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Or at least say that is what they think?

I think that every atheist that I know is an atheist because they are a skeptic, in the sense of a scientific skeptic. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_skepticism) Based on what I read online and in books by atheists my assumption is that this is the reason that the majority of atheists hold this view. As such we withhold belief in a god or gods pending convincing empirical evidence. This is no different to the way in which I do not believe in dragons or fairies, or that I believe if I step off a tall building I will not fly. To me belief in dragons is not an equivalent position to no belief in dragons.

Most discussions I have had on this topic are online rather than face to face and it feels like people are intentionally misunderstanding, or misrepresenting our position in order to make a point. I find this frankly quite rude (big surprise on the internet).

I'd be particularly interested to hear from anyone who does think atheism is equivalent to a religious belief and also what their reaction is to my reason for my position is. I hope nothing above is insulting to anyone as it is not intended to be.

For purposes of this thread, I am using the following definitions:

Theism: belief in the existence of a god or gods, specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe.

Atheism: abscence of belief in the existence of a god or gods, specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe.

Happy for people to disagree with those definitions, but would prefer that the thread did not go off track on that.
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It's the old "drag your opponent down to your own level" tactic.

Kind of like saying "you silly fool, you are just as irrational as I am!"
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I'd say its mainly because atheists are generally strongly outspoken in their worldview (what is being mistaken for "belief") to the point of being intolerant of other's beliefs. I think that the worldview you have outlined is not shared by all athiests.

I would even call some atheism a form of evangelism.

Last year I had a long discussion with several atheists who served to allow me to shed some of the stereotypes of atheists that many theists hold. It was very positive.

However, over the last year I've noticed many atheists who will set traps for theists and basically make the RSP forum a (almost) hostile environment for theists. Example: When a poster asked the question: "what is your feeling when someone says that they will pray for you". Some atheists responded with positive answers however many atheists responded with hostility or a great deal of suspicion. That lack of tolerance takes atheists out of the realm of the logic you describe and into the realm that many theists are criticized for: the belief that I am right and you are wrong and the need to drive that point home without mercy.

I've seen a theist's belief compared to fairy tales. The atheist who said this likely didn't know how intolerant his words were but you cannot call names and then sit back and say "well you (the theist) can't handle a logical discussion".

Thats not true of all atheists however - I hope that your description of atheist worldview is correct however you have a lot of people who call themselves atheists who you must first "reign in" before all the stereotypes are dispelled.

Don't some atheists hold to the belief that God does NOT exist? Not simply a witholding of belief I think. Athiesm is starting to look more and more like religion all the time.
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GazPAge wrote:
Or at least say that is what they think?

I think that every atheist that I know is an atheist because they are a skeptic, in the sense of a scientific skeptic. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_skepticism) Based on what I read online and in books by atheists my assumption is that this is the reason that the majority of atheists hold this view. As such we withhold belief in a god or gods pending convincing empirical evidence. This is no different to the way in which I do not believe in dragons or fairies, or that I believe if I step off a tall building I will not fly. To me belief in dragons is not an equivalent position to no belief in dragons.

Most discussions I have had on this topic are online rather than face to face and it feels like people are intentionally misunderstanding, or misrepresenting our position in order to make a point. I find this frankly quite rude (big surprise on the internet).

I'd be particularly interested to hear from anyone who does think atheism is equivalent to a religious belief and also what their reaction is to my reason for my position is. I hope nothing above is insulting to anyone as it is not intended to be.

For purposes of this thread, I am using the following definitions:

Theism: belief in the existence of a god or gods, specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe.

Atheism: abscence of belief in the existence of a god or gods, specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe.

Happy for people to disagree with those definitions, but would prefer that the thread did not go off track on that.


I think your definitions are fine. But unfortunately that is only partly true of reality.

Here's my take of what is the situation:
1. Atheists do not believe in the existence of god because of the lack of empirical evidence. So far so good.
2. Some atheists then start to attack/ ridicule the theists on their belif in god despite lack of empirical evidence. Trouble starts.
3. Theists defend themselves by pointing to other forms of evidences.
4. These atheists then rejects these forms of evidences, insisting on the empirical testing method as the only valid one.
5. Theists equate that as a form of belief, not unlike a religious belief.
6. Outrage and indignation that a true belief in empirical evidence can be considered to be equivalent to the false belief in religious claims.

It might not be you. But this cultural war has been going on for too long to tell who started it first. Step 2 could have happened the other way.
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Two variations on the same core explanation:

1) Take a hypothetical person who has never seen a body of water before. Show him a lake and explain there are creatures living below its surface. After an hour of contemplative observation he might very well ask you, "How long can they hold their breath?"

