What is the definition of atheism? How do atheists define atheism? How do dictionaries, standard and online, define atheism? There is some disagreement about the definition of atheism and it is interesting to note that most of that disagreement comes from theists – atheists themselves tend to agree on what atheism means. Christians in particular dispute the definition used by atheists and insist that atheism means something very different.
One popular tactic used by religious theists (usually Christians) is to confuse the differences between agnosticism and atheism in order to insist that atheists aren’t ‘really’ atheists, but agnostics. There seems to be the hope that by misrepresenting both as two points along a continuum with theism, then atheists can be convinced that they are ‘closer’ to theism than they realized, thus making the entire evangelization effort easier. Evangelization through deception is far too common.
Myth: Defining Atheism as a ‘Lack of Belief in God’ is a Cop Out
I’ve written a number of articles about how religious theists, but especially Christians, try to argue against the broad definition of atheism as simply the absence of belief in gods. This myth explains why this is so important to some theists: if atheism is just the absence of belief in gods, then it’s not making any claims that all atheists must defend, and therefore the only burden of proof lies with religious theists themselves.
Myth: Atheists Cannot ‘Lack Belief in God’ After Learning About God
Christians’ objections to defining atheism as simply the absence of belief in gods can extend to blatant misrepresentation of what should be a simple concept in order to divert attention from what atheism really is. In the case of this myth, we find that people will inexplicably distort the simple nature of “not believing the truth of a proposition” in order to pretend that it’s not possible to merely lack belief in the truth of someone’s claims. This makes the myth easy to refute.
Atheism & Naturalism: Atheists Should Focus on Naturalism & Science
Many atheists object to the labels ‘atheist’ and ‘atheism”‘ for who they are and what they believe. They don’t object because such labels inaccurate – they don’t dispute that they don’t believe in any gods. They object to the labels because they don’t regard disbelief in gods as important enough to warrant its own label or any special attention. It is argued that it would be better if they were described based on what they do believe: specifically their naturalistic approach to life.
How are Atheism & Theism Different? How are Atheism & Theism Similar?
Given the constant debates between atheists and theists, the differences between atheism and theism should be obvious. The truth is that there are so many misconceptions which both sides have about the other that the facts can get lost. The difference is ultimately very simple: theists believe in at least one sort of god. How many gods, the nature of these gods, and why the belief exists is irrelevant to the concept. Atheists lack belief in the existence of any gods external to human minds
Because of atheism’s long-standing association with freethought, anti-clericalism, and dissent from religion, many people seem to assume that atheism is the same as anti-religion. This, in turn, seems to lead people to assume that atheism is itself a religion – or at least some sort of anti-religious ideology, philosophy, etc. This is incorrect. Atheism is the absence of theism; by itself, it isn’t even a belief, much less a belief system, and as such cannot be any of those things.
Defining Atheism as Not Worshipping Gods: Atheism Is About Worship, Not Belief?
Some have argued that rather than define atheism as the absence of belief in gods, it makes more sense to define atheism as not worshipping any gods. There are advantages and disadvantages to this idea. A principle advantage is the fact that there is no need to go through contortions when it comes to apparently “real” gods, like a tree or Caesar. A principle disadvantage is the fact that it allows for a person to be an atheist but to believe that some god exists — an apparent contradiction.
What is Atheism? Overview of How Atheism is Defined
It seems strange that atheism would be so difficult to understand, but it must be – otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many arguments over what it means, what it entails, and what significance it has for society. Because the same questions and same arguments keep coming up over and over again, it’s important to have a central resource where people can inform themselves or to which they can refer others.
What Is Atheism? Strong vs. Weak Atheism
What is the definition of atheism? How do atheists define atheism? How do dictionaries, standard and online, define atheism? There is some disagreement about the definition of atheism and it is interesting to note that most of that disagreement comes from theists – atheists themselves tend to agree on what atheism means.
How Modern Dictionaries Define Atheism
What is the definition of atheism? How do atheists define atheism? How do dictionaries define atheism? A common theme throughout the definitions here is the primary use of ‘disbelieve’ when defining atheism. Some dictionaries drop this, but most comprehensive dictionaries do not.
Online Dictionary Definitions of Atheism
When debating atheism online, people often rely on various online dictionaries. These are references which everyone has equal access to, unlike printed dictionaries which people may not have at all or may not have immediate access to. So, what do these online sources have to say about atheism?
Definition of Atheism in Reference Books
The works cited here are all specialized reference materials designed not to provide general information for a general audience but, rather, information on specific topics like religion, sociology, or other social sciences. Their value here is in the fact that they provide insight into what scholars from different fields think of when it comes to the concept of atheism.
Definition of Atheism for Early Freethinkers
Atheists and freethinkers have defined atheism relatively consistently over the past couple of centuries. Although a few have focused solely on the sense of ‘strong’ atheism, many more have differentiated between ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ atheism. Included here are definitions of atheism from nonbelievers and freethinkers from the early 20th century and before.
Definition of Atheism for Modern Atheists
A few contemporary atheists restrict the definition of atheism to just the sense of ‘strong’ atheism, but most do not. Most instead point out the difference between ‘weak’ atheism and ‘strong’ atheism, arguing that the former is the broader and more commonly found form of atheism. Included here are quotes and definitions from nonbelievers from the latter part of the 20th century.
Definition of Atheism from Theologians
Although misunderstandings about the definition of atheism have tended to come from theists, it is also true that many theists have recognized that atheism has a broader sense than simply ‘denial of the existence of gods.’ Included here are quotes from a few of them.