Atheism

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
(General concepts)
(Undo revision 21177 by Dysrhythmia (talk) Click the other "Starting Points" buttons on the main page; all three of the others also have the relevant graphic.)
(33 intermediate revisions by 19 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
An '''atheist''' is a person who does not believe in any [[god]]s. '''Atheism''' is the corresponding philosophical position. This commonly used definition does not assume any positive claim of the nonexistence of god.
+
[[Image:Button_atheism.png|right|Atheism]]
 +
An '''atheist''', in the general sense, is a person who does not believe in the existence of any [[god]]s. '''Atheism''' is the corresponding philosophical position. Atheism may or may not be a position of faith, depending on the type of atheism, as atheism may or may not refer to a stance on the theistic question, depending on the individual in question and how the term 'atheism' is meant.  Arguments over whether or not atheism constitutes a belief are often based on one side assuming that the term always does or always doesn’t constitute a positivist statement, and therefore, a belief.  
  
 
==Types of atheism==
 
==Types of atheism==
  
 
===Strong atheism===
 
===Strong atheism===
 +
''Main article [[Strong atheism]]''
  
A "strong" atheist is one who positively asserts that "there is no god".  Strong atheism is the form of atheism that most theists reference in debates, since most don't know the distinction between strong and weak atheism, however strong atheists are rarer than most people think.  
+
A "strong" atheist is one who asserts that "there is no god." Strong atheism is the form of atheism that most theists reference in debates, since most don't know the distinction between strong and weak atheism. However, strong atheists are rarer than most people think.  
  
As a general concept, god is very vague, with specific incarnations being very well defined. Well defined gods are easy to disbelieve, it's the claim that god as a concept is false that separates strong atheists from most weak atheists.  
+
For the above reason, strong atheism is sometimes criticized for "requiring [[faith]]." This criticism often rests on the assumption that faith is a fault, which, if spoken by an arguer whose stance rests on faith, is self-defeating in a direct sense.  Other times this idea is argued by theists to 'bring them down to our level'.  Most often it is argued as a 'your stance is no better than mine' argument.  Often, this is successful in derailing the conversation, as many atheists are uncomfortable with admitting that any element of their thoughts contain faith. Users of this wiki are advised to consider that, in the literal epistemic sense, all knowledge eventually requires some basic assumptions, and that assumption is functionally identical to faith. The difference relies not in avoiding faith/assumption, but in grounding one's knowledge in firmer and more well-reasoned thought.
  
For the above reason, strong atheism is sometimes criticized for "requiring faith." But this is not necessarily true. One could argue that it depends on how you define god. If by god you mean an infinite being, then you have certain logical contradictions. The [[omnipotence paradox]] for example. If you mean a finite being, the strong atheist may deny it's status as a god, as it could be surpassed, and may only be very advanced extra terrestrial life.
+
Strong atheism is also called 'positivist' atheism. In this usage the term 'positivist' comes from the root 'to posit' meaning 'to take a position'. Thus a positivist atheist is one who has ''taken the position that there are no gods''.
  
 
===Weak atheism===
 
===Weak atheism===
 +
''Main article [[Weak atheism]]''
  
A "weak" atheist is one who doesn't claim that there is no god, but instead simply lacks belief in a god.  This form of atheism is the most common, and is sometimes called "[[agnostic]] atheism" (see our discussion of [[atheist vs. agnostic]]).  
+
A "weak" atheist is one who doesn't claim to ''know'' that there is no god, but instead simply ''lacks belief'' in a god.  This form of atheism is the most common, and is sometimes called "[[agnostic atheism]]" (see our discussion of [[atheist vs. agnostic]]). Every newborn baby is (unknowingly) a weak atheist, and remains so until the concept of god is introduced to him or her.
  
Weak atheists often argue that theirs is the only rational position, as both theism, and strong atheism make positive claims.
+
Weak atheists often argue that theirs is the only rational position, as both theism and strong atheism make positivist claims.  Weak atheism is also called non-positivist atheism.
  
 
==Discussion==
 
==Discussion==
Apart from not believing in any gods, there is no official atheist [[doctrine]].  There is no atheist [[pope]], no atheist [[church]], and no atheist rules to live by.  This does not mean that atheists do not also follow societal and [[legal]] rules, but it does mean that there is nothing specific about atheism that tells you how you should live.  However, there ''are'' comprehensive philosophical positions that include atheism as a part of the overall philosophy, [[secular humanism]] being the most well-known example.
+
Apart from not believing in the existence of any gods, there is no official atheist [[doctrine]].  There is no atheist [[pope]] or [[church]], and there are no atheist rules to live by.  This does not mean that atheists do not also follow societal and [[legal]] rules, nor that they are never religious.  Atheism figures in several religions and spiritual belief systems, including Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Neopagan movements such as Wicca, Unitarian Universalism and other nontheistic or non-dogmatic religions.  Not to be misunderstood, atheism is not a foundational belief in all of these religions, but exists as an option or requirement within at least some part of each of these religions.
 +
 
 +
There is nothing specific about atheism, by itself, that tells you how you should live.  However, there ''are'' comprehensive philosophical positions that include atheism as a part of the overall philosophy ([[secular humanism]] being the most well-known example).
 +
 
