Sunday, July 22, 2007

Maybe It's All in the Definition of Atheist? Atheist Fanaticism revisited for the last time -- God, I hope so.

I had a passing thought last night. What if most, if not all, of the disagreement between nonbelievers and Christians boils down to how "atheism" is defined?


1) Atheism is the disbelief in any God, not just the Christian God.

2) Atheism is the lack of belief in any God, not just the Christian God.

The difference is that the first implies a proposition on which [so-called] atheists can focus their (dis)belief. Disbelief is the assertion of a negative belief: that such and such is not the case. In the case of atheism, this would be that God does not exist.

In the latter, the lack of a belief does not imply anything about what atheists believe (or do not believe) other than not believing in God. Nothing is implied about spiritual states or attitudes towards beliefs in the lack of a belief.

The realization that many atheists really don't spend a lot time asserting the non-existence of God, Christian or otherwise, might be offensive and upsetting to Christians. If it is any comfort to those offended and upset Christians, any denials of the existence of God mostly take place in conversation with believers of one sort or another.

Atheists of the second sort bear an uncanny resemblance to Schrodinger's Cat: they neither deny the existence of God nor do they assert the non-existence of God until a Christian observes them when the question is posed to them: the quantum possibilities collapse into an actuality.

Some Christians need atheists to be thinking about God's non-existence all the time. I can only imagine this would make sense as a shield against doubt. God is primarily an issue for believers. In seeking to portray atheists as pale imitations of Christians, believers betray their own seeds of fanaticism: hatred of anyone who lives as if God failed to exist and is none the worse for their lack of a need for God..

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