Stalin Was a Mass Murderer (And I’m Not Too Sure About Myself)

Stalin Was a Mass Murderer (And I’m Not Too Sure About Myself) May 20, 2019

Stalin is a popular marionette for many Christian apologists. “Don’t tell me about Christian atrocities during the Crusades or the Inquisition,” they’ll say. “The atheist regimes in the twentieth century of Stalin, Mao, and others killed far more people!”

Fellow Patheos blogger John Mark Reynolds from the Evangelical channel has a new angle on that: “Hoping Atheists (Or at Least Anti-Theists) Do Not Kill Us This Time.” Apparently, you’ve got to keep an eye on those out-of-control atheists to make sure they don’t kill us all.

The connection between atheism and genocide

Reynolds makes clear that he’s not fearful of all atheists. It’s only the anti-theists, which he defines as atheists who “actively dislike and work against religion.” That sounds like me. If you’re in the same boat (or know someone who is), come along as we find out why “these are the atheists that have proven dangerous in power and are worrisome to civil society.”

Reynolds gives three reasons for connecting anti-theists with genocide.

1. “The atheists of Russia, China, North Korea, Cambodia, [and] Albania came to their atheism and then picked a social and economic system compatible with their general worldview.”

Nope. These were dictatorships, and religion was a problem. You can’t have a proper dictatorship with the church as an alternate authority. Solution: eliminate religion. Atheism was merely a tool.

The only nations that have been officially atheistic have been uniformly horrible.

And they’ve all been dictatorships. Let’s put the blame where it belongs. This mistake is like pointing to Stalin and Hitler and saying, “It must be the mustaches! Men with mustaches have killed millions!

Did Harry Truman kill several hundred thousand in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the name of Christianity? If not, then don’t say that Stalin killed millions in the name of atheism. Or if you do, make clear the causal connection, which Reynolds hasn’t done (h/t commenter epeeist).

2. “Atheism was used as a reason for persecution in all of these nations.”

Control was the reason for persecution in dictatorships. Atheism was just a tool, like a scalpel used to murder.

Reynolds next goes on a poorly thought out rant about morality.

  • There is no check against genocide in atheism. And there is no check against genocide in chemistry, either. Neither has a moral rulebook. Atheism is the simple lack of god belief, not a worldview, and it neither advocates nor rejects genocide. Christianity, by contrast, does have a moral rulebook, and it sucks. Next, Reynolds claims that Christianity has a “built-in check on genocide,” which is completely false. God luvs him some genocide and demanded it often in the Old Testament.
  • “Christians are told to love their enemies.” If you go into the Bible looking for this, you can indeed find it, but Reynolds imagines that this is an unambiguous message in the Bible. It’s not. Did you hear about the American pastor who demanded that we stone gays? Being consistent with the Bible isn’t so loving.
  • “An anti-theist creates his own values.” And Christians don’t? There is nothing in the Bible about transgender people, euthanasia, or chemically induced abortions, and Christians must improvise in response to new situations just like the rest of us.
  • Not all atheists are selfish, though they aren’t acting decently because of atheism. Atheists are decent for the same reason you are—how you are programmed as a Homo sapiens and the influence of your environment and society.

3. “There is a nearly perfect track record of officially atheist states killing large numbers of innocent people to this day. When atheists gain power and can impose an anti-theism, they have always started killing people.

You’ve convinced me: dictatorships are a problem. But you have yet to show atheism as a cause of anything.

Reynolds imagines the powerless atheists saying that they would rule more sensibly than the Christians if given the chance, but “large mass movements dedicated to selfishness or to ideology ([Ayn] Rand or Communism) have [no] external authority to allow the common member of society to rebuke the leaders.” But you do? Christians imagine an objective morality that isn’t there.

Notice an important difference. Atheists are as offended by the actions of Stalin and other dictators as much as Christians. No atheist says, “Well, we do have to cut the guy a little slack. He was an atheist, after all.” Contrast that with the Bible’s mass murderers—Joshua, Moses, God. Perhaps it’s the Christians who are on the wrong side of this issue (h/t Mr. Deity).

A bad bishop can be rebuked based on professed Christian beliefs.

A bad bishop’s actions can also be supported by Christian beliefs. “Love your neighbor” and rules for slavery are both in the Bible.

A bad atheist cannot [be rebuked] since atheism has no creed or necessary beliefs beyond not believing in God, a life force, or a higher power.

Bingo! And your argument is now in a heap at your feet. Atheism is a lack of god belief; that’s it. No one has ever been killed in the name of atheism.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Christianity.

My analysis of Reynolds’ argument is concluded in part 2.

God used floods and plagues to kill people.
Why command the Israelites to do the dirty work?
That’s not a god, it’s a Godfather.
— commenter Greg G.

.

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 4/27/15.)

Image from Wikimedia, CC license

.


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    It’s interesting that he makes the distinction between atheism and anti-theism, yet fails to make a similar distinction between anti-theism rooted in humanism vs. that rooted in totalitarianism. I wonder why that is…..

    He also has a rather prominent typo here by misspelling “uninformed” in this sentence.

    However, much of the state mass murder of the twentieth century and that is happening now (see China and North Korea) probably have atheism as a cause. Here is why sensible people think this is true:

    Hopefully he’s acquired better editors in the past three years

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      ‘I wonder why that is…..’

      because he is a disingenuous weasel who is smart enough to not deep six his own, incredibly shallow, argument.

  • Considering that the biggest mass genocide in human history was committed by Christian mercantilists and capitalists, starting in 1492 and continuing to this day, I find John Mark Reynolds’ argument ridiculous.

  • RichardSRussell

    Atheism is a lack of god belief

    I prefer to phrase it as “Atheism is an absence of god belief”, since the word “lack” implies that you’re missing something you really should have, such as a conscience.

    • Grimlock

      I actually prefer to think of that as nontheism, and as atheism as more of the belief in the non-existence of gods.

      • RichardSRussell

        In doing so, you exclude from the ranks of atheism more than a billion “original atheists” — people who never lost the atheism they were born with, because they were never presented with any reason to do so. Regardless of whether you think your approach is a legitimate linguistic move, it’s a terrible political move, because you’re consciously discarding all those potential fellow travelers.

        I cite as my go-to source for the definition of “atheism” George H. Smith’s Atheism: The Case against God, in which he identifies atheism/theism as your answer to the yes/no question “Do you believe in God?” and gnosticism/agnosticism as your answer to the question “How strongly do you hold that opinion?”.

        • Grimlock

          That’s certainly one way of looking at it. Here’s another.

          By using the term nontheism (or perhaps non-religious) I include all the people who ain’t theists, without lumping in people who don’t self-identify with the term “atheist”. I avoid the baggage of the atheist term. That doesn’t seem like a horrible political move to me.

          Also, as you pointed out, it’s a decent linguistic move.

        • Kodie

          People should get over the “baggage” of the term. I was raised secular and thought I was an atheist, and thought, if someone says they are x, or asks what religion I am, why couldn’t I answer “atheist”. That fills the category of the question. Why did they change the name of the channel on Patheos? I find that people are too fucking sensitive, and it’s time we just say atheist and they shouldn’t have a reaction. You know where that reaction comes from? Bias influenced by their religious practices. They are not only taught how to obey god and the bible in whatever particular way, but they are biased against not believing in god, as per the subject of this article. In a tolerant, freedom-of-religion type of way, everyone has the freedom of pride and expression of their religion, and Christians especially take this for granted. Why can’t atheists? Why does everyone shy away from a term that describes them? It’s Christian bias.

        • Grimlock

          Why does everyone shy away from a term that describes them?

          Except not everyone thinks that the term describes those who merely lack a belief.

          I’m completely fine with people preferring different definitions (and it’s not like I’m entirely consistent in my uses of the term), and there are several ways of using the term that makes sense. (Somewhat depending upon the context.)

          What I don’t agree with is making as if it’s only one valid use of the term “atheist”. That’s just not the case.

        • Kodie

          Who is defining the term so that people it applies to are afraid or even superstitious to use it for themselves?

        • Grimlock

          I feel like we’re talking about different things.

          My point is this: It is perfectly valid to define “atheism” as the belief that there is no gods. It is not the only valid definition, and neither is it sensible to hold that the only valid definition of atheism is that it’s a lack of belief.

          Do you agree with this?

        • Kodie

          No.

        • Grimlock

          Ok. Would it be accurate to say that you hold that the only valid/sensible definition of atheism is something like “not believing that there exists some god(S)” ?

          If so, why do you hold that to be true?

        • Kodie

          Theists mistake atheism to atheists as the belief that there is no god. I do not agree with that definition, and don’t let theists define my label for me.

        • Grimlock

          Interesting. A couple of remarks.
          1. There are several non-theists who hold to the definition of atheism as it being the belief in the non-existence of god(s). I am one, and, as far as I can tell from his SEP article on atheism and agnosticism, Paul Draper is another.
          2. Beyond a contrarian sentiment, you haven’t provided any reason for why one definition is superior to another.

        • Kodie

          Do you believe there is no god?

        • Grimlock

          Yes.

        • Kodie

          Maybe it’s different because you’re in another country, but in the US, theists are taught and preached that atheists BELIEVE IN THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO GOD, and that is what makes us evil, because that makes it a competing and poisonous religious belief in something that cannot be proven, thus they challenge us to prove the negative all the fucking time. They are taught that there is a god, and if you are some silly fool or a heretic or a tyrant who wants to do away with their religion, it’s the source of all sorts of rumors and bullshit.

          The word is poisoned by theists, and we need to take it back. Theism is belief, and A- means not, not- or non-belief.

          You tell me a story about your imaginary friend “god”, and I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT. That’s the precise meaning. You believe in a god or gods, and I just simply do not. That’s the precise meaning. There is no assertion that there’s no god in the word ‘atheism’.

        • Grimlock

          I think I see what you mean. However, I don’t find that to be all that compelling, in the sense that I don’t find it to be a compelling reason to insist that it’s the only sensible meaning of the term “atheism”.

          I realize that you want to normalize the term. Which clearly is a good thing.

        • Kodie

          I have a couple things to say, trying to stay focused:

          At least as long as I’ve been participating on blogs about atheism, I’ve understood “the belief that there is no god” to be a theist interpretation, i.e. how theists are taught that atheism is a religion. We continue to be oppressed by their false impression, and they refuse to be corrected. Some think we really believe in god, that we hate god, or are rebellious. I mean, they try to tell us what we think, and refuse to listen to actual atheists.

          They clearly are not willing to see the issue that they are making the claim out of basically thin air (and thousands of years of historical privilege of not having to think for themselves, that there is a god, and my response, my atheism, is “I do not believe you.” It’s pretty simple. Asserting there is no god is a religion, and my understanding is that purely is not what atheism is. That is a misnomer embedded in the culture and widely accepted because Christianity is a dirty filthy liar, that is obscuring the whole conversation, because theists already have their biases. I don’t mean atheists are the only victims of this vicious rumor – these dumb fucks believe everything they’re being told, in good faith, no pun intended. More than anything, that misconception probably causes the most friction, as they are unwilling to accept a fucking thing any atheist says about themselves…. because we’re untrustworthy, you know. Their arguments for what we really think are better than ours. Can you think of a more disrespectful and intolerant thing? I understand the irony or hypocrisy, but I’ve witnessed this, and why I continue to need this outlet to express myself, which I am still not able to do on this topic in real life without fear of negative consequences*.

          I’ve also been one of the only ones to speak out for the atheist who does fall under this definition. I have been and have known atheists who do not know what the fuck they’re talking about either. I’m not a former theist, but my impression of atheism was influenced by the cultural attitudes. I mean, on one hand, I grew up kind of idealistic. I’m a woman and an atheist, and I thought things would be different by the time I grew up. They weren’t. I thought being an atheist fills the slot traditionally people ask what religion you are, or you identify, and because I grew up amid people who were Hindus, Jews, Muslims, etc., who didn’t have to hide, and seemed generally accepted as a cultural difference they could be proud of, I thought atheist was also a valid answer, and found several times that it was not really safe to reveal it.

          I’m also sure that there are theists who are mad at god and label themselves atheists, as there seem to be teens and young adults who become disillusionedenchanted and start to become … rebellious. I mean, Catholicism itself. It’s become a tragic pile of shit that needs to collapse, but I can also understand being attracted to community, to tradition, and even if you’re not a really pious Catholic, those sentimental ads where a religion claims to have the values you simply cannot have without it, so come back. Fighting with your parents that you don’t believe in god, they throw you out of the house so you don’t bring the influence of Satan, and they disown you from contacting your other children, well, who knows how intellectual those arguments are? It’s not like knowing you are attracted to the same sex, while accepting the will of others who try to “correct” you. You can be 50 with a terrible reason to “hate god” and you can be 15 with a great reason to reject the assertions of theists, but I’m not saying there aren’t theists who adhere to and identify with the label of atheism they’ve been taught at church.

          *If atheism is or can be classified as a religion, what’s wrong with it? In the US, it seems universally mocked as “just a religion” because belief in something, belief that there is no god, puts the burden of proof on atheists, but it still doesn’t take a burden of proof off theists that they are trying to remove. I say I don’t believe in any gods. Christians are dominant, but at least where I live, generally seem to (I could be wrong) be of the “coexist” philosophy. All religions warn against the superstitious assertion that “there is no god” and that’s why I think that definition is powerful, and why I’m against it, even though I can’t deny some self-assessed atheists would define themselves accordingly. I mean, there just seems to be so much additional superstition why most theists are afraid of atheists, afraid of atheism, afraid to even tempt their eternal fate on considering without ridicule that “there is no god”, or being friends with, or hiring, or voting for, etc., with anyone who calls themselves an atheist.

          It’s generally safer to admit you are agnostic, which makes you sound like you are open-minded. Theists feel like you aren’t telling them there is no god. Like you might take up their religion or another religion, all the same to them, at least in the Northeastern US where I live and grew up. I mean, I really don’t know what it’s like to tell your Catholic friend you’re a Jew, whether that might be tense for some people, but I’ve never known a Jew who needs to keep it a secret because there’s so many more Catholics around. I am saying this as someone who might have lost my last job because the staff was in a sharing circle to get to know everyone at the beginning of the school year, and I went last. I was the only atheist, and I thought, given the mission of this group, my culture was as valid as anyone else’s. I forgot my boss was a superstitious motherfucker, and didn’t have my job another whole week.

        • Grimlock

          Kodie, I’ll have to take some time to get back to you. I want to make a thorough answer, and that’s a pain to do on the phone. I think I’ll have time tomorrow.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The word “atheist”, from the Greek “atheos” via the French “athéiste” just means “without god”.

          Over time, other stuff has been bolted on.

          Back in the day, anyone who didn’t follow the particular god of the person making the pejorative against the non-believer, was an atheist.

          So in ye olde dayes, in Europe, anyone not a Christian, regardless of what other god they may have followed, was deemed an atheist. Because all other gods don’t count.

          Atheism is, in the broadest sense, the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Less broadly, atheism is the rejection of belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.

          The way it plays out to me is that “atheists” are people “without gods”, but their “atheism” can be different to various descriptions. Then what ya have is an “atheist+”.

          http://www.humanreligions.info/types_of_atheism.html

          I class myself as an igtheist atheist.

          http://www.humanreligions.info/types_of_atheism.html

        • Kodie

          So basically, the word atheist is anyone the theists label as not belonging to the group. I dislike the idea that people in a religious group are brought to believe that words come from god, like love, justice, or family values, etc., so they think these beliefs have more validity, so they also label anyone who doesn’t belong, rather than the non-believer being allowed to label themselves. Theist can refer to any religion, not only Christian, and I am an atheist, I don’t believe the claims of any of them. If any of them were true, they wouldn’t have to warp the language to center themselves in the middle of it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Theist can refer to any religion,…

          Except those atheistic religions of course.

          http://www.humanreligions.info/atheism.html#Religions

          But I get yer point. To many times do we see Christers come along and insist that we are part of a religion of atheism. They just don’t know what ta feck they are talking about.

          They have no more right to dictate their shite labels to us, than we are if we try to tell them they are not proper Christers because x, y, or z.

        • Grimlock

          My favorite bit of trivia is that Christians were called atheists by Romans. (Alas, I couldn’t find the source.)

          I find that as long as one is aware that the term has different meanings, the whole discussion about what “atheism” means is rather uninteresting.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The problem isn’t so much my understanding of how I decide to label myself, it is those ignorant and then stupid believers, that fail to understand what the term means, even after they’ve been repeatedly told what it is not. They regularly turn up on places like this, we had one not that long ago. It bugs the life out of me.

          So when someone prefers to use a completely term so as not to “upset” Christers on a Christian site, how are the knuckle-draggers ever going to learn.

          I have to admit, I was an atheist a long time before I knew that it didn’t really mean baby eating devil worshiper. It only became clear to me when I actually got interested in the subject and started to learn about the arguments and such stuff. Up until then I was a “cafeteria no god believer”.

        • Grimlock

          First, I don’t think I’ve argued that one should use a particular meaning of a term in order to avoid upsetting Christians.

          Beyond that, what I don’t agree with is that there is only one reasonable interpretation of the term. It can be used to mean someone without a belief in god(s). It can also be used to mean someone who believes that there are no god(s). I guess it also can be used to mean a devil-worshipping baby-eater, but I don’t think that’s a very sensible use of the term.

        • Ignorant Amos

          First, I don’t think I’ve argued that one should use a particular meaning of a term in order to avoid upsetting Christians.

          That’s correct, you haven’t. Nor was I suggesting you had. The someone in question would be the likes of Connie Beane in this thread, who suggested that by using the term “non-believer” when engaging Christians, rather than self identifying as an atheist, particularly on religious websites, one is less likely to rub ones adversary up the wrong way. Like I could be concerned about that.

          There was a thing back in my RDFRS days called accomodationism. I don’t hear it much these days. This pandering to religious fuckwits smells to much like it for my liking. Especially with what the fuckwits are up to at the moment.

          I’m a friendly enough sort of chap … I’m not a hostile person to meet. But I think it’s important to realise that when two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong. ~Richard Dawkins

          Beyond that, what I don’t agree with is that there is only one reasonable interpretation of the term.

          The term means one thing…”without god”.

          It can be used to mean someone without a belief in god(s). It can also be used to mean someone who believes that there are no god(s).

          That’s where the qualifiers comes on board imo.

          For example…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_atheism

          I guess it also can be used to mean a devil-worshipping baby-eater, but I don’t think that’s a very sensible use of the term.

          I know.

          Because atheism is one thing, and one thing only…”without god”…so one can be a (devil-worshiping baby-eating) (atheist), but the point I was making is that some Christians think that the depravity of the first part is integral to the definition of the second part, that of being an atheist, which is not only wrong, but idiotically stupid.

        • Grimlock

          I’m not sure if it’s accomodatism, but there is something to be said for not antagonizing your opponent more than is necessary. However, not refering to oneself as an atheist (whether one lacks belief or believes in an absence of gods) really shouldn’t be something one does to avoid upsetting people. (With allowances for some possible, kind of obscure and potentially unrealistic, sceinarios.)

          The term means one thing…”without god”.

          I disagree. It can mean many things, and are clearly used as such. In more philosophically oriented sources, atheism seems to be more commonly used as a belief in the non-existence of god(s). Paul Draper has an interesting analysis of the terms “atheism” and “agnosticism” in his article in SEP, link.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m not sure if it’s accomodatism,…

          Many accommodationists feel that “respect” should be given to religious ideas because they are sincerely held by the person who holds them, appear to provide them with an ethical framework that could potentially support humanist decisions, and that aggressively criticizing these beliefs may decrease the willingness of those who hold them to engage with atheist or humanist arguments. Furthermore, many religious people feel that the failure to show such respect undermines the moral position of critics of religion.

          In contrast, many other atheists maintain that “respect” should be earned and be generated as a consequence of an individual being able to clearly explain and defend their beliefs as empirically justified, rather than effective in shaping ‘good’ behaviour regardless of factual accuracy.

          Not calling oneself an atheist in preference to the term non-believer when engaging theists on a theist website for fear of causing offence or agitation, is being accomadationist.

          …but there is something to be said for not antagonizing your opponent more than is necessary.

          Too late. Just not believing in their fave imaginary entity has already done that. Visiting one of their echo chambers to defend ones position is tantamount to a declaration of war.

          Don’t believe me? Visit Estranged Notions pages of 6 years ago, a place supposedly created specifically for the purpose for…

          StrangeNotions.com is the central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists. It’s built around three things: reason, faith, and dialogue.

          It very soon became clear that it wasn’t that when the atheist voice became too much.

          I disagree. It can mean many things, and are clearly used as such. In more philosophically oriented sources, atheism seems to be more commonly used as a belief in the non-existence of god(s). Paul Draper has an interesting analysis of the terms “atheism” and “agnosticism” in his article in SEP, link.

          The problem I have with the Stanford link is that it is a bit all over the place. It starts by redefining the word in philosophical terms to something most of the atheists would not sit comfortable with.

          The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

          So straight off the bat it is trying to define the word to suit the rest of the article. But then it goes on to define various atheism’s by using extra stuff.

          Claiming to be atheist still requires something else from the claimant in order to understand the position they hold. That’s what I mean by “atheist+”. If someone claims to be a theist, that tells you nothing other than they have god belief. You need a lot more in order to know what sort of theist they are.

          By claiming to be atheist, all you know is I’m without gods. What form my without gods takes, requires more data.

          The problem we have with theists is that they insist they know the extra stuff, much of which no atheist I know ascribes to, and they won’t be told otherwise.

          I’m probably as close to a 7 on the Dawkins scale as it is possible to get without claiming absolute certainty. Which I used to do, but since it is unscientific, I’ve reined back on a wee bit.

        • Grimlock

          Not calling oneself an atheist in preference to the term non-believer when engaging theists on a theist website for fear of causing offence or agitation, is being accomadationist.

          Agreed.

          Too late. Just not believing in their fave imaginary entity has already done that. Visiting one of their echo chambers to defend ones position is tantamount to a declaration of war.

          Don’t believe me? Visit Estranged Notions pages of 6 years ago, a place supposedly created specifically for the purpose for…

          StrangeNotions.com is the central place of dialogue between Catholics and atheists. It’s built around three things: reason, faith, and dialogue.

          It very soon became clear that it wasn’t that when the atheist voice became too much.

          I think you meant to ask me to visit Strange Notions, not Estranged Notions. I’ve already browser some of the older posts of EN. I’ve also seen plenty of references to the Purge that happened a few years ago.

          The problem I have with the Stanford link is that it is a bit all over the place. It starts by redefining the word in philosophical terms to something most of the atheists would not sit comfortable with.

          The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

          So straight off the bat it is trying to define the word to suit the rest of the article. But then it goes on to define various atheism’s by using extra stuff.

          Claiming to be atheist still requires something else from the claimant in order to understand the position they hold. That’s what I mean by “atheist+”. If someone claims to be a theist, that tells you nothing other than they have god belief. You need a lot more in order to know what sort of theist they are.

          By claiming to be atheist, all you know is I’m without gods. What form my without gods takes, requires more data.

          The problem we have with theists is that they insist they know the extra stuff, much of which no atheist I know ascribes to, and they won’t be told otherwise.

          I’m probably as close to a 7 on the Dawkins scale as it is possible to get without claiming absolute certainty. Which I used to do, but since it is unscientific, I’ve reined back on a wee bit.

          The point I was making with the SEP article is that atheism is also used to mean the belief in the non-existence of gods. I believe that that serves as an example of this. Do you agree?

          I agree that atheism by itself doesn’t say much. Especially considering the different uses of the term.

          Can we dig into the “belief in absence” thing? Suppose I ask you to sketch out what you find the most epistemically viable way the world “is”. Obviously you’d have to be fairly general and somewhat vague, as we appear to lack quite a bit of knowledge about the world.

          But my question, then, would be whether your most viable way for the world to be would contain any god(s). Presumably it does not. Is this, then, in some way distinguished from you holding that the non-existence of god(s) is the most viable way the world is?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think you meant to ask me to visit Strange Notions, not Estranged Notions.

          Yeah, dopey me. At least a linked to the correct location. Soz.

          I’ve also seen plenty of references to the Purge that happened a few years ago.

          Two of them…and thousands of comments deleted…not to mention the number of individual banhammers that fell on atheists.

          The point I was making with the SEP article is that atheism is also used to mean the belief in the non-existence of gods. I believe that that serves as an example of this. Do you agree?

          Yes.

          Can we dig into the “belief in absence” thing? Suppose I ask you to sketch out what you find the most epistemically viable way the world “is”. Obviously you’d have to be fairly general and somewhat vague, as we appear to lack quite a bit of knowledge about the world.

          I’m more an “absence of belief” person. My absence of belief is based on the lack of convincing and verifiable evidence. Given that state of affairs, I live my life accordingly.

          First: Absence of belief.

          If I don’t believe there is an “A”, it means that “A” may or may not exist, it’s just that I don’t believe “A” exists. I may be convinced that “A” exists if I’m provided with compelling enough evidence in favor of “A”.

          Second: Belief in absence.

          I believe A does not exist. Therefore, there is no way I can be convinced otherwise, evidence or no evidence. “A” does not exist to me, period. Even if I can’t prove it, because it’s impossible to prove a negative.

          But there are words that do a wee bit more than atheist. Such as Humanist for example.

          Theist on its own doesn’t say much. Christian, Muslim, or Mormon, gets us to what kind of theist.

          Or there are words that are used along with atheist as qualifiers, such as hard and soft, or strong and weak, that help expand the definition. As there is with theist, like fundamental, dogmatic, liberal, and so forth.

          But my question, then, would be whether your most viable way for the world to be would contain any god(s). Presumably it does not. Is this, then, in some way distinguished from you holding that the non-existence of god(s) is the most viable way the world is?

          I see no evidence for a world with a god pulling the levers. Certainly not any of the gods being asserted, that I’m aware of anyway. But I can’t categorically assert there isn’t one, or more. I don’t think there is, but then again, I don’t think I’m a brain in a vat either. What I experience is a world devoid of supernatural entities, they could exist, but I’m not convinced. Nor does the evidence for any, have me convinced to date.

        • Susan

          I see no evidence for a world with a god pulling the levers.

          More importantly, “god” is not even a coherent term, let alone “God”, which remains completely incoherent. It disappears into meaningless deepities when confronted.

          Which is why we’re both igtheists.

          “I don’t believe you when you make god claims” should cover everything nicely.

          I’m not a believer in gods means I’m an atheist.

          The insistence that an atheist claims there is no (are no) god(s) is such a standard version of burden shifting, that I’m curious as to why a contributor as thoughtful and intelligent as Grimlock gives it any credence at all.

          A tiny category of non-belief can be applied to those who believe there isn’t (some incoherent fog called a god or God)…

          But to place the burden of proof on the non-believer is absurd.

          Which is why “What are you claiming and how can you support it?” is my main question.

          If you can’t define it and support it, why should I believe you?

          That doesn’t make it my burden.

          I’m an atheist. (More specifically, an igtheist, for reasons stated above.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sound, as always.

          More importantly, “god” is not even a coherent term, let alone “God”, which remains completely incoherent. It disappears into meaningless deepities when confronted.

          Which is why we’re both igtheists.

          Indeed.

          All I would add is, that when engaging the opposition on these issues, we have to take the DA position and argue from the point of the theist’s beliefs.

          Take the genocide fuckwittery and Scooter. I don’t believe any of the shite in the buybull is historical as laid out, but that eejit does, so while not believing the crap, he really does, so we have to argue for the heinous antics being played out in his belief system. Even if we believe none of it. Or even some of it.

        • Grimlock

          Apologies for the delay. The last week has been a little hectic.

          II believe A does not exist. Therefore, there is no way I can be convinced otherwise, evidence or no evidence. “A” does not exist to me, period. Even if I can’t prove it, because it’s impossible to prove a negative

          I don’t see why you include being certain/unable to change one’s mind in this. I believe many things, and most, if not all, are things about which I might change my mind.

          For instance, I believe that no god(s) exist. But I certainly might be wrong. But I do find it to be the most epistemically plausible option.

          I see no evidence for a world with a god pulling the levers. Certainly not any of the gods being asserted, that I’m aware of anyway. But I can’t categorically assert there isn’t one, or more. I don’t think there is, but then again, I don’t think I’m a brain in a vat either. What I experience is a world devoid of supernatural entities, they could exist, but I’m not convinced. Nor does the evidence for any, have me convinced to date.

          I’m not asking for a categorical assertion. I’m simply asking for what you find to be the mos plausible way the world is, and as far as I can tell, the most plausible alternative for you seems to be a world without god(s).

