It's not that it's not appreciated. I just have the feeling that I've been through most of it already. I've had the atheism/agnosticism discussion many times.
I dunno, did you have much to add about Spinoza's god that wasn't in the Wikipedia article? What did you have in mind?
The big conflict we have is definitional. You don't agree with the definition of atheism, as used by the atheism movement ... which is also backed up by the disbelief definition, in the dictionary, as well as etymology. I'm not sure what there is to add to that on that subject. You tell me; what have you got?
It's not that I think you're wrong about the Einstein part. Of course, that's open to discussion. No way I'd claim any sort of certainty about that.
Hell, even freaking Ray Comfort tries to take a piece of him. ^.^
That's cool - not sure you're going to like me much.
Heh heh heh heh heh. No, man, don't take me wrong. Just because we have a big verbal brawl, you think I won't like you?
Are you very active with your local atheism groups? ... assuming your area is dense enough to support an active group. You should see the guys in my local atheism and skeptic groups. We love a good row.
About the only people we don't have discussions with are the tiny handful of Libertarians (we have 4 or 5 of the extreme, anarcho-capitalist nuts, out of the few hundred active members), since their position isn't backed up by any kind of evidence or logic, and they're not arguing for it in the same way that they address just about any other science or religion.
Sorry, perhaps I come on a little strong, when initiating something with someone I disagree with completely, because I expect to get beaten back a bit. One of the deficiencies of text communication. You can't see my expression and demeanor.
Heh, Huxley's contributions to the subject are more than 100 years out of date, man. What matters is how the term is used now, particularly by those within the atheist community. The vocal, "New Atheists" use the term that way, as do the vast majority of the atheists in my local groups and the vast majority of the atheists on this site. That also matches up with the etymology of the word.
You're the one who would be surprised by the polls.
Same as with George Carlin, it doesn't matter if Einstein accepted the label or not. He fits the definition. People can use whatever label makes them comfortable. The skepticism and lack of a god belief are the important parts, not the label they choose.
I'm well aware of Spinoza's god. Even if I wasn't, a quick look at the Wikipedia page (which I've already read, previously) would do the job. It's not that deep, just pantheism.
Anyway, I take Einstein's private statements a bit more seriously than his public statements. There's also the fact that people's positions change, over time. If he was alive now, we could ask him. At this point, we can't be completely sure of anything.
You're mis-characterizing atheism quite a bit there, actually. Atheism is merely a lack of theism ... lack of belief in a deity. It's like moral/amoral/immoral: theism/atheism/(im? in? un?)theism.
Atheism is the neutral position. You have to go a bit beyond atheism to get to any sort of assertion of the nonexistence of deities. Most call it anti-theism or hard atheism. I find this to be one of the better-laid-out explanations of the theism/gnosticism relationship: http://freethinker.co.uk/2009/09/25/8419/
And if you read a bit more into some of Einstein's personal writings, he was quite hard in his atheism.
Likewise, most atheists don't go in for philosophical materialism. Methodological naturalism is the more important bit. It's not that we preclude the supernatural by fiat. We would just have to look for evidence of supernatural claims by their effects on the material.
And, umm, pure atheism doesn't have anything to say about an afterlife, just gods. Most Buddhists are atheists (there's one wacky sect that worships Buddha as a god), but they have all sorts of afterlife beliefs added to their belief system.
The atheist position is simply, "There's insufficient evidence for these things," with an added, "... and it's stupid to believe in them until they're demonstrated to be true." Most atheists are agnostics and most agnostics are atheists (except for the occasional, rare agnostic-theist). If someone asks you if you believe in a god, and you can't say, "Yes," then you're an atheist.
Anyway, as long as you're not the theistic sort of agnostic, you're welcome here.