In a previous post, I attempted to highlight the tendency for self-identified Atheists to muddy language in a way that doesn’t truly represent what it is they actually believe about God, i.e., that God does not exist. I am no stranger to the insistence of Atheists to use what they consider a proper a understanding of what atheism is and what it means to be an Atheist. I can appreciate that people don’t like to be misrepresented or mislabeled. However, I’m not inclined to think this insistence on clarity is entirely intellectually honest.
You see, in the context of the definition of atheism — and only in this context — do Atheists prefer some loose definition. They’ll insist atheism is just the lack of belief in any deities. One Atheist put it like this:
An atheist is someone who does not believe in any deities. I do not believe in any deities. Therefore, I am an atheist.
That doesn’t mean I claim no deities exist. I make no claims about whether or not any deities exist.
Broadly speaking, they’ll make every attempt to distance themselves from explicit statements like “no god(s) exist”, but only when discussing definitions. This distancing is painful at times, especially when they dodge and refuse to answer simple questions such as: true or false, God exists. Or, do any gods exist? Direct answers are difficult to come by.
Why do Atheists retreat to vague terminology to define atheism when they otherwise have no problem saying God doesn’t exist. They’ll readily refer to God as imaginary, an invention of man, or a cultural illusion. They have have no qualm calling theists mistaken or deluded in their belief God actually exists. In fact, a favorite slogan of theirs is “you Christians don’t believe thousands of other gods exist, we Atheists just go one further”.
Why is this? Could it be they fear that if they make a definitive statement, such as no gods exist, they might be asked to defend the claim? I think so. What else explains the stark change in willingness to make claims about God’s existence when it’s a definition we’re talking about as opposed to when the Theist’s beliefs are being scrutinized?