Hello fellow Atheists! After years of observing the interactions between Theists and Atheists, I've realized that the definition of "Atheist" itself is rather nebulous (excepting the universal belief that there is no god). Thus, we should compile an unambiguous definition of what it means to be an atheist without bringing individual philosophies into conflict. 

If we can all create a unified definition, then that can render the "atheism is ambiguous and vague" attacks of Theists moot. But more importantly, it can help us achieve the same-level of philosophical self-surety that believers in organized religion tout. 

let's start with a debate in the comments section

- Param

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Surely the only thing all atheists have in common is the fact that we do not believe in god?

"Atheist" shouldn't mean anything besides that. That should be the only real definition. Saying "I'm an atheist" should only be a statement about your position on one issue, and one issue only. Nothing more, nothing less.

I should point out that for most non-believers, the definition of "atheist" isn't a belief that there is no god; it is a lack of belief in a god.

Seems semantic but there is a difference.

but at the same time, many people think of Atheists as people without rules and morals or anything of the variety... surely something must be done to rectify that?

Anybody who believes that isn't doing it because of logic or evidence but because they are biased, xenophobic, closed minded, ingnorant knaves.

that's true, but a lot of people defend the "organized" basis of religion in that it has a clear-cut, well defined set of rules and expects people to abide by them. Thus, they think that as an atheist, if I don't have Religion, then I don't have rules or morals.

We do not agree on why we do not believe in god.

but isn't there some basic framework as to WHY we don't?

Empirical logic, experience, conjecture etc.?

In my opinion, the only framework that would apply to everyone is reason. Is there any other way in which to come to the conclusion we all have?

I concur.
So Daniel, what disagreements do we have on our reasons for not believing in god?


I think there is. In my head is irrefutable proof. And it is quite depressing that other atheists come at a different angle. Not depressing because my ego isn't flattered but because my answer seems so true.

The ingredients needed are

  • perspective
  • reason
  • logic
  • Occam's razor
  • an understanding of how we react

Use these and the answer becomes so clear, so obvious.

This is where I start. Have you ever been in a tornado, an earthquake, a tsunami, a drought, a flood etc? They are very scarey situations where you can come face-to-face with your own mortality.

Now take yourself back to a time of limited perspective, limited knowledge, limited horizons, heightened fear, and say hello to the first gods. Local and literal.

These local Gods merged with local gods of others. Eventually, given time and 'civilisation' these Gods formed a pantheon such as the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians etc.

Within civilisation it was noted how the people love/have faith in their gods and how power and control could be wielded through this faith.

So they created monotheistic religions. Ambiguity lost and teachings centralised, the purveyors of monotheistic religions spread their word and passive-aggressively found more power than they would have dreamed of.

And we know what power does...

I should point out that for most non-believers, the definition of "atheist" isn't a belief that there is no god; it is a lack of belief in a god.

Seems semantic but there is a difference.

@ Abdullah - I don't believe in God(s). I lack belief in God(s). These mean the same thing to me. I 'don't have' and I 'lack' (same thing). What am I missing?

thought I don't necessarily agree with Abdullah's analysis.

I would like to point out that the term "Atheist" literally means "without god" with the Greek alpha-privative, implying that god is something that is necessary for life.

I think a better term would be "nontheist", am I right?

Mabel, the two statements you make are indeed equivalent to each other, but they are not matches for Abdullah's two statements you quoted, which are:

a belief that there is no god


lack of a belief in a god

The first of Abdullah's statements does not correspond to your first statement "I don't believe in God(s)."  Your two phrasings express the lack of something, a belief in god.  If you think about it, a turnip lacks a belief in god.  Or in anything else for that matter.  "I don't believe in God" does not mean necessarily that you are positive there is no god.  When you express that you are sure that god doesn't exist, then and only then do you have "a belief that there is no god."  Most atheists won't go that far (I am one who will).


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