Recently, I had a discussion with my professor of cultural geography and we could not agree on the definition of atheism. He described atheism as the belief that there is no gods. I challenged him and said (this occurred in front of the class) "Is atheism really the belief that there is no gods or is it the lack of a belief in a god?" He considered that for a moment and asked "then what is the difference between atheism and agnosticism". And I responded, " Well atheism is dealing with belief and agnosticism is dealing with knowledge. There is a difference." He said he didn't want to get into semantics and what not but I feel that as a professor perhaps he should have gave different variations of atheism. Be it positive atheism or negative atheism. Or strong atheism or weak atheism. I think its unfair to broad brush atheists as believing there is no god. No mainstream muslim would want to be categorized as holding the same beliefs as the Taliban. My question is do you think the definition he gave in lecture is a misrepresentation of atheism? Please explain. Also do you think there are more weak atheists than there are strong atheist and has there been some kind of poll done?My idea is that there are more weak atheist. But I don't know.

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No one really knows for certain there is no god, but the lack of evidence so far suggests that the probability of a god existing is close to zero.

If I were student having to be completely accurate about my arguments with my professor, I might concede that technically I was an agnostic, but for me agnostism is not a strong enough position, especially concerning the anthropomorphic deity most people believe in.

However, despite centuries to come up with some evidence for their gods, no religion has provided any evidence. With such consistent failure over such a long period of time, it is reasonable to conclude that the lack of evidence is telling us something.

You are correct in suggesting that one size fits all definition is not the best to describe atheism as a philosophy.
I tried to make sure that I wasn't just nitpicking but if someone seemingly mischaracterizes your viewpoint. I think it is important enough to speak up. respectfully of course. And I agree that theists have not met their burden of proof. Their best argument is an argument from ignorance. "Man-kind hasn't yet figure out this problem therefore god did it." I think if any religion is likely, the most likely one would be deism. The other just seems to be too contradictory and idiotic and man-made to make sense.
My conception of the word atheism is that it is a conclusion that is reached through reason and evidence. It is not a philosophy in and of itself but only the product of one that consistently applies rationality and empiricism to experience.
And yet this does not include those people who do not believe in the existence of a god or gods, for any other reasons. For example, there are apatheists, (, who don't believe due to apathy. What about people who are atheists because they have never heard about "God", (probably rare nowadays, but common a few hundreds of years ago and previous - think Amazon jungle/New Guinea etc., etc.)? Atheism is simply lacking a belief in the existence of a god or gods, for any reason, and not only because of reason and evidence. Because there are a number of reasons why a person might be atheist, all that we can be sure that atheists have in common, is just that: A-THEISM; (a lack of any pro-god theological belief).
This is why I'm more comfortable these days with the label "rationalist" than atheist. As a rationalist I'm governed by reason and evidence and not by dogma or prejudice. For example, in the very unlikely case that someone or something could provide convincing evidence for a deity, I would accept it. However, this would take a disproof of virtually all of the laws of science, a very very unlikely circumstance.




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