Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
No. of Recommendations: 10
2) Essentially, they are saying that atheism can only happen through the rejection of religions, rather than as a state where they simply do not believe in a god at all, as if the default is to believe in a god, and only by rejecting that can someone come to atheism.

As is so often the case with these kinds of discussions, it all comes down to disagreements over what it means for someone to be "atheist."

I don't think the author is saying that one has to first believe in a god before one can be atheist. Rather, he's saying that to affirmatively believe that no god exists, one has to have the mental capacity to be aware of the concept of god. In other words, before one can say "I believe that god does not exist," one has to be able to: i) be aware that things exist or don't exist; and ii) generally have an idea of what the term "god" might embrace.

In this formulation of what atheism is, babies are no more atheists than they are holocaust deniers. IOW, "atheism" (to the author) is a specific belief about god(s) - a belief that babies are incapable of forming, since they unfamiliar with even the concept of god.

This is different from how Dawkins uses the term "atheist," I think. In his usage, "atheism" is the absence of a belief that god exists - something that babies are perfectly capable of having. After all, they don't even believe that sattelites or pollination or the New York Stock Exchange exist.

So it's just a difference of definition:

1) Atheists believe that god does not exist.
2) Atheists do not believe that god exists.

Print the post  


What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.