Misused labels of Atheist and Atheism


This is contradictory. You can say you don’t like slap fights, ok. No one likes slap fights.

But you can’t start a conversation about a thing and then complain when other use precise communication.

you are wanting to have your cake and eat it too.


This is an attempt to use atheism as a critical approach to religion, and at the same time claim atheism is unassailable by redefining the word “belief”. So you can criticize other beliefs, but dodge criticism.

It just doesn’t work in the real communication. In communication a person must claim themselves and their beliefs, if a productive conversation is going to happen.


How can the burden of proof not fall on the people making the claim? To say it works any other way is nonsensical. Not only are specific religions claiming there is a higher power, they are claiming that their version of the higher power is correct. When the suicide bombers complete their deed, they do so with the intent that they have fulfilled what their religion states they need to do. Then Muslims will say, “well that’s not what our religion demands.” Sure maybe it doesn’t now because you have moved the goalposts to run parallel with modern morality, while these extremists have continued to follow the religion the way it was written and followed when it arose.

The non-believer says, "I see no proof or reason for a higher being and certainly not the ancient portrayals of one. Therefore, we, as humans must arrive at a standard of morality using the methods we have available to us.

You mention atheists organizing under some undefined "non-religious community to chide the religious. Well excuse me, I frankly see that this is not occurring enough since the only way to fight against keeping fanatical religious ideas out of government is to attempt to group up and speak up. This is really the only beef that non-believers have with the religious. Believe what you want, do impose it on society. And it shouldn’t be surprising, because the Christians would not be very comfortable if the Muslims became the majority and started invoking their beliefs into the government.


It always does.

My point is that “there’s a god” and “there is no god” are both claims. “Theist” describes the first and “atheist” describes the second.

That’s not my claim. Honestly, did you actually read the post?

I’ll repeat;

…the default hypothesis, statistical null, philosophical origin is NOT “‘no’ unless otherwise proven”. It’s "‘uncertain/unknown’ until otherwise proven.

Applied to theism;
…the default hypothesis, statistical null, philosophical origin is NOT “‘there’s no god’ unless otherwise proven”. It’s "‘god’s existence is uncertain/unknown’ until otherwise proven.

Category error. If you want to argue against theism, then do so. But “theism” is not synonymous with “Islam” or “Christianity” or “Classic Greek Polytheism”.

The scientist says “The existence of God is neither conformed nor denied” and “The Scientific Method isn’t capable of making value judgements. Ergo those lay outside the scientific disciplines.”

That exact quote is absolutely nowhere in my statement above. If I’m going to dialogue with you, I’d appreciate it if you were a bit more exact in quoting me.

What I do say is that;

And in an effort unambiguously motivated by ideology and an attempt to foster a “non-religious” religious community, there has been an attempt by atheists to redefine the word in a way that removes any sort of posit or burden of proof that they so often merrily chide the religious over (particularly Christians of a fundamentalist stripe - few of which are even on these forums)

And I think that’s great! But don’t attempt to widen the nets for your community by attempting to twist words into new versions of themselves that lack meaning. Frankly, I doubt it will help much anyway. Despite great effort from a lot of players, it’s just really hard to create a functioning community around a negative idea.

I assume you meant “don’t”, so I changed your quote.

To the point - societal/tribal laws have to be based on something.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


Sure, whatever. The non-believer is not trying to impose any beliefs on the believer. The believer says homosexuality is bad because my book says so. Etc, etc The non-believer says, let’s figure out what’s bad or good by using the human experience and what we have learned and will continue to learn.

Most atheists admit they do not KNOW for sure, including the late Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins to name a few. I’ve heard ideas where we might just all be part of a computer simulation of some sort… etc.

The more specific your claims (which is what religions do) the more proof must be provided.

My response is the same.

The religious do it all of the time. They organize celebrations over cannibalism and to paraphrase CH, brainwash people into believing that the idea of worshiping a celestial dictator, an eternal North Korea, is somehow a noble and desirable one.

Yes, it would seem to me that homosexuals should have the right to liberty and their pursuit of happiness. They should not be berated for their lifestyle. They should be able to marry whom their choose. They should not have to worry about people refusing to bake a cake for them. The Creator could mean star-dust. No authority was assigned to a specific religion or book for governing.

My stance is, let’s continue to figure out what the best way for running and governing society instead of pretending we already have the answer.


At the policy level, everyone is trying to impose their beliefs. It’s been going on since the first gathering around the tribal campfire.

Similarly, I’m more than happy to admit that I don’t know for sure there’s a god or not. My belief despite this fact is sometimes referred to as “faith”. Similarly, I have faith that Mongolia and black holes and quarks exist, despite not having verified their existence myself.

Cool. Then if somehow you manage to debunk Christianity, you’ve still not debunked a possible god.

General theism is very difficult to argue against. Particularly when you realize it’s not empirical. This means empirical methods don’t work toward proofing nor falsifying.

Your response is fallacious, but as you wish.