2) How many times have you heard that something in another language doesn't translate well? An alien race that evolved without gravity would be lacking many of the concepts that would enable them to understand up and down.

---

Religious/spiritual faith and ideas can be the underpinning of how the entire universe works. The existence of God is as fundamental as breathing and gravity.

Without prior knowledge, how easy would it be to envision alternate ways of breathing for other living beings? Take a moment to ponder it before continuing...
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Did you consider not breathing as an alternative?


Trying to envision how you would live in a null gravity environment could be dizzying all by itself. What happens when you pee?

Because these ideas as fundamental to how some people live, it's easy to assume one of two things:
a) Atheists must have an alternate, yet equal belief to anchor their understanding of the world.
B) Being an atheist means living in complete, unnavigable chaos.
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I form associations between what people say they believe and the name they call themselves. These associations and the generalisation from the specific to the group are, of course, problematic.

Kevin has recently taught me the phrase "metaphysical naturalist".

And so now when some-one calling themselves "an atheist" says "The fact is that there is no God", I now put them into the sub-category of atheists who have metaphysical beliefs about the existence of God.

This is deeply satisfying. And frees me up to ask the remaining atheists, "I can understand that there is no scientific evidence of the existence of God but nor is there empirical evidence of subjective experience, which you have no trouble admitting the existence of, nor is the Theory of Everything quite complete yet, with General Relativity remaining at odds with the Standard Model, so given that you are not claiming "There is no God", what is your position?

I can understand that it might be the best bet. But with molecular theory only having been proved factual, rather than a theoretical construct, for less than 100 years, perhaps science still has a way to go.

Edit: I see the OP has provided a position statement already. Well done.
"Atheism: absence of belief in the existence of a god or gods, specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe.

Nothing in that about wanting to change any-ones else's beliefs or demanding that they explain their beliefs or world view in a form that atheists (as defined here) find acceptable.



 
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For the atheists who worry about being labelled as "believers" and so be dragged in some muddy "debate", there's a comeback that worked well for me with a bunch of sticky jehova witnesses: it's not so much that I don't believe in god, it's that I don't give a damn. Really, I can curse god all day long yet I'm living the life, so really whether he's out there or not, he's as irrelevant to me as any Tom Dick or Harry anywhere in the world so why bother ?
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AT 22 wrote:
it's not so much that I don't believe in god, it's that I don't give a damn. Really, I can curse god all day long yet I'm living the life, so really whether he's out there or not, he's as irrelevant to me as any Tom Dick or Harry anywhere in the world so why bother ?

Now this form of atheism I can relate to.
It makes sense - am I an aBuddhist if I do not care about Buddha?, or an aMtGer if I don't play MtG? I'd say I am only if I make a big song and dance about my not caring or not playing. Which I might if my Buddhist sister began chanting at 4:00am every morning in the room next door and my brother kept stealing my things to pawn to buy more Mtg cards.
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Just to add to the point of perpetuation of atheist stereotypes by some atheist's intolerance of other's beliefs:

The infamous bus ad has reached my city. The atheists had to fight to get this ad put up - the bus company wanted nothing to do with it.

The ad, as we all know, says (and correct me if I'm wrong) "God probably doesn't exist so relax and enjoy your lives."

A theist looking at this at is immediately hit by the stereotypes that atheists hold for theists: you know the ones: that theists live in constant fear of God; that theists only do good because they want a place in the afterlife, ect and so on.

I really wonder if athiests understand how intolerant those stereotypes are and how they enforce the theist's stereotypes of atheists? "relax" could be viewed as "don't try to better yourself" and "enjoy YOUR lives" could mean selfishness and individualism over community.

So two things there: 1. A display of athiest stereotypes of theists and 2. a strengthening of theist stereotypes of atheists.
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Lockridge wrote:
Example: When a poster asked the question: "what is your feeling when someone says that they will pray for you". Some atheists responded with positive answers however many atheists responded with hostility or a great deal of suspicion. That lack of tolerance takes atheists out of the realm of the logic you describe and into the realm that many theists are criticized for: the belief that I am right and you are wrong and the need to drive that point home without mercy.


How on earth is that any "lack of tolerance"? I didn't know that I had to feel nice or share other people's thoughts to be tolerant. I didn't know that disagreeing is intolerant. They were asked their feelings, and that's what they answered with.

In fact, I routinely disagree on political topics with maybe 80-90% people here. Does that make me intolerant? If I say neocon economic policies are harmful and silly, does anybody get offended? Why is religion different?

Quote:
I've seen a theist's belief compared to fairy tales. The atheist who said this likely didn't know how intolerant his words were but you cannot call names and then sit back and say "well you (the theist) can't handle a logical discussion".


