Blah. You can skip this post. Why? Because if you read this, you're probably an atheist and so you've probably heard this before. Why then am I going to say what has been said to the point that I'm annoying myself by saying anything more about it? Because it keeps coming up! It's the point that will not die, the argument that has no end, the correction which is continually ignored!
To say that atheism is a lack of belief in god is not the same thing as saying that atheism is believing there is no god.
I know, I know. Sorry to waste your time, but evidently this is STILL an issue for some people:
Casey Doran of Seattle scolded me, as others did, for not defining atheism correctly. "I wonder how much you bothered to research what atheism actually is before you wrote this piece. Atheism is the rejection of the claim of a positive belief that god(s) exist, not the assertion that no god(s) exist. It's an important distinction, the default position is a response to a claim, not a claim in and of itself, and I would hope that the press (especially the print press) would work a little harder to get it right."
My exact words were: "Atheists simply believe there is no God, or no evidence to support the existence of God." Isn't "rejection of the claim" similar to a belief (claim) there is no God?
Atheists reject the positive belief there is a God. Well, I accept the positive belief there was a man called Jesus; that is my belief, but that doesn't necessarily hold true in some people's eyes.
Just because a person claims there is no God — that is their belief — doesn't necessarily make it true in some people's eyes.
Look, there is a big difference between saying 'you know, I just don't think, given what we know, that it makes sense to say for certain that a god exists.' and saying 'There is no god, no possibility, won't even consider it.' Trying to sell both versions of opinion as one in the same is not correct.
Given this, I think that the two last paragraphs about Jesus and belief amount to a strawman argument. Yes, claiming that there is no god is a statement of belief. But the majority of atheists don't claim to know for certain that there isn't a god, they state that there is insufficient evidence to believe that there is one.
Ahh, but what about those atheists who would self identify as a 7 on Dawkins scale? Though not representative of all atheists, the authors definition of atheism would apply to them. I'm not one, but I can understand their position of sure. Let's look at both sides of belief regarding god:
Some atheists feel comfortable stating that there is no god. Those atheists are stating a well supported belief based on what we know at this time to be true about the universe, the earth, etc., but a belief just the same. Theists claim that there is a god. Those theists are stating a poorly supported belief based largely on feelings, anecdotal evidence, or old books that are largely unverifiable.
I think it's incorrect for the author to try to insinuate that all beliefs are created equal when they obviously aren't.
Regardless, the initial definition of atheism that the author suggests - Atheists believe that there is no god- is incorrect. If they honestly don't understand the difference between saying something doesn't exist and saying that there is insufficient proof of something existing, that's a personal problem.