          Comparing this to my perspective above, I fail to see how this is nothing but a distinction without a difference. In other words, I think you fit the criteria of being an atheist in the sense that you believe god(s) don’t exist. (Sorry.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Apologies for the delay. The last week has been a little hectic.

          No drama, we all have periods of too much on and not enough time to get it done.

          I don’t see why you include being certain/unable to change one’s mind in this. I believe many things, and most, if not all, are things about which I might change my mind.

          I don’t. That’s the difference between the two assertions. There is nothing to prevent anyone from changing ones mind. But at the time one takes the position “belief in absence”, that’s how it’s defined.

          For instance, I believe that no god(s) exist. But I certainly might be wrong. But I do find it to be the most epistemically plausible option.

          In which case you have…

          First: Absence of belief.

          If I don’t believe there is an “A”, it means that “A” may or may not exist, it’s just that I don’t believe “A” exists. I may be convinced that “A” exists if I’m provided with compelling enough evidence in favor of “A”.

          t’s about levels of certainty at the point of making the claim. I’ve a level of certainty about the existence of particular definitions of a god. I’m certain the Christian god doesn’t exist. The attributes make it a logical impossibility as it is commonly described. To that end, I’m a 7 on the Dawkins scale. But being atheist is about more than the existence of one specific god.

          ‘m not asking for a categorical assertion. I’m simply asking for what you find to be the mos plausible way the world is, and as far as I can tell, the most plausible alternative for you seems to be a world without god(s).

          Indeed.

          The question boils down to “Is there a god?”

          Yes, no, or I don’t know. Yes and no are positive claims of knowledge, ergo they need supporting. I don’t know is the rational position.

          What happens is that when talking about the Christian god. I take the position “no”. I believe I can support that position. But when the referring to god as a generalization. The position is “I don’t know”, that’s because I can’t demonstrate it as a fact. I see no evidence to take the position there is a god, so I live my life accordingly, but I can’t be 100% certain. Depending on ones definition of god of course. Something the slippery theists shift about all over the place.

          Comparing this to my perspective above, I fail to see how this is nothing but a distinction without a difference. In other words, I think you fit the criteria of being an atheist in the sense that you believe god(s) don’t exist. (Sorry.)

          No need to apologise, we’re just chewing the cud here.

          The difference is the amount of certainty and what is meant by a god. Which is why something more is required if we need to be specific. Also, the onus is on the person making the ontological claim.

          A video is required from someone more articulate than me.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNDZb0KtJDk

        • Grimlock

          I feel like we’re making progress, at least.

          Three subjects I wanna focus on. Let me know if I miss anything interesting.

          The first is the question of certainty. I am still not sure how you relate that to the different definitions. For instance, I believe that there are no living people who are more than 2,5 m tall, but I hold that belief with a fairly low degree of certainty. Yet I still believe it to the true. Similarly, one might hold that there are no god(s), yet do so with a low degree of certainty. One would then be what you consider a hard/strong atheist. Agree/disagree?

          The second subject is this,

          What happens is that when talking about the Christian god. I take the position “no”. I believe I can support that position. But when the referring to god as a generalization. The position is “I don’t know”, that’s because I can’t demonstrate it as a fact. I see no evidence to take the position there is a god, so I live my life accordingly, but I can’t be 100% certain. Depending on ones definition of god of course. Something the slippery theists shift about all over the place.

          We hold fairly similar beliefs here. I would here consider you to be a “global” agnostic, but a “local” atheist, for instance with respect to the Christian god. If pushed, I might choose to identify similarly, as a “global” agnostic. However, I might also hold to a sufficiently strict conception of what qualifies as a god to be a “global” atheist. (I tend to have minor changes of mind on the subject from time to time.)

          The third subject is the matter of the burden of evidence. I don’t hold that any two ontological claims have an equal burden of evidence. Similarly, I don’t hold that two mutually exclusive positions (e.g. “god exists”/”god doesn’t exist”) necessarily have the same burden of evidence. In fact, with respect to the question we’re discussing, I hold that the burden of evidence is greater for the position that god exists than for the position that god does not exist.

        • Kodie

          What Ignorant Amos said. My take is that the term atheism is used a lot by theists, and that’s where the belief that there is no god really comes from. Maybe some atheists feel that is how they frame their belief, but theists outnumber atheists, and have been labeling gay people sodomites and sinners and going against nature, etc., so is that a valid definition of homosexuality? I felt like the article was using that definition as normalized because its usage is possibly more popular than the definition at least most internet atheists use for themselves. We shouldn’t accept labels and generalizations that get OUR perspectives all wrong. I don’t think the philosopher was totally wrong to observe one definition was very popular, and so considered it valid, well, I mean, maybe it is they did not consider the implications of advocating for that definition.

          There may be atheists who believe there is no god, but that may also derive from the theist propaganda that that’s what an atheist is, so these people frame themselves accordingly. The thing I hate a lot about theism is believers are getting lied to, have always been lied to, and repeat and propagate those lies. I was approached by a woman who wanted to invite me to some interfaith women’s club, and I told her I was an atheist, and she took a second, then said, well that’s a religion too, as I believed there was no god, which really upset me, so I told her to fuck off, I don’t want to join a religion club. Stop propagating lies against atheists and let us define ourselves. If you believe there is no god, that is what it is, but it’s not what atheism is to most atheists.

        • Grimlock

          Kodie. My apologies to you for not responding to your long comment yet. Please let me know if we can continue from this comment, or if there’s anything in your other comment to which you’d like me to respond.

          What Ignorant Amos said. My take is that the term atheism is used a lot by theists, and that’s where the belief that there is no god really comes from.

          You might hold this to be true. But that, by itself, provides little justification for me to share your belief.

          Even so. Why should it not be a sensible description? Theists can be right about stuff.

          Maybe some atheists feel that is how they frame their belief, but theists outnumber atheists, and have been labeling gay people sodomites and sinners and going against nature, etc., so is that a valid definition of homosexuality?

          I don’t think that’s a great analogy. A better analogy would be whether one should consider “god-hater” or other such to be accurate labels for atheists. (Clearly, one should not.)

          There may be atheists who believe there is no god […]

          There are. As I mentioned to you before, I am one such person.

          There may be atheists who believe there is no god, but that may also derive from the theist propaganda that that’s what an atheist is, so these people frame themselves accordingly. The thing I hate a lot about theism is believers are getting lied to, have always been lied to, and repeat and propagate those lies. I was approached by a woman who wanted to invite me to some interfaith women’s club, and I told her I was an atheist, and she took a second, then said, well that’s a religion too, as I believed there was no god, which really upset me, so I told her to fuck off, I don’t want to join a religion club. Stop propagating lies against atheists and let us define ourselves. If you believe there is no god, that is what it is, but it’s not what atheism is to most atheists.

          A bit to unpack here. Let me know if I miss anything.

          First, I certainly agree that a lot of believers are being lied to through their religious communities. I suspect even most believers would agree about that, especially if one excepted their own communities.

          Second, I certainly agree that atheism is not a religion. Neither is theism. A religion is typically far more than a position to one philosophical question, as it also entails some such things as a moral framework, a community, rituals, some idea of sacredness, and so on.

          Third, you mention what atheism is to most atheists. I think that one might be tricky to be sure of. A quick glance at the Wikipedia page for atheism in the US shows that your view of what most atheists think is skewered. It quotes a 2014 Pew study in the beginning:

          According to the Pew Research Center in a 2014 survey, self-identified “atheists” make up 3.1% of the US population, even though 9% of Americans agreed with the statement “Do not believe in God” while 2% agreed with the statement “Do not know if they believe in God”.[4]

          More details show the same tendency: Of those who lack a belief in a god, less than half self-identify as atheists. If we were to go the popularity route, most of those you would coin atheists do not agree with your preferred definition.

          (Which, obviously, is not to say that they agree with my preferred definition, or that they’re not influenced by culture. My point is simply that such an appeal to what “atheists” hold to be true doesn’t support your position very well.)

        • Kodie

          Even so. Why should it not be a sensible description? Theists can be right about stuff.

          They are being propagandized that atheism is dangerous, and Christians are predominant in the US. It’s not like, dangerous, like Islam, because they’re not going to switch to Islam, or vice versa. Atheism is a pretty complete denial that their god exists, how they put it, and if they did grow comfortable with atheists and accept that we are regular people with morals and meanings, they would have to accept the challenges that atheism poses to their beliefs. They would much rather keep believing things about us that aren’t true, because their clergy and family elders repeat this prejudice, and don’t believe a word about ourselves from any of our own faces. So many theists come here accusing us of something, condescending, making assumptions and generalizations, and then ignoring whatever we tell them.

          Are you seriously telling me theists are right about twisting atheism into something they fear, in a format they can control themselves from listening to, or being burdened by considering valid reasons not to believe in god, or that atheists are just normal people who don’t eat babies, don’t believe in Satan, and are not trying to take away their right to believe whatever they want?

          I don’t think that’s a great analogy. A better analogy would be whether one should consider “god-hater” or other such to be accurate labels for atheists. (Clearly, one should not.)

          So, being accused and misconceived is not offensive enough unless they call you a filthy name? They are using their privilege against us, and they are using their propaganda to define what we must be. Yes, I’ve been called a Satanist before. Yes, I’ve actually been fired shortly after sharing in a multicultural orientation that I was an atheist. When you say you believe there is no god, you are saying you have to support those beliefs. Can you prove there is no god? Most of us would not be that arrogant, and that’s not even the point. Theism is oppressive, backwards, entitled, etc. Where I live, doesn’t matter, as long as you have some god-belief, I think people, even theists, are liberal enough to get along with each other, but atheists don’t get a pass. All theists are accommodated, as far as I can tell. I am not in conversations where someone gets uncomfortable, but probably doesn’t say something insensitive to a Muslim. I bet that’s the next worst one though for someone to say something stupid, prejudiced, uninformed, and not willing to become informed to correct their prejudices. But I live near a mosque that’s 2 steps from a Hebrew school, in a neighborhood with a visible population of orthodox Jews.

          Of those who lack a belief in a god, less than half self-identify as atheists. If we were to go the popularity route, most of those you would coin atheists do not agree with your preferred definition.

          Can you imagine why someone might not like to identify as an atheist? From having the aforementioned idea that ATHEISTS are cold, bitter, obnoxious, dangerous, militant types, but they’re not one of those. I used to think I was an atheist in my teens, in a less developed way than I am now – I understood that image. Pretty much the only atheists most Christians think they know are the ones who ruin the 10 commandments at their kids’ school, or won’t let them sing songs glorifying Jesus at the town meeting. I wanted to be one of those “co-exist” atheists, like on the bumper sticker. I didn’t want people to think I was a horrible person. And I’m not a horrible person, and I have mentioned my atheism when I felt it was safe to do so, in 5 or 6 circumstances during my adulthood, and it turned out not to be safe. I didn’t try to argue, it was usually a one word answer to someone asking me the awkward question of what religion I am, like a co-worker or a boyfriend I had been seeing a few weeks at least. These people are already poisoned, and the sequence of events never went well. “Spiritual but not religious” seems to be the safest answer possible without totally lying, but that can mean anything, and it sounds pretty flaky to me. Spiritual could mean you think there are souls and a god, but you don’t follow a prescriptive denomination, or it could mean you meditate and practice mindfulness (or want people to think you do), and are an atheist. Couple suspicious variations between those extremes.

          So, ok, if someone bears the description of an atheist, based on what they say about their lack of belief in god, regardless of what they call themselves or how they prefer to answer a poll, they are still an atheist. If someone says some other Christian isn’t a real Christian, how dare they. I would actually be one of the only atheists on this blog who considers anyone who thinks they are an atheist, by whatever definition they use, are an atheist. I say I thought I was an atheist in my teens because I was raised secular and without that much information, did not believe god exists. I did not have any religious information, I did not have any atheist counter-arguments to speak of. I was not active in any community, and had an actually very poor understanding of what it meant to have a religion. I knew some people were hardcore, these fundies (we called them bible-thumbers) and JWs who knocked at the door. For most of the other regular people, such as I am, who would say they were Christian or Catholic or Jew, or in my school, some Hindus also, it was their tradition, like having a hyphenated nationality, like having a large family with more feeling in the tradition of going to church, and by high school, I had been to church maybe 4 times total, not the same church twice, it felt nice there. It felt like you celebrate a special occasion in a very special building with very special decorations and a man up front, or sometimes a team, like a choir or altar boys, turning it into this special, I mean, unusual location to assemble with other people, like an auditorium but way more special.

          I get why church feels like a way to bring your community together, and some of the settings were much more modest than others – I think one might have been a school cafeteria and folding chairs. When you have a holiday or a wedding or a funeral or a new baby, you want your community to come share it with you in an neat-o building, officiated by a man in a silky embroidered dress, chanting shit that sounds like it is a blessing from the universe. It’s a lot the atmosphere.

          I was a young adult before I realized every person with a religion felt somewhere inside themselves very deeply and sincerely that it was true. They didn’t act like they had the best morals or meaning in their lives, and I think that’s where religion also “helps”. Living in a rut, in a routine rushed situation where you have no time for yourself, eat terrible food, and by “act normal”, I mean, “behave competitively and mildly to extremely shitty to their fellow humans”, and don’t make time for church every week to get your refuel, when do these people practice their faith? They just have it. They set it and forget it most of the days of the year. I don’t know what makes most theists different from atheists except their superstition that if they stop believing in god, The thing that makes most theists like that different from atheists is that most atheists don’t talk about their atheism, or bring it up, but theists will invoke their god sincerely from time to time. I had grown up thinking most of it was superficial family tradition, but they are dead serious, there’s a god and a Jesus and they are saved, even if they do mostly petty human acts against their fellow human, not necessarily intentionally, but being crafty, abusing trust situations… I was told a long time ago by a Christian, well, Christians aren’t perfect, but I think if you really believed god was watching and judging you all the time, you’d be different, noticeably. I guess a lot of Christians do depending mostly on their denomination, but not most of the Christians I know. They are on average of regular morality, with calculated theft of someone else’s share of something, and definitely an average amount of lying, and zero murder.

          These are the Christians who reacted so poorly to me admitting I was an atheist, as though “admitting” is inferior to declaring. I don’t say a fucking thing about my atheism unless it comes up. I’m lucky enough to live in an area of the US, where needing to be an activist doesn’t come up. My experience with most Christians is they don’t either bring it up. We all interact socially as though religion is not a topic. I mean, how we were all raised – you don’t mention religion or politics in polite company. I am unprepared to be put on the spot for that conversation, but most Christians assume everyone else is a Christian. They don’t think they know anyone who doesn’t believe the claims they take for granted, and dare I wonder, if they are also not prepared to have that conversation. When it has come up in the past, if I tell someone I’m an atheist, that conversation immediately goes to accuse me for believing there is no god, and that leaves the void, so I must believe in Satan, and they are not willing to listen, they are not willing to let it roll and try to understand me. As unprepared as they might be for an intellectual conversation, they have handy enough offensive tropes and misconceptions, and there is no room in the discussion for me to say anything they’ll believe, coming from a filthy atheist.

          TL;DR – Atheists who believe there is no god are put on the spot to support your beliefs and how you prove or provide evidence that there isn’t a god. Maybe those are atheists who are angry at god, or literally any theist who doesn’t believe what the believer believes is an atheist toward that persons god – you are asserting positively that god does not exist. You ever get any of that? By the nature of atheism, there is no supposition of a god until someone makes the assertion that there is a god. By the nature of our society and the power of suggestion and tradition over people, there are plenty of assertions that there is a god, and sometimes oppressive, and then no room politely or necessarily safely to say “I don’t believe you.” Atheism, to me, is someone says there’s a god and what I’m supposed to take seriously as an argument, and my answer is “I don’t believe you.” I might have more to add, but that’s the essential distinction. Believing in a nothing, that’s something, but not believing there’s something when everyone is talking about it is different. If more people would UNDERSTAND that distinction, it might make more people shedding your definition and embracing mine, and not being so afraid or superstitious of the label itself, or socially demonized for having the label.

          I think I caught a few days or a week ago, you’re not in the US, but in a European country without all these minefields and stigmas. Using the Pew reports is like, well, I already said, people don’t like the term atheist even if they are one! There’s something wrong when people are afraid they will be defined by the majority inconsistent with how they are actually approaching beliefs or non-beliefs in god, so we have to have other terms, and they know there is a hostile reaction by theists to the term. Don’t you think they asked if those who don’t believe in any gods identify with the appropriate term for a reason?

        • Grimlock

          I got this far,

          Are you seriously telling me theists are right about twisting atheism into something they fear, in a format they can control themselves from listening to, or being burdened by considering valid reasons not to believe in god, or that atheists are just normal people who don’t eat babies, don’t believe in Satan, and are not trying to take away their right to believe whatever they want?

          At that point, I realized that we appear to be talking about two entirely different subjects.

          To reiterate my position: The term “atheism” or “atheist” is used in many different ways, and many of the uses are sensible and valid uses. I do not agree with the position that there is only one valid definition of atheism.

        • Kodie

          In context, it was a response to:

          Even so. Why should it not be a sensible description? Theists can be right about stuff.

          And after I just told you why they’re wrong about that particular “stuff”, you just don’t care.

        • Grimlock

          You’re importing a metric ton of baggage into the discussion.

          Perhaps it’s simply your style of argument, but I fail to see any relevance for why I should accept that your preferred definition of atheism is the One True Definition.

        • I’ve come across this when Christians are eager to define atheist in the strongest way (as in, “I’m certain there are no gods”), presumably to give them as many possible avenues of attack as possible. Charitably, they’d allow the person who claims the label to define what they mean, but they’re not often charitable.

        • Grimlock

          That’s annoying, isn’t it? It’s simple to take the time to try to understand the other’s position, but it’s oh so easy to jump ahead…

        • It’s the same problem for lots of words–objective morality, faith, and so on. It’s frustrating to spend half an hour arguing only to realize that you’ve been using different definitions of a key word.

        • Kodie

          They are equating atheism with another religion, and confused about our collective motives – as per the content and subject of this article.

        • Ignorant Amos

          American Atheists define it as…

          Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods.

          Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

          Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” Clearly, theistic influence taints these definitions. The fact that dictionaries define Atheism as “there is no God” betrays the (mono)theistic influence. Without the (mono)theistic influence, the definition would at least read “there are no gods.”

          https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/about-atheism/

          Therein lies the problem we a discussing. You define as one kind of atheist, I define as another, the word on its own is not enough.

          When a theist is insisting that I’m the one and not the other, and won’t be corrected, is when the issue gets heated. When they insist it is a religion is when my wheels come off the wagon.

        • Grimlock

          I find that AA have a bit of an incentive to make the definition of atheism as wide as they can.

          Therein lies the problem we a discussing. You define as one kind of atheist, I define as another, the word on its own is not enough.

          Note that I’m not insisting that anyone else has to use my preferred definition, but merely that there are multiple valid ways to use and define the term.

        • David Cromie

          This link might help the confused, and the liars for JC, to learn something about where atheism stands in relation to ‘morality’, etc., especially in the case of the US.

          https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2019/05/28/research-presented-at-vatican-shows-that-anti-atheist-stereotypes-are-inaccurate/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=BRSS&utm_campaign=Nonreligious&utm_content=361

        • Grimlock

          Interesting link, thanks.

        • David Cromie

          Christers are very fond of reinterpreting words in an attempt to distract attention away from any subject they are uncomfortable dealing with, or to ‘discredit’ their opponents in some way. ‘Atheist’, for me, means a non theist, i.e. I am not able to believe in any supernatural being for which there is no evidence of any kind. I refuse to allow theists to muddy the waters in an attempt to divert the argument away onto their ground. The very real problems with religious belief, and religiots, must not be reduced to mere semantics on such a trivial level. Who the hell cares if christers are upset (what rational reason could they come up with to excuse their being upset?), they don’t mind upsetting others when they invade their space. I don’t know of any atheists going from door trying to engage interest in atheism, for example.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Coincidentally…Friendly Atheist run this story yesterday.

          Research Presented at Vatican Shows That Anti-Atheist Stereotypes Are Inaccurate

          https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2019/05/28/research-presented-at-vatican-shows-that-anti-atheist-stereotypes-are-inaccurate/

        • Grimlock

          For the record, I don’t care much what definition you prefer. I simply reject the idea that there is only one valid way to define the term.

          As for atheists going door to door, we’ll, I don’t know about the door part. But there are so-called street epistemologists who approach people on the street with the apparent long term goal of making them atheists.

        • Susan

          what I don’t agree with is that there is only one reasonable interpretation of the term. It can be used to mean someone without a belief in god(s). It can also be used to mean someone who believes that there are no god(s).

          Of course. What it means is that one has no “god” belief. A-theist.

          Either of your definitions can fall under that position.

          It’s very important to note though, that a lack of belief in something ill-defined and unsupported bears no burden.

          “I don’t believe you when you make god claims” is sufficient to make me an atheist.

        • Grimlock

          I realize that this is your preferred way of viewing the term. But why should I reject my preferred used of the term, and instead equate nontheism and atheism?

        • Susan

          I realize that this is your preferred way of viewing the term.

          It’s not so much that it’s my preferred way of viewing the term.

          It’s that people who don’t believe (god)s exist can reasonably be described as atheists.

          Like something that’s not symmetric can be called “asymmetric”.

          I think your preferred way of viewing the term is a tiny subgroup of what the term implies. As I said earlier, it falls under an umbrella. A tiny subgroup under that umbrella is what you’re describing.

          That very tiny subgroup takes on a burden of proof that not being a theist (i.e. being an atheist) isn’t responsible for.

          and instead equate nontheism and atheism?

          If I am not a theist, what am I?

        • Grimlock

          I agree that it’s one way to use the term. I don’t agree that it’s the only way.

          I realize that my preferred way means that the people defined as atheists is a subset of the people you’d define as atheists.

          I disagree about the burden of evidence.

          If I am not a theist, what am I?

          Well, I think we both agree that you can be classified as a non-theists. I also suspect that you actually might qualify as an atheist in the sense that I prefer.

        • Susan

          I disagree about the burden of evidence.

          For what? How so?

          I also suspect that you actually might qualify as an atheist in the sense that I prefer.

          Why?

        • Grimlock

          My answer to the two questions are related.

          Consider the question: does any god(s) exist?

          The only two direct answers are yes and no. There are also such indirect answers as “maybe”, “we can never know”, or “the question is meaningless”.

          If I ask you to tell me which of the direct answers you find most plausible, what would you say? Clearly, you’d not say “yes”. If you say “no”, you qualify as an atheist in the strong sense.

          I suspect that the idea of atheism as a lack of belief is an avoidance of giving a direct answer to the above question.

          Not giving a direct answer doesn’t, as far as I can tell, do much to change the burden of the evidence. And regardless, I find that the atheist has less of a burden than theist.

        • Kodie

          How are you not getting this?

          If no one says anything about a god, there is no question, and the default is, there isn’t, until someone claims that there is.

          Can they support this assertion? In what ways? In what, how many ridiculous, fallacious, piles of horse fece, are they going to grab onto anyone they can with emotional but not rational arguments, that this, and not just “this”, but several dozens of thousands globally and throughout history, many of which do not even agree in the same sect. Not believing any such story is not an assertion that there is no god that I need to support. How far do I have to go to support the assertion that I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT, or that, or that, or that, etc. Until they can put together a plausible and credible account and demonstrate evidence that the things they cannot explain, the things that delude them with emotional appeal, are actual, “I don’t believe that” is all I need to say. That’s all an atheist is.

          You can, of course, go further, and say “there is no god,” but don’t put words in other people’s mouths, or define atheism as that and ignore the other, perpetuating damaging stereotypes that theists are brainwashed to hate us for. The burden of proof is for those who assert there is something, not for the people who don’t believe their assertions and bull dook arguments.

        • Grimlock

          I fail to see the relevance of the epistemic weakness of a theistic position.

          As for your insistance that “this” is what an atheist is, your insistence is not really very convincing to me.

        • Susan

          I suspect that the idea of atheism as a lack of belief is an avoidance of giving a direct answer to the above question.

          It is not a direct question.

          What is a god?

          I always ask them “What are you claiming (when you say “god”) and how do you support it?

          I am an igtheist. I can’t help it. That has everything to do with their claims, not with my reluctance to take a position.

          Not giving a direct answer doesn’t, as far as I can tell, do much to change the burden of the evidence.

          Whoever makes the ontological claim has the burden.

          But their claims are incoherent. Those few that aren’t, are usually disproven.

          I don’t accept the term “god” without reasonably precise definitions.

          The very few who provide reasonably precise definitions don’t support the definitions nor support the claim.

          (I am being charitable by suggesting that “infinite being” is reasonably precise.)

          I am not a theist. I fall under the umbrella of “atheism” because I am an igtheist.

          I don’t reject your definition. You are trying to restrict it to your definition.

          Mine includes yours.

          Yours excludes most others (including mine).

        • Grimlock

          I agree that the term “god” generally is not very well defined. However, the question is still direct even if one of the terms is badly defined. Also, I generally find that if I supplant “god” with “conscious entity whose existence is independent of anything else, and in some way created the universe” it’s close enough to make the question meaningful.

          (I don’t find “infinite being” to be sufficiently precise unless this is elaborated on.)

          With respect to the burden of evidence, it two parties each make an ontological claim, it does not follow that they have an equal burden of evidence. Do you agree?

          I don’t reject your definition. You are trying to restrict it to your definition.

          Mine includes yours.

          Yours excludes most others (including mine).

          What I have been very clear on is that I have a preferred definition, but that I also find that other definitions are sensible and valid. As far as I can tell, I’m the only one in this discussion who do not wish to restrict all other uses of the term “atheism” to their preferred definition.

          As far as inclusion goes, clearly, your preferred definition of atheism covers as set of people, of which the set of people covered by my preferred definition is a subset. How is this relevant? Clearly, a definition is not necessarily better or worse depending on the size of the set of people that it includes.

          One interesting situation is this. Let the set A1 be the set of people who do not believe in god(s). Let A2 be the set of people who believe that there are no god(s). Then, we have the following:
          1. A2 is a subset of A1.
          2. More than half the people in A1 does not self-identify as atheists.
          3. A substantial number of people who self-identify as atheists are not in A1.

          Fun, isn’t it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          With respect to the burden of evidence, it two parties each make an ontological claim, it does not follow that they have an equal burden of evidence. Do you agree?

          It matters not whether we agree or not. That is not the problem. What is the problem is when the theist puts your preferred definition of atheism on me and then insists I have a burden of proof. Regardless of the ratio of burden vis a vis the “a god exists” position.

          What I have been very clear on is that I have a preferred definition, but that I also find that other definitions are sensible and valid.

          Not something being contested.

          As far as I can tell, I’m the only one in this discussion who do not wish to restrict all other uses of the term “atheism” to their preferred definition.

          Nope. When you , I, and A. N. Other atheists interact. The umbrella term “atheist” just isn’t specific enough to define what kind of atheist we all are. What the problem we seem to be having is that when “we” say “we” are atheist, it matters not a jot what kind of atheist each of us is for general purposes. The common denominator is “without gods” and that is good enough for all concerned. If I require further detail, I can ask. I don’t insist on my definition being the correct one, even if it appears to be the most popular. Where the problem lies, as has been pointed out, is when a believer wants to cherry-pick a specific definition and apply their preferred definition of the word in a generalization to all atheists, which just happens to be your preferred definition, then they assert and demand that the two positions are ontologically equal and therefore they can weasel out of the onus for burden.

          As far as inclusion goes, clearly, your preferred definition of atheism covers as set of people, of which the set of people covered by my preferred definition is a subset.

          I disagree with this. Your definition, my definition, and Susan’s definition, are all subsets of the “without gods” definition of atheist. They all add a caveat.

          How is this relevant?

          It becomes relevant when asked for evidence.

          Clearly, a definition is not necessarily better or worse depending on the size of the set of people that it includes.

          No. But I don’t think that’s where our differences lie. It is more that a definition is necessarily better or worse depending on the number of subsets of people that it includes. Particularly when the subsets are wide and varied.

          Someone defining as a scientist tells us nothing about the discipline of science the scientist is a scientist in. Someone defining as a theist tells us nothing about the potentially infinite number of gods they believe in. Someone defining as an atheist would be more narrowly defined than the two previous examples, but there still needs something added to take it from “without gods” to the difference between your atheism and my atheism, then something further to igtheism.

          One interesting situation is this. Let the set A1 be the set of people who do not believe in god(s). Let A2 be the set of people who believe that there are no god(s).

          The way I see it is, A is the set of people who are “without gods”. A1 is the subset who hold an absence of belief in gods, A2 is the subset of people believing in the absence of gods?

          Then, we have the following:
          1. A2 is a subset of A1.