Sure, and since their beliefs are affirmative rather than negative, they have an easier time generating community. For a negative belief, you have to first teach the idea THEN explain why it’s wrong. It’s just inherently difficult to get a well-attended club going on that basis.

I tend to agree, at least in the context of secular governance. This makes your brush a little over-broad as you might accidentally paint-over someone that didn’t earn the stain.

But the arguments against homosexuality aren’t just religious. Some would argue that it’s an anomaly that we’ve been unable to extinguish through natural selection. In the light of modern humanism, homosexuals should be treated with dignity. But to say that they, specifically their homosexual behavior, should be normalized might be an unjustifiable position as the primary non-religious purpose of life is to perpetuate itself.

Or the creator could be Judeo-Christian God. See ya at the polls.

My stance is that there isn’t a best way and we continually oscillate between alternative groupings a la basic Conflict Theory.


Of course. I argue for improving on past ideas rather than relying on them as set-in-stone truths.

Fair enough. I feel that the importance of belief is overrated by many religions’ emphasized significance of it. I’m more concerned with the actions that result from belief.

I see the possibility of any specific religion as being correct to be almost zero. My reasons are numerous, it would essentially take a book, but I’m sure they are all ideas that someone has already written about.

Theism, as I know it to be defined, requires intervention from the supreme being. If intervention is not defined as being empirical, then the sky is the limit as to the proposition of ideas that could be claimed to be true.

Which is essentially why it is a lack of belief rather than a belief. I would understand negative belief to be the same as lack of belief.

If you think the best method for governing is a popularity contest, then “God help us”

If there isn’t a best way, then what is the point of religion?


The big question there is “how do you identify an improvement”? That requires something to measure it against. Say, maybe, a set-in-stone truth.

Like, “exactly-we-nailled-it-100%-correct”?

I agree wholeheartedly.

A supernatural event that is readily reproducible (and thus able to be tested) is an oxymoron. It’s like asking for a canine-cat or freezing-fire or an instant that lasts forever.

Then by virtue of how they negate, non-theist is way more accurate than atheist.

By and large, welcome to modern democracy.

Still staying in secular terms? It’s social glue. It’s another way to form groupings and social norms so we know who to love and who to throw rocks at. If there is no “them” then there is no “us”.

But generally? God drives the metaphysical. It answers “what ought” whereas science answers “what is”.


Catholic Teaching does not promote throwing rocks at atheists, but definitely being separate from them in Communion.

How we approach an atheist also depends whether they were Baptized into the faith and participate in the life of the Church, or are outside. In any case we should love all men.

1 Corinthians 12
But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you.”


To be clear, I wasn’t meaning that literally.

Again, I’m not advocating that anyone throw rocks at anyone else. Apologies if that was unclear.


You try to measure it against results. Minimize harm and contribute to the greater good.

Although I am not prepared to concede the empirical, theoretically, for the sake of argument, I shall. It is estimated that 6 billion people have access to mobile phones. Almost all mobile phones contain a video recording device. If interventions, although rare, are happening, there is a strong probability that one would have been captured. If you are saying they are not capturable, how are we aware that they happen, that they have happened? I mean apparently they were quite prevalent in Biblical times, many times for the purpose of God revealing himself. Perhaps that now since humans are now capable of recording such events, God has decided he no longer has any interest in such events?

I hope we as a people remain open to improving our system.

So he doesn’t care to reveal to his people the ‘best’ way.


You still require some sort of standard and you’re dancing around that.

If we measure “32” of something and the previous value was “24”, is this an improvement? Is it cause for concern? Why?

How do you measure “harm” and “the greater good”? All the secular attempts I’ve seen suffer the same critiques as religion on the matter.

They “happened” more in biblical times because these were uneducated people writing about their lives in a pre-enlightenment society. Reading these things literally with a post-enlightenment lens is what your school teachers called “anachronism”.

Frankly, I think God is minimally interventionist - if at all. I’ve never seen a divine intervention that couldn’t also have a rare (but possible) natural explanation. To suggest a God that has to regularly intervene also suggests a God that has limited control in the first place.

We will. What I keep trying to get through is that the idea of “improvement” has to be per something.

Two thoughts. I have no idea what the “best” way is. And he doesn’t have to do anything that he doesn’t want, if he exists. God is no more subject to my understanding of what is or isn’t optimal than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

And trust me, my phone doesn’t ring when they’re planning on doing something…


Basic misunderstanding of Christian morality.
Morality is an evaluation of human acts in reference to objective good. A coherent evaluation is never “because my book says so”. (geez, atheists…after all this time…c’mon)

At it’s heart, Christianity thought on marriage points to human existence as a good. (there is a more fundamental good, but let’s start here)
If it’s is good for human beings to be alive, then the unique way that happens can be evaluated in that light.
Human beings come to be through the union of a man and woman. So we are nor looking at a good, and what contributes to that good, and rejecting homosexuality as it pretends to be that good. Not because “the book says so”, we are rejecting through reason and faith. The human experience you reference is a big part of the reason used to make this moral evaluation. Human experience is not disconnected from Christian morality.

