Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Brief Jotting on Atheism

Apparently atheists don't hold the belief that God doesn't exist. And atheism is not a belief system but "Atheists attack religions for 'painting a false picture of the world' because that's what religions damn well do!"

Of course, Benson is right that atheism, as such, is not a belief system. But it is interesting that she can't keep her own distinction up even to the end of her post. Since atheism, as such, is not a belief system, it is pointless to talk about what 'atheists' in that sense attack and what they don't, and particularly pointless to talk about their reasons for doing so. They are likely to do different things (as Evans and Benson are doing different things), and what they do in common they are likely to do for different reasons. As she noted just above, "It's not incompatible with a belief system, or many, of course, but it itself is not a god damn belief system, it's the refusal of one!"

And, of course, what she doesn't say, but should have, is that 'atheism' is commonly used in ordinary English to mean 'belief system (of whatever sort) that is atheistic', where 'atheistic' (believing that there is no God) can be distinguished from 'nontheistic' (not believing anything one way or another about the matter). I would have thought this bit of vocabulary common knowledge; but perhaps Benson didn't have the time to employ more critical thought in responding to the article; a common blogging hazard. Or perhaps this is just a first draft, to be put in more rational order later. In any case, in that sense the original article is obviously right that there are different species of atheism. That of Evans, for instance, is different from that of Benson, so much so that Benson can't prevent herself from swearing at Evans's.

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