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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Sorry for being absent from this for a few days.

Thanks for clarifying, Steve. That's exactly it.

Tobie is right in saying that anybody who thinks that atheists cannot be good without god is ignorant. At the same time, I don't think that being an atheist gives you any particular moral framework to be good. It is nothing but a lack of belief in god (or a belief that there is no god - I won't make the mistake of not differentiating again, haha).

If we do want a better phrase to show why we do good without god, perhaps that term is "secular humanist". You care about humans without any divine intervention/inspiration, and that is why you treat humans well.

Being termed as an atheist does not mean that you will be a good person, or will have the same moral framework as all other atheists. For that reason, I don't think there needs to be an atheist manifesto, as appealing as that sounds.

Not trying to flame or reject your idea out of hand, because I do think it would be a very good thing for us to have. But it's not that black-and-white.

I understand what you're saying, I guess I was combining the definitions of "atheist" and "Secular humanist". However, I think the vast majority of TA-ers are Atheist Secular Humanists, so that may facilitate the creation of whatever base system of moral guidelines we have.

no no, I didn't think you were trying to flame/reject at all. Your comments are appreciated :]

I don't think it's right, though to assume that any atheist is a humanist.  (And the reverse isn't true either.)  And you apparently agree with that.

If I understand you right you want a core group of statements all atheists can endorese by virtue of not believing in doG.

I personally would refuse to sign onto an "Atheist Manifesto" that includes secular humanist statements in it that not all atheists share.  For one thing, I don't share them.  In fact, I would have to go out of my way to state that this "atheist" group that claims to speak for atheism does not speak for me even though I am an atheist.  Keep it to the essential core of atheism--or call it the "Athiestic Secular Humanist (ASH) Manifesto."  I still won't sign it but it won't pertain to me--since it talks about ASH, and I am not an ASH.  And I therefore won't feel the need to explicitly disavow it since it doesn't claim to represent me.

If you want to try to point out that atheism does not preclude morality (and I think you should, even as an element of a "core atheist" manifesto), you could include a statement that "We believe morality is not handed down from God but rather derives from naturalistic considerations." and leave it at that.  You've stated morality doesn't require god, and that's all an atheist, qua atheist, needs to say.  But if you try to specify what the morality actually is you are now choosing one form of atheism over another, and you will be pushing ASH (or alternatively something secular humanists will hate), not simple core atheism.

It's easy too argue (I say easy because I've seen the late Christopher hitchens do it as would be able to spell out the same arguments) that doing "good" because you are ordered to do so is far less value than doing so out of your natural genetic insentive to do so. However I do see the religious argument that if you only do good when you feel it is good you are leaving moral questions to the subjectivity of the moment. In response though I state that secular moral codes are still exactly that, codes, they are still restrictions on the will of any individual's instant feelings, if a secular man wants to punh another and feels as he/she desserves it doesn't mean he believes it to be good and will often avoid doing so because he has previously reasoned that violence is often not the best (most moraly accepted) solution. Thus the codes of morals we have are just as valid (if not more) as they control the normal passions of the individual by setting them up agaisnt a pre-established code of behaviour. The only difference is we get to think about it without being restricted by the dumb writings of peasants from 2 millennia ago.



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