Atheism...........

I see many people on this forum with a one line misunderstanding of atheism. Lets clear this up so we are all on the same playing field.

atheism.about.com/od/definitionofatheism/a/DisbeliefDenial.htm
atheism.about.com/od/definitionofatheism/a/definition.htm

There is, unfortunately, some disagreement about the definition of atheism. It is interesting to note that most of that disagreement comes from theists — atheists themselves tend to agree on what atheism means. Christians in particular dispute the definition used by atheists and insist that atheism means something very different.

The broader, and more common, understanding of atheism among atheists is quite simply “not believing in any gods.” No claims or denials are made — an atheist is just a person who does not happen to be a theist. Sometimes this broader understanding is called “weak” or “implicit” atheism. Most good, complete dictionaries readily support this.

There also exists a narrower sort of atheism, sometimes called “strong” or “explicit” atheism. With this type, the atheist explicitly denies the existence of any gods — making a strong claim which will deserve support at some point. Some atheists do this and others may do this with regards to certain specific gods but not with others. Thus, a person may lack belief in one god, but deny the existence of another god.

Below are links to a variety of references pages to help understand how atheism is defined and why atheists define it the way they do.

Many have trouble comprehending that “not believing X” (not believe gods exist) doesn’t mean the same as “believing not X” (believe gods do not exist). The placement of the negative is key: the first means not having the mental attitude that proposition X (gods exist) is true, the second means having the mental attitude that proposition X (gods exist) is false. The difference here is between disbelief and denial: the first is disbelief in the broad or narrow sense whereas the second is denial.

The distinction here should be relatively simple and straightforward, but it’s difficult to explain when someone doesn’t automatically “get it.” The stumbling block for many people seems to be the assumption that when faced with any given proposition, the only options are to either believe that it is true or believe that it is false — so when faced with the question of whether any gods exist, a person must believe that either at least one god exists or believe that it is false that any gods exist (in other words, deny that any gods exist).

This is incorrect. It may be that most of the propositions that come immediately to mind are those which we either positively believe are true or deny as false, but there are a myriad of other propositions which don’t fall into either category. A little careful thinking about a couple of hypothetical scenarios may help reveal how this is the case.

It’s a distinction without a difference.

If one doesn’t want to jump into a deep pool, does it really matter if one says A or B?

A. I don’t believe there is any water in there
B. I believe the pool lacks water

The use of negation in the sentence structure does not alter the meaning. In both cases, the jumper won’t jump because he believes no water will slow his descent to the concrete at the bottom.

The stumbling block for many people seems to be the assumption that when faced with any given proposition, the only options are to either believe that it is true or believe that it is false

What’s the third option, that’s it is quasi-true or semi-false? That isn’t logic, that’s wishful thinking.

so when faced with the question of whether any gods exist, a person must believe that either at least one god exists or believe that it is false that any gods exist (in other words, deny that any gods exist).

This is incorrect.

Where is the difference? Show me a person who answers the question, "Do any gods exist?’ with anything other than a Yes or No. Then demonstrate how a Yes answer can mean anything other than at least one god exists. Or, how a No answer allows the possibility of one or more gods existing.

A little careful thinking about a couple of hypothetical scenarios may help reveal how this is the case.

Let’s see one.

Indeed, your post appears to be a sort of atheist theology, trying to make careful distinctions among the different ways that people reject God.

No argument here. There are a myriad of ways that people reject God and, if the Bible and Christian tradition are true, separate themselves eternally from God.

The third option is to withhold belief.

For example you could ask me if i believe there is a rock shaped exactly like a dog on a beach. To this i would have to answer “i don’t know” for i have not seen one, yet i have not seen every rock on every beach. So i don’t believe there is a rock shaped exactly like a dog on a beach, yet i don’t believe there is not a rock shaped like a dog either. In short i have withheld my belief in said rock dude to lack of knowledge.

The exact same thing can apply to religion, just because one does not have a positive theistic belief (a theist) does not mean they positively believe there is no god. They just lack any theistic belief (an a-theist).

This is not a distinction without a difference.

ADW.