Do we agree that in any supranatural belief there is a point, whatever minor it might be, in which there is a non sequitor that leads
to the acceptance of an idea which can't be directly inferred from nature? In other words, that at least at some point we must make a logical leap and believe instead of observe?

That leap has not to be really big. But if we, then, add strict interpretation of texts, convoluted stories which are taken as literal even when they are known to exist in earlier cultures and descriptions of phenomena which have never been described except in religious or fantastic contexts, isn't the link to fairy tales obvious?
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But what of it? It's not as my unbelief in atheism will get me sent to unhell. Why do they care so much about the noneternal fate of my nonexistent soul?


Your existent/nonexistent soul is your business entirely. Your wordly incarnation, however, interacts with other wordly beings, most importantly by taking a political stance. When that political stance is guided by religion, there has been and there is an undesirable tendency to have people imposing the decisions they made for their own souls to others by means of the law - as in giving money to religions, grant them political power, ban or enforce activities based on religious claims or prosecute or harm other people with different thoughts on the existence and fate of their souls.
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HeinzGuderian wrote:

That leap has not to be really big. But if we, then, add strict interpretation of texts, convoluted stories which are taken as literal even when they are known to exist in earlier cultures and descriptions of phenomena which have never been described except in religious or fantastic contexts, isn't the link to fairy tales obvious?

Things can be alike in some ways but only very loosely related. The sound of the words "sail" and "sale" are identical but their meanings are different. To some-one who believes in the Bible "fairy tales" and "Bible" are very different things.
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HeinzGuderian wrote:
Drew1365 wrote:
But what of it? It's not as my unbelief in atheism will get me sent to unhell. Why do they care so much about the noneternal fate of my nonexistent soul?


Your existent/nonexistent soul is your business entirely. Your wordly incarnation, however, interacts with other wordly beings, most importantly by taking a political stance. When that political stance is guided by religion, there has been and there is an undesirable tendency to have people imposing the decisions they made for their own souls to others by means of the law - as in giving money to religions, grant them political power, ban or enforce activities based on religious claims or prosecute or harm other people with different thoughts on the existence and fate of their souls.

Yeah, I can understand atheists working for greater tolerance of diversity within a society. I can see no reason why atheists should be forced to conform to specifically deist behaviours.
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Lockridge wrote:
Just to add to the point of perpetuation of atheist stereotypes by some atheist's intolerance of other's beliefs:

The infamous bus ad has reached my city. The atheists had to fight to get this ad put up - the bus company wanted nothing to do with it.

The ad, as we all know, says (and correct me if I'm wrong) "God probably doesn't exist so relax and enjoy your lives."

A theist looking at this at is immediately hit by the stereotypes that atheists hold for theists: you know the ones: that theists live in constant fear of God; that theists only do good because they want a place in the afterlife, ect and so on.

I really wonder if athiests understand how intolerant those stereotypes are and how they enforce the theist's stereotypes of atheists? "relax" could be viewed as "don't try to better yourself" and "enjoy YOUR lives" could mean selfishness and individualism over community.

So two things there: 1. A display of athiest stereotypes of theists and 2. a strengthening of theist stereotypes of atheists.


Why is only ok for theist to actively promote their worldview?
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Reprint wrote:
...it helps them sleep at night? :p

It's an inability to see things from our side of the fence.

Hey, isaacc, need some butter?

Just make sure its unsalted.
 
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Drew1365 wrote:
Pinook wrote:
Yeah, I can understand atheists working for greater tolerance of diversity within a society.


How inconvenient for them that true diversity includes those they wish to silence.

Quote:
I can see no reason why atheists should be forced to conform to specifically deist behaviours.


But believers should be forced to conform to every whim of the atheist?

Really, man.

Just where do you read me promoting the statement above in bold?

Its certain that the world is not what we think it is.
 
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Dispaminite wrote:
Lockridge wrote:
Just to add to the point of perpetuation of atheist stereotypes by some atheist's intolerance of other's beliefs:

The infamous bus ad has reached my city. The atheists had to fight to get this ad put up - the bus company wanted nothing to do with it.

The ad, as we all know, says (and correct me if I'm wrong) "God probably doesn't exist so relax and enjoy your lives."

A theist looking at this at is immediately hit by the stereotypes that atheists hold for theists: you know the ones: that theists live in constant fear of God; that theists only do good because they want a place in the afterlife, ect and so on.

I really wonder if athiests understand how intolerant those stereotypes are and how they enforce the theist's stereotypes of atheists? "relax" could be viewed as "don't try to better yourself" and "enjoy YOUR lives" could mean selfishness and individualism over community.

