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What Is Atheism?

What is atheism?

The word ‘atheism’ comes from the negative ‘a’ which means ‘no,’ and ‘theos’ which means ‘god.’  Hence, atheism in the most basic terms means ‘no god.’  Basically, atheism is the lack of belief in a god, and/or the belief that there is no god.  By contrast, theism is the belief that there is a God, that he is knowable, and that he is involved in the world.  Most atheists do not consider themselves anti-theists, but simply non-theists.

I've encountered many atheists who claim that atheism is not a belief system, while others say it is.  Since there is no official atheist organization, nailing down which description of atheism to use can be difficult.  Nevertheless, the following are some definitions offered by atheists.  Whichever definition you go by, atheism denies God.

        * "An atheist is someone who believes and/or knows there is no god."

        * "An atheist lacks belief in a god."

        * "An atheist exercises no faith in the concept of god at all."

        * "An atheist is someone who is free from religious oppression and bigotry."

        * "An atheist is someone who is a free-thinker, free from religion and its ideas."

There are two main categories of atheists: strong and weak, with variations in between.  Strong atheists actively believe and state that no God exists.  They expressly denounce the Christian God along with any other god.  Strong atheists are usually more aggressive in their conversations with theists and try to shoot holes in theistic beliefs.  They like to use logic and anti-biblical evidences to denounce God's existence.  They are active, often aggressive, and openly believe that there is no God.

Agnostic Atheists, as I call them, are those who deny God's existence based on an examination of evidence.  Agnosticism means 'not knowing,' or 'no knowledge.'  I call them agnostic because they state they have looked at the evidence and have concluded that there is no God, but they say they are open to further evidence for God's existence.

Weak atheists simply exercise no faith in God.  The weak atheist might be better explained as a person who lacks belief in God the way a person might lack belief that there is a green lizard in a rocking chair on the moon; it isn't an issue.  He doesn't believe it or not believe it.

Finally, there is a group of atheists that I call militant atheists.  They are, fortunately, few in number.  They are usually highly insulting and profoundly terse in their comments to theists, particularly Christians.  I’ve encountered a few of them and they are vile, rude, and highly condescending.  Their language is full of insults, profanity, and blasphemies.  Basically, no meaningful conversation can be held with them.

Two Main Types of Arguments from Atheists

Atheist positions seem to fall into two main categories.  The first is the lack-of-evidence category where the atheist asserts that the supporting evidence isn't good enough for him to affirm God's existence.  The second is the category where the athiest believes that the idea of God's existence is illogical and contrary to the evidence at hand.  To simplify, one position says there isn't enough evidence to conclude that God exists, and the other position says the evidence is contrary to God's existence.  For those atheists who simply lack belief and exercise no energy in the discussion, neither category applies because they are not involved in the debate.  But, some of those who claim to lack belief in God are often involved in discussions where they are arguing against God's existence.

A typical argument posed by an atheist to show why God does not exist is as follows:  God is supposed to be all good and all powerful.  Evil and suffering exist in the world.  If God is all good he would not want evil and suffering to exist.  If He is all powerful then He is able to remove all evil and suffering.  Since evil and suffering exist, God is either not all good (which means he is not perfect and not God), or he is not all powerful (and limited in abilities and scope).  Since either case shows God is not all good and powerful, then He does not exist.  Of course, the problem is that the criticism is a false dichotomy.  In other words, there are more than two possibilities; namely, God might have a reason for allowing evil and suffering; man's freedom might require the allowance of evil and suffering, etc.

Some Basic Tenets of Atheism

Presuppositions are important to us all.  We look at the world through them.  The atheist has a set of presuppositions, too.  As I said, there is no definitive atheist organization that defines the absolutes of atheism, but there are basic principles that atheists, as a whole, tend to adopt.  I've tried to list some of them below.  Pease note, however, that not all atheists accept all of these tenets.  The only absolute common one they hold to is that they do not believe in a God or gods.

       1. There is no God or devil.

       2. There is no supernatural realm.

       3. Miracles cannot occur.

       4. There is no such thing as sin as a violation of God's will.

       5. Generally, the universe is materialistic and measurable.

       6. Man is material.

       7. Generally, evolution is considered a scientific fact.

       8. Ethics and morals are relative

For the Christian, atheism clashes with many aspects of our faith.  Some atheists openly attack Christianity, citing apparent contradictions in the Bible, perceived philosophical difficulties related to God, and what they consider as logical evidences against God's existence.  But the atheists' criticisms are not without very good answers, as you will see in the coming papers.

Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry © Matthew J. Slick, 1995 - 2009

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20 answers

Atheism is the lack of a god-belief, the absence of theism, to whatever degree and for whatever reason. The one thing that all atheists have in common, according to this definition, is that they are not theists. One either believes one or more of the various claims for the existence of a god or gods (is a[b] theist[/b]) or one does not believe any of those claims (is an atheist).