 +
==Other views==
 +
Not everyone (not even all atheists) agree with the definitions above (which are based on academic sources). For instance, the authors of [[Evil Bible]] seem to [http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_1.htm define atheism] as denial of the existence of any gods, or the (positive) belief that there are no gods. [[Richard Dawkins]], author of ''[[The God Delusion]]'', does reserve the terms ''theism'', ''agnosticism'' and ''atheism'' on a Spectrum of Theistic Probability from 1 (''I know that a God does exist'') to 7 (''I know that a God does not exist''). In other words, "atheist", for Dawkins, is synonymous with "strong atheist", as above.
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
 
*[[Atheist vs. agnostic]]
 
*[[Atheist vs. agnostic]]
 +
*[[Atheism vs. rationality]]
 
*[[Agnostic]]
 
*[[Agnostic]]
 
*[[Secular humanism]]
 
*[[Secular humanism]]
 +
 +
{{Atheism}}
 +
 
[[Category:Atheism]]
 
[[Category:Atheism]]

Revision as of 18:00, 23 July 2012

Atheism

An atheist, in the general sense, is a person who does not believe in the existence of any gods. Atheism is the corresponding philosophical position. Atheism may or may not be a position of faith, depending on the type of atheism, as atheism may or may not refer to a stance on the theistic question, depending on the individual in question and how the term 'atheism' is meant. Arguments over whether or not atheism constitutes a belief are often based on one side assuming that the term always does or always doesn’t constitute a positivist statement, and therefore, a belief.

Contents

Types of atheism

Strong atheism

Main article Strong atheism

A "strong" atheist is one who asserts that "there is no god." Strong atheism is the form of atheism that most theists reference in debates, since most don't know the distinction between strong and weak atheism. However, strong atheists are rarer than most people think.

For the above reason, strong atheism is sometimes criticized for "requiring faith." This criticism often rests on the assumption that faith is a fault, which, if spoken by an arguer whose stance rests on faith, is self-defeating in a direct sense. Other times this idea is argued by theists to 'bring them down to our level'. Most often it is argued as a 'your stance is no better than mine' argument. Often, this is successful in derailing the conversation, as many atheists are uncomfortable with admitting that any element of their thoughts contain faith. Users of this wiki are advised to consider that, in the literal epistemic sense, all knowledge eventually requires some basic assumptions, and that assumption is functionally identical to faith. The difference relies not in avoiding faith/assumption, but in grounding one's knowledge in firmer and more well-reasoned thought.

Strong atheism is also called 'positivist' atheism. In this usage the term 'positivist' comes from the root 'to posit' meaning 'to take a position'. Thus a positivist atheist is one who has taken the position that there are no gods.

Weak atheism

Main article Weak atheism

A "weak" atheist is one who doesn't claim to know that there is no god, but instead simply lacks belief in a god. This form of atheism is the most common, and is sometimes called "agnostic atheism" (see our discussion of atheist vs. agnostic). Every newborn baby is (unknowingly) a weak atheist, and remains so until the concept of god is introduced to him or her.

Weak atheists often argue that theirs is the only rational position, as both theism and strong atheism make positivist claims. Weak atheism is also called non-positivist atheism.

Discussion

Apart from not believing in the existence of any gods, there is no official atheist doctrine. There is no atheist pope or church, and there are no atheist rules to live by. This does not mean that atheists do not also follow societal and legal rules, nor that they are never religious. Atheism figures in several religions and spiritual belief systems, including Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Neopagan movements such as Wicca, Unitarian Universalism and other nontheistic or non-dogmatic religions. Not to be misunderstood, atheism is not a foundational belief in all of these religions, but exists as an option or requirement within at least some part of each of these religions.

There is nothing specific about atheism, by itself, that tells you how you should live. However, there are comprehensive philosophical positions that include atheism as a part of the overall philosophy (secular humanism being the most well-known example).

Other views

Not everyone (not even all atheists) agree with the definitions above (which are based on academic sources). For instance, the authors of Evil Bible seem to define atheism as denial of the existence of any gods, or the (positive) belief that there are no gods. Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, does reserve the terms theism, agnosticism and atheism on a Spectrum of Theistic Probability from 1 (I know that a God does exist) to 7 (I know that a God does not exist). In other words, "atheist", for Dawkins, is synonymous with "strong atheist", as above.

See also


v · d Atheism
Terminology   Etymology of the word atheist · Weak atheism · Strong atheism · Agnosticism · Atheist vs. agnostic · Tenets and dogma
Contemporary literature   The End of Faith · The God Delusion · God: The Failed Hypothesis · Letter to a Christian Nation · God Is Not Great · Irreligion · 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
Classic literature   Why I Am Not a Christian
Atheist and secular groups   Atheist groups · Secular charities · How American Non-Atheists view Atheists
Contemporary authors   Richard Dawkins · Daniel Dennett · A. C. Grayling · Sam Harris · Guy P. Harrison · John Allen Paulos · James Randi · Victor Stenger
Internet non-believers   Reginald Vaughn Finley · PZ Myers
Writers and philosophers   David Hume · Robert Ingersoll · Friedrich Nietzsche · Bertrand Russell · Carl Sagan
Personal tools
Namespaces
Variants
Actions
wiki navigation
IronChariots.Org
Toolbox