Alright, I can appreciate that. So atheism itself is a lack of belief there are gods, and saying you believe there are no gods is taking it a step further, or something else entirely?
I mean, believing there is NOT something specific (fairies, gods, the supernatural) is a belief. You can believe there is nothing. For instance, Lawrence Krauss has written an entire book on how there is not "nothing" (the absence of all matter), as in "nothing" has never been observed. He believes there is not "nothing". That "nothing", or total emptiness, is an unstable state and that matter necessarily arises out of it. The book is called A Universe from Nothing.
I feel like I'm tossing word salad here, but the point is: you can believe there is NOT something. Perhaps to believe there are NOT gods is not atheism, but it is a belief nevertheless.
No - non-existence is the default. Otherwise, you'd have to believe that Chewbacca doesn't exist, rather than just know it...or every being ever imagined by anyone. Your power of belief would have to be infinite.
Put simply belief defies or opposes evidence. If you believe a god exists; that belief goes against all known facts. If you don't believe a god exists; that is a natural conclusion based on current evidence, simmilarly with a wookie or Bertrand Russel's teapot.
It took me a while to understand this distinction as well Cara.
The distinction is similar to an opinion VS knowledge and facts. 'I believe there is no god' is like saying 'My opinion is that there is no god'. It's what seems true. 'I lack belief in god' is the same as saying 'There is no god'. This is how I understood it.
Although many will not notice the distinction, hence the constant confusion.
I lack belief in god' is the same as saying 'There is no god'
Mmm... I think I still disagree. Lacking a belief isn't the same as making a positive claim there is no god. That's gnosticism. If you're a gnostic atheist you [think you] know there is no god, AND you lack a belief in one. If you're an agnostic atheist, you don't know if there is a god, AND you lack a belief in one.
Gnosticism/agnosticism deals with knowledge. Theism/atheism deals with belief or, as you said, opinion. The addition of the statement "there is no god" would make it a gnostic statement, or "I know there is no god."
My problem has been seeing that "I lack a belief in gods" is actually different from "I believe there are no gods." For instant, I lack a belief (or opinion) on whether there are multiverses; I don't feel qualified to form a solid opinion, so I have none (yet). It would be entirely different for me to say I do not believe there are multiverses. Doing so would mean I've taken a position on the matter; I'm no longer neutral.
^coming up with my own example for you has clarified in my brain why lacking a belief is not the same as saying I do not believe. :P
Hehe - you are even nearly confusing me!
If something is evidenced, you don't need belief. If something is not evidenced, you don't need lack of belief.
If belief is the only reason to imagine something exists, then lack of belief is the same as saying that something doesn't exist.
Hehe - multiverses are not the same. That is a proposition that may best fit the current known evidence. A god doesn't fit the known evidence, especially not the Abrahamic god. A god in the religious sense is an impossibility.
As Teri says below, a lack of belief is default... or inevitable. It's not about "need" per say, but simply a state of being that is without belief/opinion. It's neutral in some sense. Taking a position for or against is not neutral. If a car is sitting on a hill in neutral, it's going to roll down the hill where it's heaviest (perhaps weightier evidence?), but it needs to be put into gear to actively take a position. You do not have to have an active position against the idea of god(s) to be atheist; you merely lack a belief in one. It's the position of gnosticism/agnosticism that indicates what you think you know or don't know.
I'll grant you there's more reason to believe in multiverses than in god, but years ago the default "lack of opinion/belief" was the norm. We ONLY need a title for atheism since theists (currently) outnumber us. People were amultiversists before the theory arose, and many remain amultiversists since few have heard the proposition. There are people strongly for or against the idea... gnostic multiversists, agnostic multiversists, gnostic amultiversists, agnostic amultiversists (have fun sorting THAT word salad out lol).
Obviously, this complicates the hell out of things. Maybe it would just be easier to say what we mean. I don't believe there are gods. I can't prove there aren't any, just like I can't prove there are no fairies, but I strongly do not believe they exist.
Perhaps my understanding still isn't as it should be or perhaps I didn't explain it well enough.
Lacking belief in god is a default position, one we were all born with. We are then taught that god exists and then we are put in a situation where we have to disprove this claim. Our position is not one we can prove as you cannot prove a negative (like trying to prove that there is no flying spaghetti monster).