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Hopefully, in time, we will all learn to discuss issues without the need to throw muck at one another!

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What does it matter what I think? Don't you have enough to consider in the post itself? Sorry, but the only reason you want one's personal opinion - those of you who want it - is becasue you need a person to attack, as opposed to, reason with what is posted, I wil have you consider!

As to Christians only posting things without commenting, please note, the poster of this no commented article is an atheist, and she does not agree with everything that the article says about him!

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Religious madness. I did remember the painful bondage of some cultist in school then who never knew peace but will always looking for few simple minded folks who will share same pain and bondage with them. Kids are most carried away with naughty excitements of ruggedity. Truly, many of them live in bountiful regrets today, "Inward pains of unsafe bloody convenants," even the so called atheists who blindly claim non existence of higher powers.

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Religious madness. I did remember the painful bondage of some cultist in school then who never knew peace but will always looking for few simple minded folks who will share same pain and bondage with them. Kids are most carried away with naughty excitements of ruggedity. Truly, many of them live in bountiful regrets today, "Inward pains of unsafe bloody convenants," even the so called atheists who blindly claim non existence of higher powers.

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My dear sincerely i do understand your feelings, the term" God"-i dont blame you because i remember i were in same shoes with you,though i have always find ineterest in learning in a perfect way;then i was going to church with my familly,i wonder whats the whole the all about concerning a superficial God?,Yes!,a book is provided for growth, spiritually and physically,"The bible"-represent the words of God,i was studying the bible and it comes to an extent when, i started wondering how can all these Imaginary madness of christianity be possible?,90% of the bible twisted stories are pure lies!,and i guest you also knew what im saying?,the does not exsist my dear. . .,but someone do,find out who is the king of this world,please think twice! and get saved today.

   Nobody tell's me before i got the full meaning of christianity,peherps,most dude's christian dude's have always find each of my conversation on the forum as an attack,but not really so. . .Can you feel me?.i know you we later my dear. open your eye's to see beyound the unseen all these many wasted years.

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It wouldn't matter if u offered ur opinion. Besides, sometimes one is not making an argument and is trying to explain something. The problem is not with whether the info has been copied and pasted. It's about whether the person u're debating wants to do any work himself/herself, or just dismiss it for being copied and pasted. When people make posts i actually check out what they 're saying. I read up on it from a bunch of different sites, and then decide if to dismiss it. Not because it was copied or pasted, or because i don't agree with it.

I have no problem with copying and pasting. Technology is there to make our lives easier and why type out some poo if it's already there.

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Can we make an unspoken rule and promise ourselves not to do it again. Or at least not do it so much. And only to copy and paste ideas that we actually endorse and are ready to argue for.

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I like that term, 'the dark places of the internet'. I'll definitely be using that one myself soon.

On another note though. I think both christians and atheists are guilty of copy and pasting without offering any of their own opinions.

I remember getting upset with Huxley about this exact point because once I started to criticize a post he'd put up he would disown it and say it wasn't his idea but he just put it up for interesting discussion bla bla blah.

Other atheists do it to, just as much as christians.

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We all append our personal opinion or analysis to whatever article we present. We present credible and viable articles too unlike you christians who go to the dark places of the internet to dig up the lone ramblings of pseudo-scientists all to support your false and delusional claims.

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i never knew atheists agreed on this.

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by what criteria where these named "2 of the world's top bible scholars"? Really have we descended so low as to lie to further a false belief? What scholars are these that we havent heard about? Who are they? Why are all these "top scholars" 99% always people who pander to atheism? Is there a subtle coincidence?

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How is he different from you, huxley, chrisbenogor, mazaje and toneyb? Oh sorry i forgot you all sprinkle your own copy-paste articles with some personal insults.

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religious applologists make  money from there religious institutions and affairs, so it is their duty to defend their holy business.

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Where is the denial in these last two definitions?Being free from religious oppression and bigotry does in no way deny the existence of God.Denial of a bunch of ideologies of human origin touted as religion,yes,but not denial of a universal creator.

And what is being a freethinker has to do with denial of god?Nothing.

The last tow definitions are way of the mark,which only shows that the article came from a religious bigot,hebce far from being objective and balanced.

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I am. I also like the fact that it is the name of God. hee hee.

Or should I say, Eheieh.

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2 of the world's top bible scholars and Christian theologians

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Very funny guy. He just posts articles and adds nothing more.

As for the article clearly written by a christian apologist, there are no "very good answers" to atheist criticism just constant twisting of both the scriptures and supposed ontology of god to justify and make up for the flaws.

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@OP

Are you an atheist?

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