I cannot help being both sorry for and contemptuous of those who have been taken in by the fictions of religion and yet make no real or sustained intellectual effort in thinking through the anomalies presented by the blindness of their 'faith' and so never allow themselves any possibility of the relief of escape.
That's my first attempt at the definition. What is your position Kevin?
My sentiments exactly. Your young beginnings of atheism are very similar to mine. Once Father Christmas was out of the way so to speak and with questioning the silly myths from the Bible I happily became what I would learn was called an atheist. I suppose that being an atheist for such a long time I cannot understand the blind faith of something which is so obviously false. I summed it up on my blog here on AN titled "Why Atheism is the best way to live". For me it is not a belief but an acknowledgement of truth, reality and freedom.
To me, it's quite simple: either you're the one in charge of your life, or you're not. "Believing" is mindfucking. Maybe I am a strong atheist, because it was "easy" for me. I have pretty much exactly ONE person in my family that IS religious. The rest of us - parents, brother, uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins,... they're all non-believers. Now a couple of my distant cousins are something like "spiritual" (not dismissing the idea, that there somehow might be something more to this existence then just "life"), but I am fine with that.
Like I said - only ONE person (an aunt) goes to church. The rest of is is rather irritated by that. We never really cared for religions, it's illogical, suppressive and highly disturbing.
Seeing that was part of my up-bringing. My parents never told me what to be, or what to believe... I was free to decide for myself. I even went with Buddhism for a while (a religion with no God[s] involved... the idea is nice though, isn't it?) but then found that I needed to be free. So... yeah.
As for STRONG Atheism: to me, it's not only being an atheist and saying it out loud, but ridiculing religions. It's evil. Full of lies, domination, hate and violence. Most atheists can not be bothered with "fighting" it... they go with the "friendly" alternative, which goes like this: if you don't mind me being an Atheist, I won't mind you being a Theist.
Well... to me, that's nonsense. That's like saying: I won't bother you for being a close-minded, ignorant, bigoted, homophobic rapist who fucks with children's brains and tells them lies and contributes nothing more to society then anger and hate... as long as you don't mind me being an open-minded intellectual.
How does that go together?
To me - like I said - that's complete and utter bullshit.
Either you ARE a rationalist or you're not. If not, try to be one, inform yourself and LEARN... if you don't want to learn, don't want to leave your ignorance, then don't expect me to have any kind of respect for you...
Basically it's not me vs. random believers, but Me vs. Religious Retards/ Religious Institutions.
It's "our" duty to put a stop to it, and fight back. No more "respect" for pure nonsense.
If a Mormon was to come up to me and tell me all blacks need to get back into slavery, because that's the only way they can enter heaven, I would never say "fair enough, it's YOUR faith, so have at it." I couldn't be that ignorant! Every bit that's human inside me is INSULTED by religious retards. No respect whatsoever. No looking-away and pretending there's no huge elephant in the middle of the room, alone with a button that - once it's pressed - will give direct order to nuke the world.
Ridiculous. I couldn't live with myself knowing I would not fight stupidity in this world...
But that's just me ;-)
PS: just so that you know where I'm coming from: I am especially upset about Islam. We just now went through ramadan, and some of my (especially male) Muslim students really had a hard time focusing in my class (which is normal, as their blood glucose level was that low, for they didn't eat all day long...). They were more aggressive then usual (and yes, they normally use to talk back, they won't listen to me, all in all: they give me a hell of a time when I try to teach...), and the best thing: their fathers told their precious sons that they don't need to listen to a FEMALE teacher. For I obviously have "no higher intellect" then a man, and am not competent to teach any man on this planet ANYTHING. Especially nothing (natural) scientific, and OF COURSE not mathematics...
Now THIS is what makes things even worse. I AM frustrated at times. I can't kick certain students out of my classes, they are still teenagers, but due to their Koran I am not worth anything, so they can behave however they want, and quite frankly: at times I'm just fed up with it. As if teenagers aren't already hard enough to teach, as their hormones are all over the place...
When I look at a Muslim, I think of what I know is going on in his head.
