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Rocky writes, "What's wrong with simply, 'an atheist is one who does not believe in a god or gods'?"
Nothing. But that's what "absence of belief" means--it means there is not a belief. It is not there. Period. Absence equals non-existence. When something is described as absent, there is absolutely no implication that it "should" be present.
In the phrase "lack of belief," by contrast, the pejorative connotation is plain and unarguable. A lack is deficiency--by definition. Therefore, one who lacks a belief in gods is missing something that is ostensibly needed. That's why the definition is flawed; it reflects an obvious bias.
Personally, I don't see a lot of improvement with "absence of" over "lack". Both imply something that "should" be there but that's missing.
What's wrong with simply, "an atheist is one who does not believe in a god or gods"?
Fred writes, "Take the definition of being an atheist. What is it now. All in Chorus. Atheist: a person that lacks belief in gods or a God."
This common definition is NOT a definition that any atheist should accept.
Please let me take this opportunity to point out here that it's a mistake for us (or anyone) to define atheism as a "lack of belief in gods." Why? Because that is the theists' definition of the word. Many dictionaries offer this definition--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 need of whatever one lacks. Atheists know that belief in god is nothing to be desired. We don't lack theistic belief; instead, we simply do not have it.
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."
Lee comments: "The intelligent design crowd holds that all ordered systems must be the product of design, which is obviously false. Robin Hanson is making the same error in the opposite direction: he’s claiming that even systems that weren’t designed by humans can be treated as “designed” by evolution. I think this claim is equally fallacious, for roughly the same reason."
He's right. The brain cannot have been "designed," because to design something is to engineer it purposefully with a plan already in mind.
Im not sure if anyone here is familiar with the Zeitgeist Movement or the Venus project. Please check it out. It is very much the future we hope for. '
I'm going to print myself a grand piano...
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