First Round: Matt Slick's Response
Matt: I apologize for taking a long time to respond to this, but I have been extremely busy. I will try to be more responsive.
>While I think that "lack of belief in any gods" is more
>accurate than "belief that no gods exist," it is a somewhat
>pedantic point, namely, that atheism is (for most) based on
>a perceived lack of reason TO believe in gods rather
>than specific evidence against the existence of gods. As you
>point out, animals also (presumably) lack belief in any gods.
>We can also imagine a person who was raised in a controlled
>environment such that he or she reached adulthood without ever
>being exposed to the concept of God. That person would lack
>belief but would certainly be different from what we
>conventionally mean when we say someone is an atheist.
Matt: It is only an opinion of yours that someone raised in isolation would not conclude that there is a God.
>So, basically, I would say that a good working definition of
>an atheist is as follows:
>An atheist is someone who has considered the question "Does
>God or do any gods exist?" and concluded that the evidence, if
>any, in support of the existence of gods is not sufficient to
>answer "Yes" and thus holds, as a working assumption
>that no gods exist.
Matt: I appreciate your definition of an atheist. However, I wanted to know what atheism was and not what an atheist is. Dictionary.com says of atheism: "Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods. The doctrine that there is no God or gods." Britannica.com says "in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings." Infidels.org says, "Atheism is characterized by an absence of belief in the existence of gods. This absence of belief generally comes about either through deliberate choice or from an inherent inability to believe religious teachings which seem literally incredible. It is not a lack of belief born out of simple ignorance of religious teachings."
Matt: In light of these, I offer this definition of atheism. Atheism is the denial of God's existence and/or the lack of affirmation concerning His existence.
Matt: Another way to put it is: Atheism is the position held by a person characterized by lack of belief in God and/or denial of the existence of God due to the lack of sufficient evidence supporting God's existence.
Matt: Let me know what you think.
Matt: By the way, I did not mean to be insulting or patronizing. My apologies.
Let me know if that definition is sufficient. If not, please modify it.