Sunday, November 30, 2008


I had a bit of a shock. I was chatting to a generally very sensible fellow, when he came out with the "atheism is a faith" bit, accompanied by a bit of mild invective.

Since he was normally given to being very sensible, I asked what made him think that. Turns that we had different definitions of atheism - he understood it to be an absolute, categorical denial of the existence of any gods; in that situation, his claim has at least some basis, and of course some dictionaries do support that definition.

We then had a brief but very reasonable discussion.

It turns out that, under the definition I gave (a-theism, absence of belief in gods), he is an atheist. Indeed, our positions are extremely close (we're both agnostic on knowledge of existence, but both lack belief).

I pointed to some online definitions of atheism to make it clear my definition was not esoteric.

I was really glad I didn't over-react to that old chestnut. He was being quite reasonable, within the scope of his definition.

Not everyone who brings up the "atheism is a faith" thing is a fundie.

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