I looked at my cute little atheist baby
(With wonderful new-baby smell!)
And thought that she might be more accurate, maybe
With other descriptors as well
The privative “atheist”, so I’ve been told
Is a measure of what she is not;
It’s clearly the case, if I might be so bold,
There are more words describing the tot:
My baby is flightless; my babe is unwed;
She’s not blonde, for there isn’t a hair on her head;
She’s scale-less, of course, for as much as I’d wish
She has no hint of Mermaid, or tidbit of fish;
She’s hatless, for now, till I give her a hat,
And cloudless as well, though I’m glad about that;
She’s treeless, which helps her to fit in her cot,
And windowless—windows, again, she has not.
She has plenty of cute—I shall not call her cuteless—
And she’s sweeter than Mom’s Apple Pie;
But listing her negatives clearly is fruitless
When privatives do not apply.
In case the verse wasn’t blatant enough… I come down on the side that babies are not “dictionary atheists”, nor are trees, rocks, fish, clouds, or galaxies. They are undefined with regard to religious terms. (Ok, they are undefined in my view; some (but not all) religions claim membership from babies, and it is not relevant that the baby actively believe. This baby is (culturally) orthodox, that one is muslim, even though they have not chosen this membership. Other religions wait–the anabaptist tradition requires the active choice on the part of an individual to join the church; prior to that, you may be unsaved or perhaps “innocent”.)
In my (privative) view, if there were no religious believers, there would of course be no atheists. The label would have never been invented, and would have no meaning. We are all, right now, aflargists, because none of us are flargists. We are all amulxists, because none of us are mulxists. I could make up dozens of undefined things we are not. But I prefer it when words actually have meaning, and give useful information. It makes no sense to call my baby flightless, although she is “dictionary flightless”. Since no babies are (I have asked them) active believers in any particular religion, it makes no sense at all to call them atheists. It is simply a dimension which is undefined with regard to babies.