I agree, there is different ways that people react to the god hypothesis.

ADW.

The major distinction in the definitions (however you want to label them) is just the certainty involved. A gnostic atheist would proclaim there is no God (he claims to know this) while an agnostic atheist would claim to not believe in God but that it’s technically a possibly because he cannot disprove it.

Spot on :wink:

An atheist has to follow this line so they do not ever have to defend their positive claim. It is a ruse.

You don’t believe in God - prove He doesn’t exist.

You can’t prove a negative. This is basic elementary logic.

If you make a claim (such as that God exits) it’s up to you to support your claim not for me to disprove it.

Here we see a fundamental error in reasoning, the burden of proof always lies on the one making the claim.

Do you believe everything you can’t disprove? If so you must believe a limitless amount of unfounded claims? You also must believe in every god ever proposed by man?

I’m sure this is not actually your position.

ADW.

:wave:
I am one. I hesitate answering that question at all because I don’t like to deceive. If I answer it “yes”, I deceive. If I answer it, “no”, I deceive. And the reason it is a deception is entirely your fault.

There is ALWAYS a third option and I am usually within it. :frowning:

Not so.

Oh, well if you say so then I retract my statement. :rolleyes:
By the way, you owe me $100, and it’s up to you to prove that you don’t.

Atheism is merely politics. It has nothing to do with actual philosophy. It is a disguise for an anti-Christian activist to gain access to a public stage.

Agnostics are the honest people, assuming they are genuine. :o

Being agnostic and being an atheist are not mutually exclusive, as I already touched on. There is also a big difference between being atheist and anti-religion, so stop trying to paint everyone who disagrees with you as “them”.

To a rhetorical politician, anything is possible he wants you to believe.

Most atheists are agnostic. Agnostic and atheist are two answers to two very different questions. Also i find your claim that atheism is “a disguise for an anti-Christian activist to gain access to a public stage.” to be arrogant, ignorant, and offensive.

Yes, you probably do, but then I find Atheists who are clearly in full knowledge of their intent and merely trying to make any anti-Christian assertion they can get away with to be a bit offensive, especially on a philosophy forum which is specifically a subject of the love of real truth and not politicizing.

As far as being ignorant, I have far too often proven that each atheist is merely stubbornly defending a stance and has no interest in real truth. This doesn’t mean that one can’t be found…somewhere.

But if you are going to define the word, not with politics of what you would want people to believe, but what is actually true and in practice, then “Atheism” is merely a political party.

I would be interested in finding an Atheist online who is truly humble to real truth, but so far, I haven’t and I have seriously looked. They are each warriors for their cause and not at all interested in finding real truth.

Prove me wrong. I would be glad to find out that I am because I have no interest in a world of nothing but politicians and their drones.

I’m sorry that you found my initial post offensive that was not my intention. I was merely wanting to clear up the misunderstanding that surrounds the word.

What do you mean by real truth?

What a word was intended to mean when it was coined, what it did mean at prior times, what it is preferred that you believe the word means, and what the word really represents, are all different things.

I am here observing the Catholics. They ask why I don’t just go ask of their leaders. I can pretty much guess what their leaders will answer (some by experience). It is only by watching the “real truth” of how they really behave that I truly know what being a “Catholic” really means.

The same is true of an Atheist. An Atheist is not defined by his flag or title any more than a Catholic or a Christian or a Democrat or any other grouping. He is defined first by his true behavior and second by the average (the most probable) behavior of those of his claimed label.

Any one person, of course, might be totally different than what his label would imply. But the label is not something any group can insist on the definition of. The “real definition” is reflected by the “real” average behavior.

If they want for a label to be accurate, they must disallow confusion and mixed definition and exclude those who do not behave truly as the label suggests. But being a political party, they can’t really do that because that would become “exclusive” and narrow the numbers they could claim.

Not long ago, I heard an Atheist quite proudly proclaim that all of the young, innocent, ignorant, and even the animals belong to THEM (the Atheist party).

Reality is not what anyone proclaims it to be. Real is what is actual, not what is preferred.

So do we as a race decipher what is actual and what is not?

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