          Nope, A2 and A1 are both subsets of A.

          2. More than half the people in A1 does not self-identify as atheists.

          It doesn’t matter what folk self-identify as, if they are de facto the definition of the word. And it bothers me not if they do, it’s when they want to assert their definition onto me is when it becomes an issue.

          3. A substantial number of people who self-identify as atheists are not in A1.

          But they are in A, which is my point.

          Fun, isn’t it.

          Only up to a point.

        • Grimlock

          It matters not whether we agree or not. That is not the problem. What is the problem is when the theist puts your preferred definition of atheism on me and then insists I have a burden of proof. Regardless of the ratio of burden vis a vis the “a god exists” position.

          Isn’t the problem, then, that the theist have an erronous view of how the burden of evidence is distributed, and not what an atheist is?

          Not something being contested.

          Perhaps. But I wanted to be clear, as when Susan said that I was trying to restrict something to my definiton, that could be perceived as contesting that. (Not the only interpretation, by all means.)

          Nope. When you , I, and A. N. Other atheists interact. The umbrella term “atheist” just isn’t specific enough to define what kind of atheist we all are. What the problem we seem to be having is that when “we” say “we” are atheist, it matters not a jot what kind of atheist each of us is for general purposes. The common denominator is “without gods” and that is good enough for all concerned. If I require further detail, I can ask. I don’t insist on my definition being the correct one, even if it appears to be the most popular. Where the problem lies, as has been pointed out, is when a believer wants to cherry-pick a specific definition and apply their preferred definition of the word in a generalization to all atheists, which just happens to be your preferred definition, then they assert and demand that the two positions are ontologically equal and therefore they can weasel out of the onus for burden.

          A fair few separate issues I’d like to comment on here.

          I was too general when I said that I’m the only one who accepts that there are several reasonable and sensible definitions in play. However, there are also several who does not appear to accept my preferred definition as a reasonable definition.

          I agree that self-identification as an atheist is not sufficient for us to discern what is meant by that.

          We do not have the empircism to conclude that the “wide” definition is the preferred definition. It appears to be the most popular among those who self-identify as atheists online, but the majority of those who fit the description do not self-identify as atheists. (It might still be the most popular description, though we can’t establish that.)

          As noted, the problem appears to lie with a common erronous view among theists with respect to the burden of evidence, and not with the definition itself. Two ontological claims do not necessarily hold the same burden of evidence, even if they are mutually exclusive.

          I disagree with this. Your definition, my definition, and Susan’s definition, are all subsets of the “without gods” definition of atheist. They all add a caveat.

          I believe that this is imprecise. It would be more precise to say that my preferred decision defines as atheists a subset of the people that your preferred definition defines as atheists.

          That is not the same as saying that my definition is a subset of your definition.

          Consider an analogous situation. Let us defined the set X as all rational numbers in [0, 1], and X* as the set of all rational numbers greater than zero. X is a subset of X*, but they are entirely distinct definitions.

          No. But I don’t think that’s where our differences lie. It is more that a definition is necessarily better or worse depending on the number of subsets of people that it includes. Particularly when the subsets are wide and varied.

          Someone defining as a scientist tells us nothing about the discipline of science the scientist is a scientist in. Someone defining as a theist tells us nothing about the potentially infinite number of gods they believe in. Someone defining as an atheist would be more narrowly defined than the two previous examples, but there still needs something added to take it from “without gods” to the difference between your atheism and my atheism, then something further to igtheism.

          I agree that the definitions share certain characteristics. I don’t follow what point you’re making in the first cited paragraph.

          The way I see it is, A is the set of people who are “without gods”. A1 is the subset who hold an absence of belief in gods, A2 is the subset of people believing in the absence of gods?

          I fail to see a distinction between A and A1. Would you mind elaborating?

          It doesn’t matter what folk self-identify as, if they are de facto the definition of the word.

          Ah, but it’s the definition of the word that we’re discussing, is it not?

        • Kodie

          I’m not going to say a person who puts forth the claim “there is no god” is not a “real” atheist, but you prefer that way to define yourself (IIRC), but that is also a theist misapprehension under which they try to bundle all of us under.

          Then you said, you prefer the label of “non-theist” to someone who does not believe the claims of theists, or does not believe there is a god. I mean, if I have you right, you understand there’s a distinction.

          Then we have the issue where atheism is being defined mostly by people who are not atheists, and being rejected by people who left their religion, and are atheists, but do not want to call themselves atheist because of the negative connotations of the word when used by theists, which many atheists used to be. They want to take up other labels. Some say, atheism is too negative, or falsely believe atheism to mean whatever theists say it means, or do not want the majority population, which are theists, to punish them socially for aligning with such a hated (but misunderstood) group.

          Theists are taught a lot of stuff, a good portion of which is what will happen to them if they deny god exists, as though the existence of god is a given, and atheists “deny” god exists. There is a lot of reinforcement of belief against disbelief, in the form of eternal threats, and social ostracization. Theists know how hard they are on atheists, so they never want to lose their belief, but if they do, they think if they call it something else, it would be somehow different than they were brainwashed to believe. So there, you get a lot of atheists who prefer to call what they are, not just because of the stigma, but because they prefer to frame their beliefs/unbeliefs as something that is not what they don’t believe, but something positive that they do believe, such as secular humanism.

          It’s the fault of theism for believing something in the affirmative, leaving atheists with the negative belief of something that doesn’t exist, but that also gives them the burden of proof. Atheists are anyone who are without god. It could be a teen Christian who is (probably temporarily) mad at god, and it could be a strong atheist who says there is nothing to convince them there is a god. There are not always good reasons that people have to reject the going trend to believe in a deity, usually Jesus around here. Atheists on the internet who find good blogs to communicate with other atheists, usually come to understand there is no certainty on the question, and better counter-arguments to the manure they keep turning out.

          I mean, imagine being a theist who has heard all their life that atheists say “there is no god”. That’s a pretty strong statement, and constructed that way to provide another blockade to them leaving their faith. There is a god there is no god, that’s pretty black and white, and leaves no room for the exploring theist to define how they feel when they start to doubt their beliefs, or stop believing the claims altogether. If they think an atheist is total and absolute on the god question, they’re wrong. The evidence for a deity doesn’t stack up, and it’s not their imagination. They need not make up another word, or avoid the label “atheist,” and in fact, if more people would just use that word, it would no longer be whatever theists say or think it is, or use threats against their congregation of becoming this filthy thing who denies god. It needs to be rescued from stigma by popular usage.

          We live in a world (at least in the US), where atheism is defined largely from theists as a fearsome lot, with actual atheists using a variety of other terms to shield themselves from stigma, so theists never learn what an atheist is. “Spiritual but not religious”, “freethinker”, “non-believer”, “bright”, etc. These people are afraid of backlash from saying they are an atheist, or were brought up to believe an atheist was one thing, but they are some other thing that needs some other label. It would be nice if people weren’t so confused about this.

        • Grimlock

          A fair bit to comment on here. I’ll try to unpack what I should respond to. Let me know if I miss anything.

          Then you said, you prefer the label of “non-theist” to someone who does not believe the claims of theists, or does not believe there is a god. I mean, if I have you right, you understand there’s a distinction.

          Sort of. I acknowledge that there might be a distinction, and if so, I prefer the terms nontheism and atheism to distinguish two groups. One such distinction might be between those able to form the concept of theism in their minds, and those unable to do so. Infants, for instance, might qualify as nontheists without being atheists.

          However, for, say, your average online atheist I’m not sure there is a distinction that’s not purely semantic. See my recent response to Susan for an elaboration on this.

          It’s the fault of theism for believing something in the affirmative, leaving atheists with the negative belief of something that doesn’t exist, but that also gives them the burden of proof. Atheists are anyone who are without god. It could be a teen Christian who is (probably temporarily) mad at god, and it could be a strong atheist who says there is nothing to convince them there is a god.

          I think this part is useful for getting at a few points.

          First, we both appear to agree that the burden of evidence is on the theist.

          Second, the disagreement is over precisely what it means to be an atheist. Your insistence that an atheist is so and so is by itself not very convincing.

          Third, I disagree that someone who is mad at god qualities as an atheist. That is, I think, having a definition of an atheist that is quite simply too wide, and is not a reasonable use of the term “atheist”.

          The rest of your post seems to be about how many religious folks have prejudices against the term “atheist”, which, really, I won’t dispute. But I’m struggling to see why that should mean that only a “wide” conception of atheism is legitimate.

          ETA: You also mention something about the degree of certainty of which a belief is held. But the definitions I’ve considered deals with the contents of a belief, and not its certainty.

        • Kodie

          I don’t think we’re having the same conversation.

          My insistence is that the definition of atheist or atheism clearly includes the popular “I don’t believe the claims of theism.” You don’t think that’s the definition of an atheist. To you, an atheist is someone who declares “there is no god”, and has some burden of proof to deny a positive ridiculous fantastical claim.

          But yes, if a person labels themselves an atheist, even if it’s not my definition, I am not turning them away or saying they are not a “true” atheist. Christians do that with sincere Christ-is-risen-I-am-saved believers with different sets of manifestations of those beliefs.

          I don’t know about the degree of certainty, I lost track of what you are saying I said. Theists have defined what atheism is to the point that atheists use other terms quite a bit. Why not address what I’ve actually said. I know you live in some other country than the US, but try to learn what the experience here is like before you comment.

        • Grimlock

          I don’t think we’re having the same conversation.

          Needless to say, I agree.

          My insistence is that the definition of atheist or atheism clearly includes the popular “I don’t believe the claims of theism.” You don’t think that’s the definition of an atheist. To you, an atheist is someone who declares “there is no god”, and has some burden of proof to deny a positive ridiculous fantastical claim.

          I don’t know what you mean when you say that “the definition of atheist or atheism clearly includes the popular [etc.]”.

          To be clear, I don’t think that is the only reasonable definition of atheism. I have a preferred definition, but I don’t claim it’s the One True Definition.

          As to the burden of evidence, I feel as if I’ve gone through this a few times. So what’s one more?

          I don’t think of the burden of proof as a binary thing. Instead, I think of it as a relative burden. Take two mutually exclusive propositions, A and ~A. Both propositions might have some burden of proof that is less than the burden of proof for some proposition B. But if A has a greater burden than ~A, then when discussing A or ~A, then A has the burden of proof.

          In the case of whether god(s) exist, I believe that the theist holds the burden of proof.

          Furthermore, I don’t find that someone who says that they simply “lack” belief in a god actually holds to a position that’s very different from mine, beyond semantics. (See the comment I linked to in my previous response to you.)

          But yes, if a person labels themselves an atheist, even if it’s not my definition, I am not turning them away or saying they are not a “true” atheist. Christians do that with sincere Christ-is-risen-I-am-saved believers with different sets of manifestations of those beliefs.

          In that case, your idea of ‘atheism’ is diluted to the point that it doesn’t actually speak to the contents of the beliefs of the “atheist”. Or, in other words, being an atheist, in your eyes, do not depend on what ontological existence claims the person believes.

          Not to mention that you, in that case, allow one of the more annoying theistic ideas to allow for what makes someone an atheist. Namely the idea that atheists are merely angry at god.

          I don’t know about the degree of certainty, I lost track of what you are saying I said. Theists have defined what atheism is to the point that atheists use other terms quite a bit. Why not address what I’ve actually said. I know you live in some other country than the US, but try to learn what the experience here is like before you comment.

          As I’ve said, I haven’t really seen a somewhat straightforward argument in your comments. I do live outside of the US (Norway). I’m not sure what makes you think I need to do some further research into what it’s like to live your life before commenting. As for letting theists define words, see my previous paragraph.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The way I see it is, A is the set of people who are “without gods”. A1 is the subset who hold an absence of belief in gods, A2 is the subset of people believing in the absence of gods?

          I fail to see a distinction between A and A1. Would you mind elaborating?

          The difference for me, is in how the approach to “without gods” takes.

          While both A1 and A2 are covered by A, the definitions become more specific.

          It’s about the certainty of the claims in A1 and A2…they are not the same.

          It’s in how “absence of belief” and “belief in absence” are defined.

          Absence of belief that gods exist:

          I don’t hold any belief in any gods. There is simply no credible evidence for such a belief. If some form of credible evidence were to surface I will consider belief in proportion to that evidence. When a theist says that god exists, I answer: I don’t believe you, is there any credible evidence to back your claim up?

          Belief in absence aka that no gods exist:

          I believe (or even claim to know) that no gods exist. Ergo. There is evidence that supports that no gods exists, there can never be any evidence found for the existence of a god. When a theist says that god exists, I answer: No, your god does not exist.

          For the second statement to hold, the atheist would need to know about every god hypothesis in order to make such a claim, and be able to demonstrate it so. Granted, for the sake of argument, the evidence is such that in all likelihood, the chances of a god existing are such that to claim no gods exist is to all intents and purposes, the position to hold. But as a matter of fact, I don’t know how that position could be attained when arguing a theist. Yes, we could take each god hypothesis one by one and produce an argument demonstrating that for specific gods, I know that god doesn’t exist. But to generalize a knowledge that afaics, can’t be demonstrated, we are overstepping our remit and that’s where the theist weasels in and shifts the burden. We give them an in.

          With regards to the equality of the burden, well that depends on whose perspective. When the atheist claims gods don’t exist, those who believe gods do exist, think the onus is on the one making the claim to verify that claim. Hence the issue with this definition of atheism.

          These are just my thoughts…along with reading the views of others.

          I thought the YouTube video made a decent job of demonstrating the difference, no?

          https://youtu.be/sNDZb0KtJDk

        • Grimlock

          You are introducing an element of certainty into the definitions with which I don’t agree. Specifically, this

          […] there can never be any evidence found for the existence of a god.

          I do not agree that this is a necessary criterion for believing in the non-existence of god(s). The (strong) atheistic and theistic positions do not share an equal burden of evidence to begin with.

          For the second statement to hold, the atheist would need to know about every god hypothesis in order to make such a claim, and be able to demonstrate it so. Granted, for the sake of argument, the evidence is such that in all likelihood, the chances of a god existing are such that to claim no gods exist is to all intents and purposes, the position to hold. But as a matter of fact, I don’t know how that position could be attained when arguing a theist. Yes, we could take each god hypothesis one by one and produce an argument demonstrating that for specific gods, I know that god doesn’t exist. But to generalize a knowledge that afaics, can’t be demonstrated, we are overstepping our remit and that’s where the theist weasels in and shifts the burden. We give them an in.

          As mentioned before, I’m inclined to agree that we can’t evaluate all possible conceptions of god(s). (So I might in a sense be agnostic.) However, we might be able to say something about the initial burden of evidence to a general theistic position, which is sufficient for all practical purposes.

          With regards to the equality of the burden, well that depends on whose perspective. When the atheist claims gods don’t exist, those who believe gods do exist, think the onus is on the one making the claim to verify that claim. Hence the issue with this definition of atheism.

          I agree that the theist has some weird ideas about the burden of proof. But they seem to do that regardless of which definition of atheism that the atheist holds.

          I’ll try to remember to have a look at the video when I have some time to spare next time I’m on a bus/tram/metro/pod-racer. I haven’t watched it yet, I’m sorry to say.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Your definition is not the one most of us is using. The video, it’s quite short, explains the difference between the two position.

          The Dawkins Scale might better show where am coming from.

          On the Dawkins scale, a 6 up to a 7 = Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. ‘I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.’

          On the Dawkins scale, a 7 = Strong atheist. ‘I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung ‘knows’ there is one.’

          I believed I was once a 7 until the difference was pointed out.

          http://www.eoht.info/page/Dawkins+scale

        • I don’t quite understand how you can go beyond 7 (I know there is no God), but it’s an interesting experiment to try.

        • Greg G.

          If 7 is “I know there is no God,” but “I think it is not impossible for one to exist” could be added.
          Then 8 would be “I know there is no God, but I do not know if it is impossible for one to exist.”
          9. “I know there is no God, and I know it is impossible for one to exist.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m less interested in a really, really, really know, than I really know. or I really, really know….the 1-7 scale is what is important to me for the purposes of this discussion.

        • Grimlock

          It seems to me that we are talking about two different dimensions about beliefs here. One is certainty, and the other is content.

          You’ll note that the definition I prefer only deals with the contents of a person’s belief, and not the certainty with which one holds it. Meaning that someone might believe that no god(s) exist with varying degrees of certainty.

          In other words, I don’t think that the strength of someone’s belief determines whether they are an atheist or not. Though it might be an interesting nuance to look at for other reasons.

          That being said, I don’t see the appeal of the extended scale you referred to. Going beyond 7, it started describing, not certainty, but how you frame that certainty. A scale that measures different dimensions at different points is a bit too messy for my preferences.

          Your definition is not the one most of us is using.

          I know. And most people here’s preferred definition is not how most people described by that definition defines an atheist. So near as I can tell, neither definition is a great fit when appealing to popular opinion. (Though they score badly on slightly different measures.)

        • most people here’s preferred definition is not how most people described by that definition defines an atheist.

          You mean “someone who has no god belief”?

          I see the difference. It’s interesting to poll the public and see the fraction that says “atheist.” But also interesting–more so IMO–is the fraction that has no god belief. Yes, these definitions will (incongruously) be different, but I guess they’re just telling us different things.

        • Grimlock

          But also interesting–more so IMO–is the fraction that has no god belief.

          Agreed.

        • Grimlock

          Now it’s my turn to get a comment that’s pending. Any chance you could let it through, and let me know which word(s) I should stay away from in the future?

        • Ah, so it’s all fun and games until your comment gets put in timeout, Mr. “No one will mind if I say ‘crap'”??

        • Greg G.

          Was it “h a r d    w a y”? It was OK until I did an edit on the punctuation.

          http://disq.us/p/22sjyyk

        • Susan

          No one will mind if I say ‘crap??

          In fairness to Grimlock, he was quoting me. (I know that was your point.)

          Weird that I could be put in detention for quoting Kodie but she wasn’t put into detention for the words I quoted.

          Is there some spectrum of good cop/bad cop in which Kodie has more license?

          Or is the system just really dumb?

          Is there a reason they think treating us like kindergarteners will improve discussion?

          In the meantime, christians can compare us to psychopathic killers whenever they want to.

          And some atheists are allowed to state that christians have mental illness.

          You can do either as long as you don’t say “cr*p” when you do it.

        • Is there some spectrum of good cop/bad cop in which Kodie has more license?

          Maybe it’s not that Kodie has more license but that she takes more license.

          I haven’t noticed that anyone has easier time of it with Big Brother, but the time from offense until I release the comment to run free with its fellows can obviously vary. Sorry about that, but the buck still (tragically) stops with me. Don’t feel any compunction to bowdlerize your sh*tty speech, though if you do, that may obviously get your comment into circulation immediately without time in purgatory.

        • Greg G.

          Weird that I could be put in detention for quoting Kodie but she wasn’t put into detention for the words I quoted.

          Perhaps she was put in detention but you didn’t see her there because she was released before you got there.

        • Greg G.

          It is also possible that she used a cheat code to get around the filter that is not transferred when the text is copied&pasted.

          “‌”

          If you strategically drop the code (without the quotation marks) in the middle of a moderation trigger so that there is no smaller mod trigger on either side, you can evade it yet your text shows the offensive word to the human reader. Try copying the code and pasting it. You will just see the quotation marks if you copy it all after it is posted.

          The code stands for “zero-width, non-joiner”. The “zero-width” means it looks normal to the human while the “non-joiner” makes it look like different words to the filter. NS Alito pointed the code out in a comment. Her mnemonic is “right wing nut job, with a Z”. I needed to use it recently.

          Edit denoted by italics.

        • Susan

          Cr‌ap

          Thanks.

          “‌”

        • Susan

          Cr‌ap

          I missed the semicolon the first time. That attempt is in detention right now.

        • Grimlock

          Wonderful!

          Cra‌p.

        • Greg G.

          Now it will be the unexpected words that will get you. I think Bob has removed some of them from the list. But words like “ur‌gent”, “b‌low”, or even “J‌ob 3:16” could put you in Lim‌bo on other blogs.

        • I can see the sacred list of Worrisome Words, but it magically heals itself after I delete sensible words. (not surprising, perhaps, since it’s sacred.) I just tried again, just in case I’ve been given superpowers.

          I’m particularly annoyed that Islam, Mohammed, and related words are there. That’s just bad PR.

        • Grimlock

          Wait, Isla‍m is a bad word that will set a comment to pending? That’s… Huh. I did not see that coming.

        • Greg G.

          Maybe the Swedish Chef filter could be refitted to insert the zero-width non-joiner code into every Worrisome Word string. I think I could do one in JavaScript.

        • Kodie

          Have you gathered our concerns and tried to engage them in reason? It worked for World Table.

        • The phrase “it worked” combined with “World Table” from you makes me wonder if I’m in some sort of parallel universe. Or maybe it’s just Opposite Day.

          To your question: I’ve engaged with the boss of the Nonreligious channel (Dale McGowan, who is the atheist version of a saint), so he knows my opinions. I’ve heard of no official changes from Patheos. Once they know my opinion, I don’t want to repeat it and make a nuisance of myself (well, maybe I’ll repeat it once).

          I’ve gone back to plan C-prime (if I still have all of them straight in my mind). This is to assume that my naughty word list can be edited. I’ve removed a few words that should never have been there in the first place (Muslim, monster, job) and a few words that you, Ignorant Amos, and some of the other regulars with large vocabularies find useful in the front lines of the fight against moronity (bullshit, asshole, idiot). If plan C-prime works, keep it to yourself, and don’t expect it to work forever.

        • Kodie

          Well, I made a stink because World Table sucked, and you kept saying you’re going with it because that’s what Patheos was rolling out and it was inevitable, and I left for a while, and when I came back, the comments were divided so you could post on Disqus like a semi-normal person, instead of a prisoner to what mobs can decide to suppress your comments, and eventually it was so unpopular, they got rid of it. To me, that means “it worked”.

          I appreciate anything you do, anything you can do, and anything you would do to preserve your blog the way you prefer. This list sounds like the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Maybe some blogs have a blogger who doesn’t allow curse words and heavily moderates posts that aren’t that civil, or get a lot of spam that they can’t control. This system punishes regular posters talking like adults at blogs that allow strong language like “job” as well as the person whose job it is to moderate. What’s wrong with that word? Job! I think it is maybe a lot of spam talks about making money in dubious ways, but it inhibits fluid communication among people who are talking like normal people do. Funny they should screw you over by increasing the amount of job you do for them to get traffic, and that there’s an increase in traffic talking about PATHEOS’ STUPID DECISION!

        • The answer for Patheos IMO was to have the list of words but to let that list be editable. I’m OK with the porn slang (b00bs) and the racist words being moderated. If you use them, you have a few hours in moderation purgatory as a speed bump, and I might not let it out. But the words that we stumble over are nothing more than a nuisance. (And for the love of God, don’t moderate Islam, Qu’ran, and Mohammed. That’s just bad PR.)

        • Grimlock

          Neat! Totally gonna abuse this at some point.

          I wonder what happens if I try using the zero widt joiner, if that exists…

          Cra‍p.

          ETA: Yup, it worked with “‍” as well. Groovy.

        • Kodie

          First, you have to know what the trigger words all are. Then you have to interpret your thought into a modified language, much like stopping to say “sugar” when you start to say something else, or spelling words like fluck or ashoile. I’m trying to speak in my native language as it flows.

        • Greg G.

          You could type as you would speak, then copy ‌ to clipboard, and go through the words you expect might trigger moderation and paste the code into the middle of the words strategically. Not much harder than making it “fluck”.

          But there are many words on the list that you wouldn’t expect to trigger it.

        • Kodie

          I don’t have time for pasting anything and all the reformatting DISQUS does, because DISQUS is triggered to make longer and longer spaces between paragraphs every time I paste or highlight part of text to tag it. It probably shows up normal, but it drives me nuts. I’m going to write how I would speak … I mean, it’s slower to think what I want to say if I were talking, but I am tired of guessing and tired that they don’t like the words that are correct to express my thoughts without trying to trick them. They should grow the f up.

        • Susan

          They should grow the f up.

          Agreed.

        • Susan

          Not much harder than making it “fluck”.

          It’s been kind of fun circumventing their kindergarten policies with “fork” and such.

          It also means I’m swearing more than ever (without actually swearing).

          there are many words on the list that you wouldn’t expect to trigger it.

          Less fun. “Musrim” for Mus**m” or something.

          It’s getting sillier all the time.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know what post you quoted, but it was probably pending before you got to see it. I don’t care anymore. That shitternet provider was one reason I couldn’t post for a very long time, because cursing was one of the things they prohibited, not just harassment per se. I can’t be here if I have to be so careful, and then my posts are still pending because I don’t know all the words they don’t like, so I just use all the words I want. Apparently, people can still like my posts and respond to them while they still have a pending tag on them, through disqus, probably, sending these posts in email. I wish Patheos would get a clue though. I’m not pleased with this at all, and contacted them directly twice. Probably they ignored me because it still comes down the f word for this s.

        • Grimlock

          Why, yes it is. I love me some double standards 🙂

          (Also, thanks!)

        • Ignorant Amos

          It seems to me that we are talking about two different dimensions about beliefs here. One is certainty, and the other is content.

          Yeah, the rest of us are talking about certainty when one is talking about “strong atheism” vis a vis “weak atheism”. I’m not sure what ya mean by content. The content is the lack of belief in gods, which both terms define.

          You’ll note that the definition I prefer only deals with the contents of a person’s belief, and not the certainty with which one holds it. Meaning that someone might believe that no god(s) exist with varying degrees of certainty.

          But the definition you prefer, is not how the terms being used are taken by what appears to be the accepted in common parlance. Afaics anyway.

          Weak atheism (sometimes equated with “pragmatic atheism” or “negative atheism”) describes the state of living as if no gods exist. It does not require an absolute statement of God’s non-existence. The argument is based on the fact that as there is no evidence that gods, spatial teapots or fairies exist, we have no reason to believe in them. This argument could also be classified as extreme agnosticism, or “agnostic atheism” – as it is an acknowledgment of the lack of evidence but acting as if there were no gods.

          Pragmatic atheists, however, are frequently reluctant to make outright statements like “Gods (or fairies) do not exist”, because of the great difficulties involved in proving the absolute non-existence of anything – the idea that nothing can be proved is held in the philosophy of pyrrhonism. Consequently many pragmatic atheists would argue that the burden of proof does not lie with them to provide evidence against the extraordinary concept that gods exist. They would argue that it is up to the supporters of various religions to provide evidence for the existence of their own deities, and that no argument is necessary on the atheist’s part.

          This is me. When the term atheist is applied to mean all gods with a wee “g”. But like anything else, I can’t say for certain anymore than I can say for certain I’m not a brain in a vat. I think it is as near certain as to be almost negligible, but I was taught many years ago when asserting I was a 7 on the Dawkins scale that that is not scientific.

          Strong atheism (sometimes equated with “theoretical atheism”) makes an explicit statement against the existence of gods. Strong atheists would disagree with weak atheists about the inability to disprove the existence of gods. Strong atheism specifically combats religious beliefs and other arguments for belief in some god (or gods), such as Pascal’s Wager, and argument from design. These arguments tend to be geared toward demonstrating that the concept of god is logically inconsistent or incoherent in order to actively disprove the existence of a god. Theological noncognitivism, which asserts the meaninglessness of religious language, is an argument commonly invoked by strong atheists. In contrast, weak atheist arguments tend to concentrate on the evidence (or lack thereof) for god, while strong atheist arguments tend to concentrate on making a positive case for the non-existence of god.

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Atheism

          That is me when dealing with a particular god. Say, big “G” God as the theists try to define it.

          Which has been my point throughout. Weak atheism is a blanket statement that covers the lot. When asserting strong atheism, a case by case study is undertaken.

          I’m a strong atheist when dealing with the YahwehJesus god because the description is incoherent, logically inconsistent, and contradictory. It’s a nonsense. The theist will need to change the attributes to something more logically coherent and less meaningless. That’s why a few of us here side with igtheism, or theological noncognitivism when dealing with big “G” god. And why Susan poses her two questions from the outset.

          In other words, I don’t think that the strength of someone’s belief determines whether they are an atheist or not.

          Correct. I’m not sure I have seen where anyone here has been arguing otherwise.

          Though it might be an interesting nuance to look at for other reasons.

          The other reasons being, certainty, and the onus for burden shifting. As the weak atheist, I own no burden. As the strong atheist, I own a burden. Hence the arguments being played out on places like this. The theist tries to take the position for the later and apply it to the former. Not all those claiming atheism in the former, can be bothered with the later. That’s why they take umbrage with the theists thinking that claiming weak atheism is the same as claiming strong atheism with the same burden. I appreciate that from your perspective, the burden isn’t equal. The theist will believe differently. Regardless, making an ontological assertions encompasses some burden.

