Technically, I still consider it to be a lack of belief in ANY supernatural phenomena, not just deities. But nowadays, I think it is seen as more of a movement against the religious bigotry and rights-removing legislation that goes on
I'm forever explaining to people when they tell me about my beliefs..I tell them I have no beliefs,that is what makes me an atheist...
I see it as a lack of belief in any superstitions at all and a freedom from fear over what happens after you die.
Atheism is a word that describes an attitude a person holds toward the natural world
Except it's only an attitude because of the very existence of theism. Otherwise it wouldn't be. We would all be de facto atheists, except nobody would care giving atheism a name, or even think about it.
Nowadays, everyone is an azeusist. But who defines him/herself as an azeusist?
"Atheism," in fact, is only one name for an existing attitude toward the natural world, an attitude that would thrive in the absence of theism.
It may seem counterintuitive, but philosophically and semantically, I have to disagree with you. At least with the last part of the sentence I quoted. Let me explain with an example:
There are only two ways to deal with xenophobic spacefaring heptatoids like the Shebbagloth. Either you hate them, hunt them, and kill them on sight (if you can), or you take advantage of their vulnerability to our sun's radiations which prevent them to enter the solar system, and thus ignore them, or even pretend they don't exist (which may be true, since noone on this planet has met with a Shebbagloth yet).
You've probably never heard of the Shebbagloth before. I invented them just as I was writing this. Would you define your unbelief in Shebbagloth, an unbelief you weren't even aware of, as a thriving (since this unbelief is shared by nothing less than the whole humankind) "existing attitude toward the natural world"? I bet not. It just doesn't make sense.
Do any propositions about spooky beings have any explanatory power? Is there any way to test them (so that we don't believe propositions that I might just arbitrarily make up, such as the proposition that I am followed around by an invisible hippopotamus with four heads)?
The "transcendent world" and the various spooky beings probably do not exist. Even if spooky beings of some kind did exist, it is most unlikely that any religion to date provides any reliable information about them.
I find it strange that you rejected my analogy so quickly. What if I had used four-headed invisible hippopotamus instead of heptapoïd Shebbagloth?
I still stand to my point that atheism couldn't be rightfully labelled an 'attitude' in a theism-free world. I like your definition of atheism as 'unencumbered by obfuscating and delusional belief in supernatural entities or forces', but you'll have to agree with me it that it only makes sense in a world where these obfuscating and delusional beliefs exist.
Or maybe we could just agree to disagree on this point?
That is, an absence of theistic belief must remain an absence of belief whether theism exists or not. That particular aspect of nonbelief simply wouldn't have a name, that's all.
Yes and no. I you were sent to an alternate, theism-free Earth, but otherwise identical to ours, I strongly suspect that, would you try to explain your position to the inhabitants here, they wouldn't reply:
"We have no word for what you describe."
"What the **** are you talking about?"
We wouldn't just lack a word for the absence of theism, we would also lack a complete understanding of it, of what it means (of course we could still theorize about it, but without actual experience our conclusions would probably be a bit different).
It's NOT a word that describes an attitude you HOLD.
It describes an attitude you DO NOT hold. (the belief in a god/deity)
Being cancer-free is not a thing, it's the LACK (absence) of a thing (cancer).
Saying "atheism is a thing" is granting the theist position far too much, and you encounter problems later on in a debate by conceding this point. Atheism is a word that WOULD NOT EXIST if not for god-believers. It only exists in reaction to faith.
"The fact that the word refers to the negation of another attitude does not render it any less a thing in itself."
My point is "cancer-free" would not exist without "cancer", in the same way "atheist" or "free-of-god-belief" would not exist without "god belief".
Cancer is a thing. I think we can agree on that much...
But "cancer-free" is not really a thing in and of itself. You have to search high and low *FOR CANCER* and if you find no cancer then you say, "there is a lack of cancer" or an "absence of cancer" and now you can call it "cancer-free" because it's fewer words.
We could call ourselves "people without belief in a god" but "atheist" is shorter and easier to say. Simply because you make a word for it, doesn't mean it's a thing.
The "soul" is a word, but it's not a thing because it doesn't refer to any object.
I'd also put "angels" and "demons" in the same category.
While I'm at it, let's stick "god" in there too.
God is not a thing, the word refers to nothing.
Want to win a debate with a theist? Keep asking, "what do you mean by god?" and insist they explain what god is... don't accept an answer like "he is the creator of everything" because the term "creator" is not a decriptive one. It tells you nothing about what this god is, only what it supposedly DID. Objects are not defined by what they do, but by what they are.
What is a god? What's it made of? What color is it? What's the mass? What's the chemical formula? What's the heat transfer coefficient? Unless we can define these properties, we cannot say it is a "thing" but only a concept.
I think I have rambled off-topic, so I'm done for now.
"I once had a friend who said that she felt bad for people who believed that there was nothing after death. It was the first and only time I have ever been truly offended by a friend. I told her not to feel bad because there's nothing to water…"