Why is it silly?

Authentic Nouveau

Well-known member
No clear evidence for the existence of any god or gods.
The un-clear evidence is as good for Shiva or Zeus, as it is for Jehovah. Odin and Osiris are better candidates for being plausible.
Threats from a raving preacher are NOT compelling reason to believe in a particular god.
Once again you remind us you were never a Christian. Never born again.
 

jonathan_hili

Well-known member
A number of people have called defining atheism as a lack of belief in the existence of gods "silly".

Why?

There are a large number of people who lack belief in the existence of gods. They don't believe that no gods exist, but they - for whatever reason - cannot draw the conclusion that a god exists.

What would you like them to be called (or to call themselves) if not atheists?
I don't know if a "lack of belief" can equate to "atheism", since it would cover "agnosticism" too. In that case, it's too broad. As it has also been noted, all sorts of things (dogs, cats, etc.) lack beliefs in God and we wouldn't call them atheists; indeed, even early Christians were called atheists because they "lacked belief" in the Roman gods. It's also incredibly unhelpful (and rather boring) in trying to understand positions and arguments.
 

Nouveau

Well-known member
I don't know if a "lack of belief" can equate to "atheism", since it would cover "agnosticism" too. In that case, it's too broad. As it has also been noted, all sorts of things (dogs, cats, etc.) lack beliefs in God and we wouldn't call them atheists; indeed, even early Christians were called atheists because they "lacked belief" in the Roman gods. It's also incredibly unhelpful (and rather boring) in trying to understand positions and arguments.
Atheism does also include agnosticism - as does theism. That doesn't make it too broad. And an atheist is a person who is atheistic (i.e. lacking belief), so this rules out cats and dogs, etc.
 

jonathan_hili

Well-known member
Atheism does also include agnosticism - as does theism. That doesn't make it too broad. And an atheist is a person who is atheistic (i.e. lacking belief), so this rules out cats and dogs, etc.
So, what's the difference between an atheist and an agnostic? I mean, if "atheism is a lack of belief in God" and agnostic means "unsure if God exists", then agnosticism = atheism, since, on the question of God, they both have a "lack of belief in God".
 

Nouveau

Well-known member
So, what's the difference between an atheist and an agnostic? I mean, if "atheism is a lack of belief in God" and agnostic means "unsure if God exists", then agnosticism = atheism, since, on the question of God, they both have a "lack of belief in God".
Atheist: lacks belief in God (can be agnostic or not)
Theist: has belief in God (can be agnostic or not)
Agnostic: does not claim knowledge on the matter of whether or not God exists (can be theist or atheist)
 

jonathan_hili

Well-known member
Atheist: lacks belief in God (can be agnostic or not)
Theist: has belief in God (can be agnostic or not)
Agnostic: does not claim knowledge on the matter of whether or not God exists (can be theist or atheist)
So, is this kind of definition between atheist and theist really just about burden of proof?
 

Authentic Nouveau

Well-known member
No clear evidence for the existence of any god or gods.
The un-clear evidence is as good for Shiva or Zeus, as it is for Jehovah. Odin and Osiris are better candidates for being plausible.
Threats from a raving preacher are NOT compelling reason to believe in a particular god.
Threats from a raving atheist preacher is not a valid reason to believe the atheist.
 

Nouveau

Well-known member
So, is this kind of definition between atheist and theist really just about burden of proof?
The definitions just reflect how words are used. If you're asking about the disagreement over how to define atheism, I think there is no point to that at all - it's just easier for some to complain about definitions than it is to address anything of real substance.
 

jonathan_hili

Well-known member
The definitions just reflect how words are used. If you're asking about the disagreement over how to define atheism, I think there is no point to that at all - it's just easier for some to complain about definitions than it is to address anything of real substance.
However, aren't there also atheists - and, traditionally, most of them (?) - that also propose that God does not exist. That is, they don't just lack a belief, they have a positive belief that they are stating.
 

Nouveau

Well-known member
However, aren't there also atheists - and, traditionally, most of them (?) - that also propose that God does not exist. That is, they don't just lack a belief, they have a positive belief that they are stating.
Yes, that's the distinction between weak atheism and strong atheism. Note that even a strong atheist can still qualify as agnostic, as one can believe there are no gods without being certain.
 

Electric Skeptic

Well-known member
I don't know if a "lack of belief" can equate to "atheism", since it would cover "agnosticism" too. In that case, it's too broad. As it has also been noted, all sorts of things (dogs, cats, etc.) lack beliefs in God and we wouldn't call them atheists; indeed, even early Christians were called atheists because they "lacked belief" in the Roman gods. It's also incredibly unhelpful (and rather boring) in trying to understand positions and arguments.
Great, then what should we call ourselves? Many of the Christians on this site seem to have grave problems with atheists who merely lack belief in the existence of gods. That's fine - then tell us what label we should use so we don't get Christians telling us what we believe or that we're not 'real' atheists.
 

jonathan_hili

Well-known member
Great, then what should we call ourselves? Many of the Christians on this site seem to have grave problems with atheists who merely lack belief in the existence of gods. That's fine - then tell us what label we should use so we don't get Christians telling us what we believe or that we're not 'real' atheists.
I'd say just say you're atheists and you don't believe God exists, which is presumably the position you hold. If you lack belief X, doesn't that entail belief Y? E.g. I lack the belief that it's raining outside, therefore, I have the belief that it's not raining outside.

Whether you have or lack a belief is kind of irrelevant and boring in a discussion. From my experience hearing people on this question, it comes down to trying to escape a burden of proof in an argument *shrugs*.
 
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