How Not to Define ‘Atheism’

The Maverick Philosopher is a great blog (far better than mine) and this article, in particular, is very interesting . . .

“Note first that atheism cannot be identified with the lack of theistic belief, i.e., the mere absence of the belief that God or a god exists, for that would imply that cabbages and tire irons are atheists.  Note second that it won’t do to say that atheism is the lack of theistic belief in persons, for there are persons incapable of forming beliefs.  Charitably interpreted, then, the idea must be that atheism is the lack of theistic belief in persons capable of forming and maintaining beliefs . . . KEEP READING . . .”


6 thoughts on “How Not to Define ‘Atheism’

  1. regardless, atheism is actually the Lack of Belief in a god or gods. it is NOT the positive claim that their is/are no gods. and I agree partially with your article. we are all ‘atheistic’ about some gods. we just choose to suspend disbelief for the one we find most comfortable or emotionally acceptable to believe in. with or without actual evidence for their actual existence. doesn’t matter a bit to the believer. -KIA

    • Thanks for your thoughts, but did you read the entire article posted by Maverick Philosopher? His entire argument refutes what you’re saying and you haven’t really addressed anything he said. I’d be interested to hear what you have to say in response to what he argues.

      • What I was trying to say was that the premise underlying the article is dishonestly false and prejudicial. Atheism is not the positive claim that there is no god. It is the lack of belief in the existence of god or gods. The attempt to redefine atheism for atheists is a shallow attempt at shifting the burden that Theists own as the positive claim so that they can escape their responsibility to prove the unproveable.

      • Yeah, I get what you’re saying, and I understand that you disagree with the author of this article, but the premise you think is false (i.e., ‘atheism is a positive claim that there is no God or gods’) is actually the conclusion of the author’s argument. So, just repeating over and over again that his conclusion is false because you think it’s shallow doesn’t really engage his argument. He arrives at that conclusion (the one you don’t like) through a chain of reasoning. So, if you don’t like his conclusion you need to attack his chain of reasoning and show: (a) that he commits a formal or informal logical fallacy, (b) that he’s using ambiguous terms, or (c) that one of the premises in the chain of reasoning (not the conclusion) is demonstrably false. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not (at this point) saying your position is wrong; I’m just saying you still haven’t explained why you think the author’s conclusion is false. Does that make sense?

      • my comment was the explanation. sorry if that sounds like redundancy. and I apologize for sounding rude, I’m not sure I’m under obligation to explain myself to your satisfaction in order to register my opinion in a comment. thx again for the opportunity. -KIA

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