He believes the creation story of the bible/koran. He is blind to the splendour and age of the 13.7 billion year old Universe and the cosmology that western scientists have learnt about it.
He was told that Noah, Moses, Elijah, Jesus and the rest of them were prophets, and Mohammed was the last prophet.
He has been taught about the inferiority of women compared with men ...
... that Allah awaits them in the seventh layer of heaven suspended above Jerusalem. . . and so much more like this. It is pitiful.
This may be a difference of meaning from what some on here use "strong" to describe, but I would define a "strong atheist" as one who is gnostic in their atheism. I see the spectrum from strong theist to strong atheist as follows
1: Strong (gnostic) theist - claims to have knowledge that there are deities.
2: Weak (agnostic) theist - believes there are deities, though doesn't believe there is proof for such belief.
3: Weak agnostic - believes the existence of any gods is unknowable to humanity.
4: Strong agnostic - belief that we don't know whether they do or do not exist.
5: Weak atheism - belief that there are no deities, but that there may also be yet-unfound proof of them.
6: Strong atheism - belief that there is proof that there are no deities.
I think I may just be poorly copying Dawkins on this. I forget if he proposed a similar scale or not. I'd term myself a strong atheist toward the gods of all religions I've come across as-yet, but I can't rule out the idea of some sentient force controlling the universe that would fit many people's definition for a god. Then again I can't rule out the concept of last-Thursdayism either. Scientifically I don't we can prove these things don't exist, but I think the evidence we have since the beginning of time shows no need whatsoever for a conscious force doing anything. The burden of proof is on the theist proposing the idea of a God or gods either way.
If you want to talk about "Strong Atheism" in the context of being actively working to bring questioning of religion and the idea of atheism to the cultural forefront then I'm an internet tough-guy. I'll talk about it all day online and to those I know that don't know my family. ;)
Vigorously aggressive or active is one definition of militant. WIth my activism in secularism and defending the rights of non believers I would fall under this definition. This is done in a non violent way - with letters to papers, members of parliament, debates, discussions etc.
This may all seem aggressive to theists.
The idea that atheism is a belief in the negative (there are no gods) has been difficult for me to get around. To me it is a belief in the positive: There is an explanation for the origins of the universe, planets, earth, life, and us. Those origins lie in physical and chemical processes, leading to biochemical and biological evolution. Accumulation of experimental evidence and the scientific method supports this explanation.
Gods are not needed for this explanation. They are irrevelant. We also don't need fairies, gnomes, wood sprites, or intergalactic visitations.
As for effects of religion in society, I think that there is a strong argument that the effects of religion are harmful. Religion leads people away from critical thinking, and into the hands on demagogues and dogmatists. The recent US election is an example (Palin, measure 8). Religion leads to prejudice and violence. So for both an assertive statement that natural forces led to our existence, with gods irrelevant, and an assertive statement that religion is harmful, I am a strong atheist.
Kevin - I don't think this is aggressive at all. Religionists do the same thing all the time. If their voices are heard constantly, and we don't speak up, where does that leave us? Im glad that you are speaking up!
I see the role (definition) of a strong atheist as someone who:
If not proclaims their Atheism, will never deny it
Feels compelled to call someone for spouting nonsense (weather they do or not depends on topic and location)
Tries to keep up to date on current issues within the community, and voices their opinions about the topic
Promoting websites, blogs, podcasts that promote rationalism and critical thinking, sites like www.whatstheharm.com is a great example to use in the battle against idiocy.
I'm sure there are other qualities that I could attribute to strong atheist, but I cant think of any more at the moment.
I do not believe that god(s) exists. There is no sufficient reason to believe otherwise. There's a greater possibility that Daffy Duck exists, living in the middle of the sun in a homosexual relationship with Elmer Fudd. My apologies to believers in Daffy and Elmer.
Okay. Maybe that's not quite as silly as belief in god(s) but I try.
I think there is a similarity to Daffy Duck and god(s). Both are cartoon characters created by man. In modern times we know that Daffy Duck and all are not real beings because we can find out the names of the people who invented them. If we could go back to the time of creation (the creation of mythical gods) we would have the same realization. It is the length of time that these god myths have been perpetuated that fuels the delusion.