Second Round: Chad's Post
>Matt: I apologize for taking a long time to respond to this,
>but I have been extremely busy. I will try to be more
No problem. It's too bad that I tend to have more time during the day while you are free in the evenings, but perhaps we'll get lucky and be able to share more than one exchange per day!
>>We can also imagine a person who was raised in a controlled
>>environment such that he or she reached adulthood without
>>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.
Fair enough. My point was mainly that we could imagine a person who had never been told of God and who didn't think of God independently (not asserting that such a person wouldn't, but IF he or she didn't) and that this person would "lack belief" but would still be quite different than an atheist in the conventional sense.
>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.
I think this is fine to move forward with, but with one important point: replace "God" with "God or gods".
Theists naturally think that "God" is a single being and that one either believes in God or does not. However, different theists ascribe different and contradictory attributes to God. To the atheist, these are all concepts that may or may not be instantiated in reality--the atheist sees insufficent evidence to merit belief in any of them.
Also, it may be a minor point but I would remove the words "the position held by a person characterized by". This would leave us with, "Atheism is lack of belief in God or gods, and/or denial of the existence of God or gods, due to lack of sufficient evidence supporting the existence of any God or gods (as well as possibly evidence indicating the non-existence of specific concepts of God or gods).
I hope that wasn't too pedantic.
>Matt: By the way, I did not mean to be insulting or
>patronizing. My apologies.
None necessary . . . I'm sure you didn't intend to be. I've sometimes come across poorly on CARM and have appreciated it when friendly theists and atheists alike have pointed it out.