An atheist is one who denies the existence of a personal, transcendent creator of the universe, rather than one who simply lives life without reference to such a being.Le Poidevin, Robin. Arguing for Atheism: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. Routledge, 2003, xvii
Atheistis one who asserts the existence of such a creator. Any discussionofatheism, then, is necessarily a discussion of theism.
Now, words change meaning over time, but why change this one? Atheism used to be a wrong, but strong thing. But it shifted to claiming that one simply lacks belief in a god/God. Here’s the strategy as far as I can tell:
- Sound above certainty and therefore within postmodern sensibilities.
- Remove oneself from cognitive responsibility when faced with good theistic arguments.
These two moves allow an interlocutor to have no responsibility for their beliefs because “they lack belief” while still claiming that they believe, somehow, that your belief in God is wrong. It’s something I noticed a few years ago. Lots of folks, influenced by lots of forces, try very hard to change word meanings while still keeping the emotional force of those words. It’s a fool’s game to let them do it.
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