          That being said, I don’t see the appeal of the extended scale you referred to. Going beyond 7, it started describing, not certainty, but how you frame that certainty. A scale that measures different dimensions at different points is a bit too messy for my preferences.

          like I said to Bob, the scale for me is only relevant up to and including 7, as originally laid out in TGD. The link was the handiest I could find for my purpose of explanation of the difference between being a 6 and a 7, the rest is irrelevant for our discussion and I didn’t make reference to it for any purpose.

          I know. And most people here’s preferred definition is not how most people described by that definition defines an atheist. So near as I can tell, neither definition is a great fit when appealing to popular opinion. (Though they score badly on slightly different measures.)

          I’ve no idea what that means. From the discussion, certain terms have meanings in common parlance. If you have a different meaning to how it is applied in common parlance, then that is where the breakdown seems to be.

          The difference in definition is about certainty. I think I’ve linked to enough sources of explanation on the point by this time to demonstrate my point by now.

        • Grimlock

          Yeah, the rest of us are talking about certainty when one is talking about “strong atheism” vis a vis “weak atheism”. I’m not sure what ya mean by content. The content is the lack of belief in gods, which both terms define.

          I’ve been referring to ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ in terms of the two definitions this discussion started with, namely
          the absence of a belief in god(s)
          and
          the belief in the non-existence of god(s).

          I admit that I thought that was clear. Alas, so it was not. However, you cannot really doubt that it’s the latter of these two definitions that I prefer, yes? If so, it clearly does not deal with the strength with which one holds the beliefs.

          With respect to what I mean by content, here’s an example:

          Alice is utterly convinced that Carol hates her.

          The bolded part describes the degree to which Alice holds the underlined content to be true. My preferred definition deals only with the content.

          But the definition you prefer, is not how the terms being used are taken by what appears to be the accepted in common parlance. Afaics anyway.

          With respect to “common parlance”, the following are two facts:
          1. Most self-identifying atheists (online) uses the absence of belief definition.
          2. Most people covered by the absence of belief definition does not use that definition.

          As such, claiming that it’s what being accepted in common parlance does not appear to be a proposition that is true.

          That is me when dealing with a particular god. Say, big “G” God as the theists try to define it.

          Which has been my point throughout. Weak atheism is a blanket statement that covers the lot. When asserting strong atheism, a case by case study is undertaken.

          I’m a strong atheist when dealing with the YahwehJesus god because the description is incoherent, logically inconsistent, and contradictory. It’s a nonsense. The theist will need to change the attributes to something more logically coherent and less meaningless. That’s why a few of us here side with igtheism, or theological noncognitivism when dealing with big “G” god. And why Susan poses her two questions from the outset.

          I believe I’ve understood your point of view for a while. My apologies if that has not been clear.

          I’ve lost track of the conversation a bit. Could you please direct me to the two questions of Susan’s?

          like I said to Bob, the scale for me is only relevant up to and including 7, as originally laid out in TGD. The link was the handiest I could find for my purpose of explanation of the difference between being a 6 and a 7, the rest is irrelevant for our discussion and I didn’t make reference to it for any purpose.

          Indeed.

          I’ve no idea what that means. From the discussion, certain terms have meanings in common parlance. If you have a different meaning to how it is applied in common parlance, then that is where the breakdown seems to be.

          Let me elaborate on the point above by an example from a different field. I suspect that you are already familiar with this, but please bear with me.

          When a test is designed for detecting a certain disease, the test can give two types of errors:
          1. False negatives, in which someone has the disease, but gets a negative result on the test.
          2. False positives, in which someone does not have the disease, but gets a positive result on the test.

          Typically, if you want to avoid any false negatives, you will get more false positives (and the other way ’round). I think medical tests try to avoid false negatives, which is why you often most likely won’t have a disease, even if you get a positive result – because there are quite a few false positives in order to catch all cases of the disease.

          Now, this might be applied to the definitions of atheism, where we have something like the following:
          1. False negatives is when someone fits the definition (i.e. lack a belief in god(s)), but do not self-identify as atheists.
          2. False positives is when someone self-identify as atheists, but do not fit the definition.

          Consider, then, the definition of atheism as an absence of belief in god(s). In that case, we avoid the false positives, as (pretty much) everyone who self-identifies as an atheist is covered by the definition. But you get a whole lot of false negatives, as a lot of people who fit the definition do not self-identify as atheists.

          If we consider the definition of atheism as the belief in the non-existence of god(s), we get another result. In that case, we get far less false negatives, but quite a lot of false positives.

          That is what I mean by how the two definitions discussed here do badly (and well) on different measures. It is also why it is not accurate to say that one definition is what is being used in common parlance.

          The difference in definition is about certainty. I think I’ve linked to enough sources of explanation on the point by this time to demonstrate my point by now.

          You’ve sufficiently explained how your preferred definition(s) go(es). However, that doesn’t mean that my preferred definition deals with the degree of certainty with which a belief is held. Nor does the degree of certainty seem to be present in the following definition:
          lack of belief in deities

          Now, I’d be curious to hear your take on something I’ve tried to bring up a couple of times in this rather sprawling discussion. (E.g. here.)

          Let me try to rephrase it again.

          Let’s say that you lack a belief in god(s). That means that if you were to describe your worldview, or how you think existence most plausible is, it would not include any god(s). You are also familiar with the idea of god(s), and so have the option to include those.

          You also hold to some principle that is some variant of the following:
          An existence claims holds the burden of evidence, because of all the things we can speculate about, most of it probably doesn’t exist. So unless you can provide evidence for a claim, I am justified in not including it in my ontology.

          Do you agree with this? Or something similiar?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve been referring to ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ in terms of the two definitions this discussion started with, namely
          the absence of a belief in god(s)
          and
          the belief in the non-existence of god(s).

          I know. I’ve been trying to explain why those two definitions are contrastingly different. Why that is important when defining oneself as an atheist without a qualifying descriptor, and how it impacts discussions with certain Christers who can’t or won’t accept a qualifying descriptor because it suits them better to attach your definition to me in all circumstances.

          Let me try again to show where I am. Newborn babies have the absence of a belief in god(s). Amazonian tribes folk have the absence of a belief in god(s). All living things on the planet other than us, as far as we know, have the absence of a belief in god(s). That’s a negation of belief.

          The other term, the belief in the non-existence of god(s), is an assertion of knowledge. And as such, it warrants a burden of support. A theist version of Susan could as her two questions…

          What are you claiming (when you say “god”) and how do you support your non-existence claim?

          I admit that I thought that was clear. Alas, so it was not.

          It is. What doesn’t seem to be clear is how the two terms differ and how that impacts the bigger discussion with theists.

          However, you cannot really doubt that it’s the latter of these two definitions that I prefer, yes?

          Yes. And so do I when it is god appropriate. That is when I’m being god specific. I can take this position when arguing YahwehJesus doesn’t exist, because I can support that argument to my satisfaction.

          If so, it clearly does not deal with the strength with which one holds the beliefs.

          It does when the strength is linked to the level of certainty on the proposition. And I think this is where we are talking past one another. That’s why one is called “weak atheism” and the other “strong atheism”.

          With respect to “common parlance”, the following are two facts:
          1. Most self-identifying atheists (online) uses the absence of belief definition.
          2. Most people covered by the absence of belief definition does not use that definition.

          It doesn’t matter to me what definition they use, it only matters that they are covered by that definition and all know that it holds as accurate. I’m at odds as to by what metric you make those assertions though. It is my experience otherwise.

          As such, claiming that it’s what being accepted in common parlance does not appear to be a proposition that is true.

          It’s true enough for atheists organisations to make the claim.

          Atheism is one thing: A lack of belief in gods.
          Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

          Older dictionaries define atheism as “a belief that there is no God.” Clearly, theistic influence taints these definitions. The fact that dictionaries define Atheism as “there is no God” betrays the (mono)theistic influence. Without the (mono)theistic influence, the definition would at least read “there are no gods.”

          https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/about-atheism/

          I’ve lost track of the conversation a bit. Could you please direct me to the two questions of Susan’s?

          “I always ask them “What are you claiming (when you say “god”) and how do you support it?”

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2019/05/stalin-was-a-mass-murderer-and-im-not-too-sure-about-myself/#comment-4497608029

          That is what I mean by how the two definitions discussed here do badly (and well) on different measures. It is also why it is not accurate to say that one definition is what is being used in common parlance.

          You seem to be a bit confused on what I mean…probably my fault. I’m talking about what is meant by the belief in the non-existence of god(s). What is understood by that term. Versus what the statement the absence of a belief in god(s) means.

          As far as I can see, one means quite different to the other. And in conversations with theists, the difference has to be explained. And even after it is explained, some wooden headed theists refuse to accept that someone in the later, is not by default part of the former. This is the problem with claiming to be atheist with no qualifier as to what position each holds. That’s the bone of contention being held with the atheists in this discussion. One is free to hold whatever level of no god belief one likes, but there are levels of certainty in both statements being used here and each claim has a different burden.

          You’ve sufficiently explained how your preferred definition(s) go(es). However, that doesn’t mean that my preferred definition deals with the degree of certainty with which a belief is held. Nor does the degree of certainty seem to be present in the following definition:
          lack of belief in deities

          And it’s on this issue that we fundamentally differ. See American Atheists explanation above.

          Now, I’d be curious to hear your take on something I’ve tried to bring up a couple of times in this rather sprawling discussion. (E.g. here.)

          I take it you are referring to this part?

          Scenario 1

          I am not convinced by the evidence for a god’s existence, and so do not consider myself a theist. By default I then consider myself an atheist.

          A necessary underlying assumption here is something along the lines of how ontological claims probably are false unless sufficient evidence is presented. E.g., for any ontological claim A, A is probably false.

          Scenario 2

          I consider the plausibility of a claim to be a combination of the initial/prior plausibility and the evidence that builds on this. In the case of theism, the prior probability is lower for god(s) existing than god(s) not existing, and the burden of evidence is therefore on the theist.

          The arguments for the existence of god(s) is not sufficient to outweigh the initial plausibility, and so god(s) probably do not exist.

          I see no difference in the two scenarios other than how they are worded. Both describe the lack of belief in gods.

          Do you agree with this? Or something similiar?

          No, I don’t think I do.

          This discussion reminds me of an article on Strange Notions way back in the day. Lot’s of opinions, but an analogy from Geena Saffire seems relevant…

          Here’s how it goes.

          A particular purported deity is “on trial”, “accused” of existing. The theist or the church makes the best case possible for a “guilty” verdict.

          The atheist is in the jury box, not the defendant’s chair, which is reserved for the deity in question. If the atheist is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the deity’s existence, states that s/he has found said deity “not guilty” of existing.

          A few atheists may, if they so desire, act in the role of defense counsel, making a case for the deity being “not guilty” of existing. These would the ones usually called “strong atheists” — those who affirmatively assert that certain god claims can be refuted.

          But the default case is that the atheists are in the jury box.

          https://strangenotions.com/is-atheism-a-belief/#comment-1069695015

          The explanation on “Atheism for Beginners” seems to marry up well from my perspective.

          https://www.learnreligions.com/atheism-for-beginners-248052

          Edit to switch the words later and former.

        • Grimlock

          I’ll have to get back to the core of this later (when I’m at a keyboard…), but just to get this out of the way:

          With respect to “common parlance”, the following are two facts:
          1. Most self-identifying atheists (online) uses the absence of belief definition.
          2. Most people covered by the absence of belief definition does not use that definition.

          It doesn’t matter to me what definition they use, it only matters that they are covered by that definition and all know that it holds as accurate. I’m at odds as to by what metric you make those assertions though. It is my experience otherwise.

          If you hold to the definition of atheism as not believing in God, then, if you do not believe in God, you’d also be an atheist.

          What we see from surveys is that less than half of people who answer “no” to questions of whether they believe in God will also check the box for “atheist”.

          See Wikipedia for some statistics:
          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism_in_the_United_States

        • Kodie

          If you hold to the definition of atheism as not believing in God, then, if you do not believe in God, you’d also be an atheist.

          Those two are the same thing. Your definition is -the belief there is no god, and so it seems ozarkmichael believes we have a doctrine and therefore are all the same. You are not the same. There is no doctrine; atheism is not a religion with necessary consequences of defining yourself as an atheist.

          What we see from surveys is that less than half of people who answer “no” to questions of whether they believe in God will also check the box for “atheist”.

          What I told you before is, and I understand you are not American, nor live in the United States?, there is a taboo that comes from theists who heavily presume and cannot be corrected of your definition of atheism. Therefore, many people, especially those coming out of a faith, do not want to define or label themselves as atheists.

          The word itself has tons of stigma, from a positive belief that there is no god (which is heavily and negatively cast on atheists by theists), is what a theist thinks is “mad at god,” or are brainwashed to believe that we “know” there is a god but want to live sinfully by denying god’s presumed existence. There are others who think defining themselves by what they don’t believe is itself negative, and want to pretend there’s another synonym which takes the focus off disbelief and call themselves something else, but they are still atheists. They cannot or choose not to answer the poll that way, but please stop misrepresenting people who don’t call themselves atheists, because you seem to be ignorant of the various reasons why they might do that – primarily stigma!

          An atheist can hardly have a conversation with anyone in the US after they start with “I’m an atheist…” which is not usually an out-of-the-blue declaration. It usually comes from a theist saying something false or biblical or assuming their audience is in agreement with whatever Christian or theist thing they want to discuss or declare or promote. Why do you think atheists might not like the label itself? If they do not believe in the assertions of theists regarding gods, they are atheists, and that’s why there are two questions and two results of the poll. Asking people what their position is on the question, and then asking if they call themselves an atheist tells us something that you seem to have missed entirely. I could be wrong, but you seem to think if they don’t call themselves atheists, then they aren’t.

        • Grimlock

          Those two are the same thing. Your definition is -the belief there is no god, and so it seems ozarkmichael believes we have a doctrine and therefore are all the same. You are not the same. There is no doctrine; atheism is not a religion with necessary consequences of defining yourself as an atheist.

          You’ll note that I’ve already mentioned to Michael that I don’t think such “doctrines” follow from how I define atheism. So I’m not sure why you bring this up.

          […]

          I don’t think you understand the scope of my point.

          Is “lack of belief” the most common use of the term “atheism”? The statistics that I cite seem to rebut this claim. That’s it.

          As usual, your insistence that this is what an atheist is is not particularly compelling.

          I could be wrong, but you seem to think if they don’t call themselves atheists, then they aren’t.

          You are wrong.

        • Ignorant Amos

          According to that survey, most people that hold to a lack of belief in god(s)…hold to, well, a lack of belief in god(s) as per your #2 above.

          That survey is irrelevant. It’s not my fault that of those folk in the US that say they lack belief in gods, the majority don’t self identify as atheist. They are either too stupid to know that whether they like it or not, they are de facto atheists. While their reasoning for not recognising they are atheist might be interesting, Kodie outlined a number of possibilities, it is irrelevant to this conversation.

          As for those that lack belief in gods not self identifying as atheist, they are not even the stupidest.

          Although the literal definition of “atheist” is “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, 8% of those who call themselves atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit. Indeed, 2% say they are “absolutely certain” about the existence of God or a universal spirit. Alternatively, there are many people who fit the dictionary definition of “atheist” but do not call themselves atheists. About three times as many Americans say they do not believe in God or a universal spirit (9%) as say they are atheists (3%).

          https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/01/10-facts-about-atheists/

          The reason your link is irrelevant is because it has nothing to do with my point. That is, of those folk who do self identify as atheists, they hold to the broader definition of weak atheism as opposed to the narrower definition of that you prefer of strong atheism. As per you #1 above.

          An example as to why this is important, read this Christian fuckwittery.

          https://www.str.org/blog/atheism-isn-t-simply-a-lack-of-belief#.XR4Y2uhKhPY

          Matt Slick takes another pop at the definitions at his nonsense apologetics site. What he says is interesting, but not for the reason he would like to think.

          https://carm.org/atheism/lack-belief-analysis-outline

        • Grimlock

          They are either too stupid to know that whether they like it or not, they are de facto atheists.

          They are only de facto atheists by your preferred definition, which you appear to support in part by appealing to which definition is most popular among self-identifying atheists. But you only appear to care about one type of error, and not the other type.

          However, as I see no reason why one type of errors should be vital, and the other should be irrelevant, that means that your argument is not at all compelling to me. Which is not to say that it can’t be compelling, but I need a reason to prioritize avoiding one error over avoiding the other.

          As to your links. The first wasn’t too bad, and the second one wasn’t horrible until the end. Neither considered the burden of evidence with respect to existence claims, so both were clearly lacking a highly relevant section.

          Put this way, most self-identifying atheists clearly have some opinion about the plausibility of god(s). It’s not an absence of beliefs on the subject.

          But we are also, in general, justified in considering existence claims that do not have a sufficient amount of evidence for them as probably false.

          In which case, one can both hold a belief in the non-existence of god(s), while merely justifying that by an appeal to the lack of evidence in combination with some principles about the inherent probably about existence claims.

        • Ignorant Amos

          They are only de facto atheists by your preferred definition, which you appear to support in part by appealing to which definition is most popular among self-identifying atheists. But you only appear to care about one type of error, and not the other type.

          No, they are de facto atheists because they lack belief in the existence of gods. They may not like it, because the term atheist can be defined more specifically into the two terms that we have been using and the claim the gods don’t exist is too strong. That’s why qualifiers are being used. They are weak atheists, but atheists all the same.

          It’s the difference in saying “I believe there is no God” (which is a belief) and saying “I do not believe there is a God” (which is a mere lack of belief). Many atheists will say they only lack a belief and this defines their atheism. But the other statement is also describing an atheist.

          Put this way, most self-identifying atheists clearly have some opinion about the plausibility of god(s). It’s not an absence of beliefs on the subject.

          You’re a self-identifying atheist, what were your beliefs about all the gods on this list prior to reading the list?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Celtic_deities

          Neither considered the burden of evidence with respect to existence claims, so both were clearly lacking a highly relevant section.

          What? They are examples of Christian apologists hijacking the term “I believe there is no God” (which is a belief) and exploiting it to infer the atheist has also a burden of proof, which is fine when that atheist accepts that burden and enters into dialogue. But it’s when that atheist means “I do not believe there is a God” (which is a mere lack of belief) that is at the crux of the problem.

          From the first link…

          Given this redefinition, most atheists are taken aback when theists demand they provide evidence for their atheism. After all, they’ll assert, we don’t demand evidence from people who lack belief in Santa Claus. Moreover, we’re told that everyone who lacks belief in Santa is technically an “a-santa-ist.” However, no one has ever labeled them with that term. Furthermore, the atheist might point out that most people don’t believe in the thunder god Thor (as much as you might like the movie), but no one calls them “athorists.”

          Continuing this line of thinking, they will point out that everyone agrees that the athorist and the asantaist aren’t forced to prove that Thor and Santa don’t exist. The burden of proof would actually be on the person who claims that Thor and Santa do exist. Likewise, the theist is told that it’s up to him to prove that God exists. It is not the atheist’s responsibility to prove that He doesn’t.

          See the problem. The focus is on the big “G” god, because that’s the god they want to focus on, and because the atheists they are interacting with are usually from a culture where big “G” god is prevalent.

          Ask a Christian about their beliefs on the gods at that Wiki above and do you imagine they’d be honest? Would it be correct for them to be forced to supply evidence to support gods they’d just heard the name off.

          What about the opposite side of the coin, the Pirahã people of South America?

          According to Everett, the Pirahã have no concept of a supreme spirit or god, and they lost interest in Jesus when they discovered that Everett had never seen him. They require evidence based on personal experience for every claim made.

          The Pirahã were weak atheists before Everett introduce the concept of Jesus.

          Most folk don’t know the attributes and definitions that get applied to YahwehJesus…including most Christians.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attributes_of_God_in_Christianity

          If we don’t even know what something is, how can we talk about belief in its existence. It’s an incoherent mess that gets cherrypicked right, left and centre, while the contradictions get handwaved away.

          https://www.learnreligions.com/making-god-impossible-to-exist-248228

          So a certain level of strong atheism when talking big “G” god, while not so much for the ones I’ve never heard of, or know nothing about.

        • Grimlock

          They are only de facto atheists by your preferred definition, which you appear to support in part by appealing to which definition is most popular among self-identifying atheists. But you only appear to care about one type of error, and not the other type.

          No, they are de facto atheists because they lack belief in the existence of gods. They may not like it, because the term atheist can be defined more specifically into the two terms that we have been using and the claim the gods don’t exist is too strong. That’s why qualifiers are being used. They are weak atheists, but atheists all the same.

          It’s the difference in saying “I believe there is no God” (which is a belief) and saying “I do not believe there is a God” (which is a mere lack of belief). Many atheists will say they only lack a belief and this defines their atheism. But the other statement is also describing an atheist.

          How about this. People without a belief about god’s existence in either case are de facto atheists in the sense that they do not live life according to strictures imposed by theistic religions. (Aside from cultural heritage, blah, blah, blah.)

          However, I would not term them atheists (when I’m being rigorous, which I’m frequently not), but rather nontheists. Indeed, I would prefer a society with more nontheists than atheists, because that would mean that theistic religions have became quite irrelevant.

          Your second paragraph brings us back to the distinction between belief and knowledge, of which we appear to disagree. I have to admit that I find your position, which appears to equate belief and knowledge, to be untenable.

          Some might indeed say that they “lack a belief”, but given my position on the distinction between knowledge and belief, for people familiar with the idea of god(s), this position is only semantically distinct from the belief in non-existence of god(s). Framing it as such is then a tactic to emphasize the burden of evidence, but it is a tactic that I think fails.

          Put this way, most self-identifying atheists clearly have some opinion about the plausibility of god(s). It’s not an absence of beliefs on the subject.

          You’re a self-identifying atheist, what were your beliefs about all the gods on this list prior to reading the list?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Celtic_deities

          Skimming it, I’d say that I believed that they didn’t exist. The reason for this is that they fit a general “model” of gods whose existence I do not find plausible, and do think do not exist.

          Framed another way, they are all in the set of a type of beings that I believe do not exist.

          What? They are examples of Christian apologists hijacking the term “I believe there is no God” (which is a belief) and exploiting it to infer the atheist has also a burden of proof, which is fine when that atheist accepts that burden and enters into dialogue. But it’s when that atheist means “I do not believe there is a God” (which is a mere lack of belief) that is at the crux of the problem.

          From the first link…

          […]

          See the problem. The focus is on the big “G” god, because that’s the god they want to focus on, and because the atheists they are interacting with are usually from a culture where big “G” god is prevalent.

          Ask a Christian about their beliefs on the gods at that Wiki above and do you imagine they’d be honest? Would it be correct for them to be forced to supply evidence to support gods they’d just heard the name off.

          What about the opposite side of the coin, the Pirahã people of South America?

          According to Everett, the Pirahã have no concept of a supreme spirit or god, and they lost interest in Jesus when they discovered that Everett had never seen him. They require evidence based on personal experience for every claim made.

          The Pirahã were weak atheists before Everett introduce the concept of Jesus.

          Most folk don’t know the attributes and definitions that get applied to YahwehJesus…including most Christians.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wi

          If we don’t even know what something is, how can we talk about belief in its existence. It’s an incoherent mess that gets cherrypicked right, left and centre, while the contradictions get handwaved away.

          https://www.learnreligions….

          So a certain level of strong atheism when talking big “G” god, while not so much for the ones I’ve never heard of, or know nothing about.

          It might be more accurate on my part to say that the articles didn’t do a general analysis of how the burden of evidence is distributed. They seem to hold some implicit assumptions about how all positions hold an equal burden or some such.

          With respect to people not exposed to the idea of a god, I prefer to think of those as nontheists.

          It’s hard to talk about existence of something we’ve been exposed to. As it is also hard to talk of lacking beliefs regarding something one has been thoroughly exposed to.

        • Kodie

          To say, this claim does not have sufficient evidence, so the claim is probably false, is quite a leap. I mean, there are a lot of claims of Christianity that are not only insufficient for the Christian god’s existence, but falsifiable, and so definitely false. There’s a difference between claims that are insufficient, and claims that are falsifiable. Some parts of the bible have a plausible rational alternative and some things are demonstrably false, so what part or parts should we believe? Creationists believe something that is false. Does that mean the magical Jesus resurrection more true or more false? That part of the story has multiple plausible rational alternatives to what is asserted in the bible that renders the bible stories unlikely, but not disproven. But really unbelievable. Unless you want to believe them without evidence, whereas Christians seem to believe it because 1. that is the essence of being a Christian, and, 2. according to many, it is the only plausible explanation to the series of events as depicted in the bible.

          There is zero evidence any of it happened, but the going argument(s) is that it all happened just the way it is depicted in the bible, even by people who are skeptical about or deny the events of the garden of eden or noah’s ark, etc. because those events have been explained away to their satisfaction, or have been historically disproven by scientific progress. But why would the authors of the New Testament lie about anything regarding Jesus, despite that we know, and they accept that, people can lie or exaggerate or have an agenda.

          None of that means god doesn’t exist. No god is in evidence, and pretty certainly not that god. There’s a difference.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And it’s even worse than that…

          If theists are going to have any chance to get a skeptical, critical atheist to suddenly believe in some god, the first step must obviously be to have a coherent, understandable definition of the subject being debated. What is this “god” thing? When people use the word “god,” what exactly are they trying to refer to “out there”? Without a coherent, understandable definition it will be impossible to discuss the matter in a substantive and sensible manner. We have to know what we are talking about before we can get anywhere in our conversation.

          Gods’ Contradictory Characteristics: Making God Impossible to Exist

          https://www.learnreligions.com/making-god-impossible-to-exist-248228

          Which is why I can say I’m a strong igtheist atheist when Christers start wittering on about YahwehJesus’ existence. The concept is fudged together incoherent gibberish.

        • Grimlock

          To say, this claim does not have sufficient evidence, so the claim is probably false, is quite a leap.

          When someone says that a claim doesn’t have sufficient evidence, presumably they then mean that it doesn’t have sufficient evidence to be plausible/probable. So no, that seems to be precisely what is implied by the “lack of evidence” statement.

          We use a heuristic or principle when evaluating claims, where we seem to acknowledge that most claims that can be made are probably false. This is straightforward, because a lot of mutually exclusive claims can be made about a particularly subject.

        • Kodie

          I think in general, if you say there is not sufficient evidence, so conclude that x thing is not true or doesn’t exist, that’s a leap.

          There is insufficient evidence for lots of things that are true or exist, and there always has been, and theists who think scientism is a religion, or how do we know science is true, or science facts “keep changing”. The issue is when the theology and apologetics is supposed to be sufficient, and very often it’s just ridiculous. They try to compare the adjustments in facts that science sometimes makes with the overwhelming pile of sewage that is theology, none of which arguments can close the all the seams of the pants of god simultaneously. The evidence for Christianity, the most of it is to argue a creator in general and a living Jesus man who really preached around the time the bible says he did. A few things try to conclude this creator in general exists because of scientific-adjacent observations. Not too many zero in on a denomination – this takes a political argument and some douche to pick out the passages of the bible that oppose homosexuality or abortion, but ignore or try to justify rape and slavery.

          But how many murderers go free if there is not sufficient evidence? How many hypotheses have not been tested, therefore do not have sufficient evidence now, but have a fair chance once the scientific method is applied (if ever).

          I think I know what you’re trying to say, but there is no implication or presumption. If you say without sufficient evidence, x is probably false, is still a leap. If you mean to add more words to clarify it, then add those words to clarify it before you’re mistaken. None of us are mindreaders, and maybe you’re not presuming or implying anything! Maybe, until you clarified it, you leap to conclusions before there is any evidence. We don’t know what you mean until you say.

        • Ignorant Amos

          When someone says that a claim doesn’t have sufficient evidence, presumably they then mean that it doesn’t have sufficient evidence to be plausible/probable.

          Not necessarily.

          “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”

        • Grimlock

          Well. Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. When evidence is to be expected, it’s absence is indeed evidence in favor of absence.

          Allow me to elaborate a bit on my view here.

          When consider a claim, in order to consider its burden of evidence compared to some related claim (such as it’s negative), ideally, I’d consider two aspects:
          1. The claim’s ontological modesty.
          2. The claim’s internal coherence.

          For instance, if a claim (say, God exists) is quite ontologically ambitious and is of dubious coherence, the initial probability of a claim is small. Compared to the claim’s negation, the burden of evidence is then on the one making the claim. Typically, specific claims will have a fairly small initial probability, because most claims are unlikely. (Their negation is generally more probable.)