You do not understand Christian morality. I’m sorry.


Would you not agree that there have been improvements since Bibical times, etc? Because I always hear people defend things in the Bible and say, “well that was the culture then, we don’t treat women that say anymore” etc

If we are going by terms, that sounds more deistic than theistic.

Of course he doesn’t HAVE to. It seems rather strange that he would make people in his own image, make people the dominion over all creatures (religious claims) and then turn around and leave them in the dark as to how to live. And when they fail the standard of which they don’t even know of, they suffer forever.


So the word of God doesn’t contain Christian morality?

Is it me who doesn’t understand Christian morality, or Christians themselves? According to this 2015 Pew Research poll, 54% of Christians and 70% of Catholics believe homosexuality should be acceptable in society.

That was almost 3 years ago, I would wager that the numbers have probably even ticked up a bit more since.

By the logical you presented rape must be an objective good (not condoned by the Bible) since the result can be human life.


What?! Where did I say that?

Is it me who doesn’t understand Christian morality, or Christians themselves? According to this 2015 Pew Research poll, 54% of Christians and 70% of Catholics believe homosexuality should be acceptable in society.

Right. That’s subjective morality. You propose that a consensus of opinion determines good/evil.
Welcome to racism and holocaust, cause at various times, those where very popular.

By the logical you presented rape must be an objective good (not condoned by the Bible) since the result can be human life.

You really, seriously, do not understand Christian morality. No problem, we can’t know everything, but you should know things you are attempting to dispute.


The confusion is that the religious have been taught to view this group of people by a certainty instilled from their pulpit instead of engaging these people and asking them themselves. Now when we come in and explain our position, we get into these word use slapping matches because the default position that the theist has been taught is being challenged by these actual people with the actual data on who and what an atheist is. So the people with the actual data on what an atheist is, is not matching up with what the default position that the religious were taught from the pulpit. Their church leaders are getting it wrong and so, since religion can be wrong, but hates it when it is exposed as wrong, we get into these semantic word slaps instead of actually engaging each other for what each side is actually saying.
Yes we are deliberately causing confusion because the default position that the religious side is taught to accept about what and who an atheist is, is just plain wrong.

What ideology are you talking about? As I’ve explained multiple times, the only universal commonality of being an atheist is, “I am not convinced that the supernatural exists based on the bad arguments and evidence.” You can come to that conclusion with practically every world view out there. That is why each atheist has their own individual constellation of attributes that they filter the world through.

So what does this have to do with you? You and your religion have to have a religious community? You seem to imply that people can not have this as an option? You are directly implying that you would force this to not happen in some form. If people want to be religious, then they can freely join your church. If they do not, then they can freely not join your church. This idea really stinks of totalitarianism. Of forced conversion since there is no other option allowed. How dare we want a community where people can freely have the option to be religious and/or non-religious. This is what secular governments allow, the freedom for people to choose to join groups and to leave these groups and to create their own groups by stealing the good ideas from other groups and discarding the baggage.


Again, anyone making a positive claim about reality has the burden of proof to explain why they think reality has that idea instead of it not having that idea. The default position is to start from nothing and then build from there. You don’t start from allowing everything and then whittle it down because there is a theoretical infinite ideas of everything and these ideas also can be in direct contradiction of each other. Atheist is just someone you failed to convince why you think there is the supernatural. They are not changing the current understanding of reality, the religious are.
If I come to you with a green lantern comic and fail to convince you the green lantern exists, are you making a claim about the known reality that is different from the actual known reality? No, the green lantern wasn’t justified to exist before that conversation and it wasn’t afterwards either. I’m the one claiming that reality includes the green lantern, not you. So I have to provide that evidence. It is possible to provide all bad evidence for why I believe something exists.

I’ll refer, again, to my jar analogy and I’m putting it specifically to you, what position on the marbles am I making?
Jar of marbles that no one can investigate. Theist claims there is an even number. I don’t believe them. Another theist claims there is an odd number of marbles. I don’t believe them either. What’s my position on the marbles? If, I don’t have one, do I have a burden of proof to provide?


That’s fine, but you’re still not answering the question.

Boom. We’ve killed God as a matter of policy. Everyone rejoice. So what replaces it? Statism is the natural runner-up and that was bloodbath during the 20th century. More died than in all the religious wars combined, by one analysis I saw.

What you’re not giving is the “why”. And I understand. You may have never thought about it, but you don’t really have one beyond individual inclination. No offense intended.

I understand and that’s a concession I’m totally willing to make for the sake of this conversation. I just think that my “deistic” god is more a part of the world in a metaphysical way than deism suggests. But if you want the concession, fine. Here ya go.

I think religious “clergy” all the world over would object to your claim of ignorance.

But with that said, if any entity had the right to run the show however they darn well saw fit, god would get my vote if it exists.


What do you mean by “god”? There are multiple versions of god. The people sitting next to you in church probably have a personal definition that will differ from yours, so what is your definition?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.