If you really think about it there are fanatics on both sides. Religion is really only

a group of people believing in a certain way. Atheism to me is the same way

my beliefs and the right to them. I like to live my life with my own beliefs

so I do not begrudge anyone else in their beliefs.

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No, the belief in the lack of an invisible pink unicorn would assume the existence of a person that believes that an invisible pink unicorn does not exist.OR "invisible pink unicorn" has no referent, OR the expression "invisible pink unicorn" signifies nothing. The belief concerns the person whose belief it is, it does not concern said unicorn. If it did, we would only be able to have beliefs about things which do exist. Since we know that is not the case, a belief doesn`t sound to me as meaning anything different from a point of view. What`s with the "a point of view that affirms their willful ignorance to the existence of a god"? I don`t know where you came upon that but I certainly never said anything even remotely like it. I just read some of the earlier posts and saw something of a discussion about what is the definition of an atheist and proceeded to offer an analysis of components which an atheist`s position might consist of. At the end of your post you said "a point of view that there are no gods". In my post, under 1., I wrote: "A belief that God does not exist. So you exchanged "a belief" with "a point of view" and took god in the plural. Where is the difference from what I`ve written? I`m not saying that I am right, I am saying that I am right in ascertaining that atheist have belief(s) IF you accept my explanation of the usage of the word "belief". If you do not accept my explanation then you can freely say "a point of view", but what would be the point? (couldn`t help myself)

Luka.  Think about this: to have no belief in the existence of some entity is NOT equivalent to believing that such an entity does not exist.  Therefore, atheism does not necessarily entail any particular belief.  It's that simple.  Many atheists quite willingly accept the remote possibility that a god or gods may be out there.  They do not assert that gods do not exist.  Nor do they claim to believe that gods don't exist.  With respect to gods, they have no definitive beliefs.  

Again, to quote George Smith (see below), "Atheism, in its basic form, is not a belief: it is the absence of belief. An atheist is not primarily a person who believes that a god does not exist, rather he does not believe in the existence of a god."

Well okay then. I won`t press the matter any further because it`s really the same difference to me. When you define belief as I have, the aspects mentioned come naturally. If you take belief in the usual, more stricter sense of the word, yes, then you can say that atheism is an absence of a particular belief.

If this is so problematic we can completely avoid mentioning belief or the absence of it by saying that an atheist is a person who considers science and rational thinking to be the only objective criterion of validity and who practices identifying and pointing out logical fallacies and lack of evidence for various statements or belief systems.

This is a problem, Luka, of course, but there is no need for us to "avoid mentioning belief or the absence of it."  That would be absurd.  It would amount to a linguistic surrender to the mistaken and unfounded assertions of religious believers.  Instead, there is a need for us to distinguish among the word's connotations.  We all have beliefs, of course.  To believe is to have a firm conviction or trust in the truth of a proposition. 

Valid belief arises from knowledge, nowhere else.  A belief has value only insofar as the knowledge it's based on is reliable.  The validity of any belief must hinge on our ability to determine the extent to which it may be true.  That is, to hold a valid belief we must have a way to determine whether the knowledge on which that belief is based is true.  And we do have a way; it's called epistemology.  

To use the word "belief" to refer to a deep religious conviction is to stretch the word's useful meaning and to ignore its essence, the knowledge on which any belief must be based.  The fact that many religious people hold "true believers" in such awe only testifies, perversely and witlessly, to the emptiness of religious belief.  When a fundamentalist rises to his feet in church to shout, "I BELIEVE, I BE-LEEEEVE!" he is declaring his absolute conviction and trust in something (a system of belief) for which everyone in that church knows there exists no evidence.  That's why, to them, his declaration of belief in all its fervor is so moving, so inspiring.  He doesn't know, but his not knowing doesn't matter!  He beleeeeves anyway.  He really believes. 

In too many parts of our world, these are still the Dark Ages.   

Please see this, by Greta Christina:  "Is Atheism a Belief?"

And this: "Do You Care Whether the Things You Believe in Are True?"

Nothing to add. Great post

"It is wrong to define atheism as an absence of belief because when you negate something, you automatically affirm its opposite."

Sorry, Luka, but this is simply not true.  The absence of a belief in anything in no way affirms its opposite.  Nor does the absence of a belief suggest that some other belief must somehow take its place.  To say "...an atheist affirms [another belief] when denying the belief in god" is patently absurd, and such a position betrays an understanding of what atheism really and fundamentally is.