          This is before considering evidence.

          At this point, one begins to consider evidence, which might impact the initial probability of a claim. But without evidence, the “default” assumption, or initial probability, will be low, so the claim is probably false.

          But I think this touches on a point we have discussed earlier, namely the question of certainty and beliefs.

          You might say that ideally, we would withhold judgement about claims where no evidence has been presented. I might agree that this is ideal (I’ll need to dwell on it), but from a pragmatic point of view, I’d say that it’s reasonable to reject most claims being made.

          I’m not sure if I made my point very clear here…

        • Grimlock

          The other term, the belief in the non-existence of god(s), is an assertion of knowledge. And as such, it warrants a burden of support. A theist version of Susan could as her two questions…

          Why? We hold many beliefs that might not qualify as knowledge, and a claim of knowledge does not appear to be inherent in any of the terms of the definitions. Please explain how the idea of “knowledge” or levels of certainty with respect to belief follows from the definitions in question.

          In fact, consider your elaboration of the “lack of belief” definition:

          Newborn babies have the absence of a belief in god(s). Amazonian tribes folk have the absence of a belief in god(s). All living things on the planet other than us, as far as we know, have the absence of a belief in god(s). That’s a negation of belief.

          Note what’s in common for these examples? These are instances where the concept of a god is simply not present in their minds. (Presumably – I’m not intimately familiar with the supernatural beliefs of Amazonian tribes.) If we are talking about an absence of a belief, that absence cannot be held with any certainty.

          With respect to the terms “strong” and “weak”, I’ve been dealing with the definitions themselves. If you object to my use of the terms “strong” and “weak” in this context, that’s fine. They were just shorthand terms in any case.

          It’s true enough for atheists organisations to make the claim.

          It’s true enough for organisations with a vested interest in appearing to represent as many people as possible, yes. That doesn’t mean the definition is necessarily the one everyone should prefer, nor that this idea of “lack of belief” is noticably different from “belief in non-existence”.

          I see no difference in the two scenarios other than how they are worded. Both describe the lack of belief in gods.

          I agree that they are simply semantically distinct. In either case, you have someone who believes in the non-existence of god(s), and are able to form the concepts. (You’ll note that in either case, the conclusion is that god(s) probably do not exist. Of course, this also implies an absence of a belief in god(s), but the conclusion is stronger than this.)

          Let’s say that you lack a belief in god(s). That means that if you were to describe your worldview, or how you think existence most plausible is, it would not include any god(s). You are also familiar with the idea of god(s), and so have the option to include those.

          You also hold to some principle that is some variant of the following:
          An existence claims holds the burden of evidence, because of all the things we can speculate about, most of it probably doesn’t exist. So unless you can provide evidence for a claim, I am justified in not including it in my ontology.

          Do you agree with this? Or something similiar?

          No, I don’t think I do.

          Which part(s) of it do you not agree with?

          This discussion reminds me of an article on Strange Notions way back in the day. Lot’s of opinions, but an analogy from Geena Saffire seems relevant…

          I’ve already given my thoughts on the jury analogy, and why I think it is analogous to the scenarios described previously, where the conclusion is that God probably does not exist. See here.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why?

          It all boils down to ones definition of “belief”.

          Belief is the attitude we have whenever we take something to be the case or regard it as the truth.

          A belief in the non-existence of god(s) is therefore the attitude that it is the case that gods don’t exist. It is a truth claim of certainty. At least that’s my understanding and that of example I’ve been using to support that understanding.

          A lack of belief in god(s) is therefore not having the attitude that it is the case that gods don’t exist. It’s a position of uncertainty. Agnosticism, but agnosticism is not a 50/50 position. An Agnostic atheist is someone who is a 6.99999 on the Dawkins scale, but is pragmatic enough to acknowledge that they can’t know for certain.

        • Grimlock

          It all boils down to ones definition of “belief”.

          Agreed.

          Belief is the attitude we have whenever we take something to be the case or regard it as the truth.

          A belief in the non-existence of god(s) is therefore the attitude that it is the case that gods don’t exist. It is a truth claim of certainty. At least that’s my understanding and that of example I’ve been using to support that understanding.

          The definition you cite appears to be from Wikipedia. It seems functional.

          Let’s start with the easy part. Knowledge and belief are distinct. If we go by the most common (though somewhat flawed) definition of knowledge, a proposition is true if and only if the following conditions are met:
          1. The proposition is believed.
          2. The proposition is true.
          3. The belief in the proposition is justified.

          Note that this clearly means that belief is a necessary but insufficient component of knowledge. Thus, knowledge ≠ belief.

          As for certainty, do you hold all of your beliefs with certainty? That seems implausible. But that’s the only way I can see that the following would be true for you:
          A belief in proposition X ⊢ A certainty that proposition X is true.

          I sure don’t hold all my beliefs with certainty, and see no reason to require certainty to hold that no god(s) exists.

        • Kodie

          It’s a matter of discussion. Many atheists would probably be said to live life as if no gods exist, as if that is the absolute truth. It’s not something that necessarily enters the mind at all times, put into a particular turn of phrase. Yes, I go about my life as though no gods exist… unless otherwise evidenced. But it’s a matter of discussion. Theists live their lives like god exists, and expect other people to do what they think god wants, whether we believe it or not. They are not sure god exists, they are not positive, but they are not just making a claim with no consequences, la-di-da, whatever. They want to manipulate their members to hate atheists, make false assertions about us, including ozarkmichael’s persistent attitude that we are a Team, spells atheism with a capital A, thus in his mind it is a religion with doctrines and necessary resulting behaviors and beliefs, due to our atheism, and continually dodges his responsibility to provide evidence for literally anything he has said so far. He is getting piled on by a few atheists here, and thinks that means we’re coordinated as a team to punch out the theist, but he keeps popping up like a weeble, with the same numbnuts assertions and nothing to support it.

          You still think “atheists believe there is no god” is no big deal? He’s not unique.

        • Grimlock

          I honestly don’t understand what point you’re trying to make here.

        • Kodie

          Why don’t you understand what people are trying to say?

          1. There’s a difference between being and expressing your intellectual opinion in a discussion. I can live my life like I believe “there is no god”, because I really don’t think about it that much when I’m walking around being a person, etc., but when I enter into discussion, framing what I do and do not believe is important because Christians are brainwashed and cannot be reasoned with most of the time! I don’t even really know how to live as if “there is no god,” I just don’t think about it until some (usually) theist speaks as though nobody would disagree, and usually nobody does, either because they are also Christians, or because they just don’t want to get into it with the Christian. I know why I don’t speak up – they will accuse me of believing in Satan, or fire me (which has very probably happened to me), and say how can I say there is no god, and put the burden on me. In every social instance when I have been asked to or felt free to share that I am an atheist, it’s bitten me in the butt. So when some Christian at work says something about god like it’s true, I just keep my mouth shut. I know it’s not in my favor to speak out or open up a dialogue.

          2. Christians believing in god does not just lay low in their being, it surfaces more in trying to control policy like a theocracy. YOU LIVE IN… Norway? or something? You seem to think there’s no big deal. You don’t have to defend your disbelief so much, you don’t have to be treated like a monster, and maybe even your language structure cannot find a distinction between “THERE IS NO GOD” and “I don’t believe the claims made by theists that there is a god.” I mean, you seem to think there’s no difference, and everyone else can see it but you and the idiot Christian ozarkmichael.

        • Grimlock

          Why don’t you understand what people are trying to say?

          Not people. It’s mostly your comments I’m having trouble figuring out.

          1. There’s a difference between being and expressing your intellectual opinion in a discussion. I can live my life like I believe “there is no god”, because I really don’t think about it that much when I’m walking around being a person, etc., but when I enter into discussion, framing what I do and do not believe is important because Christians are brainwashed and cannot be reasoned with most of the time!

          I take it your point is to distinguish between the following:
          1. Living life as if there is no god(s).
          2. Framing one’s position to the question of the existence of god(s).

          Which is fair enough. These are different activities. Is that what you’re getting at in this first part?

          2. Christians believing in god does not just lay low in their being, it surfaces more in trying to control policy like a theocracy. YOU LIVE IN… Norway? or something? You seem to think there’s no big deal. You don’t have to defend your disbelief so much, you don’t have to be treated like a monster, and maybe even your language structure cannot find a distinction between “THERE IS NO GOD” and “I don’t believe the claims made by theists that there is a god.” I mean, you seem to think there’s no difference, and everyone else can see it but you and the idiot Christian ozarkmichael.

          You might feel like I don’t think theocratic impulses are no big deal. You’d be mistaken.

          I love in Norway, yes. There is far less meddling from Christians than in the US, though there is some.

          As to the difference between the following:
          (i) I believe that there is no god(s)
          (ii) There is insufficient evidence for the existence of god(s), and so I don’t believe these claims
          (iii) The absence of a belief in god(s)

          Note that (iii) might include beings that haven’t been exposed to theistic concepts, or are unable to form these concepts. So clearly that is distinct from (i) and (ii), though the group of entities covered in (i) and (ii) are strict subsets of the group of entities covered in (iii).

          However, as I’ve outlined several times by now, I don’t find much of a distinction between (i) and (ii). You haven’t engaged with this reasoning in a meaningful way, as far as I can see. Nor has anyone else here given me a good reason to see a difference, so I see no reason to see the difference and anything but purely semantic.

          As a last remark in this comment, I hope you’ll next respond to this comment of mine.

        • Kodie

          I think your comment is a response to my response to that comment.

        • Grimlock

          I think your comment is a response to my response to that comment.

          I requested that you respond to this comment. I take it your comment above means that this comment of yours is a response to your comment that responded to the first linked post.

          It is not.

          But you did respond to it, so all good.

        • Ignorant Amos

          With respect to the terms “strong” and “weak”, I’ve been dealing with the definitions themselves. If you object to my use of the terms “strong” and “weak” in this context, that’s fine. They were just shorthand terms in any case.

          I don’t object to use of the terms “strong” and “weak”, I’m objecting to how you are defining the terms. At least as I, and I suspect those others interacting here, understand them.

          Weak atheism is defined as simply the absence of belief in gods or the absence of theism. This is also the broad, general definition of atheism. The definition of weak atheism is used as a contrast to the definition of strong atheism, which is the positive assertion that no gods exist. All atheists are necessarily weak atheists because by definition all atheists do not believe in any gods; only some go on to assert that some or no gods exist.

          Some people deny that weak atheism exists, confusing the definition with that of agnosticism. This is a mistake because atheism is about (a lack of) belief whereas agnosticism is about (a lack of) knowledge. Belief and knowledge are related by separate issues. Thus weak atheism is compatible with agnosticism, not an alternative to it. Weak atheism overlaps with negative atheism and implicit atheism.

          https://www.learnreligions.com/definition-of-weak-atheism-247881

          Atheism is commonly divided into two types: strong atheism and weak atheism. Although only two categories, this distinction manages to reflect the broad diversity which exists among atheists when it comes to their positions on the existence of gods.

          Weak atheism, also sometimes referred to as implicit atheism, is simply another name for the broadest and most general conception of atheism: the absence of belief in any gods. A weak atheist is someone who lacks theism and who does not happen to believe in the existence of any gods — no more, no less. This is also sometimes called agnostic atheism because most people who self-consciously lack belief in gods tend to do so for agnostic reasons.

          Strong atheism, also sometimes referred to as explicit atheism, goes one step further and involves denying the existence of at least one god, usually multiple gods, and sometimes the possible existence of any gods at all. Strong atheism is sometimes called “gnostic atheism” because people who take this position often incorporate knowledge claims into it — that is to say, they claim to know in some fashion that certain gods or indeed all gods do not or cannot exist.

          Because knowledge claims are involved, strong atheism carries an initial burden of proof which does not exist for weak atheism. Any time a person asserts that some god or any gods do not or cannot exist, they obligate themselves to support their claims. This narrower conception of atheism is often thought by many (erroneously) to represent the entirety of atheism itself.

          https://www.learnreligions.com/strong-atheism-vs-weak-atheism-248406

        • Grimlock

          That source doesn’t appear too rigorous in its logic. Consider the bold parts:

          Strong atheism is sometimes called “gnostic atheism” because people who take this position often incorporate knowledge claims into it — that is to say, they claim to know in some fashion that certain gods or indeed all gods do not or cannot exist.

          Because knowledge claims are involved, strong atheism carries an initial burden of proof which does not exist for weak atheism.

          Nah. I’ll pass on that one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nah. I’ll pass on that one.

          I don’t really care. I’m trying to show you how the two terms are understood by most others. That’s what is important. The reason why it is important, is because it influences theists. Theists insist on applying the much less claimed by atheists position, of strong atheist, to the more popular claimed by atheists position, of weak atheist, and then claim we have a burden to demonstrate their particular flavour of gods none existence.

          https://i0.wp.com/greatdebatecommunity.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/dawkins-scale-black.png?fit=530%2C363&ssl=1

          https://slideplayer.com/slide/6281951/21/images/6/Kinds+of+Atheism+Atheists+themselves+sometimes+self-identify+using+various+terminology.+Some+distinguish+strong+atheism+from+weak+atheism..jpg

          The religious don’t like the weak atheist definition, that’s why it is preferable.

          These people are why it matters not what you think the definition should be…

          https://www.conservapedia.com/Weak_Atheism

          https://www.conservapedia.com/Strong_atheism

        • Grimlock

          In which case the problem is that many theists have weird ideas about how the burden of evidence is distributed.

          For practical purposes, I find your stance to be perfectly appropriate, for the record. Unless I’m mistaken, you believe that the God concepts you’ve been exposed to do not exist, while you don’t hold an opinion on the concepts to which you haven’t been exposed.

          Is this more or less correct?

        • Ignorant Amos

          In which case the problem is that many theists have weird ideas about how the burden of evidence is distributed.

          Well, even that being the case, the problem remains.

          For practical purposes, I find your stance to be perfectly appropriate, for the record.

          I don’t really think we are too far away from each other, it’s just the terms we use to describe the positions…and the perception of others as to the meaning of those descriptions.

          Unless I’m mistaken, you believe that the God concepts you’ve been exposed to do not exist, while you don’t hold an opinion on the concepts to which you haven’t been exposed.

          Is this more or less correct?

          Almost. First the capital “g” has to go. This seems be an issue and one that the theists seem keen to exploit.

          It’s gods when talking generally and weak atheism and de facto atheist. It’s God when speaking strong atheism with a Christer, but on my terms.

          Generally, the god concepts that I’ve been exposed to and have investigated, I see no evidence to support a belief in, so for all practical purposes, I believe in there existence in the same way as I believe in the existence of fairies, pink unicorns, and celestial teapots orbiting the sun in some distant part of the solar system.

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Russell's_Teapot

          I find I can go further with specific gods based on how theists define them. Say for example, Thor. The nordic lightening bolt throwing deity called Thor doesn’t exist, because we now have the science to explain why. YahwehJesus is another, because as most believers in that god describe him, he is an impossible logical clusterfuck, unless rational thinking gets suspended. So I’m happy enough to say I don’t believe in those gods because I’m convinced by the arguments against them.

          The area where I lack belief in gods is the more general consideration of the meaning of gods and my pre-existing knowledge of any or all gods. I know the the names of a number of gods, but have no knowledge of those gods. Then there are all the gods posited that I’ve never heard of, which I also have no knowledge. An example of this would be the millions of Hindu gods, or the plethora of Pagan gods, even in my own Keltic history. Now I’ve no reason to expect the evidence for any of them will be superior to the ones I do know about, but how can I be sure. So I don’t say that I believe they don’t exist, where belief is defined as knowing something is true. So I lack the belief they exist.

          From the Dawkins list above, if I change the wording slightly to…

          5. Weak atheist:- I don’t know why any gods exist, but I’m inclined to be skeptical.

          6. De facto atheist:- I cannot know for certain, but given what I know about gods, I think their existence is very improbable.

          7. Strong atheist:- I’m 100% sure that there is no God.

          Just about covers where am at depending on the context and conversation with the theist.

          Does that seem reasonable?

        • Grimlock

          Does that seem reasonable?

          Yes. Our actual positions are fairly close, though we prefer different terminology.

          If I don’t comment on something from this post, a safe assumption is that I agree with it.

          Almost. First the capital “g” has to go. This seems be an issue and one that the theists seem keen to exploit.

          Autocorrect. My phone keeps trying to capitalize ‘god’, and I don’t always catch it.

          The nordic lightening bolt throwing deity called Thor doesn’t exist, because we now have the science to explain why.

          I’d add that the scientific explanation makes Thor redundant as an explanation (alas, we could always do with that magnificent redhead), and lacking any other significant evidence, we need not add such a being to our ontology.

          The area where I lack belief in gods is the more general consideration of the meaning of gods and my pre-existing knowledge of any or all gods. I know the the names of a number of gods, but have no knowledge of those gods. Then there are all the gods posited that I’ve never heard of, which I also have no knowledge. An example of this would be the millions of Hindu gods, or the plethora of Pagan gods, even in my own Keltic history. Now I’ve no reason to expect the evidence for any of them will be superior to the ones I do know about, but how can I be sure. So I don’t say that I believe they don’t exist, where belief is defined as knowing something is true. So I lack the belief they exist.

          I’d frame my own beliefs as believing in these gods’ non-existence. The reason is that one of the ways I differentiate knowledge and belief is that the former requires justification, and my justification for believing in the non-existence of these deities is not particularly thorough. It relies more on me considering the supernatural to be non-existent, than on having considered each deity individually.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s true enough for organisations with a vested interest in appearing to represent as many people as possible, yes. That doesn’t mean the definition is necessarily the one everyone should prefer, nor that this idea of “lack of belief” is noticably different from “belief in non-existence”.

          If this is your position, then I see no point in continuing the discussion. If we can’t agree that the two statements are noticeably different, and more to the point, mean different things to those people using them to mean different things, then we are at an impasse.

          It seems that not understanding the difference, was the problem at the beginning of the debate. When you say you’re an atheist, the broadest and most general conception of atheism: the absence of belief in any gods, weak atheism is assumed by most of the atheists I’ve interacted over the past decade and a half.

          It is the alternative position of atheist, the strong one, the narrower one that theists insist is the one we ALL use, and the one to which you want to adhere to, that we find problematic. Not that you choose to us it, that theists want to force it.

        • Grimlock

          If this is your position, then I see no point in continuing the discussion. If we can’t agree that the two statements are noticeably different, and more to the point, mean different things to those people using them to mean different things, then we are at an impasse.

          Which part? That they are not noticably different?

          It would be more nuanced to say that I fail to see a distinction between belief in the non-existence of god(s) and absence of belief in god(s) when dealing with people who have a grasp of the idea of a god. As far as I can tell, and you seem to agree, our difference of opinion hinges on how you tie belief to either certainty or knowledge.

          It seems that not understanding the difference, was the problem at the beginning of the debate. When you say you’re an atheist, the broadest and most general conception of atheism: the absence of belief in any gods, weak atheism is assumed by most of the atheists I’ve interacted over the past decade and a half.

          I’ve given you empirical evidence that supports the idea that the broadest conception of atheism is held by a (significant) minority of those whom it describes.

          It is the alternative position of atheist, the strong one, the narrower one that theists insist is the one we ALL use, and the one to which you want to adhere to, that we find problematic. Not that you choose to us it, that theists want to force it.

          Indeed. However, as noted above, I’m struggling to see a distinction for those people who are familiar with the idea of god(s).

        • Kodie

          It’s not even that they want to force it – plenty of people who are well qualified to define themselves as atheists think atheism is something other than what they are, because they used to be theists and have this false idea what atheism is defined as, which is something other than what they are! Grimlock doesn’t just seem to want to define atheism to his preference, he can’t seem to comprehend the rational distinction between belief there are no gods and not believing there are any gods, and also seems to think people who don’t use the word atheist as a label are then not atheists by definition…. they aren’t what he calls atheists, so they are something else.

          It might be a cultural difference, as I think he is from a country that doesn’t have to defend their disbelief as much, which might mean more of them believe there is no god, so aren’t as deliberate with their wording, or maybe even their mindset at the question. Having used to believe in a god also seems to result in a major blindspot about atheism. They reason themselves out of belief in a positive entity, i.e. one that they thought existed, but they don’t realize how brainwashed they’ve been to be prejudiced against atheism, atheists, the word, etc. It’s not part of the set of beliefs they no longer have, it’s this other set of manipulation, control, and bigotry against people who are non-believers, what those people (us) must be like. They no longer believe in god, they no longer believe what the bible says is completely and divinely true, and they know they are not like the atheists they were warned about for so many years, so they want to call themselves something else. They think what they are now is something other than an atheist.

        • MR

          You have a keen instinct, Kodie. I really appreciate how you can lay certain things bare.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I agree that they are simply semantically distinct. In either case, you have someone who believes in the non-existence of god(s), and are able to form the concepts. (You’ll note that in either case, the conclusion is that god(s) probably do not exist. Of course, this also implies an absence of a belief in god(s), but the conclusion is stronger than this.)

          They both are different ways of claiming a lack of belief, not the assertion that gods don’t exist.

          The key word here is “probably”.

          I lack belief in gods. I lack that belief because the preponderance of evidence is such that on the balance of probability, gods don’t exist, so I live my life accordingly. I can’t say that I know for certain that no gods exist. I don’t have that knowledge. So I would be arrogant in claiming I do.

        • Grimlock

          This comment of yours appears to be answered in this comment of mine, where I explain why knowledge and belief are distinct.

          As such, your objection that you lack knowledge is irrelevant.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which part(s) of it do you not agree with?

          Let’s have a look.

          Let’s say that you lack a belief in god(s).

          Yep.

          That means that if you were to describe your worldview, or how you think existence most plausible is, it would not include any god(s).

          Based on current understanding, yep.

          You are also familiar with the idea of god(s),…

          Which idea? This is the tricky bit.

          The one’s I’m aware of? There are thousands of gods. They probably all fall into the unbelievable bin as the ones I’m privy to, but I don’t know.

          The problem is my not having a sound all encompassing definition of what god means. The god attributes are stupid. It means so many things to so many folk. None of which I can take seriously, other than engage with them on the internet as a matter of sport.

          The argument is that the common phrases used to define “God” are meaningless. I’m referring to the phrases “creator of the universe,” “all-knowing,” “all-powerful”, “morally perfect,” “absolute good,” and “atemporal mind.” I know that many people–theists, agnostics, and many [other] atheists–believe that these phrases are meaningful. However, that isn’t reason enough for me to believe it. People are known to think all kinds of nonsense make sense. So, until I see some sense in these expressions, I have no choice but to take the position of theological noncognitivism.

          …and so have the option to include those.

          Only the limited number I’m au fait with.

          You also hold to some principle that is some variant of the following:
          An existence claims holds the burden of evidence, because of all the things we can speculate about, most of it probably doesn’t exist. So unless you can provide evidence for a claim, I am justified in not including it in my ontology.

          It is the person that is making the belief assertion that holds the burden. Even when dealing with a negative.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KayBys8gaJY

        • Grimlock

          Which idea? This is the tricky bit.

          The one’s I’m aware of? There are thousands of gods. They probably all fall into the unbelievable bin as the ones I’m privy to, but I don’t know.

          In this case, you’d just have to be familiar with the idea, not all possible ideas.

          It is the person that is making the belief assertion that holds the burden. Even when dealing with a negative.

          I don’t quite agree with that, and the video appears to deal with the idea of claims and whether or not one has an epistemic obligation to change one’s mind when confronted with claims.

          But come to think of it, the point of this was to outline why I find the two definitions similiar, if not identical, when thinking of people exposed to the concept of god(s). But we appear to agree on this, with the exception of what is entailed by “belief”.

          As a side note, I find Matthew Ferguson’s outline of burden of evidence more compelling. It appears the version on the Secular Web is the one that’s most up to date, in case you’re curious. (Not, as far as I can tell, relevant to the present discussion, but an interesting read nonetheless.)

        • Susan

          I agree that the term “god” generally is not very well defined.

          I would say that so far, it has never been “well” defined. Even when people (rarely) make concerted efforts to define it well, there are vaguenesses in the definition.

          generally find that if I supplant “god” with “conscious entity whose existence is independent of anything else,

          I think this is a more precise definition than I almost ever encounter. And there are still huge problems with the phrase. Which is why I’m an igtheist.

          I always try to keep things simple by asking “What are you claiming and how do you support it?”

          What I have been very clear on is that I have a preferred definition, but that I also find that other definitions are sensible and valid.

          I understand that. And you have represented your position eloquently, as always.

          Clearly, a definition is not necessarily better or worse depending on the size of the set of people that it includes.

          True. But if we’re going to use a word, it’s best that it’s precise enough to effectively clarify a position (in this case) or a meaning.

          You prefer non-theist. But the English language has a prefix “a” that can simply mean “not”. Asymmetric, for instance, (not identical on both sides of a central line) or asympomatic (showing no evidence of disease).

          The definition of “atheism” to which you subscribe comes from a time when “theism” was considered the default.

          The discussion is useful. And you have represented your position well.

          But I think from an English language point of view, it’s entirely reasonable to ignore the fossilized remnant of “atheist” which comes from a world in which theism was considered the default. If you prefer to refer to that as “non-theist”, that’s fine. All good.

          I also think it’s reasonable to describe myself as an “atheist” because I am an igtheist. Not by choice but because I have no other choice.

          Isn’t this fun?

          Usually, no. Arguing about definitions is never fun. But it’s useful and relevant to our general interactions with theists and with one another.

          It’s a healthy,respectful and thoughtful discussion. Which is what I always hope to have.

          .

        • Grimlock

          And there are still huge problems with the phrase. Which is why I’m an igtheist. (ETA 27 minutes later: That is, it’s not a precise definition.)

          Agreed. It relies on some pretty fuzzy concepts. However, I find it sufficiently precise for the question of the existence of god(s) to be a valid question.

          True. But if we’re going to use a word, it’s best that it’s precise enough to effectively clarify a position (in this case) or a meaning.

          You prefer non-theist. But the English language has a prefix “a” that can simply mean “not”. Asymmetric, for instance, (not identical on both sides of a central line) or asympomatic (showing no evidence of disease).

          The definition of “atheism” to which you subscribe comes from a time when “theism” was considered the default.

          The discussion is useful. And you have represented your position well.

          But I think from an English language point of view, it’s entirely reasonable to ignore the fossilized remnant of “atheist” which comes from a world in which theism was considered the default. If you prefer to refer to that as “non-theist”, that’s fine. All good.

          I agree that the historical usage is of little to no interest when determining how we should use the term today. Etymology is, near as I can tell, a messy affair. Similarly, while you may be right about the general use of the prefix (a cursory search confirms your position), I don’t think appealing to the historical etymology of a word should determine the current usage either. (Though it’s certainly a relevant factor. Just not a very influential one.)

          I also think it’s reasonable to describe myself as an “atheist” because I am an igtheist. Not by choice but because I have no other choice.

          I think I understand. I’d like to outline a couple of scenarios for you, and I’m curious about what you think. Basically, do you think that the following two scenarios are different?

          Scenario 1

          I am not convinced by the evidence for a god’s existence, and so do not consider myself a theist. By default I then consider myself an atheist.

          A necessary underlying assumption here is something along the lines of how ontological claims probably are false unless sufficient evidence is presented. E.g., for any ontological claim A, A is probably false.

          Scenario 2

          I consider the plausibility of a claim to be a combination of the initial/prior plausibility and the evidence that builds on this. In the case of theism, the prior probability is lower for god(s) existing than god(s) not existing, and the burden of evidence is therefore on the theist.

          The arguments for the existence of god(s) is not sufficient to outweigh the initial plausibility, and so god(s) probably do not exist.

          I consider the first scenario to be a decent description of how many online atheists would describe their lack of belief in god(s). The second scenario is my view, and would, I think, be categorized as a “strong” atheistic stance.

          What I’m struggling to do is to see a difference in these scenarios that is not purely semantic. In either case, one’s most plausible view of the world does not entail any god(s). What do you think?

          It’s a healthy,respectful and thoughtful discussion. Which is what I always hope to have.

          Dare I say… Amen?

        • Susan

          Agreed. It relies on some pretty fuzzy concepts.

          Very, very fuzzy concepts. And those concepts are always a Trojan Horse for countless other fuzzy claims.

          However, I find it sufficiently precise for the question of the existence of god(s) to be a valid question.

          I don’t. I honestly don’t. It is not precise enough to describe any “god” precisely enough. Also, it takes great liberties with dragging in extra baggage.

          Perhaps you could provide me an example, wherein, “god” means exactly what you accept in that phrase, and doesn’t inherently smuggle in other qualities that are expected to be accepted.