So two things there: 1. A display of athiest stereotypes of theists and 2. a strengthening of theist stereotypes of atheists.




Why is only ok for theist to actively promote their worldview?


Wait, atheists have a "worldview" now? A few minutes ago they didn't even have a single "belief".

I view the poster ads as fair enough, much milder than some 'Christian' advertising. And I think theists in general should be more tolerant, including more tolerant of atheists.
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Drew1365 wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
Lockridge wrote:
Just to add to the point of perpetuation of atheist stereotypes by some atheist's intolerance of other's beliefs:

The infamous bus ad has reached my city. The atheists had to fight to get this ad put up - the bus company wanted nothing to do with it.

The ad, as we all know, says (and correct me if I'm wrong) "God probably doesn't exist so relax and enjoy your lives."

A theist looking at this at is immediately hit by the stereotypes that atheists hold for theists: you know the ones: that theists live in constant fear of God; that theists only do good because they want a place in the afterlife, ect and so on.

I really wonder if athiests understand how intolerant those stereotypes are and how they enforce the theist's stereotypes of atheists? "relax" could be viewed as "don't try to better yourself" and "enjoy YOUR lives" could mean selfishness and individualism over community.

So two things there: 1. A display of athiest stereotypes of theists and 2. a strengthening of theist stereotypes of atheists.


Why is only ok for theist to actively promote their worldview?


If you got that from Don's post, you were adding in something that isn't there.

Don uses a very good example of how, in promoting their worldview, they reinforce stereotypes all around, including very negative stereotypes of themselves.

There are good ways and bad ways to share one's faith -- or lack thereof. Being an asshole is not a particularly effective way.


Don is only complaining about the atheist advert. This implies he ok with theist's advertising (through the various commercials, billboards, signage, door-to-door harrassment). There is no difference in an atheist group and a theist group promoting their world view. So, I have to ask, why is it ok for theists to actively promote their advertisement.
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Philip Thomas wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
Lockridge wrote:
Just to add to the point of perpetuation of atheist stereotypes by some atheist's intolerance of other's beliefs:

The infamous bus ad has reached my city. The atheists had to fight to get this ad put up - the bus company wanted nothing to do with it.

The ad, as we all know, says (and correct me if I'm wrong) "God probably doesn't exist so relax and enjoy your lives."

A theist looking at this at is immediately hit by the stereotypes that atheists hold for theists: you know the ones: that theists live in constant fear of God; that theists only do good because they want a place in the afterlife, ect and so on.

I really wonder if athiests understand how intolerant those stereotypes are and how they enforce the theist's stereotypes of atheists? "relax" could be viewed as "don't try to better yourself" and "enjoy YOUR lives" could mean selfishness and individualism over community.

So two things there: 1. A display of athiest stereotypes of theists and 2. a strengthening of theist stereotypes of atheists.




Why is only ok for theist to actively promote their worldview?


Wait, atheists have a "worldview" now? A few minutes ago they didn't even have a single "belief".

I view the poster ads as fair enough, much milder than some 'Christian' advertising. And I think theists in general should be more tolerant, including more tolerant of atheists.


Everyone has a worldview.
 
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Dispaminite wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
Lockridge wrote:
Just to add to the point of perpetuation of atheist stereotypes by some atheist's intolerance of other's beliefs:

The infamous bus ad has reached my city. The atheists had to fight to get this ad put up - the bus company wanted nothing to do with it.

The ad, as we all know, says (and correct me if I'm wrong) "God probably doesn't exist so relax and enjoy your lives."

A theist looking at this at is immediately hit by the stereotypes that atheists hold for theists: you know the ones: that theists live in constant fear of God; that theists only do good because they want a place in the afterlife, ect and so on.

I really wonder if athiests understand how intolerant those stereotypes are and how they enforce the theist's stereotypes of atheists? "relax" could be viewed as "don't try to better yourself" and "enjoy YOUR lives" could mean selfishness and individualism over community.

So two things there: 1. A display of athiest stereotypes of theists and 2. a strengthening of theist stereotypes of atheists.




Why is only ok for theist to actively promote their worldview?


Wait, atheists have a "worldview" now? A few minutes ago they didn't even have a single "belief".

I view the poster ads as fair enough, much milder than some 'Christian' advertising. And I think theists in general should be more tolerant, including more tolerant of atheists.


Everyone has a worldview.



I guess it depends on what you mean by 'worldview', but if you mean the sort of thing which causes people to put posters on buses saying "God probably doesn't exist, now relax and enjoy your lives" then you're really letting the side down on the whole "atheism is not a belief" thing. And I say this as one who believes that atheism is not a belief.
 
