Do we all support the Scientific Method as our approach to rational thought and our rejection of Religions? Do we have Humanist principles? Can we agree on anything which is common to all Atheists other than a non-belief in God?
On listening to a lecture by PZ Myers on Science and Atheism delivered at the Humanist Canada/Atheist Alliance International 2010 Convention in Montreal, Myers points out his frustration with "Dictionary Atheists", those who claim that Atheism has no positive values whatsoever and is simply a rejection of belief in God. Myers believes all Atheists have other positive values associated with there Atheistic views, necessarily.
Science and Humanism are still technically based on belief - belief in our ability to measure and interact with the world accurately, even if these beliefs are far more concrete than religious beliefs.
With so many Atheists converging (I believe) on similar themes of science and Humanism, should Atheism be redefined as a belief system including certain concepts within these fields?
Would this re-definition help the religious communities understand that Atheism is more than just Godlessness to those who accept it? and therefore aid the transition of those who "need to believe in something"?
Or would writing in systems such as these alienate certain Atheist individuals? Does Atheism need science and humanism (or some other similar systems) to be a workable world view, rather than just a concept, for most people?
Atheists come in many shapes, sizes and colours, and have many and varied attitudes. Some atheists are atheists because they don't give a hoot about god-belief or non-god-belief. P.Z. Myers would like all atheists to be cohesive, and to be good thinkers, who arrive at their positions rationally, and after a great deal of analysis of the evidence.
For an atheist to be of this type is laudable. I'm sure P.Z. wants to be viewed as such. Probably most of us atheists do. But atheism really is only a lack of belief in any gods. Myers goes on about this implying that trees and rocks are atheists, but that's nonsense. Only humans have the capacity to have a belief, so all non-humans are restricted from the set of atheists by the definition lack a belief in any gods. I hope that this it is self evident ~ on planet earth, non-humans are incapable of any beliefs whatsoever.
Myers, I think, also suggests that babies cannot be atheists, implying that this is ridiculous, and thus that that atheists must have a belief system. Myers' contention looks kind of circular in logic:- babies don't have a belief system so therefore they are not atheists - and thus it follows that atheist must have a belief system.
IMHO, babies are not theists, so they are atheists. It is not earth-shattering, but it is what the word means. I would hope that the atheists who have registered on Atheist Nexus are considered atheists, by which I mean that they are of the type that have made the considerations which Myers holds dear. I agree with the sentiment that when one labels a person as an atheist, one would hope that the community in general has learned that this does not necessarily mean that the atheist must be a bad person, or a dullard, or immoral, or thoughtless or what-not. It might be so, or it might be that the person has never been introduced to the concept of the particular god that a particular theist holds to be true, or it may be that the person is a considered atheist, with a philosophical system of some sort.
In my opinion, the considered atheist ought to have a philosophical position, which makes sense of the world/universe, and which can withstand the philosophical position of theists who tell us that we are wrong. This is a double barrelled requirement; that we have a position, and that we know what the other positions are. Thirdly we ought, to our satisfaction, be able to effectively refute or dismiss the other positions, and hopefully do it in a way that is logically rigorous, so that it can’t be dismissed as sophistry. Other than this, I see no reason why all atheists should have uniform ideas about how the world ought to operate, ie. we don't necessarily have to agree.