I have had this discussion on other threads and I wanted to get your opinions on what most fellow Atheists consider an "Atheist".
I have always considered an "Atheist" as someone who does not believe in even the possibility of a God/Gods, an afterlife, reincarnation of any kind, energies "living on" or being "transferred to other forms" after death, ghosts/souls, and/or superstitious beliefs.
I have not considered Buddhists atheists as they still believe in "energies" and the sorts; and believe that people who say that they believe in the "possibility" of an afterlife as agnostics or the sorts - I have been an atheist for example since I was 15-16 and maybe an agnostic for a couple of years before then.
For example, I am sure that Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the likes all fit into the aforementioned definition of an "Atheist". So, what do you think?
If you do not believe that gods exist, then you are an atheist. Atheism is not the same as naturalism, nor is it the lack of superstition. You can spend your who life trying to avoid crossing the path of a black cat, else you be cursed with bad luck and still be an atheist. This is why we say that rational inquiry and critical thinking are key. Atheism is simply one of the results.
You mentioned that you don't consider Buddhists as atheists, but honestly it would depend on the beliefs of the individual. It's not good to fall victim of black and white thinking, and paint such a diverse group with one wide brush. There are Buddhists that are certainly theists in that they say prayers to certain Bodhisattvas in order to be taken to a "Pure Land" after death. But there are other Buddhists who are also naturalists, meditating to explore the depths of consciousness, but without claiming knowledge about the order of the Universe based on these experiences.
Hey Mark Beronte!
Watch this video. I just did and it's pretty impeccable logic if you ask me. It's not either-or. :-)
"The educated in [the critical habit of thought] . . . are slow to believe. They can hold things as possible or probable in all degrees, without certainty and without pain." ~William Graham Sumner
"To have not formed a belief either way is to still have a lack of belief and is therefore atheism."
Not quite, Mark, it is therefore atheism BY YOUR DEFINITION. As I've stated FROM THE BEGINNING, there is more than one definition for words, including "atheist" and "agnostic". I've also stated that I reject your my-definition-is-the-only-valid-one arguments. Dictionary definitions are determined by actual usage in the real world. It is hubris to take one of those definitions and claim it's the only valid one. Such a didactic, pedantic, anal-retentive, attitude is pedagoguery. Plain and simple.
According to Wikipedia:
Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable. Agnosticism can be defined in various ways, and is sometimes used to indicate doubt or a skeptical approach to questions.
Once again, as with the word atheism, you are denying all other definitions for the word agnosticism . . . unless they fit your preferred point of view.
But you miss the main point of your own chosen quote: agnosticism is "an independent category compatible with either belief or non-belief". Like I've said all along: it's not either-or. That is a false dichotomy.
Now, if we were to discuss what "atheist" and "agnostic" SHOULD mean, THEN we'd have a whole other kettle of fish and everybody could jump in with their own, personal favorite, definition. Until then, you'll just have to excuse me if I choose not to substitute you for the dictionary.
"I guess that would make you an agnostic agnostic atheist"
You sure about that? :p
In your opinion, can one be both an agnostic and an atheist?
I happen to think so for a very simple reason: Agnosticism is a question of knowledge; atheism is a question of belief. Since belief and knowledge are in no way the same thing, but are also not mutually exclusive (one does not have to know to believe or not believe), then one can be both.
I consider myself an agnostic atheist in this way (using the extremes):
I am 100%, completely and utterly convinced that Yahweh of the Bible does not at all exist. His existence is logically impossible.... essentially, the Bible describes him out of existence.
On the flip-side, I can see no reason to entirely dismiss the Pandeistic concept (Einstein's view) of a higher power. Although I myself tend to accept that the universe likely had a natural origin (otherwise I wouldn't be an atheist), we do not have enough knowledge or understanding to say this for a fact. I do think naturalistic origins are more likely than supernatural origins, but I do not think we know enough about our universe to rule out an initial "First Cause" all-together.
So I consider myself an Agnostic in that although I think the universe most likely has a natural origin, I don't know for sure. But I also consider myself an Atheist because I don't believe in any higher powers, and I am 100% convinced that there are no personal higher powers (there are no higher powers that take direct and personal interest in our lives, from as simple as guiding life on its evolutionary path all the way to being intimately interested in what and who we do in our bedrooms).
@ Sassan - I have never heard Hitchens, Harris, or Dawkins say they discount the possibility of an after-life 100%. Did I miss something?