I think lacking belief is the first, default position and believing there is no god is the second position where we are trying to prove a negative and argue against theists claims.
I've heard the analogy of atheism being the same as a belief in the same way that baldness is a hair colour. You may have heard this too. It made sense to me because we do not make a positive claim that there is no god. We simply do not believe one exists.
Accepting the existence of a god requires belief. To accept the potential for a god, while not believing one exists is to take a stance in favour of a god.
Neutral is to accept only what is evidenced and not believe or disbelieve.
A negative cannot be "proven" directly, that's false logic. If however, something is known about a god, such as that god creating man, then we can disprove it.
Evolution shows that man evolved from lower order animals. Although the exact mechanism for abiogenesis cannot be categorically proven enough is known to show that no god was necessary. So no god created man and no god kick-started evolution. The solar system and planet was formed from accretion of interstellar matter under the force of gravity and stages of that are observable in other parts of the universe. The origin of the universe is not certain but everything within the universe is currently known not to require the interaction of any god. So the christian god cannot exist with the claims made for it and most gods about which similar things are known cannot exist.
Using an analogy of the elephant and the flea...you would damn well know if an elephant came through your front door, but would probably miss a flea....if there were a super-powerful alien being that had created the universe and the solar system and kick-started evolution, there would be evidence. There is none, other than man-made documentation and ancient anecdotes.
No god can exist. To explain the beginnings of life with a god begs the obvious question about where the god came from, presuming you are imagining this god as a living sentient being.
Change the meaning of the word "god" and we could be in business...god is the set of physical equations that physicists are finding and confirming. A christian particle physicist recently visited a local church hall, and came out with this crap. The numbers and ratios are too beautiful, too perfect, not to have been designed. ...even if he were right, and I disagree, it is not the god defined, it is not a sentient being but rather some manufacture of the starting position...and then the universe happened from that starting position.
So no ... lengthy but irrefutable. Lack of belief is not acceptance of the potential for a god, lack of belief is (currently, with current available evidence) is that there is no god or set of gods that have ever been imagined or described on Earth.
To change what represents a god, you might as well that flea is a god, or a mote of dust...just it has no bearing whatsoever on the human race.
So, the "neutral" position is that no god is evidenced by anything, and statements about all gods contradict reality, therefore no currently defined god can exist. They are an impossibility.
I always thought the goal of the Atheist community was to see to it that we were treated fairly without discrimination for our lack of religious beliefs, to support those who are just coming out from the shelter of Religion, to educate those who know nothing about us, and to prevent the religious from using legislation and political clout to force their dogmatic BS down everyone's throats.
It would be nice no? Is there an "atheist community"? If there is, do they all share this laudable aim? If so is it not then just a doctrine or cult?
Our language and traditions are so tied up with religion that sometimes it is difficult not to see things in theistic terms. I still blaspheme as a mild swear when something frustrates me or I injure myself in some small way.
A doctrine? A cult? That's a bit extreme. A more likely example would be A book club, or in the most serious cases, alcoholics anonymous. We agree that religion is bullshit, and we have rather interesting and humorous conversations about the ridiculous things people do and say in the name of their gods. That we defend our rights and work to prevent the actions of those who intend direct harm or oppression towards us doesn't imply a doctrine, it simply means that we're intelligent human beings that can think and make rational decisions for ourselves. It means that we don't tolerate being pushed around, and recognize that though we may differ on many things, such as gun control, abortion rights, budget priorities, etc, we can all agree that no one wants to be legally forced to follow a Dogma they don't believe in.
As to religious memes, and the impact religion has left on Humanity...so what? I fail to see how this is at all relevant to my point, or even the one you made in your original post. Are you implying that deep down, all Atheists still hold onto some kernel of belief in their former security blankets?
I meant it hypotheticlly. I'm not saying atheism is a doctrine or cult, but that it would be if centralised, if its adherents had to believe the same to be atheists.
Memetic retention / subconscious belief...no! Just that it is ingrained, even though superficially, in Western culture, even in the UK despite there being fewer than 50% religious people now.
What I meant in my original post and my response is that there is no "goal of the atheist community"....I wasn't even aware there was an athesist "community".