporting the existence of gods, pixies, or flying pigs is made available, I'll go with it.
I guess I'm a revised "A" as well.
C, I think there are no Gods.
Explanation = I have never seen any evidence that would suggest that a God exists.
I do not "believe" that Bigfoot, Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny do not exist.
But i do "think" that they do not.
C: The lack of belief in gods, without evidence to show there are gods.
Disbelief is an active process, just as belief is: one does not need to actively disbelieve in something that has not been demonstrated to be true. (For example, I am not an a-fairyist because I do not believe in fairies. I do not believe in fairies because they have not been demonstrated to exist. I am a-a-lot-of-things in which I do not present active disbelief - I do not believe in things which have not been demonstrated to be true.)
I prefer the terms "support" or "demonstrated to exist" rather than "belief," as the latter has baggage associated with it that means different things to different people.
This is not the same as agnosticism (lack of knowledge). For example, a Christian can be adamant in belief about God (though said Christian cannot demonstrate any evidence for him). Strictly that is an agnostic Christian. Likewise an atheist (though the burden of proof is not on the one who does not believe, an atheist still does not truly know that a god does not exist, however unlikely, unless he can present evidence for it). On Richard Dawkins's atheism scale, I would probably score a "six" (I view the proposition extremely unlikely - but unlikely is not the same as did not happen - the likelihood of winning the Lottery is extremely low, but folk win frequently.) Likeliness of a proposition neither makes it true nor false.
Nor is it an immutable position. (For example, all evidence to date indicates that life arose on Earth and diversified through evolution by natural selection. Thus that position is the one I support.
Evidence could come along later that overthrows evolutionary theory (major pillars of science have been overthrown before in light of new knowledge). In that event, I would either have to accept the new evidence or show why it is untrue - the same stands for gods. Should evidence ever be shown that supports the existence of one or more gods (seems unlikely), then that evidence must be adopted or shown why it is false.
There are those that would argue that atheism automatically requires non-belief in things which are "supernatural" or has insufficient evidence, such as psychic power or UFOs (though those have little evidence in support of them either). That argument holds a slippery slope though, as much in the Universe does not have sufficient evidence, such as string theory or frame-dragging or dark matter. (Mathematical proofs are not the same as demonstrations or observations: like the Bible, you can prove anything you want with mathematics if you set up the right conditions.)
Thus (for me anyway, your mileage may vary) atheism is simply a position of no belief without evidence (in gods).
Even when I was a Wiccan, I was still an atheist (as the God and Goddess depicted in Wicca I simply took as archetypes, not actual beings). Last Samhain (Hallowe'en) I abandoned the remaining trappings of Wicca. (I kept my pentacle necklace, which I still wear. It is silver, thus valuable, and it repels Christian missionaries from my door, thus still can be objectively demonstrated as a talisman, even if the belief is in their minds and not mine.)
B. the belief that there are no gods
doesn't anybody use the dictionary nowadays? It's a really handy tool for finding out the definitions of words. I am however intrigued by your concept of definition by committee.
It's both A and B
It's not 'other'
@Michael Brice, I think you are missing the point if you want to analyze the reasons for this poll. The need to settle on or standardize a definition stems from the misuse of the word atheism.
with all due respect, I suggest reference to a dictionary, rather
than definition by committee.
I think you miss my point, English definitions are already standardized,
and those definitions are contained in dictionaries
Thanks Michael. Your answer makes the most sense to me. Atheists love to argue about the meaning of the word, but by doing so we are implying that we would rather be "correct" than "understood".
I really like and appreciate your response, as a former english
teacher I find discussions about what words 'really' mean to be
The definition of Atheism is disbelief in the existence of a god or gods.
Therefore an Atheist could hold other supernatural beliefs and still come within the definition.