          So,I don’t think you’re providing a sufficient defintion for the term. Also, I don’t think you are defining the term precisely enough for any support to be available for it.

          I have the same problem with Scenario 2 for the same reason.

          I am an igtheist.

          But here is the problem I have fundamentally with your choices.

          I have found that most people who describe themselves in these specific on-line discussions call themselves “atheists” because they don’t accept “god” claims. Plain and simple.

          It seems to be such a simple description of “I don’t believe (god)s exist.”

          I consider the first scenario to be a decent description of how many online atheists would describe their lack of belief in god(s).

          OK…. but I’m an igtheist. And it frustrates me that people assign any probability to a term that is incoherent. Be fair. It’s rarely defined. When it is, the definitions are rarely coherent. Even your description of (god)s is frustratingly incomplete. And slightly incoherent.

          I understand that you would like a term to descrbie someone who takes the affirmative position that “There are no gods.” (Or maybe I misunderstand your point. I have a feeling I’m missing something.)

          In English, “non-theist” means the same as “atheist”. I am not a theist.

          Past definitions, I just ask them what they are claiming and how they support it. I ask them that as an atheist.

          The trouble with your choice (and you are welcome to it), is that when they call me an atheist, I know I’m an igtheist, but agree that I’m an atheist because I don’t believe their claims for all the reasons I’ve gone over.

          And they take that as an excuse to accuse me of claiming there is (are) no god(s).

          That is a problem. They rarely define their position clearly and they never support it.

          It’s hard enough getting them to understand their burden. That they decide to interpret “atheism” as a negative claim (in lieu of supporting their positive claim) makes discussion impossible.

          I understand that you would like to have a term for those who claim “god(s) doesn’t (don’t) exist.

          But it represents a tiny group within a small group in a discussion where the burden lies on people making god claims. We don’t need a word. Those people can just say “god(s) don’t exist)” and carry the burden inherent in that.

          Dare I say… Amen?

          Of course. Amen, brother.

        • Kodie

          Perhaps you could provide me an example, wherein, “god” means exactly
          what you accept in that phrase, and doesn’t inherently smuggle in other
          qualities that are expected to be accepted.

          Just going to throw in the fact that, when it comes to that point, and it doesn’t always, but it often enough does, the theist will ask us to tell them the qualities of which god we don’t believe in, and they don’t believe in that god either. Their god is something else. They don’t define it. They are certain we’re mad at god instead, because he doesn’t give us candy whenever we pray for candy, and their god has some other sophisticated qualities that are hard to translate to the demon atheist, because we’re so afraid we’re going to find god so believable and it will shatter our concepts of who we are, or we’ll have to develop morals or something.

          Believing there is no god is such a theist trap, don’t play that game.

        • Grimlock

          With respect to the fuzzy definition of theism, I am certainly sympathetic to your position. (And are at times inclined to agree with it.)

          However, I don’t think the definition that I provided, “conscious entity whose existence is independent of anything else, and in some way created the universe”, is not noticably more vague or fuzzy than many other concepts that we use, such as naturalism, morality, or music.

          It’s general and unspecific, but not necessarily incoherent. Do you apply the same standard of specificity when considering other concepts? I don’t think I do, which is one of the reasons that I don’t nowadays identify with the ig-like positions.

          Perhaps you could provide me an example, wherein, “god” means exactly what you accept in that phrase, and doesn’t inherently smuggle in other qualities that are expected to be accepted.

          I’m not quite sure I understand what kind of example you are looking for. Do you mean examples of theists who use the concept in a similar and unspecific manner? If so, I might find some examples in the philosophical literature. But generally, when theists speak of ‘God’, I think we both agree that they have a lot of baggage attached to that concept.

          But here is the problem I have fundamentally with your choices.

          I have found that most people who describe themselves in these specific on-line discussions call themselves “atheists” because they don’t accept “god” claims. Plain and simple.

          It seems to be such a simple description of “I don’t believe (god)s exist.”

          I’m not sure how this is a problem with the scenarios that I sketched out. I am well aware that most atheists in online debates go with the “don’t accept the theistic claims” route, but if you’ll pardon me, I find that to be a vastly fuzzy and vague response.

          My impression is that most online atheists hold to some sort of premise similiar to what I sketched out in scenarios 1:

          A necessary underlying assumption here is something along the lines of how ontological claims probably are false unless sufficient evidence is presented. E.g., for any ontological claim A, A is probably false.

          Otherwise, I fail to see how someone could be justified in not accepting claims while only dismissing arguments for a position. They need to have some grounds for justifying the initial burden of evidence, and the premise above might work.

          OK…. but I’m an igtheist. And it frustrates me that people assign any probability to a term that is incoherent. Be fair. It’s rarely defined. When it is, the definitions are rarely coherent. Even your description of (god)s is frustratingly incomplete. And slightly incoherent.

          I don’t see how the definition I sketched out above is incoherent. At least in the sense of being internally contradictory. I agree that “god” is rarely defined.

          I understand that you would like a term to descrbie someone who takes the affirmative position that “There are no gods.” (Or maybe I misunderstand your point. I have a feeling I’m missing something.)

          In English, “non-theist” means the same as “atheist”. I am not a theist.

          See my previous comment regarding using the etymology of the word to determine its meaning.

          Part of the reason that I prefer the “strong” definition is that it makes it plain what your position is, and that it distinguishes what I (and others) believe from “mere” non-belief in god(s). That is correct.

          Past definitions, I just ask them what they are claiming and how they support it. I ask them that as an atheist.

          I agree with this approach of asking people what they are claiming.

          The trouble with your choice (and you are welcome to it), is that when they call me an atheist, I know I’m an igtheist, but agree that I’m an atheist because I don’t believe their claims for all the reasons I’ve gone over.

          And they take that as an excuse to accuse me of claiming there is (are) no god(s).

          That is a problem. They rarely define their position clearly and they never support it.

          It’s hard enough getting them to understand their burden. That they decide to interpret “atheism” as a negative claim (in lieu of supporting their positive claim) makes discussion impossible.

          As noted, I find that the burden is still on the theist, even when confronted with a “strong” atheist.

          If you don’t mind, can I sketch out a scenario that I would like to know how well fits with your view? It is similiar to Scenario 1 sketched out above. Do you hold to any of these three propositions?

          P1: Ontological existence claims that are sufficiently vague are probably false.
          P2: Ontological existence claims that involes claims that are contradictory or in serious tension with each other are probably false.
          P3: All claims of god(s) existing are sufficiently vague, contradictory, or holds an internal tension, and so probably do not exist.

          What I’m trying to get at here is that I suspect that you hold to something like P1 and/or P2. (For the record, I agree with P2, and disagree with P1, but I need to think about it a bit.)

          But it represents a tiny group within a small group in a discussion where the burden lies on people making god claims. We don’t need a word. Those people can just say “god(s) don’t exist)” and carry the burden inherent in that.

          As noted above, I’m (still) struggling to see anything but a semantic difference between the strong and weak sense of atheism being discussed. (Possibly excepting igtheism – I need to think a bit about that.) As such, I don’t see much of a difference in the burden of evidence that is required for the two positions.

        • Susan

          You sure give me a hard time, Grimlock. 🙂

          I don’t think the definition that I provided, “conscious entity whose existence is independent of anything else, and in some way created the universe”

          What does it mean to be “a conscious entity”? What does it mean to be “independent of anything else?” What do you mean by “creating the universe?” I’m not trying to be difficult here. I particularly have a hard time with the second.

          1) Consciousness in all cases in which we refer to it is an emergent property that requires matter.

          2) “Outside of anything else” has no meaning, as far as I can tell.

          3) If by “universe”, you mean all reality, then that includes the “creator”. If it doesn’t, then why not?

          is not noticably more vague or fuzzy than many other concepts that we use, such as naturalism, morality, or music.

          Do you apply the same standard of specificity when considering other concepts?

          I apply the same standard of specificity when considering other agents.

          “God” is not a mere concept. “God” is an agent.

          Do you mean examples of theists who use the concept in a similar and unspecific manner? If so, I might find some examples in the philosophical literature.

          You mean the “Ground-of-All-Being people?” They’re insufferable. And I can’t think of one of them who isn’t smuggling an agent into their fog. Who doesn’t assume agency at the bottom and proceed to build their philosophy from there. Ineffable goo to prop up an imaginary (and yes, still incoherent) agent.

          I agree with this approach of asking people what they are claiming.

          Thank you. It helps cut through all the crap. As “god” is a shapeshifting term that never holds still long enough for the theist to take responsibility for it, I find it best to not talk about “God”. It’s their job to define it and support it.. Their ontological commitment.

          As noted, I find that the burden is still on the theist, even when confronted with a “strong” atheist.

          If a strong atheist claims that no god(s) exist(s), then I’m not sure I agree with you. They have taken on the ontological claim.

          This is the way the theists who visit here (and many other places) insist on framing it. WIthout justification. They use it to evade their burden.

          Most people here who don’t believe theists refer to themselves as atheists. Some of us (including I) refer to themselves as igtheists (for more specific reasons). But we still acccept the label of “atheist” because we are not theists.

          If someone wants to claim “god” or “gods” don’t exist, they can go ahead. It’s like nailing gelatin to a wall,so their problem.

          Sorry I’ve only addressed half your comment, but this is already too long-winded.

        • Was it this one?

          You used the word “crap.” You do know about the Naughty Police, right? At least for the time being, comments with a certain set of words (a very small number of which I’m happy to have on the naughty list but very many that are just regular English words) get put in the moderation queue. I get to it and approve comments as often as I think about it.

        • Susan

          Was it this one?

          Yes, thanks.

          You used the word “crap.”

          Aaaaah…. naughty girl.

          I get to it and approve comments as often as I think about it.

          Just one more thing you have to do. This system’s getting crabpier and crabpier.

          Thanks for your trouble.

        • Susan

          I am certainly sympathetic to your position.

          Hi, Grimlock. I just responded in detail to the first half of this comment. For some reason, it’s pending.

          Which means it will probably never get through.

          I can’t think of a single word or inappropriate phrase I used that would warrant that.

          I am getting very, very sick of Patheosdisqus.

        • Grimlock

          It’s annoying, isn’t it…

        • David Cromie

          When any theist is able to provide the irrefutable, falsifiable, evidence for their favourite supposed ‘god’s’ actual existence, then atheism fades away, since it will have been proved that at least one supposed ‘god’ actually exists, leaving the door open to the possibility that all supposed ‘god’s’ have exactly the same chance of being real. Thus definitions of ‘atheism’ would be beside the point.

        • Grimlock

          That’s a good point.

          Just to quibble, though,

          irrefutable, falsifiable

          I wonder if irrefutable and falsifiable evidence might be a bit in tension? If it is impossible to refute something, can it then be falsified?

        • Pofarmer

          I suspect that the idea of atheism as a lack of belief is an avoidance of giving a direct answer to the above question.

          Uhm, no. The answer is provisional, just like pretty much all answers in science are. It’s simply saying I see no evidence, but maybe I’ll change my mind if there is.

          Not giving a direct answer doesn’t, as far as I can tell, do much to change the burden of the evidence.

          Absolutely it does. “I don’t believe you” Doesn’t entail any burden at all. It’s up to you to convince. Saying, “There are no Gods” then does entail a burden of proof as it’s up to you to show why not. Victor Stenger actually does go this route.

        • Grimlock

          Uhm, no. The answer is provisional, just like pretty much all answers in science are. It’s simply saying I see no evidence, but maybe I’ll change my mind if there is.

          My position that there are no god(s) is also provisional, similarly to pretty much every other position I take. I don’t think that the provisional nature of the answer is sufficient to make it distinct from a negative answer.

          Absolutely it does. “I don’t believe you” Doesn’t entail any burden at all. It’s up to you to convince. Saying, “There are no Gods” then does entail a burden of proof as it’s up to you to show why not. Victor Stenger actually does go this route.

          First off, surely the atheist would have some burden of showing why the arguments for theism is not sufficiently compelling, or is outweighed by atheological arguments?

          There also seems to be an underlying assumption about the burden of evidence as related to ontological claims.

          How is this different from my position, that the difference in the ontological claims “god(s) exists” and “god(s) don’t exist” means that the burden of evidence is on the theist, and the atheist only needs to demonstrate that the arguments and evidence doesn’t shift the initial epistemic plausibility?

        • Rudy R

          I suspect that the idea of atheism as a lack of belief is an avoidance of giving a direct answer to the above question

          Speaking only for myself, I have given direct “no” answers to all the god claims that have been presented to me. Theists poorly define their god and poorly support their god’s attributes with evidence.

        • Grimlock

          Do you consider yourself to be an atheist in the sense of someone who believes that no god(s) exist?

          ETA: Not asking you to commit to a definition, but rather asking if your view can be accurately described as believing that no god(s) exists.

        • Rudy R

          I don’t claim no god(s) exist. I believe there is no god(s) but I don’t claim to have knowledge that there is no god(s). One position is on belief and the other on knowledge. There has not been a definition of a god with supporting evidence that would tip the scales for belief in a god. Until there is evidence for a god that meets my satisfaction, my default position is no belief in a god.

        • Grimlock

          Oh, I like this distinction between knowledge and belief.

          If the definition concerns itself with the contents of beliefs, then it seems to me that you’d be an atheist in the strong sense. But not if it only deals with what is claimed to be knowledge. Is that correct?

        • Rudy R

          Yes. It’s like a jury verdict. You can hand down a not guilty verdict (belief), because of the lack of evidence to convict , but you don’t know that the person is innocent (knowledge).

        • Grimlock

          If you don’t mind, I’ll take that analogy and run with it a bit.

          For a jury to convinct someone, they have to believe that the person is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. This means that it’s not sufficient for the jury to think that the person is probably or most likely guilty.

          I assume this is because we generally don’t want innocent folks to be convicted, and are willing to let guilty people go free in exchange.

          Similarly, we might consider the arguments for the existence of god(s), and say that they do not give us sufficient reason to find god(s) “guilty” of existing. However, following the analogy, the arguments themselves will typically provide some small incentive to believe their conclusion, even though one might find their premises dubious.

          What we then need is an underlying assumption similar to the one sketched out above, where we want to avoid convicting someone who is innocent. One such premise might be something like the following: Most things that could exist don’t actually exist, and thus, most existence claims are probably false.

          Then we might grant that arguments for the existence of god(s) might give some reason for belief, but not enough to overcome the initial improbability of the claim.

          Do you think that this makes sense?

          (A quick remark: I know that there are arguments against the existence of god(s) which would then tip the scales further against the existence of god(s), but that’s besides the point that I’m trying to make.)

        • Kodie

          I mean, there are other labels, but to me, that gets us more and more into “religious”, as most of those terms have qualifications. Secular humanist doesn’t mean atheist, and I find the term humanist difficult. It may be like how some women don’t want to be called feminists, and I’m totally wrong. I love rights. I think everyone should have their civil rights until their rights impose on someone else’s. Does a gay couple’s right to be married impose on a Christian cake-baking business owner’s religious rights? I guess the Supreme Court agrees with it. And so I guess, being an atheist, I think religious rights are pretty much the most trivial, because I see religious adherence as a superstition to get out of hell, doing whatever you think god needs you to do to get into heaven, an imaginary place. I dare any Christian to explain to me what heaven actually is, and how you know how to be admitted there.

          If you think of other traditional superstitions, you don’t see Christians not ridiculing or even demonizing other superstitions. It depends on what kind of Christian you are, and what you’ve been brainwashed to see. We’re dumb creatures with an enormous capacity to fall for the power of suggestion. I had a triple room in my 1st semester of college, and so I had one roommate who sucked (B), and one who maybe did not suck (E). E thought I was better friends with B, and of all the people on the whole floor, I was the only person who didn’t notice how much B sucked, and one evening, it came out when the floor decided to go to the dining hall all together (B wasn’t around), and I could not “unsee” it, and E and I voted her off the island to start the new semester in January, a sequence I could never have foreseen. I thought I was the left out one. I didn’t have a lot to talk about with E up until then, and she thought she was the odd one. I saw so many people laugh and make fun of B, and oh my god, it’s all true, and she’s a horrible person! How did I not see it until then? I like to think, when I was 18, I still saw the best in all people.

          All our lives, if someone who seems to know it all points something out, unless we are skeptical and critical thinkers, it’s going to fit the patterns we recognize. Conspiracy theories work this way, and stuff like not vaccinating your children. Let’s look at it another way, though – something is true. How does one understand what to believe, if everyone sounds like they all know what they’re talking about, and give convincing arguments? If you talk about B and E, that’s more a matter of opinion. Maybe B was my very best friend, and it hurt me to hear how many other people hated her. Then it’s the lonely road of you and me against the world, B. I was ambivalent, and absorbent of the power of suggestion. A lesson of confirmation bias, but it generally starts with someone else snapping patterns you did not see into focus. I mean, you know how you get that gut feeling that gay sex is gross, that means god doesn’t like it, etc. If someone didn’t point that out, you could have understood your possible initial discomfort some other way and realized you’re biased and correct it, but if you let them define the source of that feeling for you, you increase your righteousness that your “gut feeling” is one of many clues about the god of the universe and how you, as a mere human, are required to obey, i.e. hate.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I find the term humanist difficult.

          Yes, because humanist is atheist+ again.

          In modern terms, humanists are atheists, but not all atheists are humanists.

          Christians are followers of Christ. There are over 45,000 different flavours…each one is a Christianity+. Now a lot of the plus might overlap among the varieties of the cult, but the only thing they have in common is they follow Christ. I’m even including Christian atheism in the mix.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_atheism

        • Ignorant Amos

          I had a wee poke about and found this paper in JSTOR on the subject of the Romans defining the the Christians as atheists.

          Christian “Atheism” and the Peace of the Roman Empire

          https://www.jstor.org/stable/3164388?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3Ae9502016b80f2a646d88862bb28f2d32&seq=2#page_scan_tab_contents

          If ya don’t subscribe to JSTOR, New Testament scholar and woo-woo believer, Larry Hurtado has also wrote an article about it on his blog.

          When Christians Were Atheists

          https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/when-christians-were-atheists/

        • Grimlock

          That was a very interesting blog post indeed!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Hurtado does that thing in the last paragraph that bugs the fuckin’ life clean outta ma.

          In religion, as in some other matters, early Christianity helped to destroy one world and create another. And the effects of this early Christian “atheism” linger to this day. Modern atheism as we know it is shaped by the Christian faith against which it reacts. For even modern atheists assume that there’s only one god to doubt!

          The arrogant and ignorant prick.

        • Grimlock

          Hah, I noticed the same thing. I figured he had half a point, in the sense that most of the public criticisms are aimed at monotheism. For obvious reasons.

          But if you directly asked atheists whether they disbelieved one God or all gods, I suspect most would lean towards the latter.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I only engage in talking about the gods of the believers around me and that are directly interfering with my chi. But I’m up for ridicule and mockery of anyone else’s if they are interested.

          I would think if I was an atheist in India, that might not be the case.

          What gods do native American atheists take no truck with I wonder?

          Or the Inuit peoples who were atheist, at least before Christianity pitched up and fucked up the Inuits beliefs and religions.

        • Grimlock

          . But I’m up for ridicule and mockery of anyone else’s if they are interested.

          You are too kind, good sir!

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s me, generous to the core.

          I’m an equal opportunities religion pish taker.

          No ones woo-woo gets a by-ball when it comes to extracting the urine.

        • al kimeea

          tomato, tomahto
          Hurtado, pendejo

        • Susan

          the whole discussion about what “atheism” means is rather uninteresting.

          It would be uninteresting, except as these discussions advance, there is always some theist who uses the term to shift the burden.

          Which isn’t interesting but it means it’s a concern.

          They want to claim “atheist” means “there is no god” (which is usually an incoherent claim that they can’t and won’t support) that anyone who doesn’t take that position is an “agnostic” (which only describes knowledge, and they use it to create a binary position on which one has to claim one side or proclaim themselves “agnostic”, and they use it to pretend their deity has a fifty/fifty chance of existing, based on their binary model, or one can call themselves a “theist” which can mean any incoherent, unsupported nonsense they need it to be, no matter how contradictory it is from moment to moment.

          So easy to say “not a theist” is an “atheist”. Unless you can come up with a better term.

          “Unbeliever” is not a better term. Because then they will say you don’t believe in anything.

          Very simply, I don’t believe theistic claims. So, I am an atheist.

        • Grimlock

          I prefer the term “non-theists”.

          As for the point about the burden of evidence, it sounds like one will end up discussing the burden anyways. So why should that impact our choice of terms? It seems to me that it just makes the discussion about the burden less direct, and more confusing.

        • epeeist

          My point is this: It is perfectly valid to define “atheism” as the belief that there is no gods.

          Personally I start from the position that I don’t include anything in my ontology without justification.One could frame this as “I do not have belief in entities for which there is no justification”, which is essentially a standard sceptical position.

      • Len

        The concern I’d have with “belief in the non-existence of god” (emphasis mine) is that it appears to put the burden of proof on me, to prove my belief. “Absence of belief” in god clearly leaves the burden of proof where it belongs – with the believer who wants to believe in their god.

        • Grimlock

          Why does that place the burden of proof on the atheist?

          If A believes that there exists a civilization on Mars, with a technology equivalent to ours, and B believes that there is no such civilization, it does not follow that they have an equal burden of proof.

        • Len

          I said “… it appears to put the burden of proof on me”. Any chance a believer gets to try to shift that burden to me – because I make a positive statement of (dis-)belief – means extra work for me explaning it ain’t so.

        • Grimlock

          Ah, I see.

          It might lead to a useful discussion on burden of evidence, but I see what you mean about that being…. Shall we say, a hassle?

        • epeeist

          Why does that place the burden of proof on the atheist?

          Because you are making an ontological commitment.

          it does not follow that they have an equal burden of proof.

          I would disagree, I think that if both of them are making belief statements then there is an equal burden on both. Whereas if one says that one does not hold a belief in the existence of a Martian civilisation then the burden is weaker, all one needs to do is show that the arguments of the person believing there is such a thing do not stand up to scrutiny.

        • Grimlock

          Interesting. I wonder if we’re genuinely in disagreement, or merely talking past each other.

          Do you hold that all belief statements have an equal burden of evidence? (This is, I think, a bit different from what you said above.)

          I like an approach that I first saw from Paul Draper. Roughly, and going from memory, a claim has a prior probability based on a conceptual analysis, and a probability after consideration of the evidence. The prior probability is what I think of as the burden of evidence.

          The conceptual analysis focuses on two aspects of the claim:
          1. Its internal coherence.
          2. The modesty of its ontological commitments or contents.

          A few more steps (I can elaborate if you want) will, I think, give us a less prior probability for theism than atheism, and thus give theism the burden of proof.

        • epeeist

          Interesting. I wonder if we’re genuinely in disagreement, or merely talking past each other.

          Is “neither” a valid option?

          a claim has a prior probability based on a conceptual analysis, and a probability after consideration of the evidence.

          I wouldn’t disagree. However, if you have no background information then you presumably have to give the propositions “God exists” and “God does not exist” equal priors. In which case the burden falls equally on the proponents of both propositions.

          One might also consider that attempting to produce a reasonable priors constitutes an attempt to fulfil the burden.

        • Grimlock

          Is “neither” a valid option?

          I guess?

          I wouldn’t disagree. However, if you have no background information then you presumably have to give the propositions “God exists” and “God does not exist” equal priors. In which case the burden falls equally on the proponents of both propositions.

          I guess that depends on whether one counts the conceptual analysis as a part of the background knowledge. I don’t, but I can see how one would.

          One might also consider that attempting to produce a reasonable priors constitutes an attempt to fulfil the burden.

          Perhaps. I tend to consider it creating a framework in which one evaluates the burdens, and that it’s challenging to speak meaningfully about the burden of evidence without such a framework.

  • Ignorant Amos

    Reynolds seems oblivious to the modern genocides of Rwanda and Bosnia…just two examples of godly Christians involved in the genocide of others.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      Don’t forget all those Christians who support Israeli genocide of Palestinians because they are cheering for the end of the world.

      • epicurus

        Or ol’ Sadam Hussein – Pretty sure he was a theist.

        • Kodie

          Funny how common it is for theists to tell us we’d rather go live in a Muslim theocracy… I mean, I think they want a Christian theocracy, and in the vacuum of the secular freedom of religion and separation of church and state, their complaint against atheists is either an atheist dictatorship wants to fill the void, or allow some other group to take control, as though we would prefer the gentler Christian ways of governing, such as outlawing abortion and making it legal to discriminate against gay people – nobody’s getting beheaded over it, so it’s a lot nicer, right? The way I see it, Christians can be so fucking crazy. Maybe not all of them, but if you aren’t a fucking crazy for power Christian, you are defensive and missing the point of separation and secular government, because religion has made you a little bit crazy and defensive because atheists lump them in with the crazies. Look, we don’t have a lot of time to split hairs, so are you on our side or their side?

          Pay the fuck attention. There’s a Constitution in the United States. No religious or megalomaniac system has to be in power for the government to run. There is no religious way to interpret the Constitution so it requires a Christian or other religious government. The very fucking first clause of the 1st Amendment delegates religion to a personal preference, and the government shall not be influenced or decree any laws via religious reasoning. People with strong faiths seem to think the absence of religion when making a decision means something dire, like “there is no god, so x is the law.” And they’re going, but there is is a god, so y has to be the law!

          They don’t fucking understand just not factoring in any god or religious belief to a conclusion or statement. Like, it’s raining outside, or shirts and shoes are required, or this duck at the zoo is named Bubba. Those aren’t religious or areligious facts or laws, they are secular and have nothing at all to do with the question. Is something coming to fill in the void? No.

          Why can’t we just live like this? It’s still because religious people keep trying to steal the void of a secular government, and haven’t been drowned out by reason yet.

        • epicurus

          Something Christians who want to unify church and state probably haven’t thought about is that the govt. will then want to get involved in determining correct theolgy, and given the 40,000 or whatever Protestant denominations that means whichever group has power will want unity and, well you know where I’m going with this – 4th century Roman state pressuring church councils etc.
          Someone like John Hagee who craves no separation of C&S would be labelled a heretic by many because of his views on Jesus and whether he actually died for Jews or not.

        • Kodie

          Yes, they think they want a Christian government, some believe this is a Christian nation, but none of them understands what that really entails. If we take a list of commandments out of a public school, why does that mean that god is not allowed in school? I mean, if he’s god, why would he be at the behest of mere humans? What good does it do to have a poster or sign up in school, and why do they bitch so much when someone notices that it doesn’t belong in a public, secular space?

          It’s like, taking down an advertisement for Coca-Cola doesn’t mean putting up an advertisement for Pepsi. It’s NEUTRAL now. It’s not an ad for DON’T DRINK SODA YOU FUCKER. It’s nothing, there is no suggestion, and you are free to continue to believe what you want.

          Clearly, they do not think it through. A government that is religious may not be adherent to their denomination, and they might think, that’s not what I had in mind. Of course, the Jews won’t like it, so pretending to care about Israel as a Christian is fucked. Most Christians would not really like the government intrusion, if they think they don’t like it now, they will definitely not like it in that case. Apparently easily pacified morons who think what they’re told is what they want cannot think it all the way through. Pawns.

        • epicurus

          And remember the brouhaha when Kennedy was running – a protestant country aghast at the thought of a Catholic president. But wait, wasn’t he a theist? That doesn’t matter, he’s not my particular kind of theist.

        • Kodie

          Why do Christians seem to think every Christian agrees they need a Christian-led government, even if they know they have major disagreements with other denominations? It’s like, on this atheist blog, you could not get two different Christians to discuss or argue their differences. They are unified against atheists, you can just count on that. Just not thinking it all the way through. They want their 1st amendment religious freedom to refuse service to people in their business based on their religious beliefs, but do not think it all the way through. I mean, if I run a business, and someone with a cross on their neck comes in, I am free to refuse service to them. Aren’t I?

        • Ignorant Amos

          When the lunatics take over the asylum, the gullible among them don’t understand that the haves, aka the hierarchy, will fuck-up the have-nots. They don’t realize that Giliad will become a reality and much of what happens in The Handmaids Tale will become more of a documentary, than a dystopian fiction.

          Then again, maybe that’s what the wingnuts crave, living in a theocracy with a jackboot on their necks.

        • Pofarmer

          I’d say a lot of people wanting a Christian theocracy here aew woefully ignorant of history.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Am pretty sure the godly Saudi Sunni Muslims would like to eradicate the godly Iranian Shia Muslims, given half a chance.

        • NS Alito

          Er, Saddam Hussein was pretty much a secular tyrant. When the US, et al, invaded Iraq, Al Qaeda fighters needed their imams to lift the fatwa against SH to go fight on the side of the Iraqis.

