There is a common view – one you yourself may hold – that the only intellectually honest position for an atheist to have is a ‘lack of belief’ in gods. Today I’m going to argue that this definition is confused, and should be retired. It is too broad to be useful, and that we ought to reserve the word ‘atheist’ for active disbelief in the existence of gods. Furthermore, I’ll try to demonstrate that we have a much stronger positive philosophical case for rationally believing that no god – theistic or deistic – exists.
Definitions: the folk vs. the precise
The best place to start in any philosophical squabble is with the definitions of the words we’re going to use. And since this post is on the definition of certain words, I’d better not skimp on the details!