I think when debating people, this has and will come up so although not a new discussion here goes...
I've often heard people say, atheism means a lack of a belief in god/gods which is a disbelief in god/gods which is the same thing as the belief that god/gods do not exist. Yet atheists say atheism is not a belief at all, "we do not believe in anything". Is this all just semantics? Is this worth talking about yet again? Do people get confused by this?
Disbelief requires some sort of evidence. In the case of atheists, the lack of evidence for a touted deity is evidence enough. It would not require much evidence, any would surfice, any that could not be explained by coincidence for then moving those that don't believe into the camp of those that do. Even after 2000 years of looking, there still seems to be none.
Actually, disbelief is the default and requires no evidence. I tell you I've seen a pink unicorn. You might be tempted to believe me if you know me and have never known me to lie (this constitutes some, but not very good, evidence), but your own personal lack of evidence of pink unicorns would require me to provide evidence. Disbelief is the default position here, as it always is.
Lack of evidence for god is one thing, but there is also positive evidence that he doesn't exist. EG, the flood. Not only is there no evidence that flood happened, but there is evidence that the flood didn't happen. That is, not only is the geological evidence is such that there is both (a) no evidence for a flood, and (b) evidence that other non-flood things happened.
Merriam-Webster.com definition of "atheist": one who believes that there is no deity
Dictionary.com definition of "atheist": a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings
Where are you guys who are promoting definitions incompatible with common usage getting your information?
And yet, dictionaries are the baseline from which any discussions of terms that the general public may use should start. I have no problem with going beyond the dictionary. I do have a problem with ignoring it. That's all.
Some of it comes from the philosophy literature and arises because of the need to cover a broader range of beliefs than what is allowed by the dictionary definitions, yet remain logically consistent. John Wilkins's posts, which I linked to elsewhere in the discussion, goes into great detail about this very matter.
Websters dictionary has several definations, the first being the religious conviction; only natural in a society geared to satisfying the "God people". I consider myself to be a realist and pragmatist. I refuse to define myself by something I am not.
I think its poor word recognition based on the tone of the word. Sometimes it refers more to a dogmatic faith, while other times it refers to a theory based on evidence. In the words of The Offspring, "You Gotta Keep 'Em Separated". People dont do that so well. If Im debating and the debate goes beyond what I just said, unless there is really good justification, I ignore them until they say something constructive.