While an atheist may hold some or all of the five beliefs you list, none of those beliefs in any way defines atheism, nor is holding any of those beliefs a necessary condition of atheism.

Let me take the chance to point out here that it's also a mistake for us to define atheism as a "lack of belief in gods." It's a mistake because that is the theists' definition of the word.  Many dictionaries offer this definition, I know--but dictionaries are largely written by theists who fail to recognize their implicit bias.  The word "lack" carries the connotation of deficiency, the sense that what is lacking is something to be desired. By definition, to lack something is to be in want of whatever one lacks.  Atheists know that belief in god is nothing to be desired.

 The better and more accurate definition is: "the absence of [belief in] gods." It's from the Greek; "a" meaning "not" or "without," and "theism" meaning [belief in] gods.

 As George Smith has written:

 "Atheism, therefore, is the absence of theistic belief. One who does not believe in the existence of a god or supernatural being is properly designated as an atheist.  Atheism is sometimes defined as 'the belief that there is no God of any kind,' or the claim that a god cannot exist. While these are categories of atheism, they do not exhaust the meaning of atheism--and are somewhat misleading with respect to the basic nature of atheism. Atheism, in its basic form, is not a belief: it is the absence of belief. An atheist is not primarily a person who believes that a god does not exist, rather he does not believe in the existence of a god."


Atheism: The Case Against God (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1989), p. 7.


With respect to the the problem of "faith," as a useful word (like "belief"), I will offer that, too often, believers cannot or will not recognize the clear distinction between the religious and non-religious connotations of the word. So, unfortunately, this represents another instance where, to avoid pugnacious challenges, non-believers must either refrain from using a perfectly good word in a fitting context or take extra care to make sure they aren't being misunderstood.

What always gets me when I think about it is how thoroughly most religious people have been hoodwinked, or brainwashed, into regarding deep religious faith as some kind of supreme virtue. To have faith in things unseen and unseeable (as well as unknowable), in spite of all the evidence against those unseen things, is supposed to be an excellent and admirable trait of character--instead of a mark of stubborn gullibility, which is what it really is. Accompanying this foolish attitude is the ostentatious self-regard of the pious, guised in humility, like the baseball player who points a grateful finger to the sky after hitting a home run. Just once I'd like to see him point to the underworld after grounding into a double-play.


That should read (above):  "To say '...an atheist affirms [another belief] when denying the belief in god' is patently absurd, and such a position betrays a flawed or incomplete understanding of what atheism really and fundamentally is."
Perhaps the problem is that the theists have (or seem to have) co-opted so many words.  'Belief' for instance.  I can believe, for instance, that all magical thinking is preposterous.  Believing that doesn't make me a theist, does it?
Read my post above yours :)

Alan, this is sometimes a problem, I agree--the co-option of perfectly good words like "belief" and "faith."  But that doesn't mean we atheists cannot still use them with care.  We can, as long as we are scrupulous in explaining ourselves. 

As I have written earlier in this thread, true and valid beliefs arise only from knowledge. There's no other trustworthy place to find them. When theists use "beliefs" to refer to things that they insist can be known without any evidence, and when they insist that wishful thinking is knowledge, they have righteously and arrogantly corrupted the essential meanings of both words, "belief" and "knowledge."

Luka -- your post was what inspired me.
The Greek skepticists were those whose only rule of conduct was to refrain from making any kind of claims. But people realized very early on what I have written in my post: that the position of refraining from making claims is a result of a belief that nothing we believe in can be absolutely validated. That kind of a position is absurd and does not improve us as human beings. You also have solipsists who believe the only thing that really exist is them. However, a large percentage of humankind functions on the precepts of certain beliefs which cannot truly be verified, yet it would be hard to even imagine living without them. For example, you must believe that you exist, that other things beside you exist, and that there is something you can know with a relatively high chance of probability about yourself and the world around you. I think there is no one (or almost no one) who does not believe these, so therefore you are not a theist or anything of the kind. Generally speaking, you can talk about religious and/or superstitious people as postulating entities for whose existence there is no viable proof in order to ascribe meaning to otherwise unexplained things or events. This is the role that in today`s society science is assigned to and has, up until now, refuted many religious and superstitious beliefs. But somehow the things created for the sake of explanation got a life of their own and now, after they have been found inadequate, redundant, or even absurd, those people refuse to give up on them and accept a validated scientific explanation. If any of your beliefs concern entities which are not or cannot be validated by any scientific method then you are a part of this group. If they are not, you are not




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