  • GalapagosPete

    Is it just me or does he have comments turned off?

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Maybe because of how long ago the article was published?

      • GalapagosPete

        Maybe, but it looks like comments were never allowed. Of course, if you post crazy stuff like that, you may not want to read comments.

        • Jennny

          I don’t think they believe for one moment they are saying crazy stuff. This type of fundy enforcer thinks they have a hotline to god and speak only what he tells them to say. And their sheeple will drink it in. As someone said, fundy leaders don’t seem able to leave a pre-internet time. Back then, to check up on what any leader said, you needed a library ticket and the bus fare into town. They just can’t adapt to everyone having the world in their pocket now, they just can’t handle any sort of criticism so fulminate against it and are scared to open their wonderful god-breathed blogs to comments.

    • Lex Lata

      Not just you. Reynolds hasn’t allowed comments for years, if ever.

      • GalapagosPete

        Well, when you post so much stupid, the comments would be scathing.

    • Grimlock

      That seems to be popular among a fair few of the religious Patheos blogs. I wonder why.

      • GalapagosPete

        No idea; just one more unsolvable mystery. ;^)

      • se habla espol

        The blogs in question are christianist blogs, owned and operated by christianists.

        Christianists are authoritarians; the blogs are operated by and for authoritarians.
        A commenter is not an authority, like the blog operator is. Allowing a non-authority to write blog content, even in the form of a comment, would destroy the purity of the blog, diluting its authority.
        Allowing comments on a christianist blog is unpossible.
        {The same observation can be made about alt-med and pro-plague (anti-vax) blogs.}

        • Grimlock

          I’m not comfortable with such sweeping statements. There might be other (more relatable) reasons for disallowing comments.

          That being said, I do recognize the sentiment that you describe. Interestingly enough from a blog with a comments section, though one that’s fairly strictly moderated.

        • se habla espol

          Hunh? This blog, like most of the nonreligious, is moderated quite loosely..

        • Grimlock

          I know.

          The sentiment you speak of, this idea that a blog operator is an authority while a commenter is not, is something I’ve encountered on another blog. Not this blog.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah…I read your previous comment the same way as es habla espol, in that you were referring to here in comparison to the holy roller’s blog where comments are not allowed. Soz.

          Ignore my last comment.

        • Grimlock

          No worries. Apparently my phrasing is susceptible to such a reading. I edited in a clarification.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Interestingly enough from a blog with a comments section, though one that’s fairly strictly moderated.

          No way!

          Both “Strange Notions” and the counter forum, “Outshine the Sun: Estranged Notions”, both places you comment, are far more strictly moderated. The former to the point of utter dishonesty.

          The moderation only kicks in here when the contributor isn’t contributing anything of substance, while cluttering the place up…and that’s usually after a prolonged period of fuckwittery.

        • I remember some years back when Popular Science (IIRC) dropped the option of comments on their pages. They found that an article about climate change (say) could leave the opposite impression if the comments were mostly those of rabid deniers of what the page had to say.

          I guess the lesson is that you must take (fallible) human psychology into account sometimes.

        • Grimlock

          That’s a rather sad thing, isn’t it, that the commenting system doesn’t work that well. I know of a couple of newspapers who simply removed their comments, and others who made it more restrictive. Perhaps for the same reason.

  • (((J_Enigma32)))

    The only nations that have been officially atheistic have been uniformly horrible.

    This is an interesting point, because what does it mean for a nation to be “officially atheistic?” The USSR, if not supported at least humored the Eastern Orthodox Church. Hell, at one point Stalin was going to be a priest for the Orthodox church. Was the USSR “officially atheistic?”

    Do you consider nations like Saudi Arabia or Iran to be atheistic? The former is a pretty horrible place to live. So is the Islamic State, and I guarantee you that the Islamic State was not atheistic.

    Do you mean secular states that opt not to promote a religion? France and Germany are both nations without national churches. Hell, “secular” is a French tradition that the French people are deservedly proud of. Canada and Australia, too. They don’t seem like terrible places to live. Are they “officially atheistic?”

    I’m aware the Nordic Countries have national churches, if anything, that just goes to prove that this point is meaningless, because I’m pretty sure most White Americans would consider them socialist hellholes despite having national churches, even though I’m pretty sure you couldn’t consider them “officially atheistic.”

    “Atheism was used as a reason for persecution in all of these nations.”

    Actually no. If you look, it’s nationalism that’s used as a reason for persecution. Your religion isn’t banned because we’re atheistic, it’s banned because it’s a threat to the stability of the Motherland/Fatherland. Your values run counter to the values that we seek to employ here, and those values aren’t built around atheism, they’re built around nationalism. Christians in the United States would like to do the same thing to atheists, and for the same exact reasons: they view atheism, Satanism, Islam, Judaism, and all non-Christian religions as a direct threat to the stability of the United States, because they’re trapped in a nationalistic bubble that doesn’t remotely resemble reality.

    This is especially true with the Chinese example, where Confucianism and traditional Chinese religions are not smashed by the Communist Party, but Christianity and Islam are. This because Christianity and Islam are seen as threats to national unity, not out of any sort of “atheistic values.”

    There is no check against genocide in atheism.

    God literally commits genocide in Genesis at least twice: first when he floods the world and kills everyone, and later when he gives the Hebrews the command to clean the pagans out of the Holy Land, and that’s the number of times I care to remember. This is not a hill any relgionist should want to die on, yet for so many of them it’s their chosen mount.

    “Christians are told to love their enemies.”

    A humanists value human life and seek to encourage political policies that help improve the quality of that life, whether they be universal healthcare of a basic income guarantee. One of those groups is more successful at walking the walk where their values are concerned, and it isn’t Christians.

    “An anti-theist creates his own values.”

    Not really.

    See, what happens is you inherit an ethical code and outlook from your community: your friends, your family, your neighbors, your society; this outlook acts as an underpinning for your values. Once you have your values and you’re emotionally invested in them, you start looking for ways to justify them. For folks like Christians and Muslims, there are books they can cherry pick from to justify their moral outlook to themselves. For atheists, anti-theists, and the like, we construct philosophical and ethical paradigms that are shaped by our emotional investment in particular values. The values come first and are created by nature; the justification for those values are typically created by the individual, although just as frequently said justification is also inherited from the community.

    Nobody creates their own values. You just reshape the ones that you’re exposed to and look for ways to justify them based off existing social paradigms.

    • Grimlock

      I’m aware the Nordic Countries have national churches […]

      Nope. Not any more.

      Well, okay, the idea of a national church is a bit relative. But at least Norway doesn’t have a national church any more, though there are some smaller ways in which the former national church is still given preferential treatment. Not sure about the formal status in the other Nordic countries.

      It should be noted that the population is quite secular. I’d guess that both Sweden and Iceland have a lower degree of religiosity than Norway, and we have – roughly – 40 % deists or theists, 40 % atheists, and 20 % wishy-washy agnostics.

      Of course, if you want to give the impression that Norway is a “Christian” country, you’ll cite the statistic that 70 %or so of the population belong to the former state church. Which is true, but neglects the utter lack of interacting most of these people have with the church, their actual beliefs, and the crappy membership registration practices that led to that church being the default for a lot of people.

      Oh, also, religious communities (and secular ones, like a couple of humanist organizations) receives funding from the state based on the number of members. Is anyone surprised that the Catholic Church cheated with their membership lists, got a hefty fine, and has refused to accept their wrongdoings?

      /rant

      • (((J_Enigma32)))

        Denmark and Iceland apparently still have national churches, but Sweden apparently does not. This is interesting, although the divorce of church and state in Norway and Sweden are apparently recent events (within the last 20 or so years).

        I wonder what justification the Monarchs use anymore. Is it just “it’s tradition, we’ve always done it this way, and besides, we don’t have much in the way of real power anyway?” Because it seems to me like that’s what it’d have to be.

        • Grimlock

          If my memory serves me right, our formal split between church and state was voted through in 2012, and performed in 2017. And as I mention, the split is not entirely clean.

          Do you mean the justification used by the monarchs for us to remain monarchies? I don’t know about the other countries, but our monarch doesn’t make any public arguments for keeping the monarchy. If he had, I imagine that would backfire. It’s a question that’s brought up in the public debate regularly. The most common reason for keeping it is that the monarch is really popular. He’s like a kindly old grandfather. Or at least that’s the impression. I’m guessing the monarchy will survive as long as we have popular monarchs, despite most people (I think) acknowledging its problematic aspects.

          Oh, and this thing is just plain annoying, and has predictably brought up fresh focus on the monarchy: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/thefreethinker/2019/05/the-princess-and-the-shaman-a-tale-of-love-money-and-bullshit/

        • Tangent: are you an American living in Norway, or are you just another Norwegian who communicates in flawless English?

        • Grimlock

          I’m just another Norwegian, living in Norway. I’m not sure about the flawless part, but thank you for the compliment.

        • Greg G.

          My wife grew up with her friend in Vietnam. Her friend had a daughter who was seven when the moved to Oslo. We visited them about seven years ago, with an all day layover in Paris, so the daughter, then 30, met us at the airport and showed us around Paris. Her English was impeccable with a European accent. My wife said her Vietnamese was perfect. It was amazing that she would ask what I wanted in English, what my wife wanted in Vietnamese, then order in French. She had gone to college in Paris and was about to start on her PhD in finance. I assume she spoke Norse. Her mother didn’t speak English and I think she only spoke Vietnamese. Her son spoke Norse to his father and Vietnamese to his mother, though his father was Vietnamese, too. His father thought Vietnamese was a woman’s language and Norse was for men.

          Which reminds me of another Vietnamese woman who grew up in Norway. If you saw The Last Jedi Star Wars movie, in the opening scene, the Rebel Alliance was about to lose a battle to the Empire. I recognize an Asian woman as being Vietnamese. She was able to launch a slew of bombs at the last second to destroy the Dreadnaught. She was billed as Veronica Ngo but I learned that she was famous as a singer/dancer in Vietnam as Ngo Thanh Van. She was born there, near the town where our friends came from, and went to Norway when she was ten, then returned to Vietnam and may have introduced European techno-rock there.

        • Grimlock

          That is an impressive assortment of languages that your wife’s friend’s daughter has learned!

          That was a fun scene, and she’s definitely one of the most heroic characters shown in the films.

        • Ignorant Amos

          For your second language, it is impeccable. Plenty that come here whose first language is English, should aspire to such a level, myself included.

        • Grimlock

          Thanks.

          It should be noted that writing decent English is easier than speaking it. At least to me. It gives me time to read through what I’ve written before posting, thus weeding out the worst blunders.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A lot of us do that and still miss plenty of the blunders. I guess it’s about complacency and the D-K effect that being English speaking equates to good grammar and spelling, when it really doesn’t.

          A lot of the things I write as the way I say them colloquially. Not thinking how it will impact a reader who is not familiar with the way we talk in “Norn Iron”.

          https://www.inyourpocket.com/belfast/How-till-spake-Norn-Iron-A-guide-to-local-phrases_70619f

        • Grimlock

          I have to say I enjoy it when you write colloquially.

      • Pofarmer

        I love the youtube video where they send a Southern Baptist preacher to Norway. His reactions to the people there are great. He’s going around the streets asking if people beleive in God and getting a bunch nope’s, until one guy says yes, and he says “So you’re a Christian”, and the guy says “Nope, I’m a Muslim”, and he about loses his shit.

        • Grimlock

          Haha, I know that one. It’s funny. If it’s the one I think (“The Norden”), then, if memory serves, there’s also a segment with a prison warden. Fun stuff.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t remember the prison Warden, but there are several different bits on you tube.

        • Greg G.

          I remember a video made in Europe, the Netherlands I think, where some guys put a book cover for the Koran on a Bible, then had people read a repulsive passage. Then they would show that it was actually in the Bible.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Yeah…that was a good one. This show has a great take on the prank.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX0Zt0ODrEA

    • Lex Lata

      “Christians in the United States would like to do the same thing . . .”

      I’d quibble a bit and say that some Christians, or perhaps Christian nationalists specifically, would like to do this. A vocal and unduly influential group these days, but I suspect a minority. (Likely growing in number, which is cause for concern.)

      We’ve had a solidly majority Christian population and representative government in this country since back in the day. Yet from the mid-1700s on, the overall trend has been towards disestablishment and freedom of conscience, roughly first at the federal level and then in the states. Those changes were largely the work of Christians–often heterodox, liberal, Enlightenment-influenced, Cicero-addicted, deistic, and/or even pantheistic–but self-described Christians nonetheless.

    • Greg G.

      Doesn’t the separation of church and state make the United States “officially atheistic”?

      Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…

      • Lex Lata

        Hmm. I’d say the US was “officially atheistic” if the Constitution took the formal position that there’s insufficient evidence to justify a belief in any gods. That’s not the case, though.

        Howzabout “officially atheistish” instead?

        • (((J_Enigma32)))

          I’d argue it makes us officially agnostic.

        • Greg G.

          Officially secular.

        • Michael Neville

          The word you’re looking for is “secular”.

        • Lex Lata

          Sure, but that’s no fun. 😉

        • Kodie

          Having an atheistic government is not probably as much fun as it sounds. When Christians don’t understand that we’re not a Christian nation, what they really fear is what will take over the void and tell them what to do. They are brainwashed with the notion that something needs to dictate to everyone, and it’s their religion, or it’s something worse (to them).

          If we say the government is atheistic or atheistish, or whatever, we’re saying it is promoting a particular way of answering that question, and preferring it, i.e. less tolerant of believers. Secular is not going near the question. It’s leaving it up to every citizen, as it should, what they believe.

          Plus, secular is funner to say. It has the ‘k’ sound, which I’ve heard is comedic, and rhymes with other fun words like popular and nucular.

        • Greg G.

          It has the ‘k’ sound, which I’ve heard is comedic

          I remembered “K words are funny. ‘Ketchup’ is funny.” from a movie but I needed Google help to find it. It is from The Sunshine Boys (1975), with George Burns and Walter Matthau.

          But I also learned that H. L. Mencken said “K words are funny”, with two Google references saying it was from 1936 and one that says it was from 1948.

        • Kodie

          I cannot remember where I heard it or from whom, and google searches bringing up nothing familiar, but many articles that ostenstibly concur. Concur!!! Funny!

          I also think it is funny whenever you can use the word “whom”. No articles on why that seems funnier than “who”, just grammar lessons.

      • larry parker

        In theory (sort of), but not in practice.

      • (((J_Enigma32)))

        I’d argue no, since that isn’t taking a stand. There are plenty of Christian organizations that support the separate of church and state, and I know for a fact that a large number of Jewish people support it, precisely because it helps protect them.

        Now, Christian Nationalists don’t believe in the Constitution but their idea of a Constitution, which is a document that always proves them correct under all circumstances and supports what they believe. And since more and more are finding their way into the judicial branch, we’re going to be finding out in short order this interpretation of the Constitution may be the only one that matters.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I read somewhere that the very reason for separation of church and state was to protect the different flavours of Christian sects from each other.

        • Pofarmer

          There was certainly inter denominational strife and fighting in the U.S. prior to the Revolution.

        • Greg G.

          AIUI, Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists that mentioned “separation of church and state” was to assure them that the Catholics would not be in charge.

        • MuttsRule

          Actually, the Congregational Church was the established church of Connecticut at the time, supported by public taxes (despite the First Amendment, many states had established churches in this period). Disestablishment didn’t happen until 1818 in Connecticut.

    • Pofarmer

      The whole trapped in a bubble not resembling reality in the U.S. right now is a horrible problem. It leaves people completely unable to be reasoned with.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    “Well, we do have to cut the guy a little slack. He was an atheist, after all”
    OTOH. seems like every week or so I read about some christian crook getting treated special by the courts. Rapists, Murderers, Thieves etc etc can get a slap on the wrist if they are an outstanding member and/or leader of a church. (well, usually helps if they are white too). But a young black man regardless of religion gets a maximum plus sentence, that is IF the cops don’t just kill them first.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Bertrand Russell categorized Soviet-style Communism as a religion, and you should too.

    • Martin Penwald

      The cult of the leader, Stalin or, in North Korea, Kim Jong Un, is pretty conclusive of the religious nature of these regimes.

    • Bastard Gringo

      Karl Marx admitted his communism was inspired by the New Testament “without the Jesus parts.”

      • alverant

        I have to wonder how much Marx’s version of communism matched up with Stalin’s. I’m guessing there are big gaps between them in many places.

      • Michael Murray

        Have you got a source for that quote ? Thanks.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve read a few articles that make the case that there are certain parallels between Marxism and Christianity. But I haven’t seen anything that shows Karl Marx actually stated there was anything in Christianity that he drew on as inspiration. I’ve also read that he despised Christianity with a passion.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know one way or another, but doesn’t it just sound like Christianity taking credit for any good behaviors? Oh, someone is trying to be kind and fair, they must have stolen the idea from the source of absolute morality. Like, those ideas just couldn’t come about from social beings, and Christians aren’t taught acceptable behavior toward others from their church – since they all have different beliefs and behave according to what they’re taught.

    • epicurus

      Russell met Lenin and found him to be a dogmatist who just quoted communist doctrine like scripture and wouldn’t even consider anything pragmatic if it didn’t line up with communist thought. I think Mao was the same way. You’d probably have to be to rise to the leadership position I guess.

    • David Cromie

      Both religion and Soviet style communism worship a leader (among other regimes), and all are totalitarian in operation, so I suppose one could liken such regimes to types of religion, but I fail to see, at the moment, how this helps in any discussion of their demerits.

  • larry parker

    “Don’t tell me about Christian atrocities during the Crusades or the Inquisition,” they’ll say. “The atheist regimes in the twentieth century of Stalin, Mao, and others killed far more people!”

    For the crusades and the inquisition, religion was a feature, not a bug. For Stalin and Mao, atheism was a bug, not a feature.

    • DanD

      Yes, they did kill far more people. But as a percentage of the total human population at the time? Hmm.

      • alverant

        Also consider the technological differences too. What would have the crusaders done with an ICBMs?

        • Meepestos

          Yikes.

      • Meepestos

        Good point.

        For some it seems to be about sheer numbers, not about the atrocities and the complexities involved.

        Many also fail to consider that prior to the 20th century, theists in power that committed atrocities, did not have the surplus populations an weaponry of the 20th century not to mention that theist despots of the 20th century did not have the large territories and populaces like that of Russia’s Stalin or Mao’s China

        • epeeist

          Many also fail to consider that prior to the 20th century

          The use of an arbitrary cut-off point is always one to watch out for, as is the use of absolute numbers. Criminologists use crimes per 100,000 population for crime statistics.

        • Grimlock

          The use of an arbitrary cut-off point is always one to watch out for

          This reminds me of this, particularly section 3 that discusses the time period cut-off:

          https://www.google.com/amp/s/celsus.blog/2012/10/14/ten-reasons-to-reject-the-apologetic-1042-source-slogan/amp/

        • epeeist

          https://www.google.com/amp/

          Nice refutation of something I tend to refer to as “arse-first reasoning”, i.e. where one starts from a conclusion and adjusts the evidence to fit.

        • Kodie

          I think sheer numbers has a validity. I mean, if there are 1000 people, and you kill 100 of them, or there are 7 billion people, and you kill 100 of them, it’s still 100 people. For some reason, we try not to forget each and every one of these people had a life ahead they were deprived of, and families who loved them, etc…. Statistically, if you kill 10% of the population, the ability of the population to recover is going to be more difficult than the population that just lost basically a plane crash full of people, or 5 school shootings of people.

          Culture was different, and perhaps more violent, but less effective at killing in the past. By more violent, I guess I mean, there were more people who were deemed punishable by death, either socially (like the kind of killing that wasn’t punished, like lynching or police brutality), or criminally (such as the death penalty was more acceptable in all states, and the trial process might have prosecuted by media any suspect who seemed to be in the wrong place at the right time, regardless of guilt, and they get the death penalty. I didn’t even bring up weird war commands. Kill Kill Kill. Whoever is wearing the wrong uniform, whoever is in the wrong building today, anyone of any age, regardless of their interest in whatever conflict you’ve come to solve – just kill kill kill.

          We don’t consider our US soldiers to be criminals for killing people they technically didn’t need to kill. So we don’t consider police to be criminals for killing people they technically didn’t need to kill. Statistics are cool for some purposes, but I think sheer numbers is also useful.

        • epeeist

          I think sheer numbers has a validity.

          Of course it does, except when you want to make a comparison.

          At the time of ‘teh Flud’ there were an estimated 20 million people on the planet of which Yahweh killed all but 8. This is a smaller number than Stalin killed. However when you work it as a percentage of population then Yahweh kills 99.999996% of the population while Stalin kills around 0.8%.

          Similarly the 30 Years war killed fewer people than Mao but while Mao was responsible for the deaths of 7% of the Chinese population the Thirty Years war saw the demise of around a third of the European population

        • Ignorant Amos

          According to AiG, there would’ve been a world population of 750 million at the time of The Flood.

          I’ve seen a figure of 4 billion mentioned too, given that folk before The Flood lived for centuries and all that crap…according to the buybull anyway.

          Others believe that Earth’s population was much higher. If the growth rate in the pre-Flood world was equal to the growth rate in 2000 (0.012), there could have been about 750 million people at the time of the Flood. However, given the extremely long lifespans prior to the Flood, the growth rate could have been much higher. Increasing the rate by just 0.001 would put the population at close to four billion at the Flood.

          https://answersingenesis.org/noahs-ark/pre-flood-population/

          So, by the fuckwits own sums, either 749,999,992 and 3,999,999,992 human beings drowned in the Flood. It really doesn’t bode well in the silly comparison games they wanna play, does it?

          Therefore, if we are talking hypothetically, YahwehJesus offed more folk in one day or so, than all the atheist tyrants that ever lived in the entirety of human history.

          Hoist by their own petards yet again methinks.

        • epeeist

          If the growth rate in the pre-Flood world was equal to the growth rate in 2000 (0.012), there could have been about 750 million people at the time of the Flood.

          My estimate comes from CIA figures, which are around 20 million. The percentages of the population that Yahweh killed are therefore:

          20 million: 99.99996%

          750 million: 99.9999989%

          4 billion: 99.9999998%

          YahwehJesus offed more folk in one day or so, than all the atheist tyrants that ever lived in the entirety of human history.

          One that I make sure I roll out the next time a creationist mentions the flood.

        • Kodie

          I think sheer numbers is always going to be impressive emotionally, and that is how monuments have lately been created. Giving each individual their name or a chair, or a number or a flag, seems to be how we grasp how much death there is in any given event. If you see every x item corresponds to a person, and visualize it, I mean, if 100 people die in a school shooting, that’s way more than usual.

          More than 2.5 million people died in the USA last year, but they didn’t all die in one place at the same time, like the holocaust. In cases where only one person died in one place at one time, chances are that person was several people’s whole world.

          Criminologists have to be more statistical, but death is a weird and personal subject. The news reports deaths of babies, children, and young mothers differently than everyone else. Even if you didn’t know them, you’re supposed to be affected differently than hearing even a sheer number, like 10 cars got in a pile-up, 8 people died, including 2 children and a pregnant woman. 10 cars getting in a pile-up is a lot more than a normal car accident, 8 people died, which is less than the number of cars, so it doesn’t sound as severe as it could have been, but 2 children and a container of a future child died, so don’t be in a rush to get past this news story without hugging your own children and/or getting a tear in your eye. Ignoring the other 7 people and their devastated families becomes normal, unless any of those 7 people was a first responder, and trot out their family pictures of who was left behind.

        • David Cromie

          If 100 people were killed in 1066, that is much more significant, proportionately, than 100 people being killed in 2019. Thus absolute numbers can be misleading.

        • Pofarmer

          I like the example of the Albigensisan Crusade, where the Popes armies killed millions the old fashioned way. Or the 30 years war, where up to 3/4 of the population was killed in some areas.

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      What i love is that they seem to think that if the crusades had had access to machine guns and carpet bombs then for some reason they would not have used them.

      • epicurus

        Or the Thirty Years War – Christian vs Christian. I’m sure they would had no problems using deadlier weapons to increase the slaughter.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There certainly wasn’t much restrain in using deadlier weapons when Christians went up against Christians in WW1.

          For the believers, someones prayers were being ignored. For example. The concept of Catholics on one side killing Catholics on the other side seems lost on the Christers.

          Although some organisations, such as the Society of Friends (often known as the Quakers) condemned the war, most faith groups gave their support, justifying the cause in sermons and organising services offering prayers for those with the forces. The European armies often had a close relationship to the established church, and also appointed chaplains (including a small number of Jewish rabbis) to serve the spiritual needs of those in service. Christian padres offered communion to men at the Front and behind the lines, and attempted to give some form of pastoral care.

          Other religious organisations offered support in any number of ways, including tracts sent to the soldiers by groups promoting all variants of faith: Anglo-Catholic reflections, evangelical prayerbooks for study groups, and Qu’rans. More esoteric thinkers found that it was their moment to publish warnings of the end of the world, the need to repent or a whole host of spiritual-related speculations.

          https://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/faith-belief-and-superstition

        • epicurus
        • Ignorant Amos

          So it was the liberal Protestants that facilitated the war. What excuse for all the shite by warmongering Christians prior to Luther nailing his treatise to the door then? Talk about not taking responsibility.

        • Greg G.

          One of my great-I-don’t-know-how-many-greats-grandfathers was kicked out of the Quakers for “sundry disorders” and it was reported to the Revolutionary Army that he could no longer claim a religious objection to war. Apparently they were trying to get him killed. He was deleted from the family Bibles, too.

          Fortunately, the records from that place and time were pretty good. A will listed a 5 year old grandson by the same name of the right age and there was only one potential set of parents that matched up from that area.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Apparently they were trying to get him killed. He was deleted from the family Bibles, too.

          An example of gud auld charitable Christian ethics going at full pelt…even the Quakers were at it ffs. No wonder my confidence in humanity is in the gutter.

        • Greg G.

          Remember that it was in the 1770s.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Has much changed for the better since?

        • Greg G.

          Some things have changed. Those things… not so much.

  • Same PRATTs and same BS. Move on, nothing to see here.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Yup.

    • Michael Neville

      I just visited Reynolds’ blog. Does it surprise anyone that he’s got comments shut off?

      • se habla espol

        It shouldn’t. Blog comments dilute the authorityof the blog operator.

        • Len

          Especially when he says stupid stuff.

        • se habla espol

          We’re talking about a christianist blog. “Saying stupid stuff” goes with the territory.

  • alverant

    The fact that Stalin and Kim Jong governed with cult of the personality pretty much means they were NOT Atheistic. A personality cult is still a religion.

    • It’s only theistic when based on a god. Nontheistic religions also exist. Whether a given cult of personality qualifies really depends. Just like what counts as a god.

  • katiehippie

    Atheists can’t be rebuked? What is it that he thinks he’s doing then?

  • Brian Shanahan

    Stalin was orthodox christian (Georgian to be exact). It was the far less murderous Khruschov who was the committed atheist. And amongst the other 20th century dictators, Kim thought himself a god by the end (juche is the North Korean religion, parallelling the mystery religions christianity sprung out of), Hitler and Mussolini were rcc (though with Mussolini more out of convenience than conviction), Pol Pot was a weird mixture of rcc and buddhism with only Mao being atheist, and his successors are in the process of deifying him.

    And that’s before you start looking at the likes of Franco, Pinochet, Seko, Bokassa, Mugabe, Suharto, the Burmese junta and all the others who were explicitly and fanatically religious.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Yes, the best theists can justify – the very best – is that religiosity is not an underlying motivation for totalitarian regimes. I’m not saying I agree with this, just that it’s the furthest they could go even if I grant every argument.

      But that isn’t enough so, as usual, they have to push well beyond what the data could reasonably suggest.

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        religion is a problem for a dictator, unless they can control it, then it becomes just another lever of control. If you can completely crush it, it is one plate to keep spinning, otherwise you have to get well into bed with it.

        • Greg G.

          The metaphors have my head spinning. <80)

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          well at least i didn’t mix them, just smushed them up against each other 🙂 also made a small edit as i seemed to have missed a significant ‘less’

        • Kodie

          I wrote a pretty long reply yesterday about objective morality – the basic concept is, whether it comes from the bible or from a personal preference, if you punish by death any behavior you (or your interpretation of the bible or whatever religious guide) don’t like, the idea is to get rid of people who do things you don’t like, while deterring the behavior you don’t like in others, because they fear death. This is basically North Korea, yeah? We have to acknowledge that some people are greedy for power, and then they see if religion is their tool (like Hitler) or in the way, and so make their own rules to follow or die.

