Unlike Wintery, I’m pretty relaxed about definitions. You want to define atheism as the lack of belief in God? That’s cool. In fact, you can define it as the belief in green cheese. However, I won’t use that definition. Why? Because I already have a word for people who lack belief in God – ‘non-theists’. Under non-theists I define those who don’t know whether or not God exists (agnostics) and those who say God does not exist (atheists). I use these definitions because they make it plain what the beliefs of those I refer to are. Labeling everyone who doesn’t believe in God ‘atheist’ is thus (for me) redundant and confusing because then I have no idea whether they believe God does not exist, or whether they just don’t know if he exists.
So, define away.
First, let’s see check with the Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God.
Stanford University is one of the top 5 universities in the United States, so that’s a solid definition. To be an atheist is to be a person who makes the claim that, as a matter of FACT, there is no intelligent agent who created the universe. Atheists think that there is no God, and theists think that there is a God. Both claims are objective claims about the way the world is out there, and so both sides must furnish forth arguments and evidence as to how they are able to know what they are each claiming.
Philosopher William Lane Craig has some thoughts on atheism, atheists and lacking belief in God in this reply to a questioner.
In my discussions with atheists…
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