A Christian man once told me that I “disbelieve in God”;
That a claim of that proportion took some gall!
I corrected him, and told him (which he thought was rather odd)
That I don’t believe in any gods at all!
I asked him to consider whether other gods exist
Which was something that, it seems, he’d never done
In examining the reasons every one could be dismissed
It seems stranger to believe in only one!
There are gods he’d never heard about, but clearly did not follow—
Could he really claim he disbelieved in those?—
Demanding active disbelief is rather hard to swallow
But an absence of belief? Well, I suppose.
Gee, looks like I am not the only one looking at definitions of atheism:
One of the great oddities with regards to issues pertaining to Atheism is the ongoing debates about the definition of the term “Atheism” (and thus, “Atheist” as well).
Often, individual Atheists will concoct their own definitions, demand that the definition applies to all Atheists and authoritatively demand that their definition be adhered to as the only true one.
This quote has been brought to you by the makers of “No True Christian”, your trusted name in deflecting blame. If we can’t trust Christians to define atheism, who can we trust?
The writer cites half a dozen online dictionaries (it is a dictionary’s job to describe how language is used; in a majority Christian population, an online dictionary definition of atheism will not reflect the self-description of atheists themselves), and sums up:
The assertion which is clearly stated within academic scholarly definitions means that Atheism is the position of claiming to know that God does not exist.
The problem is threefold:
1) On this issue, Atheists prefer to run away from academic scholarly definitions and invent their own (or, appeal to weak aka negative aka implicit atheism).
2) The academic scholarly definitions require that Atheists provide evidence so as to prove that God does not exist.
3) Such proof would require Atheists to be omniscient (possessing all knowledge) but since omniscience is a characteristic of deity (it would identify one as a deity) then someone who is omniscient could not prove that God does not exist as via the omniscient claim, they would actually prove the existence of God namely, themselves as they are exercising a characteristic of God.
Ok… first off–“academic scholarly definitions”? Now, I cannot claim that I have never seen a dictionary cited as a source in a scholarly paper, but it is very, very rare; a dictionary definition is far more characteristic of a grade school paper. One of the key elements of scientific writing is the specific vocabulary used, which depends greatly on the subject at hand. The common language definitions of a great many things are far too fuzzy for academic use, and it is the common language definition that the dictionary provides. So… point one is a misrepresentation; what is more, the point it makes is precisely the opposite of what actually is happening in this case.
Secondly… Why “God”? Some of those definitions said “God or gods”; if we look at “gods”, then the “academic scholarly definitions” (well, dictionary definitions, actually) put the same burden on anyone who believes in only one of those gods. Like, say, the Christian writing the post.
Thirdly… Again, the writer presupposes the characteristics of one particular god. The Greek gods could be fooled (recall how Prometheus taught the people to offer two sacrifices–one with the good meat hidden in the stomach, the other with the bones covered with a layer of tasty fat, to fool Zeus), so omniscience is not a characteristic of all gods. Besides which, for the writer to believe in one god and not others would require the same degree of omniscience! To recognize omniscience in one’s own god, as opposed to merely “much, but not all, knowledge”, would require omniscience on one’s own part in order to comprehend the god’s knowledge!
But of course, the writer is not omniscient, and need not be; he can take his god’s omniscience on faith. And he does not need to actively evaluate every other god; not believing in them is sufficient. I won’t hold him to the standards he requires of me. Because he’s wrong, and those standards don’t apply to anyone.