Telling someone what they "aren't" is no less dictatorial then telling them what they "are". Trying to tell atheists how they should or shouldn't act is about as futile as herding cats.
* following any rules: well there is at least one "rule".
no running in the hallway
So basically...atheism isn't really and ism at all. Agreed. However, that doesn't mean that atheists are completely devoid of isms. They can follow other isms, such as naturalism or skepticism or secularism, and they may even feel that these isms align well with the world view that there is no god. They may even take it a step further and feel that the lack of a belief in a god is an important component or part of these other isms.
Atheism is love
Perfect counter to when theists say "God is love"
I guess I don't agree with the argument that atheism isn't a belief. Yes, it is a lack of belief there are/is a gods/god. But, if you change the sentence around, you can also say you believe there are no gods. Is this not true? Do you not also believe there are no gods while simultaneously lacking a belief in their existence?
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.
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
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.
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.