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Philip Thomas wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
Lockridge wrote:
Just to add to the point of perpetuation of atheist stereotypes by some atheist's intolerance of other's beliefs:

The infamous bus ad has reached my city. The atheists had to fight to get this ad put up - the bus company wanted nothing to do with it.

The ad, as we all know, says (and correct me if I'm wrong) "God probably doesn't exist so relax and enjoy your lives."

A theist looking at this at is immediately hit by the stereotypes that atheists hold for theists: you know the ones: that theists live in constant fear of God; that theists only do good because they want a place in the afterlife, ect and so on.

I really wonder if athiests understand how intolerant those stereotypes are and how they enforce the theist's stereotypes of atheists? "relax" could be viewed as "don't try to better yourself" and "enjoy YOUR lives" could mean selfishness and individualism over community.

So two things there: 1. A display of athiest stereotypes of theists and 2. a strengthening of theist stereotypes of atheists.




Why is only ok for theist to actively promote their worldview?


Wait, atheists have a "worldview" now? A few minutes ago they didn't even have a single "belief".

I view the poster ads as fair enough, much milder than some 'Christian' advertising. And I think theists in general should be more tolerant, including more tolerant of atheists.


Everyone has a worldview.



I guess it depends on what you mean by 'worldview', but if you mean the sort of thing which causes people to put posters on buses saying "God probably doesn't exist, now relax and enjoy your lives" then you're really letting down the side on the whole "atheism is not a belief" thing. And I say this as one who believes that atheism is not a belief.


Well, atheism is not a worldview. It's part of a worldview.
 
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Drew1365 wrote:
...
"The ad, as we all know, says (and correct me if I'm wrong) "God probably doesn't exist so relax and enjoy your lives."
...
There are good ways and bad ways to share one's faith -- or lack thereof. Being an asshole is not a particularly effective way.


I agree. But I am not convinced that the intended interpretation or even a relaxed interpretation of the slogan above is anti-theist. What-ever group developed the add sees people as tense and not enjoying their lives due to their belief in God. So why is that a problem? There probably are people whose understanding of God is tense and joyless. Will we be worse off if they lighten up? I don't know. Maybe they'll lighten up and start to feel the love of Jesus or something. Is that bad?

Sure theists could take a stance that gets them offended by the slogan. but I'd suggest that running around crying, "I'm a victim . I'm a victim" just is not effective or enjoyable.
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Drew1365 wrote:
Quote:
Drew1365 wrote:
Pinook wrote:
I can see no reason why atheists should be forced to conform to specifically deist behaviours.


But believers should be forced to conform to every whim of the atheist?

Really, man.

Just where do you read me promoting the statement above in bold?
:D


Seemed conspicuous in its absence.

If you don't read peoples posts you are going to miss what they're saying.
 
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Dispaminite wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
Lockridge wrote:
Just to add to the point of perpetuation of atheist stereotypes by some atheist's intolerance of other's beliefs:

The infamous bus ad has reached my city. The atheists had to fight to get this ad put up - the bus company wanted nothing to do with it.

The ad, as we all know, says (and correct me if I'm wrong) "God probably doesn't exist so relax and enjoy your lives."

A theist looking at this at is immediately hit by the stereotypes that atheists hold for theists: you know the ones: that theists live in constant fear of God; that theists only do good because they want a place in the afterlife, ect and so on.

I really wonder if athiests understand how intolerant those stereotypes are and how they enforce the theist's stereotypes of atheists? "relax" could be viewed as "don't try to better yourself" and "enjoy YOUR lives" could mean selfishness and individualism over community.

So two things there: 1. A display of athiest stereotypes of theists and 2. a strengthening of theist stereotypes of atheists.




Why is only ok for theist to actively promote their worldview?


Wait, atheists have a "worldview" now? A few minutes ago they didn't even have a single "belief".

I view the poster ads as fair enough, much milder than some 'Christian' advertising. And I think theists in general should be more tolerant, including more tolerant of atheists.


Everyone has a worldview.



I guess it depends on what you mean by 'worldview', but if you mean the sort of thing which causes people to put posters on buses saying "God probably doesn't exist, now relax and enjoy your lives" then you're really letting down the side on the whole "atheism is not a belief" thing. And I say this as one who believes that atheism is not a belief.


Well, atheism is not a worldview. It's part of a worldview.


I don't think atheism is necessarily part of a worldview. I don't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but my lack of belief in him isn't part of my worldview (the alternative, that my lack of belief in a given fictional entity does form part of my worldview would mean that my worldview was infinite in content, which seems unlikely).
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