          Killing people who do not obey a disbelief in god is not a feature of atheism but megalomania. Let’s not even stop at dictatorship. Megalomaniacs will use religion as a tool. Megalomaniacs can be threatened by religion and ban it. Stop fucking blaming not believing in your stupid childish fairy tale as a recipe for mass murder. I am telling them, not you.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          well quite, authoritarians are going to authoritaire and will use any tool they see as useful to do it.

    • He was raised so, but later an atheist. It didn’t stop him from using the Church when they were useful for him. Though both Hitler and were raised as Catholics, they rejected that later. Hitler became a pantheist and Mussolini an atheist. They too had no problem allying with and also using churches however. Pol Pot was raised religious but became an atheist too. So what? Claiming that this proves anything has always been just an association fallacy.

  • Stalin also restricted abortion.

    Hoxna’s Albania was officially atheist, and closed churches, mosques, and synagogues.

    (At best, the best the Hoxna example can do for the apologist is show that it isn’t religion that makes people bad.)

    Our apologist friend claims that there is no ground for criticizing atheists without religion. I guess he missed Elevatorgate; after all, AFAIK, both Richard Dawkins and Rebecca Watson are atheists, and I have seen much criticism of certain atheists’ sexism and racism from more social-justice-minded atheists.

    (Apologists love to quote Dostoyevsky’s “If God doesn’t exist, then anything is permitted”. But, I have noticed most atheists I have encountered see that hypothetical atheist as an asshole.)

  • Michael Neville

    Okay, Reynolds, give us an example of an atheist saying, “Stalin, what a great guy he was. Certainly someone to emulate.”

    Reynolds seems to think that little atheist children are saying, “I want to be Josef Stalin when I grow up.”

    • MuttsRule

      On the other hand, the Russian Orthodox Christians seemed to admire him (from Inconvenient History):

      Requiem masses were said for Stalin on his death in 1953. Patriarch Alexy stated in the patriarchal cathedral on the day of Stalin’s
      funeral:

      “We, who gathered to pray for him, cannot pass in silence on his always benevolent, sympathizing attitude to our church needs. Any
      question which we addressed to him, was not rejected by him; he satisfied all our requests. And a lot that is good and useful, thanks to
      his high authority, has been done for our Church by our Government. The memory of him for us is unforgettable, and our Russian Orthodox Church, mourning over his leaving us, escorting him to his last journey.

      “In these sad days for us, from different directions of our Fatherland from bishops, clergy and believers, and from heads and representatives
      of Churches, as orthodox and heterodox, from abroad, I receive a mass of telegrams telling of prayers for him and consoling us on the occasion
      of this sad loss. We prayed for him when the message about his serious illness had come. And now, when he is no more, we pray for his immortal
      soul. Yesterday our special delegation […] placed a wreath on his coffin and bowed on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church to his
      dear body. The prayer, fulfilled with Christian love, reaches God. […] And to our loved and unforgettable Joseph Vissarionovich we devoutly, with deep, passionate love proclaim his eternal memory.”

  • Ann Kah

    Hello! I’m your friendly neighborhood non-theist. Do you know why I haven’t murdered you all in your beds by now? It has something to do with NOT WIELDING POWER AND NOT COMMANDING ANY ARMIES.

    Yeah, that must be it.

    • Greg G.

      We murder exactly as many theists as Penn Jillette wants us to murder – zero.

      • Kodie

        I cannot believe that’s absolutely true. There’s conflation here – theists seem to think atheists want an atheist dictatorship that will outlaw religious practice, or that atheism leads to the kind of fantasy of killing everyone who is religious. Right, because we’re the ones who are intolerant. But I can’t believe no atheist has been pushed to the edge and murdered or harmed or vandalized on account of his or her atheism against a theist or theist’s property.

        Morality is just another separate topic. Atheism doesn’t necessarily lead to murder, just like Christianity doesn’t necessarily lead to murder, but it doesn’t mean it can’t or never does.

        • Greg G.
        • Kodie

          I realize that, but I also remember a long while ago, I said something to the effect that gay people can so be murderers and rapists. It’s not being in a certain category that absolves anyone of criminal intent. It’s not being gay that causes molestation, nor is it being an atheist that cause lack of morals and murderous intent. Theists and homophobes need to learn all that shit, and until they do, if they keep bringing it up, they are misguided morons. But equality means someone who is a criminal can also belong to a minority.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          theists seem to think atheists want an atheist dictatorship that will outlaw religious practice

          Projection at its finest.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But I can’t believe no atheist has been pushed to the edge and murdered or harmed or vandalized on account of his or her atheism against a theist or theist’s property.

          Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre and his “Reign of Terror” during the time of the French Revolution could be a contender.

          He [Robespirre] protested against Catholic Dogmas and the ways of Christianity stating, “of all religions, the Christian should of course inspire the most toleration, but till now the Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.” These criticisms were often used by Robespierre and other leaders as justification for their anti-religious reforms.

          The Reign of Terror was characterized by a dramatic rejection of long-held religious authority, its hierarchical structure, and the corrupt and intolerant influence of the aristocracy and clergy. Religious elements that long stood as symbols of stability for the French people, were replaced by reason and scientific thought. The radical revolutionaries and their supporters desired a cultural revolution that would rid the French state of all Christian influence. This process began with the fall of the monarchy, an event that effectively defrocked the State of its sanctification by the clergy via the doctrine of Divine Right and ushered in an era of reason.

          Many long-held rights and powers were stripped from the church and given to the state. In 1789, church lands were expropriated and priests killed or forced to leave France. A Festival of Reason was held in the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was renamed “The Temple of Reason”, and the old traditional calendar was replaced with a new revolutionary one. The leaders of the Terror tried to address the call for these radical, revolutionary aspirations, while at the same time trying to maintain tight control on the de-Christianization movement that was threatening to the clear majority of the still devoted Catholic population of France. The tension sparked by these conflicting objectives laid a foundation for the “justified” use of terror to achieve revolutionary ideals and rid France of the religiosity that revolutionaries believed was standing in the way.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reign_of_Terror

          But Robespierre is never put forward by apologists…I wonder why? NOT!

    • Robert Serrano

      On the other hand, apparently many Christians are slavering hounds waiting to be unleashed upon the world to murder and destroy, except God says they shouldn’t, so they (mostly) restrain themselves.

      And here I am being happily atheistic and not believing in any sort of afterlife. And I wouldn’t contemplate killing anyone or anything that didn’t pose an immediate threat to me or those I care about. Nor do I believe it should be my right to make people act according to my beliefs.

  • Ignorant Amos

    The auld atheist atrocities fallacy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAwlwHlgrEI

    Stalin embraced the religious when it suited his purposes, Christian and Muslim.

    He also offed atheists when that suited his purposes too.

    “The sacralization of the party opened the way to the sacralization of Stalin when he became the supreme leader. After 1929, the political religion of Russia mainly concentrated on the deification of Stalin, who until his death in 1953 dominated the party and Soviet system like a tyrannical and merciless deity. “ ~ Emilio Gentile. Politics as Religion. Princeton University Press. (2006). pp. 41-42.

  • rationalobservations?

    Extreme political totalitarianism has much more in common with religious theocratic totalitarianism than with modern, educated, free, secular democracies that are the least religious free democratic nations in the history of our very recently evolved species of ape.

    The 4th century founded Roman religion they called “christianity” was brutally and murderously imposed upon the world in which fewer than 5% of the population followed any of the several messianic cults. The Emperor’s edict to convert or die was reinforced by the destruction of the people’s temples and most holy artifacts and no one knows how many people died for what they considered their true faith.

    The third largest and fastest growing human demographic are the godless nonreligious and all across the developed world religion is in sharp and terminal decline.

    If religion poisons everything, it’s encouraging for the future of our species that the antidote to that vile poison is proving to be education and free, secular democracy,

    The alternative to the totalitarianism of communism is not the totalitarianism of religion – it is education and free, secular democracy,

  • Greg G.
    • al kimeea

      if we descended from meatballs, why are there still meatballs… checkmate

  • You’re both wrong. Atheism/antitheism were part of Marxism to very different degrees. That said, it’s slanderous to claim all antitheists (and even Marxists) are keen on purging religion. Marx did not even advocate that. Lenin and some other later Marxists did. It was hardly uniform policy.

    • Michael Neville

      When did a bit of slander (or in Reynolds’ case libel, since he wrote it rather than said it) stop a Christian from sneering at atheists?

      • Unfortunately they don’t very often. I suppose it’s really not either, since no individual now living has been accused of specific wrongs, and it was thus legit. Still, it is not civil or good reasoning.

  • EllyR

    There is a very big philosophical difference between a mass killer that happens to be an atheist and christians mass killers like the crusaders that killed in the name of “god” and the church with the pope’s blessing. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ee3532d260ade70aa2e65e8ea58695b609f24f3aeb6d6ef80c1476941c673b7d.jpg

    • Michael Neville

      Stalin being a paranoid megalomaniac had more to do with him getting massive numbers of people killed than him being an atheist.

      Historical note: Between 1936 and 1939 Stalin had more Soviet military officers killed than Hitler managed to get killed in 1940 to 1945.

      • Global population changed quite considerably between the Bronze-Iron Ages – up to now. If ancient religious despots wanted to slaughter many, it easn’t for the lack of trying, – it was just they had a much less impressive field of numbers to work their grisly methods against!

        In the range of 27,000,000 to 100,000,000 world population from 2,000 BC to 500 BC – thus warlords had a small sample size to either decimate, or to near fully obliterate.

        (By way of comparison, Australia has a very sparse population due to the lack of rainfall over 90% of its total landmass, and by six months ago had a total population of just 25.1 million!)

        http://www.subdude-site.com/WebPages_Local/Blog/topics/environment/worldPopGrowth_charts/images_worldPopulation/WorldPopulationGraph_yearPre7000BCto2025AD_metalAges_703x578.jpg

      • David Cromie

        Stalin was training to be an Orthodox priest in his younger days, so no doubt, like Hitler, he learned that YAHWEH was very fond of murder and mayhem. Stalin was not particularly against religion, but he was against those who failed to go along with his world view, and just as vengefully cruel in retribution as YAHWEH was.

        By the way, no one has ever started a war in the name of ‘atheism’.

  • Connie Beane

    I prefer the term “non-believer” to “atheist.” Christians are non-believers, too, in every other god but theirs. I just believe in one less god than they do.

    • Michael Neville

      A difference that makes no difference is no difference. But do whatever floats your boat.

      • Connie Beane

        See my response to Kodie.

        • Michael Neville

          Your response to Kodie is:

          True, but “atheist” carries the very negative connotation of opponent for a lot of people. Whereas “non-believer”–for me at least–says “I don’t care enough about your silly debate to argue with you.”

          The word atheist having a “very negative connotation” exists only in your own mind. Many of us here would disagree with you. But no matter, if it’s important to you then don’t use “atheist”. The rest of us will continue to use it despite your concerns.

          EDITED to correct typos.

        • Kodie

          The negative connotation comes from misconceptions by theists. Theists scare each other like what it will be like if they are an atheist, it’s about like the baggage if you announce you are a vegan. Maybe you don’t want to eat or wear animal products anymore, but the meat-eaters will make a huger deal out of it than you will. They will call you annoying and insulting, and whatever.

          Theists think atheists are so much more outspoken than we are. Christianity is pretty outspoken, but when people just go along, at least where I grew up, Christians can be pretty much latent. It’s when someone has to say something, it always has to be an atheist, so we get this terrible reputation for being loud just to make a fuss over nothing, while Christians enjoy a cushy ride of taking everything for granted. Sure, we have to complain intentionally to get over-reach pushed back, but that doesn’t make us bad people. But there is a negative connotation.

          I think it’s bullshit though. The problem most people have with the term is a theist false explanation of what the word means, so they think they know how to deal with you – you’re loud and obnoxious and making a baseless claim, whereas, they have morals, and everyone thinks they’re good people even if they’re not. I dislike theists putting the burden of language on us. I dislike them taking credit for terms like justice, love, morality, etc., and then defining atheism like we’re hell babies and we have to go on the back foot and defend ourselves. Fuck those liars, fuck those brainwashed. If any theist actually cares about being a good person, and a moral person, and a caring citizen and a coexisting type of tolerant person, they should at minimum learn what an atheist actually is and stop spreading filthy rumors, or else FUCK THEM. I’d like to believe some Christians aren’t total assholes, so when those people will be honest, and actually listen to atheists tell them what they are instead of their bullshit church fearmongers, I can stop thinking they are total assholes. Ok, they are only assholes to atheists, so that really just rubs me the wrong way. I hate having to use another word for something because they ruined it, and continue to abuse the word and people who label themselves that word.

        • Connie Beane

          You (and your legion of like minds) may agree or disagree with me as you choose. Be my guest. And feel free to use “atheist” to describe yourself (or yourselves); I’m not trying to impose my choice of terminology on anyone.

          As for the negative connotations of “atheist” that exist only in my mind, try going on some random Christian site and announcing that you’re an atheist and see what kind of reaction you get. I’d love to hear about the results.

        • Kodie

          If you let them tell you what your name is, because of their continued misinformation, that’s really their problem, and you’re making it also our problem by agreeing with their distinction.

        • Ignorant Amos

          As for the negative connotations of “atheist” that exist only in my mind, try going on some random Christian site and announcing that you’re an atheist and see what kind of reaction you get. I’d love to hear about the results.

          Most of us have. The reception varies depending on the level of fundamentalism. You think doing the same and changing the word atheist to non-believer makes a difference? That has not been my experience. But so what, why pander to the fuckwits?

        • Michael Neville

          I know exactly what the reaction to announcing my atheism at a Christian blog is. For some reason you think you’ve discovered that Christians don’t like us and nobody else ever noticed. The difference between you and me is you retreat from announcing your atheism while I glory in it.

          And you are trying to impose your preferred “non-believer” label on the rest of us. Why else would you have responded to me why I told you to call yourself whatever you wanted? But that’s okay. Do whatever lets you sleep at night.

          I give a damn about what I call myself and I prefer to use an honest name rather than something that’s supposed to be fraught with meaning that you have to explain to everyone else.

        • Sample1

          Visibility is good for the word. It may also be a little bad if it occasionally reinforces stereotypes to closed minds. But it’s never going to be accepted as boring or matter-of- factly by being hidden.

          But it’s not like there are club by-laws on this. 🙂

          As far as announcing oneself on a Christian site as atheist and causing a ruckus, that’s not as common these days in my experience. YMMV.

          Try saying you have a stash of black market consecrated hosts that you crisp up on a portable hibachi whenever a Catholic defends their institutional criminality. That will cause a ruckus.

          Mike, faith free

        • Greg G.

          > Writing “have a stash of black market consecrated hosts that you crisp up on a portable hibachi whenever a Catholic defends their institutional criminality” in my notebook.

        • Kodie

          The 1 1/8″ diameter white wafer host (29mm) features a cross design and is available in box or plastic container of 1000 hosts each.Produced in the United States, all breads have a carefully molded sealed edge, which prevents crumbs. They are baked of only white flour and water, and are made strictly without additives. All altar breads are superior in substance and sign value. The breads are sealed minutes after baking and are untouched by human hands.

          https://shop.catholicsupply.com/store/c/460-Altar-Bread.aspx

          You can buy these, but the altar wine is only available for sale by church accounts, because it’s liquor. It’s not specified if, after baking, they are touched by robot hands or angel hands or what, to pack them up. It’s more expensive than a couple boxes of Ritz crackers, but if you want to do something sacrilicious with hosts, it’s not that expensive to get 1000. Come to think of it, it might be, for 1000 of them, fairly competitive with supermarket brands of crackers, with the added feature of no crumbs. Although, I don’t know how they manage to sell biscuits of god-man flesh, or a variety of cheap wines over the internet, that come in a wide variety of savior blood colors and flavor notes:

          https://shop.catholicsupply.com/store/p/48590-Cribari-Vineyards-Altar-Wine-750ml-clone.aspx

          Rosato (delicate, sweet, pink-our best selling blend)
          White Rosato (same as rosato, but straw color)
          Light Red (dark pink color, not as sweet as Rosato)
          Vin rose (pink, slightly sweet, delicate bouquet)
          Port (ruby red, velvet smooth and rich)

          The Bishop jewelry is hella expensive, but you can get a comfortable priest collar pretty cheap too:
          It’s called “Clericool Collar”:
          https://shop.catholicsupply.com/store/p/47001-Clericool-Collar.aspx

          If you really look around this site, I mean, it’s funny ’cause you can buy sacrilegious crackers and Halloween costumes, but the money you donate to the grand ceremony that is Catholicism, how much they pay to put on their theater, and that isn’t necessarily what they want… not saying it’s not what they want, but it’s the whole appeal of Catholicism is the excess and material exposition, and they need to keep up these appearances to seem more rich (and I don’t even mean monetarily) than other beliefs, I mean more authentic or substantial. They need luxury materials to somehow attract members, which makes it seem shallow to me and Catholics to seem gullible.They need the theatrics, this makes them think it’s more real.

          Example of people being fooled by shinies:

          Indiana Jones 3 Holy Grail Scene

          Of course, that doesn’t mean something more authentically rustic and ancient is proof of god, but it does go along with the stories more authentically.

        • Greg G.

          They also say some magic words and play it as a solemn thing to make the transubstantiation seem real to them.

        • Ignorant Amos

          They are just wafers until the cleric says the magic woo-woo words during the magic ritual. Host desecration can only occur to consecrated hosts as far as I was aware.

          It all starts to happen at the beginning of the “Institution Narrative”, “This is my body.” (Hoc est enim corpus meum.).

          Today, the answer can be found in the Catechism, but also by observing the liturgy. The Catechism says that as soon as the Institution Narrative begins, the Lord is present in the elements of bread and wine. That is why the universal law of the church directs the assembly to kneel for this part of the Eucharistic Prayer, even though in the United States we are already kneeling at that point.

          That was the point for the student who got into the shite when he stole one during the vodoo procedure. It had to be pilfered after it was in the process of being transformed. I remember all the hoo-haa at the time.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Host_desecration#2008_controversy_in_the_US

        • Kodie

          I didn’t really know where it came from. For some reason, I thought they were thinner like a flat potato chip, and didn’t have little sheep stamped on them. So, someone like me can buy a box of hosts and put them out at a party with some cheeses and maybe some kind of dip and pepperoni. Because that would be cool.

        • Connie Beane

          When I ceased to identify as “Christian,” I also cast aside the notion that I had an obligation to be a spokesperson for my faith (or non-faith, as the case is). What I believe in or don’t believe in, what I call myself, is a personal matter. I’m not out to “witness” to the benefits of being an atheist (or non-believer), to try to “convert” anyone to atheism (or non-belief), or to demonstrate that atheists (non-believers) can be good people, too. I’m just me, and I don’t really care what anyone else believes, just as long as they don’t bug me about it.

        • Kodie
        • Ignorant Amos

          So why are you here, talking about it to strangers, if it is that much of a personal matter?

    • Kodie

      Means literally the same thing.

      • Connie Beane

        True, but “atheist” carries the very negative connotation of opponent for a lot of people. Whereas “non-believer”–for me at least–says “I don’t care enough about your silly debate to argue with you.”

        • Kodie

          We need to stop being scared of connotations laid there by theists who are preached lies about atheism at church.

        • Connie Beane

          By calling myself an “a-theist,” I define my position by contrasting it with theirs: as their opposite or opponent. By calling myself a “non-believer,” I am saying that the issue of whether there is a god or no god is irrelevant to the way I live my life. I have no opinion either way.

        • Kodie

          I don’t see the distinction. If you can get out of sticky situations where a believer will confront you for not believing in their god, by labeling yourself something that doesn’t raise their hackles immediately, you’re missing the opportunity to teach them what they believe atheists are is different from what atheists actually are. What else are they being lied to about?

          Because they literally mean the same THING. Theist = believer, Atheist = non-believer.

          Buy into their connotations if you want to.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am saying that the issue of whether there is a god or no god is irrelevant to the way I live my life. I have no opinion either way.

          Nope, you’re not.

          But given what you’ve just said there, and you’re proposal for us to go to a Christian site and declare ones atheism as opposed to being a non-believer, I don’t see why you’d even do that. By going to a Christian site and declaring yourself as a non-believer, you are declaring you have an opinion either way, that you believe that not to be the case, is ridiculous.

        • Greg G.

          Kodie is right.

          theist = believer
          the prefix “a” = the prefix “non”

          I don’t see much of a distinction. Perhaps you should use “atheist” as atheists use it instead of how theists use it.

        • Sample1

          Atheist has fewer letters. Better for the environment.

          Mike, atheist

        • Kodie

          I’ve always disliked people trying to get away from the term because Christians ruined it.

        • Greg G.

          Good point. It also saves you a syllable every time you use it in a sentence.

  • Derek Mathias

    Hey Bob, I just recently released a video that makes some of the same key points you make. Check it out:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYFe8rejcjM

  • That quaint ole bible seems to be a manifesto for religiously-inspired slaughter!
    The Dark Bible

    Atrocities (only a few)

    https://www.nobeliefs.com/DarkBible/darkbible3.htm

    QUOTED example: David Slaughters Them

    “And he brought out the people that were in it, and cut them with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes…” (I Chronicles 20:3)
    Comment
    Chapters 17-19 (17-18-19) tells us that David killed 22,000 Syrians and that Abishai killed 18,000 Edomites. No one expresses shame at such slaughters.
    Here in 20:3, we have David, counted as a great leader of the Israelites, slaughtering captives after the cessation of hostilities. From what high moral ground should we admire this action?

  • RichardSRussell

    Mass murderer in waiting? Not so sure about yourself? Take heart from gaming theory: “Games are very educational. Scrabble teaches spelling, Monopoly teaches cash-flow management, and D&D teaches us to loot the bodies.” —Steve Jackson, game entrepreneur, Dangerous Games, p. 99

  • digital bookworm

    “There is nothing in the Bible about transgender people, euthanasia, or chemically induced abortions, …”
    Actually chemically induced abortions are mentioned in the Buybull. A man suspecting his wife of cheating can talk to a priest about testing his wife. If the priest believes the man he mixes an abortifact into the ink used on a parchment that the wife must eat to prove her faithfulness.
    (I’ll bet the priest believed the husband 99% of the time.)

    • Kodie

      But they believed this only worked if the woman in fact cheated on her husband. So, because of what is involved, it always worked, just like witches always float, etc. It wasn’t on its face the instruction manual to abort a fetus so much as a way to abuse a woman and damage her ability to procreate permanently. I mean, it does the trick, but it’s not giving a woman the choice, it’s accusing her of something she probably didn’t do, and leaving her out in the cold.

      • Ignorant Amos

        Knuckle-dragging woo-woo the lot of it…but there is no mention of any of this in the ignorant red states banning abortion…even for victims of rape and incest.

        https://robertcargill.com/2015/08/19/on-god-ordained-abortion-inducing-magic-potions-and-jealous-husbands-shaming-their-wives-in-the-bible/

        For an omniscient and omnipotent being, YawehJesus is a useless bastard. Or are we talking hyper-misogyny? Yeah…that’ll be it, that’s religion for ya.

      • Robert Serrano

        True, but the current anti-abortioneers, keep claiming that the fetus is innocent of any sin. So, even if it was conceived from adultery, inducing a miscarriage should still be murder according to them. I know most of them haven’t actually read the book they throw in everyone else’s face, but this would seem to be a huge inconsistency.
        But then, I’m not a theologian.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah, but according to that prick Augustine, all babies are born with original sin. That’s why it’s imperative to get ones sprogs baptized ASAP. In case something terminal happens before the ritual is convened. And that’s why the fuckwit invented the concept of limbo, one of the more insidious ideas to come from a religion.

          Original sin is an Augustine Christian doctrine that says that everyone is born sinful. This means that they are born with a built-in urge to do bad things and to disobey God. It is an important doctrine within the Roman Catholic Church. The concept of Original Sin was explained in depth by St Augustine and formalised as part of Roman Catholic doctrine by the Councils of Trent in the 16th Century.

    • Greg G.

      I am glad you caught that about chemically induced abortion so I wouldn’t have to jump on it.

    • Pofarmer

      Is this Numbers 5 or?

      • digital bookworm

        Yeah, Numbers 5, 11-31. After rereading it I had the details wrong, but the basic premise right.

  • “Not all atheists are selfish, though they aren’t acting decently because of atheism.”

    I was a decent person as a Christian, but it is a fact that my atheism has motivated me to be better. When I realized that it’s just we humans trying to get by, and that there are no invisible beings that can help, I realized that what I do makes more difference than I thought. It’s ALL up to people to help other people. That motivates me.

    • Pofarmer

      As Mark Twain said. “People do all the work, God gets all the credit.”

  • NS Alito

    Christianity, by contrast, does have a moral rulebook, and it sucks.

    That’s why I come here: Thoughtful theological analysis.

    • You do know that there’s a link there to justify that claim, right?

      • NS Alito

        [Back from trip]
        I enjoyed the vulgar vernacular departure from the usual, more temperate tone of your posts.
        😉

  • Grimlock

    Yes…but the problem still remains that when you say “I’m an atheist” and when I say “I’m an atheist”, it isn’t enough. If you and I are different kinds of atheist, then a further qualifier is required.

    Agreed. The word is sufficiently ambiguous, and used in different ways, so that further elaboration is required. If someone self-identifies as an atheist, they probably do not have a belief in god(s). But if a person doesn’t believe in god(s), and that is all we know, they probably do not self-identify as an atheist.

    The word on its own simply means without gods. It takes more to define what kind of atheist we are and why we differ. That’s the problem. And that’s the reason theists get it wrong when they come along and define my atheism as your atheism. And why when they are corrected, they keep making the category error mistake anyway. That’s why we get pissed off.

    This isn’t difficult. If a word has more than one meaning, it needs more to delineate the correct definition when the interlocutor is taking the wrong meaning, otherwise confusion sets in. This is the problem with theists and a number of words the bandy about. Words like “faith” and “theory” for example. Luke Breuer would do it all the time. Complain about us being uncharitable when we took the negative connotation, but then whine when it was pointed out that he was the worst offender.

    The term atheist can define a larger group under the umbrella of without gods. Like theist covers lots more than jus one religion. And it doesn’t matter when being applied as without gods. But when it is being applied to the more specific, then it needs qualification and I’m not having a theist insisting on that qualification and applying it to me.

    I do not agree that atheism is the best umbrella term for those who do not actively believe in god(s). I prefer the term nontheist. But that doesn’t mean that I mind you preferring to categorise that as atheism.

    As mentioned above, I agree that self-identification as an atheist is not sufficient to provide an accurate description of one’s beliefs. It is indeed very frustrating when religious folks makes faulty assumptions about one’s beliefs based on that self-identification…

  • Grimlock

    Very interesting. Would a similar way of phrasing the same issue be that for A to be a good explanation for X, then X should follow from A, and ~X should not follow from A?

    Asking to try check if I understood.

    Neat discussion you’re having with Susan.

    Thanks. I like it too. It’s enlightening, and opens up some interesting ideas.

    • Sample1

      X should follow in some functional role from A, yes, if it is claiming to be a mode of explanation for A. Otherwise, what we have is a gap in any causal relationship for A while still claiming to be casually explanatory. And that smacks of “insert magic here.” Does it not?

      Mike, excommunicated

      • Grimlock

        Agreed, so it does.

        Thank you for the interesting ideas. I’ll have to check out that Ted Talk you mentioned.

    • Susan

      Would a similar way of phrasing the same issue be that for A to be a good explanation for X, then X should follow from A, and ~X should not follow from A?

      We have a general idea what “X” is. The world we see around us. This includes the fields that lie at the bottom of our best models and evidence of our best thinkers and students on the subject. .

      I have no idea what you mean by “A”.

      Or what “A”ism means by “A”.

      • MR

        I read his two cases and neither seems to apply to me.

        • Susan

          neither seems to apply to me.

          I’m having the same problem, at least without copious caveats.

          But Grimlock always makes discussion interesting.

      • Grimlock

        I did mean that in a general sense, and not limited to the specific case of god(s) as an explanation.

        But I generally find that even if I have some idea of what is meant by “God”, the explanatory part is still mostly or entirely absent.

        I haven’t forgotten your last reply in our other exchange, by the way. I just wanna give myself time to process what you wrote, and also get back to a proper keyboard. Hopefully some time tomorrow.

  • Grimlock

    Are you a fan of The Good Place?

    It’s a forking good show. Love the part about cursing, though it’s gotta be pretty shirty to deal with.

  • Greg G.

    There are so many everyday words on the list that it is hard to know what not to use. You can’t carry on a decent conversation without some arbitrary word sending you to moderation.

    • Kodie

      It’s so frustrating, I could curse!