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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Sunday, January 30, 2005

"lack" atheism is just another term for lacklustre atheism

Christopher Baba is a certifiable sufferer from VAS (Village Atheist Syndrome)and is one hell of a VAA (Very Angry Atheist). He runs the website Evil, "a non-profit web site which was developed to promote atheism by revealing the wicked truth about the Bible and religion." Let's just say that Chris hates Christianity with all the passion of a disgruntled former adherant. His is the kind of atheism, perhaps the most common kind, that is fueled by an intense, even pathological, hatred of God and religion - which is inevitably a kind of self-hatred considering the ubiquitousness of the religious impulse in human beings. But live and let live, I say; he is entitled to his views, as I am to mine. Judging by his website Chris would disagree, but then it is not a place I would choose to hang out. He is welcome to his bitterness and vituperation; if he thinks it is going to make the world a better place, and himself a better person, I'll leave it to time and tide to show him the folly of such a notion.

There is very, very little that Chris Baba and I would agree on, but one thing we stand united on is the definition of atheism. What follows is Chris Baba's piece, in which, in familiar atheistic manner, he doesn't hesitate to calls a spade a "moron":

On the Definition of the Words Atheism and Atheist

It has come to my attention that some atheists on the internet are trying to redefine the words "atheism" and "atheist" to mean anyone who simply lacks a belief in gods. This definition would include babies, agnostics, and people who have not come to a conclusion about the existence of gods.

Some proponents of this definition can be found in the alt.atheism newsgroup and at the following web sites:

A "lack of belief" definition is a bad definition for many reasons. It is not commonly used. It is not defined that way in any reputable dictionary. It is too broad because most agnostics and babies don’t consider themselves atheists. And it makes no sense for an "-ism" to be a based on a lack of belief.

These atheists are usually motivated to redefine the word "atheist" because they want to enlarge the definition of "atheist" to include as many people as possible, or because they perceive it to be an advantage in debates with theists. Unfortunately, some of these people have used lies and distortions to support their opinions, and some have made extremely ignorant and grossly incorrect statements that may reflect badly on all atheists. I will correct some of these incorrect statements later in this essay.

But first I will try to illustrate the problem by using three groups of people:

Group A believes that gods do not exist (atheists).

Group B neither believes that at least one god exists nor do they believe that gods do not exist. This would include agnostics, babies, and the undecided.

Group C believes that at least one god exists (theists).

It is generally agreed that the people in group A are atheists and the people in group C are not. The main point of disagreement is whether the people in group B are considered atheists or not. The people who want a "lack of belief" definition would define group B as atheists while most people, and all reputable dictionaries, do not. Many of the people who are pushing a "lack of belief" definition call group A "strong atheists" and call group B "weak atheists."

One of the main problems of a "lack of belief" definition is that it is too broad. If someone told you they were an atheist, you would still not know if they were agnostic, undecided, believed that gods don’t exist, or never thought about it. This makes the word nearly useless.

Another problem with a "lack of belief" definition is that it is not accepted by the vast majority of people. I personally don’t know anyone who considers babies atheists because they lack belief in gods. I also don’t know of any people who are agnostic or undecided about the existence of God who call themselves atheists.

The lack of public acceptance for a "lack of belief" definition of "atheism" is reflected in the fact that no reputable dictionary has a "lack of belief" definition for either "atheism" or "atheist". However, this has not kept a few morons from incorrectly claiming that various dictionary definitions have a "lack of belief" definition...

10:19:00 am